Last month, 28 women who protested peacefully in the Phoenix Park, Dublin, against US President Ronald Reagan’s visit to Ireland received £1000 each arising from their action for wrongful arrest. Gene Kerrigan recalls the weekend when another State determined Irish security requirements and details the garda action which could cost tens of thousands of pounds. From ‘Magill’ magazine, May 1987.


Ronald Reagan was due to visit Ireland on June 1st 1984, but the protests began a week earlier, on Saturday May 26th, with a march through central Dublin, from the Garden of Remembrance to the Department of Foreign Affairs in St. Stephen’s Green. A large number of protests were scheduled for the following ten days – marches, rallies , fasts, a Penal Mass on the hills outside Ballyporeen and a ‘Climb for Peace’ up the Galtymore mountains.

There were two central organising bodies for the protests ; the ‘Reagan Reception Committee’ was made up of the hard left and the ‘Irish Campaign Against Reagan’s Foreign Policy’ (ICARFP) was made up of about thirty organisations, including anti-nuclear groups, those opposed to American involvement in the Phillipines, Chile, El Salvador and Nicaragua, religious groups, the Committee for Travellers’ Rights and the Irish Mennonite Movement. All of the demonstrations planned were discussed openly and were widely advertised, and all of the plans were for peaceful protests.

Many of the groups associated with ICARFP were non-violent not only in the negative sense of believing that violence would not achieve their aims but in the sense that they believed that a strategy of passive resistance in itself is one which will in the long run achieve world peace. Groups intending to take part in the May 26th 1984 march received notes from ICARFP – ‘The gardai have extended their fullest cooperation this afternoon, many giving up a weekend. Please make their work and the work of stewards, who are all volunteers, as easy as possible…..(so that we can) express through this non-violent and peaceful protest a message of hope and confidence in humanity.’ (MORE LATER).



The vehicle for these tactics is the new re-organised IRA. The process of re-organisation started, by some accounts, in the Spring of 1977 and according to one leading IRA source, is still going on. Belfast, where the successes of the RUC were most evident, was the first to be re-organised, largely under the direction of a former Belfast Commander and a former Brigade Adjutant. Most of the old companies were gradually dissolved and their least known members re-trained and passed into the new four man cells and were joined by new recruits. The old Battalion staffs were also dissolved and the Belfast Brigade assigned the task of coordinating the new cells. The Belfast Brigade still has three Battalions but they are composed of known IRA men who passed into the new civil and military Administration wing of the movement.

The other seven areas of IRA activity in the North – Fermanagh, East Tyrone, South Derry, South Down, North Armagh, Derry City and South Armagh – were with varying success re-organised during the latter part of 1977 and most of 1978. South Armagh, where the IRA had always operated what amounted to a form of cellular structure, was the last to be re-organised in the Spring of 1979. In fact little was changed in South Armagh, except the area’s relationship to the new Northern Command. The captured British Army intelligence assessment of the IRA, which fell in to the hands of the IRA in January 1979 (it was studied for several months before release to the Press Association in May) demonstrated the dearth of information about the new structures in intelligence circles.

In ‘a tentative order of battle’, the document’s author, General Sir James Glover, supposed that all the new cells were directly coordinated by the Northern Command. In fact it seems that there are a number of structures interposed between the Northern Command and the cells. Some areas, like Belfast, are coordinated by a Brigade staff. Other areas are coordinated by local Commands, a watered down version of a Brigade Staff. Some areas are so weak that they can only support one or two cells and they are directly coordinated by the Northern Command. One area still retains the Battalion structure, and the three Battalions in that area report to, and are co-ordinated directly by, the Northern Command.

It’s a confused and mixed structure whose features seem to be determined entirely by area strength. The effect though is to make British Army and RUC penetration extremely difficult. Its principal advantage seems to be increased security and secrecy for the cells, but its Achilles heel is that it is highly dependent on good co-ordination at local Brigade and Command level, as well as at Northern Command level, what the British Army terms ‘middle management’. The arrest and imprisonment of a small number of leaders would seriously impair the organisation – hence demands from senior British Army officers after Warrenpoint for the introduction of selective internment. (MORE LATER).


….is the date and time when a protest by anti-water tax campaigners will be held, in opposition to the arrests of , to date, 23 people who have protested against this double tax. The State and its ‘Irish Water Police’ believe they can intimidate protesters into compliance regarding this unjust tax and, on Saturday next , the 21st February 2015, we will have one of many opportunities to show them that that is not the case. See you there on Saturday !


‘…PSNI chief reveals allegations against reinstated officers….in a written answer, Mr Hamilton said the allegations against the eight reinstated officers include:
misconduct in public office….perverting the course of justice….driving with excess alcohol….death in custody….
sale of counterfeit goods….theft….disorderly behaviour….tampering with a motor vehicle (and) a further 18 PSNI officers remain suspended from all duties during the disciplinary process. “In light of the extraordinary budget cuts and pressing staff losses, the decision was taken to review all suspensions with a view to return any of the suspended officers to duty in a restricted capacity,” Mr Hamilton added….’
(from here.)

The ‘chief’ would no doubt share the position of those others that work within the British system in occupied Ireland that the above “officers” represent only a mere ‘blip’ – a stain rather than a spill, if you know what I mean – in regards to the conduct of his overall ‘police force’ in this country. But, “dark side” , as some would have you believe, or representative of British ‘policing’ and, indeed, the British presence itself in this country, as Irish republicans believe, the fact is that the British presence and those that enforce it here – regardless of whether they do so with a heavy hand (“the Dark Side”) or with a softer touch (the ‘reformed RUC’) – are not wanted in Ireland and will never be acceptable to Irish republicans.


If, in order to be digestible and catch your attention, Irish history has to be presented to you accompanied by flashing 3D lights and images, a 33-week-long exhibition in a hired theatre in O’Connell Street and various re-enactments of events linked to that history, then you leave yourself open to the charge that you are perhaps more interested in the presentation than in that which is being presented.

At the very least, it will be the show/presentation itself which will be critiqued, at the expense of the events being commemorated and, on the particular occasion of the centenary of the 1916 Rising, the subject matter will be further confused by the fact that those planning the ‘flyovers and fireworks’ either assist in administering British rule in Ireland or ‘just’ politically support same from a distance. Those who prefer substance over ‘style’ – quality over quantity, that is – and who would much rather leave the flashy stuff to those who mistakenly equate ‘style’ with substance, will be given the opportunity to do so by keeping the date outlined here in mind. In the context of the centenary of the 1916 Rising as planned by those ‘flyover and firework’ merchants, ‘style’ equals ‘spin’ and, speaking of which, here’s a few verses from ‘Dadga’ re same, courtesy of ‘Facebook’ :


It visits seeking approval

calling us by name,

Then blinds us from the chamber

and plays it’s master’s game.

It commemorates our fallen

but condemns those still engaged,

It visits our brave prisoners,

and pretends to be enraged.

It colours green the city hall and speaks our native tongue,

It proudly parades at Easter, but gave away our guns.

It lashes down on volunteers, attacking their reputations,

and in the night it travels, to local PSNI stations.

In years gone by it stood at our side, now viciously looks down,

It works tirelessly to tame us, but shakes hands with the crown.

The new breed renews the fight, to struggle on again,

As it walks, itself alone, along the road to fame.


“…when I became an Irish republican, I didn’t become an Irish republican to retire at retirement age. I became an Irish republican to go to my grave as an Irish republican**….the British Queen is much much older than I am…I regard her, even though she is at an elderly stage of her life, as someone who sets a very powerful example to many backwards people who refuse to become involved in the conciliation process….” (from here :**the ‘missed deadline’ we mentioned in our headline, above.)

No surprise there, really, in that this is not by any means the first time that McGuinness has voiced objection to any suggestion that Irish republicanism has a part to play regarding the on-going military and political occupation of this country by Westminster and,in doing so, by extension, voiced his support for the ‘kinder’ , more media friendly and ‘acceptable’ face of that occupation. It’s obvious from his words and mannerisms that he and his party, Provisional Sinn Féin, have achieved their objection – a vichy-type arrangement with the occupiers – and see it as their duty to ‘persuade’ others to join them at that particular trough. Yet, every Easter (and on other occasions) and, indeed, at Easter 2016, this man, and his Party, who consider Irish republicans to be “backwards”, are (and will be) loud in their praise for those that politically and militarily challenged the ‘right’ of Westminster to govern any part of Ireland. As stated in the preceding piece – ‘ It colours green the city hall and speaks our native tongue,it proudly parades at Easter, but gave away our guns….’ Martin McGuinness and his Party are not only physically unable to oppose the British political and military presence in Ireland, they are mentally and morally unfit to do so, as well.



– the words of Patrick Moran (pictured, left) , Adjutant of D Company Irish Volunteers, 2nd Battalion (Dublin), to his comrades Ernie O’Malley (who had passed himself off to the British as ‘Bernard Stewart’) and Frank Teeling as they were about to walk to freedom through a gate in Kilmainham Jail in Dublin, which they had forced open, on the 14th of February 1921. Patrick Moran believed he would be found innocent at his ‘trial’ and saw no reason why he should take the opportunity to escape. He was a ‘dangerous man’, as far as Westminster was concerned, and had been imprisoned in Dublin Castle on the 7th of January 1921 and charged with the ‘murder’ of two British Army/paramilitary gang members, Ames and Bennett, after been mistakenly identified as having been involved in the shooting dead of both men – Lieutenant Peter Ashmun Ames and British Army Lieutenant George Bennett (both of whom were in command of ‘The Cairo Gang’) on the 21st of November 1920 at 38 Upper Mount Street in Dublin. He stayed behind on the night of the prison break ,refusing to take part in same, having encouraged Simon Donnelly to go in his place, a decision which was was to cost Patrick Moran his life.

On the 15th of February 1921, he was put on ‘trial’ (during which sixteen people and an RIC man verified he was elsewhere!) but was, as expected, found ‘guilty’ and, three days later – on the 18th of February 1921, 94 years ago today – was transferred to Mountjoy Jail, Dublin. On Wednesday, 9th of March 1921, Patrick Moran was sentenced to death and he was executed by hanging five days later, on Monday, the 14th of March. He had defended the integrity of his country in Jacob’s Factory Garrison during Easter week in 1916, where he served under Thomas MacDonagh, and had been imprisoned at Knutsford and Woorwood Scrubs in England, and in Frongoch Internment Camp in Wales. He was one of ‘The Forgotten Ten’ in that he, and his nine comrades, were ‘forgotten’ by the State but have always been remembered by the Republican Movement.

Finally, the planning and execution of the escape itself is worthy of a few paragraphs : On the 11th February 1921, Frank Teeling and Ernie O’Malley were joined in Kilmainham Jail by Simon Donnelly , who was taken into their confidence and told of the up-coming plan of escape. The peep-holes in the cell doors were three inches in diameter and, if one of the men could get his arm through it, it would be possible to open the door from the outside ; the plan then was to make their way to the yard ,as the men had noticed that the door leading from the prison to the yard was usually left closed-over, but not locked, and then cross the yard to a large iron gate on the west side of the jail, cut the bolt on same and escape. A ‘Plan B’ had been made in case the bolt cutter should fail – IRA Volunteers from ‘F’ Company, Fourth Battalion, Dublin Brigade, would take up positions outside the prison wall with a rope ladder and, awaiting an agreed signal, throw in the rope attached to the ladder, so that the prisoners could haul the ladder over to their side of the wall.

Oscar Traynor, IRA Dublin Brigade O/C, had secured a bolt cutter and that, along with two revolvers, were packaged and smuggled into the prison by a friendly British soldier. The prisoners were not sure that the bolt cutter would be up to the job but were determined to carry out the escape plan, as Frank Teeling was in line for execution ; on the night of February 13th, 1921, the three men made their way to the outer prison gate but, as the handles of the bolt cutter were incorrectly fitted, they were unable to cut the bolt. They went to ‘Plan B’, and gave the signal for their comrades on the other side of the prison wall to throw in the rope attached to the ladder – the rope jammed on top of the wall and snapped when the men outside attempted to pull it back to them. The three prisoners had no alternative but to return to their cells. The following day, the British soldier who was in on the plan repaired/adjusted the handles on the bolt cutter and, that night, at 6.30pm, the three prisoners decided to make another escape attempt.

The three Irish republican prisoners again made their way down to the gate and, this time, the bolt cutter worked. They used butter and grease, which they saved from their meals, to help ease the remaining portion of the corroded bolt out from its latch and two of the men got their revolvers at the ready as the third man pulled on the heavy door which creaked open sluggishly on its rusty hinges and the three men walked out! Simon Donnelly had tried to persuade Patrick Moran to join them, but Moran – who was not involved in shooting Ames or Bennett, and had what he considered the perfect alibi for that night – refused to leave the prison except by the front gate as a free man. Patrick Moran
paid with his life for relying on British justice : not the first innocent man to be put to death by the British, and not the last Irish person to be punished by them in revenge.


“On my way to Knocksedan a little before mid-day I called at the Post Office in Lusk for stamps. The postmistress, whom I knew very well, asked me to accompany her to her sitting room. There she told me that she had just delivered a wire in code from Dublin Castle to the Lusk police sergeant. She was familiar with the code from frequent messages. This particular one to the police sergeant was to the effect that he was to make immediate arrangements for the arrest of Ashe and myself! I mention this incident because I think that similar messages were sent to various Volunteer centres in the country, and because it tends to show that the Rising leaders were right in their view that there was to be a general swoop by Dublin Castle on that day….

….the police attack was being directed by a District Inspector Smyth, an exArmy officer. At the other (southern or Cross Roads) end a County Inspector Gray was directing operations. Gray was severely wounded early in the fighting, leaving Smyth in sole command. Soon after Frank Lawless’s arrival an intermittent duel began between his and Smyth’s squad. Smyth was eventually mortally wounded by a shot from Lawless. This left the police without a leader with the result that they lost morale. Very soon after Smyth being knocked out, Lawless and his Volunteer squad came out on the roadway and, firing intermittently, moved at the double towards the motor cars. On seeing them some of the police peared from under cover of the cars with their hands up…”
(from here.)

– the above is taken from ‘Document W.S.97’ , a statement made on the 18th February 1948 by Dr. Richard Hayes, a medical officer and Commandant of the 5th Battalion, Dublin Brigade of the Irish Volunteers, as part of a questionnaire into Volunteer activities in north county Dublin during Easter Week , 1916. Hayes and his men were active in Donabate, Swords, Garristown and Ashbourne and, following the Rising, he was sentenced to 20 years imprisonment but was released in June 1917. He was imprisoned again for republican activities between May 1918 and March 1919 and from November 1920 to July 1921.

However, he ruined his credentials by supporting the Treaty of Surrender and entered the Westminster-imposed Leinster House institution in 1922 and soon after joined the Free State ‘Cumann na nGaedheal’ party. He resigned from Leinster House in 1924 and turned his back completely on political life, perhaps because he realised that that which he fought for as a republican was not obtainable through the politics of the Free State and its ‘parliament’, Leinster House? He died on the 16th of June, 1958, in his 80th year.

Thanks for reading, Sharon.

About 11sixtynine

A mother of three (and a Granny!) and a political activist , living in Dublin , Ireland.
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