By Peadar O’Donnell ; first published in January 1963.

I recited the background to the case against me to the jury ; I told them of the continuous clashes between militant Republicans and the State forces and I emphasised “militant Republicans” in hopes they would think I had the IRA in mind. I asked the jury not to take sides in those clashes as the government had no right to involve them and told them that the way for them to keep out of it all was to find me not guilty , that it should not concern them whether, in fact , I did those things charged against me , as I had done all sorts of things in this agitation.

Roused by some adventurous words carelessly spoken by me , Judge Hanna suggested I should make a statement on oath , and I leaned towards the jury and said – “I forgot he was listening to us”. I think that interruption helped me , and the foreman of the jury, an intelligent man named McGuire, was also likely a good help – I breathed easier when I saw him settle in his place in the jury box without challenge. The jury found me not guilty , but McCool and the others were still on remand in Sligo Jail. They were finally brought before the Dublin Central Criminal Court and this time the State had no trouble in getting a verdict : they were sentenced to a year’s imprisonment.

All this time I suffered considerable annoyance from the police – a ‘Public Safety Act’ gave them a free hand to arrest members of the IRA on whim and it is likely that there were specific instructions to use those powers to make things difficult for certain individuals. Many young men in Dublin went through a bad time , being arrested on their way to work and held for a couple of hours or on their way back from lunch and police would visit their place of work and endanger their jobs.

Members of general headquarters staff usually dodged arrest for their work was secret and they had a wide choice of motor-cars from friendly people , but my work was open and I was picked up almost daily , so I got into the habit of taking my work with me and I wrote articles for ‘An Phoblacht’ and chapters of a novel while in custody. Uniformed gardai and I always got on very well , and I remember once in Dungloe when my few hours’ detention was at an end and I was told I was free , I asked a guard would somebody bring me a cup of tea as I was in a great mood for work and wanted to use it up. I was writing a chapter for the book ‘Adrigoole’ and I got the tea!(MORE LATER).


Roisin McConnell claims she was abused, called “a murdering bitch” , “Satan” and “the Devil”. She claims gardai told her that her child would be taken away, that her husband was having an affair, that she would “do seven years in jail” and that she was “going to get stabbed”. A named garda told her that when this happened, he would spit on her grave, she says.

By Sandra Mara.

From ‘Magill’ Annual 2002.

Following her release, Roisin McConnell received medical care and was subsequently admitted to the psychiatric ward in Letterkenny General Hospital , where she spent almost two and a half months as a result of her ordeal, which her family says has left her “completely traumatised”.

She claims her arrest and the subsequent interrogation terrified her, and following her release from hospital she claims the harrassment continued – “In April 1997, we were in bed and at about a quarter to twelve at night a knock came to our door. Mark got up and answered the door. I could hear my husband speaking to ‘Garda A’ at the door and I heard Mark saying to him ‘We are innocent people’ “. Mark McConnell told ‘Garda A’ that his wife was just out of hospital. Roisin’s statement says : ” ‘Garda A’ said ‘Guilt put her in there’ ” and, following the departure of the garda, Roisin took her child to her mother-in-law’s house “because I was terrified to stay in my house”.

In statements seen by ‘Magill’ , Roisin McConnell says that in July of that year, ‘Garda A’ approached the McConnells and that ‘Garda A’ “came over to Mark and whispered something in his ear. He then took out his notebook and started writing in it. I asked him what he was writing and another garda said ‘He can write whatever he likes’. I said you are right, he can write whatever he likes. ‘Garda A’ then said ‘Mrs McConnell, would you like to be arrested?’ ” She said she and her husband then walked away. She claims there were other witnesses to this incident. (MORE LATER).


“When visiting Tralee on 27 February 1916 Patrick Pearse informed Austin Stack that plans had been prepared by the IRB’s military council for an insurrection, that arms were to be landed at Fenit pier on Easter Sunday/Monday, that the Tralee Volunteers were to be responsible for this operation, and that the landed arms were to be used firstly to arm the Kerry Volunteers and then to be distributed to the Clare, Cork, Galway, and Limerick Volunteers. Subsequently Stack secretly and meticulously prepared for the operation. However, unaware that the Aud was arriving three days earlier than the scheduled date (23 April), he failed to make contact with it. His carefully prepared arrangements were further upset by the unexpected arrival of Sir Roger Casement on Banna Strand on Good Friday morning and his subsequent arrest. That evening Stack, on the pretext of wishing to consult a comrade detained by the RIC, walked into the police barracks…..”(from here).

That meeting between Pearse and Stack took place 97 years ago today (27th February) to confirm arrangements for an event which, within six years of it having taken place, was to change the place of Ireland within the then dominant ‘British Empire’. And as big and powerful as that ‘Empire’ was , it still valued Ireland , if only because it viewed us a ‘back door’ into the belly of the beast : on December 3rd , 1784 , for instance, the then British Duke of Rutland was discussing this very subject with C.T. Grenville when the latter replied to a question about Ireland from the former – “Ireland is too great to be unconnected with us, and too near us to be dependant on a foreign state, and too little to be independent.” In 1798 , 1803 , 1848 ,1867 and 1916 , that ‘connection’ had been challenged , in arms, and is still being tested to this day. Irish men and women of that same calibre will assemble on Monday 1st April 2013 at the GPO in Dublin’s O’Connell Street to commemorate those men and women. Details re same will be posted here in the next week or so…..


The interests of big business – that is , how to manufacture more at less financial cost and sell it for a bigger profit margin to those who can’t afford it by paying those who sell it a wage that cannot be lived on – are just some of the anti-people issues that will be discussed at an Irish venue on Monday and Tuesday , 17th and 18th June this year. Such a meeting could be a worthy exercise were it being held to discuss world hunger , political corruption , the ‘sale’ of health and education resources to the highest bidder etc but that’s not its objective : the ‘Captains of Industry’ intend to lay the foundations for your family budget with the bottom line being how best they can financially profit from selling you the utilities you need to survive.

A group of Irish people are organising their own summit in the hope of offering a counter-balance to the above-mentioned madness and deserve to be supported in their endeavours : your support will , at the very least, signal your opposition to the continuing ‘adventures’ of the white-collared criminals that now have the upper hand. If you can’t physically support this alternative summit , please spread the message it conveys and share the link.


Invite the ‘G8’ and ignore the ‘fruits of their labour’.

This is typical of the attitude of the ‘Ruling Elite’ in this God-awful State , despite the facts being common knowledge : the victims in this instance do not picket , protest or vote and , in the main, they are not tax payers nor have they organised themselves into a body (as much good as that would do them, considering the enemy that has pitted itself against them) but they are members of this society and they deserve some dignity. And that’s part of the problem – they are hoping for a hand-up from the most undignified and unsavoury collection of characters in this State , who are divested of moral reference points , save the one relating to their own well-being. Most of us are only one or two bills away from that scenario , the exception being the career politician – and the only way he/she can continue to be ‘a class apart’ is by using their position to feather their own nest at the expense of society as a whole. But it doesn’t have to be that way…..


This remains an issue of concern for those of us who eat meat in that not only are we not sure where the meat came from but concerns have been raised as to not only if the burger/steak in the package bears any association to the label on that package but questions have been raised as to it being meat at all ?

The same concerns are apparently now beginning to surface (pardon the pun!) in relation to another popular foodstuff : fish. And, in my opinion, this sleight-of-hand (which is what it is , at the very least [if not outright fraud], meat or fish) is done for the same reason – greed. Much bigger profit margins in selling horsemeat as ‘beef’ and selling Patagonian toothfish as ‘Chilean sea bass‘. And, again in my opinion, this ‘sharp practice’ is due to human nature , and results from a moral decline in values which is tolerated by a people who appear to be in a ‘coma’. Instead of asking how they can prevent such ‘short cuts’ , most people seem to ask how they, too , can join the ‘short cutters’ in making a quick buck , regardless of any health or moral implications involved in doing so. It’s a sick symptom of a sick society.


“Are you willing to become the new Royal Irish Constabulary….?”

….a question which Irish republicans have had to put to former comrades many times (…and here) during this on-going struggle and one which is still being asked to this day : the answer received , verbally, is a weak ‘no’ but , physically, it’s a resounding ‘YES , if the price is right…’

At least one such ‘offer’ was made publicly to Irish republicans by a high-ranking Free State official , a most unpleasant and arrogant person who presumed that his ‘standing’ in his community would be enough to ‘carry the day’ – but he was not entertained and his approach was rebuffed. Others, however, appeared to have been mesmerised and flattered that the State should seemingly hold them in such high regard as to seek an audience with them and, of course, the State recognised that flaw in their political makeup and moved to take advantage of it. They allowed themselves to be directed into a political cul-de-sac , too full , by then, of their own importance to notice the withered bones underfoot of those others that had been led down that same avenue. And the financial benefits soon outweighed any remaining doubts that those ex-republicans may have had lurking in a deep recess somewhere in their hearts. Meat , fish and/or ‘fowl/foul’ : all acceptable “…if the price is right…”.

Thanks for reading,

About 11sixtynine

A mother of three (and a Granny!) and a political activist , living in Dublin , Ireland.
This entry was posted in History/Politics. and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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