FIANNA FAIL AND THE IRA CONNECTION …….
By Breasal O Caollai .
First published in ‘ New Hibernia ‘ Magazine , December 1986/January 1987 .
Due to the booklet and his personal friendship with Seamus Brady (FS Government employee) , Hugh Kennedy ( Bord Bainne rep in Belfast) was elected Public Relations Officer of the ‘Central Citizens Defence Committee’ (CCDC) , whose Chairperson was the well known IRA activist Jim O’Suillivan ; a staunch supporter of the Cathal Goulding leadership .
In Dungannon , County Tyrone , a jointly-written booklet by Seamus Brady and local Civil Rights activist Aidan Corrigan was produced , entitled – ‘ Eye Witness in Northern Ireland’ ; this too was financed by the Dublin Government Information Bureau and was printed – 5,000 copies – at the Cityview Press in Dublin despite its imprint stating – ‘ Published and printed in the Province of Ulster ‘ . The booklet was launched at a press conference in Dublin’s Jury’s Hotel on October 5th , 1969 . Seamus Brady arranged the press conference .
Brady resigned suddenly from the (FS) Government’s Propaganda Squad on September 21st to become a full time activist on a weekly newspaper and a mobile radio station beamed on the North ; the success of illegal stations in the Bogside and Belfast had upset the Dublin Government because of their left wing attacks on them . Seamus Brady set up the weekly ‘Voice Of The North’ newspaper in consulation with Charles Haughey who initially suggested the title , according to Brady . Final plans for the newspaper were taken at a meeting between Charles Haughey , Captain James Kelly , Aidan Corrigan and Seamus Brady .
Captain Kelly had already organised the distribution of the newspaper and the first edition was due off the press at the Anglo-Celt on October 12th …….
NA FIANNA EIREANN …….
Their courage and daring , their discipline and determination are an inspiration to their older comrades in Sinn Fein , the IRA and Cumann na mBan .
Each Easter the ROLL OF HONOUR is published ; a list of those who have died in the service of their country in this phase of the struggle for Irish Freedom .
Among those names are the names of eighteen young martyrs – members of NA FIANNA EIREANN . They gave their young lives at different ages (the youngest was twelve , the oldest was eighteen ) and in different ways .
From ‘IRIS’ Magazine , Volume 1 , Number 2 , November 1981 .
Na Fianna played an active part during the 1913 strike ; the great lock-out of 1913 was the first confrontation between the Irish working-class and the bosses and it saw united actions by Republicans and socialists in defence of the people . Patsy O’Connor , a Fianna Officer , was batoned savagely on the head whilst giving first-aid to an injured worker during a baton-charge by the Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) on the strikers . He died shortly afterwards .
When the Irish Volunteers (the forerunners of today’s IRA) were formed in the same year (1913) the value of the work undertaken by the Fianna became obvious ; the senior Fianna were ready and competent to train the Volunteers and accustom them to discipline . Fianna stewarded the inaugural meeting of the Volunteers and four of their members were elected to the first Executive Council of the Volunteers . The following year , 1914 , saw na Fianna Eireann taking part in the Howth gun-running and shortly afterwards organising a gun-running expedition at Kilcoole .
The history of the Easter Rising in 1916 , when the Republican forces took over the centre of Dublin , proclaimed an independent Irish Republic and held off vastly superior British Army forces for six days , is interwoven with Fianna exploits and Fianna heroes ; Fianna Officers were given command of important sections of the operations . A party of Fianna and Volunteers successfully attacked and destroyed the arms and munitions in the Magazine Fort in Dublin’s Phoenix Park , thus signalling the start of the Rising .
Fianna Officers Sean Houston , Con Colbert and Constance Markievicz were in command of the Mendicity Institution , the College of Surgeons and the Marrowbone Lane units ; members of the organisation were also engaged in fighting in other parts of the city where they carried out the dangerous work of despatch-carrying and scouting . Six members of Na Fianna Eireann were killed in the fighting and Fianna Officers Sean Houston and Con Colbert were executed by firing squad on 8th May 1916 …….
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 Detectives left Midleton Garda Station at 4.30 PM to take up their designated positions : the plan failed miserably – its success hinged on the presumption that the kidnappers were inside the container . It was fundamentally flawed . The most serious omission was the failure to set up roadblocks sealing off the area . Even if the primary aim was merely containment , it was already known the gang was armed ; if it came to a shoot-out , which was a likely possibility , road blocks were essential , not just to keep the kidnappers hemmed in but , more importantly , to keep the civilian population out .
10. COCK-UP AT MIDLETON .
For the previous three-and-a-half-days , John O’Grady had only been outside the container once , for a twenty minute exercise period . Most of the time he spent listening to the radio and reading the newspapers . At regular intervals during the day a man came and knocked on the container and gave the code-word ‘ Geronimo’ ; he would then open up the container and pass in meals . The container was locked from outside ; O’Grady’s guards were as much prisoners as himself . Eddie Hogan had returned to the container on the previous evening – that evening , Hogan and another gang member left early . Sometime during the morning O’Grady and the remaining guard heard someone outside the container ; soon afterwards , Hogan arrived and told John O’Grady to dress quickly . He again put on his blacked-out glasses and was handcuffed . They moved to a tunnel close by .
John O’Grady remained in the tunnel for an hour or so listening to the RTE Radio 2 marathon ; suddenly the headphones were grabbed off his head and he was taken out of the tunnel – the gang had spotted Garda Gerard O’Donoghue and his two colleagues examining the container and calling to the house of Mrs. O’Neill . Hogan led him by the hand across a couple of fields to a ditch beside the road . The four men crouched in the ditch eating currant cake , and Fergal Toal and Tony McNeill shared a cigarette .
Meanwhile , the three teams of detectives were moving in to take up their positions , unaware that the kidnappers and John O’Grady had vacated the container . ‘Rescue’ Team number two payed no part in what followed …….