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.

Ernie O’ Malley’s two books are best read together : it is in ‘The Singing Flame’ that the British faces fade and are replaced by Irish counterparts and the high noon of summer darkens to the Mulcahy/Cosgrave years . Of course ‘The Singing Flame’ is partisan ; one intended by its author as support for the republican tradition – with the ‘cult’ of 1916 transformed into the ‘cult’ of 1922 , where the Four Courts of Dublin stands in place of the GPO. It is also an exciting story , full of incidents and answering some questions that had been posed for half a century ; relating his Civil War days as Assistant Chief of Staff in Dublin where he commanded future Fianna Fail ministers like Sean Lemass and Tom Derrig, while leading a hunted existence in a city resembling Belfast of the 1970’s .

The second of the books also has clear lessons for today , containing many parallels and the same abuse and falsified arguments used against the republicans then as now . In the early days of the Civil War , Ernie O’ Malley and his IRA Company heard a priest at Mass denounce them as looters and murderers : ” The Hand of God was against us .. ” , according to the priest , he said . His officers wanted to walk out , but he motioned them to remain . ” If we were going to be insulted when we could not hit back , we might as well be dignified . It was good to get out in the fresh air again . ”

He could have accepted power and privilege under the Free State but he remained faithful to the Republic and rejected both the 1921 Treaty and de Valera’s alternative Document No. 2. He told a Free State general , J.J. ‘Ginger’ O’ Connell, at the time of the Treaty debates – ” You’ll have to fight in our area if you are false to your oath . That’s where you’ll meet with immediate and terrible war. “ The irony was pointed : Lloyd George had threatened an “immediate and terrible war” if the Treaty was not accepted…….

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.

Most of the few Nationalists who joined the UDR, in an initial belief in the reality of the ‘reform’ (about 12% of the UDR in all) resigned when it soon became clear that the UDR was no more than a ‘Special Constabulary’ in khaki uniform . As a further concession to the ‘pride’ of the ‘B’ Specials , former members were allowed to keep their weapons !

One other Hunt Report ‘recommendation’ was that the RUC be disarmed : this was implemented initially but , under loyalist pressure , the RUC soon resumed its traditional role as the armed paramilitary wing of loyalism . In fact , to suppress the militant nationalist population , the British administration actually strengthened the RUC in numbers and weaponry . In the history of nationalist and republican resistance to the Orange state , this better-armed , better-trained and numerically stronger RUC paramilitary force played a central and conscious role in the attempted repression of that struggle .

Their ‘contribution’ in particular to the post-internment H-Block/Armagh ‘conveyor belt’ , through the use of RUC-trained interrogators in Castlereagh and other torture centres across the North was a major factor in the torture , by physical or psychological methods , of the estimated 20,000 nationalists who have passed through these centres since the ending of political status in 1976 . Over 80% of those subsequently convicted by non-jury Diplock courts were jailed solely on the basis of ‘confessions’ obtained while under interrogation in those centres . The RUC’s immunity from criticism in employing these methods is well illustrated by the Rafferty Case…….

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.

The British Army Land Rover which was under fire was carrying Rifleman Daniel Holland , Rifleman Mark Mullen , a corporal from the Coldstream Guards (who were taking over from 2 RGJ) and an RAF sergeant . The driver , Corporal Lindfield , realising that his vehicle had been hit , accelerated out of the killing zone as fast as he could . He drove across the Springfield Road , into a side-street , where he stopped .

British Army Rifleman Daniel Holland had received gunshot wounds in the head and was unconscious : the RAF sergeant had also been shot in the head and was bleeding badly , although he was still conscious . The Coldstream Guards corporal had been hit in the head by a ricochet but was able to look after the other wounded men . The driver , Corporal Lindfield , rushed back across the Springfield Road with Rifleman Mark Mullen to where the other British Army Land Rover was standing in the killing zone . The driver of that other vehicle , Lieutenant Corporal Darral Harwood , having seen the other Land Rover hit , had endeavoured to get himself and his crew out of the vehicle before they reached the killing zone .

Harwood had managed to fall out of the driver’s door , dropping his rifle in the process , but his companions were unable to get out so quickly . Rifleman Anthony Rapley was hit in the back of the head and died instantly ; Rifleman Malakos received gunshot wounds in the stomach , neck and jaw . Another Guardsman , who was unscathed , was in a state of shock as , by now , was Rifleman Mark Mullen who had attempted to assist Rifleman Anthony Rapley only to find that he was dead . Lieutenant Corporal Darral Harwood dragged Rapley’s body behind a car , leaving Corporal Lindfield to run under fire to the door of the house whence the shooting was coming from . By now , British Army reinforcements had arrived from the nearby Springfield Road RUC Barracks – they had heard the firing and they were able to prevent Corporal Lindfield from going any further . In the incident , Rifleman Anthony Rapley was killed
instantly , Rifleman Malakos died on the way to hospital and Rifleman Daniel Holland died on the operating-table . The RAF Sergeant recovered from his wounds…….


About 11sixtynine

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