Ernie O’Malley, pictured during his arrest in Dublin Castle in 1921 . He was using the alias ‘Bernard Stewart’ .
Following the recent publication of O’Malley’s third book ‘Raids And Rallies’, on the Tan War years 1920-1921 , Frances-Mary Blake , who edited the book and his earlier works , writes an appreciation of the man who wrote ‘On Another Man’s Wound’ and ‘The Singing Flame’.
From ‘IRIS’ magazine , July 1983.

On August 10th and 11th , 1924 , the remaining original members of the pre-Civil War Irish Republican Army Executive (that is those of them who had opposed and fought against the Treaty of Surrender in 1921) , together with the co-opted members of the Executive during the Civil War (about 26 people in all) met secretly to review the past and decide policy for the future .

Ernie O’ Malley was voted on the ‘Sub-Commission Committee to the Executive for Emergency Consultative Purposes’ , and it was he who proposed the motion , at this first post-Civil War general meeting of the Executive : ‘That Volunteers be instructed not to recognise Free State and Six County Courts when charged with any authorised acts committed during the War or for any political acts committed since , nor can they employ legal defence except charged with an act liable to the death penalty.’ This motion was passed unanimously , and that refusal to recognise those courts in one way or another lasted until the 1970’s .

An important theme of his books is the treatment of republican prisoners , who were even then denied prisoner-of-war status : a concern for all IRA men unaccepted as political prisoners or prisoners-of-war , and all his life he supported their lonely cause . He himself had taken part in the mass hunger-strike of October/November 1923, although medically exempted and suffering intense pain from old wounds and bed sores , for the length of its 41 days and being one of the four in Kilmainham Jail who had wanted to continue…….

AN OUTLINE HISTORY OF THE RUC . RUC brutality , torture , murder and lies were brushed aside as the unionist establishment congratulated itself for the continuing existence of a paramilitary force which had maintained and safe-guarded its rule in the Occupied Six Counties of Ireland…….
From ‘IRIS’ magazine , July/August 1982.

There were no newspaper editorials recalling the hideous murder of trade union activist Brian Maguire at the hands of his RUC interrogators in Castlereagh in 1978 . Or the ‘disappearance’ of Jackie McMahon on January 18th , 1978 , after his arrest by the RUC , and the finding of his drowned body in the River Lagan months later .

The columns of ‘The Belfast Telegraph’ newspaper were empty of condemnations of the RUC killers of young Julie Livingstone in May 1981 , and of those other nationalists murdered by the plastic bullet weapon which British rulers have equipped their RUC ‘peace-keepers’ with . And the local councils omitted to mention the torture centres such as Castlereagh and Gough barracks, or the Bennett Report, or the Amnesty International Report, or the European Court of Human Rights condemnation of torture techniques in 1971. The ‘conveyor belt’ from the nationalist ghettos to the H-Blocks and Armagh, in which the RUC play an integral role with their trade in torture , blackmail and perjury , was totally ignored…….

British Lieutenant-Colonel Michael Dewar of the Royal Green Jackets has served in Cyprus , Borneo and Malaya , as well as in the Occupied Six Irish Counties . He has written three previous books – ‘Internal Security Weapons And Equipment Of The World’ and ‘Brushfire Wars’ . The extracts reproduced here are from ‘The British Army In Northern Ireland’ , which was published by ‘Arms and Armour Press’ in 1985 . The underlined comments in this article are ours . This article reflects the operational thinking of a British military commander , more so than his political or ideological outlook.
From ‘IRIS’ magazine , October 1987.

As soon as the British Army Staff Sergeant’s report reached his Battalion HQ , four British soldiers were ‘scrambled’ in a Scout helicopter , and the Company Commander of the Patrol Company was also sent , in a Gazelle helicopter – another eight British soldiers under a Platoon Commander were bundled into a large Puma helicopter . The Company Commander issued orders on the radio as the British force flew into the operational area .

On arrival in the twilight at about 10.15pm , the Company Commander remained airborne to direct the action from the Gazelle helicopter – he ordered the Scout ‘copter to land behind a knoll just north of the road , about 400 metres east of the bungalow at ‘C’ and close to the building from the east to block off the gunmen’s escape northwards and eastwards . When the Puma arrived it was told to land southwest of the house near House ‘D’ , to prevent escape to the south and to ‘deal’ with the gunmen . As the British soldiers from the Puma moved in , all the escape routes from House ‘C’ were covered by fire from the British Observation Post patrol on the hillside and the two helicopter forces without endangering one another’s safety .

Meanwhile , the IRA Volunteers had barricaded the door of the bungalow and closed the curtains : one of them , John Quinn, got in touch with the RUC on the telephone offering to surrender to them in preference to the British Army . By that time , the British soldiers from the Puma helicopter had surrounded the bungalow and its commander was shouting for those inside to surrender . They refused . A junior British Army officer , not knowing if the IRA Volunteers were holding the inhabitants of the cottage hostage , crept up to a window , smashed the glass with the butt of his rifle , fired three or four rounds up through the roof and called for those inside to surrender . John Quinn and Raymond McCreesh came out without their weapons…….

About 11sixtynine

A mother of three (and a Granny!) and a political activist , living in Dublin , Ireland.
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