" 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. But not to worry -thanks to everyone involved for getting us to the final stage of the competition and sure we'll try again the next time!

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

THE 'MOLLY MAGUIRES' AND 'THE DAY OF THE ROPE'.

ON THIS DATE (21ST JUNE) 44 YEARS AGO : "FASCIST MURDER SQUAD" STRIKE AGAIN.

"The Belfast Brigade denied any involvement in the murder of the young protestant whose body was found in the Lower Falls area. They say that it is likely that he was the victim of the local fascist murder squad who were responsible for two murders of catholic boys in the Giants Ring area" - from the 'Republican News' newspaper, June 1973.

Of all the bombings, atrocities, tortures and killings that have unfortunately being visited and imposed on this country by Westminster due to their unwanted military and political presence here, the shooting dead of David Walker is one of the worst : this special needs sixteen-year-old boy was lifted off the street by the 'Official IRA', apparently as a 'dare', at about 8.30am on Thursday, 21st June 1973 - 44 years ago on this date - as he was working in his job. He was found about three hours later on the Falls Road with gunshot wounds to his head and chest. He died a few minutes after he had been found.

'David Walker, 16-year-old Protestant civilian was found at O'Neill Street in the lower Falls area where he was shot and left by the Official IRA..(he) was described as being educationally subnormal and had a job in the Belvoir area of south Belfast near his home at Castlecoole Park...as (he) was working, the Official IRA abducted him and took him to the west of the city where they shot him. Joseph Cunningham, Senator Paddy Wilson, and Irene Andrews were later killed by the UDA/UFF in retaliation for young David's death. The man jailed for David Walker's killing said in a statement that he thought David was a member of the UFF. He said he had been approached by a man in Leeson Street who asked him if he was "man enough to shoot a member of the UFF murder gang". The man said: "I said I would do it if there was proof that he was killing innocent Catholics. I asked for proof and he said Walker was involved in the murder of Danny Rouse". The judge said that David Walker's murder was "a horrible and unjustified murder.." ' (from here.)

It may well be forty-four years since that barbarous act, but the political conditions for deeds like it are still in place - and it would still suit those in power in Westminster to have 'the wild Irish' killing themselves, allowing the British - the 'man in Leeson Street' - to continue to present themselves as being in Ireland 'to keep the warring factions apart'. The only workable solution is that of a British political and military withdrawal from Ireland.





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 EYES OF THE BARD CAN BE HARD. (By Greg Tarrand.)

If you put a bard in a prison yard

would he tell of the noise and the chatter

or maybe the rain

and the way it might clatter?




Would he paint a good picture

and make it all seem well

and not tell

about the fear and the smell?




Would he say it was nice

and not think twice

would he tell of the mice

and the dirty old lice?




would he tell of the morning

when there was a fight with the warden

or would he be sly

and turn a blind eye?




If he seen you cry

he'd probably say you were full of joy

I wonder why the bard has to lie?

Maybe that's his only ply

To make people sigh.




Maybe people will only listen to him if they enjoy

so he tells about the best of us

to placate the rest of us

he probably sees this way

so he can live day to day

and maybe earn extra pay.




That's probably why he distorts the truth

'cause nobody would give a hoot

and he would be without his loot

forgetting not the talent he's got

is why he doesn't give away a lot.




The bard can't live singing sorrow as his jibe

but if you look in his eyes

you'll see his disguise

but we know

what he sings is for show.




So if he lies to bring people joy

rather than make them cry

well, so he should

'cause his song is good.




He makes people light-hearted

even the obdurate warm to his charm

as they're wise enough

to know there's no harm

with wine and song they get along

and through the bard they're not that hard.


(Next - 'Scent Of Fragrance', by Greg Tarrand.)






PERCEPTIONS.

"We British are sometimes told we do not understand the Irish but, if this is so, the failure to understand is a two-way street. Everything on which the IRA is currently engaged suggests that it does not understand us at all." - So wrote Peter Brooke, Secretary of State for 'Northern Ireland', last July in 'The London Evening Standard' newspaper. More august* persons such as CJ Haughey and Garret Fitzgerald have also said the same from their varying points of view. By Cliodna Cussen, from 'Iris' magazine, Easter 1991. ('1169' comment : *'August' as in ' dignified and impressive'? Haughey and Fitzgerald? How so? From what point of view? Certainly not from a republican perspective, anyway...)

Since the Irish and the English see the world from completely different planes of being, it is of interest to examine how, after all this conflict, one side views the other : "Fundamentally they do not very much respect us, we carry in our bearing, in our eager efforts to please, too much of the humility of the one time native. It is there in our sudden gushes of talk, in our sideways glances, in our constant lack of urbanity," as Elizabeth Bowen said, we are "florid, vain, quick to guilt and sentimentality." We disregard things important in their civilisation ; like pride in their army and navy. We lack periods of silence, good breeding and restraint. We speak a rapid, almost foreign, type of English, like Indians - "a brogue", they call it.

Unlike the Scots and the Welsh, we have constantly wanted to stay out of their hegemony. We have nearly always been regarded as "a damned nuisance". We exasperate them by our sense of history ; in no other place has the population been in such constant rebellion against their impartial benevolent rule, and we will not let them forget it. Duplicity, fear and evasion are all at work in our mutual relations - the glissades of unsettled historical conflict and of unspeakable present happenings cause undercurrents at the most staid and informal of our encounters.

They find us unpredictable, we find them stiff. We can offend them by our most commonplace utterances on, say, World War II or the Malvinas War and they offend us likewise, since they do not understand or practise our unspoken, unacknowledged but very real concept of 'face'... (MORE LATER).






ON THIS DATE (21ST JUNE) 140 YEARS AGO : 'THE DAY OF THE ROPE'.

'On 21st June 1877, in the anthracite-mining county of Schuylkill, Pennsylvania, ten Irish immigrant men alleged to have been members of an oath-bound secret sect of vigilantes called the 'Molly Maguires' were hanged in what came to be known as 'The Day of the Rope'. Twenty members of the group in all would be executed, following a kangaroo court that American historian John Elliot called "one of the most disgraceful episodes in the history of the bench and bar in the United States." Oppression, exploitation, racial and ethnic bigotry, strikes and union-busting are common enough themes in the American labour movement, but the story of the 'Molly Maguires' and the ruling class's attempts to destroy these Irish workers is so especially contemptible it has achieved legendary status....' (from here.)

On what became known as 'Black Thursday' (21st June, 1877), ten coal miners were hanged until dead in eastern Pennsylvania ; all ten had been born in Ireland but were forced to leave because of An Gorta Mór. It was claimed that they, and others, were involved in 'organised retributions' against corrupt and unfair employers and other members of the establishment, and operated as such under the name 'Molly Maguires' (Molly Maguire had become famous in Ireland [or 'infamous', as the 'landlord' class described her] for refusing to bow down or bend the knee to them).

The workers had been arrested for their alleged part in several killings and, despite much doubt cast over the 'evidence' used against them, they were convicted and sentenced to death. The court case was widely seen as employers drawing 'a line in the sand' in regards to what they considered to be 'uppity' workers looking for better wages and conditions, and an excuse for the establishment to vent its anti-labour and anti-Irish prejudice - 'The first trials began in January 1876. They involved 10 men accused of murder and were held in Mauch Chunk (an Indian name meaning 'Bear Mountain') and Pottsville. A vast army of media descended on the small towns where they wrote dispatches that were uniformly pro-prosecution. The key witness for the prosecution was yet another Irishman, James McParlan. Back in the early 1870's, when Gowen had hired the Pinkerton Detective Agency to spy on his workers, McParlan had gone under cover to infiltrate the Mollies and gather evidence. And gather he did — or at least he claimed he did during the trials. On the stand he painted a vivid picture of 'Molly Maguire' secrecy, conspiracy and murder. With Irish catholics and miners excluded from the juries, the verdicts were a foregone conclusion.

The scene in Pottsville, Pennsylvania, on Thursday, 21st June 1877 - 140 years ago, on this date - as alleged members of the 'Molly Maguires' were taken to the scaffold.

All 10 were convicted and sentenced to hang. No doubt seeking to send the most powerful message to the region's mining communities, authorities arranged to stage the executions on the same day — June 21st, 1877 – in two locations. Alexander Campbell, Michael Doyle, Edward Kelly, and John Donahue were hanged in Mauch Chuck (where the four men "all swung together") , while James Boyle, Hugh McGehan, James Carroll, James Roarity, Thomas Duffy, and Thomas Munley met a similar fate in Pottsville (where all six "swung two-by-two"). Although the hangings took place behind prison walls, they were nonetheless major spectacles that drew huge crowds and generated international news coverage..' (from here).

It was reported that there was "..screams and sobbing as husbands and fathers were bid goodbye.." and that "..James Boyle carried a blood-red rose and Hugh McGehan wore two roses in his lapel (as) James Carroll and James Roarity declared their innocence from the scaffold.."

Over the following two years, ten more alleged members of the 'Molly Maguires' were hanged, including Thomas P. Fisher (on the 28th March 1878) and James McDonnell and Charlie Sharp (on the 14th January 1879). In 1979, the state of Pennsylvania pardoned one of the men, John 'Black Jack' Kehoe, after an investigation by its 'Board of Pardons' at the behest of one of his descendants (incidentally, Seán Connery played the part of John Kehoe in the film 'The Molly Maguires') and, on the 5th December 2005, the Pennsylvania State House of Representatives passed a resolution recognising the lack of due process for several of the men.

Make way for the Molly Maguires

They're drinkers, they're liars but they're men

Make way for the Molly Maguires

You'll never see the likes of them again.



Down the mines no sunlight shines

Those pits they're black as hell

In modest style they do their time

It's Paddy's prison cell

And they curse the day they've travelled far

Then drown their tears with a jar.



So make way for the Molly Maguires

They're drinkers, they're liars but they're men

Make way for the Molly Maguires

You'll never see the likes of them again.



Backs will break and muscles ache

Down there there's no time to dream

Of fields and farms, of womans arms

Just dig that bloody seam

Though they drain their bodies underground

Who'll dare to push them around.



So make way for the Molly Maguires

They're drinkers, they're liars but they're men

Make way for the Molly Maguires

You'll never see the likes of them again.



So make way for the Molly Maguires

They're drinkers, they're liars but they're men

Make way for the Molly Maguires

You'll never see the likes of them again.








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!

"HEY, DO YOU WANT ANY DRUGS...?".

We carried the containers into the canteen as he drove off and I gave him a nod to indicate my thanks for the bounty I was soon to receive. The bunch of scallions was enormous - there was plenty for everyone, and tons for me. My colleagues on the Canteen Staff started dishing out the suppers - we had earlier decided to keep the scallions for Sunday dinner.

Some big mouth in the Cage let the cat out of the bag that we had scallions, and the tobacco tins were flying into Cage 11 from all directions, all carrying the same message : 'Can we have some scallions?' They tried every device to get their hands on our windfall but to no avail. Old favours were called in, family ties and threats of physical violence. I personally was offered a huge sirloin steak for a plate of Champ - but you could pick up sirloin almost anywhere, but not so with scallions.

I offered to get some scallions for them the following week but that offer was thrown back in my face : 'We want Champ and we want it NOW!' They tried to entice us with cigarettes, tobacco, poteen and places in their tunnels. I know for a fact that if these men had been outside and their mothers had put Champ down in front of them for dinner, they would have said no to it and then wrecked the house. Champ in our area was very much an end of week supper just before the weekend when the housekeeping money was low... (MORE LATER).

Thanks for reading, Sharon.






Wednesday, June 07, 2017

"WE REQUIRE MASSIVE POLITICAL AND STRUCTURAL CHANGE ON BOTH SIDES OF THE BORDER..."

ON THIS DATE (7TH JUNE) 96 YEARS AGO : TWO IRA MEN EXECUTED BY WESTMINSTER.

Patrick Maher (left), executed by the British on the 7th of June 1921 - 96 years ago on this date.
Ned Foley, executed by the British on the 7th of June 1921.

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

Patrick Maher and his comrade Ned Foley were hanged in Mountjoy Jail in Dublin by Westminster on Tuesday 7th June 1921 - 96 years ago on this date - for their 'involvement' in the rescue of Tipperary IRA man Seán Hogan ; Patrick Maher, who worked as a clerk at Knocklong railway station and was about three miles from the scene of the rescue when it happened, was not involved in that operation. The two men were charged with the 'murder' of two RIC men (Peter Wallace and Michael Enright): - Patrick Maher strongly protested his innocence but, even though two juries failed to reach a verdict, he was convicted (by a military court martial) and sentenced to death. He was one of 'The Forgotten Ten' IRA Volunteers (Kevin Barry, Patrick Moran, Frank Flood, Thomas Whelan, Thomas Traynor, Patrick Doyle, Thomas Bryan, Bernard Ryan, Edmond (Ned) Foley, and Patrick Maher) - Kevin Barry was executed in 1920 by the British and the other nine men were put to death in 1921. All ten were buried in the grounds of Mountjoy Jail in Dublin, where six of them were placed in the same grave.

John Ellis, the British hangman hired to execute Maher and Foley, had 'proved his worth' to Westminster by previously carrying out other 'jobs' in Ireland for that institution - he and his assistant, Bill Willis, had listed in their bloody CV the names of Roger Casement and Kevin Barry. The most poignant appeal for clemency was made by Edward Wallace, the father of RIC Sergeant Peter Wallace, who wrote to the Commander in Chief of British forces in Ireland, Sir Nevil Macready - "The tragedy will pass heavily on me during the remaining years of my life, if any lives are sacrificed on account of my son's death. My son and daughter join with me in imploring you to be clement and merciful to those who have been tried in connection with the tragedy. May God forgive those who were really guilty. I do." Thousands of people had gathered outside Mountjoy Jail in Dublin in protest against the executions, but to no avail (it should be noted that at the time, Munster and a small part of Leinster were under British 'martial law' and those executed there were shot as soldiers, but Dublin was under civilian law and that is why those executed in Mountjoy were hanged).

On Sunday, 14th October 2001, nine of those men were reinterred in Glasnevin Cemetery in Dublin by representatives of a 26-county state in an 'official' ceremony and, on Friday 19th October 2001 this state made the final arrangements to do the same for the tenth man, Patrick Maher, who was reburied in his home parish of Glenbrohane in Limerick (at the request of his family) on Saturday, 20th October 2001. Both reinterments were carried out by a state which none of the ten men were fighting for - a 26-county free state - as the objective of the republican campaign - then (1920/1921) and now (2017)- was and is for a free Ireland, not a partially-free Ireland. And, to add insult to injury, the then Free State 'minister for justice', John O'Donoghue, was the 'official figurehead' present, on both occasions, during which he delivered the graveside orations. Irish republicans are looking forward to the day when those moral and political misappropriations can be corrected.





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.

IN MY HEART. (By Keith Sinnot.)

I've been alone some time now

it's seven years in all,

I miss my Mum and family

God I miss them all.




I hear their laughter every day

it soothes me when I'm mad,

memories of when we were one

lift me when I'm sad.




Forever I will love you all

but forever is not long enough

for the love I must repay.




And I carry with me in my heart

the times we laughed and wept

and I carry with me in my heart

your love, in all its depth

no matter what life deals to me

my love for you remains.




I love it when we laughed and played

and when we sung a song,

although alone and far away

in my heart you will always stay.


(Next - 'The Eyes Of The Bard Can Be Hard', by Greg Tarrand.)






RICOCHETS OF HISTORY...

At the end of a year in which *IRA decommissioning has been met with widespread euphoria, Phil Mac Giolla Bháin takes a stubborn look at the facts and concludes that the celebration party may be a little premature. From the 'Magill Annual 2002' (*PIRA).

The same Belfast dynamics which tore up Cathal Goulding's blueprint for proletarian revolution might well yet undo the best laid plans of conflict resolution dating back to Hume/Adams. The key concept - that nationalists can sit anywhere on the equality bus and that they have a right to express their will to steer the bus in the direction of a 32-county state - still gets the lynch mobs out in Belfast and Portadown.

The pipe-bombing pogrom in the narrow-minded streets around Glenbryn is driven by this belief system. They are the rough trade of this worldview, but the ideas exist also in more genteel quarters. Having a leader of unionism who thinks that Sinn Féin ministers need 'house training' shows that the colonialist mindset is alive and well on the Stormont veranda.

Put it all together - the pipe bombings, the melting possibility of a united Ireland, the massive leap of faith which may or may not pay off, the ingrained culture of carrying arms - and it is still time to tread carefully.

(END of 'Ricochets of History'. NEXT - 'Perceptions', by Cliodna Cussen, from 1991).






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!

"HEY, DO YOU WANT ANY DRUGS...?".

My friend went on to tell me about how contraband was the currency of the crims and how everything had a price, especially cigarettes. I asked him if he needed any fags or tobacco and if he did, not to hesitate to ask myself or one of my cage-mates for whatever he needed. "If there's anything that I can do for you, let me know," he said in reply, which made me think - I remembered that my friend worked in the prison kitchens.

That fact on its own meant nothing, but it made me think of the exotic foodstuffs at his disposal. Like scallions. "Here, see if you can get me any scallions." "Scallions?" he said,"Of all the stuff I can lay my hands on, why settle for scallions?", he asked. "With scallions you can make Champ," I drooled. "Jesus, Champ..." ,he said, "..I haven't tasted Champ in months!" "And we haven't tasted Champ in years..", I replied. "Right," he said, "if it's scallions you want, it's scallions you'll get."

At suppertime that night, the lorry approached the gate of Cage 11, and I could see my friend peering around the side of it. He winked at me, and I took this to mean that he had got the scallions and I was delighted. He lifted a container off the back of the lorry, taking great pains to show me which one held the exotic contraband... (MORE LATER).






ON THIS DATE (7TH JUNE) FOUR YEARS AGO : A PERSONAL REFLECTION.

Ruairí Ó Brádaigh (far left, and his funeral service, above), pictured in 1954 : from this blog, June 2013 - 'Funeral arrangements : Reposing at Smyth's Funeral Home, Roscommon, on Friday 7th June 2013, from 5.30pm to 8.00pm, followed by Removal to the Sacred Heart Church. Requiem Mass on Saturday at 11.30am with Burial afterwards in St. Coman's Cemetery. Family Flowers only. House private Saturday morning. Donations, if desired, to CABHAIR (Irish Republican Prisoners’ Dependants Fund), 223 Parnell St, Dublin 1 and to the Roscommon-Mayo Hospice.'

'Born in Longford in 1932 to a republican family, Ruairí Ó Brádaigh studied at UCD where he gained a degree in commerce. During his time at UCD he became involved with Sinn Féin and joined the IRA, of which his father had also been a member. Although by profession a teacher, Ruairí spent most Of his time as a training Officer for the IRA and in 1954 was appointed to the Military Council Of the IRA, eventually being IRA Chief Of Staff until 1962. He was elected as Sinn Féin TD in the Longford – Westmeath constituency in 1957. In 1970 Ruairí Ó Brádaigh led the walkout from the Sinn Féin Ard Fheis after the majority voted in favour of the abolition Of Sinn Féin's policy of abstention. He became President of Provisional Sinn Féin which he held until his resignation in 1983. In 1986, Ruairí Ó Brádaigh again led a walk out, this time from the Provisional Sinn Féin Ard Fheis, when they voted to drop the abstention policy. He and several supporters established Republican Sinn Féin..' (from here.)

"In the coming year we must present to the whole Irish people our framework of a federation of the four provinces of Ireland - in a post British withdrawal situation - with maximum devolution of power and decision-making to local level, with the complete separation of church and state and the building of a pluralist society and with neutrality and non-alignment in foreign affairs as the best hope for all the people of this island...this requires massive political and structural change on both sides of the border in order that all of us may escape from the political strait-jacket North and South designed for us in the Westminster parliament and imposed on us by the English ruling class to our detriment. Such a solution remains our only hope of growing and developing naturally as a people and enjoying our cultural heritage. God speed the day...!" - Aitheasc an Uachtaráin Ruairí Ó Brádaigh don 85ú Ard-Fheis de Shinn Féin in Óstlann an Spa, Leamhcán, Co. Atha Cliath, 21ú agus 22ú Deireadh Fómhair, 1989 (Presidential Address of Ruairí Ó Brádaigh to the 85th Ard Fheis of Sinn Féin in the Spa Hotel, Lucan, County Dublin, 21st and 22nd October 1989). And I still go looking for him at the Ard Fheis ; I miss him. But, thankfully, that which he stood for and represented is still here.





ON THIS DAY NEXT WEEK (WEDNESDAY 14TH JUNE 2017)...

..we should be just about finished one of our multitasking jobs - this Sunday coming (the 11th June) will find me and the raffle team in our usual monthly venue on the Dublin/Kildare border, running a 650-ticket raffle for the Cabhair group; the work for this event began yesterday, Tuesday 6th June, when the five of us started to track down the ticket sellers and arrange for the delivery/collection of their ticket stubs and cash and, even though the raffle itself is, as stated, held on Sunday 11th June, the 'job' is not complete until the following night, when the usual 'raffle autopsy' is held. The time constraints imposed by same will mean that our normal Wednesday post will more than likely not be collated in time for next week (14th June) and it's looking like it will be between that date and the Wednesday following same before we get the time to put a post together. But check back here anyway - sure you never know what might catch our fancy between this and then, time permitting!

Our second multitasking job, which we have assisted with but won't be there in person for, is the annual Wolfe Tone commemoration in Bodenstown which, unfortunately, clashes with the raffle. And, as talented (!) as we are, we actually can't be in two places at the one time, but we hope that Peter and the behind-the-scenes crew can struggle on without us and the weather holds for all concerned (even though we'll be in a nice, dry, warm hotel!). And, as arranged, we'll meet-up in the raffle hotel afterwards and have a chat about how both gigs went. And maybe share a pint (of cider) or two...!

Thanks for reading, Sharon.






Wednesday, May 31, 2017

THE 'REPUBLICAN MOVEMENT' AND "THE VENEER OF A SETTLEMENT".

ON THIS DATE (31ST MAY) 5 YEARS AGO : A MISSED OPPORTUNITY FOR PAYBACK!

On (Thursday) the 31st May 2012 - 5 years ago on this date - a vote was held in this State to decide whether to support or not to support a European treaty in relation to fiscal rules which would limit State spending by the Leinster House administration, placing those limitations into State law. At the time, the Euro currency was in trouble ("the most serious financial crisis at least since the 1930's, if not ever..") and the quickest way for the political and financial 'bosses' to stabilise it (and, by extension, their own profits) was to take more of it from the 'ordinary joe' throughout the EU, by instructing local politicians to cut back on their share of the 'cake'. But, as expected, when those 'captains of industry' were raking it in during the cyclical 'boom times', they were quite happy to leave us little people to our own devices, sink or swim.

At the time, we stated - 'This Treaty is about trying to shore-up a failed currency - the Euro. In this State, that failure is compounded by the activities of the gangster politicians, property speculators and bankers who, although already wealthy and financially comfortable, wanted more and, because they move in the same 'circles', closed ranks to protect each other's backs as their joint efforts bankrupted the State. Those who still have jobs, and those who have lost them, are now being penalised for the mistakes and the outright greed of that 'elite'... (from here.) Unfortunately, more of those that voted went with the establishment and the good guys lost, prompting the following from us -

'I don't write this post as a sore loser, or a begrudger or because I'm in a vindictive mood (well..no more than usual, anyway!) but rather as someone who has seen the same mistake being made over and over again and, despite repeated warnings to the victim, as someone who has recently witnessed the same again : scare tactics and a pro-administration and business-friendly media manipulated enough victims into the path of the cushion-covered snare it had hidden in the undergrowth and obtained the result that their employers in the IMF and the EU ordered : a 'YES' vote for more austerity for the unemployed and the low paid, to secure the continued comforts of the 'protected class' ie the politicians themselves and their 'friends’' ('interests', rather..) in the banking and property-speculating industries.

Although over three million people (3,144,828) in this State were entitled to vote on the 'Austerity Treaty', only slightly more than one-and-a-half million (1,584,179) of those actually did so and, of that latter figure, 955,091 voted for more 'austerity' (after being told by the 'Establishment', among other frightening lies, that the ATM's would soon be cashless!) whilst 629,088 voted 'NO'..'


The 'Yes' vote was signed into FS law by the Free State President, Michael D. Higgins, on 27th June 2012 but, five years after the fact, the Euro currency is still in trouble, the 'cops' (who are as 'careless' now as they have been in the past..), like the State that employs them and gives them succor, are bent but are still sometimes the only point of rescue for those that the State would rather forget while those that the decent among us would rather forget are allowed free reign. And neither Brussels or Leinster House will do anything - except probosculate about it, occasionally - because the careerists in those institutions would be making headlines like that themselves were it not for the fact that they are placed in positions where they can cover for each other.





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 SERPENT. (By Cian Sharkhin.)

Sliding through the swaying Savannah

his presence is scarcely felt.

Satan's sacred servant

is slinking through the veldt.

A glint, a gleam and shimmering sheen,

his form so lithe and svelte.




Skulking in the Savannah

that swaddles the Swaziland,

he stops and smiles, his simpering smile,

whilst striking the serpents stand.

He sighs a lisp, a sibilant lisp,

sensing his prey at hand.




The rummaging rat came rooting,

sniffing, twitching, snooting, snouting.

Rustling, bustling through the brush,

its presence it was-a-flouting.

Without a care and unaware

it was on its last outing.




The reptilian gin whips it in

with swishing slash and scything.

A squeal, a squeak and piercing shriek,

in tightening tendrils writhing.

A twist, a quirk and spasmodic jerk,

the resistance is now subsiding.




Swallowing the prey, he slithers away,

never lauded as heroic.

That wry simpering smile,

so merciless and stoic.

A projection of our darkside,

so complexly metaphoric.


(Next - 'In My Heart', by Keith Sinnott.)






ON THIS DATE (31ST MAY) 219 YEARS AGO : 'UNITED IRISHMEN' LEADER ELECTED.

Farewell my brave United men,

who dearly with me fought,

though tyrant might has conquered right,

full dearly was it bought.

And when the sun of freedom

shall again upon you shine,

oh, then let Bagenal Harvey’s name array your battle line...'


Beauchamp Bagenal Harvey was born in Wexford in 1762, into a fairly well-off (Protestant) family, and was educated at Trinity College in Dublin (his father was a senior civil servant). Beauchamp, by now a barrister, was an outspoken supporter of Catholic emancipation and, at 30 years of age, joined the 'Dublin Society of United Irishmen'. In that same year (1792) his father died, leaving him property in Wexford and Waterford, which yielded an annual rental of £3,000.

Harvey was arrested by the British in late May 1798 and was imprisoned in Wexford Jail but the prison was forcibly taken over a few days later by the United Irishmen and he was set free. On the 31st of that month - 219 years ago on this date - he was appointed by the approximate four-thousand strong rebel army in that area as their Commander-in-Chief. He gathered his forces and headed for the walled-town of New Ross, intending to set up camp there - they set up a temporary base at Three Rock, just outside Wexford Town, and spent about three days there, drilling and learning basic military manoeuvres. From New Ross they intended to march on Kilkenny, where they could recruit more fighters. On the 5th June 1798, Harvey sent a despatch rider into New Ross with an instruction to the British general in charge (Johnson) demanding the surrender of the town 'to avert rapine and bloodshed' but the messenger was killed by Johnson's yeomanry. The Irish, numbering approximately four-thousand strong, attacked New Ross and won the fight, and the town, only to lose it when the British re-grouped and drove them out. However, within hours the Irish had themselves re-grouped and were ready for another attack.

The rebel leaders - Beauchamp Bagenal Harvey, Thomas Cloney, Father Philip Roche and John Kelly - led their army into New Ross again and scattered the British but failed to properly secure the town ; the British again re-grouped, attacked and, for the second time, put the Irish to flight. Feeling that a final victory was within their grasp, the United Irishmen assembled for another push - the third such attack. They divided into three groups, two of which - each consisting of hundreds of rebels - were dispatched towards Wicklow, to confuse the enemy, while the third contingent, consisting of about three-thousand men and women, headed for New Ross again. The two 'Wicklow' groups put up a fierce struggle against professional British Yeomanry, but were eventually forced to scatter, leaving hundreds of fellow rebels dead or dying. By this time, the largest group (under Harvey) had reached Carrickbyrne Hill, about two-hours march from New Ross ; on their journey from Three Rock to Carrickbyrne Hill they had encountered and defeated armed British contingents and Harvey decided they should set-up base at the Hill and teach the rebel army how to use the captured pieces of artillery which they had taken from the British forces they had met along the way.

After a few days in training, the rebel army were judged to be ready to be moved to the next 'camp', Corbett Hill - the last such stop before they would reach the town of New Ross, and from where they could look down on the town. They knew that there was about three or four-thousand enemy soldiers in New Ross, commanded by a General Johnson and a 'Lord' Mountjoy, the latter in charge of an enemy Brigade from Dublin. Beauchamp Bagenal Harvey wanted to take the town without bloodshed, if possible, and sent a number of his men, under a flag of truce, to let the British know that he was willing to accept their surrender and take prisoners. The British shot the truce party dead. A battle that was to last thirteen hours was about to begin.

The rebels gathered a huge herd of cattle and stampeded the animals towards the town, following immediately behind the terrified beasts. The British outposts fell, and the Irish fought their way into the middle of New Ross , meeting strong resistance - the enemy retreated, re-grouped and, once more, succeeded in forcing the United Irishmen out of the town. Some of the rebel army were reluctant to lose the ground they had gained, and had to be practically dragged away by their own comrades ; one such rebel was Mary Doyle, who ran from body to body of dead and dying enemy soldiers, finishing them off or just making sure they were dead before removing their ammunition belts and weapons which she then distributed to her own side! -

'By 1798 the wearing of the colour green was forbidden by order of the English government, but this order was defied by the women, especially in Wexford. The women of Wexford had their petticoats, handkerchiefs, cap ribbons and all parts of their dress that exhibited a shade of green, torn off and were subjected to the most vile and indecent language by the Yeomen. Any women who encountered the government troops ran a most terrible risk. In a desperate encounter with a Hessian Captain, Anne Ford of Garrysackle, County Wexford, slew him with a mallet. Peg Kavanagh was one of many women who conveyed despatches and food to Michael Dwyer and Joseph Hall in their hiding place in the Wicklow Mountains. Susan O'Toole, the blacksmith's daughter of Annamore, carried ammunition and provisions to the insurgent chiefs for many a long year. Joseph Hall used to call Susan O'Toole his "moving magazine". William Rooney has immortalised the memory of Mary Doyle, a fearless Wexford insurgent :

But a figure rose before us,

Twas a girl's fragile frame

And among the fallen soldiers

There she walked with eyes aflame,

And her voice rang o'er the sea :


"Who so dares to die for Ireland

Let him come and follow me!"
' (more here.)

It was during that retreat that Mary Doyle was said to have climbed on to a British cannon and vowed to stay with the gun regardless of what happened - her own comrades could only get her to safety by wheeling the weapon out of the town, with Mary Doyle said to be sitting on the barrel of it! The town of New Ross was now on fire, with buildings crumbling and hundreds of bodies strewn around ; one of the leaders of the United Irishmen, John Kelly (from Killane), assembled the remnants of the rebel army for one last push, which he led. It was in that last attack that Kelly was badly wounded and Mary Doyle was killed by one of the many fires which now consumed the town. Both sides were by now exhausted. One of the surviving United Irishmen, Thomas Cloney, described the last battle as a free-for-all "with two confused masses of men struggling alternatively to drive the other back by force alone." For the third time in 13 hours, the Irish rebels were forced out of their own town - they had lost the battle. The British 'Lord', Mountjoy', who was in command of a British force from Dublin, was killed during the fight. Beauchamp Bagenal Harvey was captured within a few weeks by the British and was 'tried', convicted and hanged on the 28th June 1798 at the bridge of Wexford. His body was then beheaded, the torso thrown into the River Slaney and his head displayed on a spike at the courthouse in Wexford town.

The British no longer 'behead and spike' their enemy anymore (at least not in Ireland) but they continue to make enemies of the calibre of the Harvey's and Mary Doyle's of this world and will continue to do so until they realise that their 'days of empire' are over.





RICOCHETS OF HISTORY...

At the end of a year in which *IRA decommissioning has been met with widespread euphoria, Phil Mac Giolla Bháin takes a stubborn look at the facts and concludes that the celebration party may be a little premature. From the 'Magill Annual 2002' (*PIRA).

Had there truly been a pan-nationalist front, the Sinn Féin leadership would never have found itself in a situation of having to approach the IRA to ask them to destroy weaponry under the gaze of a British proxy. The present departure is, partly, a leap of faith by the republican leadership (sic - the author was referring to the leadership of the Provisional grouping) in the goodwill of Blair and the British government. Partly, too, it has occurred because this was the only tactical option open to republican leaders in a situation that had been constructed to corner them ('1169' comment : what nonsense! That leadership willingly walked into a political cul-de-sac, feigned surprise that it actually was a cul-de-sac, and then attempted to blame those who pointed them in the direction of that cul-de-sac!).

The narrow-minded streets of Glenbryn may yet remove the veneer of a settlement. In some ways it is already business as usual in the Alabama of the North, with pipe bombs and burnings on a weekly (and sometimes nightly) basis. If history tells us anything, it tells us that the nice new mission-statemented 'Police Service of Northern Ireland' will look and act remarkably like the 'old' RUC.

What has happened over the past couple of years is that the leadership of the republican movement (sic - the author was referencing 'the PSF leadership'), cut adrift by the Dublin government, had no choice but to consent to unionist demands ('1169' comment - so those the author considered to be 'the leadership of the republican movement' had placed themselves in the political position wherby they were reliant on the backing of a Free State administration? Completely ludicrous to suggest that any republican would do that. A (constitutional) nationalist would, but not a republican..). No amount of 'strategic thinking' by the republican base will get away from that central reality... (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!

"HEY, DO YOU WANT ANY DRUGS?".

It was Saturday afternoon in Cage 11, Long Kesh, and most other places as well, I suppose. Anyway, I was out walking around the cage - the crims ('ODC's) were out on the football pitch, as was normal for a Saturday, playing football. I recognised one or two, as I walked around, and waved to them.

The match was getting a bit heated so I stopped to watch for a while. It started to cool down again and wasn't much of a spectacle, so I decided to continue my dander. "Hey, do ya want any drugs?", asked a voice from the other side of the wire on the football pitch. "I'll drugs ya, yea wee bastard ye, if I get my hands on ya...", I shouted. One of the lads on the pitch that I knew came running over to me - "What's wrong, Jim?" , he asked. "That skinny wee bastard there is trying to sell me drugs", I replied.

"Hey you, fuck off", he said to the pusher. "I'm only trying to swap some drugs for cigarettes", the pusher moaned. "He doesn't wany any, so fuck off", was the reply he got from my friend, who was a good republican who, charged with an unscheduled offence, could not qualify for 'Special Category Status'. He explained to me that there was a major drug problem among the young crims and how it was easier to get drugs than cigarettes... (MORE LATER).


Thanks for reading, Sharon.






Wednesday, May 24, 2017

'SOCIAL SCIENTISTS' HIRED BY FREE STATE TO "BEAT THE IRA".

"IT IS MY DUTY TO TELL YOU WHAT I BELIEVE SHOULD BE DONE.."

"Because I believe these things I will always stick to them, but I do not want to force any other person to believe as I do. Let everyone be honest with himself and do what he thinks right. It is my duty to tell you what I believe should be done.." - Commandant Neil 'Plunkett' O'Boyle, pictured, left.

Commandant O'Boyle was born on a small farm at Leac Eineach, near Burtonport in County Donegal, in 1898. He grew tall and thin, and was known to keep himself to himself as a teenager, but livened up as he grew older, and continually expressed an interest in the political affairs of the times he was witnessing and had a great interest in the Irish language. But he was not one for trying to impose his own beliefs, whether to do with politics, history, or the Irish language, and was known by now as a Sinn Féiner but couldn't take his interest to the level he would have liked, as he was helping to look after his father, who was in poor health : the man died in 1917, and 'Plunkett', now 19 years of age, needed a secure job to assist the family - he got a position as a guard with the 'Londonderry(sic) and Lough Swilly Railway Company' but was forced to leave that job when he was 21 due to continued harassment from the RIC, a British 'police force' in Ireland, which knew of his Sinn Féin beliefs.

He left Ireland for Scotland and got a job as a miner in the 'New Mains' Colliery, where he joined the IRA's 2nd Battalion Scottish Brigade, B Company. His IRA work included procuring weapons for Army use in Ireland and ensuring that same received safe passage home. At 22 years of age, he was caught by the Scottish police while organising a shipment of arms and was sentenced to five years hard labour in Peterhead Prison and was known to have been singled-out for particularly rough treatment by the prison authorities, including long periods of solitary confinement.

The 'Treaty of Surrender' was signed in late 1921 and 'Plunkett' was one of many who qualified for early release under its terms and conditions (even though he was opposed to that Treaty) and, in 1922, at 24 years of age, he was released and he returned home to Donegal, but was arrested a few months later and placed in detention in Dungloe and then moved to Drumboe. Finally, he was put 'on hold' in Finner Camp until arrangements were made to move him to Dublin. From the moment he was first arrested he was determined to escape : he had intended to jump from the Free Staters lorry that was transporting him to Drumboe but another prisoner beat him to it. In Finner Camp he had started a tunnel but this was discovered, so he and others planned to seize the tug boat on which they were to be taken to meet the ship that was due to transport them to Dublin. When this didn't work, they then planned (unsuccessfully) to try and take control of the ship itself!

When 'Plunkett' and his comrades landed in Dublin, they were taken to Newbridge Barracks where they almost immediately began work on a tunnel, but this plan was soon improved on when one of the men got his hands on a Board of Works map which highlighted the sewerage system and the existing tunnel was then re-directed towards those pipes. They soon reached the buried pipes and in October that year (1922) approximately 160 IRA prisoners effected an escape through the sewerage system and came out the other end in the Kildare section of the River Liffey, from where Neil 'Plunkett' O'Boyle got to Dublin and was placed in command of the Dublin No. 2 Brigade IRA, 3rd Battalion, and was stationed in the Wicklow area : it was now November 1922 and, for the next six months, his IRA unit operated and lived rough in a mountainous area between Tallaght and Glenmalure.

The Ceasefire Order of April 1923 was adhered to by 'Plunkett' and his men but they stayed in hiding, as did many IRA units, until the general situation became clearer - but the Free State Army still hunted them and, indeed, his unit was attacked by the Staters on 8th May 1923. Michelle Boyle, a relative of 'Plunkett', put the following account on the record at the time : " Around 5am Rosie Kelly was out with (----) when she seen Free State soldiers in the vicinity. She told the volunteers. They went into the woods and hid behind a wall. As soon as Free State soldiers came looking, Plunkett and the column opened fire. The Free State soldiers sheltered behind Kelly's house. It wasn't long until another band of Free State soldiers came from Moin a' Bhealaigh and they shot into the woods. They hit their own men but none were hurt seriously. Some volunteers were in Free State soldier's clothes and managed to escape quickly across the hills. The Column was all very tired and was glad to rest that night. At around this time Plunkett was after getting a shipment of arms from Belfast. That night in Kylebeg they had 2 Thompson guns and 7 rifles. The soldiers had Lewis guns and rifles and there were about 80 soldiers. Plunkett was a good leader, he was hot-headed but you couldn't frighten him. He had a sharp mind, knew what time to attack and what time to retreat. And when they were escaping, Wicklow men could guide him to safe houses and over the hills.."

In mid-May 1923, 'Plunkett' and his men were in a safe house in Knocknadruce, County Wicklow when, in the early hours of the morning, they were surrounded by Free State forces under the command of a Belfast man, Felix Mc Corley. IRA man Tom Heavey, who was in the house at the time, explained what transpired : "Plunkett wanted the mother and daughter to be let out of the house. The Staters wouldn't hear of that and threatened to bomb them out. That was a favourite trick, throwing grenades through the window. This put Plunkett in a spot as he couldn't let the women be injured. So he said, 'Let me come out'. Out he came with his hands up and walked slowly towards a stone stile at the right hand corner of the house. When he got there he spoke a few words with this Free State Officer named McCorley, a Belfast man perched on a stone ditch above him. Suddenly McCorley raised his revolver and shot Plunkett in the eye, the bullet passing through his upraised hands. For good measure he shot him again through the head. He just shot him. I saw it all. It was cold blooded murder. The others in the house were rounded up and taken away.." (from Pádraig O' Baoighill's book, 'Óglach na Rosann').

The 94th anniversary of the State execution of Neil 'Plunkett' O'Boyle will be marked in Knocknadruce, County Wicklow, on Sunday next, 28th May 2017, at 3pm : those attending are asked to assemble at the Church in Hollywood at 2.30pm and a bus to the commemoration will be leaving from Dublin city centre at 12.45pm - phone 01-8729747 for details. All genuine republicans welcome!





ON THIS DATE (24TH MAY) 76 YEARS AGO : "DRAFT RIOTS" AS WESTMINSTER ANGLES FOR CONSCRIPTION IN IRELAND.

In Ireland, in 1941, conscription was again being discussed in Westminster ; this time for the partitioned six north-eastern counties of Ireland. It is recorded that, at a meeting between the then 'American Ambassador to Ireland' (sic - the Free State), a Mr. David Gray (who was said to be friendly with the British Ambassador to America, 'Lord' Halifax) and Eamonn de Valera, which took place in January 1941, Gray rounded on de Valera "for capitalising on hatred of Great Britain for political reasons and so must take some responsibility for the existing popular state of mind..", by which he meant the Free State policy of (so-called) 'neutrality' and the then impending strong possibility of conscription by Westminster in the Six Occupied Counties, which de Valera and his State Administration were opposed to.

Grey stated that de Valera "began to talk about his rights. I told him that the only right that he and myself enjoyed was to believe in our religion, and be burned for it if need be. Every other right depended upon force to maintain it, and he was steering a very dangerous course if he thought otherwise.."

Although pro-British in his mindset, Gray recognised the reality of the then existing political situation in Ireland : on the 24th May, 1941 - 76 years ago on this date - he sent a wire-cable (like a 'text message', for our younger readers!) to the American Secretary of State, stating - "Opposition leaders yesterday informed me that conscription without a conscientious objectors escape clause for minority Catholic nationalists will constitute a major irretrievable and probably fatal political blunder at this time and play directly into de Valera's hands with grave possibilities for American interests. They [the opposition leaders] predict draft riots, the escape of draft dodgers to Southern Ireland who will be acclaimed as hero martyrs by three-quarters of the population and the fomenting of trouble by republicans and fifth columnists. The clearest-headed leader predicts that de Valera will seize the opportunity to escape from economic and political realities by proclaiming himself the leader of the oppressed minority and with the blessings of the Cardinal will rouse anti-British feeling and call a Holy War. I think it a very likely prediction. All classes of opinion here unite in condemning the move as calamitous. It appears to be a repetition of the same fatal blunder made during the last war. The weak and failing Ulster [sic] Government is probably seeking to sustain itself by provoking a crisis. Unless Great Britain is prepared from a military point of view to seize the whole country it appears to be madness. So little can be gained and so much lost.

Eighty thousand Irish Volunteers in the British Army will be disaffected, there will be no material number of nationalist conscripts, a government, a popular majority and an army inclined to be friendly to Great Britain rather than to the Axis will become definitely hostile, possibly giving active aid to Germany and most important of all the pro-British opposition will be helpless and the opportunity for dividing the country on the question of the ports will be lost for the duration. The effect on Irish-American opinion at this juncture is not for me to estimate. This is a grave situation."

Shortly afterwards, Churchill wrote -"..the (British) Cabinet is inclined to the view it would be more trouble than it's worth to go through with conscription. No immediate decision will be taken and in the meantime the less made of the affair the better." It took, as usual, the threat of force, or force itself, before the British realised that there would be a consequence to their action. And it still does today.





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.

DUMBO THE ELEPHANT... (By Cian Sharkhin.)

"The elephants on my foot." The squeaky voice piped up, breaking the spell of the Maenad. 'THWAACK!' The zoo keeper's cane reverberated off the baby elephant's rump, causing him to lumber forward, releasing me. It never even hurt when he was standing on my foot, it was like somebody sitting on my foot, I just couldn't move.I should've felt relieved, I didn't - I felt overwrought.

Just as the 'naughty boys' in the film had caused Dumbo's mummy to go crazy and attack them in defence of little Dumbo, whose ears the naughty boys were pulling whilst teasing the baby elephant. I had betrayed the baby elephant causing the zoo keeper to whack it with his long bamboo stick. I felt awful.

"Oh Christopher, my little pet. Are you alright?" My mother gently cooed into my ear as she dandled me and groomed my curly blond tresses. Gone was the Maenad, transformed back to my mother, her features had softened and the Doris Day light shone forth from her. My mother's face was a case study of divinity, a Madonna.

"Oh don't worry, my pet, why didn't you say? Oh never mind , you were probably frightened, you poor thing..." My mother continued both asking and answering her own questions, leaving me to reflect on my act of 'treachery'. Poor old Dumbo. (End of 'Dumbo the Elephant' : next - 'The Serpent', by Cian Sharkhin ).






ON THIS DATE (24TH MAY) 94 YEARS AGO : IRA ORDERED TO 'DUMP ARMS'.

"To All Ranks : Comrades - The arms with which we have fought the enemies of our country are to be dumped. The foreign and domestic enemies of the Republic have for the moment prevailed" - 'Dump Arms' order issued by the then newly-appointed IRA Chief of Staff Frank Aiken (pictured, right), on Thursday, 24th May 1923 : 94 years ago on this date.





"Further sacrifice on your part would now be in vain and the continuance of the struggle in arms unwise in the national interest. Military victory must be allowed to rest for the moment, with those who have destroyed the Republic. You have saved the nation's honour, preserved the sacred national tradition, and kept open the road of independence" - an echo of the above 'Dump Arms' order to the IRA, issued on the same date [24th May 1923] by Éamon de Valera (pictured, left).

Yet, three years later, that same man actually joined those "who have destroyed the Republic" when, in March 1926, following an extraordinary meeting of the then Sinn Féin organisation, he resigned as leader and, splitting the Movement, brought others with him in forming (on the 23rd March 1926) "a new national movement" - Fianna Fáil. He and the other defectors stated that they had no option except to leave the Movement after their Ard Fheis motion calling for elected Sinn Féin members to be allowed to take their seats in the Free State parliament (Leinster House), if and when the controversial 'Oath of Allegiance' was removed, was defeated in a vote.

'He was born in New York on the 14th of October in 1882 to Catherine Coll (a young Irish immigrant from County Limerick) and Juan Vivion DeValera (an immigrant of Spanish origin). Little is known of his early childhood except that his family moved from America in 1885 to Ireland where the young Éamon studied at Blackrock College in Dublin and was largely reared by his Grandmother. He studied languages and mathematics and was, like Michael Collins, a student of English Rule in Ireland. The early 1900's was a time of the great Gaelic cultural revival in Ireland as literature, drama, sport and the language of the Gaelic nation were all revived. The main spearhead of the revival was The Gaelic League which he joined in 1908. He was greatly influenced by the League and learned the Irish language whilst immersing himself in the Gaelic culture.

The Gaelic League was an obvious recruiting ground for the various revolutionary organisations of the time and it was not long before de Valera became a member of the Irish Republican Brotherhood. He was second in command to Thomas MacDonagh of the Dublin Brigade during the Easter Rising of 1916. The Rising failed and the seven leaders, MacDonagh and Pearse among them, were executed, along with 9 other rebels. de Valera was also sentenced to death as an organiser of the revolt but was to escape the firing squad because of the confusion surrounding his ancestry (the English authorities did not want to risk the execution of an American citizen)..'
(from here).

New York-born Éamon de Valera died at 92 years of age in Blackrock, Dublin, in 1975, and was buried in Glasnevin Cemetery in Dublin. His 'Dump Arms' colleague, Frank Aiken, also died in Blackrock, Dublin, eight years after de Valera (1983), aged 85 ; 'From an adolescent farmer to a local Sinn Fein activist and provincial guerrilla leader, and eventually to chief-of-staff of the IRA, Frank Aiken has an early, hidden history. As with so many of his political generation, Aiken's path to politics began amid the violent upheaval of the Irish revolution..' (from here).

On the 20th April 1923, Frank Aiken was elected as Chief of Staff for the IRA and almost had his tenure brought to an end within two days : on the 22nd of that month, Aiken was holed up in a so-called 'safe house' in Castlebellingham in County Louth with the Quinn brothers, Pádraig and Séan. The three men were part of the leadership of the IRA's 'Fourth Northern Division' (Frank Aiken was commander of that unit, Pádraig was the quartermaster general and Séan was adjutant general) and, as such, were high on the Free Staters 'Most Wanted' list. The 'safe house' was surrounded (on the 22nd) by Free State forces and a firefight ensued, during which both Quinn brothers were wounded (Séan died from his wounds, and Pádraig was captured) but, in the melee and confusion of the action, Frank Aiken managed to escape. Three short years later, however, he left Sinn Féin and, working alongside (colluding with, to be more apt) Seán Lemass, Gerry Boland and Countess Markievicz, established a political party - Fianna Fail.

The Republican Movement continued its struggle against the British military and political presence in Ireland and found itself having to do battle, too, with Frank Aiken and his fellow Free Staters who, in their attempts to present the Free State as 'a normal society' rather than that which it was (and, indeed, still is today) - a corrupt and bastardised political entity - tried to control the news of the day : 'Censorship was under the charge of the Minister for the Co-ordination of Defensive Measures, Frank Aiken. It was necessary to prevent publication of matter that might undermine the neutrality of the State and to prevent it becoming a clearing house for foreign intelligence, though over the period of the Emergency, the Act started to be used for more party political purposes such as preventing the publication of the numbers of Irish soldiers serving in the United Kingdom armed forces or industrial disputes within the state. In addition, the information made available to Irish people was also carefully controlled...' (from here).

As the Free State 'Minister for the Co-ordination of Defensive Measures' (as he was from 1939 to 1945), Frank Aiken could (and did) 'authorise and provide for the censorship, restriction, control, or partial or complete suspension of communication' - in other words, he propagandised for Free Statism on behalf of Westminster and, as such - like his Fianna Fail/Free State colleagues - was seen as a persona non grata by the IRA. Indeed, when his old IRA 'boss', Paddy Rankin, died in 1964, Frank Aiken made the journey from Dublin to Newry to attend the funeral and was told in no uncertain terms when he got there that it was an IRA-organised funeral and his presence might not be appreciated by all concerned. It was recorded at the time that, following that conversation, "..Mr Aiken made a quick retreat up the Dublin Road..".

Free Staters, and the Free State entity itself and the mentality that they and it support and represent, has 'dug in', politically, since de Valera and Aiken, among others, nurtured it into life, and its 'retreat' will not be quick but, for the sake of those of us who respect this country, it has to happen. And the sooner, the better.





RICOCHETS OF HISTORY...

At the end of a year in which *IRA decommissioning has been met with widespread euphoria, Phil Mac Giolla Bháin takes a stubborn look at the facts and concludes that the celebration party may be a little premature. From the 'Magill Annual 2002' (*PIRA).

One of the key tasks facing the IRA officers who 'green-booked' new recruits into the army was to make sure they had the psychological strength necessary to withstand the trauma of killing at close range and, in order to do this, IRA volunteers had to be 100 per cent sure that they were 100 per cent justified in using the gun. There had to be complete moral certitude, but the recent decommissioning 'event' has caused a certain creeping moral ambiguity to seep into the belief system of IRA volunteers. This is no small matter.

The Garda Special Branch approached social scientists in Maynooth in the 1980's with the simple question : "How do we beat the IRA?" The answer was simple - "Destroy their belief system." One of the main casualties for the Republican Movement in entering this process was the belief system that equipped volunteers to sustain their operational effectiveness as much as did the guns. Bobby Sands was imprisoned because he was in possession of a firearm - the core question was the legitimacy and legality of what he was doing with that automatic pistol. To the British administrators of the northern state he was a criminal but, to his comrades, he was a legitimate soldier doing his national duty at a time of national emergency.

The 'event' now slightly opens the door guarding that moral certitude. Doubt may creep into those who spent their youth preoccupied with the guns and their deadly use. This is new terrain for republicans, especially those who remember the 70's and 80's ; cries of 'sell-out' in the direction of the current leadership are arrant nonsense, given the situation they find themselves in. Perhaps accusations of acquiescing in a compulsory purchase order would be more apt. ('1169' comment - and 'purchased' they were, and sold themselves cheap, to boot. The "situation they find themselves in" is one of their own making ie the Adams/McGuinness leadership allowed the political establishment to guide them to a point where to join that political establishment could be 'sold' as the smart/cute/republican thing to do and, unfortunately, the majority of the membership allowed it to happen.) (MORE LATER).






(1) ON THIS DATE (24TH MAY) 96 YEARS AGO : FIRST ELECTION TO A PARTITIONIST ASSEMBLY HELD IN IRELAND.

'The first election to a devolved legislature in Northern Ireland (sic) took place on 24 May 1921*. A record-breaking turnout delivered 40 Unionist seats in the Northern Ireland’s new House of Commons, with Sinn Féin in second place. At a time of political uncertainty, when the future status (or even location) of the Border was not yet established, the election was a crucial moment in the construction of Northern Ireland's political infrastructure for the next half-century and more...' (from 'The Irish Times' newspaper, here / *under the terms of the British 1920 'Government of Ireland Act' ie two 'Home Rule Parliaments' for Ireland)

And, today - 96 years later - that institution is still there, still funded by Westminster and, as 'he who pays the piper calls the tune', still doing the bidding of the British political establishment. Irish republicans are abstentionist in relation to the Stormont institution and the Leinster House assembly in Dublin, as both 'parliaments' were put in place by acts of, and to the advantage of, Westminster. Neither 'House' can be of any use in regards to Irish reunification, as both accommodate advocates of the continued partition of this country, regardless of what they may say or put in writing ; as with all career politicians, you have to watch what they do as opposed to what they say.





(2) ON THIS DATE (MAY 24TH) 96 YEARS AGO : "ALMOST AN IMPOSSIBILITY" TO DEFEAT THE IRA - BRITISH ARMY GENERAL.

On the 24th May 1921 - 96 years ago on this date - British Army General 'Sir' Nevil Macready (pictured, left) wrote a memorandum to the British Cabinet in which he stated that a full military victory against the guerrilla forces of the IRA was almost an impossibility ; he suggested the introduction of total martial law, the suppression of all newspapers, the licensing of all public traffic on the roads, identity cards and the suppression of any Irish republican parliament! A proper Gentleman, by all accounts...

However, Macready's political masters in Westminster let it be known that, in their opinion, 'such measures were too extreme' ; in reality, however, there was one over-riding reason why such an order would not be issued to General Macready - Westminster was already voicing its opinion, diplomatically, to as wide an audience as it could get to, that the 'behind-the-scenes' talk about a 'Truce' was the 'answer' to the 'Irish Question' : Westminster was not worried about being too harsh on the Irish - if Macready's demands were met, the British 'spin' would be blown apart and questions would be asked as to why such measures were needed when the issue had been, as Westminster was insinuating, practically settled.

Macready's 'wish list', if implemented, would have led to a fresh wave of American support for the IRA, and the British politicians in Westminster knew it. British 'King' George V, Lloyd George and General Smuts had sent-out 'peace signals' to the IRA and those they perceived to be its political leaders or representatives - among those 'come-hither' advances was this beauty of political hypocrisy, delivered in Belfast on the 22nd June (1921) by British 'King' George V, who was in Belfast to open the new 'Home Rule Parliament' at Stormont - "I speak from a full heart when I pray that my coming to Ireland today may prove to be the first step towards an end of strife among her peoples, whatever their race or creed. In that hope, I appeal to all Irishmen to pause, to stretch out the hand of forebearance and conciliation, to forgive and forget and to join in making for the land which they love a new era of peace, contentment and goodwill." Blaming the Irish for the situation, but willing to forgive us for trying to defend ourselves. The 'king' should have stuck to collecting stamps, and more's the pity he wasn't introduced to his doctor sooner than he was...

However - those 'peace signals' bore fruit - a message from Richard Mulcahy, IRA Chief of Staff was circulated to all active personnel - "In view of the conversations now being entered into by our Government with the Government of Great Britain, and in pursuance of mutual conversations, active operations by our forces will be suspended as from noon, Monday, 11 July..."

Then, in London, on the 6th December that year (1921), the 'Treaty of Surrender' was signed, bringing this cursed Free State into being and succeeding only in 'kicking the can down the road' - to this day, Westminster continues to claim jurisdictional control over part of Ireland, a claim enforced politically and militarily. We have had other 'Treaty's ' since then : 1973 (Sunningdale), 1985 (Hillsborough) and 1998 (Stormont) - and no doubt we will suffer more of them in the future. But until such time as any offered treaty contains a date for British military and political withdrawal from Ireland, it will not 'solve the Irish problem' ; Irish republicans have not endured an 848-years long struggle for freedom only to now say to Westminster, as those in the Free State 'parliament', and system, have said - 'Stay if you want, just treat us better'.





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!

INTELLECTUAL STUPIDITY.

The Older Son.

In the barracks a couple of well-placed kicks to the back of the testicles brought forward the information that the younger son had an elder brother whom we will call 'the older son'. The older son was attending Queens University and like his younger brother was coming down with O-Levels and A-Levels etc. Up until then I always equated this with intelligence.

No sooner did the older son cross the door of his house than back came the RUC and the British Army. There were no pleasantries exchanged - the older son was arrested under the same Act as his younger brother. "What's this all about?", asked the older son. "You'll find out", replied an RUC man.

While the younger son was being held by the privates and sergeants of the Kosbies in the cells of the barracks, the older son was being interrogated by RUC detectives as to how the rifle came to be in his home and who brought it there. The older son denied all knowledge of it, and the RUC man then produced it - it was a Lee Enfield 303. The older son's face showed the hint of a grin, which the RUC detective noticed - "Do you think this is funny?", he said. "You must think that I came up the Lagan in a bubble", the older son replied, sarcastically. "What do you mean?", asked the RUC man. "That's not the rifle that was in our house..." "Why, what was it like?", asked the RUC man. "It wasn't as big as that! said the older son, who then spent the next fifteen minutes describing in great detail all the major and minor characteristics of an M1 Carbine.

The younger son went to prison for a rifle he knew nothing about and the older son went to prison for a rifle that officially never existed. O-Levels and A-Levels indeed. (MORE LATER).


Thanks for reading, Sharon.