By Peadar O’Donnell ; first published in January 1963.
I was eager to light a fire on Paddy Hogan’s doorstep and here certainly were the makings : if I had a campaign headquarters anywhere outside ‘An Phoblacht’ offices it was at Father John’s home at Bullaun. Working with him was a happy, exciting business , and he nominally followed the Donegal pattern, but anytime he chose to push past me nobody around him would look back over their shoulder to see whether I was coming too! The Officer Commanding of the local IRA unit was a member of Father John’s committee and he was a good, firm man , and I never had any anxiety that he would involve his local unit in any embarrassing way. They would act as neighbours would.
Father Fahy had a great gift for leadership , and even his occasional incoherence seemed to emphasize his leadership, as in the case of Big Jim. And he was a fine propagandist : he wrote a play of the land war of the 1880’s, which was performed at Loughrea. His group wrote a catechism to which I gave my imprimatur, by publishing it in ‘An Phoblacht’ –
“How did England establish a claim to the land of Ireland? By robbery. What is rent? Rent is a tribute of slavery enforced by the arms of the robber-landlord. What is a landlord? A landlord is a descendant of a land robber. Who pays rents to landlords? Only slaves. What is a bailiff? A bailiff is a land robbers assistant. What should be done with a bailiff…with a landlord…?” (MORE LATER).
THE ANATOMY OF AN AFTERNOON : THE STORY OF THE GIBRALTAR KILLINGS……..
By Michael O’Higgins and John Waters. From ‘Magill Magazine’ , October 1988.
Soldiers ‘A’ and ‘B’ had been in the vicinity of Main Street since about noon as well , and were both casually dressed and were armed with Browning 9mm pistols. ‘A’ had four magazines, each containing twelve rounds, one of which was on the weapon. The gun was on the rear of the waistband of his trousers and the magazines were in his pocket. Soldier ‘B’ had just two magazines with twelve rounds in each , and the men had a radio apiece; soldier ‘A’ s was set to the military network and soldier ‘B’ s was set to the surveillance network. Most of the information concerning developments was coming through on both networks and whatever wasn’t they were keeping each other informed of.
Soldiers ‘A’ and ‘B’ had been in a small coffee shop close to the Governor’s residence, about a hundred yards or so from the assembly area, when they had received information that two suspected members of the IRA ASU had entered the colony. They were instructed to go to the Governor’s residence and meet up with a Gibraltar police officer , they did so and went with him to a confectioner’s shop nearby where they received instructions to remain where they were.
They learned that the three suspected IRA members had met in the square where one of them had parked a car earlier in the day. Word came through about a possible arrest. In fact, both Soldiers ‘A’ and ‘B’ stated in court that they heard over the radio at this point that control had actually been passed by the police to the military , but was passed back again before they could be given instructions to move. In fact, Soldier ‘E’ , the immediate tactical commander of Soldiers ‘A – F’ would tell the inquest that control had actually been handed over to Soldier ‘F’ by Deputy Commissioner Columbo and that he, Soldier ‘E’ , had informed the soldiers of this on the military command radio net, though he had not given them orders about making the arrests. This was the time that Mr Columbo had hesitated about signing the document and the opportunity for the arrest had passed. (MORE LATER).
DECEMBER – PRISONERS MONTH.
Irish republican prisoners are especially remembered at this time of year by their comrades who still have their freedom.
Throughout the year , every year, Irish republicans remain conscious of their comrades that are incarcerated here in Ireland and abroad and various pickets , protests and fund-raisers are held for them and their families , to help ease their burden. This month , December, has always been the month in which an extra push is held to increase awareness and , hopefully , raise extra money, as it is an emotive time of year for all concerned and if financial burdens can be eased a little it is at least one obstacle that need be worried about less than usual.
Those that share our sympathies in this regard can attend a picket to be held this Saturday (14th December) in support of republican prisoners, at 2pm outside the GPO in O’Connell Street , Dublin, at which placards and banners will be provided, and/or attend the annual Cabhair Swim which , this year, is 37 years on the go! Your presence will be appreciated.
A STRONG BASE DOESN’T NECESSARILY EQUATE TO INNER STRENGTH.
A pedestal should be reserved for accepted works of art, which are themselves incapable of being adversely affected by human frailties.
As with all Irish republicans of my acquaintance , I am opposed to putting any man or woman on a pedestal , regardless of the oft-stated ‘reasons’ why that person deserves to be placed on same , and why they should be admired and paid homage to etc. This wouldn’t just be an Irish republican ‘thing’ , I believe, but is perhaps more prevalent within those circles than elsewhere , and for good reason : for more than eight centuries , we as a people have witnessed more political and military ‘stars’ that shined bright whilst we were in their company – they dazzled us , if you like – yet, as they ‘passed’ , we were positioned better to see them and had more time to examine the path they trailed. And, indeed, the path they travelled and the ‘baggage’ they carried with them.
As I write this post, the fever pitch surrounding the death of Nelson Mandela is only now beginning to fade, as the establishment media move on , en masse, to cover the funeral of their ‘icon’. That is the same media , owned either by the same people or those like them , especially so in mindset, that described Mandela (and his struggle) as ‘terrorist orientated’ (and worse) but changed their opinion when they realised that Mandela was ‘pliable’ and, as such, could be useful to them and to the business interests that owned not only the media but the country itself. They helped construct the path that he followed to his pedestal but take a look under same at the foundation : “The racial hierarchy of wealth developed since South Africa’s colonisation remains mostly undisturbed, and the wealthy elite were virtually unaffected by the end of apartheid….the biggest scandal in South Africa today is the appropriation of tens of millions of dollars in taxpayer’s money by President Jacob Zuma for the construction of his personal residence…” (from here) . Nelson Mandela was a distraction for those who wanted to be distracted into believing that ‘if he can do it, we can, too’. The poor man ended his days with chains of gold rather than iron.
WHAT NEXT? CHARGE THE VICTIM FOR THE BULLETS?
New York cops – shoot first, blame the victim afterwards…
I’m a big fan of all that New York has to offer , as regular readers will know, and any interaction I had with the police in NYC was of a cordial nature , perhaps reflecting the fact that they would have been aware that I was Irish or, at the very least , ‘just another lost/confused tourist’ , in a massive city with a population of about 8 million people which , on a ‘population density’ scale, means approximately an unbelievable 27,550 people per square mile! Which explains why the transport system is constantly under pressure , as are water and electricity supplies etc and , to a certain extent, why the cops sometimes have short fuses. But there is a huge difference between the cops being ‘a bit sharp’ with those they ‘serve’ and this, which seems to suggest that the political establishment had decided in advance to ‘close ranks’ immediately in favour of the cops, to the extent that they are prepared to place the full fault regarding the shooting on the man that was shot ie physical and legal blame . And that’s not ‘serving the community’.
“ARE YA SURE , PET…..?” says she…
“…..ABSOLUTELY , MRS K…” , says I… !
The poor Dear! What a lovely woman , even if she’s not a Dub! Couldn’t believe it , and it held up proceedings by about fifteen minutes when Freddie , the barman, pulled the first prize for us at the Cabhair raffle last Sunday (8th December 2013) : for it was indeed ‘yer wan’ that won it – Mrs Kavanagh , a Wexford woman , had the stub (number 462) and she cashed it in with us for €200 , bought us a round and hugged us for the next quarter of an hour! And what a stroke of luck for us , too – there must have been about two dozen people in her clan, all present and all of whom bought tickets from us and we were able to put them in touch with a few Cabhair colleagues in Wexford who will most definitely keep in contact with them re the next raffle , which both the ‘K Clan’ and the ‘Cabhair Clan’ were most eager to do!
And then the fun (and confusion!) really started : we got Mrs K to pull the second prize for us and out popped the ticket belonging to an auld Dub , Seánnie G , a lovely man, there with his family (and extended members!) – stub number 426 won the man €100 and a round of applause and when we got a wee break in the slagging match between the ‘K Clan’ and the auld Dub Clan , we managed to settle one of the Dubs down long enough to pull the third prize for us and Wendy F , from Lucan , in Dublin, who had bought her ticket from one of our regular sellers , Darren, won €40 on her ticket , 170, and Wendy then dipped her hand into the drum and found the winner of the fourth prize – Seánnie G , again , who pocketed €20 this time , with stub number 678, and wasn’t at all shy about letting the Wexford people know about it!
Then Waterford got in on the act : Martin K , from Dungarvan, the owner of ticket 277 , won the fifth prize (€20) and we think he thanked us but the Wexford/Dublin ‘clash’ was still on-going and it was then we discovered that people from Dublin and Waterford get on with each other better than those from Waterford and Wexford do, and that Dublin people could sometimes be lukewarm (!) with Wexford people. Or something along those lines….! Anyway : inter-county rivalries or not, we had a raffle to run so we declared ourselves neutral and asked Freddie to pull another ticket from the drum for us – Kevin , a Dub, won that prize (€20) , the 6th , on stub 097, which he had bought from our own Pat M , from Ballyfermot , in Dublin , and Kev then picked our second-last prize , €20, which our bus driver, Anto , had sold to Paul Langan , a James Bond look-a-like , who won the prize with ticket 008 (!) and no , we didn’t ask him where he was from….but he was asked to pull the last ticket for us , which he did , and Marie D (a Dub – yay!) won that €20 on ticket 392, which she had bought from one of our local sellers , Dan.
It was our last raffle for this year and all the team , and the local crew, were thanked by the Cabhair reps present and plates of sandwiches and a few drinks were brought out , courtesy of Cabhair, and more of same followed minutes later , courtesy of the hotel management and staff! And , within the hour, business had resumed and tickets and arrangements etc were distributed and made for the first Cabhair raffle in 2014. And auld Dubs and those from Dungarvan were told that they would be more than welcome!
Thanks for reading, Sharon.