" A wealth of information..."

"1169 And Counting is a wealth of information on our Republican past and present , and demonstrates how the Irish political landscape , like that of any nation, will never be a black and white issue..."

(From the ‘e-Thursday’ section of the ‘Business Week’ supplement of the ‘Irish Independent’ , 21st August 2008.)



This blog was listed as one of the 'Finalists' in the '2016 current affairs/politics' category of the Littlewoods Ireland blog awards - but we didn't win the award. But not to worry -thanks to everyone involved for getting us to the final stage of the competition and sure we'll try again the next time!

Friday, October 14, 2005

UDR'S ROTTEN APPLES....... Five members of the 'Ulster Defence Regiment' , formerly based at Drummad Barracks in Armagh , have been charged with murder , and the recent visits to this barracks by both the Duke of Edinburgh and Mrs Thatcher caused an uproar in the North . But how exceptional are the 'Drummad Five' ? Just how many 'rotten apples' are there in the 'Ulster Defence Regiment' , which is now the principal back-up force to the RUC in the North of Ireland ? From 'The Phoenix' magazine , 30 March 1984 .
A random check of some of the names on a list of imprisoned UDA members ( published in the October 1976 issue of the UDA's 'COMBAT' magazine) suggests that membership of the British 'security forces' was mentioned in as few as a third of the court cases which led to their convictions . However , to complicate matters further , it is almost certainly the case that some of the UDA prisoners listed joined the UDA after being charged in order , spuriously , to claim political motivation , and therefore political status .
The list is based on files of Dublin publications , particularly of 'Hibernia' and 'The Irish Times' ; many cases not reported in these publications , either for reasons of space or because they did not appear mewsworthy at the time , are therefore omitted . Some additional material has been supplied from his personal files by Larry Kildea of 'The Irish Press' newspaper .
Excluded is a substantial number of lesser cases invoving UDR personnel in sex offences , minor larcenies , fraud , driving offences and run-of-the-mill blackguardism . Other cases have been missed because the fact of defendants' UDR membership did not emerge . A final qualifying point is that the list includes , of course , only UDR personnel who were caught , and whom the North's DPP then considered it proper to prosecute , and who therefore were convicted in the courts . It is commonly argued from facts like these that the UDR is , effectively , the B Specials under another name . This is a mistake .......
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ELECTION INTERVENTIONS.......Despite the fact that SINN FEIN has been contesting local elections in the 26 counties for more than two decades , much comment has been passed and incorrectly interpreted about Republican involvement in elections - north and south of the British-imposed border - in the past several months . Here we review Republican interventions in the electoral process for the past century and more . From 'IRIS' magazine , Volume 1 , Number 2 , November 1981 .
In recognition of the economic crisis in Irish agriculture , the Fenian John Devoy modified his ideas while maintaining his political position : instead of the type of movement outlined in the 'New Departure' proposals he accepted a purely agrarian one as advocated by Michael Davitt and was later to claim that he and Davitt "...speaking for large bodies of Fenians , although not official representatives .. " reached an agreement with Charles Stewart Parnell in 1879 - Parnell consistently denied such an agreement , which had four main points :
1. In the conduct of the public movement , as far as Parnell and Davitt were able to influence it , there should not be anything said or done to impair the vitality of the Fenian Movement or to discredit its ideal of complete national independence to be secured by the eventual use of physical force .
2. The demand for self government should not for the present be publicly defined , but nothing short of a national parliament with power over all vital national interests and an executive responsible to it should be accepted .
3. The settlement of the land question to be demanded should be the establishment of a peasant proprietory to be reached by compulsory purchase .
4. The Irish members of parliament elected through the public movement should form an absolutely independent party , asking and accepting no places , salaried or honorary , under the British government , either for themselves , their constituents or anyone else . (' 1169...' Comment - Compare those principle's with those of others who claim to be following the Fenian tradition .)
This policy was something of a gamble for John Devoy who , while admitting that the Movement could be sidetracked * into mere reformism , strongly insisted that "...the demands of the Land League will not be granted by a Parliament of British Landlords ... " ('1169...' Comment - * which has now happened to the 'others' mentioned above . )
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23 DAYS IN HELL : THE STORY OF THE O'GRADY KIDNAPPING ....... The Gardai had in their possession a clue which could have led them to the O'Grady kidnappers and their captive some ten days earlier .A card found in a rucksack after the Midleton shoot-out led them directly to the gang once they checked it out - but this was ten days later , by which time John O 'Grady had lost two of his fingers . First published in 'MAGILL' Magazine , May 1988 . By Michael O'Higgins .
17. ENTER FR. BRIAN D'ARCY . Dr. Austin Darragh had dispatched his chauffeur back to Limerick Cathedral ; the chauffeur lifted the statue right up off its wooden plinth and discovered the note underneath . Taken together , the ranson notes instructed that a courier go to the Silver Springs Hotel in Cork an one o'clock the following day , November 5 , 1987 ; the car driving there was to be equipped with a car phone . At the hotel reception the courier would get a call for a 'Mr Pat Murray' - on taking this call there would be further instructions .
The notes also gave the standard warning about contacting the gardai . The O'Grady family were resigned to paying the ransom and spent the day raising the money ; this presented difficulties in itself . Though Dr. Darragh is a person of considerable means , he did not have that kind of money in cash . But by now they realised that Dessie O'Hare was not bluffing . The gardai were fully aware of the family's intentions .
That evening there was a meeting of the State Cabinet sub-committee on Security to discuss the situation - the meeting was attended by (FS) Taoiseach Charles Haughey , Tanaiste Brian Lenihan , Justice Minister Gerry Collins , Defence Minister Michael Noonan , Garda Commissioner Laurence Wren and senior civil servants and advisors . The sub-committee was concerned about the decision by the O'Grady family to pay the ransom but , in view of Dessie O'Hare's well-proven capacity for mutilation , they found their position understandable . The meeting decided that the best course of action was a 'hands-off' approach .
The Silver Springs Hotel was to be staked-out by the Special Branch but no effort would be made to intercept payment . It was hoped to trail whoever picked up the money covertly and later , after John O'Grady was released , arrest the recipient . Fr. Brian D'Arcy was chosen by the O'Grady family to act as their courier .......
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Thursday, October 13, 2005

UDR'S ROTTEN APPLES.
Five members of the 'Ulster Defence Regiment' , formerly based at Drummad Barracks in Armagh , have been charged with murder , and the recent visits to this barracks by both the Duke of Edinburgh and Mrs Thatcher caused an uproar in the North .
But how exceptional are the 'Drummad Five' ? Just how many 'rotten apples' are there in the 'Ulster Defence Regiment' , which is now the principal back-up force to the RUC in the North of Ireland ?
From 'The Phoenix' magazine , 30 March 1984 .

We have chronicled herewith almost one hundred cases where members of the 'Ulster Defence Regiment' (UDR) have been charged with serious offences , mostly involving firearms or explosives . It is a directory of Dishonourable Discharge that is unmatched in the 'security forces' of any country in Europe and probably not even in South America . And even this list does not claim to be exhaustive .

It is standard practice for any UDR member charged with a serious offence to be required to resign from the Regiment before appearing in court . He (or , in a very tiny number of cases , she ) is therefore described in court as a "...former.. " UDR member . Or the fact of UDR membership is not mentioned at all . For example , although Roderick Shane McDowell and Thomas Crozier , convicted in October 1976 of the Miami Showband massacre , were members of the UDR and operating in UDR uniforms at the time of the murders , this was not mentioned at their initial court appearance .

And it was not until after the conviction of the 'Shankill Butchers' in February 1979 that the UDR membership of one of their number , Edward McIlwaine , was made public , and then only after SDLP spokesperson Michael Canavan put a question publicly to Northern Secretary Roy Mason .

It is also worth noting that the UDA , in the October 1976 issue of its magazine 'Combat' , published a list of 57 UDA members serving time in Long Kesh who had been members of the 'security forces' as well : 17 of them were UDR . An accompanying article claimed - " This list by no means exhausts the numbers of ex-security forces now convicted of politically-motivated offences , and at least three times this number could be added if I were to include Magilligan Prison , Crumlin Road and the men in the other Loyalist paramilitary groups . "

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ELECTION INTERVENTIONS.......
Despite the fact that SINN FEIN has been contesting local elections in the 26 counties for more than two decades , much comment has been passed and incorrectly interpreted about Republican involvement in elections - north and south of the British-imposed border - in the past several months .
Here we review Republican interventions in the electoral process for the past century and more .
From 'IRIS' magazine , Volume 1 , Number 2 , November 1981 .

The Fenian James Fintan Lalor stated , re the land question - " Let the occupiers of the soil refuse all further payment of rent to the present usurping proprietors , until the people , the true proprietors ....have in national congress....decided what rents they are to pay and to whom . " Devoy further believed that the British government's certain refusal of the full Irish demand for land reform ('peasant' proprietory was seen as more radical and far reaching a settlement that Isaac Butt's policy of the three 'F' 's *) would create the condition for a withdrawal from the British parliament . (* Fair rent , Fixity of tenure and Freedom to sell the tenant right .)

In this belief (that the demands of land agitation could not be met by the British Government ) at no time was Devoy advocating that the demand for Irish independence be suppressed in favour of agrarian agitation ; on the contrary , he argued that the land question had to be expanded to give it a nationalist character . In fact he accepted the risk of Britain undercutting the agitation by conceding compromise demands ('1169...' Comment - ...as Westminster did in 1998 with the Stormont Treaty) as a justifiable risk because " ...good work will have been done , sound principles will have been inculcated and the country aroused and agitated .. " - in other words , in the event of a failure to win complete victory , John Devoy felt that at least a step forward would have been taken in the building up of nationalist forces .

Devoy called on the Fenians to enter political life to fight , in particular on the platform of land reform , and by doing so to strengthen their organisation and 'end their isolation' . The full political programme of the 'New Departure' was never agreed upon let alone implemented ; the IRB Supreme Council rejected it at a meeting in Paris in January 1879 although individual members were left free to take part in open political activity , though not to enter parliament . Furthermore , the economic crisis of Irish agriculture in 1879 plus the commencement of the agrarian agitation in Mayo reduced to some extent the relevance of these plans .......

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23 DAYS IN HELL : THE STORY OF THE O'GRADY KIDNAPPING .......
The Gardai had in their possession a clue which could have led them to the O'Grady kidnappers and their captive some ten days earlier .
A card found in a rucksack after the Midleton shoot-out led them directly to the gang once they checked it out - but this was ten days later , by which time John O 'Grady had lost two of his fingers .
First published in 'MAGILL' Magazine , May 1988 .
By Michael O'Higgins .

Detective Superintendent John Murphy , from Harcourt Square , Dublin , told Superintendent McGroarty to get the package to Portlaoise Garda Station where he had already made arrangements for someone to take it to Dublin : McGroarty handed the package to Detective Frank Duggan , emphasising that he get O'Grady's severed fingers to Portlaoise as quickly as possible . The package reached Detective Superintendent Murphy at 2.00 AM ; only then , three hours after they came into the possession of the gardai , were the fingers put on ice , before being rushed to Jervis Street Hospital , Dublin .

16. PAINKILLERS AND BEER .
Wednesday , November 4, 1987 , was the gloomiest of the twenty-three days of the kidnap for the gardai , the O'Grady family and John O'Grady himself ; he had awoke around 8.30AM - after breakfast , he took more painkillers , removed the dressings and washed his fingers in a basin of lukewarm water . There was a large clot on what remained of the little finger on his right hand , which he snipped with a scissors . Eddie Hogan helped apply a second tourniquet to the finger stump on that hand . In the afternoon he noticed the clot on the finger had worsened and decided he would have to remove this clot to stop the flow of blood . Immediately there was a spurt of arterial blood , which he managed to stop by using pressure with a linen dressing in his left hand .

He realised that the finger would have to be cauterised again , otherwise he might bleed to death . Dessie O'Hare was not in the house , so he called for Eddie Hogan and told him what had to be done . They went into the kitchen . On this occasion John O'Grady and gang members worked in tandem - there was no need to tie his legs together . He was put sitting in a chair and gagged ; one of the gang held his right arm which was put on the table , another man held his left arm . O'Grady wrapped his feet around the chair . Eddie Hogan cauterised the wound five or six times with a red-hot knife : the flow from the artery was checked and blood loss reduced to a trickle . O'Grady was retured to the alcove under the stairs , and Hogan gave him more painkillers and two bottles of beer to wash them down with . O'Grady then fell asleep .......

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Wednesday, October 12, 2005

FIANNA FAIL AND THE IRA CONNECTION .......
By Breasal O Caollai .
First published in ' New Hibernia ' Magazine , December 1986/January 1987 .

On the weekend of January 10th/11th 1970 the Sinn Fein Ard Fheis was held ; the structural proposals were carried but the non-participation in parliament policy remained on the books .

But then Denis Cassin , a leading Civil Rights activist and IRA man , stood up to propose a vote of confidence in the Army Council of the IRA . This was routine procedure . Cassin was armed at the time and , before he could propose the vote of confidence another armed delegate , Sean MacStiofain , was up proposing a vote of confidence in the Provisional Army Council : on the following morning the Dublin journalist instrumental in making the contact between the Belfast IRA and Fianna Fail announced the split in banner headlines .

The simmering split was complete ; the Dublin Government's monies which were going North were now directed only to the Provisionals . 'The Voice Of The North' newspaper continued in existence until the end of 1970 . The rest is already public knowledge - the ministerial sackings , the eventual Arms Trial , the inquiry by the Committee of Public Accounts into the £100,000 and the continuing power struggles in Fianna Fail .

[END of ' FIANNA FAIL AND THE IRA CONNECTION' .]
(Tomorrow - ' UDR'S ROTTEN APPLES' - from 1984 .)


ELECTION INTERVENTIONS.......
Despite the fact that SINN FEIN has been contesting local elections in the 26 counties for more than two decades , much comment has been passed and incorrectly interpreted about Republican involvement in elections - north and south of the British-imposed border - in the past several months .
Here we review Republican interventions in the electoral process for the past century and more .
From 'IRIS' magazine , Volume 1 , Number 2 , November 1981 .

In 1878 Charles Stewart Parnell was re-elected , with Fenian help and against the wishes of Isaac Butt , as President of the Home Rule Confederation of Great Britain . At this point John Devoy offered Parnell the 'New Departure' package and the support of American (Irish) nationalists on the following conditions -

1. Abandonment of the federal demand and substitution of a general declaration in favour of self government .
2. Vigorous agitation of the land question on the basis of a peasant proprietory , while accepting concessions tending to abolish arbitrary eviction .
3. Exclusion of all sectarian issues from the platform .
4. Party members to vote together on all imperial and home questions , adopt an agressive policy and energetically resist coercive legislation .
5. Advocacy of all struggling nationalities in the British Empire and elsewhere .

The Fenian John Devoy further publicly suggested that a majority of members of (the British) Parliament , secured by such an alliance , should eventually meet as an Irish legislative " ...making that declaration a signal for a war of independence (if the country) were otherwise ready .. " . In relation to the land question he advocated involvement in the Land League , started in Connaught in 1879 by Michael Davitt and a handful of Fenian allies and poor tenants .

While deeply involved in land agitation , this section of the Fenians also felt that the land question was "...the material for victory.. " in the sense that James Fintan Lalor had first advocated .......

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23 DAYS IN HELL : THE STORY OF THE O'GRADY KIDNAPPING .......
The Gardai had in their possession a clue which could have led them to the O'Grady kidnappers and their captive some ten days earlier .
A card found in a rucksack after the Midleton shoot-out led them directly to the gang once they checked it out - but this was ten days later , by which time John O 'Grady had lost two of his fingers .
First published in 'MAGILL' Magazine , May 1988 .
By Michael O'Higgins .

Solicitor Hilary Prentice gave Dessie O'Hare an aircell telephone number where he could speak directly to Dr. Austin Darragh : O'Hare wanted to know if there was a tap on the aircell number . Prentice said she did'nt know , to which O'Hare replied - " They must be very naive . Tell them to wake up . Tell them to contact the 'Security Risk' crowd . " He then hung up , only to ring back immediately to make more threats . Prentice emphasised that the family wanted to co-operate . O'Hare told her that the fingers were in the mortuary chapel in Carlow Cathedral .

The O'Grady family were to put the note in Limerick and the note in Carlow together and that would instruct them how and when to pay the ransom . Inside the envelope in Carlow there were three envelopes - one containing the fingers of John O'Grady , another containing photographs of John O'Grady showing his fingers severed , and the third containing a note . O'Hare rang Prentice : " Now , if they have'nt got the ransom I don't know what I wil do . I'll chop this fucking bastard up . I'm reaching the end of my tether . Don't forget to go to Kilkenny to get the other message , " he repeated - she would need both messages . O'Hare then hung up the phone .

Hilary Prentice was more nonplussed than ever : where did Kilkenny come in ? Immediately the phone rang again - it was Dessie O'Hare ; when he said Kilkenny he really meant Limerick . Prentice updated the O'Grady family on the latest developments - the gardai were also informed . Detective Chief Superintendent Murphy of the Central Detective Unit in Harcourt Square contacted Superintendent John McGroarty in Carlow Garda Station to ask him to organise a search of Carlow Cathedral . Murphy's record of the call is that he made it at 8.45 PM . McGroarty asked Detective Frank Duggan to locate Rev. Tom Dillon , the keyholder , on the basis of a phone call he received at 10.15 PM .

At 11 PM McGroarty and Duggan were let into the cathedral by Rev. Dillon ; they found the note . McGroarty returned to the station and telephoned Detective Superintendent John Murphy in Harcourt Square . Murphy told him to open the package ; wrapped in blood-stained tissue were John O'Gradys fingers . Also in the package were the photographs and note referred to earlier by Dessie O'Hare in his conversation with Hilary Prentice .......

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Tuesday, October 11, 2005

FIANNA FAIL AND THE IRA CONNECTION .......
By Breasal O Caollai .
First published in ' New Hibernia ' Magazine , December 1986/January 1987 .

In December 1969 , the General Army Convention of the IRA was held at an old mansion-type house at Knockvicar , Boyle , County Roscommon ; this special convention was held to decide on the findings of an 'Internal Commission' which had been inquiring into the structure of the Republican Movement . Participation in parliament was also on the agenda .

Belfast was not represented at the convention because of the agreement with the 'dissidents' and the unique situation there . One delegate complained that other delegates were not collected at their pick-up points and blamed it on a move against those opposed to the proposed changes in electoral strategy .

The vote in favour of taking seats in parliament was carried by a very large majority (more than 3 to 1) and the IRA Chief Intelligence Officer up to then , Sean MacStiofain , declared that this was " ...the end of the IRA .. " : after the convention - nobody walks out of such gatherings- Ruairi O Bradaigh , Daithi O Conaill , Sean MacStiofain , John Joe McGirl and others met at O'Bradaigh's mother's house on the Battery Road , Longford .

On December 29th , 1969 , the first statement from the Provisional Army Council and signed in the name of 'P O' Neill' was published : it warned of the dangers to the abstentionist policy at the coming Sinn Fein Ard Fheis . On the weekend of January 10th/11th 1970 the Sinn Fein Ard Fheis was held .......

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ELECTION INTERVENTIONS.......
Despite the fact that SINN FEIN has been contesting local elections in the 26 counties for more than two decades , much comment has been passed and incorrectly interpreted about Republican involvement in elections - north and south of the British-imposed border - in the past several months .
Here we review Republican interventions in the electoral process for the past century and more .
From 'IRIS' magazine , Volume 1 , Number 2 , November 1981 .

In 1875 , Joseph Biggar , at that time a member of the IRB , which he joined while MP for County Cavan , initiated a policy of obstruction in the British House of Parliament . While this policy , aimed at delaying and frustrating the British Government from passing Irish coercion acts , outraged Isaac Butt , it was regarded with approval by even the most militant varities of Nationalist opinion , including some prominent Fenians .

Having said that , however , it should also be stressed that many Fenians , especially Kickam and O'Leary , remained totally opposed to any form of constitutionalism and the development of the IRB's attitude to the constitutionalists was an uneasy process , leading almost to the destruction of the IRB itself .

In 1877 , Joseph Biggar was joined by Charles Stewart Parnell and other Irish MP's and the policy of obstruction and filibustering undertaken by them increased their standing among militant nationalists , especially the Clann na Gael (the IRB's American ) leadership . At the same time , John Devoy was finding the relative absence of publicly expressed opposition to British rule in Ireland an impediment to enlisting foreign support for the Republican cause . The Clann na Gael leadership were already sold on the idea of an alliance of sorts with C. S. Parnell in which they hoped he would espouse separatism .

Discussions between Parnell and individual Fenians , like J.J. O' Kelly and Dr. William O'Connor , led them to believe that Parnell was committed to the principle of absolute independence , something to which he was not in fact disposed .......

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23 DAYS IN HELL : THE STORY OF THE O'GRADY KIDNAPPING .......
The Gardai had in their possession a clue which could have led them to the O'Grady kidnappers and their captive some ten days earlier .
A card found in a rucksack after the Midleton shoot-out led them directly to the gang once they checked it out - but this was ten days later , by which time John O 'Grady had lost two of his fingers .
First published in 'MAGILL' Magazine , May 1988 .

Ampliclox antibiotics , Ponstan pain killers and k50 sedatives were administered to John O'Grady , who had just had two of his fingers cut off . Tony McNeill , one of the kidnap gang , had been upstairs in the house when that happened ; he came in to the room with a basin of hot water and dressings - " Jesus Christ , Jesus Christ ... " he repeated , and left . It fell to Eddie Hogan to apply the dressings , which proved inadequate . O'Grady instructed the gang to cut up a linen sheet and boil it for one hour to sterilise it , and told them to boil a scissors in the same way .

Under O'Grady's guidance , Hogan re-dressed both hands and applied a tourniquet to both fingers ; O'Grady then fell asleep holding his hands up to stop the bleeding .

15. "THERE'S TWO FINGERS LYING IN CARLOW CATHEDRAL ... "
Dessie O'Hare , meanwhile , had left Carnlough Road and was back on the telephone to Hilary Prentice ; he wanted her home telephone number so that he could ring her later to tell her where John O'Grady's fingers could be picked up . During that call it was clear to Prentice that O'Hare's temper had not improved . She began telling him that 'Auntie Bettie' had searched the area around the statue carefully - " It's just cost John two of his fingers . Now I am going to chop him up into bits and pieces and send you fresh lumps of him every fucking day if I don't get my money fast . " He told Prentice to send someone back to the cathedral and "...smash up the fucking statue if necessary .. " to get the note .

Dessie O'Hare rang Hilary Prentice at home that evening ; she told him that she had been in contact with the O'Grady family and they were anxious to co-operate - " Well they would want to now , because there's two fingers lying in Carlow Cathedral .." , replied O'Hare .......

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Monday, October 10, 2005

FIANNA FAIL AND THE IRA CONNECTION .......
By Breasal O Caollai .
First published in ' New Hibernia ' Magazine , December 1986/January 1987 .

Cathal Goulding , in an attempt to rally his troops , called a meeting of all key IRA men in the country ; the meeting was held in the gymnasium beneath Billy Wright's barber shop in Parkgate Street , Dublin . It was not a decision-making body - just the IRA Chief of Staff and his Council informing the key men in the organisation what was happening around them .

The Fianna Fail proposals were outlined , the situation in Belfast explained , and it was made clear that the IRA Army Council was against accepting the Fianna Fail offer - that offer was guns and money in return for a cessation of activities south of the border and the dropping of socialist policies everywhere . Daithi O Connell ( 'Mr Barry' was his IRA code name) was very vocal at the meeting and was obviously upset with the leadership .

Ruairi O Bradaigh (IRA code name 'Oliver' ) also expressed dis-satisfaction with the arms situation but he remained quite restrained . Sean MacStiofain explained his role in August (1969) when it appeared he had disobeyed the order for a withdrawal - he had not received the order to withdraw in time . The IRA Army Council intention was to 'flush out' the 'dissidents' in the ranks , but only Daithi O Conaill was in any way drawn .

Meanwhile , (FS) Taoiseach Jack Lynch commenced expressing views in conflict with his Government's sub-committee ; on September 27th , 1969 , speaking in Tralee , County Kerry , Mr. Lynch stated that the Dublin government had no intention of using force to end partition . In October 1969 Neil Blaney , speaking at celebrations for his 21st year in Leinster House , said - " The Fianna Fail party has never taken a decision to rule out the use of force if the circumstances in the Six Counties so demand ....... " ('1169...' Comment - Republicans would consider Westminster's claim of jurisdiction , and its use of force to maintain that claim , as 'circumstances so demanding' .) .......

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ELECTION INTERVENTIONS.......
Despite the fact that SINN FEIN has been contesting local elections in the 26 counties for more than two decades , much comment has been passed and incorrectly interpreted about Republican involvement in elections - north and south of the British-imposed border - in the past several months .
Here we review Republican interventions in the electoral process for the past century and more .
From 'IRIS' magazine , Volume 1 , Number 2 , November 1981 .

Fenianism was the first Irish political movement to channel the energies of agricultural labourers and small farmers - hitherto expressed through 'ribbonism' and faction fighting - into the national organisation ; by involvement in agrarion agitation and by a process of linking local 'discontents' with the national question , the Fenians fostered and developed a sense of national political consciousness .

While their recourse to physical force came to little in the ill-fated and badly planned 'insurrection' of 1867 , the IRB served as a school for sedition for the next generation .

All this lies outside the scope of this article but , in passing , it is worth mentioning James Connolly's view of this period , when he observed that "...a close study of the events of that time would immensely benefit the militant socialists of all countries . It would help to demonstrate how the union of the forces of social discontent with the forces of political agitation converted the latter from a sterile Parliamentarian impotent for good into a virile force transforming the whole social system and bringing a political revolution within the grasp of the agitators . "

The failure of the insurrection in 1867 and recriminations between the Irish and Irish American leaderships left the IRB considerably weakened ; many of its members had become involved in the Home Rule Movement of the 1870's which was led by Isaac Butt , who supported a system of Home Rule within a federal framework . He enjoyed the sympathy of many Fenians because of his efforts to secure amnesty for Fenian political prisoners . Following the election of 1874 , with the backing of a parliamentary party of about sixty members , Isaac Butt embarked upon a policy of convincing , by reason and debate , the British Government of the desirability of conceding Home Rule to Ireland based on a federal solution .......

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23 DAYS IN HELL : THE STORY OF THE O'GRADY KIDNAPPING .......
The Gardai had in their possession a clue which could have led them to the O'Grady kidnappers and their captive some ten days earlier .
A card found in a rucksack after the Midleton shoot-out led them directly to the gang once they checked it out - but this was ten days later , by which time John O 'Grady had lost two of his fingers .
First published in 'MAGILL' Magazine , May 1988 .
By Michael O'Higgins .

The hotel to be used as a contact point was closed and the ransom note had not been found ; Dessis O' Hare lost the cool - he told solicitor Hilary Prentice - " I am going to fucking chop his fingers off . How many fucking cathedrals in Limerick are there ? " There was more conversation between O'Hare and Prentice in which the latter assured him that his instructions had been followed . In the middle of the conversation O'Hare said " Fuck this " and hung up the phone .

O'Hare then returned to 260 Carnlough Road : he turned on Eddie Hogan whom he blamed for the mix-up over the Blarney Hotel and a swearing match ensued . Next O'Hare put on a balaclava and went to talk to John O'Grady under the stairs . He dictated a new note to O'Grady , instructing the courier to go to the Silver Springs Hotel in Cork with the money , car and telephone . O'Hare returned a few minutes later - he put two pillow cases over John O'Grady's head , and led him down to the kitchen , where his legs were tied together .

He was gagged and his head was covered again , with another two pillow cases . His left hand was splayed out and a bread board inserted underneath his hand . His small finger was then hacked off with a hammer and chisel by Dessie O'Hare . The finger was then cauterised three times with a hot knife to stop the blood flowing . O'Hare then did the same to the little finger on O'Grady's right hand .

The pillow cases were removed and the blacked-out glasses were put on O'Grady ; O'Hare then took three photographs of John O'Grady using the polaroid camera . He told O'Grady to " ... think of the seasons , think of Spring .. " and to keep his hands up beside his ears . The blood was trickling down his sleeves .......

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