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.


Once the details of the various prisoners had been ascertained by the four solicitors , Heather Celmalis and Ruth-Anne FitzGerald began drawing up affidavits for a writ of habeas corpus , and then they had to find a judge – not an easy task on the Sunday evening of a bank holiday weekend, but they had a list of court registrars and they began phoning around.

In Dublin Castle the State’s elite were gathering for a banquet to honour U.S. President Ronald Reagan. Some of the prisoners had wondered ruefully how many of the judges whom the lawyers were trying to contact would be at the banquet! That evening, the ‘Irish Campaign Against Reagan’s Foreign Policy’ (ICARFP) group had organised a protest march, ‘Ring Around Reagan’ , in which ten thousand people marched in a circle through the streets around Dublin Castle and a poem written by one of the prisoners, Sue Russell, was read at the demonstration and at the end of the protest hundreds split off and marched down to the Bridewell, and began chanting “Let the women go!”.

Inside, the women were exhausted – some were grateful for the support but wished the marchers would keep the noise down and, as the chanting grew more aggressive, some of the women grew anxious. They disliked and feared aggression, even when directed against their jailers. Some feared violence might break out. Outside, the women who had not been arrested started singing, trying to calm the crowd. The demonstration eventually fizzled out. (MORE LATER).



The effect of the article when it landed on breakfast tables at the Hudson’s Bay and Shamrock Lodge hotels where the Provo delegates were staying was, to say the least, traumatic. According to one source, the uproar from rural delegates was such that Gerry Adams was forced to deny other reports that there were Marxists in the Provos.

According to another source ‘there would have been a walkout’ if he hadn’t. Needless to say leading Provisionals are not keen to talk about Athlone – “We wouldn’t want to air that sort of thing in the press”, says Dáithí Ó Conaill, “we don’t have any fundamental differences and any we do have will be settled internally”. But according to another source, Athlone was something of a victory for the traditionalists – ‘Marxism is now a dirty word in the Provos’, he says.

Since then the Provisionals have spent their time healing wounds. Ó Conaill was elected joint Vice President with Gerry Adams at the last Ard Fheis and Ruairí Ó Brádaigh, a consummate wound healer if ever there was one, symbolically spans the gap between. Between May and July this year leading Ard Comhairle members representing both wings have toured the country. In a public show of unity, Ó Brádaigh, Ó Conaill, Joe Cahill, Charlie McGlade, and Niall Fagan of the traditionalists, and Gerry Adams, Foreign Affairs spokesman Richard Behal, and An Phoblacht/Republican News editor, Danny Morrison for the radicals, took pains to assure Sinn Féiners throughout Ireland that the trouble was over and that unity and peace reigned once again in their movement.



Crumlin Road Jail, Belfast – designed in 1841, opened ‘for business’ in 1845, closed as a place of detention in 1996.

Early on a Saturday morning – 21st March 1943 – as the Logue family of Harding Street, Derry, were about to sit down for their breakfast, they noticed a part of their small garden rising up and being pushed back – their garden wall formed part of the perimeter of a neighbouring premises, Derry Jail : a figure pulled himself up from the hole in the ground and began assisting others that were trying to scramble to their feet. Within minutes there were 21 men (including Patrick Donnelly, Ned Maguire, Hugh McAteer (IRA Chief of Staff), Liam Graham and the last man to be pulled from the tunnel, Brendan O’Boyle) assembled in the small garden, all of whom rushed into the Logue house and let themselves out through the front door. They ran to near-by Abercorn Place and jumped into a waiting lorry, a furniture removal van, which was driven by an on-the-run IRA man, Jimmy Steele, who had recently liberated himself from Crumlin Road Prison. The British offered a reward of £3000 for information leading to the recapture of the men, but there were no takers!

That was in 1943 : on the 9th of August 1971, the British introduced ‘internment without trial’ in the Six Counties. Within weeks, 1,500 ‘suspected terrorists’ are put behind bars, not only in the new Long Kesh internment camp, but in other prisons throughout the Six County area. The Long Kesh camp, which was built on an old RAF airfield near Lisburn, in County Antrim, was ‘home’ to about three-hundred of the internees, while another group, consisting of about one-hundred-and-fifty men, were interned on ‘The Maidstone’, a prison ship moored at the coal wharf in Belfast Docks. An estimated one-thousand internee’s (and remand prisoners) were held in Crumlin Road Jail, in Belfast, resulting in serious over-crowding ; so the ‘prisoners’ set-about giving themselves more space!

During a prison football match in September that year (1971) , five internees made their way to a section of the wall at the opposite end of where the match was being played – they carried bed-sheets knotted together, with a wooden ‘hook’ made from prison tables and/or chairs tied to one end of the ‘rope’.
With the football game in full swing, and the prison-screws relieved to have something to watch and help them pass a few hours, the five men succeeded in their efforts to have the ‘hook’ grip the top of the wall. As the five men climbed up the ‘rope’ as best they could, a nail-bomb exploded on the Antrim Road, which was the far-side of the wall ; the men continued their climb and, on reaching the top of the prison wall, they were startled to find themselves looking down on armed British soldiers – the Brits were probably just as surprised to be looking up at them! The nail-bomb explosion had drawn a British Army patrol to that same spot ; the men on top of the wall went into reverse, climbed back down the way they had come up and mingled with their fellow-prisoners, watching the match. That was September 1971 ; the failed escape bid at least indicated that the idea was sound. It was decided to continue with the football matches, but not to attempt an escape during same,for the time being, at least.
Over the following few weeks, arrangements were made with the then IRA on the outside for another escape attempt , using an improved version of the September idea ; rope ladders.

It was agreed that the escape attempt would take place on the 16th November 1971, and that nine prisoners would locate themselves at a certain section of the prison wall on that date, at a specific time. The nine men – Seamus Storey, Thomas Maguire, Thomas Fox, Peter Hennessy, Bernard Ellison Thomas Kane, Terence Clarke, Chris Keenan and David Mullan – were all anxious to escape. The barbed-wire fence on the outside of the prison wall would be cut to allow the men a quick exit , and cars would be waiting for them. On that date – 16th November 1971 – a football match was organised, as usual, and the prison-screws were happy enough to have something going-on to distract them from their miserable jobs ; not to be distracted, however, were the nine men – as the football match was underway , an IRA unit had parked a couple of cars on the Antrim Road and were already inside the barbed-wire perimeter fence, having cut through same unnoticed. Rope-ladders were unfurled and thrown over the prison-wall. The nine men climbed up the ladders and down the other side, got into the waiting cars and drove off at high speed towards the border. In County Tyrone, near Omagh, two of the escaped prisoners – Chris Keenan and David Mullan – were caught by the British, but there was no sign of the other seven men. It later transpired that they had sought and received sanctuary in a Cistercian Monastery near the border.

The escape made international headlines, and the British Government were further embarrassed when the seven escapees held a press conference in Dublin. The seven men exposed the torture they received from the British and the conditions that their captors held them in. Within about only two weeks of what became known as the escape of ‘The Crumlin Kangaroo’s’, it happened again – on 2nd December, 1971, three IRA men in the same Crumlin Road Jail – Martin Meehan, ‘Dutch’ Doherty and Hugh McCann – tied some bed sheets together, fashioned a ‘hook’ for the top sheet and successfully escaped from the prison. As is usual in these events, it wasn’t long before a song commemorating the escapes was penned!

That was in 1971 : on the 10th of June, 1981 (34 years ago on this date) , the ‘IRA M60 Squad’ escaped from that same prison : they took hostages, wore uniforms, had three handguns between the eight of them and they exited the same way as they had entered – through the front gate! You can read an account of what happened here.


Larry White (left), shot dead on this date (10th June) in 1975, apparently by a person closely connected to a Free State minister…

‘On 10 June 1975, Larry White, a leading Saor Éire activist from Cork was shot several times on Mount Eden Road. He died of his injuries a short time later. The Official IRA are widely believed to have been responsible for the killing with a number of members claiming that White had aided the INLA in shooting and injuring Sean Garland in Ballymun in March of that year. In 1976 a number of members of the Official Republican Movement were convicted of the murder of Larry White, among them Bernard Lynch (the husband of Labour party TD Kathleen Lynch). The case was later quashed on the basis of evidence at the original trial was no longer admissible….’ (from here.)

‘The extraordinary saga began in 1975, when Larry White was a member of republican splinter group Saor Éire. He fell out with Official Sinn Féin – one of many splits between republican factions that occurred during the period…..he did not suspect, however, that his position would cost him his life. Mr White was killed in a hail of bullets as he was walking home at midnight on June 10, 1975, in Cork city. The 25-year-old didn’t stand a chance: he had been hit 12 times, mostly in the head. “You can take that,” the gunman was heard to say before he made his getaway…..during the trial, three statements – admitted as evidence by the Special Criminal Court – were crucial. Between them the statements put Bernard Lynch at the heart of the murder plot, and at one point even identified him as the gunman….’

‘It was the feud, the time between the Stickies and the Provos…the minister’s husband was the Stickie, Bernie Lynch. The victim was Provo IRA man Larry White….he had shot Larry White dead in an IRA feud in Cork city, he and his wife the present minister (Kathleen Lynch) ,then belonging to the Official IRA. That was back in the Seventies…. (from here.)

The Irish state covering up murder: The hypocrisy of the Labour Party has resurfaced as Kathleen Lynch recently appointed her husband Bernard Lynch as a paid advisor to her Office and the Dublin Government. Bernard Lynch was found guilty of been involved in the murder of Irish Republican Larry White in 1975, and was only released on a technicality as the Gardaí took a statement from a State witness after his detention period had elapsed. At the time of the murder of Vol. Larry White, Official Sinn Féin/the Workers Party were operating as a criminal gang throughout Ireland, and were heavily involved in bank robberies, extortion, money laundering, and later in the distribution and sale of illegal drugs….when members of Official Sinn Féin/the Workers Party murdered Larry White in Cork in 1975 it was to further their own criminal activities, and had nothing to do with national or social ideology…..the progression of Official Sinn Féin/the Workers Party into Democratic Left and now the Labour Party doesn’t absolve members of his group from their criminal activities, nor does it give them immunity from prosecution, whether its in relation to any one of the murders they committed or the misappropriation of funds that were stolen from (Official) Sinn Féin throughout the late 1960’s and early 70’s…. (from here.)

Finally, it never rains but it pours : Kathleen’s husband is not that family’s only member with ‘a bit of previous’ – ‘Bernard’s brother Brian, 58, was suspected of being the brains behind a massive counterfeiting scam uncovered by gardaí in a raid at Repsol Ltd, which was on the ground floor of the Workers’ Party Dublin headquarters in 1983….Brian Lynch was one of a number of men wanted for questioning by gardaí in relation to the operation….Gardaí have never been able to question him about his alleged role in the forgery ring despite alerting Interpol and other organisations….there has never been a garda prosecution, but sources this week said the case remains open and the warrant to arrest him for questioning remains active…’ (from here.)
However, in fairness – and to their credit – none of those mentioned are paedophile rapists….


Last Saturday, 6th June 2015, tens of thousands of supporters of Dunnes Stores workers took to the streets of Dublin to demand fair working conditions for employees of that conglomerate, which has a long history of trying to take advantage of its staff – a history which they, the owners/management, seem intent on persevering with.

I was in two minds whether to attend the Dunnes march or a local anti-double-water tax protest, which was being held at roughly the same time – some of my friends and colleagues were going to one or the other but myself and three friends finally decided to ‘go local’ , as we knew the Dunnes march would be supported by tens of thousands of people whereas the local water tax protest was never going to gain that level of street support (although it should). Anyway – about one hundred of us ended up outside the Community Civic Centre, in Ballyfermot, having marched on the road from near-by Clondalkin, and being cheered-on by hundreds of on-lookers along the way and ‘beeped’ repeatedly at by supportive motorists. Pics of that protest can be seen here.


Every year for as long as I can remember, Irish republicans have gathered at the grave of Theobald Wolfe Tone , in Sallins, County Kildare, to pay respect to one of our founding fathers and a man who continues to inspire us, and this year the commemoration will be held this coming Sunday, the 14th of June (details here) and, by coincidence (!! – don’t those organising committees ever talk to each other!) , the CABHAIR group are holding a 650-ticket raffle in a hotel which is not a million miles away from the village of Sallins. However, close and all as both events are, myself and the usual ‘raffle crew’ haven’t yet mastered the art of bilocation (!) and, unless we do so over the next few days, we will not, unfortunately, be able to make it to the Wolfe Tone commemoration.

Honestly! Some times I feel like throwing my hat at the whole thing and just buying a bottle of water in Dunnes, calling into an hotel on the Dublin/Kildare border for a bit of lunch and then going for a leisurely stroll in a small Kildare town. But there’s probably an organising committee somewhere that would screw that plan up on me !


Free State president, Michael D. Higgins (right of pic) is paid a salary of €5208 a week and is entitled to ‘expenses’ on top of that. A fiver, therefore, would be neither here nor there for the man, by which I mean he wouldn’t be stuck for a bob or two, no matter what circumstances he found himself in. Distressing, then, to watch as he finds himself and his media scrum within feet of a street busker, who was trying to earn a few shillings extra. Rather than just walk past the busker as if he wasn’t there and conscious that cameras were recording his movements, Higgins decides to feign interest in the man and make a donation to him : he puts a fiver in the collection ‘plate’ but then completely ruins the gesture by taking a few coins change from the ‘plate’!

Which, when you think about it, explains perfectly the mentality of Free State politicians – no matter how much they have (€5208 a week, in this case) , they can’t resist the ‘need’ to take more from the working class!

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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