" 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, November 30, 2016



Pat O'Donnell (pictured, left) was a member of the 'The Invincibles' ('Irish National Invincibles'), a 19th-century organisation which opposed, in arms, British interference in Ireland. He is best known for having assassinated the informer James Carey (aka 'James Power').

When Carey told on 'Skin the Goat',

O'Donnell caught him on the boat —

He wished he'd never been afloat,

The dirty skite!

It wasn't very sensible

To tell on the Invincibles —

They stood up for their principles

Day and night.

And you'll find them all in Monto, Monto, Monto

Standing up in Monto,

To you!

In November 1881, a group was formed in Dublin with the objective of "removing all the principal tyrants from the country" ; they called themselves 'The Irish National Invincibles' and, within a few months, they were to make world headlines. The group, consisting mainly of former Fenians, decided to announce their presence in a dramatic fashion - on May 6th, 1882, they assassinated two of Britains top officials in Ireland : Chief Secretary Lord Frederick Cavendish and Under Secretary Thomas F. Burke in the Phoenix Park in Dublin, just yards from the Viceroy Lodge. The British offered a reward of £1000 for information leading to the arrest of those responsible and put their top man in Dublin, Superintendent John Mallon of the 'G Division' of the Dublin Metropolitan Police, on the case. He arrested dozens of 'suspects' and repeatedly questioned those who were known to be in the Phoenix Park area that night, but to no avail.

Then, in November 1882, six months after the British lost their men, Superintendent John Mallon arrested a member of the Invincibles, Robert Farrell, and Mallon told him that they knew the identity of those that had carried-out the assassinations and advised Farrell to save himself - this was the same line that those previously arrested had been told but, unfortunately, Robert Farrell fell for it ; within weeks, twenty-six men were arrested. The 'G' man, John Mallon, needed additional witnesses and evidence to build a substantial case against the men and reverted to form - three of the twenty-six men (Michael Kavanagh, James Carey and his brother, Peter) turned informers. In April 1883, in Green Street Courthouse in Dublin, Judge O'Brien began to hear 'evidence' against thirteen of the men. Five of them - Joe Brady, Dan Curley, Michael Fagan, Thomas Caffrey and Tim Kelly - received the death sentence and the other eight men were sentenced to long periods of imprisonment (nineteen year-old Tim Kelly faced three 'trials' before eventually being convicted, the jury at the previous 'trials' having failed to agree on a verdict). Joe Brady, Michael Fagan, Thomas Caffrey, Dan Curley and young Tim Kelly were hanged in Kilmainham Gaol in Dublin between May 14th and June 4th, 1883.

One of the informers, James Carey, was shot dead on board 'The 'Melrose' off Cape Town, South Africa, on his way to Natal to 'begin a new life' with his wife and children, on July 29th, 1883, by Donegal-man Patrick O Donnell, who was caught and escorted back to Ireland ; his 'trial' (all two hours of it) was held at the 'Old Bailey' in London on the 30th November 1883 - 133 years ago on this date - in front of Judge George Denman, a Liberal politician known to be in favour of public executions. Pat O'Donnell was found guilty of 'wilful murder', despite having the best defence team that money could buy - his supporters had raised and spent about fifty-five thousand dollars on legal representation for him, but then, as now, the British wanted their 'pound of flesh'. And they got it on the 17th December 1883 when they executed Patrick O'Donnell.

My name is Pat O’Donnell I was born in Donegal

I am you know a deadly foe to traitors one and all

For the shooting of James Carey I was tried and guilty found

And now upon the scaffold high my life I must lay down.

I sailed on board the ship Melrose in August 1883

James Carey was on board the ship but still unknown to me

When I found out he was Carey we had angry words and blows

The villain swore my life to take on board the ship Melrose.

I stood a while in self defence to fight before I'd die

My loaded pistol I pulled out at Carey I let fly

I gave to him a second one which pierced him through the heart

I let him have a third volley before he did depart.

Then Mrs Carey came running up to the cabin where he lay

O'Donnell you shot my husband Mrs Carey she did say

O'Donnell you shot my husband Mrs Carey loud did cry

"I only stood in self defence kind madame", answered I.

The captain had me handcuffed and in strong irons bound

He gave me up as prisoner when we landed in Capetown

They turned me back to London my trial for to stand

And the prosecutors for the crown were Carey's wife and son.

To all the evidence they swore I said it was a lie

The jury found me guilty and the judge he did reply

"You'll never more see Erin's shore, O’Donnell, you must die"

On the 17th of December upon the scaffold high.

If I had been a free man could live another year

All traitors and informers I would make them shake with fear

Saint Patrick drove the serpents from the our holy sainted land

I'd make them run before me like the hare before the hound.

Farewell to dark old Donegal the place where I was born

And likewise to the United States which ne'er was known for scorn

And twice farewell to old
Gráinne Mhaol with her fields and valleys green

For never more around Erin's shore Pat O'Donnell will be seen.

That British show trial began on this date - 30th November - 133 years ago.


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.

THE CRIER. (By Kevin Lynch.)

Morning is beautiful

as the rays of sunlight shine in the window.

It's great to be alive I say

I don't even notice the bars.

I open the cell door

I'm just half way down the landing to slop-out.

I see the crier, his face is hard with thought

Oh no, I think, but then I make the effort.

A very good morning to you...?

What's good about it and who's on the phone next?

The porridge is too lumpy and the fucking water's too cold.

All his days were wet ones

and all his thoughts were sad.

And any time you meet him

you would regret you had.

He'd depress you drip by drip

and leave you feeling low.

He is a wet day man

and always will be so.

(Next - 'Yankey's Town', by Kevin Lynch. [NOTE : if you're offended by 'bad language', then don't read this poem...!] )


'...he had drunk an estimated 42,000 bottles of Pol Roger champagne through his life ; he thought nothing of starting the morning with cold game and a glass of hock and ending it at 3am with the best part of a bottle of cognac..' (from here) : 'Sir' Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill, KG, OM, CH, TD, PC, DL, FRS, RA, was born in Oxfordshire, England, on this date, 30th November, 142 years ago, and evolved from a little pup into a pugnace britannicii, becoming top dog in British politics twice (1940 to 1945 and again from 1951 to 1955). During the 1921 'Treaty of Surrender' discussions it was the then British 'Colonial Secretary to Ireland', Winston Churchill, who maneuvered a friend of his, South African Judge Richard Feetham into the position of 'Chairman' of said meetings, even though Churchill himself described that particular 'talking shop' as a "toothless body". Still - no harm to have its 'Chairman' in your pocket, an old British custom, practiced to this day.

But, drunk or sober, when he was on 'empire business', he himself was anything but 'toothless' '..a man who swilled on champagne while 4 million men, women and children in Bengal starved due to his racist colonial policies...a white supremacist whose hatred for Indians led to four million starving to death - "all who resist will be killed without quarter" because the Pashtuns need "recognise the superiority of race" - the man who loathed Irish people so much he conceived different ways to terrorise them, the racist thug who waged war on black people across Africa and in Britain...he found his love for war during the time he spent in Afghanistan ("we proceeded systematically, village by village, and we destroyed the houses, filled up the wells, blew down the towers, cut down the great shady trees, burned the crops and broke the reservoirs in punitive devastation..."(from here). Yes, indeed - men like Churchill made Britain 'Great', as in that that country has done (and continues to do) some 'great' harm on the world stage.


The role of the trade union movement in Ireland in relation to the continued imperialist occupation of the North and to the foreign multi-national domination of the Irish economy - both north and south - remains an area of confusion for many people. John Doyle examines the economic policy of the 'Irish Congress of Trade Unions' (ICTU) and the general failure of the official Labour movement to advance the cause of the Irish working class, except in terms of extremely limited gains. From 'Iris' magazine, November 1982.

Speaking about the basic principles for workers vis-a-vis capitalism, James Connolly wrote - "The real battle is the battle being fought out to control industry...in the number of those workers who enrol themselves in an industrial organisation with the definite purpose of making themselves masters of the industrial equipment of society in general."

But there is very little of Connolly in the practice of today's trade unions, as locked within a capitalist vision of development they fight only, and even at that meekly, not for control but for a share. A share which, although it has increased proportionately since 1894-1913, has been given by a subtle Western capitalism, not taken by an assertive working class.

As Michael Peillon says, the workers' movement has advanced no rationality as an alternative to the irrationalities of capitalism. Given that absence of political perception it is not even bureaucratic trade union leadership that prevents movement forward to Connolly's revolutionary socialism, but the lack of ideology and its necessary practice. (MORE LATER).


On the 16th October, 1854, a boy was born to a middle-class family who lived at Westland Row, Dublin : the child's father 'Sir' William Wilde, was a doctor and his wife, who was known to be 'unconventional' for the times that were in it - Jane Francesca Agnes (née Elgee aka 'Lady' Wilde) - was a poet who mixed in artistic and intellectual circles, and was left-leaning in her political beliefs. The child was christened 'Oscar Fingal O'Flahertie Wills Wilde' : Oscar Wilde.

Oscar was educated in Trinity College in Dublin and then in Magdalen College in Oxford, England, and won a 'double-first' in 'Mods' (one of the hardest examinations ever devised!) and the Newdigate Prize for Poetrty but, nonetheless, had to revert to lecturing and freelancing for periodicals to make a living. However, he persevered and, in his mid-30's, made a name for himself with 'The Happy Prince', followed three years later with 'Lord Arthur Savile's Crime' and, in that same year, 'A House of Pomegranates'.

He then took the world by storm and ensured for himself a place at the top table of literary giants with his works Lady Windermere's Fan, A Woman of No Importance, An Ideal Husband and The Importance of being Earnest. But 'life' intervened - being, as Oscar Wilde was, a gay man in the Victorian era brought with it even more dangers than for a heterosexual who 'played the field' : his affair (and letters) to his boyfriend lead to him serving two years in prison, after which he wrote 'The Ballad of Reading Gaol' -

"Dear Christ! the very prison walls

Suddenly seemed to reel,

And the sky above my head became

Like a casque of scorching steel;

And, though I was a soul in pain,

My pain I could not feel."

('The Ballad of Reading Gaol', by Oscar Wilde, written after his release from Reading prison on 19 May 1897.)

When he was released (at 43 years of age, in 1897) he went into exile and died, three years later, in Paris, on the 30th November 1900 - 116 years ago on this date.



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!


The screw lifted the telephone and dialled a number : "Listen, Sir," he said, "I've got these two Germans here just brought in for shoplifting in Belfast city centre and they can't speak the English, like what me and you can. Do ye know what I mean, like?" The seemingly one-sided telephone conversation continued - "Yes, ok, right, do you think so? I'll try, fair enough, no trouble at all, Sir, sorry for taking up your time. How's your wife? Oh, did she? Sorry to hear that, Sir, nobody told me. And she took the car as well...?" He replaced the receiver. "Slap it up ya, where the fuck am I going to find an interpreter?" , he shouted aloud. I saw a momentary smirk on the face of one of the Germans. This could be interesting, I thought.

The screw's attempt to glean information from the Germans was going no where and then he was joined by one of his colleagues who, on hearing his mate's dilemma, sprang into action. This screw's efforts to question the Germans was even worse than his mates. At one stage he broke into a 'Allo Allo!' -type French accent as the Germans looked on, impassively.

In an effort to break the deadlock, the first screw started giving the Nazi salute and screaming "Ve hav vays of making you talk. If you do not answer our questions you vill be sent to the Russian Front..." and both screws laughed uncontrollably. This 'investigation' was going from the ridiculous to the Pythonesque. "I am from Lisburn," shouted the second screw, slowly and, as he spoke, he was gesticulating wildly with his hands, making shapes of houses and other types of buildings, like skyscrapers. I think. This struck me as strange, as there are no skyscrapers in Lisburn. "Ver are you from?" , he asked the Germans. No answer... (MORE LATER).


'On November 30th, 1835 (181 years ago on this date) the small town of Florida in Missouri witnessed the birth of its most famous son. Samuel Langhorne Clemens was welcomed into the world as the sixth child of John Marshall and Jane Lampton Clemens...approximately four years after his birth, in 1839, the Clemens family moved 35 miles east to the town of Hannibal. A growing port city that lay along the banks of the Mississippi, Hannibal was a frequent stop for steam boats arriving by both day and night from St. Louis and New Orleans. Samuel's father was a judge, and he built a two-story frame house at 206 Hill Street in 1844. As a youngster, Samuel was kept indoors because of poor health. However, by age nine, he seemed to recover from his ailments and joined the rest of the town's children outside. He then attended a private school in Hannibal. When Samuel was 12, his father died of pneumonia and, at 13, Samuel left school to become a printer's apprentice. After two short years, he joined his brother Orion's newspaper as a printer and editorial assistant. It was here that young Samuel found he enjoyed writing...'

And, since then, millions of people have enjoyed his writings - "Loyalty to country always. Loyalty to government, when it deserves it."

"Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect." And an Irish connection - 'Croker (NOT this one!) earned the undying wrath of (Samuel Langhorne Clemens) who in a mock eulogy to the Irish emmigrant got his facts wrong, but maybe not the tone, when he said "Yes, farewell to Croker forever, the Baron of Wantage, the last, and I dare say the least desirable, addition to English nobility...an all-round blatherskite and chief pillager of the municipal till..." ' This is the wordsmith in question...!


"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 - 349 years ago on this date. 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. 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.

Thanks for reading, Sharon.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016



..they're made of sweat, determination, and a hard-to-find alloy called guts." (Dan Gable.)

The medals in the pic on the left are not gold, but they're going to be as hard-earned as if they were - the 25th December this year will witness the 40th successive CABHAIR fund-raising swim which, as always, will be held outdoors, regardless of the weather.

Cabhair supporters in the Kilmainham area of Dublin have gifted the above medals (inscription : 'Cabhair 40th Anniversary Swim : 1976 - 2016') to the local Cabhair committee to be presented to each of the swimmers on Christmas Day 2016 in recognition of the "sweat, determination and guts" it has taken all concerned - especially the swimmers - in having kept this event going since 1976. The lads and lassies in Kilmainham - stalwart supporters of this annual event - are to be thanked for this gesture of goodwill but, at the same time, they needn't come looking for an extra glass of 'lemonade' on the day...!


- that's our prediction in relation to the new children's hospital which is already under construction in the grounds of an existing infrastructurally-challenged Dublin hospital : "We have power to change this decision and make the right decision for the kids of this country, not just for this generation but for the next three or four generations. This children's hospital is supposed to last for 100 years. It can't. It won't be able to accommodate a maternity hospital on site and as a result of that, babies are going to die. This is wrong, wrong, wrong...many appallingly bad decisions have been made by successive governments over the last few decades which have cost us dearly - PPARS, voting machines, four instead of six lanes on the M50, the Red and Green lines of the Luas not connecting, Thornton Hall, etc...this new hospital is supposed to meet the needs of our sickest children from the whole of Ireland for the next 100 years. If we allow institutional politics to prevail by building on the St James's site, children's needs won't be met for even the next 10 years...the proposed hospital is as high and much longer than Croke Park ; this on a site that is already built on and will require major re-location of parts of the adult hospital, re-routing a major sewer at an estimated cost of €18m and causing major disruption for patients and staff...a ridiculous decision and a terrible mistake...the site is surrounded by very narrow single-lane streets which create significant problems for ambulance access.

The proposed parking provision would be the lowest of any recently built children's hospital anywhere in the world, significantly adding to parents' stress. If built at St James's, subsequent air pollution will exceed mandatory EU figures and the air quality guidelines of the World Health Organisation...no compelling clinical or planning reasons have ever been produced to support the choice of St James's - because none exist..." - Dr. Fin Breatnach, paediatrician.

'Ultimately, this was a political decision...' - from here. And, in our opinion, it was a decision taken by various members of the establishment in this State, political and business class, because they were bribed to arrive at that conclusion, as has happened here before. Once again, wealthy individuals in positions of authority have feathered their own nest at the expense of society and, by doing so, they have endangered the lives of children - not their own children, of course, as their kids will be helicoptered to the nearest private facility should the need arise - but the children of working-class and unemployed parents who themselves are constantly ripped-off by that greedy and shameless 'elite' and, as a mother of three children, I have experience of that. We'd guess that it will be at least a decade after the new entity has been squeezed into an already crowded and totally unsuitable space before the corruption involved comes to light but, by then, those responsible will have moved on - perhaps to Brussels or a private nursing home here or abroad - and no heads will roll, no compensation will be sought and nothing will have been learned. That's 'Free Statism' for ya.


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.

SWEET DREAMS. (By Kevin Lynch.)

All alone I dream of night time with you

a cold winter's night it is.

I see your face of beauty smiling like the sun

it warms me in this cold.

I see our house, our home

then I'm in our room.

In my mind nothing has changed

I see the picture on the wall

with the baby in the basket.

You have everything just right

the scented flowers in the dish on the dresser

and the water bottle in the bed.

As in life you have your side

and I have mine.

We slip under the covers

and entwine in each other's embrace.

You say your feet are cold

but nothing of you could be cold to me.

Then we settle

your head is on my chest.

With one arm and one leg across me.

It seems so natural, so right.

I haven't a care in the world

and everything is quiet.

We drift into a beautiful lovers sleep.

We are like dancers in the night

You turn and I turn with you

I turn and you turn with me

then we are still, moulded together

our spirit is one in the night.

Morning wakes us from our embrace

the soul of day is echoed in your face

I just lie and stare at you.

The dribbles on your cheek

and the look I love so much.

My hand reaches out to touch you

but you disappear. I wake up all alone again.

(Next - 'The Crier', by Kevin Lynch.)


And, yes, we are members of that rare breed - house owners. But it took us over twenty years to get there : we were in our late teens when we got married and took out a mortgage (with all that that entails ie financial hardship, no holidays, the extra money needed to rear three kids, a car held together with sellotape etc etc) and, as stated, it took us over twenty years to pay it back, but pay it back we did, ahead of schedule. Which, apparently, marks us out as a 'cash cow' as far as the politicians here are concerned, as we are being pursued by the taxman for a 'property tax' ie money 'owed' for owning our our home!

I've mentioned this 'property tax' scam before (see 'IF, WITHIN 14 DAYS FROM THE DATE OF THIS LETTER...', here) and we are in the same position regarding other double-taxes we 'owe' - the bin tax and the water tax, neither of which we will entertain or pay, for the same reason : the property that the political administration here is attempting to make us pay (twice!) for is a property which we bought ourselves over more than two decades and on which we owe no money, to anyone. We always paid the local council (through general taxation and VAT) to have our rubbish bins emptied but, to cut a long story short, the council 'sold' those bin routes to private operators who, obviously, seek payment from citizens for that service and they, the council, never reduced general taxation rates or VAT rates to take account of the changed situation. And likewise with the water tax issue.

And that, in a nutshell, is why we won't pay for them - because we don't believe in paying at least twice for any one service, but the State 'officials' looking for us to pay, again, for those services have been in touch with us, again, re 'accounts payable for property number ** *********', informing us, in a 'Notice of Estimate', that they intend to deduct said amount from our wages. So, here we go, again - that's my cue to notify the wages department in my job not to deduct any non-work related stoppages from my wages unless I agree to same in advance. As I said in the 'IF, WITHIN..' link, above, if nothing else I'll have the satisfaction of knowing that I didn't voluntarily allow them to rip me off, nor did I meekly hand over that money to them. Small comfort, I know, but when you're up against a powerful and corrupt goliath it simply has to be enough, sometimes, just to survive and walk away with peace of mind. And that's something they won't get off me.


The role of the trade union movement in Ireland in relation to the continued imperialist occupation of the North and to the foreign multi-national domination of the Irish economy - both north and south - remains an area of confusion for many people. John Doyle examines the economic policy of the 'Irish Congress of Trade Unions' (ICTU) and the general failure of the official Labour movement to advance the cause of the Irish working class, except in terms of extremely limited gains. From 'Iris' magazine, November 1982.

The balance between militancy and cynicism is one that pervades all layers of the trade union rank-and-file in Ireland. The militancy is just what could be expected from members of a national trade union organisation (ICTU) which represents 65% of insured workers in both parts of the country, and which has a history dating to 1894.

The cynicism of course derives from bitter experience of betrayal from the Congress leadership. The dissipation of the initially enormously militant PAYE demonstrations of recent years and the isolation, or exclusion, of militant unions (such as the busworkers' union, the NBU) from the ICTU umbrella, are classic examples of the trade union leadership acting to prevent disruption of its spineless conservatism.

Michel Peillon, a lecturer in sociology at Maynooth college, writing in his book 'Contemporary Irish Society ; An Introduction', clearly demonstrates that despite the ICTU's formal recognition of the exploitativeness of the capitalist system it nonetheless accepts the capitalist model of industrial development, as well as an industrial development policy based on the multi-national investment which is now predominant in the Irish economy.

Speaking at the Congess, Peillon says - "It daily pits itself against a bourgeoisie whose leadership it accepts. The trade unions, defensive associations operating within capitalism, by and large accept the industrial project of the bourgeoisie. They offer no serious alternative to the capitalist future of Irish society."

The fundamental failing of the Irish trade union movement can be seen in that, of the 90 unions affiliated to Congress (and those few outside its highly restrictive embrace), all confine themselves nearly absolutely to the role of 'gas and water socialism' warned against by James Connolly in his controversy with the Northern unionist/labour politician, William Walker (who, incidentally, died on this date - 23rd November - (at 47 years of age) 35 years ago).



"These Irish are really shocking, abominable people. Not like any other civilised nation..." - the words of Britain's 'Queen' Victoria, on hearing about the 'Manchester Outrage', as she called it. Her comments were replied to by one of the 'uncivilised Irish' people she was speaking about : "I will die proudly and triumphantly in defence of republican principles and the liberty of an oppressed and enslaved people..." - the words of 18-years-young William Allen, from Bandon, County Cork. The "outrage", as far as the British are concerned, anyway , began on the 11th September that year (1867) (....although, in reality, it began for us Irish in 1169) when, in the early hours of the morning of Wednesday, 11th September 1867, two men were arrested by police in Shudehill, Manchester, on suspicion that they were about to commit a robbery.

The two men were charged under the 'Vagrancy Act' and were detained in police custody, and it was then they were recognised (by fellow Irishmen in British police uniforms) as Colonel Thomas J.Kelly and Captain Timothy Deasy, two known Fenians. Their comrades in Manchester, which was the 'Bandit Country' of its day, vowed to free the two men and, on the 18th of September, 1867, as a prison van carrying the two men (and a 12-years-young boy, plus three female prisoners) was travelling on the Manchester to Salford road, on its way to 'deposit the cargo' in Belle Vue Gaol on the Hyde Road in Gorton, Manchester, accompanied by a team of 12 horse-mounted policemen, it was attacked by about 50 Fenians. Kelly and Deasy were handcuffed and locked in two separate compartments inside the van, guarded by a police sergeant, a Charles Brett, and, as such, were unable to assist their comrades outside.

The mounted police escort fled the scene on seeing the number of attackers but Brett was obviously unable to do so : the Fenian rescuers were unable to force open the van and advised Brett that it would be for his own good to open the doors and let the prisoners go. Brett refused the offer, and was looking through the keyhole to further assess his situation when one of the rescuers decided to shoot the lock apart - the bullet went through the keyhole and hit Brett in the head, killing him instantly. One of the female prisoners had the good sense to take the keys from his pocket and hand them out through an air vent to those outside, and Kelly and Deasy were taken to safety.

Twenty-six men were later arrested and tried for playing a part in the rescue, and five of them were detained to stand trial, on 1st November 1867, for their alleged part in what the British called the "Manchester Outrage" : all five were actually sentenced to be hanged, but one was granted clemency and another was 'pardoned' as the evidence against him was found to be perjured. The other three - William Allen, Michael O'Brien and Michael Larkin - the 'Manchester Martyrs', were hanged in front of thousands of baying spectators on Saturday, 23rd November 1867 - 149 years ago on this date - in Salford, Manchester, outside the New Bailey Jail. In an address to the court, William Philip Allen, 18, stated - "No man in this court regrets the death of Sergeant Brett more than I do, and I positively say, in the presence of the Almighty and ever-living God, that I am innocent ; aye, as innocent as any man in this court. I don't say this for the sake of mercy : I want no mercy — I'll have no mercy. I'll die, as many thousands have died, for the sake of their beloved land, and in defence of it."

"I will die proudly and triumphantly in defence of republican principles and the liberty of an oppressed and enslaved people. Is it possible we are asked why sentence should not be passed upon us, on the evidence of prostitutes off the streets of Manchester, fellows out of work, convicted felons — aye, an Irishman sentenced to be hanged when an English dog would have got off. I say positively and defiantly, justice has not been done me since I was arrested. If justice had been done me, I would not have been handcuffed at the preliminary investigation in Bridge Street ; and in this court justice has not been done me in any shape or form. I was brought up here and all the prisoners by my side were allowed to wear overcoats, and I was told to take mine off. What is the principle of that? There was something in that principle, and I say positively that justice has not been done me. As for the other prisoners, they can speak for themselves with regard to that matter. And now, with regard to the way I have been identified. I have to say that my clothes were kept for four hours by the policemen in Fairfield station and shown to parties to identify me as being one of the perpetrators of this outrage on Hyde Road. Also in Albert station there was a handkerchief kept on my head the whole night, so that I could be identified the next morning in the corridor by the witnesses."

"I was ordered to leave on the handkerchief for the purpose that the witnesses could more plainly see I was one of the parties who committed the outrage. As for myself, I feel the righteousness of my every act with regard to what I have done in defence of my country. I fear not. I am fearless — fearless of the punishment that can be inflicted on me ; and with that, my lords, I have done." However, he then added the following - "I beg to be excused. One remark more. I return Mr. Seymour and Mr. Jones my sincere and heartfelt thanks for their able eloquence and advocacy on my part in this affray. I wish also to return to Mr. Roberts the very same. My name, sir, might be wished to be known. It is not William O'Meara Allen. My name is William Philip Allen. I was born and reared in Bandon, in the County of Cork, and from that place I take my name; and I am proud of my country, and proud of my parentage. My lords, I have done."

Michael Larkin, 32, lived in the Banagher region of County Offaly and was a tailor by trade. He was not of good health and himself and his two comrades were captured as they carried him away from the scene of the rescue. He, too, addressed the court : "I have only got a word or two to say concerning Sergeant Brett. As my friend here said, no one could regret the man's death as much as I do. With regard to the charge of pistols and revolvers, and my using them, I call my God as witness that I neither used pistols, revolvers, nor any instrument on that day that would deprive the life of a child, let alone a man. Nor did I go there on purpose to take life away. Certainly, my lords, I do not want to deny that I did go to give aid and assistance to those two noble heroes that were confined in that van, Kelly and Deasy. I did go to do as much as lay in my power to extricate them out of their bondage ; but I did not go to take life, nor, my lord, did anyone else. It is a misfortune there was life taken ; but if it was taken it was not done intentionally, and the man who has taken life we have not got him. I was at the scene of action, when there were over, I dare say, 150 people standing by there when I was. I am very sorry I have to say, my lord, but I thought I had some respectable people to come up as witnesses against me ; but I am sorry to say as my friend said — I will make no more remarks concerning that. All I have to say, my lords and gentlemen, is that so far as my trial went, and the way it was conducted, I believe I have got a fair trial. What is decreed a man in the page of life he has to fulfil, either on the gallows, drowning, a fair death in bed, or on the battle-field. So I look to the mercy of God. May God forgive all who have sworn my life away. As I am a dying man, I forgive them from the bottom of my heart. God forgive them."

Michael O'Brien, 31, from Ballymacoda in Cork, was a lieutenant in the US Army and was better known in England by the name 'William Gould'. He delivered the following speech to the court : "I shall commence by saying that every witness who has sworn anything against me has sworn falsely. I have not had a stone in my possession since I was a boy. I had no pistol in my possession on the day when it is alleged this outrage was committed. You call it an outrage, I don't. I say further my name is Michael O'Brien. I was born in the county of Cork and have the honour to be a fellow-parishioner of Peter O'Neal Crowley, who was fighting against the British troops at Mitchelstown last March, and who fell fighting against British tyranny in Ireland. I am a citizen of the United States of America, and if Charles Francis Adams had done his duty towards me, as he ought to do in this country, I should not be in this dock answering your questions now. Mr. Adams did not come, though I wrote to him. He did not come to see if I could not find evidence to disprove the charge, which I positively could, if he had taken the trouble of sending or coming to see what I could do. I hope the American people will notice this part of the business." He then read a passage from a paper he was holding - "The right of man is freedom. The great God has endowed him with affections that he may use, not smother them, and a world that may be enjoyed. Once a man is satisfied he is doing right, and attempts to do anything with that conviction, he must be willing to face all the consequences. Ireland, with its beautiful scenery, its delightful climate, its rich and productive lands, is capable of supporting more than treble its population in ease and comfort.

Yet no man, except a paid official of the British Government, can say there is a shadow of liberty, that there is a spark of glad life amongst its plundered and persecuted inhabitants. It is to be hoped that its imbecile and tyrannical rulers will be for ever driven from her soil amidst the execrations of the world. How beautifully the aristocrats of England moralise on the despotism of the rulers of Italy and Dahomey — in the case of Naples with what indignation did they speak of the ruin of families by the detention of its head or some loved member in a prison. Who has not heard their condemnations of the tyranny that would compel honourable and good men to spend their useful lives in hopeless banishment?"

"They cannot find words to express their horror of the cruelties of the King of Dahomey because he sacrificed 2,000 human beings yearly, but why don't those persons who pretend such virtuous indignation at the misgovernment of other countries look at home, and see that greater crimes than those they charge against other governments are not committed by themselves or by their sanction? Let them look at London, and see the thousands that want bread there, while those aristocrats are rioting in luxuries and crimes. Look to Ireland; see the hundreds of thousands of its people in misery and want. See the virtuous, beautiful and industrious women who only a few years ago — aye, and yet — are obliged to look at their children dying for want of food. Look at what is called the majesty of the law on one side, and the long deep misery of a noble people on the other. Which are the young men of Ireland to respect — the law that murders or banishes their people or the means to resist relentless tyranny, and ending their miseries for ever under a home government? I need not answer that question here. I trust the Irish people will answer it to their satisfaction soon. I am not astonished at my conviction. The Government of this country have the power of convicting any person. They appoint the judge ; they choose the jury ; and by means of what they call patronage (which is the means of corruption) they have the power of making the laws to suit their purposes. I am confident that my blood will rise a hundredfold against the tyrants who think proper to commit such an outrage. In the first place, I say I was identified improperly by having chains on my hands and feet at the time of identification, and thus the witnesses who have sworn to my throwing stones and firing a pistol have sworn to what is false, for I was, as those ladies said, at the jail gates. I thank my counsel for their able defence, and also Mr. Roberts, for his attention to my case."

All three men shouted the words "God Save Ireland!" at different times during the 'trial', perhaps realising that, then, as now, the British were going to get their 'pound of flesh' one way or the other. The three men were, as stated, hanged by the British on this date - 23rd November - 149 years ago, and are still remembered and commemorated today by Irish republicans.


'Sir' Richard Dawson Bates (pictured, left) was born in Strandtown, Belfast, on the 23rd November 1876 - 140 years ago on this date - and was a solicitor (in Belfast) by profession. He was Secretary to the 'Ulster Unionist Council' at 28 years young, and held that position until he was aged 44 (ie from 1905 to 1921). In 1921, he was elected to Stormont and was appointed as the 'Minister of Home Affairs', a position he held for 22 years (from 1921 to 1943). In 1943, at 66 years of age, he retired to the 'back benches', where he stayed until 1945.

As the British 'Minister of Home Affairs' in the Six County 'parliament', he gave himself unprecedented powers to, for instance, "..outlaw organisations...to detain or intern people indefinitely without charge or trial...(and)...to destroy houses and buildings..", amongst other 'rights'. He was to become the envy of others with a similar mind-set : some 40 years later (ie in [April] 1963) a Mr. Vorster , then South African 'Minister for Justice', was introducing a new Coercion Bill in the South African Parliament when, no doubt thinking of 'Sir' Bates and his colleagues in Stormont and Westminster, he stated that he "..would be willing to exchange all the legislation of that sort for one clause of the Northern Ireland (sic) Special Powers Act." Birds of a feather indeed.

'Sir' Richard Dawson Bates was a known bigot, and apparently took it as a compliment when it was said of him in Stormont (by a Senior Civil Servant) - "He has such a prejudice against Catholics that he made it clear to his Permanent Secretary that he did not want his most juvenile clerk or typist, if a Papist (Catholic), assigned for duty to his ministry." In 1935, however, he seemed to believe that he could treat everyone like dirt, regardless of their religion - on 18th June that year (1935), 'Sir' Bates issued an 'official order' banning all parades, not just those with a republican/nationalist 'flavour' : the Orange Order objected and told Bates and his people that it was their intention to hold a parade on the 23rd June (1935) and that said parade would be going ahead. Bates was not pleased - it was one thing to trample over the rights of the 'Papists', but the Orange Order were his own people and he expected that they would support him. Bates put his troops on notice, and repeated his 'banning order'. On the 23rd June (1935), the Orange Order took to the streets, as they said they would - and the RUC, and 'Sir' Bates, stood and watched!

At that parade, the then Orange Grand Master, a 'Sir' Joseph Davison, 'put it up' to his friend, 'Sir' Bates - "You may be perfectly certain that on the 12 July the Orangemen will be marching throughout Northern Ireland (sic). I do not acknowledge the right of any government, Northern or Imperial, to impose conditions as to the celebration." On the 22nd December 1938, 'Sir' (or 'Master'?) Bates introduced internment for republicans, saying - "The (Stormont) Government decided there was no alternative other than to arrest and intern well-known leaders and prominent members of this illegal organisation (IRA)." No 'backing-down' on that one.

Bates was a 'product' of the times and 'class' he was born into ; he could not help but be arrogant, a trait which was to his advantage when it came to his chosen 'career'. He died in Somerset, England, on the 10th June 1949 at 72 years of age, having been a 'proud Orangeman' for all his adult life.


Ireland 1915 ; The 'Irish Volunteer' movement had split ; approximately 170,000 men stayed with John Redmond and fought with England in the belief that to do so would guarantee a form of 'Home Rule' for Ireland - but about 10,000 men broke away as they had no faith in Redmond's plan. Months earlier, British 'Sir' George Richardson had taken command of the Ulster Volunteer Force (a pro-British militia) and had landed about 25,000 rifles and two-and-a-half million rounds of ammunition at Larne in County Antrim - when the British Government in Westminster attempted to move against the UVF (as they had no control over them then), British Army officers mutinied in objection. Meanwhile, elsewhere in Ireland, other forces were recruiting : Irish republicans were re-organising ; the 'Irish Citizen Army' was recruiting for volunteers, as was Sinn Féin, the 'Irish Republican Brotherhood' and John Redmond's 'United Irish League'. There was turmoil in the country.

On the 11th of November 1913 in Dublin, in the then 68-year-old Wynn's Hotel on Lower Abbey Street, a group of Irishmen and women held a meeting to discuss the formation of an 'Irish National Volunteer Force'. Those present at that meeting and/or at five other such meetings which were held immediately afterwards in the space of a two-week period, included Sean Fitzgibbon, John Gore, Michael J Judge, James Lenehan, Michael Lonergan, Peadar Macken, Seamus O'Connor, Colm O'Loughlin, Peter O'Reilly, Robert Page, George Walsh, Peadar White and Padraig O'Riain, amongst others (all of whom were well known in Irish nationalist circles ie Sinn Féin, Cumann na mBan, Na Fianna Éireann, the Gaelic League, the IRB, the Ancient Order of Hibernians, the Irish Parliamentary Party and the United Irish League).

Then, on the 25th November 1913, the inaugural enrolment meeting for the 'Irish Volunteers' was held at the Rotunda Rink in Dublin, to "secure the rights and liberties common to all the people of Ireland". That meeting was overseen by a provisional committee consisting of thirty members, all of whom had been elected at the above-mentioned meetings. Previous to the formation of the 'Irish Volunteers', James Connolly and others had formed the 'Irish Citizen Army', and both groups were in competition for members, the former on a 32-county basis whereas the latter was confined to the Leinster area, although attempts were made, through trade union structures, to recruit in Cork, Belfast, Derry, Sligo, Limerick, Kilkenny, Waterford, Dundalk, Galway and Wexford, but with little success. Also, those joining the 'Volunteers' were supplied with a uniform and other equipment while those joining the 'ICA' had to purchase their gear themselves. Relations between the two organisations were not the best, as the 'Volunteers' allowed, for instance, employers to join and this at a time when employees and other trade unionists would most likely be 'ICA' members or supporters and, actually, when the 'Volunteers' were in conference for the first time(25th November 1913) Irish Citizen Army members and supporters loudly made their presence felt and they also objected in print - their first leaflet stated that the 'Volunteers' were controlled by those who were opposed not only to trade unionism but also to workers rights regarding working conditions etc.

Within a few months, however, the animosity had lessened to the extent that there was some official co-operation between both groups at the Wolfe Tone commemoration in June 1914 and again in October that year during the events held to commemorate Charles Stewart Parnell, and both groups joined forces at Easter 1916 and took part side-by-side in the 1916 Rising, during which almost 100 women, members of Cumann na mBan and the Irish Citizen Army , played a full part in the fighting : Cumann na mBan , formed in April 1914, and the Irish Citizen Army, were in training months before the 1916 Rising. Both groups received instruction in first aid, signalling and weapons preparation. Connolly's daughters, Nora and Agnes, who were both members of Cumann na mBan, joined other members of that organisation in travelling around the country to ascertain the strengths and weaknesses in a particular area.

The 'Irish Citizen Army' was formed by James Connolly and Jack White on the 23rd November 1913 - 103 years ago on this date - and other prominent members included Seán O'Casey, Constance Markievicz, Francis Sheehy-Skeffington, P. T. Daly and Christopher Poole. The organisation proper became inactive in the late 1930's although its ethos lives on to this day.


'PayPal' will not allow Palestinians living in Gaza and the occupied West Bank to have an account - they have no problem allowing Israelis living in illegal settlements using their service and, as Sam Bahour (Ceo of consulting firm 'Applied Information Management') puts it - "Regretfully, when corporate America turns a blind eye to the services these start-ups require to thrive, the message they are indirectly sending is that they don't think young Palestinians deserve the same opportunities and advantages that their products offer so many other tech entrepreneurs.."

You can show your support for fair play in relation to this issue by signing the petition here and/or by contacting 'Paypal' on 00 1 402-935-2050, by filling-in their online complaint form and/or using the contact information at this link.

'Here, there, anywhere' indeed.



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!


The reception area of Long Kesh in 1973 was actually a couple of Nissan Huts with little one-person cubicles where you waited to get processed by the screws. The governor read you the 'Riot Act' as you stood pretending to dig a big snatter out of your nose and scratch your arse at the same time. Screws barked out orders in front of the governor trying to make themselves seem important and on the job - "Left wheel, right wheel, eyes front, back straight..." and so it went on as you stood there picking your nose, shuffling your feet and looking all about you with 'the-prison-hasn't-been-built-yet-that-can-hold-me' -look on your face.

"Your number is..? "I have no number," I said, as I glared back at him. The screw just uttered the number anyway like an automation. That was his job. "Stick your number up your arse sideways," I answered. That was my job. The governor hoped I would have a pleasant stay in his concentration camp and bade me goodbye with the words "If you have any problems, good..." As I attempted to etch 'Patrick Pearse wuz 'ere' on the wall of my little cubicle with my plastic knife, Entente Cordiale was being shot to pieces outside the door. "Vat is your naam?" asked the screw in a bad BBC sit-com German accent to one of the two Germans who had just been deposited in his care by members of the irreparable RUC ('Patton Commission', please note!)

The Teutonic tealeaf looked expressionless at his inquisitive turnkey and would-be incarcerator. The German then turned and looked at his accomplice, who was feeling really sorry for himself as he stood there with his prison-issue bedding, blue plastic mug, grey plastic cutlery, razor, package of 'Seven-O-Clock' blades and bar of white buttermilk soap... (MORE LATER).

Thanks for reading, Sharon.

Wednesday, November 09, 2016



In Ireland, in 1920, the British administration established a large paramilitary force of anti-Irish unionists and declared that that grouping should be known as the 'Special Constabulary', comprising approximately 40,000 members in total. It was a three-tiered grouping : group 'A', numbering around 2,000 men, would be paid full time, armed and mobile, operating much as the hated RIC did, group 'B' would have about 20,000 armed members, part-time, uniformed but unpaid and group 'C' would consist of about 15,000 'reservists', to be called 'for duty' in times of "extreme emergency" only. A sizeable number of those who joined the new 'Specials' were from the ranks of the 'Ulster Volunteer Force' (UVF), a pro-British paramilitary outfit which, even after its numbers had been so diminished, managed to retain a membership of approximately 20,000 (armed) men, with a British Colonel, F.H. Crawford, in charge of it.

The British government was interested in using Crawford's UVF to further secure its military and political position in Ireland - this was then only five years after the 1916 Rising and both sides in Ireland were aware that the fight was not yet over - and Westminster let it be known that it was in favour of 'utilising' those armed men as part of its military effort to 'secure Ireland for the Empire', a scenario which the RIC, in turn, 'let it be known' that it was in favour of. On the 9th November 1921 - 95 years ago on this date - the Divisional Commissioner of the RIC in the Six Counties, a Colonel 'Sir' Charles Wickham, stated, in a 'secret' circular which he sent to other RIC bosses in the Six Counties -"Owing to the number of reports which have been received as to the growth of unauthorised loyalist defence forces, the (British) Government have under consideration the desirability of obtaining the services of the best elements of these organisations. They have decided that the scheme most likely to meet the situation would be to enroll all who volunteer and are considered suitable into Class 'C' (of the 'Special Constabulary') and to form them into regular military units. There is no necessity to produce the maximum possible number of units ; what is required is to ensure that every unit recommended for formation can be constituted from a reliable section of the population."

Note how the supposed 'neutral' RIC described the UVF paramilitary organisation as a "loyalist defence force" and as "a reliable section of the population" - the British were then, and still are today, 'in charge' of those loyalist paramilitary organisations, and use them to carry-out 'jobs' which Westminster wants done, but not 'officially'. Also, about two weeks after 'Sir' Wickham wrote and dispatched his 'secret' circular, a copy of it found its way into the hands of Michael Collins who, on 23rd November 1921 - while attending Treaty negotiations with the British in London - produced it to the startled British team and told them it may very well signal the end of the 'negotiations'.

Westminster called-in its top man in the Six Counties, 'Sir' James Craig, the Stormont 'Prime Minister', and told him that the 'secret' circular would have to be withdrawn ; Craig then instructed his 'Minister for Home Affairs', a Mr. Richard Dawson Bates (a UVF man) to withdraw the circular. However, by way of a 'two-fingered salute' to his political masters in Westminster, when he returned to Belfast, Craig increased the number of 'A Specials' by 700 men, and the 'B Specials' by 5,000 men! If they couldn't 'hire' "from a reliable section of the population" in one way, then they'd find another way to do it!

Incidentally, Colonel 'Sir' Charles Wickham had an interesting background - a British Establishment man through and through,'Sir' Charles had an interesting background - he spent 23 years as the man in charge of the 'B' Specials, and was also head of the RUC for a period. He was born in 1879, in England, and was educated at Harrow and Sandhurst, where he no doubt picked-up his 'stiff upper lip'. At 20 years young he joined the British Army and served in the Boer War and in the 'First World War'. Between the years 1918 and 1920 he served as a Lieutenant-Colonel with the British military 'mission' in the Russian Civil War, following which (at 41 years young) he was the 'Divisional Commissioner for Ulster' in the RIC, from 1920 to 1922. It was at that time in his 'career' that he helped to establish the Ulster Special Constabulary. At 43 years young he was appointed as the Inspector-General of the RUC, a position he held until 1945 when, at 66 years of age, his paymasters in Westminster formed the opinion that the 'johnnies' in the 'colonies' would benefit from a spot of 'Wickham-ism' . In 1945, British Lieutenant-Colonel 'Sir' Charles Wickham was 66 years of age ; but no rest for the wicked. He was sent to Greece to serve as the 'Head of British Police and Prisons Mission', where he 'crossed swords' with the ELAS guerilla group. He remained in that position until 1952(when he was 73 years of age). The man died in 1972, at the age of 93 and had a longer life than most of those he came into contact with.


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.


I like to watch the

birds feeding in the corner

of the yard each day.

The little sparrows

flee when the big crow arrives

to devour bread.

The wagtail is late

and I begin to wonder

will he ever show.

Maybe the hawk had

got him yesterday morning

as he hovered high.

I saw him last week

trying to kill a starling

feeding beside me.

Much to my delight

a blackbird landed today

beside the jackdaw.

He was a stranger

to these parts because he fed

very cautiously.

He would fly up to

the top of the wire fence

when the lads walk by

Another crow lands

and begins to muscle his way

into the group.

He is different

to the other crows

because of his white feather.

Growing among

the shiny black plumage

of his wing, transparently

The whistling of a

chaffinch perching upon the

fence delightfully

Attracts attention

of everybody today

as he sings his song.

The swifts display their

flying skills as they catch flies

swooping and swerving

While the pigeons rest

upon the chimney over

Beside the tower.

(Next - 'Sweet Dreams', by Kevin Lynch.)


'Martin McGuinness helps Her Majesty unveil a new painting to mark her role in Anglo-Irish peace deal...the Queen was joined by former IRA commander Martin McGuinness as she unveiled a new portrait of herself by a Belfast-born artist. Mr McGuinness, the Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland (sic), applauded as the monarch pulled the satin cover off the painting at a reception in London today. The Duke of Edinburgh and First Minister of Northern Ireland (sic) Arlene Foster also attended...' (from here.)

The British 'queen' gets a new portrait and her lackeys queue-up to congratulate her - including ex-PIRA new-money man and even 'newer' art connoisseur Martin McGuinness who, in actual fact, was present not only to show his admiration for his 'queen' but also to evaluate the finished product, as he is thinking of having a portrait of himself commissioned by the same artist. But that will depend on whether he can squeeze the same deal for himself as he recently secured for his party colleagues in the Free State, who will probably settle for an oul photo with their benefactor, Enda Kenny (seen here, sizing-up his own portrait), rather than an audience with their 'queen'. Martin, on the other hand, gets to hobnob with both!




Head Quarters.

The first year of Irish Liberty.



What do I hear? The British Government are dared to speak of concessions! Would you accept of them? Can you think of entering into a treaty with a British Minister? A Minister too, who has left you at the mercy of an English soldiery, who has laid your cities waste, and massacred inhumanely your best Citizens . . . a Minister, the bane of society, and the scourge of mankind . . . behold, Irishmen . . . he holds in his hand the olive of peace; be aware, his other hand lies concealed armed with a poniard. NO, IRISHMEN, no . . . you shall not be the dupes of his base intrigues. Unable to subdue your courage, he attempts to seduce you, let his efforts be vain. Horrid crimes have been perpetuated in your country. Your friends have fallen a sacrifice to their devotion for your cause. Their shadows are around you and call aloud for Vengeance.

It is your duty to avenge their death. It is your duty to strike on their blood-cemented thrones the murderers of your friends.

Listen to no proposals, IRISHMEN, wage a war of extermination against your oppressors, the war of Liberty against tyranny, and Liberty shall Triumph.


It was on this date (9th November) in 1791 that James Napper Tandy convened the inaugural meeting of the 'Dublin Society of United Irishmen'. The meeting took place in the Eagle Tavern (now known as the 'Quaker [Friends] Meeting House', where the wall plaque, pictured above, left, is located) in Eustace Street in Dublin city centre. The meeting was Chaired by Simon Butler (1757-1797, a barrister by profession, and brother of 'Lord' Mountgarret - family history here), with Tandy himself acting as Secretary, and the following resolutions were among those discussed and passed - 'That the weight of English influence in the government of this country is so great, as to require a cordial union among all the people of Ireland, to maintain that balance which is essential to the preservation of our liberties and the extension of our commerce...that the sole constitutional mode by which this influence can be opposed, is by a complete and radical reform of the representation of the people in Parliament... and that no reform is just which does not include every Irishman of every religious persuasion.'

The 'Dublin Society' held meetings on alternative Fridays, usually at the Music Hall in Fishamble Street in the city centre, with the objective of working to obtain social democratic reforms and independence from England and developed a strategy of spreading its ideals by means of leaflets, newspapers, ballads, 'catechisms' and travelling emissaries. By 1797, the society as a whole had at least 100,000 members throughout Ireland whereas today, although smaller in number (!), the objective remains the same : 'independence from England'.


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.

In Ireland, the parliamentary left is grossly underdeveloped, while the traditional parties are tolerated for their corruption sagas and needlessly divisive referendums by virtue of what is still a relatively favourable economy.

With the 'Immigration Control' group leafleting Clonakilty on the AIDS dangers of immigrants, and the economy likely to get worse before it gets better, a traditionally inward-looking Ireland will do well to face what seems an ugly transition into multicultural nationhood (sic) while carefully avoiding the dangerous voices that influence the ballot boxes and criminal statistics of our continental neighbours.

(END of 'If it ain't white'. Next - 'Trade Unions and Capitalism in Ireland', from 1982).


The Poppy is sold (and worn) in 'honour' of all British military personnel, a fact acknowledged by the British Legion and echoed loudly (and often) in Westminster and Stormont. Members of that same blood-thirsty, drugged-up ragged bunch of world-wide mercenaries have caused havoc and spread destitution and moral syphilis in, amongst other global 'hot-spots', Antigua and Barbuda, Australia, Bahamas, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belize, Botswana, Brunei Darussalam, Cameroon, Canada, Cyprus, Dominica, Fiji Islands, Gambia, Ghana, Grenada, Guyana, Ireland, India and about 40 other countries, yet the 'Establishment' here in this farce of a Free State constantly attempt to 'sell' the Poppy as 'our way of remembering our Irish soldiers, tens-of-thousands of them, who died in WW1 (sic)...'

But no Irish soldiers died then : rather it was British soldiers, recruited in Ireland, who lost their young lives in that butchery. Irish soldiers also died in that period in Ireland, fighting the British Army, and they are honoured, properly, by the wearing of the Easter Lily, and they do not deserve to be 'lumped in' with those from the cesspit ie the Black and Tans, the executioners of the men and women who challenged 'The Empire' in 1916 and the BA Para Regiment, to name but some of those who swim in that swill. So don't wear your bloody poppy in my name.


"Choose a leader who will invest in building bridges, not walls. Books, not weapons. Morality, not corruption. Intellectualism and wisdom, not ignorance. Stability, not fear and terror. Peace, not chaos. Love, not hate. Convergence, not segregation. Tolerance, not discrimination. Fairness, not hypocrisy. Substance, not superficiality. Character, not immaturity. Transparency, not secrecy. Justice, not lawlessness. Environmental improvement and preservation, not destruction. Truth, not lies" (Suzy Kassem).

And that's why I wouldn't have voted for either of them - Trump or Clinton were not candidates who would have 'invested in building bridges etc' and those of any intelligence that had a vote should have claimed it and then spoiled it in protest at being stuck between a rock and a hard place. Trump is an in-your-face nasty human being and Clinton is a behind-your-back nasty human being. A plague on both their houses, just as surely as either one of them, in office, will bring a plague on all our houses. Trump's actions in the White House will not be in my name.



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!

'Honky' Wilson and the rest of us pretended ignorance of the seagull episode and carried on to the canteen and, as we were doing so, the seagulls who survived the plan unscathed made their escape upwards, ever upwards.

We reached the door of the canteen and peered in - at first glance it looked like a butcher's shop but I'm happy to report that no seagulls were killed in the execution of the plan. I can't vouch for the seagulls' mental condition, but Eddie Brophy certainly went mental! (MORE LATER).


The '112' is the 112th (Republican) Sinn Féin Ard Fheis which is being held this coming weekend (12th and 13th November 2016) in a Dublin venue and the '8' is a reference to the number of prizes which will be won in the RSF raffle, which is being held on Sunday 13th November next, in a different Dublin venue and for which, as always, all 650 tickets have been distributed and sold- and myself (and others) will be working in, at and on both events. Indeed, work on the raffle began yesterday (Tuesday 8th) while work on the Ard Fheis began weeks ago, but intensifies now. One or other of the above events is more than enough in itself to be getting on with, but both together will be only nuclear and won't allow us the opportunity to post anything on this blog next Wednesday (the 16th November), meaning that it will be the following Wednesday, the 23rd, before we get the time to do so. And that date - the 23rd November - is an important one for a certain posh barrister who had his political bluff called by those he would have considered to be his 'friends' - more about that on the 23rd!

Thanks for reading, Sharon.