By Peadar O’Donnell ; first published in January 1963.
Once, scurrying through back streets , and foolishly on an unlighted bicycle, I all but bumped into a civic guard. His hand came down on the handlebars and he said sharply “What’s your name?” We were under a street lamp and I saw recognition flick a light in his eyes. I told him that I could think up a name for him if I tried and, as he let go of the bicycle, he said – “It’s you. To hell with you. Be on your way. No, by God…” he added quickly, “…but good luck to you.” It was a nice thing to happen, in the fever of those days.
It was during this period that I wrote Wrack , my one and only attempt at a play, which I intended to be a glimpse of an island dying. The island I had in mind has since died. I do not recall, now, how I came to pass it on to W. B. Yates, but I think it unlikely that I sent it to the Abbey at that time, although it was produced there later. I got a friendly note from W.B. , addressed to me at 39 Marlborough Road, Dublin, asking me to call to see him but, as I had no doubt that my letters were under scrutiny, I was afraid to chance it. I sent him a letter, delivered by hand, explaining my difficulty, and he made immediate and elaborate arrangement for our safe meeting.
Events were pressing hard both on the Free State government and the IRA , forcing both towards an inescapable, major clash – neither side had left itself any room for manoeuvre. Arbour Hill prison, where IRA prisoners were held, was, at its best, a pretty brutal place – I have vivid memories of a few weeks there in 1923 – but, nowadays, it is a hell-hole. Country IRA officers complained, clamoured, even, for permission to put an end to the humiliation of police persecution….. (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.
The shots which Mairead Farrell received to her back were extremely close together at the point of entry – close to the midline of the back – and all displayed an upward trajectory ie they exited at the front, higher up in the body than they had entered at the back. They had either been fired from a crouching position or while Farrell’s body was falling forward or while she was lying face-down on the ground. Pathologist Dr. Alan Watson said that the closeness of the entry wounds together indicated that they had been fired from the same gun from close range while she was on the ground. The only other possible explanation, Dr. Watson suggested, was that the three shots had been fired in quick succession from the same gun while she was in the process of falling.
Daniel McCann, according to Dr. Watson, had been killed by two shots in the back , causing damage to the liver, heart and left lung, and/or by two shots to the head causing multiple fractures, laceration of the left cerebral hemisphere and extensive brain damage. The damage to the brain had been caused, in fact, by just one of the two shots, entering at the rear left side of the head and exiting at the left side of the neck. The other shot had hit him in the jaw and had caused only superficial damage. This could have been caused by a ricochet or by a bullet which had already passed through Mairead Farrell’s body, said Professor Watson.
Soldiers ‘A’ and ‘B’ gave evidence that they both shot at Farrell and McCann, and this confused the issue somewhat, but Soldier ‘A’ was specific and emphatic that he fired first one shot into McCann’s back then one shot into Farrell’s back, then three more at McCann – two into his back and one into his head. Discounting the mysterious wound in his left cheek, which may well have been as Professor Watson suggested, a ricochet, this is one more shot which Soldier ‘A’ claims he fired into McCann’s back than McCann actually received. One possibility is that Soldier ‘A’ missed with one of his shots. There were, according to the evidence, twelve shots in all fired outside the petrol station – five by Soldier ‘A’ , seven by Soldier ‘B’. But only nine ‘hits’. (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 17 – END OF ARTICLE)
In 1935 , ‘Sir’ Richard Dawson Bates’ friends in the Orange Order called his bluff (between 23rd and 27th June that year) after forcing him to either take them on or ‘back down’ – he choose the latter. But he was still arrogant ; he introduced internment for republicans in 1938 …….
‘Sir’ Bates was born in 1877 , and was a solicitor (in Belfast) by profession. He was Secretary to the Ulster Unionist Council at 28 years young, and held that position until he was aged 44 (ie from 1905 to 1921) . In 1921, he was elected to Stormont and was appointed as the ‘Minister of Home Affairs’, a position he held for 22 years (ie from 1921 to 1943) . At 66 years of age (in 1943) he retired to the ‘back benches’, where he stayed until 1945. He died four years later (in 1949) at 72 years of age, having been a ‘proud Orangeman’ for all his adult life.
And this was the man to whom the ‘A’ and ‘C’ Specials, who had mutinied and taken their own officers as hostages had, on 16th December 1925, handed their letter of demands to : ‘Sir’ Bates was not impressed. The ‘A’ and ‘C’ Specials were looking for more money : they demanded a £200 tax-free ‘bonus’ for each member that was to be made redundant. Two days later (ie on 18th December 1925) ‘Sir’ Bates replied to the Special ‘Rebels’ (!) that not only would they not be getting the £200 ‘bonus’ but if they did’nt back down immediately they would lose whatever money they were entitled to for being made redundant! That message was delivered to the ‘mutiniers’ on 18th December 1925 ; on 19th December 1925 the ‘rebels’ all but apologised to Bates, released their hostages and signed on for the dole – the ‘hard men’ of the ‘Specials’ had been put in their place by a bigger thug than they were. By Christmas Day, 1925 , the ‘A’ and ‘C’ Sections of the ‘Ulster (sic) Special ConstabularyAssociation’ – the ‘Specials’ – were disbanded. A sort of ‘Peace on Earth’, if you like !
And, regarding the other group of ‘hard men’ on this island – the Free Staters – let us not forget their ‘contribution to World Peace’ in that same Christmas month in 1925 , for it was on the 3rd December in that year that they sold-out to the British once again by agreeing that the conclusions of the Boundary Commission should be ignored and the Commission itself be abolished. And they have been selling-out to Westminster ever since.
ON THIS DATE (20TH AUGUST) 33 YEARS AGO : THE 22ND IRISH REPUBLICAN HUNGER-STRIKER DIES.
“….he used to squeeze my hand and tell me that he did not want to be taken off the strike. He was so committed. As he got worse I used to try to wet his lips with water but he shut them tight because he didn’t even want that….a screw always sat in the room with us and I decided that I was not going to entertain them so I started to say the Rosary. I remember Mickey squeezing my hand and telling me to keep going as a single tear trickled town his cheek. I wiped the tear away…he is still with me. I can see him laying there with the tears running down his face squeezing my hand. Even after all these years that is a clear memory…” (from here.)
‘….Michael James Devine was born on 26th May 1954 in Springtown, just outside of Derry city. He grew up in the Creggan area of Derry, where he was raised by his sister Margaret and her husband after both parents died unexpectedly when he was age 11….he was witness to the civil rights marches of the late 1960s in Derry in which civilians were often brutally attacked and the trauma of Bloody Sunday. In fact,he was hospitalised twice because of police brutality….’ (more here.) There is nothing that this blog can add to the above-mentioned two links in relation to the political atmosphere that existed at the time of the 1981 hunger-strikes or to the obvious courage of Michael Devine, the 22nd Irish republican POW to die on hunger-strike. We can, however, opine that not one of those brave men battled as they did to obtain seats, suits or salary for ‘colleagues’ in either Leinster House or Stormont and those that sit in those institutions have no moral authority to claim that they do so ‘to further the objective’ of any of those 22 men. When Bobby Sands wrote about all of us ‘having a part to play’ he meant in opposing Free State and British rule, not in shoring it up.
ON THIS DATE (20TH AUGUST) 95 YEARS AGO : OATH OF ALLEGIANCE ANNOUNCED.
Of the 105 public representatives elected in the (Saturday)14th December 1918 election in Ireland, 73 were members of the then Sinn Féin organisation, 25 of whom were unopposed in seeking election. The republican organisation received 46.9% of votes cast in the whole of Ireland (equivalent to 65% of the votes cast in what was to become the [26 county] Free State) and, even allowing for the fact that four of its candidates – Arthur Griffith, Éamon de Valera, Eoin McNeill and Liam Mellows – were elected for two constituencies (Cavan East and Tyrone North West, Clare East and Mayo East, Derry City and National University of Ireland and Galway East and Meath North, respectively) it was still a resounding victory for Irish republicans and was recognised as such universally. Incidentally, to get their deposit of £100 back, each candidate had to obtain one-eight (12.5%) of the votes cast, compared to today (in the Free State) where the deposit is €500, with the requirement to obtain one-quarter (25%) of the votes cast in order to have the deposit returned!
Anyway – as per their stated intention, the republican representatives assembled in Dublin’s Mansion House on Tuesday 21st January 1919 at 3.30pm where, amongst other business, the Secretary of Defence, Cathal Brugha, called for all representatives present to take the following oath, stating – “Every person and every one of those bodies undermentioned must swear allegiance to the Irish Republic and to the Dáil…”
1. The Deputies.
2. The Irish Volunteers.
3. The Officers and Clerks to the Dáil.
4. Any other body or individual who in the opinion of the Dáil should take the same Oath.
I, —— do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I do not and shall not yield a voluntary support to any pretended Government, authority or power within Ireland hostile and inimical thereto, and I do further swear (or affirm) that to the best of my knowledge and ability I will support and defend the Irish Republic and the Government of the Irish Republic, which is Dáil Eireann, against all enemies, foreign and domestic, and I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same, and that I take this obligation freely without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion, so help me, God.”
On the other hand, the Free State ‘parliament’ , Leinster House, which was ‘born’ in London with British guns as midwife and an English hangman as chief nurse, can lay claim to its own ‘oath of allegiance’ : ‘I ____________ swear by almighty God that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth , Her heirs and successors and that I will as in duty bound honestly and faithfully defend Her Majesty, Her heirs and successors in Person, Crown and dignity against all enemies and will observe and obey all orders of Her Majesty, Her heirs and successors and of the Generals and Officers set over me….’
It could lay claim to the above, and should , but doesn’t. Not verbally, anyway.
ON THIS DATE (20TH AUGUST) 26 YEARS AGO : 8 DEAD , 28 WOUNDED.
“The British soldiers were disguised as tourists….” On Saturday, 20th August 1988, a 52-seater unmarked bus carrying 36 passengers – “tourists” – was travelling on the Curr Road near Ballygawley in County Tyrone at half-an-hour into the new day when it moved to overtake a parked car. And overtake it it did – by about 100 yards, leaving behind a six-foot crater. The bus was carrying members of the ‘Light Infantry Regiment’ of the British Army, disguised as tourists, from RAF Aldergrove to a British Army base near Omagh. The then British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, ended her holiday in Cornwall and returned to Downing Street , probably not by bus, “for consulations with her advisers”.
On the 21st August 1988, the ‘New York Times’ stated – “The blast occurred shortly after midnight, when the 52-seat bus, which carried no military markings, was about nine miles from its destination, an army barracks at Omagh, 55 miles west of Belfast. The soldiers were returning from leave in England. According to the I.R.A. statement, the bomb was made of 200 pounds of plastic explosives. The blast left a crater six feet deep in the road and sent wreckage flying as far as 100 yards from the center of the explosion….” The PIRA issued a statement in which they declared that they would not lay down their arms “….until the peace of a British disengagement from Ireland….” had been achieved ; and in that – not the ‘job’ itself – they were being either dishonest or were being mislead as, two years previously, they had agreed to support, politically, a Leinster House political party which now administers British ‘rule’ in six Irish counties. In regards to Irish republicanism, Adams and his supporters have missed the bus.
Thanks for reading, Sharon.