" 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.)



IRISH BLOG AWARDS 2017 - ooops! It seems that our entry application was "not completed in time to be considered.." (?) and, as such, we are not now in the running. But we wish all the best to the successful entrants and to the organisers, and we hope all goes well for them on the day!


Friday, July 01, 2005

THE DEATH OF FRANK HAND .......
On February 10 , 1986 , the courts turned down the appeals of three men sentenced to hang . The men now face , on commutation of sentence by the (Free State) government , 40 years in prison without remission , for their involvement in the Drumree robbery and killing .
By GENE KERRIGAN.
First published in ' MAGILL' magazine , March 1986 .

Sunday 12th August 1984 ; two days after the killing of Detective Frank Hand . Noel McCabe went to Tommy Eccles's house . Eccles was there with Paul Finnegan - McCabe asked them about the robbery but Finnegan warned him not to talk about it to anyone or he would be shot - " It went wrong , we did'nt mean to shoot anyone , " said Finnegan , " I did'nt intend to involve you in anything like this . " Then he laughed . " It's only another stiff , anyway . "

When Finnegan was gone McCabe and Eccles talked : " It's ironic , " said Eccles , according to McCabe , " but it's a Scotsman who shot him . "

The gardai drew up a questionnaire and began a house-to-house inquiry . On Monday 13th August 1984 both Seamus Lynch and Joe Gargan received routine visits at their homes in Kentstown ; both answered the routine questions , placing themselves well away from Drumree at the time of the killing (which was , in fact , true ) . A Garda Michael Miley interviewed Joe Gargan - he thought that Gargan talked a lot , very freely , but gave short and to-the-point answers to specific questions about his movements . There was space at the bottom of the questionnaire marked - ' Member's Personal Opinion ? ' ; Garda Miley wrote - ' Very talkative , seemed very friendly , but not genuine . '

The Gardai lifted a lot of people , the routine round-up . Among them were Seamus Lynch , Joe Gargan , Tommy Eccles and Paddy Duffy . They all made statements , some bare admissions of their own roles in the robbery , others lengthier and fuller . There would later be allegations of garda beatings , but there was little evidence to sustain them . What seemed to have happened is that , faced with the unexpected enormity of the situation in which they found themselves , the suspects crumbled .

The money and guns were recovered from the shed at Kentstown .......

(MORE LATER).




FIRE AND BRIMSTONE .......
The Democratic Unionist Party would prefer a Civil War to acquiescence in a role for the Dublin Government in the affairs of the North of Ireland after the Anglo-Irish summit .
FINTAN O'TOOLE spoke to DUP activists about the depth of their opposition to the Anglo-Irish deal and their willingness to resort to violence .
From 'MAGILL' magazine , November 1985 .

One of the 'signs' that the Reverend Ivan Foster sees that 'the End' may be at hand , that it may be necessary to fight on to Armageddon , is that homosexuality has been legalised in the North of Ireland - " As a Protestant , and not a mere political Protestant , but as one who without apology believes the Bible , I come to portions of the scripture like Romans Chapter 1 where it indicates that society and mankind reaches the depths of decline and depravity when men turn from the natural use of women unto men . That's the pits , to use a modern phrase - you can go no lower . Paul at that stage speaks about the judgement of God coming upon a nation that does that . And whether we like it or don't like it , history indicates that when nations decline to those depths , they come to an end .

It may have been their next door neighbour that put an end to them , and you may see no more to it than that , but I as a Christian see the moving of the neighbouring nation against the decadent nation as the judgement of God . Consequently I abhor the legalising of sodomy . I like that term , because if nothing else it annoys those who prefer to use modern euphemisms for what is nothing less than the sin which is associated with a city the doom of which is recorded in scripture . " ('1169...' Comment - .... and that , reader , is the closed and defunct mind-set of those that most Unionists/Loyalists voted-in as their representatives . 'Trouble' was , and is , inevitable ....)

Gregory Campbell shares this 'horror' : " It's an evil , wicked , abhorrent practice . My opposition to that is based on the bible and also based on natural justice and I know many people who do not share my Protestant faith but who would share my opposition to homosexuality because they believe it is something which would corrupt society as a whole , and is something so radically awful as to merit total and utter opposition . You're not even talking about something which is a run-of-the-mill sexual practice but something which is totally and utterly depraved , and to me anyway the AIDS scare which is currently running through America is proof that homosexual practice is something which calls upon the curse of God ....... "

(MORE LATER).




THE LONG KESH ESCAPE - SUNDAY 25th SEPTEMBER 1983 .......
From 'IRIS' magazine , November 1983 .
No 'By-Line' .

Unfortunately , the plan of escape began to go wrong at the first 'tally-hut' due to there being larger numbers of Screws coming on duty than anticipated . While the escapees kept arresting more and more Screws , the situation got out of control and the alarm was raised . At this point the escapees were forced to make a run for it on foot across fields , many of them successfully commandeering local cars . In the final melee several Screws were stabbed and one escapee , Harry Murray , was shot and wounded .

It was inevitable , given the eventual breakdown of the plan , that there would be some re-arrests , some within minutes and some within two days of the break-out . Nonetheless , the massive total of 19 Republican prisoners of war did successfully escape and eventually reach freedom - to the massive embarrassment of the British and the jubilation of Nationalists throughout the 32 Counties !

The 19 H-Block escapees that were then at liberty are - Kevin Barry Artt , (24) North Belfast ; Paul Brennan (30) Ballymurphy ; Seamus Campbell (26) Coalisland , County Tyrone ; James Clarke (27) Letterkenny , County Donegal ; Seamus Clarke (27) Ardoyne ; Gerard Fryer (24) Turf Lodge ; Dermot Finucane (22) Lenadoon ; Kieran Fleming (23) Derry ; Anthony Kelly (22) Derry ; Gerry Kelly (30) Belfast ; Anthony McAllister (25) Belfast ; Gerard McDonnell (32) Belfast ; Seamus McElwair (22) Scotstown , County Monaghan ; Brendan McFarane (31) Ardoyne ; Padraic McKearney (29) Moy , County Tyrone ; Dermot McNally (26) Lurgantarry , North Armagh ; Robert Russell (25) Ballymurphy ; Terence Kirby (27) Andersonstown ; and James Smith (38) Ardoyne .

[END of ' THE LONG KESH ESCAPE - SUNDAY 25th SEPTEMBER 1983 '].
(MONDAY , JULY 4 : ' McFARLANE - THE INSIDE STORY').






Thursday, June 30, 2005

THE DEATH OF FRANK HAND .......
On February 10 , 1986 , the courts turned down the appeals of three men sentenced to hang . The men now face , on commutation of sentence by the (Free State) government , 40 years in prison without remission , for their involvement in the Drumree robbery and killing .
By GENE KERRIGAN.
First published in ' MAGILL' magazine , March 1986 .

Tommy Eccles , Pat McPhillips and the man with the ear-ring got into Noel McCabe's blue Ford Cortina and he drove them off towards Dundalk ; the three passengers were white-faced , arguing . McCabe started to ask them what happened when McPhillips said " Shut up , drive ! " . The car wound its way through the narrow roads with McPhillips barking " Left , right , right , left ," several times , before admitting he was lost .

The panic in the car was such that at Julianstown , three or four miles from Drogheda , Noel McCabe ordered the others out of the car , in fear they would run into a garda checkpoint ; McPhillips and the man with the ear-ring got out and made their way on foot . McCabe agreed to drive Tommy Eccles into Drogheda ; he did so . Then he drove on to Dundalk and went to Mass before returning home .

In Drogheda , Tommy Eccles went into a shop and bought a peach - he ate it walking along the street , then he went into St. Peter's Church , the one with Oliver Plunkett's head , and thanked God he had got away . Seamus Lynch drove the guns and money to a big shed about a mile from Kentstown . Joe Gargan was waiting there for him . Lynch hid the guns and money inside an empty tank in the shed and then went home . The 9am news on the radio said a garda had been killed at Drumree .

Tommy Eccles took a taxi home to Dundalk from Drogheda . The taxi driver , a Mrs Dempsey , told him there had been something on the news about a garda being shot dead at Drumree . Eccles felt sick .

Meanwhile , the beige Opel Ascona had disappeared in another direction , taking the 'heavies' , the ones who had used the guns , to safety .......

(MORE LATER).




FIRE AND BRIMSTONE .......
The Democratic Unionist Party would prefer a Civil War to acquiescence in a role for the Dublin Government in the affairs of the North of Ireland after the Anglo-Irish summit .
FINTAN O'TOOLE spoke to DUP activists about the depth of their opposition to the Anglo-Irish deal and their willingness to resort to violence .
From 'MAGILL' magazine , November 1985 .

Gregory Campbell , DUP , went on to say - " I would look in the Old Testament where the children of Israel were put in a similiar position . In the land where Pharaoh was king over them , they were told that there was no peaceable way out and the only option was to rise up and rebel and Moses led them out of Egypt though they were told by the Pharaoh that they were breaking his laws in doing so . They used physical breach of the laws in order to extricate themselves from the position that Pharaoh had gotten them into , but they only did that after Moses went to Pharaoh and said 'Let my people go' .

What we're doing is the exact same thing . We will not go outside the law if we can do it inside the law , but at the end of the day we will take that option of breaking the law . " ('1169....' Comment - What a twisted sense of 'Moral values' : Campbell and his like were already 'outside the law...' by the very nature of their mis-treatment of the Nationalists in the Six County area . )

For Ivan Foster and Gregory Campbell , the 'signs' are not only in the political dealings of the Anglo-Irish summit , but also in the 'wickedness of man' which is courting Armageddon . Ivan Foster sees the breakdown of law and order in the Northern state as linked to moral depravity - " I would be very concerned for the future of any country (sic) that continues to liberalise and liberalise and liberalise . Because it is an indisputable fact that alongside recent developments , liberal trends , there has been an increasing social problem regarding law and order , in the home , in the marriage , in the schoolroom or just on the streets .

It may be argued that there is no link , but I think there is a link . I recognise as a Protestant that if a Protestant loses his Protestantism , then he loses all motivation for opposing a United Ireland . It's immaterial to him who serves the Guinness as long as it's served . Under what flag does'nt matter , the political consequences of change don't matter . I see the danger of a population undermined by libertine trends that is gradually abolishing its spiritual heritage , its spiritual base , and since its spiritual base was always the source of its opposition to a United Ireland philosophy , that opposition will disappear .

I think that we must take note of the fact that there is a great deal of co-ordination in all this . So I look for a co-ordinator . And as a conservative and orthodox Protestant I look to find the co-ordinator revealed to me in scripture - namely the power of Satan is at work ....... " ('1169...' Comment - Phew ! Congratulations , reader , if you are still with us after that complete load of bilge ! Definately the product of a much-trouble mind ; people like Foster and Campbell were placed into positions of authority in the Six Counties by their colleagues in Westminster . And people like those two fanatics are STILL in such positions but have , for the most part , learned to keep their 'Armageddon/Satan' clap-trap confined to inhouse meetings .)

(MORE LATER).




THE LONG KESH ESCAPE - SUNDAY 25th SEPTEMBER 1983 .......
From 'IRIS' magazine , November 1983 .
No 'By-Line' .

On a given signal , once everyone was in position , IRA Volunteers overpowered and arrested all the prison Screws in the Block , many of the Volunteers subsequently changing into their uniforms . During the seizure of control one Screw - on duty in a locked control room - was shot twice in the head when he ignored orders to lie on the floor and instead made a lunge for the alarm . Control of the Block was completed when 'Bic' McFarlane , accompanied by two IRA Volunteers dressed as Screws , arrested the Screw on duty in the front gate enclosure . It was now about 2.45pm .

Some time later the food lorry bringing evening meals to H7 arrived ; 37 IRA Volunteers climbed into the back while another lay on the floor of the cab holding a gun on the Screw driving the lorry . The lorry then drove through a series of 'security gates' in the Long Kesh complex manned by unsuspecting Screws and in full view of armed Brit sentry posts . It eventually arrived at a 'tally hut' close to a back gate of the prison camp ; the plan was to arrest the Screws in the 'tally hut' and , leaving five Volunteers in control , drive the food lorry a further quarter mile to the front gate 'tally hut' which the escapees would then take control of , leaving two Volunteers there , before driving out in the food lorry to freedom .

Meanwhile , the five Volunteers in the first 'tally hut' would obtain a Screw's car from the adjoining car park , drive to the front gate where the two Volunteers in control there would clamber into the boot , and also make their escape . That was the plan of escape ; unfortunately , it was not to be .......

(MORE LATER).







Wednesday, June 29, 2005

THE DEATH OF FRANK HAND .......
On February 10 , 1986 , the courts turned down the appeals of three men sentenced to hang . The men now face , on commutation of sentence by the (Free State) government , 40 years in prison without remission , for their involvement in the Drumree robbery and killing .
By GENE KERRIGAN.
First published in ' MAGILL' magazine , March 1986 .

Mary Gilsenan , Michael's mother , was in the family bungalow about 60 yards away ; she had heard the shots , so she rang the post office to find out what was happening . The receiver was lifted immediately and Michael shouted - " DIAL 999 ..... " then the phone was slammed down . She dialled 999 three times before being put through to Dublin Castle .

The money and guns were by now dumped in the Opel Ascona and the red Mercedes and both cars sped off . Just before the second car left the leader said - " If that fucking bastard moves , fucking shoot him , shoot him ! " Then the cars were gone . Detective Michael Dowd did'nt know if any raiders remained behind . James Gorman , who lived about 50 yards on the other side of the post office , had already seen the activity , and heard the shots ; he got 999 and was put through to the gardai , his son David was watching the events unfold and shouting information to his father , who in turn passed it on to the gardai . He saw the cars speed away .

Detective Dowd , lying on the ground beside the garda car , looked across at J.J. Bell lying face down - " Are they all gone ? " Things were very quiet . Donal Brady came out from the shed behind the post office ; " Are you alright , J.J. ? " , he called to Bell . Detective Dowd looked around and under the car at his partner - " Are you alright , Frank ..... ? " The ambulance came from Navan ; it arrived after almost half an hour , around 8.35am . Nurse Olivia Reilly felt for Detective Frank Hand's pulse but could find none .

It was 8.05am : Seamus Lynch , the Provo in Kentstown , had gone to Joe Gargan's house , went up to his bedroom and Gargan had given him the keys to his yellow Ford Escort . Lynch was now arriving at the field at Rathfeigh ; Noel McCabe was waiting in his 'borrowed' blue Ford Cortina , at the crossroads where he was to pick up 'the lads' . The red Mercedes , driven by Tommy Eccles , came speeding along , on its way from Drumree , past McCabe , who followed it to the field at Rathfeigh . The yellow Escort was already there .

There was panic in the field ; the men from the Mercedes were shouting and arguing about the shooting of the garda , running around in circles . The money , guns , boiler suits and walkie-talkies were dumped in the boot of the yellow Escort and Seamus Lynch drove it away to Kentstown . Petrol was thrown on the Mercedes and it was set on fire .......

(MORE LATER).




FIRE AND BRIMSTONE .
The Democratic Unionist Party would prefer a Civil War to acquiescence in a role for the Dublin Government in the affairs of the North of Ireland after the Anglo-Irish summit .
FINTAN O'TOOLE spoke to DUP activists about the depth of their opposition to the Anglo-Irish deal and their willingness to resort to violence .
From 'MAGILL' magazine , November 1985 .

Ivan Foster , erstwhile Commander of the Reverend Ian Paisley's 'Third Force' , believes he may be living in the 'Last Days' . An evangelical minister living in Fermanagh , on the border with the Republic , he reads dark signs in his bible these days - " I turn to the New Testament where in the words of Christ , of Paul and Peter , very clear predictions are made regarding the 'End of The Age' times . And it paints a picture of increasing lawlessness , and I recognise therefore that that which is prophesied in scripture is beginning to take place .

Prophesying is a prediction , it's not a revelation that must happen and therefore we need not bother fighting it . It is merely a revelation to me that this is the trend that is going to take place and if you wish to avoid the consequences of such trends in your generation , you resist every move that leads towards that . " ('1169...' Comment - gobbledygook and claptrap , mouthed by Paisley and his like to 'impress' those that are easily impressed . )

Ivan Foster is the Democratic Unionist Party member of the 'Northern Ireland' (sic) Assembly for Fermanagh ; in the Anglo-Irish Agreement (ie the 1985 Hillsborough Treaty) , as in the 'moral depravity' all around him , he sees the signs of the apocalypse and hears the sound of marching feet . Gregory Campbell , DUP Assemblyman from the Waterside area of what he always calls 'Londonderry' (sic) , also takes his guide from his reading of the Bible - " I look at the scriptures and see in bible times what a people done where a government had forfeited the right to govern , where a people had been put in a position where they had no alternative but to take up arms .

And I can only see that in those same scriptures that say you must love your neighbour , that having done all we can in a peaceable legitimate fashion , then there is no alternative but to resort to arms ....... " ('1169...' Comment - "...having done all we can .. " : except to treat your neighbours like fellow human beings . )

(MORE LATER).



THE LONG KESH ESCAPE - SUNDAY 25th SEPTEMBER 1983 .
From 'IRIS' magazine , November 1983 .
No 'By-Line' .

" We perceived the escape as a military operation from beginning to end . It could not have been achieved in any other way , and the ASU - as Volunteers in the Irish Republican Army - were under strict orders throughout from an Operations Officer whose judgement was crucial and whose every order had to be obeyed . Every Volunteer was under a tight brief . "

It was this precision of planning , exclusively revealed to 'An Phoblacht/Republican News' in a detailed interview by key ASU personnel involved , that lay behind the almost incredible escape of 38 Republicans on Sunday 25th September 1983 from what is generally believed to be the most secure prison in Western Europe - the H-Blocks of Long Kesh .

At 2.15pm that day , three IRA Volunteers carrying concealed pistols fitted with silencers , which had been smuggled into the prison , moved into the 'Central Administration' area (the 'Circle') of H7-Block on the pretext of cleaning out a store . Fifteen minutes later they were joined by a fourth armed Volunteer ; control of the 'Circle' , with its numerous alarm bells , was vital for the escape's success and had to be carried out simultaneously with the overpowering of prison Screws in the four wings of H7-Block .

Minutes later three other Volunteers - armed with pistols , hammers or chisels - took up key positions near Screws positioned by alarm buttons , on the pretext of carrying out orderly duties , while Brendan 'Bic' McFarlane (the H-Block Officer Commanding during the hunger-strike) was allowed through two locked grilles into the hall of the Block on cleaning duties - his job was to arrest the Screw there .......

(MORE LATER).







Tuesday, June 28, 2005

THE DEATH OF FRANK HAND .......
On February 10 , 1986 , the courts turned down the appeals of three men sentenced to hang . The men now face , on commutation of sentence by the (Free State) government , 40 years in prison without remission , for their involvement in the Drumree robbery and killing .
By GENE KERRIGAN.
First published in ' MAGILL' magazine , March 1986 .

Free State Detective Michael Dowd was still struggling upright in the garda car , his forehead bleeding , when the door was pulled open beside him and a handgun put to his head ; he was grabbed by the arm and thrown out beside the car on his hands and knees . His handgun was pulled from its holster - he was told to lie down . He hesitated . A gun was put to the back of his head - " On your belly . " He was told to put his nose and lips on the ground and not to move . He sank to the ground .

There was a man with a submachine gun at the driver's door of the post van - " Turn off the fucking ignition . " The van driver , J.J. Bell , switched off and pulled out the key . He was told to get out and open the back doors . For some reason he found himself reaching into the glove compartment and taking his cigarettes and lighter . The stolen beige Opel Ascona and the red Mercedes , with Tommy Eccles , Pat McPhillips , Brian McShane and two or three others whose identity is not known , called there by walkie-talkie , arrived at the post office , skidding to a stop .

J.J. Bell had opened the back doors of the van and was now lying face down on the ground ; he still had the keys of the van in his right hand . One of the gunmen kicked the keys from under his hand , put a gun to the back of his head and said - " If you move , son , you are fucking dead . " Bell did'nt move ; in his left hand he still had his smokes and his lighter . The money bags were transferred into the red Mercedes ; the radio was torn out of the garda car . Detective Michael Dowd , gambling that the gunmen would be watching the money , raised his right arm and turned his head so he could see under his armpit .

From the number of legs he saw moving back and forth he thought there were at least eight raiders . They were wearing blue boilersuits and black balaclavas with red stitching around the mouths . He could see one raider holding a pistol that looked like his own . The leader of the gang , giving orders in a Northern accent , several times said - " Shoot him ! Shoot him ! " to the raider standing near Detective Dowd ; Dowd did'nt know how the gunmen would interpret this , whether it was a real order or a method of intimidation . Each second he expected to be shot .......

(MORE LATER).




TO WESTMINSTER AND BACK .......
The Life And Times Of Gerry Fitt.
By Nell McCafferty .
First published in ' MAGILL' magazine , July 1983 .

Having spoken for 39 minutes in the British House of 'Commons' on his regret at having fought for political status for Irish Republican prisoners in 1972 , Gerry Fitt sat down . The discussion moved on to other issues : the 'Avoidable Destruction of Wildlife Bill ' on which Janet Fookes , member for Plymouth-Drake , rose to speak . She mentioned birds "...dying of starvation induced by lead poisoning of their environment .. " . The House agreed to an extension beyond the 10pm deadline to let her speak fully of this crisis . Then she spoke about moles which , she said , were dying "...painfully , underground , where we cannot see them . Out of sight ought not to mean out of mind .. " ('1169 ... ' Comment - unless , that is , you are an Irish political prisoner .)

On June 10 , 1983 , Gerry Fitt lost his seat to Gerry Adams of Sinn Fein . John Hume , benefitting from the deal which (British) Labour did with the Unionists , won the restructured seat in Foyle and set off himself to be the lone voice in Westminster . The 'Housing Executive' announced that they were pulling down Gerry Fitt's house as part of their 'modernisation programme' ; Fitt said he was moving out his furniture anyway before the Provos came to celebrate their victory - he would consider his future in England , he said , adding that if he took a 'peerage' , he might not be able to contest the following year's European elections .

He also spoke about losing all those " ...Prod votes.. " . But if he does take a 'peerage' - if a seat is offered to him in the British House of 'Lords' and he accepts - the man who sought 'one man one vote' (sic) in the North of Ireland will not be allowed a 'commoner's ' vote ever again . Pro Tanto Quid Retribuamus .

[END of ' TO WESTMINSTER AND BACK ' ].
(Tomorrow - ' FIRE AND BRIMSTONE ; THE DUP ').



THE GAA AND THE HUNGER-STRIKERS .......
" We declare that political status is ours of right and we declare that from Monday 27th October 1980 a hunger-strike by a number of men representing H-Blocks 3 , 4 and 5 will commence . Our widely-recognised resistance has carried us through four years of immense suffering and it shall carry us through to the bitter climax of death , if necessary . "
No by-line.
From 'IRIS' magazine , November 1983 .

Near-panic spread through the GAA Headquarters Staff when one leading GAA member in the North of Ireland appeared on a television interview confirming that every support would continue for the prisoners and that GAA directives to the contrary from the management committee would be completely ignored ! The GAA's involvement in the hunger-strike showed up clearly the basic grassroots' support for the suffering prisoners , but also highlighted the GAA hierarchy's apathy and conservatism .

As a national cultural and sporting body , the GAA has of necessity to embrace many shades of political persuasion , but it also undeniably has an obligation to support its members in Northern jails . With the ending of the hunger-strike , which saved the GAA from further polarisation on the issue , the problems remain of the denial of Gaelic games , language and traditions to the Republican prisoners .

The GAA hierarchy has yet to give voice to these grievances .

[END of 'THE GAA AND THE HUNGER-STRIKERS'].
(Tomorrow - 'THE LONG KESH ESCAPE ' - SUNDAY 25 SEPTEMBER 1983).






Monday, June 27, 2005

THE DEATH OF FRANK HAND .......
On February 10 , 1986 , the courts turned down the appeals of three men sentenced to hang . The men now face , on commutation of sentence by the (Free State) government , 40 years in prison without remission , for their involvement in the Drumree robbery and killing .
By GENE KERRIGAN.
First published in ' MAGILL' magazine , March 1986 .

The robbery was in progress ; shots had been fired . J.J. Bell , the post office van driver , took off the handbrake and put the van into first gear . Then he hesitated , for fear of being shot whilst driving away . All of this was happening in the few seconds after the garda car came to rest behind the van . Then the man with the Sten gun opened up .

The memories of the surviving victims of the raid are , understandably , confused and contradictory on some points : Michael Dowd , for instance , thought at first that the man with the Webley was firing a submachine gun . From statements made shortly after the incident and - more reliably - detailed forensic reports , it is possible to work out what happened . The gunman with the Sten fired eight shots , either in one burst , with the gun moving up and to the left , or - more likely - two quick bursts of four bullets .

Four bullets hit the windscreen area of the car , in a cluster , ripping the chrome and rubber strip holding the windscreen . One of these bullets ploughed across the dashboard and went out the driver's door , which was open . Detective Frank Hand was already out of the car , or getting out , his Smith and Wesson .38 revolver in his hand , when the Sten gun began firing . Two more bullets from the Sten hit the windscreen about a foot from the bottom ; a seventh bullet hit the windowframe of the door which Frank Hand had just opened .

This all happened in fractions of a second ; Detective Michael Dowd saw the bullet holes appear in the windscreen , the dashboard being ploughed by a bullet . One of the bullets fragmented and a sliver of metal hit him just above his left eyebrow . He slumped to his right , putting his hands to the wound , the Uzi slipping from his lap ; Detective Frank Hand got off two shots - one hit the post office wall about seven feet from the ground , the other was never found . The eight bullet from the Sten gun hit Frank Hand in the right upper chest , passing through the chest cavity causing a haemmorhage .

Frank Hand spun around and fell face down , facing towards the rear of the garda car ; the haemmorhage led to asphyxia . Someone shouted - " For God's sake stop shooting , there's a man dead ....... "

(MORE LATER).




TO WESTMINSTER AND BACK .......
The Life And Times Of Gerry Fitt.
By Nell McCafferty .
First published in ' MAGILL' magazine , July 1983 .

Monday , November 10 , 1980 , 8.39pm : Gerry Fitt rose to his feet in the British House of 'Commons' - the North of Ireland was being discussed , briefly . Fitt re-called having successfully pleaded for political status in 1972 , and said - " I bitterly regret having made those representations . " Then he told stories , and the stories were littered with the bodies of people who died in the North over the decade : three British soldiers killed by an IRA landmine . Two British soldiers and seven civilians killed by an IRA bomb on 'Bloody Friday' . Six civilians killed by an IRA bomb in Claudy . A woman twenty yards from his (Fitt's) home , with no legs , because the loyalist bomb went off in a pub as she passed by .

Ten Protestant workmen killed in Armagh , their lunch boxes still in their hands . Three Catholics killed in retaliation . Ten Catholics killed on July 5 by loyalists , and "... a mixture of Catholics and Protestants .. " killed on july 8 and 9 . John Turnley , Miriam Daly , Ronnie Bunting and Joe Little assassinated by loyalists . His friend , Davy Walsh , with no leg , "...never able to live with the fact that his leg was blown off for no known or understandable reason . " No deaths caused by the RUC or the British Army or the UDR were mentioned .

Gerry Fitt could only say with some regret , of Cardinal O Fiach's involvement in the hunger strike , that the Cardinal "...did not avail of an invitation to visit other people on the mattress .. " - the maimed with no arms or legs .

An Irish newspaper had remarked that "... if a person was imprisoned then that should be sufficient retribution , that once in prison a person should be able to do other things . I do not believe that taking away a man's liberty because he has committed a heinous crime is enough . There are certain conditions that must be fulfilled in prison . "

Having said his piece , Gerry Fitt sat down at 9. 18pm .......

(MORE LATER).




THE GAA AND THE HUNGER-STRIKERS .......
" We declare that political status is ours of right and we declare that from Monday 27th October 1980 a hunger-strike by a number of men representing H-Blocks 3 , 4 and 5 will commence . Our widely-recognised resistance has carried us through four years of immense suffering and it shall carry us through to the bitter climax of death , if necessary . "
No by-line.
From 'IRIS' magazine , November 1983 .

It was the decision to stand Republican prisoners in the Free State general election held in June 1981 that saw the divergence of views within the GAA coming to the front ; several of the hunger-strike candidates were known to have had close links with GAA clubs in their native areas . Kevin Lynch had captained his County under-age team which had won an All-Ireland trophy at Croke Park . His old club in Dungiven have since renamed themselves the 'Kevin Lynch Hurling Club' .

Kieran Doherty , from Andersonstown in West Belfast , was also well-known in GAA circles : yet incredibly , the GAA's management committee directed that the GAA could not get involved in 'party politics' !

The GAA hierarchy now regarded the H-Blocks issue as 'party political ' whereas earlier their statements had called it "...humanitarian .. " . It seemed that as long as the protest was kept north of the border the GAA would show signs of support , but that once brought home to the twenty-six counties , Fianna Fail and Fine Gael influence , worried by the effect of prisoner candidates in marginal constituencies , was enough to secure a change in policy .

The then outgoing President of the GAA , Paddy McFlynn , was now caught wearing two caps : caught between Northern GAA activists and the Fianna Fail element , which had most to lose by the intervention of prisoner candidates in the elections , Paddy McFlynn now pointed out that as the controlling body of the GAA , the management committee did not wish to commit itself further in support of the five demands - but a certain television interview was to cause panic for McFlynn and the management committee .......

(MORE LATER).

(CPT Mark - thank you for your favourable comments ; much appreciated ! Glad you find the blog useful . Thanks again - Sharon.)