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

It was largely hesitation to embark on concrete struggles that influenced the IRA to give itself a social policy ; it was in many ways evasive action , although it drew the full fury of reaction on itself thereby. The impulse towards policy making was sharpened by threats by the unemployed that they would seize the principal hotels in Dublin and hold them in protest. The search for a policy produced ‘Saor Éire’, which aroused the fury of government, press and pulpit.

At the risk of beheading the movement at a critical period the IRA Army Council decided to call a general army convention to sanction the launching of Saor Éire, and to consider some other matters. Roisin Walsh, Dublin City Librarian, a courageous, brilliant woman, gave us the use of her home at Templeogue, Dublin, for the conference, and it was an ideal choice for us, permitting of maximum security on the easiest possible terms but she was risking her job. Following on decisions taken at that convention , instructions were given to all IRA units to make the Easter Commemoration of that year demonstrations in strength, and even those demonstrations were to be but a rehearsal for a great hosting of Republican Ireland at Tone’s grave, June 1931.

There was some speculation among us whether their Lordships the bishops would have another go at us, after the fashion of their 1922 effort. There didn’t seem to be much room for improvement on their strictures against us then, for the Pastoral of 1922 disposed of us by declaring the armed defence of the Republic to be a system of murder and assassination, and the men involved in it unfit for admission to Confession or Holy Communion. That seemed a final sort of document, disposing of the IRA in a final sort of way.(MORE LATER).


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

Police Constable Kassan was at the police station and at about 3.40pm he received a call to go to Winston Churchill Avenue : when he arrived at the Shell station he was told by someone there to go to Kings Lines. There, he saw a body on the ground, face up, and there were newspapers on the ground beside the body and he placed a stone on top of them to stop them blowing away. He went back to the petrol station to pick up some sheets from an ambulance he had seen there and returned to Kings Lines where he was told by Sergeant Acriss to pick up cartridges and did as he was told. He said there were a number of spent shells close to the body – one or two at least, he thought – and a number of others about fifteen or twenty feet away on the right side of the roadway.

Back in the Operations Room, Soldier ‘E’ received a report at 3.47pm that the “apprehension” of the terrorists had taken place and another thirteen minutes passed before he got confirmation that the three had been shot dead. He was told that Soldiers ‘A’ to ‘D’ were safely out of the area and that the police were in charge. At this point he reported bck to Soldier ‘F’ who signed the document handing back control to the Commissioner at 4.06pm. Soldier ‘E’ then left the Operations Room and went to the scenes of the shootings and later he spoke to them in the Room. No notes were taken of this conversation and afterwards they went to the police station with the army lawyer. All the SAS soldiers left Gibraltar at about 11pm that Sunday night and returned to the UK.

Commissioner Canepa instructed Deputy Commissioner Columbo to put the plan for the evacuation of the square area and the diversion of traffic into operation. Mr Columbo phoned Chief Inspector Lopez who attempted to evacuate the area with two other officers, but this proved impossible and the plan had to be delayed for some time until other police officers became available. It was after 7pm before controlled explosions on the Renault had been completed and the area declared safe. No explosives were found (it would be Tuesday before a large quantity of semtex was found in a car in Spain). Mr Canepa also put Superintendent McGuinness (!) in charge of the situation at Winston Churchill Avenue and arranged for a pathologist to be sent from the UK. (MORE LATER).


“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!(Part10)

Nationalists knew the danger of such a move for them – the UVF were not by any means ‘neutral’ in the conflict. The then ‘Daily News’ newspaper stated, re the proposed establishment of the ‘Specials’ – “The official proposal to arm “well-disposed” citizens to “assist the authorities” in Belfast raised serious questions of the sanity of the government. It seems the most outrageous thing which they have ever done in Ireland. A citizen of Belfast who is “well-disposed” to the British government is, almost from the nature of the case, an Orangeman, or at any rate, a vehement anti-Sinn Féiner. These are the very same people who have been looting Catholic shops and driving thousands of Catholic women and children from their homes….” But all words of opposition, or even caution , were ignored. Sixteen (16) battalions (approximately 10,000 armed men) were organised throughout the Six County area, with about three times that number (ie about 30,000 men) being placed in the areas where the battalion structure did’nt reach : approximately 40,000 fully-armed and, for the most part, militarily-trained men , in all.

It wasn’t only Nationalist and Republicans that were aware of the potential for trouble that could come from arming one section of a population – voices were raised in Westminster itself, against such a move – in October of 1920, a Mr. J.R. Clynes of the British Labour Party voiced his concern, in Westminster, that the British Government were actully “arming the Orangemen” to “police their Catholic neighbours …” in the Six County ‘State’, while Joe Devlin (‘United Irish League’ – UIL) pointed out that 300 of the ‘Special Constables’ from the Lisburn area had already “resigned in protest” because their “fellow Constables” would not stop looting their (Catholic) neighbours !

Mr. Devlin stated – “The Protestants are to be armed. Their pogrom is to be made less difficult. Instead of paving stones and sticks they are to be given rifles.” Joe Devlin led a busy life, but died young, at 63 years of age, in 1934. A barman and journalist at the start of his working life, he was elected as a ‘Home Rule MP’ (British Parliament) for North Kilkenny in 1902, at 31 years young , and held his seat until 1906, when he was elected again, this time for the West Belfast area.

He was that area’s representative in Westminster until 1922 ; he acted as General Secretary for the ‘United Irish League’ (UIL) / Home Rule Party, from 1904 to 1920, and was also involved with the ‘Ancient Order of Hibernians’. (MORE LATER).


Our suggestion that those entitled to a vote in last Friday’s elections – but who had not intended to claim same – should instead present themselves at their polling stations and purposely spoil their ballot papers seems to have been a popular call, as tens of thousands of spoiled votes have been recorded in this State. We are not claiming all the credit (that belongs to those who done that, regardless of whether they were aware of our suggestion or not) but we like to think that we did influence at least a few hundred or a few thousand voters into that course of action! In this area of Dublin, for instance, 263 spoiled votes were recorded, and in near-by Tallaght that figure was 1128. The ‘Dublin City’ ward (city centre and ‘attached’ suburbs, if you like) recorded 2377 spoiled votes whilst the Fingal area seen 978 people spoil their votes (more info here) .

Indeed, at a stretch, perhaps, it could be said that by encouraging as many possible voters as we could to spoil their ballot(s) rather than give it/them to an establishment party, we ‘spoilers’ have been somewhat credited with damaging the cosy consensus in that it was a shortage of such votes which prevented the State Labour Party from taking more seats thus leading to the resignation of its leader.

Another favour we may have done ourselves by deliberately voting against those political careerists and wannabe political careerists is that – shock! horror! – not all of them (!) are as clean-cut, morally, as they would present themselves as…..

“Great to turn on Sky News and see the knackers kicked up and down the dale however will the cops get the smell of nack of their batons.”

……a comment made three years ago, in reference to this disgraceful episode, by a Provisional Sinn Féin candidate, which he only got pulled-up for last week! For all we ‘spoilers’ know, we might very well have removed a few such fascist-type political opportunists from the corrupt political scene here before they even got the chance to raise a verbal ‘baton’ against us. And for that we are surely to be congratulated!


I have already mentioned here in a previous post that whilst I will be helping to run the next monthly raffle (for the Cabhair organisation, to be held on Sunday 8th June next) , I won’t be able to give the usual report re same and I also mentioned the up-coming Wolfe Tone Commemoration in Bodenstown which, unfortunately, I won’t be able to attend, or report on, the reason being that myself and four friends are flying out to New York City on Sunday night, 8th June, for a full three weeks holiday!

In early April last, our friends and colleagues in New York, with whom we keep in regular contact, asked the five of us over for a month , accommodation and transport (hello, Joel!) provided, no charge, spending money only needed. And, whilst NYC can be very expensive, it is very easy to have an unbelievable time in that great city on a budget of about $50 dollars a day, without having to cut corners. For example, the five of us have enjoyed a day in Central Park and explored surrounding streets and avenues, window-shopping and general sight-seeing, with plenty to eat and a drink or two in the evening, and calling Joel at maybe 11pm for a lift back to the apartment – relaxed and exhausted, having spent only about $30 dollars each! The same goes for a day trip to Coney Island, Staten Island, Long Island and at least a dozen other fantastic places which we have visited before and are only itchin’ to get back to!

When five working-class cats like us are let loose on and in NYC, we make sure we get the cream!

Only two of us could manage, between family and work commitments etc, to get a whole month to play with, but the five of us could all manage, eventually, to get three weeks – and that’s what we have done, and we should be home on Monday, 30th June (not that I want to talk, write or even think about that just now!). I’d like to think that I’d be fit enough to post a holiday report on this blog on Wednesday , July 2nd – I doubt it, somehow! – but you never know. But, hopefully, by the following Wednesday (9th), we should be back to normal. Next Wednesday, June 4th, will therefore be our last post here for at least one month. I’ll miss the ‘1169…’ team (John and ‘Junior’), and work (!)…and of course you, our readers. But my aim is getting better 😉 !!

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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