Peadar O'Donnell ; first published in January 1963.
To make matters harder for himself, when he was brought before the court he refused to plead. He was held at Loughrea until late in the evening while ecclesiastics in authority over him and priests devoted to him stormed at him and pleaded with him - in refusing to recognise the court , it followed that he could not be remanded on bail. He left the State no option but to imprison him and was lodged that night in Galway Jail. I went on to Galway where I saw his sister, Agnes , and his brother, Joe , and they were anxious that having taken this stand Father John should be let follow his own course, the good, sturdy folk. "Father John is a man who always has to stand well with himself" , Joe told me.
Father John was not sent forward to the Central Criminal Court but remanded for trial before a jury in Galway , and we had little anxiety about the verdict. The worry was how to get him out of the difficulty that followed from his refusal to recognise the court - we were afraid he might be silenced if he persisted in it , but Father John himself had no worry. He spent in all about six weeks in Galway jail and he certainly made his presence felt in it , and his concern for people in trouble made him 'big brother' to all the prisoners. He was laughter in the grey of their misery , and everybody was courteous to him and he wandered around pretty much at will.
One day he spotted a newcomer, a tinker, one of the Wards from Ballinasloe. Father John knew the people of the roads and the people of the roads knew Father John well. He called the prisoners and the warders to halt as they marched past him, and with such sharp authority that he got almost a barrack-square response. All the ex-soldiers among them rapped the cobbles and , said the one among the prisoners who told the story to me, "any old farmer that had a foot in the air , froze it in the air." Father John addressed the tinker - "Macaward, Bard to the O'Donnells, it is an evil day for Ireland when I see thee thus. But be of good heart, Brother, for when we achieve our independent Republic , Peadar O'Donnell will restore to you your tribal lands in Tirconail and your great herds of kine, and you will have your flowing robes..." , and he went on to describe the brave world that awaited the tinker. When he paused for breath, Macaward spoke urgently : "For the love of God, Father John, slip me a chew of tobacco......" (MORE LATER).
THE ANATOMY OF AN AFTERNOON : THE STORY OF THE GIBRALTAR KILLINGS........
Michael O'Higgins and John Waters. From 'Magill Magazine' , October 1988.
Soldiers 'C' and 'D' , having identified the three from Trafalgar Cemetery just before 3pm, had moved northwards back down Main Street, through the Landport Tunnel, down Winston Churchill Avenue and had reached the sundial roundabout , less than five minutes' walk from the airport when they heard on the radio that the three suspects had been seen moving back towards the assembly area where the car was parked. They were instructed to turn back and head up Smith Dorrien Avenue towards the Mobil petrol station on Line Wall Road , about mid-way between the airport and the assembly area.
The IRA threesome were being tailed along Line Wall Road by a number of surveillance officers, including Officer 'H' , who noted that after Seán Savage split from the others to go to the tourist office, he did not immediately rejoin them but walked some distance behind. Officer 'H' said in court that he recognised this as a counter-surveillance measure. Seán Savage had bought a newspaper and was using it to enable him to look discreetly around him. Officer 'H' adjudged all three to be "extremely alert and sensitive" and when Seán Savage again caught up with the others , they all relaxed somewhat. Officer 'H' , following the three from about thirty metres, met up with Soldiers 'C' and 'D' who had been waiting behind the Mobil petrol station. He identified the three to Soldiers 'C' and 'D' who began following also.
Soldiers 'A' and 'B' , meanwhile, had passed through Casemates Square and the Landport Tunnel where they had met up with Officer 'J' , one of two female surveillance officers who would give evidence to the inquest. They emerged from the tunnel together and passed through Kings Lines towards Corral Road which runs into Winston Churchill Avenue at the junction with Smith Dorrien Avenue. (MORE LATER).
BLOODY SUNDAY PICKET , DUBLIN , SATURDAY 25TH JANUARY 2014.
After a peaceful Civil Rights march on January 30 , 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 25th 2014 , a picket to mark the 42th Anniversary of that massacre will be held at the GPO in Dublin , at 12 Noon and, on Sunday 2nd February next, a Bloody Sunday march will be held in Derry, and those attending are asked to assemble at the Creggan shops at 2.30pm.
ONE MAN'S CORRUPTION IS ANOTHER MAN'S CRONYISM.
Our 'RA Extortion' post last week was in reference to corruption and cronyism in political circles and just how perverse such occurrences are can be gauged by how quickly and often they filter down to what has always been the level below those particular political circles - that of the business word. One depends on the other : politicians need finance from big business to secure election and to maintain their political positions and , in turn, in order to stay 'big' (competitive), business needs political backing. Nothing new there, as we are all aware.
However, just how far and fast that cronyism seeps across from one part of the Establishment to another may occasionally be hinted at in the 'mainstream media' but, to a certain and usually lesser extent, that media outlet itself can and has been compromised by its connections, in one form or another, to those that operate further up that particular greasy pole - career politicians and the party they have aligned themselves with and the other side of that same coin, big business interests. But those of us that know where to look for it can find practically endless accounts of that corruption and cronyism (here and here, for example) and, obviously, if we can find it, the political and business classes can, too. But because of their own insatiable moral greed, they not only choose not to but they refuse to use their position in society to even properly highlight those injustices. As always, the 'Top Tier' will close ranks to protect their own interests and resources and so it will remain until the opportunity to do so is no longer an option for them. And this policy would do just that - it's an opportunity for us, and an opportunity-remover for them.
AN (UNUSUALLY) SUBDUED 'GAME' , BUT RSF ROMP HOME....!
We had the usual complement of workers at the monthly raffle on Sunday 12th January last , we were in the usual venue and we were looked after by the same staff as usual - but the 'punters/clients' were different and, to this 'non-sporter', that difference was notable. Remarkable, even, and I was assured before the raffle that the difference would be notable, but I really didn't believe it would be as extreme as it was.
The sporting fixture that day was a rugby match between an Irish (Leinster) team and a French side , Castres Olympique which, incidentally , the Irish team won , by seven points, I'm told. The monthly raffles always seem to coincide with a soccer fixture (by accident, not design) and maybe there was a soccer match that day but the hotel was jam-packed with rugby supporters , at least ninty per-cent of whom were Irish - but the atmosphere was not the same ; it was, as I said above, more 'restrained' than usual although, having said that, when Julie, one of the lounge girls, pulled the first prize for us , the winner - a Wicklow man , Niall Ó C (ticket 362) - metamorphosed, briefly, into a soccer supporter but restrained himself quickly after the initial shock of winning €200 but, in fairness, he did buy the raffle team a round of drinks which , briefly, in turn, shocked us! And we got him to pull the second prize , €100, with no problem and the winner , a lovely lady from Dublin , Eva G, who had bought ticket 225 from our Gavin, politely made her way to the raffle table , presented her ticket stub and, after it was verified, smiled and winked at us in delight.
Eva then pulled the third prize for us , and the winner - a young man from Tallaght, Dublin , Brian H (ticket 601) was thrilled to win €40 and told us repeatedly that he had never won anything in a raffle before , to which we replied , in broken French accents, that he should remember how good it feels as it may temper his feelings of rejection later on when the French win the game! That was nasty of us, and poor Brian walked back to his pals, looking over his shoulder at us , not altogether sure if we were serious or not!
Our fourth winner , Declan , from Mullingar in County Westmeath (ticket 355, €20) was a very happy little man , who wasn't all that interested in the rugby game but was brought out for the day by two of his rugby-mad sons whom he described as 'good lads but they have a fondness for odd-shaped balls....' and, with an introduction like that, we couldn't help but to ask him to sit with us and tell us more! And we jobbed him , in between the jibes, to pull prize number five (€20, ticket 310) which Wicklow-born Patricia B won, and claimed, seemingly glad to get away from her hubbie, who was roaring at the screen with most of the others and who hadn't noticed her absence which, she told us, means he won't notice that she's a few bob richer! Patricia pulled our sixth prize , €20, which was won on ticket number 241 by a young local lass, Caitlyn D , who had bought it from our Gavin earlier on that day and asked where he was so as she could buy him a drink. She was, we think, a bit disappointed when we told her that Gav was up at the bar with Eva G and she didn't know what to make of it when Declan offered to take her up on the offer! We told him to behave himself and stop trying to 'score'!
Prize number seven ,€20, the second-last prize for this raffle, was won with ticket 218 by D. Felton, who seemed to be genuinely amazed that he had won anything , thanked us , remarked on how well presented his prize envelope , and the raffle itself, was , opened it carefully in front of us (he wanted to keep the empty envelope as a keepsake!) , gave us a tenner and asked that we put him in for five tickets for the next raffle, which we were glad to do. He pulled out the last prize for us and by coincidence one of his friends, Willie L. who had also bought his ticket from one of our local sellers, Paul, won €20 on number 001. A near look-a-like for James Bond, we told him....!
But anyway - whatever the game , the team or the outcome , RSF won the day and took home the 'trophy' - but I hope the February raffle clashes with loads of soccer matches. The craic is better!
Thanks for reading, Sharon.