Wednesday, February 21, 2018

IRISH REPUBLICAN BURIED IN CONCRETE BY FREE STATERS.

ON THIS DATE (21ST FEBRUARY) 42 YEARS AGO : IRISH REPUBLICAN 'BURIED' BY FREE STATERS UNDER SIX FEET OF CONCRETE.

'Exhumed in glory a November moon was drifting

And freedom's light aglow

When some IRA had gathered in a graveyard in Mayo.

Those brave Irish Freedom fighters

Who came together in the West

Had come to fill the promise to lay Frank Stagg at rest.'


'Frank Stagg was the seventh child in a family of thirteen children, born at Hollymount near Ballinrobe, Co Mayo, in 1942. Stagg was educated to primary level at Newbrooke Primary School and at CBS Ballinrobe to secondary level. After finishing his education, he worked as an assistant gamekeeper with his uncle prior to emigrating from Ireland to England in search of work. In England, Frank was employed as a bus conductor and later qualified as a bus driver. In 1970 he married Bridie Armstrong from Carnicon, Co Mayo. He joined Sinn Féin in Luton in 1972 and shortly afterwards joined the IRA. Frank remained in touch with home and spent his annual holidays in Hollymount up to the year of his arrest and imprisonment in 1973. In the words of his mother, "he never forgot he was Irish..." ' (From here.)

Frank Stagg had begun his fourth (and final) hunger strike in late 1975 - having been convicted under the notorious 'British Conspiracy Laws' - as it was the only 'weapon' he had at his disposal with which to impress on his British captors his desire to be repatriated to Ireland. He died, blind and weighing just four stone, in Wakefield Prison on 12th February 1976, after 62 days on hunger strike.

His remains were hijacked by suited, uniformed and armed members of the State, acting under orders from FS Taoiseach Liam Cosgrave and his 'Justice' Minister, Paddy Cooney - the airplane carrying his coffin was diverted from Dublin to Shannon and, when it landed, the Special Branch surrounded it and forcibly removed the coffin and buried it, supported by an armed escort, under six feet of concrete in Leigue Cemetery in Ballina, County Mayo, in a grave purchased by the Free Staters and which was located about 70 meters from the Republican Plot in that cemetery ; on that day - Saturday, 21st February, 1976, 42 years ago on this date - the Requiem Mass was boycotted by almost all his relatives.

For the following six months, armed State operatives maintained a heavy presence in the graveyard to prevent Irish republicans from affording Frank Stagg a proper burial but they were not the only group keeping a watch on the grave : the IRA were aware of their presence and, after the Staters withdrew, the IRA made their move : on the night of the 5th of November, 1976, the IRA disinterred Frank Stagg's remains and reburied them with his comrade, Michael Gaughan.

When questioned in Leinster House about this sordid affair, its 'Director', Paddy Cooney, stated - "The persistent attempts by members of an unlawful organisation and their associates to exploit the situation that arose are well known and, indeed, notorious. Because of this and because also of certain obligations of confidentiality, I must decline to make any comment on the question of the choice of burial place.."The "question of the choice of burial place" was, thankfully, not one that was left to Cooney and his thugs to decide. Frank Stagg, aged 33, had three funerals and two burials. One funeral had no body and one burial was done in darkness. In his final message to his comrades in the Republican Movement he wrote : "We are the risen people, this time we must not be driven into the gutter. Even if this should mean dying for justice. The fight must go on. I want my memorial to be peace with justice." That objective has still to be obtained and those in Leinster House, Stormont and Westminster are still working against it, still pouring 'concrete' on Irish republicanism. Shame on them.





''SINN FÉIN IS EVERYTHING ITS NAME IMPLIES - GOVERNMENT OF THE PEOPLE, BY THE PEOPLE, FOR THE PEOPLE!'

From 'The United Irishman' newspaper, October 1954.

NOT A POLITICAL PARTY.

Sinn Féin is not, and never was, a 'political party'. Sinn Féin is a national movement pledged to assert the sovereign independence of Ireland. It is a movement of the common people, successor to the popular movements all down the ages which strove to restore Ireland to her place amongst the nations.

Democratic in its essence, it relies not on influential figureheads nor on craven intercession in the halls of the enemy, but on the will of the people to be free. In the past it raised them from the low state in which nineteenth-century politics had left them, and gave to each individual a new dignity, and a realisation of the part that each one of them could play in the rebuilding of the Nation.

One of the most noteworthy characteristics of the war years - 1916 to 1922 - was the high sense of personal honour and integrity of those who took part, and the rebirth of that deep national pride, which had almost been forgotten. Antipathies of class and creed found no echo in the hearts of those young volunteers - they lived and worked that Ireland might once more be a country fit for Irishmen to live in. (MORE LATER.)






"TO EVERY GENERATION ITS DEED..."

From 'The United Irishman' newspaper, February 1955.

All this because the men who control our destiny are trying to rebuild a nation on the foundations of half a nation. They have not produced results. For past services and sacrifices let them have honour, but not office. 'To every generation its deed' - they have done theirs.

The immediate duty of our own generation is to unite our country before decadence has sapped our strength, and before the occurrence of a world war has added its special difficulties to our problem. The national fervour accompanying our effort will do more for Gaelic culture etc than the national apathy at present prevailing.

The goal is not merely a united Ireland but a united Irish-Ireland, and more than that. It is a position of influence for good among the nations of Europe and of honour before the eyes of the world. (END of 'TO EVERY GENERATION ITS DEED'. Next - 'COMMENTS', from the same source.)






GROWING UP IN LONG KESH...

SIN SCÉAL EILE.

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

Finally I knew I would have to hit someone - people were beginning to notice me sitting on the ball in the centre of the pitch. I sprung into action. This fellow from somewhere in the county Tyrone , I think, ran up and kicked the ball with me sitting on it, so I jumped up and grabbed him by the throat. "What's the matter with you?", he shouted. "Why did you kick out at me?", I shouted back. " I didn't, I was kicking at the ball" , he replied. The haymaker I launched at his nose travelled from about five feet behind me. I was like a coiled spring. I wound my arm up and put everything into that one punch. It had his name written all over it.

Unfortunately, it had the wrong address. I missed him by about two feet, lost my balance and fell at his feet. Oh Christ! I thought, here it comes... "Are you all right there, Jim?" he asked, picking me up like a rag doll and dusting me down. "Thank God I missed you, I might have killed you", I 'joked'. "What was that?" he asked, acting as if he hadn't noticed me throwing the punch - but I can recognise a 'fool's pardon' when I see one.

By this point, there were about 30 men in one of the goals beating seven bells out of one another - the craic was ninty. All types of fighting styles and struggles were involved, from sissy-stuff, embryonic Thai boxing, over-the-top Bruce Lee moves, WWF wrestling, Sumo wrestling, Graeco-Roman wrestling and, at a higher level, intense political debate! (MORE LATER).


Thanks for reading, Sharon.






Wednesday, February 07, 2018

AN IRA CINEMA AD TO A PACKED HOUSE!

ON THIS DATE (7TH FEBRUARY) 78 YEARS AGO - WESTMINSTER EXECUTES TWO IRA VOLUNTEERS.

James McCormack (aka 'James Richards') was born in Mullingar in County Westmeath in 1910, and he joined a unit of the IRA in Tullamore, County Offaly, the same county where his comrade, Peter Barnes, was born - in the town of Banagher, in 1907.

'I have the honour to inform you that the Government of the Irish Republic [32 counties], having as its first duty towards its people the establishment and maintenance of peace and order here, demand the withdrawal of all British armed forces stationed in Ireland. The occupation of our territory by troops of another nation and the persistent subvention here of activities directly against the expressed national will and in the interests of a foreign power, prevent the expansion and development of our institution in consonance with our social needs and purposes, and must cease. The Government of the Irish Republic believe that a period of four days is sufficient notice for your Government to signify its intentions in the matter of the military evacuation and for the issue of your Declaration of Abdication in respect of our country. Our Government reserves the right of appropriate action without further notice if upon the expiration of this period of grace, these conditions remain unfulfilled...' - IRA ultimatum to the British Foreign Secretary, Lord Halifax, 12th January, 1939.

Thirteen days later - on Friday, the 25th August (a few days before Hitler's German army invaded Poland) - an IRA man from Cork, Joby O'Sullivan, was strolling through Broadgate, in Coventry, wheeling a push bike, on his way to a police station. The bike repeatedly got stuck in tram tracks on the road and, frustrated, he removed it from the road and propped it up against a wall. The bike had an armed bomb in the basket that was fixed to the handlebars, which had been wired up to an alarm clock timer, which was set for about 2.30pm. He left it there, and walked away. The five-pound bomb exploded prematurely, killing five people and injuring dozens more - it was one of about 150 IRA bombing incidents in England at that time, targeting infrastructure such as electricity stations, post offices, gas stations and government buildings.

Not long after the explosion, Peter Barnes (who was in London on the day of the explosion) was arrested at the lodgings he was staying in and, three days after that, James McCormack (aka 'James Richards') was pulled-in along with the other tenants of the house he was staying in. The 'trial' began in December (1939) and both men were convicted and sentenced to death by hanging. Throughout the court case, James McCormack remained silent until he told the court - "As a soldier of the Irish Republican Army, I am not afraid to die, for I am dying in a just cause."

Peter Barnes stated to the court - "I would like to say as I am going before my God, as I am condemned to death, I am innocent, and later I am sure it will all come out that I had neither hand, act or part in it. That is all I have to say." In his last letter (to his brother) he wrote - 'If some news does not come in the next few hours all is over. The priest is not long gone out, so I am reconciled to what God knows best. There will be a Mass said for us in the morning before we go to our death. Thank God I have nothing to be afraid of. I am an innocent man and, as I have said before, it will be known yet that I am.'

In the last letter he ever wrote, James McCormack said - "This is my farewell letter, as I have been just told I have to die in the morning. As I know I am dying for a just cause, I shall walk out tomorrow smiling, as I shall be thinking of God and of the good men who went before me for the same cause." (That letter was addressed to his sister, as both of his parents were dead.)

In Winson Green Prison, Birmingham, at 8.50am on Wednesday, 7th February 1940 - 78 years ago on this date - the two men received a final blessing. Minutes later they walked together to the scaffold and were hanged by four executioners.(Two short videos here and here, in relation to those two men, and a few paragraphs re Jimmy Steele...)





One of the few Irish republicans to be charged by Westminster with "treason felony" (an archaic charge originally devised for John Mitchel, the Young Ireland leader, in 1848) Jimmy Steele, who was born in Belfast on the 8th August, 1907, lived his life as a soldier, writer and poet, and devoted his 63 years in this world to the Republican Movement and the cause of Irish freedom.

At the age of 12, he joined Na Fianna Éireann and was active with his young comrades in assisting the Volunteers in his own area, the New Lodge Road, during the Tan War. Following the Treaty of Surrender in December 1921, and the split in the Movement, Steele remained true to his republican principles and, in the early 1920's, he joined the IRA. Arrested twice - in 1923 and 1924 - he was held for several months in Crumlin Road Jail. Following his release later that year and the freeing of the internees in 1925, he assisted with the re-organising of the IRA and NFÉ in Belfast. On the 25th April 1936, while attending an IRA court-martial in connection with the abortive Campbell College raid in December 1935, at the rooms of the Craobh Rua Club at Crown Entry in Belfast, Steele and most of the Belfast Battalion Staff were 'arrested' by British forces. On the 29th May 1936, he was charged with 'treason felony' and, along with twelve others, was found guilty and sentenced to five years penal servitude in Crumlin Road Jail.

Released in May 1940, he reported back to the Army leadership and continued on as before. While 'on the run', he married Anna Crawford, a member of Cumann na mBan who came from a staunch republican family ; unfortunately, married life in freedom was to be short-lived - the following December he was re-arrested and sentenced to ten years in jail. In January 1943, along with Patrick Donnelly, Ned Maguire and Hugh McAteer, Steele escaped from Crumlin Road Jail. Despite a reward of £3000 being offered by the Stormont administration for his capture and his photograph being displayed throughout the Six Counties, he reported back for active service and was appointed Adjutant of the Northern Command Staff IRA.

He figured in two major operations during his brief period of freedom : in March 1943, along with Liam Burke and Harry White, he organised and assisted in the escape of 22 IRA Volunteers from Derry Jail and, in April 1943, he participated in the Broadway Cinema operation on the Falls Road when armed Volunteers took over the cinema and stopped the film while Steele and McAteer went on stage and read a statement from the IRA Army Council. The two men finished off the nights entertainment for the packed cinema by reading the 1916 Proclamation!

By May 1943, Steele was back in jail, this time sentenced to twelve years. When he was released in September 1950, he was the last republican prisoner of that era to be freed, leaving Crumlin Road Jail empty of political prisoners for the first time since partition. During the following years, Steele edited two Belfast newspapers - 'Glor Uladh' and ' Resurgent Ulster', and was the main author of two books published by the National Graves Association - 'Antrim's Patriot Dead' and 'Belfast Patriot Graves'. On the 21st December 1957, following the beginning of the IRA's Border Campaign, internment was once more introduced in the Six Counties and Steele was among the 167 republicans interned in Crumlin Road Jail - he was released three years later and reported back to the IRA. He was an outspoken opponent of the policies being pursued by the leadership of the Republican Movement and, in an oration at the re-interment of the remains of Peter Barnes and James McCormick at Mullingar, County Westmeath, in July 1969, he severely criticised the leadership and in particular the running-down of the IRA.

Within six months (January 1970) the inevitable split in the Republican Movement occurred and, following 'the parting of the ways' Jimmy Steele, a member of the IRA's Belfast Brigade Staff and the Provisional Army Executive (a position he held until his death) was active in Belfast re-organising and re-arming IRA units to defend nationalist areas from attack by Orange mobs backed-up by the B-Specials and RUC. A founder member of ' Republican News' in June 1970, the four-page weekly paper under the editorship of Steele soon had a circulation of 15,000 copies per week. Jimmy Steele was Editor of that 'paper when he died on the 9th August, 1970, at 63 years of age : more than twenty of those 63 years were spent in jail. Steele by name, and Steele by nature - hard to break.







'SINN FÉIN SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC PROGRAMME...'

From 'The United Irishman' newspaper, October 1954.

The foregoing particulars are given merely as a rough outline of the drain imposed upon the economy of the Irish Nation through the business operations of foreign insurance and assurance companies. While such companies are permitted to function within the shores of Ireland, this drain on the resources of the Nation and the savings of its people will remain and, if present trends may be taken as correctly indicating what the future holds, not alone will this drain continue at present levels but will continue to expand to the further detriment of the Irish economy.

It is the aim of Sinn Féin to have legislation enacted by the National Government whereby, after a given date, foreign insurance and assurance companies shall be debarred from transacting 'new business' within Ireland and existing business to be liquidated thereafter as and when policies already in force reach maturity.

If, after an acturial computation of the financial issues involved, other means of a nature more beneficial to the Irish people can be devolved to terminate more rapidly the business transactions of the foreign companies, then such means should be adopted. (END of 'SINN FÉIN SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC PROGRAMME' : next - 'SINN FÉIN IS EVERYTHING ITS NAME IMPLIES - GOVERNMENT OF THE PEOPLE, BY THE PEOPLE, FOR THE PEOPLE!' , from the same source.)








"TO EVERY GENERATION ITS DEED..."

From 'The United Irishman' newspaper, February 1955.

Padraig Pearse defined "Ireland one and Ireland free" - is not this the definition of 'Ireland a Nation'? Irish nationalists are those "who accept the ideal of, and work for, the realisation of an Irish nation, by whatever means?" Justifiable means, of course. These definitions are embarrassing nowadays to those who honour the man yet reject the teaching that made the man ('1169' comment - such as those in the Leinster House institution, for example).

Pearse expressed his opinion on the use of force - "A thing that stands demonstrable is that nationhood is not achieved otherwise than in arms : in one or two instances there may have been no actual bloodshed but the arms were there and the ability to use them. Ireland unarmed will attain just as much freedom as is convenient for England to give her ; Ireland armed will attain ultimately just as much freedom as she wants."

And, if bloodshed is horrible - "The nation which regards it as the final horror has lost its manhood. There are many things more horrible than bloodshed ; and slavery is one of them." Another is national extinction.

Those of us who are realists must admit that national extinction is a definite possibility. The signs are there - we see a static ageing population, a decline in Gaelic culture (at least in so far as it interests the majority of our people), too little progress in agriculture and too much foreign influence in industry. Through the influence of the wireless, the cinema and television, the atmosphere has become something which is foreign to our culture, and stronger than it... (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.

The abuse coming from the 'enemy' who were looking on was deafening - they were gloating at us, laughing and calling us every name under the sun. "Don't take them under your notice, boys.." shouted Bloggs Long, "..we play them (Cage Ten) next and we'll fix them, no problem!"

The scenes on the football pitch reminded me of some John Ford western - it all looked totally choreographed. I can honestly say that I didn't see anyone getting hurt. Embarrassed? Yes. Hurt? No. Just loads of John Wayne's fighting loads of Victor McLaglen's, and I noticed a few Maureen O'Hara's fighting a few Bette Davises as well! I looked at my comrades 'playing football', and it was frightening. I was beginning to feel sorry for them (Cage Nine) when Danny D hit me a slap on the back of the head and said "Stop feeling sorry for them and get stuck into one of them..."

The fighting was starting to concern both the Cage Staffs, especially when it started affecting comrades like J. Allsopp, who was normally a quiet spoken, mild mannered friend from Belfast - he threw that which was called 'a wobbler' (a mad fit) and had to be subdued by players from both teams who cut short their own wobblers to take care of him... (MORE LATER).








ON THIS DAY NEXT WEEK (WEDNESDAY 14TH FEBRUARY 2018)...

..we should be just about finished our multitasking job - this Sunday coming (the 11th February) 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 Feb, 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, to be held on Sunday 11th Feb, 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 Wednesday (14th) 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...!

Thanks for reading, Sharon.






Wednesday, January 31, 2018

"UNHOLY TRIO" OF ANTI-REPUBLICANS TURN ON ONE OF THEIR OWN.

ON THIS DATE (31ST JANUARY) 98 YEARS AGO : FIRST IRISH REPUBLICAN LORD MAYOR ELECTED.

Tomás MacCurtain (pictured), was born on the 20th March 1884, and was murdered by British agents on the 20th March 1920, at 36 years of age.

The first Irish republican to hold the 'Lord Mayor' office, Tomás MacCurtain, was elected to that position on the 31st January 1920 - 98 years ago on this date. He was assassinated by the British at his home in Thomas Davis Street in Blackpool, Cork, between midnight 19th March 1920 and the next day, which was his 36th birthday - his killers, dressed in 'civvies' and speaking with pronounced English accents, were RIC members tasked with the 'job' by their political bosses. He was buried in the Republican Plot in St. Finbarr's Cemetery in Cork on Monday 22nd March 1920.

"We find that the late Alderman MacCurtain, Lord Mayor of Cork, died from shock and hemorrhage caused by bullet wounds, and that he was wilfully murdered under circumstances of the most callous brutality, and that the murder was organised and carried out by the Royal Irish Constabulary, officially directed by the British Government, and we return a verdict of wilful murder against David Lloyd George, Prime Minister of England ; Lord French, Lord Lieutenant of Ireland ; Ian McPherson, late Chief Secretary of Ireland ; Acting Inspector General Smith, of the Royal Irish Constabulary ; Divisional Inspector Clayton of the Royal Irish Constabulary ; District Inspector Swanzy and some unknown members of the Royal Irish Constabulary. We strongly condemn the system at present in vogue of carrying out raids at unreasonable hours. We tender to Mrs MacCurtain and family our sincerest sympathy. We extend to the citizens of Cork our sympathy in the loss they have sustained by the death of one so eminently capable of directing their civic administration" - the unanimous verdict of the inquest into the murder of Alderman Tomás MacCurtain, Lord Mayor of Cork and considered by many to be the 'inventor' of the 'Flying Column' tactic, as read out on 17th April 1920 by Coroner James J. McCabe. Sixty-four 'policemen' were questioned at the inquest, along with two British military operatives and thirty-one civilians.

Tomás MacCurtain, Irish republican Lord Mayor, born 20th March 1884, died 20th March 1920, elected to Office on the 31st January 1920 - 98 years ago on this date.





'SINN FÉIN SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC PROGRAMME...'

From 'The United Irishman' newspaper, October 1954.

Since the above figures apply in respect of the 26 Counties only, to get an overall picture for Ireland it is necessary to add the relevent figures for the Six Counties.

So far as is known, foreign companies operating with the latter area do not publish separate returns indicating the extent of their business within the area - it is safe, however, to assume that through addition of the relevent figures the totals given for the foreign companies would be considerably increased.

It is also worthy of note that in the 23 years from 1927 to 1949 the annual premium income of foreign companies from business transacted within the 26 Counties shows a remarkable increase, the figures for 'Life and Industrial Assurance' alone being, for 1927, £1,829,730 and, for 1949, £3,717,360... (MORE LATER.)






ON THIS DATE (31ST JANUARY) 137 YEARS AGO - 'LADIES LAND LEAGUE' ESTABLISHED (AND SHOULD NOW BE RE-ESTABLISHED).

Charles Stewart Parnell's sisters, Anna and Fanny, established a 'Ladies Land League' on the 31st January 1881, which, at its full strength, consisted of about five hundred branches and didn't always see eye-to-eye with its 'parent' organisation - in its short existence, it provided assistance to about 3,000 people who had been evicted from their rented land holdings.

The 'Ladies Land League' was formed to assist and/or take over land agitation issues, as it seemed certain that the 'parent' body was going to be outlawed by the British and, sure enough, the British Prime Minister, William Ewart Gladstone, introduced and enforced a 'Crimes Act' that same year, 1881 - that particular piece of British 'statute law' in Ireland was better known as the 'Coercion/Protection of Person and Property Act', which made it illegal to assemble in relation to certain issues and an offence to conspire against the payment of rents 'owed' which, ironically, was a piece of legislation condemned by the same catholic church which condemned the 'Irish National Land League' because that Act introduced permanent legislation and did not have to be renewed on each political term.

And that same church also condemned the 'Ladies Land League' to the extent that Archbishop McCabe of Dublin instructed priests loyal to him "not to tolerate in your societies (diocese) the woman who so far disavows her birthright of modesty as to parade herself before the public gaze in a character so unworthy of a Child of Mary.." - the best that can be said about that is that that church's 'consistency' hasn't changed much over the years!

In October 1881, Westminster proscribed the 'Irish National Land League' and imprisoned its leadership, but the gap was ably filled by the 'Ladies Land League' until it was acrimoniously dissolved on the 10th August 1882, 19 months after it was formed. And it should be noted that the anti-republican State parliament in Dublin, which was created by a British act of parliament, is still involved in the business of landlordism...





"TO EVERY GENERATION ITS DEED".

From 'The United Irishman' newspaper, February 1955.

The phrase which entitles this article is from the writings of Padraig Pearse ('Coming Revolution', November 1913). Pearse applied to his own generation the doctrine of Irish nationalism taught by Tone, Lalor, Davis and Mitchell ; this was the true doctrine because it included Irish separatism among its tenets.

Pearse saw, however, that the modern separatists had drifted too far away from Gaelic culture and he also saw that the modern revivalists of Gaelic culture had drifted too far away from separatism. His main contribution to Irish nationalism was to weld these two movements together, and to relate the combined product to our Christian beliefs. The result was the Republican Movement as we know it today.

It is necessary that the present generation should know something about the effects of the Movement on modern nationalistic thought, that they should see that this was a logical process leading to logical solutions and clear-cut definitions... (MORE LATER.)






ON THIS DATE (31ST JANUARY) 105 YEARS AGO : POLITICALLY-MILITANT LOYALIST ORGANISATION FORMED (WHICH LATER MORPHED INTO A CRIMINAL GANG).

The UVF, pictured, in the early 1900's ; it was a politically-minded organisation when it was first formed, on the 31st January 1913 by the 'Ulster Unionist Council', with support from the 'Ulster Reform Club', but transformed itself into a drug-fuelled mini-mafia in later years.

One of the (original) UVF's better-known leadership figures (apart from 'Sir' George Richardson, a retired British Army general) was Colonel Frederick Hugh Crawford CBE, who viewed himself as a breed apart from others who shared the planet with him - "From these settlers sprang a people, the Ulster-Scot, who have made themselves felt in the history of the British Empire and, in no small measure, in that of the United States of America. I am ashamed to call myself an Irishman. Thank God I am not one. I am an Ulsterman, a very different breed.." 'His official title read Director of Ordnance of the HQ Staff of the UVF...he had first rate Protestant credentials for he had been one of those who signed the Ulster Covenant in his own blood. He had travelled the world, fought for a time in South Africa and returned to throw himself tirelessly into the fight against Home Rule for Ireland...' (from here.)

Colonel Frederick was born in Belfast on the 21st August 1861, and died in his 92nd year on the 5th November 1952. His father, James, was a factory owner in Belfast (manufacturing starch) but Frederick struck out on his own, becoming an engineer with a shipping firm before taking to a military life, which brought him into the Boer War. On the night of the 24th April, 1914, Frederick Crawford, the 'Director of Ordnance HQ Staff UVF' (who was cooperating re acquiring arms with, and for, the 'Ulster Unionist Council') and the main instigator in an operation in which over 25,000 guns were successfully smuggled into Ireland, witnessed his plans come to fruition - for at least the previous four years, he and some other members of the 'Ulster Reform Club' had been making serious inquiries about obtaining arms and ammunition to be used, as they saw it, for 'the protection of fellow Ulstermen'. Advertisements had been placed in newspapers in France, Belgium, Germany and Austrian newspapers seeking to purchase '10,000 second-hand rifles and two million rounds of ammunition..' and, indeed, between August 1913 and September 1914, it is known that Crawford and his colleagues in the UVF/URC/UUC obtained at least three million rounds of .303 ammunition and 500 rifles, including Martini Enfield carbines, Lee Metford rifles, Vetterlis and BSA .22 miniature rifles, all accompanied by their respective bayonets, and six Maxim machine guns (from the Vickers Company in London, for £300 each).

The ads were placed and paid for by a 'H.Matthews, Ulster Reform Club' ; Crawford's middle name was Hugh and his mother's maiden name was Matthews, an action which some members of the Ulster Reform Club objected to, leading to Crawford resigning from that group and describing the objectors as "a hindrance" : he described that period in his life as being "so crowded with excitement and incidents that I can only remember some of them, and not always in the order in which they happened..". Crawford and his UVF/URC/UUC colleagues had ordered some munitions from a company in Hamburg, in Germany, and had paid a hefty deposit up front but, months later, as they had not heard from the company, Crawford was sent there to see what the delay was and discovered that the German boss, who was in Austria while Crawford was in Germany, had informed Westminster about the order and was asked by that institution not to proceed with same - the deposit would not be returned and the deal was off, as far as the company was concerned. Crawford tracked him down, in Austria, and called him and his company swindlers and was then told of a similar 'deal' involving that arms company regarding Mexican purchasers who also got swindled but, on that occasion, words and bullets were exchanged, the latter from gun barrels!

At 60 years of age (in 1921) he was named in the British 'Royal Honours List' as a 'CBE' ('Commander of the Order of the British Empire') and he wrote his memoirs in 1934 at 73 years of age. He died, in his 92nd year, in 1952, and is buried in the City Cemetery in the Falls Road in Belfast. The then British PM, 'Sir' Basil Brooke, described him as "a fearless fighter in the historic fight to keep Ulster British.." but, whatever about his 'successes on the battlefield', he was apparently less successful in his family life -

"What sort of man was my Father? As a boy and as a man he was never very intelligent. He was an unconscious bully and for that reason unloved by his children. Each in turn left the home as soon as we became adults and were able to do so. The U.V.F rifles - I think about 15,000, were stored and kept in good condition in a shed in the grounds of Harland and Wolff where I once saw them. For legal reasons they were in my father's name. After the retreat from Dunkirk Britain was desperately short of arms and wanted to purchase the U.V.F rifles. As you are now aware my father was not a very intelligent person and was a hopeless business man. My father's chartered accountant sent word to him to say that Sir Dawson Bates wanted to meet him about something important. Accordingly my father went to the accountant's office where his old friend Sir Dawson Bates was waiting for him - "Ah Fred, so glad you've come". The three, my Father, the accountant and Sir Dawson Bates sat down at a table.

There Sir Dawson carefully explained the desperate need Britain had for arms and asked my father, for patriotic reasons, to release the rifles – it would only be a simple matter of signing a prepared document. My father, in the presence of the accountant and Sir Dawson Bates, for patriotic reasons, signed the document without reading it. It conveyed ownership of the rifles from my father to Sir Dawson Bates who sold them to the British Government for, I believe, £2 a barrel...an unholy trio had been cheating him for years ; his estate agent who collected all revenues due to my father was keeping most of it. His chartered accountant was presenting false figures for income tax purposes and all this skulduggery was made legal by the co-operation of his trusted friend, his solicitor..." (from here.)

Colonel Frederick Crawford CBE proudly worked for, and aided and abetted, British imperialism, only to be used, abused and cheated by that same system. A lesson (which will no doubt go unheeded) to be learned, even at this late stage, by those who, today, work that imperialist system in this country, north and south.

The 'modern day' UVF, meanwhile, are a self-sustaining criminal outfit, using politics as a disguise for their continued existence - 'Loads of youngsters were recruited...but the only thing these kids are good for is blocking the street. They wouldn't know the difference between Edward Carson and Frank Carson..drug dealers and housebreakers have also been recruited. They are given the option of having their arms broken for anti-social behaviour or joining up...nearly everyone joins up. I know of a few fellas who have been out of work and deliberately allowed to run up tabs in UVF pubs. The UVF comes to them at the end of the month and says "pay up lads". When they cannot they are given the option of a beating or signing up...' (from here.)

First established on this date - 31st January - 105 years ago, they are still cheating on each other to this day.







GROWING UP IN LONG KESH...

SIN SCÉAL EILE.

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

My comrades in Cage Eleven immediately voted unanimously to honour my special talent by electing me as the first captain of Cage Eleven's First Team, the rest of which was a mixture of failed soccer wannabes with a prima donna called 'Farron' or something like that, from the St. James Road area of Belfast. But they were eager to learn. I heard someone say years later that they were donkeys being led by a lion (...thank God for artistic licence).

The first matches between Cage 9 and Cage 10, then Cage 12 and Cage 13, were pretty boring affairs. There wasn't one fight! But, when it happened, it came without warning - the umpire threw the ball up into the air between the two teams and it was fully five minutes before anyone else touched it. There was fighting breaking out all over the pitch. The actual fighting itself was more relentless than vicious, far more gratifying than gratuitous - and I can't help thinking that the umpire, Cleaky, must assume a lot of the responsibility for it.

The instant he threw the ball in the air to start the match he punched the full forward of Cage 9 on the chin - it wasn't that Cleaky disliked the comrade, or maybe he did ; he was just setting the scene for the rest of the season. To say that old scores and grudges were being settled would be inaccurate, so new scores and new grudges were created and settled. On the spot! I looked around for an Ardoyne man to hit, as they were generally considered to be the easiest (a curse on artistic licence) - Ardoyne men are universally well known for their fantastic sense of humour and, by their nature, are very forgiving (!). But I wonder, do they post out a Fatwa to you or will it just appear in the 'North Belfast News'? Anyway, the Ardoyne men were all on our team, so it was academic. I let it go... (MORE LATER).






31ST JANUARY - ST. BRIGID'S EVE.

'Saint Brigid was

A problem child.

Although a lass

Demure and mild,

And one who strove

To please her dad,

Saint Brigid drove

The family mad.

For here's the fault in Brigid lay:

She WOULD give everything away...
(from here.)

A belief associated with St. Brigid is that of the 'Brigid's Bed', where single females of the area would each make a doll (a 'Brideog') to represent Brigid and dress it with as much colour as they could and then make a bed for the doll to lie in. On St. Brigid's Eve - 31st January - the girls and young women would gather together in one house to stay up all night with the 'Brideog', and are then visited by all the young men of the community who must ask permission to enter the home, and treat them and the doll with respect. Unless, of course, you're a rich male egotist who lives in a mansion paid for by those who work for a living or those living to find work.

The terminolgy in the following piece about St. Brigid is a bit 'dated', but would definitely appeal to the above-mentioned mansion-house lodger :

'The housewife used the occasion of St. Brigid's eve to ensure the house was respectable and tidy, a festive supper was also prepared consisting of apple cake, dumplings and colcannon, irrespective of the financial situation of the household. Allied to this all farmers wives made what was known as a bairin-breac, neighbours were invited around and engaged in drinking and merrymaking. On St. Brigids eve it was generally believed that the saint travelled around the countryside, bestowing blessings on the people and livestock.

Various elements were used to indicate that her visit to the house was welcomed. A common practice entailed the placing of a cake or pieces of bread and butter on the window-sill outside. Often this offering was left to be collected by a tramp or impoverished person. In other areas it was brought in the next morning and shared between the members of the household. Often a sheaf of corn was placed beside the cake as a refreshment for the Saint's favourite cow who accompanied her. Other households placed a bundle of straw or fresh rushes on the threshold on which the Saint may kneel to bless the house or on which she could wipe her feet before entering. Further traditions include that dishes of water, salt, pieces of meat or butter being left outdoors as an offering for the saint and, after she had passed by, these would have acquired medicinal properties and were used to ward off illness...' (from here.)

Happy St. Brigid's Eve!

Thanks for reading, Sharon.






Wednesday, January 24, 2018

FIGHTING LIKE A GENTLEMAN AGAINST A BEAST.

ON THIS DATE (24TH JANUARY) 156 YEARS AGO : DEATH OF A REBEL WHO FOUGHT FOR IRELAND AND GAVE SERVICE TO FRANCE.

'Republished here is Some Notes of an Irish Exile of 1798: Being the Chapters from the Memoirs of Miles Byrne Relating to Ireland published in Dublin by Maunsel & Co., in 1907. This publication was taken from Byrne's complete memories, which had been edited by Byrne's wife and published in Paris in three volumes the year after his death in 1863. In 301 printed pages Some Notes of an Irish Exile of 1798 treat on Byrne's involvement as as a leader of the United Irishmen during some of the bloodiest fighting of the Rising in Wicklow and Wexford, through to his encounters with Robert Emmet at the end of the Rebellion.

Miles Byrne was born at Ballylusk, Monaseed, Co. Wexford in 1780 and like many of the leaders of the United Irishmen in 1798 was extremely young - Byrne himself had turned just eighteen and had already been involved in preparations for the Rising with Anthony Perry of Inch, the chief organiser in the area. Byrne participated in all of the major battles of the 1798 Rising in counties Wicklow and Wexford, including those at Oulart, Clough, Vinegar Hill, Enniscorthy, Arklow and the last battle in County Wexford, at Ballygullen in 4th July 1798...' (from here.)

Miles/Myles Byrne, United Irishman and officer in Napoleon's Irish Legion, was born in Monaseed, Co. Wexford, on the 20th March, 1780 : he was only a boy when he witnessed the attacks by the yeoman militia and other mercenaries which England let loose in Wexford in 1798. But he took his place in the United Irishmen and fought through the Wexford campaign, joined Michael Dwyer afterwards in Wicklow, later came to Dublin and was a comrade and friend of Robert Emmet in the continuation of '98 which failed so sadly in 1803. He was sent by Emmet (who was then on the run) to France to seek assistance from Thomas Addis Emmet and the other exiled United Irishmen. He went with no hesitation ,in the hope that he would return in the ranks of a conquering army - but it was not to be..



In the 1850's he wrote his memoirs of the 1798 Rising, in which he was critical of the "gentlemanly nature" of the rebel approach, believing them to have been "too willing to negotiate and to accept (British) government protections and non-existent government good faith" (sounds too familiar, twice over). In Montmartre ("Hill of Martyrs") Cemetery in Paris lie the remains of Myles Byrne, United Irishman, Wexford man and survivor of Oulart Hill and Vinegar Hill in 1798. The inscription on his gravestone reads - "Here lies Myles Byrne, Lieutenant Colonel in the service of France. Officer of the legion of Honour. Knight of St Louis, born at Monaseed in the county Wexford in Ireland, 20 March 1780. Died at Paris,the 24th January 1862, his long life was distinguished by the constant integrity and loyalty of his character and by his high-minded principles. Sincerely attached to Ireland, his native land, he gave faithful service to France, the country of his adoption."

'At Ballinamuck defeated

The battle lost and won

In British style British justice

Must be seen, it was said, to be done.




The trials, they were just for show

For the condemned there was no hope

The cases were closed before they were opened

The defendants were for the rope.




What could the judge do in his wisdom

Without risking his own neck in the noose

What could he do for those there for who

Legal argument was no use...?


Myles Byrne, United Irishman and officer in Napoleon's Irish Legion, was born on the 20th March, 1780, and died on the 24th January 1862 - 156 years ago, on this date.





'SINN FÉIN SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC PROGRAMME'.

From 'The United Irishman' newspaper, October 1954.

In the sphere of activities covered by insurance and assurance companies, activities that can and do play an important role in the nation's economy, a factor worthy of particular note in that even within the 26 Counties, the annual premium income from business transacted within the area by foreign companies is substantially in excess of that collected by the companies operating under Irish control and management.

Take, for example, the figures for the year 1949 ; in that year, the combined premium income of the Irish companies amounted to £5,014,974 and to this figure may be added the sum of £620,299, income accuring from 'interest, dividends and rent', making a total of £5,635,275. The respective figures for the foreign companies were £6,911,915 and £256,553, giving a total of £7,168,468. These latter figures do not include figures for the business transacted through Lloyds. Assuming that dividends accruing from investments account for a major portion of income under the heading 'Interest, Dividends and Rent', the respective figures of income under this heading indicate the disparity between the amount of capital invested within the 26 Counties by the foreign companies and that invested within the area by the Irish companies.

After deducting from their income as shown above £4,508,828 charged to payment of 'Claims', £705,913 as 'Commission' and £841,749 for 'Expenses of Management within Ireland', there remained a net gain to the foreign companies for the year of £1,111,978... (MORE LATER.)






ON THIS DATE (24TH JANUARY) 44 YEARS AGO : PIRA 'MILKROUND' WITH A DIFFERENCE!

'(Rose) Dugdale and other IRA members, including Eddie Gallagher, hijacked a helicopter in County Donegal (and used it) to drop bombs in milk churns on the RUC station in Strabane (County Tyrone)...the bombs failed to explode, and Dugdale became wanted for questioning regarding the bombing with her picture in police stations across Britain and Ireland..' (from here).

'..on January 24th, 1974, Rose Dugdale posed as a journalist and hired a helicopter along with two others to fly to Tory Island. Eddie Gallagher and Rose Dugdale had registered as man and wife in a hotel in Gortahork, County Donegal, prior to the operation. According to Eddie Gallagher, they first met in a 'doss house' in Edinburgh - they were both fascinated at how 'dossers' could sleep on ropes when they could not afford to pay for a flea-infested bed in the dormitory. They were very close and Dugdale later gave birth to Gallagher's son in prison. However - the helicopter was hijacked and forced to fly to Strabane RUC Station with three milk-churn bombs aboard. The bombs failed to explode when dropped...' (from here).

Eddie Gallagher.

Rose Dugdale.

Incidentally, also on this date (24th January) 40 years ago - in 1978 - Eddie Gallagher and Rose Dugdale were married in the chapel of Limerick Prison as their three-year-old son, Ruairi, looked on. The married couple were allowed a five-hour 'honeymoon' inside one of the cells before the groom was returned to the maximum-security prison at Portlaoise, 60 miles away. We presume he was taken there by car...





UNCHRISTIAN? IMMORAL? ILLEGAL...?

From 'The United Irishman' newspaper, February 1955.

Now at last the Republican Movement, heirs of the Republican Government established in 1919 and never since disestablished, are endeavouring to carry out the wishes of the majority of the Irish people.

It would seem therefore that the boot is on the other foot - the Leinster House regime for years defied and flouted the will of the people while Sinn Féin and the Republican Movement has constantly striven to achieve the Nation's heart's desire.

(NEXT - "TO EVERY GENERATION ITS DEED", from the same source.)






GROWING UP IN LONG KESH.

SIN SCÉAL EILE.

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

PITCH BATTLES, FACE COLLECTING.

The fraternal solidarity of Irish republicans in prison up to 1975 was tested time and again by the screws - it never failed. Our greatest 'test' was one of our own making : in 1975, the governor of Long Kesh gave the thumbs up to our request for that which was euphemistically called 'inter-cage football'. A more accurate name would have been 'inter-cage warfare'.

Two leagues were drawn up, and the teams from Cages Nine, Ten, Eleven, Twelve and Thirteen went into 'training' immediately. Only the fittest were considered - and the heavy punchers (couldn't leave them out!). Each cage would have a First Team and a Second Team and the game, of course, was Gaelic Football. And may God forgive us, but any other reference to 'sport' in this story is purely incidental.

The governor refused our requests for gaelic goal posts so we had to make do with soccer posts, which meant we couldn't score or count anything but goals - trying to keep a check on the Points scored would have been impossible. Our other request for hurls, once we described to the Assistant Governor (AG) what exactly they were, nearly induced him to take a heart attack ; his response, although delivered in a posh, cultured, middle-class English accent,I fear, would be far too brutal for our sensitive ears, and I never want to hear talk like that again...

(MORE LATER).


Thanks for reading, Sharon.






Wednesday, January 17, 2018

HOW SEVEN IRISH REPUBLICANS 'SEALED' BRITISH PROPAGANDA.

ON THIS DATE (17TH JANUARY) 46 YEARS AGO - P.O.W. SWIM (WITH A DIFFERENCE!).

46 years ago on this date (17th January 1972), seven IRA prisoners escaped from an 'escape proof' British prison ship, which was anchored in Irish waters : the ship had three decks, the top one of which was sometimes used as an 'exercise yard' for a few hours each day by the republican POW's, with the other two 'converted' into living quarters. Approximately 850 people were present on the ship at any one time, consisting of around 700 British military personnel and 150 prisoners, including Provisional and Official IRA members and some others that were not involved with either group.

James Emerson Bryson, Tommy Tolan, Thomas Kane, Tommy Gorman, Peter Rodgers, Martin Taylor and Sean Convery, a group of Irish republicans that became known as 'The Magnificent Seven' because of the nature of their escape from the Maidstone prison ship (pictured, above) on January 17th, 1972, were determined that their 'stay' on the ship would be a short one.

Of the 226 men detained following the introduction of internment in August 1971, 124 were initially held in Crumlin Road Jail while the remainder were held on the Maidstone, a prison ship moored at the coalwharf in Belfast docks. The prison ship, used as an emergency billet for British troops who arrived in 1969, was totally unsuitable as a prison - it was cramped, stuffy and overcrowded, with the 'lock-up' section located at the stern below the deck, which was used twice a day for exercise. On January 16th, 1972 , fifty men were transferred from the ship to the new camp at Magilligan : this sudden move spurred on some of the internees who were planning to escape.

One of the group had spotted a seal slip through a gap in the barbed-wire draped around the ship and it was decided that if the seal could come in, then they could go out! The men used black boot polish to camouflage themselves and smeared each other in butter, to keep out the cold. They had already cut through a bar in a porthole which they now slipped through, and clambered down the Maidstone's steel hawser and entered the water. Several of them were badly cut by the barbed-wire, but they all managed to get through it. In single file, they swam the 400 yards through the ice-cold floodlit water to the shore : it took them twenty minutes, as some of the men could not swim and had to be helped by the others. On the bank, Volunteers of the Andersonstown unit of the IRA's Belfast Brigade were waiting with four cars to transport the escapees to safety, but the escapees landed at the wrong spot, approximately 500 yards away.

The men realised their mistake and made their way to Queen's Road bus terminus where they commandeered a bus and drove across the city to the Markets area. During the journey, the bus was spotted by a British Army Land Rover which attempted to stop the vehicle ; however, the British soldiers backed-off when the bus entered the staunchly republican Markets district, which was then surrounded by British reinforcements. A search of the area was carried out by the British Army and RUC, but none of the escapees were found - the 'Magnificent Seven' were long gone to a different part of Belfast and, days later, gave a press conference in Dublin. That P.O.W. swim with a difference took place on the 17th January 1972 - 46 years ago today.





'DRIVE ENGLAND OUT!'.

From 'The United Irishman' newspaper, October 1954.

It was an army of soldiers that England first sent over to conquer our Nation. It is with an army of soldiers that England today maintains the conquest of our Nation. What established the conquest and what maintains the conquest - FORCE - is the one effective weapon that we can use to undo it.

An active civil organisation backed by a strong military arm can smash England, but not without your help. Will we fail to win tomorrow because you failed to win today? Today is the time for YOU to join the Republican Movement : here are some contact details -

BELFAST, Tom Heenan, 17 Violet Street.

ENGLAND, Padraig MacSuibhne, 10 Ravenscroft Avenue, Wembley Park, Middlesex.

SCOTLAND, Michael McDermott, 22 Jean Armour Drive, North Drumry, Clydebank, Glasgow / Felix Jordan, 9 Huntingdon Place, Springburn, Glasgow.

USA, Clan na Gael Club, 112 West 72nd Street, New York 23

TYRONE, Art MacEochaidh, Killymon Road, Dungannon.

DERRY, Charles Laverty, Rainey Street, Magherafelt.

ANTRIM, Pat McCormack, Tigh Ard a' Chuain, Cushendun.

LAOIS, P McLogan, Main Street, Portlaoighise.

CLARE, Martin Whyte, Fern Hill, Lisdoonvarna.

KILKENNY, Séan Dunne, Inistioge.

TIPPERARY, Dan Gleeson, Ballymainey, Nenagh.

DUBLIN, Rossa O Broin, c/o 'United Irishman', Séan Treacy House, 94 Talbot Street.

CORK, Derek McKenna, Thomas Ashe Hall, Cork City.

LIMERICK, Paddy Mulcahy, Dublin Road, Limerick.

KERRY, Maitiu Laoithe, Gortag Hollan, Muc-Ros, Cill-Airne.

ROSCOMMON SOUTH, Thomas McDermott, Lismaha, Mount Talbot.

ARMAGH, Paddy O'Hagan, Lathbirget, Mullaghbawn.

DOWN, Dan Sheridan, 2 Caulfield Place, Newry.

LOUTH, Seamus Rafferty, Lower Faughart, Dundalk / Brendan Quigley, Trinity Gardens, Drogheda.

SLIGO, Seamus Dolan, Martin Savage Terrace.

LEITRIM, John J McGirl, Main Street, Ballinamore.

ROSCOMMON NORTH, Patrick McKeon, Croghan, Boyle.


(Next - 'SINN FÉIN SOCIAL AND ECONOMIC PROGRAMME', from the same source.)





BLOODY SUNDAY, DERRY, 1972...

BLOODY SUNDAY PICKET, SATURDAY, JANUARY 27TH, 2018.

Venue : The GPO in Dublin's O'Connell Street, from 12 Noon to 1.30pm.

After a peaceful Civil Rights march on January 30th, 1972 - from Creggan to Free Derry Corner - units of the British army Parachute Regiment opened fire with automatic rifles and shot dead 13 unarmed civilians, injuring many more. It was later revealed that some days prior to the massacre, the British soldiers involved had been briefed to "shoot to kill" at the march : "This Sunday became known as 'Bloody Sunday' and bloody it was. It was quite unnecessary. It strikes me that the (British) army ran amok that day and shot without thinking of what they were doing. They were shooting innocent people. They may have been taking part in a parade which was banned, but that did not justify the troops coming in and firing live rounds indiscriminately. I would say without reservations that it was sheer unadulterated murder. It was murder, gentlemen." - the words of British Major Hubert O'Neill, Derry City Coroner, at the conclusion of the inquests on the 13 people killed by the British Army.

On Saturday January 27th next, a picket to mark that massacre will be held at the GPO in Dublin, from 12 Noon to 1.30pm. All welcome!





UNCHRISTIAN? IMMORAL? ILLEGAL...?

From 'The United Irishman' newspaper, February 1955.

But will the men of Leinster House say today that the men of 1916 were unchristian and immoral and that their action was illegal and unjustified? How could they? Didn't they take part themselves?

Again, will the men of Leinster House say that the men of Armagh and Omagh acted against the will of the majority of the people? In the face of the facts they cannot. One outstanding and undeniable political fact is that in every election held in the 26 County State since its establishment, the party returned to power was given a mandate to re-unite the Nation. In fact, no political party could go before the people with any chance of election unless it stated that it would strive to "end Partition".

This means that every government in the 26 counties has been entrusted by God, through the people, with the task of achieving the freedom and independance of the Nation. For over 30 years every government has refused to carry out this God-given duty... (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.

On awakening the next morning the horse was gone. Normally, it would have stood propped up against the walls of one of the cubicles in the middle hut in Cage 11, Long Kesh, but not anymore. Had he bolted? We thought not! Was he not happy with us? We just didn't know. Had that rat-faced and mustachioed bastard of a prison officer exacted his revenge on us?

For the first time in the two years he had been on our Cage, the prison officer had a smirk on his face and, standing by the gate, he gloated at us. We stood glaring at him, and the more we glared, the more he gloated. He was totally unprepared for the set-up when it was launched : Honky and me stood right in front of him to block his view, and the first idea he got that something was amiss was when the barking from behind us got louder and closer.

We stepped aside at a prearranged verbal signal and it was at that instant that the ferocious 'Floorboards'-made-hound leapt up into the prisoner officers face - he dived to the ground clutching his throat, and wrestled with the ersatz 'hound' for about three seconds until the penny dropped. The 'hound' lay ripped to pieces on the ground as we walked away, laughing at the top of our voices.

'Trigger' the horse and 'Bullet' the dog have passed into Cage 11 history. The last I heard of 'Floorboards' was that he was living on a farm somewhere outside Belfast. I wouldn't recommend whatever meat he might offer you! (MORE LATER).


Thanks for reading, Sharon.






Wednesday, January 10, 2018

THE ON-GOING REPUBLICAN STRUGGLE - "UNCHRISTIAN? IMMORAL? ILLEGAL?"

ON THIS DATE (10TH JANUARY) 37 YEARS AGO - SERIOUSLY ILL FEMALE REPUBLICAN POW "RELEASED ON LICENCE".

In October 1980, protesting POW's in the H-Blocks of Long Kesh began a hunger strike for political status ; on the 1st December, 1980, they were joined by three republican women prisoners in Armagh Jail - Mairead Farrell, Mairead Nugent and Mary Doyle. These were the only three women weighing more than eight-and-a-half stone :

'One of the notable figures of the dirty protest, Pauline McLoughlin, was a 19-year-old from Derry when she was arrested and held on remand in Armagh before being sentenced in 1978 for complicity in the killing of a British soldier...as an initial member of the protest, Pauline lived in the unsanitary conditions from the first days and, because of a previously existing stomach condition, became increasingly ill as time went on.

After having lost all of her prison privileges as a member of the dirty protest, Pauline was suddenly unable to receive the packages of food which had kept her sustained and began to vomit continuously after every prison meal...between the poor food and the grotesque conditions she found herself living in, her weight quickly dropped from 9.5 stone to around 6 stone...on 18th March, a prison doctor cautioned that, should she not be given medical attention immediately, she would most likely die and she was subsequently declared unfit for punishment and sent to the hospital to recover (but) after an incomplete recovery, she was returned to Armagh where her condition worsened again, causing her to be sent back to the hospital; this was a pattern that would continue for multiple trips...

Upon hearing of Pauline’s condition, the public immediately began to protest the treatment of her poor health, which was blamed on her "voluntary" involvement in the dirty protest by prison officials and doctors. The activists group called the 'Women of Imperialism' issued a pamphlet advocating for Pauline's return to health and an improvement of prison conditions by juxtaposing a picture of a healthy Pauline, pre-arrest, with the following description of her condition : 'She landed in the hospital so dehydrated that eight bags of special fluid had to be drip fed into her to stop her heart [from] collapsing. Yet one week later Pauline was back in her cell in Armagh prison. Her condition was still undiagnosed and untreated. At the age of 23 her hair is grey, her teeth rotting and falling out (and) she has dizzy spells and blackouts if she tries to walk. Weighing just over 5 stone, she looks like the victim of a famine —too thin even to sit in one position for any length of time..'(from here).

In October 1980, the 'British Socialist Feminist Conference' (which was attended by 1,200 women) supported the demand for political status and pledged its aid to campaign for the release of Pauline McLoughlin from Armagh Jail. The 'no wash' protest was halted as the hunger strikes began, putting Westminster under political pressure and, fearful of a Christmas bombing campaign, which hunger strike deaths could have sparked off, on December 18th, 1980, a 30-page document was released outlining proposals and assurances from the British Government that, step by step, the five demands - the right not to wear a prison uniform, the right not to do prison work, the right of free association with other prisoners and to organise educational and recreational pursuits, the right to one visit, one letter and one parcel per week and the full restoration of remission lost during the protest - would be met. The hunger strike was called off and the fulfilment of promises was awaited. They were never fulfilled.

'Sentenced before 1976, McLaughlin qualified for special prisoner status, but was denied this. She originally joined the protest movement inside the Northern Irish prisons to gain this special status, but became ill and according to some sources, 'blackmailed by the prison doctor to end her action'..she suffered from stomach problems and was unable to digest food, which caused her to rapidly lose weight. Shuffled between prison hospital and Armagh, her condition was viewed as potentially fatal and there were calls by the anti-H-Block movement for her to be released on compassionate grounds. However the Thatcher government refused to do so, with Northern Ireland Secretary Humphrey Atkins claiming that her condition was "Not at present critical...while Miss McLaughlin's health does give cause for serious concern, it is considered in the light of all the advice available that there are insufficient grounds for taking the exceptional course of releasing her on licence from the indeterminate sentence and using the Royal Prerogative to remit the balance of the fixed terms.." (from here).

However, after a sustained campaign in Ireland and Britain, Pauline McLoughlin was released, on licence, on the 10th January, 1981 - 37 years ago on this date. Hopefully, in the (near) future, myself or some other blogger will be able to write about the release of our other political prisoners, including Gabriel Mackle and Tony Taylor, present-day victims of continuing British injustice.





'IN IRELAND'S CAUSE' by Alice French.

From 'The United Irishman' newspaper, October 1954.

'Oh! Give me a gun and a stout, strong arm,

instead of a feeble pen,

when the rallying call to break the thrall,

resounds from glen to glen.

Bringing back the joy of the yesteryears,

when Ireland's sons were men,

and taking the sadness from all the tears,

that blinded her eyes since then.




Oh! Give me a gun and a stout, strong arm,

instead of this shaky hand,

and the joy of helping to lift our flag

above this glorious land.

And the strength of heart, and the steely nerve,

that befits a soldier's task!

Ah me! But, dear Lord, 'tis against Your rules,

and I know it's too much to ask.




But give me the light - wherever I can - my country and You to serve,

to love You first, and my country next,

from this duty not to swerve.

Decree, dear Lord, and destine, for our land,

that her sons be as strong and brave,

as those who are pleading on High for her,

who call from their martyr's grave.




May the call of her dead be not in vain,

when they plead before Your throne,

may the call of her dead be not in vain,

when it's "Arms for her alone!"

Oh give to her sons such a pure proud joy,

a Terence MacSwiney heart,

that their arms may live in their country's love,

of Ireland's soul be a part!


(Next - 'DRIVE ENGLAND OUT!', from the same source.)






UNCHRISTIAN? IMMORAL? ILLEGAL?

From 'The United Irishman' newspaper, February 1955.

The military actions at Armagh and Omagh were so manifestly justified and so bravely carried out they immediately won popular approval among Irishmen everywhere. Apart from their military significance they have had a most marked effect on political thoughts and have been spectacularly successful in pinpointing the root of the whole political problem eg British occupation of part of Ireland. But there have been criticisms in high places -

1)- that the young men of Omagh were brave but foolish and did not realise the consequence of their actions.

2)- that their action was unchristian and immoral.

3)- that their action was illegal and unjustified as they had not the support of the majority of the Irish people.



The first slander has been made by public men but I think it has been adequately answered by no less a person than Lord Chief Justice MacDermott, who stated that the eight felons sentenced by him in Belfast were highly intelligent young men and seemed to realise fully the consequences of their actions.

The second slanderous accusation was made by Mr Costello and endorsed by Mr de Valera in that marathon debate in Leinster House last October shortly after the battle of Omagh. These men have little qualifications for preaching to us of christianity and morality as they only succeed in raising up ghosts from the 1920's and 1930's who accuse them of the killing of their former comrades. But yet they dare call the young men of the IRA who were captured at Omagh "unchristian and immoral".

The third charge is one which is being played up most at present but it is the one which we expect will boomerang and obliterate nearly every political party in Leinster House today. This is the charge that military action is illegal and unjustified as we have not the support of the majority of the people. This is exactly the argument put forward by the Irish Parliamentary Party in 1916 when it supported the British Government in its slander of the men of Easter week... (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!

SEND OUT THE HORSE!

The prison officers parade-ground swagger must have cut quite a dash in his army days but, because of his age, he missed all the major world conflicts of the twentieth century. I always thought that this weighed heavily on him - all that anger and no outlet for it except maybe the prison service. This, plus the fact that he was constantly derided in front of his subordinates who all took great pleasure from our playful banter which made a laughing stock of him in everyone's eyes but his own!

The fact that all the other screws got great delight from our efforts was a matter of complete indifference to us. In those days we were given to bouts of sizism.

"You stupid bastard!" roared the prison officer to one of his men who claimed to have seen the horse, as both horse and jockey neared the prison officer's hut through the deteriorating light of day. I'm sure that when the prison officer saw the horse he thought he had been kicked by a Honky/donkey. Or is it the other way round?

Anyway, Honky made jockey-like noises with a Lady Godiva-like accent - "You perverted Peeping Tom, avert your gaze, you cad!" he cried with all the demure he could muster. "Go back to England, sicko, and stop ogling my beautiful wife!", I shouted at the prison officer, who was nearly choking himself looking for the correct rebuke. "You fucking Irish bastards, I'll have the lot of ye..." he articulated, pushing the parameters of his abridged vocabulary to the limits. Honky Godiva rode off into the sunset laughing his head off, his honour intact. I pleaded with the screw for a bale of hay. Request loudly denied... (MORE LATER).


Thanks for reading, Sharon.