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

I do not remember now by what happy chance I asked P.T. Daly, Secretary to the Dublin Trades Council, to have a meal with me – I was greatly impressed by him , a man of mature and advanced views, and he was not merely willing but eager to help. He was forthright and open, and did not think the Trades Council would send representatives to attend a meeting on a request from me. There was a raw lump of backward members in every union who at a shout of communism would make trouble for whoever supported my meeting , and that shout was sure to be raised.

There were a few crack-pots among the priests who haunted the Labour movement , who would make sure it was raised. Trade union officials might bemoan their helplessness, openly , to me over a coffee but they would go with the noise, knowing that another union would traffic in the noise should they make a stand against it ; the sort of thing one meets in Belfast where the curse word is ‘Fenian’ , not communist. I dared not risk a request to the Trades Council which it might refuse , as the press would pounce on the prepared speeches of those who opposed it and that report would discourage the townlands. Moore , Daly and I held a number of consultations , and Moore and I were guided by Daly in the steps we took to win even a gesture of support from the trade union movement.

Colonel Moore wrote a letter to the Secretary , asking the Trades Council to send representatives to a meeting at the Rotunda Cinema. The meeting was arranged for the night on which the executive met , and Daly brought up the letter for discussion and he influenced the members to adjourn to go on to our platform as a body, even though they took no part in the meeting beyond that gesture of good will. That is the background to an exciting moment during Colonel Moore’s address when a throng of trade union officials took their place on our platform. The country delegates who came from Donegal , Clare , Galway , Kerry and Wexford were greatly encouraged by this promise of new allies, but nothing further came of it and I soon lost hope of city reinforcements. (MORE LATER).


By Michael O’Higgins and John Waters. From ‘Magill Magazine’ , October 1988.

Detective Chief Inspector Ullger said that the regular customs and immigration officials on the Gibraltar side of the frontier had not been told to look out for the IRA members at all, as it was desirable for security reasons that as few people as possible know what was going on. It was also thought that any excessive checking of documents at the border might cause the IRA members to become suspicious. Pressed further by Mr. McGrory , Detective Ullger said – “The only way it could succeed was to allow the terrorists to come in and be dealt with the way they were.” At this point he paused momentarily before adding : “……as far as surveillance was concerned.”
Be that as it may, the official version remains that nothing untoward was noticed at the Gibraltar frontier until about 2.30pm when Mairead Farrell and Daniel McCann were identified passing through on foot. How this was done despite the fact that no pedestrians were being monitored, the inquest was not informed. ‘Officer M’ gave evidence that he was present at the frontier when the two were identified and he and other surveillance personnel immediately followed the two IRA members on foot into Gibraltar. He noticed immediately, he said, that the pair were very surveillance conscious , that Farrell was constantly looking over her shoulder and, when they were held up at the barrier at the airport to allow a plane to land, ‘Officer M’ noticed that McCann was closely scrutinising everybody in the vicinity.

Seán Savage, meanwhile , had arrived in the assembly area in the white Renault and , at approximately 12.50pm , he had driven into the second bay of the almost-full car park in the square opposite Ince’s Hall. He was observed by ‘Officer N’ , a member of the security forces involved in the surveillance operation. Despite having seen photographs of him before-hand, ‘Officer N’ did not at this point recognise Savage , but merely noted that he wore a dark jacket and gold-rimmed spectacles, that he was the only occupant of the car and that he remained in the car for two or three minutes before getting out and walking away. ‘Officer N’ noted down the number of the Renault as a matter of routine. (MORE LATER).


Framed (above) by a photographer and framed (below) by his own words…

“It is morally unjust and unfair to tax a person’s home, and by so doing grind him into the ground. Indeed in cases it could probably be unconstitutional. It reminds me of a vampire tax in that it drives a stake through the heart of home ownership, through enthusiasm and initiative, and sucks the life blood of people who want to own their own home and better their position. If the Government fail to appreciate the passion with which people will defend their rights to own their home and have it looking as well as it should, it is making a serious mistake. Residential property tax is the one issue in the budget causing great anxiety to those who come within its thresholds. It is also causing great stress to those on the verge of the thresholds who fear they will be sucked into the net next year…..” (From here.)

Mr. Kenny then proceeded to introduce a property tax. Before he backtracked on that particular issue , he had ‘given his word’ (lol!) [whilst in ‘opposition’] in relation to maintaining the benefit of medical cards for the elderly – “This government that says it will look after the old , the sick , the lonely and the vulnerable, decide in the comfort of the cabinet room to take away your right to have a (medical) card beyond the age of 70 years. I reject it. The cheek of them. Shame on them, shame on them.” (From here.) Mr. Kenny then proceeded to hammer old age pensioners in relation to their medical cards (not to mention by removing the ‘Death Grant’). Also – if you can stomach it – that last link shows Mr. Kenny’s flunky , Eamon Gilmore (Labour Party) praising those same elderly people for the part they played in securing “civil rights” for those of us who were not around at that time to fight for same ourselves. Mr. Gilmore then proceeded to assist his political boss , Enda Kenny, to trash ‘civil rights’ for the elderly.

The reason both of them and, indeed, others from within the institution they ‘work’ from , can afford to be so blatantly dishonest in relation to , amongst other things, property tax and medical cards is because they can increase their ‘expenses’ to recuperate the cost of the former and , being rich, they or their family have no need for the latter as they can ‘go private’ or get their friends to pay for treatment when the need arises. It doesn’t surprise me that these people will be so ‘economical with the truth’ in regards to any issue or subject in which there are votes to be gained but what does surprise me is that enough people apparently take them at their word and vote for them on the strength of their ‘conviction’. Pardon my language , but if those voters choose to shit on their own doorstep , walk it into their house and complain about the bad smell, so to speak, it’s a nonsense to blame the doorstep and/or the substance itself for being at fault!


Those speaking at this rally include Cait Trainor , Malachy Steenson and Cieran Perry.

The Dublin Anti-Internment Committee will be hosting an anti internment march and rally in Dublin on Saturday 9th of November 2013. The march will commence at the Central Bank plaza at 2:30 pm and will continue on to the GPO in O’Connell Street where the rally will take place. This is strictly a non party political event so only flags/banners relating directly to internment should be on view.
There will also be a function that night in the Abbey Hotel commencing at 7:30pm.


The Alouette II helicopter used by the PIRA on Wednesday October 31st 1973 to escape from the exercise yard of Mountjoy Prison in Dublin.

On this day (the last Wednesday in October) 40 years ago (1973) , at 3.41pm, the
helicopter took off from Mountjoy Prison with three leading Provos on board – Seamus Twomey , J.B. O’Hagan and Kevin Mallon . Mallon’s freedom was shortlived and he was arrested at a dance-hall in Portlaoise six weeks later : he got four years
(Marion Coyle was charged with allegedly firing at a detective at the dance-hall but she was acquitted through lack of identification).

The helicopter escape severely embarrassed the political administration in the Free State and led directly to a review of national (sic – the Leinster House Administration has not got national authority) security carried out by Justice Finlay . But if the escape was an embarrassment to that administration , it was an inspiration to the Provos and inspired another operation : on January 24 , 1974 , Rose Dugdale posed as a journalist and hired a helicopter along with two others to fly to Tory Island. Eddie Gallagher and Rose Dugdale had registered as man and wife in a hotel in Gortahork, County Donegal, prior to the operation. According to Eddie Gallagher , they first met in a ‘doss house’ in Edinburgh – they were both fascinated at how ‘dossers’ could sleep on ropes when they could not afford to pay for a flea-infested bed in the dormitory . They were very close and Dugdale later gave birth to Gallagher’s son in prison. However – the helicopter was hijacked and forced to fly to Strabane RUC Station with three milk-churn bombs aboard. The bombs failed to explode when dropped.

In March 1973, PIRA leader Joe Cahill was arrested by the Free State Navy in Waterford, aboard the Claudia, a ship from Libya loaded with five tons of weapons, and was sentenced to three years imprisonment, and another PIRA leader, Seamus Twomey, was appointed IRA Chief of Staff. In early October that year, Twomey was caught and arrested by the Free Staters and imprisoned in Mountjoy Jail, which meant that three top PIRA operatives (Twomey, J.B. O’Hagan and Kevin Mallon) were now housed in the one location – and the PIRA wanted them back!

An ‘American businessman’ , a ‘Mr. Leonard’, approached the manager of the ‘Irish Helicopters’ company at Dublin Airport and discussed hiring a helicopter for an aerial photographic shoot in County Laois and, after being shown the company’s fleet of helicopters, this ‘businessman’ booked a five-seater Alouette II helicopter for Wednesday October 31st. ‘Mr Leonard’ arrived at Irish Helicopters on the day and was introduced to the pilot of the helicopter, a Captain Thompson Boyes , who was instructed to fly to a field in Stradbally, County Laois, to pick up photographic equipment. After landing, the pilot saw two armed and masked men approaching the helicopter from nearby trees and he was held at gunpoint and told he would not be harmed if he followed instructions. ‘Mr Leonard’ left the area with one gunman, while the other gunman climbed aboard the helicopter armed with a pistol and an Armalite rifle. Captain Boyes was told to fly towards Dublin following the path of railway lines and the Royal Canal, and was ordered not to register his flight path with Air Traffic Control. As the helicopter approached Dublin, Boyes was informed of the escape plan and instructed to land in the exercise yard at Mountjoy Prison.

On this day (the last Wednesday in October 1973) , at 3.41pm in the afternoon, the Alouette II helicopter landed in the D Wing exercise yard of Mountjoy Prison in Dublin , when a football match was taking place between the prisoners, and Twomey , O’Hagan and Mallon jumped aboard , but were quickly spotted (!) by an alert Screw who used his training and power of intuition to take immediate action – he *called on the Screws at the gate to close them over as he feared the helicopter was trying to escape (* …according to the RTE ‘Scannal – Prison Break’ programme..) ! Another PIRA prisoner who was in the yard at the time recalled how an embarrassed Screw told him that he had apologised to the prison governor in relation to the incident , saying that he thought the helicopter contained a visiting (Free State) Minister for Defence (and well-known publican) [Paddy Donegan] : the PIRA prisoner replied that , in fact, “ was our Minister of Defence leaving….!”

All three men reported back to base and continued their work for the PIRA but, after a few weeks of freedom Kevin Mallon was recaptured at a GAA Dance in the Montague Hotel in Co. Laois on 10 December 1973 , J.B.O’Hagan was recaptured in Dublin in early 1975 and Seamus Twomey managed to remain uncaptured until December 2nd , 1977, after the Special Branch came across him in a ‘suspicious car’ parked in Sandycove, in Dublin.
The ‘Wolfe Tones’ ballad group released a song called ‘The Helicopter Song’ which topped the Irish Charts for 4 weeks and ‘The Wolfhounds’ also recorded the event in song and, in January 1974, a close associate of Kevin Mallon’s, Eddie Gallagher, along with Dr. Rose Dugdale, hijacked another helicopter in Donegal to bomb the RUC station in Strabane from the air but the milk-churn bombs they dropped never exploded.
There have been ‘ups and downs’ (pardon the pun!) in this long on-going struggle to achieve full Irish freedom and Irish Republicans may tend to get on a ‘high’
(!) during the ‘Up’ periods but we very seldom go on a ‘Downer’ during the ‘Down’ periods : we know from our own experiences and from our history that we will witness both such periods repeatedly but we have learned to take the good with the bad , in that an ‘up’ period does not mean that victory has been achieved no more than a ‘down’ period means that all is lost. The prize we seek is more valuable to us than that sort of short-term thinking would allow for!


Delegates at an RSF Ard Fheis voting on a resolution.

On Saturday and Sunday , 2nd and 3rd of November 2013 , Irish republicans from all 32 Counties of Ireland , from England , America and further afield will be represented in a Dublin hotel by their chosen delegates at the 109th Ard Fheis of Republican Sinn Féin Poblachtach where , over the two-day period , a total of 114 resolutions will be discussed. The organisation is to be congratulated for its unwavering commitment to the ideals of Wolfe Tone and for its refusal to be side-tracked down a Leinster House or Stormont cul-de-sac. Congratulations , RSF , and well done to all on a great job!


Tired , dejected , rejected and unwanted : the price of ‘maintaining the empire’ is too much for some of the ‘squaddies’.

A British Army-instigated ‘inquiry’ is presently under way into two cases of ‘sudden death’ at a British Army base in the Occupied Six Counties of Ireland. A pro-Brit newspaper attempted to involve Irish militants in the incidents (‘….there are fears for the welfare of isolated soldiers in a Northern Ireland (sic) Army barracks after two suspected suicides…..reports of heavy drinking and restricted movements due to dissident republican (sic) threats, have exacerbated feelings of loneliness…..’) despite the fact that the two soldiers in question had also been involved in ‘peace keeping duties’ in other countries and it could very well have been that ‘action’ which disturbed them so much. However – no doubt their comrades will afford them a fitting ‘final salute’.



This is no surprise to Irish republicans but it might shock those who consider themselves ‘politically brave’ and/or ‘rebellious’ for supporting/joining ‘the Shinners’ : ‘Lord’ Bannside (Ian Paisley Snr) no longer wants to ‘SMASH (P)SINN FÉIN’ and, indeed, has gone so far as to praise his colleague , Martin McGuinness “Well, Martin did what I wanted him to. I never had any trouble with him….” (from here.)

It would, however, be a surprise to Irish republicans if ‘lord’ Paisley were to say or think differently ; after all, he has been ‘rewarded’ with a seat in the British ‘lords’ for services rendered to the Crown in that he played his part in not only politically neutralising McGuinness but actually completely turning him from (alleged) ‘thorn in the side’ of the British in Ireland into another one of their (paid) supporters. To ‘Smash (P)Sinn Féin’ now would be like smashing a limb of the British ’empire’ , and both Paisley and McGuinness know that. The two of them should join the British Army and get stressed…..


A ‘question’ surrounds that which it is too early to mention…..!

… I’ll just link to it instead!

Thanks for reading , Sharon.

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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