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

There was a force of uniformed gardaí at Sallins to deal with any attempt by a small group to make a token demonstration. It became their task, instead, to offer merely token resistance to what must have appeared to them as an uprising – IRA relations with uniformed gardaí were always surprisingly good, and when the procession moved out from the assembly field at Sallins, with the Dublin Brigade IRA leading, the boom of uniformed gardaí across their path gave way at a touch. Meanwhile, hundreds of ‘spectators’ gathered by the graveyard wall, and moved closer and closer, in friendliness, to the puzzled Free State soldiers. The critical moment came as the head of the parade appeared, and the ‘spectators’ crept even closer. The Free State army officer in charge, seeing a hosting of republicans moving down on him, eased the strap on his helmet and smiled. By now, in any case, his men were mud-packed in the middle of the ‘spectators’.

I deputised for Seán Russell and delivered the oration and I remember, as I talked, that I saw de Valera with his leading colleagues in a group among a great throng of people outside the graveyard wall – waiting in the wings. Bodenstown was a challenge, both to republican leaders and to the Dublin government : it was clear to IRA leaders that they had a backing which, expressed in political terms, put them so close on de Valera’s heels that any kind of teamwork with him would give the republicans the majority at a general election. Had they been able to announce, at that moment, that they would use this means to chase the Cosgrave government out of office, republican Ireland would have cheered them.

Armed conflict with the IRA offered the Free State government its one chance of survival. The government had the loud speakers to enable it move into this conflict chanting high moral and democratic slogans , but Fianna Fáil would tear itself apart * in the stress of loyalties which such a conflict would set up. De Valera himself would have no choice but to stand aside, and with him would go the hierarchy of the Fianna Fáil organisation. The government chose its battleground with skill – it was no longer at war with republicans, but with “communists”. (* – 1169 Comment: perhaps at that time – the 1930’s – some or most of the Fianna Fáil leadership and membership would have been politically concerned enough about the Six County issue to distance themselves from acts of collaboration with Westminster re same, but not so now and, indeed, not so since the late 1960’s/early 1970’s. Apart from occasional verbalising now and then, as far as those in Leinster House are concerned, the Six County issue has been ‘settled’.) (MORE LATER).


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

Initially, remember, when news of the shootings first came through, accompanied by misinformation about the guns and explosives the trio had brought into Gibraltar, the popular consenus was that major carnage had been averted by the prompt action of the authorities. Then the rather awkward information became available that, in fact , there were neither guns nor explosives in Gibraltar that day. Explosives were subsequently found in Marbella and the IRA obligingly confirmed that the three IRA operatives had in fact been an active service unit on a mission with a quantity of explosives. The initial satisfaction felt by the ‘Great British Public’ , temporarily unsettled by the news about the absence of guns and explosives, returned as it foreshortened in its mind the circumstantial gap between the incident itself and the discovery of explosives.

The task for the authorities was to present a scenario which would allow a Gibraltarian jury to make the same mental somersault, a scenario which would provide a rationalisation for what happened and similtaneously keep to the forefront of the jurors’ minds – and obtain the maximum emotive value from – the fact that, even if the deceased had not yet succeeded in planting a bomb in Gibraltar, this was their intention. Hence the carefully constructed inverted pyramid, which Paddy McGrory referred to in his final address to the coroner, starting with the false assumptions made by British intelligence, incarnate at the inquest in the curtained body of ‘Officer O’ , and sustained through the events of the weekend and afternoon of March 6th, right up to their fossilised form in the thoughts of Soldiers ‘A’ , ‘B’ , ‘C’ and ‘D’ at the moments they pulled their triggers.

This scenario allowed the Crown to build also a substructure of self-contained logic which led to the almost inevitable justification of the killings, if not indeed their very inevitability. The ‘Rules of Engagement’ , that most accomodating of documents, allowed the British soldiers – once they had formed, by whatever means, the view that the IRA members were intent on setting off a bomb – power to use firearms effectively without warning, and to use them in the most lethal way possible, so long as they really believed what they told us they really believed . (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!(PART 14)

When the ‘A’ and ‘C’ Special Constabulary realised that they were to lose their jobs , on the mouth of Christmas (10th December 1925) and with unemployment running at over 20 per cent, whereas the ‘B’ Specials were to be kept on, discontent in the ranks grew. The ‘A’ and ‘C’ Specials held meetings between themselves and, on 14th December 1925 , they mutinied! ‘A’ and ‘C’ members in Derry ‘arrested’ their own Officers (!) , as they did in Ballycastle – two days later (ie on 16th December 1925) a demand from the ‘A’ and ‘C’ ‘rebels’ (!) was handed over to ‘Sir’ Richard Dawson Bates, the Stormont ‘Minister for Home Affairs’, a solicitor by trade, who was also Secretary of the ‘Ulster Unionist Council’, a position he had held since 1905. Bates ‘made his name’ in 1921 when, at 44 years of age, he ordered the RIC to close down the Offices of Tyrone County Council – ‘Sir’ Bates didn’t like the way they were doing their business.

‘Sir’ Richard Dawson Bates ‘made his name’ (or reinforced it!) in 1921, when he ordered the RIC to close down the Offices of Tyrone County Council as said institution had declared its allegiance to the rebel Dail Eireann (32 County body)! On 6th December that year (ie 1921) , ‘Sir’ Bates seen to it that a ‘Local Government (Emergency Powers) Bill’ was passed into ‘law’ ; this new ‘law’ stated – “The Ministry, in the event of any of the local authorities refusing to function or refusing to carry out the duties imposed on them under the Local Government Acts, can dissolve such authority and in its place appoint a Commission to carry on the duties of such authority.” However, 15 days later (ie on the 21st December 1921) Fermanagh County Council followed the lead set by its counterpart in Tyrone : the following statement was issued by Fermanagh Officials – “We , the County Council of Fermanagh , in view of the expressed desire of a large majority of people in this county, do not recognise the partition parliament in Belfast and do hereby direct our Secretary to hold no further communications with either Belfast or British Local Government Departments, and we pledge our allegiance to Dail Eireann.”

Short, sharp, and to the point. And it was (rightly) seen by ‘Sir’ Richard Dawson Bates as a direct challenge to his ‘authority’ ; ‘Sir’ Bates ordered the RIC to ready themselves immediately….. (MORE LATER).


Eamon de Valera (right) with Michael Collins (centre) and Harry Boland (left) pictured together in 1921, before the Treaty of Surrender.

Between June 1922 and May 1923, the Leinster House/Free State regime ‘officially’ executed 77 Irish republican prisoners of war but are estimated to have taken the lives of at least 100 other ‘dissidents’ by passing information on those targets to their State army and to the ‘special branch’/CID, who were then based in Oriel House, in Dublin.

It is generally considered that Harry Boland was the first man to be ‘unofficially executed’ by a Michael Collins-controlled Free State death squad on the evening of Sunday 30th July/early Monday morning 31st July 1922 and, following that shooting, in the Grand Hotel in Skerries, Dublin, the State gunmen issued this statement (on Monday 31st July 1922) – “Early this morning a small party of troops entered the Grand Hotel to place Mr. H.Boland T.D., under arrest. Mr. Boland had been actively engaged in the irregular campaign. When accosted in his bedroom he made an unsuccessful attempt to seize a gun from one of the troops and then rushed out to the door. After firing two shots at random and calling on Mr. Boland to halt, it was found necessary to fire a third shot to prevent an escape. Mr. Boland was wounded and removed to hospital. A man giving his name as John J.Murphy with residence at 3 Castlewood Avenue, Ranelagh,Dublin, who was found with Mr. Boland, was taken prisoner. Subsequently he was identified as Joseph Griffin*, an active irregular, belonging to Dublin.” (*’1169′ Comment – Joe Griffin was an IRA operative within the Movement’s Intelligence Department.)

Although unarmed at that moment, as admitted by his executioners, caught by surprise and outnumbered (a “small party” of Free State troops were in the room at the time) the Staters attempted to present the execution of Harry Boland as ‘a killing in self-defence’ ie ‘he attempted to jump us and then tried to flee…’. They had learned well from their British colleagues. However ; Harry Boland died from his wounds on the 2nd August 1922, in St. Vincents Hospital, Dublin and, as he lay waiting for death, he told family members that the Stater who shot him had been imprisoned with him in Lewes Prison, in England, but he refused to put a name to him. The funeral expenses were taken care of by the Cumann na Poblachta organisation, and more information on the life and death of Harry Boland can be found here.



…O when may it suffice?

That is Heaven’s part, our part

To murmur name upon name,

As a mother names her child

When sleep at last has come

On limbs that had run wild…..

A member of the British ‘royal’ family, accompanied by members of the British armed forces, will be responsible (along with establishment representatives from this Free State) for causing severe restrictions at Glasnevin Cemetery in Dublin on Thursday 31st July 2014, as a so-called ‘Cross of Sacrifice’ ceremony will be taking place. This effort in attempting to ‘normalise the relationship’ between the British ’empire’ and a country in which that same ’empire’ still claims to have part-jurisdictional control over – a claim which is enforced politically and militarily – is an effort involving a body called the ‘Commonwealth War Graves Commission’ and is guaranteed favourable coverage in what passes for ‘the media’ in this bent State. The hypocrisy involved in this sickening escapade will be ignored as the politicians and business-people shoulder each other out of the frame in order to be photographed with a ‘royal’ as they verbally and/or mentally hip hip hooray themselves with a toast to how ‘grown up and mature’ we Irish have become.

But the sacrifices of our republican dead and the present sacrifices of our ‘family’ members , some of whom are incarcerated to this day, guarantees (and rightly so) that we have ‘hearts of stone’ when it comes to this ‘forgive and forget’ nonsense. When this injustice is finally and properly resolved then a fresh look can be taken, from that new perspective. But this, unfortunately, is not that time. What it is , however, is an opportunity for republicans to prove to the on-lookers that not all Irish people have been ‘bought’ nor are we all ‘enthralled’ to be in the presence of English ‘royalty’ and/or fellow Irish people who consider themselves to be on an equal footing with ‘Prince’ Edward and his type and, to this end, Republican Sinn Féin will be holding a picket on the day – Thursday 31st July 2014 – at 11.30am at the main gates of Glasnevin Cemetery. All genuine republicans welcome!



….better, that is, than his 166 colleagues in Leinster House! And he doesn’t do house painting or ‘skippering’ any better, either, and probably isn’t as good as his wife at perming hair!

But, to be fair to the man, he is one of many who seen an opening to feather his own nest (and that of those close to him) in a corrupt institution which purports to ‘govern’ over a bent State and didn’t think it fair that he should have to scratch a living on €1354 a week. If he’s guilty of anything, it is surely only that he licked and sleveened his way on to the wrong rung of that greasy ladder – he should have aimed for a position within the ranks of the ‘permanent government’ as that would have afforded him the time to ‘brush up’ on his decorating skills, become the captain of his own destiny and keep his hair on!

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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