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 talked to the politicians in Leinster House about “…your nation’s historic regard for personal freedom…” and, at that precise moment – just after noon – the women prisoners in the Bridewell were being taken from their cells to a large underground room, under the courts – Ann Barr, Lucia Bergmann, Elaine Bradley, Anne Browne, Mary Chance… “…freedom..” , said Ronald Reagan, “…is the flagship and flashfire of the future. Its spark ignites the deepest and noblest aspirations of the human soul.”

Monica Corish left her cell, and Anne Claffey, Agnes Deegan, Mary Duffy, Orla Ni Eirli and Miriam Fitzsimons… “…the conditions on which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance..” , said Ronald Reagan, quoting John Philpot Curran, “…we must not hesitate to express our dream of freedom. We must not be reluctant to enunciate the crucial distinctions between right and wrong…” Sister Frances, a nun from ‘Sisters For Justice’, left her cell, as did Marese Hegarty, Marion Howe, Aileen Jones, Mary Killian, Sheila McCarthy, Aileen McQuillan, Sofia Maher, Ludy Methorsg and Jane Morgan…

“…let us not take the counsel of our fears. Let us instead offer the world a politics of hope, a forward strategy for freedom..” Petra Breatnach was brought from Cabra to join the women in the big room at the Bridewell. She had been detained for about 45 hours already. Mary Kay Mullen was brought from her cell, Caroline O’ Connor and Monica O’Connor, Catherine O’Reilly and Ruth O’Rourke… “…those old verities, those truths of the heart – human freedom under God – are on the march everywhere in the world. All across the world oday – in the shipyards of Gdansk, the hills of Nicaragua, the rice paddies of Kampuchea, the mountains of Afghanistan – the cry again is ‘liberty’…” (MORE LATER).


Ed Moloney speaks to a leading member of the Provisionals who has been authorised to speak on behalf of the (P)IRA Army Council.
From ‘Magill’ magazine, September 1980.

Ed Moloney : There has been a considerable reduction in IRA activity in 1980 compared with the two previous years. What is the reason for that lull?

IRA : First of all, we’re not at all dismayed by what we have achieved this year. We have to maintain a certain level of armed activity to effect political change within the Six Counties, to make “political progress” impossible. We have effectively done that this year. For example the Atkins’ proposals are getting nowhere and the SDLP, who have risen to power on the back of our armed struggle, and the Loyalists, have mutually incongruous political manifestos which we have helped to temper on both sides, although saying that the Loyalists are inherently sectarian anyway.

The other aspect of our armed struggle is to affect the morale of the British Army and to create an impact on the British people. We have not managed to match last year’s performance this year. That is because circumstances have been forced upon us and there have been some material problems. But we are totally confident that we can overcome these short term problems. The British are sliding into their 1977 mistake of predicting our defeat. They’re fighting a statistical war, we’re not. We’re fighting a political war.

The Brits are saying the Provos are beaten, operations are down, there’s less poundage of explosives used, four soldiers less have died this year etc. That’s a false confidence and that’s OK with us because we will wreck it when we choose to. (MORE LATER).


British Prime Minister David Lloyd George (left) and Eamonn De Valera, the then President of the Irish Republic, sketched in June 1921 – on the 24th of that month, Lloyd George sent the following letter to de Valera :


The British Government are deeply anxious that, so far as they can assure it, the King’s appeal for reconciliation in Ireland shall not have been made in vain. Rather than allow yet another opportunity of settlement in Ireland to be cast aside, they felt it incumbent upon them to make a final appeal, in the spirit of the King’s words, for a conference between themselves and the representatives of Southern and Northern Ireland, I write, therefore, to convey the following invitation to you as the chosen leader of the great majority in Southern Ireland, and to Sir James Craig, the Premier of Northern Ireland:

(1) That you should attend a conference here in London, in company with Sir James Craig, to explore to the utmost the possibility of a settlement.

(2) That you should bring with you for the purpose any colleagues whom you may select. The Government will, of course, give a safe conduct to all who may be chosen to participate in the conference.

We make this invitation with a fervent desire to end the ruinous conflict which has for centuries divided Ireland and embittered the relations of the peoples of these two islands, who ought to live in neighbourly harmony with each other, and whose co-operation would mean so much not only to the Empire but to humanity.

We wish that no endeavour should be lacking on our part to realise the King’s prayer, and we ask you to meet us, as we will meet you, in the spirit of conciliation for which His Majesty appealed.

I am, Sir, Your obedient servant,

D. Lloyd George.

The ‘tone’ and context of that letter must have set off alarm bells as far as the Irish republicans are concerned ; “..the King’s appeal for reconciliation in Ireland…rather than allow yet another opportunity of settlement in Ireland to be cast aside…(we) make a final appeal…explore to the utmost the possibility of a settlement…a fervent desire to end the ruinous conflict which has for centuries divided Ireland…(we) ought to live in neighbourly harmony with each other…in the spirit of conciliation..” – it reads like a letter sent by a ‘neutral outsider’ to one of two combatants, pleading for peace, rather than that what it was, which was a letter from the aggressor to those that he is aggressing. Par for the course, as far as that man was concerned – on Monday, 22nd December 1919, his ‘Bill for the Better Government of Ireland’ (known here simply as ‘The Partition Bill’) was read to the British Parliament and was passed into British law in 1920, but did not come into force until May 1921. Not by any means the beginning of our ‘troubles’ with Westminster, but a definite continuance of same. Indeed, one of his own son’s said of him – “Father was sick of the Irish Republicans. He was quite willing to let them have what they seemed determined to have ; an impoverished semi-peasant country with their peat fires and undrained bogs and dreams of glory seen in a fine mist of alcohol…” and, speaking of alcohol, was it possible that ‘By George’ was completely sober when,
on Monday 5th December 1921, he announced to the Irish side (during the ‘Treaty of Surrender’ discussions) that he had written two letters, one of which would now be sent to his people in Ireland ; one letter told of a peaceful outcome to the negotiations, the other told of a breakdown in the negotiations – Lloyd George stated that if he sent the latter one
“…it is war, and war within three days. Which letter am I to send?” British ‘negotiations/negotiators’ at their best!

Anyway : the reply sent to Lloyd George (from de Valera, on the 8th July 1921) was, by contrast, not ‘loaded/spiked’ like that which it was in reply to and, in my opinion, could have been more ‘direct’ in leaving Lloyd George and his staff in no doubt but that Irish republicans considered themselves the defenders in the war and rejected the implication in the British letter that Westminster was a concerned ‘neutral outsider’ in the conflict :


The desire you express on the part of the British Government to end the centuries of conflict between the peoples of these two islands, and to establish relations of neighbourly harmony, is the genuine desire of the people of Ireland.

I have consulted with my colleagues and secured the views of the representatives of the minority of our Nation in regard to the invitation you have sent me.

In reply, I desire to say that I am ready to meet and discuss with you on what bases (sic) such a Conference as that proposed can reasonably hope to achieve the object desired.

I am, Sir,

Faithfully yours,

Eamon de Valera.

However : on Monday, 11th July 1921, a truce came into effect, hostilities ceased and, on the 6th December 1921, a (shaky) ‘stepping stone’ (which gave those using same the means by which they could sign their own death warrants) of a treaty (the ‘Treaty of Surrender’) was signed in London and today, 94 years later, the issue remains unsolved. But it’s early yet….


Tom Maguire (pictured, left): born 28th March 1892, died 5th July 1993, 101 years old at the time of his death.

Tom Maguire is one of the many Irish Republican men and women that the Republican Movement was, is and always will be, guided by : ‘When the majority of (P)IRA and (P)Sinn Féin decided to abandon abstentionism in the 1969/70 split, Ruairí Ó Brádaigh and Dáithí Ó Conaill sought and secured Maguire’s recognition of the Provisional IRA as the legitimate successor to the 1938 Army Council. Of the seven 1938 signatories, Maguire was the only one still alive. Likewise in the aftermath of the 1986 split in the Republican Movement, Maguire signed a statement in 1986….(which) was issued posthumously in 1996: he conferred this legitimacy on the Army Council of the Continuity IRA (who provided a firing party at Maguire’s funeral in 1993)…..’ (from here.)

In a statement on the 8th December 1938, the surviving members of the Second Dáil announced the following : “Dáil Éireann, in consequence of armed opposition ordered and sustained by England, and the defection of elected representatives of the people over the period since the Republican Proclamation of Easter 1916 was ratified, three years later, by the newly inaugurated Government of the Irish Republic, hereby delegate the authority reposed in us to the Army Council, in the spirit of the decision taken by Dáil Éireann in the spring of 1921, and later endorsed by the Second Dáil. In thus transferring the trust of which it has been our privilege to be the custodians of for twenty years, we earnestly exhort all citizens and friends of the Irish Republic at home and abroad to dissociate themselves openly and absolutely from England’s unending aggression’s and we urge on them to disregard England’s recurring war scares, remembering that our ancient and insular nation, bounded entirely by the seas, has infinitely less reason to become involved in the conflicts now so much threatened than have the neutral small nations lying between England and the Power she desires to overthrow.

Confident, in delegating this sacred trust to the Army of the Republic that, in their every action towards its consummation, they will be inspired by the high ideals and the chivalry of our martyred comrades, we, as Executive Council of Dáil Éireann, Government of the Republic, append our names : Sean O Ceallaigh (Ceann Comhairle), George Count Plunkett, Professor William Stockley, Mary Mac Swiney, Brian O hUiginn, Tom Maguire, Cathal O Murchadha.”

In December, 1969, following a split in the Republican Movement over the issue of the recognition of and participation in the Partition and Westminster parliaments, Thomas Maguire, as the sole surviving member of the Executive of the Second Dáil Éireann, recognised the Provisional Army Council, which remained true to the Irish Republic as the lawful Army of the Thirty-two County Irish Republic. In a statement dated 31st December, 1969, Thomas Maguire said: An IRA convention, held in December 1969, by a majority of the delegates attending, passed a resolution removing all embargoes on political participation in parliament from the Constitution and Rules of the IRA….in 1986 there was another split in the Republican Movement and again it was over the issue of recognition of the 26 County State…on the 25th of July 1987 Thomas Maguire issued another statement declaring the Continuity IRA as the lawful Army of the 32-County Irish Republic…(more here.)

This republican strategist will be remembered on Sunday 5th July 2015 – those attending are asked to assemble at Cross Cemetery, Mayo, at 9pm. “The Irish Republic proclaimed in arms in Easter week 1916 and established by the democratic majority vote of the people in the General Election of 1918, has been defended by Irish Republicans for several generations. Many have laid down their lives in that defence. Many others have suffered imprisonment and torture. I am confident that the cause so nobly served will yet triumph” – IRA Comdt. General Tom Maguire.


“Sinn Féin opposes the proposed state visit of the Queen of England, Commander-in-Chief of the British armed forces until there is complete withdrawal of the British military and the British administration from Ireland. And until there is justice and truth for victims of collusion, no official welcome should be accorded to any officer of the British armed forces of any rank…it is totally unacceptable that the Taoiseach is, on the one hand, welcoming and preparing for a visit to Ireland by the Queen of England, while on the other hand he refuses to pursue the British Prime Minister and the British government on the issue of collusion…”

Martin McGuinness welcomed and shook hands with the same British ‘queen’ referred to by Pearse Doherty, but McGuinness refused to take Doherty’s advice ie he (McGuinness) didn’t take that opportunity to pursue or indeed even raise “the issue of collusion” with the woman. Where is Pearse Doherty’s statement re same? Or his statement condemning (P)Sinn Féin Mayor of Cashel, Councillor Michael Browne, for meeting and shaking hands with the same British ‘queen’ (“I just said to her ‘Welcome to Cashel, Your Majesty, and I hope you enjoy your stay’ “) [from here] ?

To clarify the issue – and before readers start ‘googling’ with search terms like ‘revolt in Provo Sinn Féin over British Queen’ (as if!!) – it should be noted that the above statement was issued by Pearse Doherty on the 24th June 2010 : five years ago on this date! Perhaps on the 24th June 2020 , Pearse will issue a statement (from Westminster!) condemning Martin McGuinness (who will be in the British ‘House of Lords’ by then, no doubt) for having met that British ‘queen’…!


“I’m finding it tough….you know you have to maybe get your hair done a bit more often, maybe put a bit more into make-up and a bit more into clothing than you would normally put. From that side of it, it can be expensive….” the words of Provisional Sinn Féin Leinster House member for Cork East, Sandra McLellan, who is in the news again, but this time for a different type of ‘blusher’.

As an elected member in Leinster House, Sandra is paid €1930 a week, of which (it is claimed) her party takes €1222, leaving her with a weekly wage of only (!) €708. On top of that, she receives €104 a week in ‘expenses’, giving her a combined total of only (!) €812 a week to try and not just survive on, but to buy cosmetics and matching outfits out of, too. No wonder the poor girl is “finding it tough…”!
Indeed, that is more than likely why she is apparently unsure if she has paid (or will pay?) her water tax ‘bill’ – she simply hasn’t got the money. Sandra would break your melt, as they say in Cork….


..1316 – at the Siege of Carrickfergus Castle by the Bruce army during a parley the castle defenders seized 30 Scots. The Laud Annals reports that 8 of these were killed and eaten….(from here.)

..1374 – a sudden outbreak of St. John’s Dance causes people in the streets of Aachen, Germany, to experience hallucinations and begin to jump and twitch uncontrollably until they collapse from exhaustion….the populace danced wildly through the streets, screaming of visions and hallucinations, and even continued to writhe and twist after they were too exhausted to stand. The dancing mania quickly spread throughout Europe…it involved groups of people, sometimes thousands at a time, who danced uncontrollably and bizarrely. Men, women, and children would dance through the streets of towns or cities, sometimes foaming at the mouth until they collapsed from fatigue…in the eyes of the church, those suffering from St. John’s Dance were possessed by the devil… (from here and, no doubt, ‘in the eyes’ of the dancers, the church and/or most of its representatives could be said to be ‘possessed by the devil’.)

..1754 – death of Robin Downes. Thomas Waite writes: “Yesterday morning Robin Downes, member for Kildare, was found in his parlour in his house in Dawson Street with a sword run through his body. There are hopes of his recovery. He himself says…that he received the wound in a fair duel…but the general opinion seems to be that he transfixed himself, though no one pretends to assign the reason. My Lord Kildare is come to town in vast agitation at this accident. The election for a burgess at Athy comes on next Monday, and Robin was one of his Lordship’s most powerful advocates at the late bustle in that town. Rumour has given Downes Commissioner Bourke or Wat Weldon for an antagonist, but I believe quite without reason…” (see ‘Thomas Waite to the Same’, here.)

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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