ON THIS DATE 33 YEARS AGO – TWO HUNGER-STRIKERS DIE IN THE H-BLOCKS.

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


At the same time our road of approach was a cautious one – we were an unarmed organisation although we possessed arms ; the ‘cease fire dump arms’ order of 1923 was still binding on the IRA. The experience of the period of armed resistance to the Treaty of Surrender was that small bands of armed men and women waging guerilla warfare against governmental forces, however bogus the government’s mandate, moving around among friendly people held to them by nothing more than sympathy, have little chance of victory. (‘1169’ comment : the men and women that took up arms in 1916, and before them, were “a small band” and, although they didn’t achieve victory there and then, their actions guaranteed the continuation of the struggle.) It would be a different affair if the IRA came into the picture on the side of the people against the bailiff, drawing the State forces into guerilla warfare against the people – many members of the State forces would desert to the popular side.


But my experience convinced me the IRA need not enter into the campaign against land annuities, as armed men. They could bring down the usurping government merely by stiffening the rising countryside and urban struggles to create a position where Fenian Ireland could win power, in at least part of Ireland, by putting forward a panel of candidates to win a majority. I had no patience with Sinn Féin hesitations to tramp through Leinster House on the way to the Republic. (‘1169’ comment : the road to hell is paved with good intentions, and Leinster House is one of those ‘paved’ areas as far as Irish republicans are concerned.) Equally, I had no time for parliamentary agitation not linked with field work.


I think it likely that at one time the IRA leadership would have been inclined to take this road, could they have seen a line of struggle, as well sanctioned, on concrete issues on the urban front. The IRA had great support in the towns, but they did not lead the trade union movement in the way leadership in the countryside was open to them, had they moved in with my committees. I argued the weakness of our Dublin organisation again and again, urging that instead of organising by areas, units should be recruited within industries – a couple of IRA companies on the docks, a battalion within the building trade etc. Even without this, IRA influence in the trade unions and in the leadership of the unemployed would have given us enough urban strength to smother attempts to rouse urban reaction by incitement, except in Belfast. But the revolutionary strength of the Fenian forces lay in the countryside. (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.


DC Huart, who had been on duty on the Spanish side of the border during the morning, had returned to Gibraltar and and had received a call to go to Smith Dorrien Avenue at 3.40pm. He went by motorbike. He had briefly seen the three IRA members at the junction but had gone into Laguna estate and had not seen any shooting. He ran towards the Shell station and saw the two bodies on the ground and cartridges scattered all around. He borrowed blankets from people living nearby and covered the bodies.


Special Branch officers ‘P’ , ‘Q’ and ‘R’ were there also. Officer ‘P’ supervised the transportation of Soldiers ‘A’ and ‘B’ from the scene, and delegated to Inspector Revegliatte the task of searching the bodies for guns or a remote control button. The Inspector called the police station at 3.42pm asking for ambulances – it was about two minutes since he had received the call to return to the station. Senior officers then arrived and took over. Inspector Revegliatte heard that another shooting had taken place at Kings Lines and he then went there and searched the body of Seán Savage. He found nothing unusual on any of the bodies. He drew a chalk mark around Savage’s body and also marked places where spent cartridges had fallen.


Sergeant Emilio Acriss had been one of the policemen in the car with Inspector Revegliatte : he had jumped over the barrier in the middle of the road and had afterwards organised a traffic diversion. A passerby told him about another shooting and he had gone to Kings Lines where he met two men in plain clothes. They informed him that everything was under control, that they were acting on behalf of the Commissioner, and asked him to take charge. Sergeant Acriss then started to collect the cartridges as there was a lot of people about and he was afraid that they might be picked up. He noted that there were a number of shells , about nine or ten, scattered in a group about ten feet from the body. There was a second group of shells much nearer to the body, about four feet from the head. Seán Savage was lying with his feet about two feet from the tree and his head pointing towards the town.


Police Constable Clive Borrell was the driver of the patrol car which sounded its siren on Winston Churchill Avenue and which arrived on the scene of the shooting. He told the inquest that he did not hear any shots fired until after the car had driven past the petrol station. The siren, according to Sergeant Acriss’s evidence, had been alternating between the on and off positions, but the beacon remained on throughout. When they came back up Winston Churchill Avenue, PC Borrell jumped the barrier in the centre of the road and saw two bodies on the ground and then, on his own initiative, he jumped back across the barrier and drove the car back down to the junction of Smith Dorrien Avenue, using it to block off all northbound traffic. A few minutes later he drove four people out of the area – two of them were Officers ‘P’ and ‘Q’ , and Soldiers ‘A’ and ‘B’. He dropped them off at the police station and then went to the assembly area to help with the evacuation plan. (MORE LATER).



MICHEÁL MARTIN TAKES THE (WRONG) BOUNDARY COMMISSION TO TASK.

“Gerrymandering” , Mr. Martin called it : “It is the biggest attempt to manipulate election boundaries in the 35 years since Fianna Fail introduced independent Boundary Commissions….” (from here) , adding “….we saw that straight away when the terms of reference were published,that skewing was going on….”.


However, a more important ‘skewing’ by a Boundary Commission has been ignored by Mr. Martin and his party and, indeed, by the administration and the so-called ‘opposition’ in Leinster House – the ‘Boundary Commission’ established under ‘Article 12’ of the 1921 ‘Treaty of Surrender’, which was tasked with ‘determining the boundaries between the newly-partitioned 6 and 26-county ‘states’ ‘ , the deliberations of which caused a mutiny within British forces in Ireland! (Part 9)


……. on 3rd December 1925 at a meeting in Downing Street in London , Free State President William Cosgrave and his ‘Minister for Home Affairs’ , Kevin O’Higgins , agreed that there should be no change to Britains imposed ‘border’ in Ireland , that the ‘Council of Ireland’ be scraped and that monies received from the British by way of financial compensation for the damage that Westminster’s Black and Tans caused in Ireland would be re-paid ! Those Free State gombeens also agreed to continue paying land annuities to the British Exchequer!

On their return to Dublin a few days later , Cosgrave and O’Higgins , after selling-out to the British once more , stuck their chests out and declared – “Today we have sown the seeds of peace …” ! Bullshit ‘spin-doctors’, then and now. And to ensure that nobody could find out just how those “seeds of peace” had been ‘won’, it was not only agreed that the Boundary Commission be revoked, but also that its ‘findings’ be kept hidden ; it was only published 44 years later, in 1969!


Another episode relating to the Boundary Commission centres around the speech which the Stormont ‘Prime Minister’, ‘Sir’ James Craig, delivered in said institution on 7th October 1924, in which he ‘reminded’ the Westminster Government that he had 40,000 armed men who, like him , were not prepared to accept an “unfavourable” decision by the Boundary Commission and would take any steps necessary “to defend their territory …” (ie – the Six County ‘State’). ‘Sir’ Craig was referring to the ‘Ulster (sic) Special Constabulary Association’ , which was organised in three groups – the full-time A Specials, the part-time B Specials, and an ‘on-call’ (“loose category”) of C Specials.


The A Specials lived in barracks’ and were used as re-inforcements for the RIC ; the B Specials concentrated on street-patrols and setting-up checkpoints, while the C Specials had no specific duties but were ‘on call’ as an armed (pro-British) militia. Incidentally , when ‘Sir’ James Craig (Stormont ‘Prime Minister’) demanded the establishment of “a special Constabulary” for the Six County area (which he did , at a meeting in London on 2nd September 1920) he had only to wait six days for a reply – on 8th September 1920, Westminster agreed that a force of “loyal citizens” should be raised – the then ‘Ulster Volunteer Force’ (UVF), an armed pro-British paramilitary organisation in the Six Counties was, effectively , to become a (‘legitimate’) force of ‘Special Constabulary’ – with a simple change of uniform!


It is arguably the position that this was the first instance of Westminster treating the Six County ‘State’ as a separate unit from what they alleged to believe was the ‘United Kingdom’. However – the fact that Westminster was about to ‘dress-up’ a Loyalist militia as a ‘Police Force’, and arm same, sent shock-waves into the Nationalist community…. (MORE LATER).



44 YEARS AGO (1970-2014): USC (‘B SPECIALS’) DISBANDED.

The ‘B Specials’: this outfit earned recognition for being a unionist ‘police force’ for a unionist Six-County ‘State’.

……. by Christmas Day, 1925 , the ‘A’ and ‘C’-Specials were no more, but the B-Specials had been ‘beefed-up’ – it was now, in reality , the ‘Ulster Volunteer Force’ loyalist terror-gang in a British uniform, operating as per usual, but this time with the official protection of Westminster….


The B-Specials seen the Civil Rights Movement of the late 1960’s as a personal challenge to their ‘position’ in society and took no prisoners when told to “police and monitor” the meetings and marches associated with those looking for equal treatment under British jurisdiction. The B-Specials left many a bloody footprint in the street. Ironically, it was the fact that they suppressed the Civil Rights campaign so viciously which led to their disbandment ;their blatant sectarianism, witnessed by the worlds media (courtesy of an RTE camera-crew on the spot) acutely embarrassed the Brits ; in October 1969, Westminster pulled-off another ‘sleight-of-hand’ trick , comparable to that of 1920, when they put the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) loyalist gun-gang into a British uniform and called them the B-Specials.


It was announced , with fanfare , that the B-Specials would be disbanded and, on 1st April, 1970 they ‘were’, but in name only. The British presented the ‘disbandment’ of the B-Specials as “a fair solution” by ‘a fair administration’ to a problem which they had only recently been made aware of (!) and gratefully accepted the plaudits from those foolish enough to offer them. However , the British, as usual , gave with the one hand and took with the other : within weeks of the “disbandment” of the B-Specials, the British announced that a “new ” part-time force was to be established – the ‘Ulster Defence Regiment’ (UDR) . The ‘Ulster Defence Regiment’ was to be placed under the ‘control’ of the British Army and was to be issued with top-of-the-range weaponary.


Self-loading rifles, sub-machine guns, Bren guns and Browning machine guns mounted on armoured cars ; about eight-thousand members of the ‘old’ B-Specials/Ulster Volunteer Force joined the ‘new’ force, put on a different British uniform and basically carried-on from where they had left off. In one form or another, in one uniform or another and with one name or another, the British and/or their lackeys in this country have never shrinked from using violence to maintain their grip on Ireland or part thereof. It is of no concern to Republicans whether they call themselves the British Army, the Ulster Volunteer Force, the B-Specials, the Ulster Defence Regiment or the Police Service of Northern Ireland (sic). Their shared objective is to sustain an unnatural entity – the British presence in Ireland. They might as well try and stop the tide coming in….! [END] (Incidentally , on this date [21st May] in 1966, the ‘UVF’ issued the following statement (and here) : “From this day, we declare war against the Irish Republican Army and its splinter groups. Known IRA men will be executed mercilessly and without hesitation. Less extreme measures will be taken against anyone sheltering or helping them, but if they persist in giving them aid, then more extreme methods will be adopted…we solemnly warn the authorities to make no more speeches of appeasement. We are heavily armed Protestants dedicated to this cause…” Translation – ‘We will shoot dead any Catholic in response to you shooting any anti-republican military target’. Or ‘KAT/FAP’ for short.)



TWO OF OUR TWENTY-TWO HUNGER-STRIKERS DIED ON THIS DATE (21st May) 33 YEARS AGO.

Raymond McCreesh (PIRA) and Patsy O’Hara (INLA), both of whom died on hunger-strike in the H-Blocks of Long Kesh prison on the 21st May 1981.


On Saturday 1st May, 1976, Westminster began treating political prisoners in the Occupied Six Counties as ‘criminals’, whereas up to Friday 30th April 1976, that same institution classed those same prisoners as ‘political’. This move forced the prisoners to demand that they be afforded the right to be recognised as that which they still were – political prisoners – and various protests inside the prison structure were held. A blanket protest, no-wash protest and a ‘dirty protest’ ‘gained’ unfulfilled promises from Westminster and, after four years of protest, in the H-Blocks and on the streets of Ireland and abroad, Irish republicans announced that a hunger-strike to re-gain political status would commence on the 27th October 1980. The POW’s issued five demands – the right not to wear a prisoner uniform, the right to free association with other republican political prisoners, the right as political prisoners not to do prison work, the right to organise their own educational and recreational facilities and
the right to one weekly visit,letter and parcel.



PIRA Volunteer Raymond McCreesh,24 years of age, from St. Malachy’s Park, Camlough in South Armagh, was captured by British forces in June 1976 and convicted in March 1977 of attempting to kill British soldiers, possession of a Garland rifle and ammunition and PIRA membership and was sentenced to 14 years imprisonment. He commenced a hunger-strike on 22nd March 1981 and died 61 days later, on 21st May 1981.


INLA Volunteer Patsy O’Hara, 23 years of age (in 1981), from the Bishop Street area in Derry, was arrested on 14th May 1979 and charged with possessing a hand-grenade. In January 1980 he was sentenced to eight years in jail and, on 22nd March 1981, he commenced a hunger-strike. He died on 21st May 1981, after 61 days.


The issue at the heart of the conflict, then, as now, was and is political, and will always be regarded as such by the republican activists that are involved in the struggle, regardless of the ‘criminal/gangster’-tag which those who don’t have a problem with the British presence continually attempt to label us with. The campaign will not be considered finished until the objective – to remove the political and military claim from Westminster over any part of Ireland – has been secured, regardless of how long it takes.



N.O.T.A. VOTE FOR FRIDAY 23RD MAY 2014 – WATER TAX , PROPERTY TAX ETC ; NOT WITH MY BACKING!

Two ballot papers will by now have been issued to those of voting age in this State, for local (‘county council’) and European elections, which are being held here on Friday 23rd May 2014. As usual, there are more candidates for this ‘thankless task’ (Ha!) than seats available (for instance,in the county of Wicklow, 79 candidates are campaigning for 32 seats and in county Offaly, 38 candidates are fighting it out over 19 seats) but I, for one, won’t be voting for any of them. I will collect both ballot papers due to me and I will purposely spoil both of them, by writing a message on each one before placing it in the ballot box.


If I lived in a certain part of Galway or Kerry I would vote for the republican candidate in the ‘Local’ elections and just spoil the EU ballot, but I don’t and, as such – not being prepared to vote second-best – I’ll be spoiling my two ballot papers. There are so-called ‘left wing’ candidates contesting for seats in the part of Dublin that I’ll be casting my ballots in and, whilst they are solid (verbally so, at least!) on issues such as the bin tax, the household tax, the USC tax, the property tax, water tax etc, when questioned in relation to the on-going political and military occupation, by Westminster, of six of our north-eastern counties, they attempt to assure me that ‘the issue is settled, thanks to the peace process/Good Friday Agreement…’ and, when I ask about their opinion in regards to the continuing claim by Westminster of jurisdictional control over those six counties I have received replies ranging from ‘yes, but it’s a lot quieter now than what it was…’ to ‘we should concentrate on bread-and-butter issues instead…’. The two republican candidates mentioned above are as concerned about the unsettled six-county issue as they are about the bread-and-butter issues and reflect my own views and concerns better than any other candidate does but, as stated, I don’t have a vote in their area and refuse to simply vote against a useless and corrupt State administration and for those that, in my opinion, are hoping to receive enough votes to enable them to stick their snout in the same trough as those they are hoping to unseat.


My advice to those who have no intention of even collecting their ballot papers, never mind using them to vote with, is to collect them and use them in the manner mentioned above : write ‘None Of The Above’ on both ballot papers or perhaps something a bit stronger – but do, please, use them in this manner to get your message across.


Thanks for reading, Sharon.




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About 11sixtynine

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

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