" 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, January 11, 2017

RUNNING...

.. TO STAND STILL.

Too much of the former, not quite managing the latter!

Hectic. We had an RSF Dublin Comhairle 650-ticket raffle in November last, on the same weekend as the (112th) RSF Ard Fheis, then the Christmas Swim, quickly followed by the Dáithí Ó Conaill Commemoration on New Year's Day then, one week after that, the Seán Sabhat Commemoration (Sunday 8th January 2017) and now we're gearing-up for the Fearghal ÓhAnluain Commemoration (Sunday 15th January next)...like I said - hectic! But we'll be back to normal next week and, among other pieces, we'll be posting about an 'Apollo House'-type action (hi all!) which took place in Dublin over 90 years ago but, for now, that's it. We're going back to 'running', again, for a few more days...!

Thanks for visiting, see ye next week - Sharon.






Wednesday, December 28, 2016

CABHAIR CHRISTMAS DAY SWIM 2016 : BRIEF REPORT AND SOME PICS.

40TH CONSECUTIVE CABHAIR CHRISTMAS SWIM, CHRISTMAS DAY 2016 : A FEW WORDS AND PICS.

The weather at the swim site in Inchicore, Dublin, on Christmas Day last was dry and mild, but a bit stormy : and the weather at that outdoor event is all important, as it effects everything, from the number of on-lookers that might turn up to how well the crew can display the donated 'goodies' and, just as important, the overall atmosphere at the site. We were lucky this year, as the rain only started to fall at about 2pm, as the final check of the cleaned area was just finishing.

The crew arrived 'on site' at about 9.30am and, as always, 'walked' the swim site and surrounding area, checking for broken glass and other obstacles etc and then unloaded the gear - the display tables, the 'goodies', the music system, the flag and banners and the bags of turf and other materials for the fire, and began setting everything in place (they had regular 'tea breaks' which they think we don't know about, but sure that's allowed!) and, at about 11am, they took a(nother) well deserved 'break' as they double-checked everything. There was a less-than-usual physical State presence (the 'traffic cameras' were extremely active during the few hours on site!) and this no doubt contributed to the numbers of on-lookers and well-wishers who joined us for the full event or stood with us for a half-hour chat and a glass of 'lemonade' (!) and a bite to eat. Altogether, from start to finish, Cabhair catered for about fifty people, each of whom was made welcome and joined in the craic!

Anyway - here's a few pics from the day itself, finishing with a certain pic which the organisers would rather we not show (no peeping, now, work your way down to it...) and we hope they give a flavour of this event and, more so, perhaps encourage you to join in with us next year :



10am - setting out their stall.





10.45am - having a chat and the craic before the 'main event'!





"WHA'??! They expect us to actually GET IN the water...??"





"RIGHT! That's me done. Up against a bleedin' brick wall here...!"







Three in, three to go -





- "Thought the other three said they had warmed it up for us...?"





Alan does his infamous 'war dance' before he takes on the chilly water...



...and then wonders if he should just sit that one out...!





- "This is how I done the backstroke in there..."





Six brave lads, wondering if they had done enough to win a medal...



...and all delighted to discover that they had!



And that's almost it - we had a ball, raised a decent few quid for the Cabhair prisoners, maintained contact with old friends, made a few new ones and, hopefully, raised the on-going issue of the continuing (and unwanted) British political and military presence in Ireland with at least some of the passengers in the dozens of cars etc that slowed down to have a look at the wonderland that that part of the Grand Canal had been temporarily transformed into! And now for that forbidden (!) pic...

So that's how they've done it for the last forty years - BY CHEATING! - practically turning the 3rd lock into a sauna. For shame...!

And that's it for now and, indeed, for 2016. We'd like to think that we'll be back here next Wednesday, 4th January 2017, but we have the Dáithí Ó Conaill Commemoration in Glasnevin on Sunday 1st and then it's straight into preparations for a 650-ticket fund-raising raffle for the Dublin Executive of Sinn Féin Poblachtach, which will be held on the following Sunday (8th), so we'll play it by ear for the 4th. But go raibh maith agaibh a chairde for your support and your company during 2016 ; we wouldn't be here without ya! Slán go fóill anois...

Thanks for visiting - see ye all in the New Year! Sharon.




Wednesday, December 21, 2016

IRISH AND FRENCH REBELS 'TOSSING BISCUITS ASHORE' IN 1796.

SWIM PACKS OUT (not in...!)

1,000 printed items of a republican nature (photographed, left) have been collated into different size 'packs' and distributed pub-to-pub and door-to-door in the 'Swim' area, notifying recipients of an event which will be 40-years-young on the 25th December next and which began in 1976, as a 'fundraiser with a difference', combined with the need to gain extra publicity for a situation which was then - as now - making world headlines.

Those that sat down together in early September 1976 to tighten-up the then 'hit-and-miss' affair were a dedicated team who fully understood that to fail in their business would not only bring derision on them and the issue they sought to highlight, but would give their enemy a publicity coup which they would be keen to exploit. With that in mind, the team persevered - favours were called-in, guarantees were secured, provisions obtained and word dispatched to like-minded individuals in that part of Dublin. At the appointed time on the agreed day - 12 Noon, Christmas Day 1976 - a soon-to-be 40-years-young event was 'born' - the CABHAIR Christmas Day Swim is, thankfully, still going strong and will be, as mentioned, 40-years-young on December 25th next, an occasion which will be marked by a special presentation to each swimmer -

A '40th Anniversary' medal will be presented to each of the Cabhair swimmers on Christmas Day 2016.

We'll be at the 3rd Lock of the Grand Canal in Inchicore, Dublin, on Christmas Day, from about 10am until about 1pm and, if you're in the area, drop by and say hello, have a mince pie, pull a cracker or two, and have a glass of 'lemonade'. And if you're feeling rough and maybe haven't fully woke yourself up, we can help you with that :

A reluctant medal recipient!

Hope to see you at the 3rd Lock in Inchicore, Dublin , on Christmas Day 2016!





ON THIS DATE (21ST DECEMBER) 95 YEARS AGO : FERMANAGH COUNTY COUNCIL REFUSES TO RECOGNISE "THE PARTITION PARLIAMENT IN BELFAST..."



Fermanagh council offices
(pictured, left) issued the following statement on this date - 21st December - in 1921 : "We, the County Council of Fermanagh, in view of the expressed desire of a large majority of people in this county, do not recognise the partition parliament in Belfast and do hereby direct our Secretary to hold no further communications with either Belfast or British Local Government Departments, and we pledge our allegiance to Dáil Éireann."

Short, sharp, and to the point. And it was rightly seen by 'Sir' Richard Dawson Bates, the Stormont 'Minister for Home Affairs' (who was a solicitor by trade and was also Secretary of the 'Ulster Unionist Council', a position he had held since 1905) wasn't impressed. He had 'made his name' in that same year (1921) when, at 44 years of age, he ordered the RIC to close down the Offices of Tyrone County Council as he didn't like the way they were doing their business - that body had declared its allegiance to the rebel Dail Éireann (32 County body)! On the 6th December that year (1921), 'Sir' Bates seen to it that a 'Local Government (Emergency Powers) Bill' had been passed into 'law' ; that new 'law' stated that "...the Ministry, in the event of any of the local authorities refusing to function or refusing to carry out the duties imposed on them under the Local Government Acts, can dissolve such authority and in its place appoint a Commission to carry on the duties of such authority."

Bates instructed the RIC to ready themselves - he assembled a raiding-party and stormed the offices of Fermanagh County Council ; the building was seized, the Council Officials were expelled and the institution itself was dissolved. In the following four months (ie up to April 1922), Bates and his RIC raiding-party were kept busy ; Armagh, Keady and Newry Urban Councils, Downpatrick Town Commissioners, Cookstown, Downpatrick, Kilkeel, Lisnaskea, Strabane, Magherafelt and Newry No. 1 and No. 2 Rural Councils and a number of Boards of Poor Law Guardians had all been dissolved and pro-Stormont 'Commissioners' appointed to carry out their functions.

The people of those areas (ie the voters) were not asked their opinion on whether their council should be closed down or not, nor were they asked if they agreed with the 'appointment' of a new 'Commissioner' ; in all cases, the new 'boss' understood what his job was - to do as instructed by 'Sir' Bates and his bigoted colleagues in Stormont. In actual fact, the new 'Commissioner' for Armagh and Keady Councils, for instance, was a Colonel Waring, who later 'progressed' through the ranks to become a County Commandant of the 'B' Specials, an indication of the manner in which Westminster intended to 'govern' that part of Ireland - by destroying democratic institutions and imposing its own people and administrations in power in place of same, a scenario which it continues with to this day.





PROSE AND CONS.

By prisoners from E1 Landing, Portlaoise Prison, 1999.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS :

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.

SISTER CAOIMHÍN. (By Kevin Lynch.)

Always a big smile

a kind gesture or thought.

God on her side

she knows no limits.




In the face of intolerance

her face is tolerance.

In the face of retribution

her face is forgiveness.




Street-smart and wise

she wonders why!

Then only, child, how can I help

Ah, that's our sister, our angel,

she's one of our own.


(Next - 'The Team I Worship' , by Harry Melia.)






ON THIS DATE (21ST DECEMBER) 32 YEARS AGO : BODY OF MISSING IRA VOLUNTEER FOUND.

IRA Volunteer Ciarán Fleming (pictured, left); his body was found on the 21st December 1984 - 32 years ago on this date - 'On Sunday 2nd December 1984, IRA Volunteers Antoine Mac Giolla Bhríghde, from Magherafelt, County Derry and Ciarán Fleming, who had broken out of Long Kesh prison in the Great Escape of 1983, were preparing to mount an operation against crown forces near Drumrush in County Fermanagh when Mac Giolla Bhríghde saw a car parked on the lane which he believed to contain civilians. Approaching the car to tell the occupants to leave the area, undercover SAS members opened fire, hitting him in the side. Cuffed with plastic stays, Mac Giolla Bhríghde was tortured before being summarily executed. His comrades, when later debriefed, reported hearing a single shot, then screaming, and a short time later a further burst of machine gun fire, after which the screaming stopped..' (from here.)

Ciarán Fleming '...drowned in Bannagh River, near Kesh, County Fermanagh (while) escaping from a gun battle between an undercover British Army (BA) unit and an Irish Republican Army (IRA) unit. His body (was) found in the river on 21st December 1984..' (from here.) His funeral was described as '..the most gratuitously violent RUC attack of the year on any funeral. Many of the RUC had come in full riot gear of helmet, shield and body armour, to show that they were intent on violent disruption. Several times during a tense and exhausting funeral which lasted three full hours, the RUC baton-charged the mourners, which encouraged near-by children, standing on a wall, to throw stones at them in reprisal : the RUC then fired at least four plastic bullets into the funeral cortege, seriously injuring two people. During the afternoon, numerous mourners suffered bloody head wounds and one man was knocked unconscious by the RUC. Stewards were often forced to halt the proceedings because of this harassment but, despite the RUC's terror, the people stood firm and, in a twilight Bogside, three uniformed IRA Volunteers stepped out of the crowd and paid the IRA's traditional salute to their fallen comrade, as a forest of arms were raised in clenched-fist salute. Finally , thanks to the courage of thousands of nationalists, Volunteer Ciaran Fleming was laid to rest..' (from 'IRIS' magazine, October 1987.)

IRA sources that were contacted at the time by journalist Ed Moloney stated that Ciarán Fleming '...was noted for his hard line militarist republicanism. He is reputed to have backed a plan to form full-time guerrilla units or 'flying columns' based in the Republic, which would carry out four or five large scale attacks in the north a year. This approach was espoused by the militant Provisional IRA East Tyrone Brigade led by Padraig McKearney and Jim Lynagh, who wanted an escalation of the conflict to what they termed "total war". They were opposed by Kevin McKenna, the IRA Chief of Staff and by the republican leadership headed by Gerry Adams, on the grounds that actions on that scale were too big a risk and unsustainable. The IRA leadership wanted a smaller scale campaign of attrition, supplemented by political campaigning by (Provisional) Sinn Féin...' (from here.)

That "political campaigning by Provisional Sinn Féin" has seen that grouping morph into a slightly more-nationalist political party than either of the latter-day Fianna Fáil or SDLP organisations but, true to form, like Fianna Fáil and the SDLP, the Provisional Sinn Féin party has distanced itself (except, mostly, verbally) from Irish republicanism. It's an easier life, with a salary and a pension, neither of which were available when Adams and company professed to be advocates of change rather than that which they are now, and have been for almost 30 years - advocates of British accommodation in Ireland.





TRADE UNIONS AND CAPITALISM IN IRELAND....

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 economic 'boom' from the mid-1960's to the early 1970's not only massively expanded trade union membership but heightened workers' social and economic aspirations, a heightening which Irish capitalism could only partially accommodate , dependent as it was on cheap labour. The response of the ICTU was to identify as its objectives full employment, prosperity and due recognition of its own status.

The ICTU increasingly adopted a corporate approach to industrial negotiations, undermining the real militancy which was often present in local areas and at the level of individual unions.

Despite major strikes right through the 1960's, notably the 1962 bus strike, the 1964 building workers' strike, and the maintenance workers' dispute in 1969, and the influx of new (nationalist) forces into the public service unions in the Six Counties the ICTU, rather than fuelling this militancy, actively suppressed it.

The introduction of a two-tier picketing policy in 1970 and the practice of 'national wage agreements' and 'social contracts' during the decade, actually led to a decrease in the living standards of industrial workers of about 12% by the end of the 1970's , as compared to a real increase in the 1960's.

(MORE LATER).






ON THIS DATE (21ST DECEMBER) 220 YEARS AGO - "NEAR ENOUGH TO TOSS A BISCUIT ASHORE..."

On the 21st December 1796 - 220 years ago on this date - a French Commander, General Louis-Lazare Hoche (pictured, left), who had sailed for Ireland with a fleet of 35 ships, arrived in Bantry Bay, Cork, on the south-west coast of Ireland, as that location was an ideal spot for the job in hand - to assist the Irish rebels in their fight against the British military and political presence in Ireland. The Bay is 26 miles long, 7 miles across and, at its deepest, 40 fathoms. There was about 15,000 fully-armed and experienced French fighting troops on board the fleet - the same men that had only recently proved their mettle in Europe and that were known as "the greatest revolutionary army in the world".

A storm at sea had separated the lead ship , with General Hoche on board , from the rest of the fleet, but a strong head-wind prevented any of the ships from landing their troops. The Bay itself was wide open, with no British troops to offer resistance, but the wind was growing in strength, and soon became a gale-force, which forced 20 of the great French ships out of the Bay and pushed them out to sea ; the other 15 ships attempted to move up the Bay but, it was later reported, they could only manage to move about 50 yards every 8 hours. By December 22nd, 1796, only about half of the fleet had entered the Bay and French Marshal Emmanuel Grouchy, the second-in-command, decided not to disembark as he had only 6,400 men and the storm would have made a landing hazardous : "England," said Wolfe Tone, "has not had such an escape since the Armada" and, years later, W.B. Yeats wrote that "John Bull and the sea are friends..." .

The high winds were mixed with squalls of sleet and snow, but still no notable British presence to face them had materialised in the area. But - so near and yet so far - the French were still unable to land. General Hoche's men were in Bantry Bay for a week and, by now, a small force of some 400 British troops from the Bantry area were on the beach, pretending to 'shape up' to the those at sea, safe in the knowledge that the French troops could not get at them - the British 'authorities' had apparently been 'tipped-off' about the French fleet by the 'landlord' who lived in the 'big house' at the head of Bantry Bay - this man was later awarded the title of 'Lord Bantry', by the British, for his loyal 'service to The Crown'. Wolfe Tone, who was on board the ship with General Hoche, wrote in near despair of the efforts to land the soldiers at Bantry Bay - "We are now, nine o'clock, at the rendezvous appointed ; stood in for the coast till twelve, when we were near enough to toss a biscuit ashore ; at twelve tacked and stood out again, so now we have begun our cruise of five days in all its forms, and shall, in obedience to the letter of our instructions, ruin the expedition, and destroy the remnant of the French navy, with a precision and punctuality which will be truly edifying."

The ships were being pulled and pushed by the continuing storm and were forced, one by one, to cut their anchor cables and allow themselves to be pushed out of the bay and forced back to sea again. They made sail for France, dejected, one and all. Ireland lost a good friend and skilled soldier when Lazare Hoche died of fever in 1797, in Wetzlar, Germany : more fleets were organised, notwithstanding the strain on military resources, as the new French Republic came under attack from so-called monarchs and emperors throughout Europe, including the British, who hadn't forgot about the lucky escape they had on those days in December 1796.





GROWING UP IN LONG KESH...

SIN SCÉAL EILE.

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 screws looked over at Seán and said "Well...?" "Well what?" said Seán. "What did the Germans say to you?", asked the screw. "I can't tell you," said Seán. "Ye can't tell us? Why not?" asked the screw. "It's impossible, I just can't..." "For fuck's sake," said the screw, "go on, tell us. I don't want to be here all day." "That's too bad, mate," said Seán, "but I can't help you." "Could you not even give us a clue?" pleaded the screw. "No chance," answered Seán.

The door of the reception opened and a Senior Officer (S.O.) entered the room : "Why are them bastards out of their cubicles?" , he asked. "It's these two Germans, Sir..." replied one of the screws, "..we can't find out anything about them and these guys were giving us a hand.." "And what have you found out?", asked the S.O. "This bastard here.." said the screw, pointing to Seán, "..was talking to yer man, the German, but he won't tell us what the German said.." "Why not? What's the big secret?", asked the S.O., looking at Seán. "There is no big secret," replied Seán. "Then why won't you tell them what he said?", demanded the S.O. "I've told bucky-beard here four times aleady - I can't tell you because I haven't a clue what they said..."

The screws were flabbergasted - "But you told me you could speak German..." "...and so I can.." said Seán, "..but it's the same as the stuff you were asking him at the start.." - and, with that, the Germans busted out laughing - "..but you didn't ask me how much I knew." (MORE LATER).





OUR SECOND-LAST POST FOR 2016 -

- this is our 'Almost Done'-piece for 2016 : we'll post a few Christmas Swim pics here before the end of the year (...a bit vague that, we know, but sure it's the time of the year that's in it..) and, as we probably won't get a chance later ('time of the year' etc!) we'll say a big 'Thank You / Go Raibh Maith Agaibh' to all our readers for their interest throughout the past year, and over all the other years (we've been here since 2002!) and we hope that ye will continue to come back to our wee corner of the web, where we have had about 170,000 visits since the 1st January last. Enjoy your Christmas and New Year break - stay healthy, hope you stay/become wealthy enough to survive in this greedy society and wise enough to realise that too much (of anything!) can be as bad as too little. Thanks again, agus slán go fóill anois.

Thanks for reading, Sharon.






Monday, December 19, 2016

STORMONT DIRECTLY CHALLENGED BY LOCAL COUNCILS IN THE OCCUPIED SIX COUNTIES...

STORMONT DIRECTLY CHALLENGED BY COUNCILS IN THE OCCUPIED SIX COUNTIES...

During the 'emergency' mentioned above, a British minister instructed his paramilitary thugs to move against the local councils who were challenging the British writ..

Is the Cabhair Swim 'packing' in (or out...)? ....the British 'administration' in that part of Ireland instructed its paramilitary forces to reply to the opposition voiced by elected representatives and the councils they sat in...a street-smart and wise response to the intolerance suffered in Portlaoise Prison...this group degenerated from an opposer of British injustice to a paid enabler and supporter of same...'weather stops play' in this particular episode from Irish history...talking gibberish and having the craic at the screws expense in Long Kesh... MORE LATER - see you back here on Wednesday 21st December 2016...
Thanks for the visit, Sharon.




Wednesday, December 07, 2016

IRELAND 1920's - COERCION AND THE FREEMAN.

ON THIS DATE (7TH DECEMBER) 137 YEARS AGO : BIRTH OF AN IRA MAN WHO DARED AND SUFFERED - AUSTIN STACK.

Austin Stack (pictured, left) was born on the 7th December, 1879 - 137 years ago on this date - in Ballymullen, Tralee, County Kerry and, at 29 years young, joined the 'Irish Republican Brotherhood' (IRB). At the time of the 1916 Rising, he was 37 years of age and was the commandant of the Kerry Brigade of the Irish Volunteers and was arrested, by the British, with Con Collins, on the 21st April that year while planning an attack on Tralee RIC Barracks in an attempt to rescue Roger Casement. He was court-martialed on the 14th June and sentenced to death, but this was commuted to twenty years penal servitude and he was released in the general amnesty of June 1917, and became active in the Irish Volunteers again. He opposed the Treaty of Surrender in 1921 (stating, during the debate on same - "Has any man here the hardihood to stand up and say that it was for this our fathers suffered, that it was for this our comrades have died in the field and in the barrack yard..") and took part in the subsequent Irish Civil War.

He was captured in 1923 and went on hunger strike for forty-one days before being released in July 1924. When Eamon de Valera founded Fianna Fail in 1926, Stack remained with Sinn Féin and was elected Secretary of that organisation, a position he held until his death. His health was shattered due to the number of prison protests and hunger strikes for political status that he undertook. In the 1918 general election, while a prisoner in Crumlin Road Jail in Belfast, he was elected to represent West Kerry in the First (all-Ireland) Dáil as an abstentionist Sinn Féin Member of Parliament. The British incarcerated him in Strangeways Prison in Manchester, from where he escaped in October 1919 and, during the 'Black and Tan War', as Minister for Home Affairs, he organised the republican courts which replaced the British 'legal' system in this country. He rejected the Treaty of Surrender in 1921 (stating, during the debate on same - "Has any man here the hardihood to stand up and say that it was for this our fathers suffered, that it was for this our comrades have died in the field and in the barrack yard..") and, following a short fund-raising/public relations tour of America, returned to Ireland to fight on the republican side in the Civil War.

In the general round-up of Irish republican leaders in April 1923 (during which Liam Lynch was shot dead by Free State troops) Stack, the Deputy Chief of Staff of the rebel forces, was arrested in a farmyard in the Knockmealdown Mountains in County Tipperary - this was four days after Lynch's death. Imprisoned in Kilmainham Jail in Dublin, he took part in the mass hunger-strike by republican prisoners in October 1923, which was his 5th hunger-strike in 6 years. Shortly after the end of that forty-one day hunger-strike, in November 1923, he was released with hundreds of other political prisoners, and he married his girlfriend, Una Gordon, in 1925. In April 1929, at forty-nine years of age, he entered the Mater Hospital in Dublin for a stomach operation. He never recovered and died two days later, on 27th April 1929. He is buried in the Republican Plot, Glasnevin Cemetery, in Dublin.

A commemorative pamphlet, entitled 'What Exactly is a Republican?' was issued in memory of the man - 'The name republican in Ireland, as used amongst republicans, bears no political meaning. It stands for the devout lover of his country, trying with might and main for his country's freedom. Such a man cannot be a slave. And if not a slave in heart or in act, he cannot be guilty of the slave vices. No coercion can breed these in the freeman. Fittingly, the question - 'What is a republican?' fails to be answered in our memorial number for Austin Stack, a man who bore and dared and suffered, remaining through it all and at the worst, the captain of his own soul. What then was Austin Stack, republican? A great lover of his country. A man without a crooked twist in him. One who thought straight, acted straight, walked the straight road unflinchingly and expected of others that they should walk it with him, as simply as he did himself. No man could say or write of him "He had to do it". That plea of the slave was not his. His duty, as conscience and love dictated, he did. The force of England, of the English Slave State, might try coercion, as they tried it many times : it made no difference. He went his way, suffered their will, and stood his ground doggedly, smiling now and again. His determination outstood theirs, because it had a deeper foundation and a higher aim. Compromise, submission, the slave marks, did not and could not exist for him as touching himself, or the Cause for which he worked and fought ,lived and died.'

Ireland had lost one of its best soldiers.







PROSE AND CONS.

By prisoners from E1 Landing, Portlaoise Prison, 1999.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS :

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.

YANKEY'S TOWN. (By Kevin Lynch.)

The fucking gardai are fucking keen

to fucking keep it fucking clean

the fucking pig's a fucking swine

who fucking draws the fucking line

at fucking fun and fucking games

the fucking kid's he fucking blames

are everywhere to be fucking found

anywhere in
YANKEY'S TOWN.



The fucking scene is fucking mad

the fucking news is fucking sad

the fucking gear is fucking dirt

the fucking hash is fucking worse

the fucking people are fucking gas

they really make me fucking laugh

it fucking hurts to look around

every where in
YANKEY'S TOWN.



The fucking train is fucking late

you fucking wait and fucking wait

you're fucking lost and fucking found

stuck in fucking
YANKEY'S TOWN.



The fucking view is fucking cat

for fucking miles and fucking miles

the fucking babies fucking cry

the fucking flowers fucking die

the fucking food is fucking muck

the fucking drains are fucking fucked

the colour scheme is fucking brown

every where in
YANKEY'S TOWN.



The fucking parties are fucking full

of fucking birds and fucking blokes

with fucking murder in their minds

a fucking bloke is fucking stabbed

waiting for a fucking cab

you fucking stay at fucking home

the fucking neighbours fucking moan

keep the fucking music down

this is fucking
YANKEY'S TOWN.



The fucking cars are fucking fast

the fucking lads are fucking out

fucking harpo is about

the fucking fish is fucking old

the fucking chips are fucking cold

the fucking beer is fucking flat

the fucking gaffs have fucking rats

the fucking clocks are fucking wrong

the fucking days are fucking long

and it fucking gets you fucking down

that is fucking
YANKEY'S TOWN!

(Next - 'Sister Caoimhín' , by Kevin Lynch.)






ON THIS DATE (7TH DECEMBER) 1,495 YEARS AGO : BIRTH OF AN IRISH SAINT AND SOLDIER.

St. Columcille (aka 'St. Columba') is an Irish saint, monk and soldier who was born on the 7th December, 521 AD in Gartan, County Donegal - 1,495 years ago on this date - and is perhaps best known for his 'Book Battle' and for being responsible for a mass hunger strike in Ireland. Embarking on such a protest is part of a very ancient Irish tradition (although it might appear to be the case that James Connolly was the first to use it in 1913 as tool of political protest in 20th century Ireland) - fasting as a means of asserting one's rights when faced with no other means of obtaining redress is something that has been embedded in Irish culture from ancient times. Even when the ancient Irish law system, the Laws of the Fénechus, which we popularly called the 'Brehon Laws' from the word breitheamh (a 'judge'), were first codified in AD 438, the law relating to the troscad ('hunger strike'), was ancient.

The hunger striker gave notice of their intent and, according to the law tract Di Chetharslicht Athgabhála, if the person who is being fasted against does not come to arbitration and actually allows the protester to die, then the moral judgement went against them and they endured shame and contempt until they made recompense to the family of the dead person. If they failed to make such amends, they were not only damned by society but damned in the next world. They were held to be without honour and without morality.

The ancient Irish texts are full of examples of people fasting to assert their rights and shame powerful enemies into accepting their moral obligations. St Patrick is recorded to have done so according to the 'Tripartite Life of St Patrick' and, in the 'Life of St Ailbe', we found St Lugid and St Salchin carrying out ritual fasts to protest.

King Conall Dearg of Connacht fasted when he found his rights infringed, and the entire population of Leinster is said to have fasted against St Colmcille when he rode roughshod over their rights. The poet Mairgen mac Amalgado mac Mael Ruain of the Deisi fasted against another poet Finguine over an act of perceived injustice. The troscad continued in Irish law throughout the centuries until the English conquests proscribed the native law system and foisted English law on Ireland through a series of Acts between 1587 and 1613. Nevertheless, individual fasts against the cruelties of the English colonial administration are recorded several times over the subsequent years.

Saint Columcille ('Columba'), 'credited' (!) with spreading Christianity in what is today Scotland, died aged 76, in Iona, Scotland and, much like the 'Holy Men' of today, was not shy in claiming that (his) God was on his side -

'O God, wilt thou not drive off the fog,

which envelopes our number,

the host which has deprived us of our livelihood,

the host which proceeds around the carns!




He is a son of storm who betrays us.

My Druid, he will not refuse me,

is the Son of God, and may he side with me;

How grandly he bears his course,

the steed of Baedan before the host;

Power by Baedan of the yellow hair

will be borne from Ireland on him the steed.'






TRADE UNIONS AND CAPITALISM IN IRELAND....

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 inevitable consequence for Irish workers, within an economy where the industrial base has expanded extremely artificially with over-weighted multi-national investment compared with 'home' industries, is that when the system turns nasty the political lessons which have not been learned will have to be learned in a far more vicious social classroom.

Given that the ICTU confines itself purely to economic and limited social demands, its recent track record is worthy of examination. In the late 1950's and 1960's capitalism in Ireland developed in a new way - the hitherto protectionist economic policies of the Free State were gradually abandoned, and following the Whitaker report (1958) and Seán Lemass's pro-American speech at the Fianna Fail ard fheis of 1962, the 26-counties were drawn increasingly under the shadows of international, not just British, industrial exploitation.

'Open Door' economic policies operated under both the Stormont and Leinster House regimes, coupled with the 're-unification' of the unions under the aegis of ICTU in 1959 and the growing 'respectability' of trade unions, led to the expansion of the industrial base by multi-nationals and to a rapid increase in the size of the industrial working class, who for the first time represented the largest section of employment. (MORE LATER).






GROWING UP IN LONG KESH...

SIN SCÉAL EILE.

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!

A group of six or so of us were standing looking on at the 'German sit-com' that was unfolding in front of us, when the prison screws suddenly became aware of our presence again, and one of them looked over at us. He seemed uncomfortable by our presence and said - "These fuckin' Germans over here stealing out of our shops and they can't even speak the lingo, typical eh?" "Maybe I can help you with your predicament", interjected a comrade called Seán, from Andersontown. "Can you speak any German, Mucker?" asked the screw. We looked at Seán in disbelief - "Is there something wrong with your head?", he was asked.

"Look", said Seán, "these screws have a job to do and it's hard enough without having to deal with or having to contend with situations like this," he said, as he winked at us. He walked over to the two Germans and said "Vas ist..." - the rest was unprintable. Because it was a German-sounding gibberish!

The talkative Germans knew exactly what was happening and embarked on this German diatribe which lasted about three minutes. While this was going on, Seán nodded knowingly and threw in a few 'ja's' and 'neins'. I don't know about the screws but we were very impressed - now and again, Seán would stop the Germans' flow with a question in German that always seemed to be the same question, which started with "Vas ist..." . One of the screws stood scratching his head while the other, who had no real interest in the proceedings, stood scratching his arse. "Jesus Christ, c'mon," said the head-scratcher, "we're going to be here all day. What in the name of Jesus are they talking about?" Seán pursed his lips with his finger and shushed the screw then, after about what was only three minutes but seemed like ten, Seán said "Auf wiedersehn" to the Germans and walked back to where we were standing... (MORE LATER).





ON THIS DATE (7TH DECEMBER) 94 YEARS AGO : IRA EXECUTE FREE STATE ARMY BRIGADIER.

Seán Hales (pictured, left),a brigadier in the Free State Army and a Cumann na nGaedhal member of the Leinster House administration, was shot in Dublin on December 7th, 1922 - 94 years ago on this date - as he left a Dublin hotel, having had lunch. The IRA had listed as targets all the elected reps who had voted for 'emergency legislation' authorising the executions of republicans. His companion, Pádraic Ó Máille, deputy speaker of the Free State parliament, was seriously injured, but still managed to get Hales into the car and drive to the nearest hospital, where he died. British soldiers in the immediate area attempted to engage the two IRA shooters but they made good their escape. Ó Máille was an elected representative for Sinn Féin from 1918 to 1921 and was active in the IRA in the Galway region, but supported the 'Treaty of Surrender' in 1921 (he later left Cumann na nGaedhal, attempted to form his own party but then joined Fianna Fáil). Both were, at the time of the shooting, members of the Cumann na nGaedhal party which, in 1933, merged with smaller groups to form the 'Fine Gael' party (pictured here, in that same year).

'The actual killer, the playwright Ulick O'Connor was told in 1985, by Sean Caffrey, an ex-IRA Intelligence officer, was Owen Donnelly, from Glasnevin, "a rather girlish-looking, fair-haired fellow who had been a very good scholar in O’Connell Schools." "Who ordered him to do it?" I asked. "No one gave him an order," he said. "At that time the general orders issued by Liam Lynch were for anybody to shoot TDs or Senators if they could." He was in the main room of the Intelligence Centre when Donnelly came in shortly after the killing, on the afternoon of December 7, 1922. I asked Caffrey what was his reaction when he heard Sean Hales had been killed - "I was delighted," he said, and then gave a little chuckle, as if reminiscing over something which he particularly enjoyed. "Donnelly was carrying on the fight," he said. "There are no rules in war. The winner dictates the rules..." ' (from here.)

The reaction of the Free State administration was swift and ruthless : they announced their intention to execute four of the republican prisoners being held without charge or trial in Mountjoy jail and, the following morning (December 8th, 1922, at dawn) Dick Barrett, Rory O'Connor, Liam Mellows and Joe McKelvey were summarily executed by firing squad in the yard of Mountjoy jail. The executioneers declared that the four men were executed "...as a reprisal for the assassination of Brigadier Seán Hales and as a solemn warning to those who are associated with them who are engaged in a conspiracy of assassination against the representatives of the Irish people.. (sic)"

The four men were the first of the Free State administration's executions of it's former comrades and drew condemnation from, among others, Thomas Johnson, the then leader of the State Labour Party : "Murder most foul as in the best it is - but this (is) most foul, bloody and unnatural. The four men in Mountjoy have been in your charge for five months..the Government of this country (sic) — the Government of Saorstát Eireann, announces apparently with pride that they have taken out four men, who were in their charge as prisoners, and as a reprisal for that assassination, murdered them. I wonder whether any member of the Government who has any regard for the honour of Ireland, or has any regard for the good name of the State, or has any regard for the safety of the State, will stand over an act of this kind..."

One of those who had 'regard for the honour of Ireland', at that time, anyway, was Tom Hales, one of Seán's brothers - Tom was in command of the IRA 'Flying Column' which attacked a Free State Army convoy at Béal na Bláth in West Cork on the 22nd August 1922, in which Michael Collins was killed, but he later dishonoured himself by becoming an active and vocal (elected) member of the Fianna Fáil party. If you have a half hour to spare, you could use it wisely by watching this 'YouTube' video concerning the Hales brothers and that particular period in our history.







ON THIS DATE (7TH DECEMBER) 75 YEARS AGO : 'BATBOMB'-IDEA FROM A DENTIST RECEIVED WITH A SMILE!

An unusual 'On This Date' piece for us to post, but worthy of a mention, nonetheless - two months after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbour, which occurred on 7th December 1941 - 75 years ago on this date - a dentist named Lytle S. Adams from the town of Irwin, Pennsylvania, wrote to the President of the United States stating that he should be made aware that the Japanese were simply terrified of bats : on 9th February 1942, Franklin Delano Roosevelt passed the letter on to William Donovan with a cover note saying "This man is NOT a nut.."

No one checked out the 'bat theory' but, as it transpired, it was untrue. William Donovan, who made a name for himself as 'Mr. U S Intelligence', headed the 'Office of Strategic Services' (OSS), forerunner of the Central Intelligence Agency and, for the next several years, he organised the dropping of bats on Japan - sometimes the bats were just slung out of bombers, other times they were dropped by parachute! When you throw bats out of a plane at high altitude they freeze to death. We can find no record of what the Japanese thought of this carry-on, but wonder if they considered it to be 'manna from heaven...'!

'Developed by the United States during World War II, four biological factors gave promise to this plan. First, bats occur in large numbers (four caves in Texas are each occupied by several million bats). Second, bats can carry more than their own weight in flight (females carry their young—sometimes twins). Third, bats hibernate, and while dormant they do not require food or maintenance. Fourth, bats fly in darkness, then find secluded places (often in buildings) to hide during daylight. The plan was to release bat bombs over Japanese cities...' (from here.) So this 'Adam' was not actually the first 'Batman', then..!





RAFFLE CAUSING A SPLASH!

...we won't be posting our usual contribution, and probably won't be in a position to post anything at all, next Wednesday, 14th December 2016. This coming weekend (Saturday/Sunday 10th/11th) 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 12th in a Dublin city centre venue and then it's straight back to the preparations for the Christmas Swim regarding which, by the way, four heavily-sponsored swimmers have been confirmed, with at least another two expecting to be cleared by the swim committee in the next week or so. We'll be back on Wednesday 21st December next, with what will probably be our second-last post for 2016. And we'll wish you a 'Happy Christmas' then, and hope that the lads and lassies looked after by Cabhair will have one, too!

Thanks for reading, Sharon.






Wednesday, November 30, 2016

GALLEY SLAVES WITH GOLDEN CHAINS.

ON THIS DATE (30TH NOVEMBER) 133 YEARS AGO : 'INVINCIBLE' COURT CASE BEGINS AT THE OLD BAILEY, LONDON.

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,
lan-ge-roo,

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.







PROSE AND CONS.

By prisoners from E1 Landing, Portlaoise Prison, 1999.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS :

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...!] )






ON THIS DATE (30TH NOVEMBER) 142 YEARS AGO : BIRTH OF A BOOZY 'BULLDOG'.

'...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.





TRADE UNIONS AND CAPITALISM IN IRELAND....

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 THIS DATE (30TH NOVEMBER) 116 YEARS AGO : DEATH OF THE IRISH 'GALLEY SLAVE / GOLDEN CHAINS' AUTHOR : OSCAR WILDE.

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.





GROWING UP IN LONG KESH...

SIN SCÉAL EILE.

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!

SPRECHEN SIE DEUTSCH, MUCKER?

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 THIS DATE (30TH NOVEMBER) 181 YEARS AGO : BIRTH OF A WORDSMITH.

'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...!





ON THIS DATE (30TH NOVEMBER) 349 YEARS AGO : BIRTH OF THE MAN WHO URGED THE IRISH "TO BURN EVERYTHING ENGLISH EXCEPT THEIR COAL".

"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.