PROSE AND CONS.
By prisoners from E1 Landing, Portlaoise Prison, 1999.
Grateful thanks to the following for their help, support, assistance and encouragement, and all those who helped with the typing and word processing over the past few months. Many thanks to Cian Sharkhin, the editor of the book, Mr Bill Donoghue, Governor, Portlaoise, Mr Seán Wynne, supervising teacher, the education unit in Portlaoise Prison and the education staff, especially Zack, Helena and Jane. Education officers Bill Carroll and Dave McDonald, Rita Kelly, writer, print unit, Arbour Hill.
First Print : November 1999, reprinted March 2000, illustrations by D O’Hare, Zack and Natasha. Photograph selection : Eamonn Kelly and Harry Melia.
Most of them pretend they are deaf
until they hear the till
the Judge shouts from the bench
Yes! they will
“That’s right, My Lord
there’s a ringing in my ears,
it wasn’t there before I joined the army
but now it’s my greatest fear
I can’t concentrate on what I do
I argue with the wife,
this message that lies between my ear drums
plays havoc with my life
I’m cross with the kids
people think I’m lying,
they don’t realise at times
all I’m doing is crying”
On the field of fire
the bullets whizzed in and out,
the Captain said he called for hours
I wondered why he didn’t shout,
“You’ve been disobeying orders lately
do you know that, McGuire?”
I pondered to myself
was he calling me a liar…?
(Next : ‘Physical Confinement’, by Paul Dillon.)
CHILEAN FIGHTERS NEED YOUR HELP NOW….
The following piece was published in the ‘Socialist Republic!’ newspaper in September 1986.
The Chilean people have recently created an armed wing of their struggle against the Pinochet dictatorship – the ‘Manuel Rodrigues Patriotic Front’. Although very little has been published in the press, their often spectacular actions of sabotage and attack on the regime forces have proven very successful. The following is a testimony of one of the fighters in the aftermath of one such operation.
“I get up and when I turn the corner I see a CNI car with two people inside. I take a deep breath and try to walk as normally as possible. One of those in the car says ‘That one, with the jacket’ and they get out of the car with their guns ready to shoot and they corner a young lad against the wall. He appears to be a student. I carry on walking for another block and I meet the main cordon. I am unable to go back so I carry on walking straight toward them. I go past the cars and the agents standing there – they take no notice and I keep going. I cross the street.
Seven blocks further on I feel faint. I see the sky falling in on me, then the trees, the houses and the ground. Sometime later I wake up in a church. The people’s hands have delivered me from the enemy.”
The British publishing group ‘Macmillan’ must have been sorely disappointed by the media’s reaction, or lack of it, to the launch last month of Paul Foot’s book ‘Who Framed Colin Wallace?’
By Eamonn McCann, from ‘Magill’ magazine, June 1989.
While engaged in his job as ‘press officer’, Colin Wallace became aware that action to end the homosexual abuse of adolescent boys at Kincora was being blocked by the intelligence services, presumably in the hope of using the situation for blackmail or information-gathering purposes. When Wallace finally baulked at these malpractices he was first transferred out of the North of Ireland and then forced out of the British Army, and then a most elaborate effort went into framing him for the killing of a friend in Sussex in 1980.
Wallace’s tale has been covered piecemeal in the past in both British and Irish media and this is the main explanation offered by a number of likely journalists for their attitude that notwithstanding the mildly dramatic manner of its publication, there wasn’t much news in Paul Foot’s book but, actually, there is significant new matter in it – hitherto unpublished details of what was happening in Kincora and ‘raw’ data about the operations against ‘unsound’ politicians, as well as much the most detailed and meticulous examination so far of the evidence on which Wallace was convicted of manslaughter.
Paul Foot draws the strands of this untidy tale together for the first time and puts the story in the context of other recent revelations about the British secret services, such as the Pointing, Wright and Massiter events. (MORE LATER).
ON THIS DATE (23RD SEPTEMBER) 39 YEARS AGO : “A THUNDERING DISGRACE”.
Ireland, 1970’s : turmoil in the country, due to the then-as-now unwanted political and military interference here by Westminster. The Leinster House administration was headed-up at the time by Fine Gael’s Liam Cosgrave , and among the many harsh laws introduced, enforced and ‘improved on’ by the Blueshirts was a censorship act, ‘Section 31’.
The then Free State President was a Fianna Fail man, Cearbhall Ó Dálaigh , said to be a compromise candidate by the powers-that-be at the time, as he fitted the requirements dictated by the ‘establishment’ (ie ‘a safe pair of hands’) – he was previously the Free State Attorney General and Chief Justice of the FS Supreme Court, and was given the Office, unopposed, in 1974, following the death of Erskine Hamilton Childers. But it was that legal training which raised a red flag with him in relation to a piece of legislation which the Blueshirt Leinster House administration wanted him to ‘rubber stamp’ – the ‘Emergency Powers Act’, and the fact that Ó Dálaigh and Cosgrave didn’t agree with each other, socially or politically, came into play : Ó Dálaigh refused to simply ‘sign off’ on the ‘EPA’ without first testing its constitutionally.
On the 23rd of September, 1976 – 39 years ago on this date – Ó Dálaigh spent four hours consulting with a bunch of posh suits known as the Free State ‘Council of State’ on whether or not it would be best practice to refer the legislation to the Free State Supreme Court to test its constitutionality before he could declare it to be ‘the law’ and it was decided that that would be the best thing to do, a decision which annoyed the Blueshirt administration. Just over three weeks later (ie on the 15th October 1976) the FS Supreme Court declared that the ‘EPA’ was a legitimate piece of legislation and it was only then that Ó Dálaigh deemed it necessary to sign-off on it, which he did, reluctantly (or so it was alluded at the time) but that ‘victory’ wasn’t enough for Cosgrave and his people – they considered themselves to have been disrespected by the actions of Ó Dálaigh and, three days later (ie on the 18th October 1976) , they could contain themselves no longer : it was on that date that the Free State Minister of Defence, Paddy Donegan, was opening a new Free State army barracks in Mullingar, County Westmeath (having, seemingly, forgot that Ó Dálaigh was the Commander-In-Chief of said army!) that he made a remark (he was concussed at the time, he later claimed!) which was to haunt him for the rest of his life. He ‘kicked himself up the transom’ , if you like, which wouldn’t have caused as much damage as firing a shotgun over dwellings in which people lived – more about that ‘eccentric’ (!) Free State politician can be read here…
The raffle was held on Sunday, 13th September last, after the usual five day preparation period and, as expected, it was a busy few days for those of us involved and a very successful one for the Dublin Executive of Republican Sinn Féin : all 650 tickets were sold, €440 was handed out in prize money and most of the tickets for the October raffle were distributed. The hotel was packed, as usual, and the fifty tickets that we managed to hold on to for sale on the day were bought up within twenty minutes of us having arrived on site. And that’s gonna cause problems for us at the next raffle, which will be held on Sunday 11th October – the hotel will be standing-room only, as the football team from this State are playing a match against Poland on that same date and a team representing the Six Counties are playing against Finland. Plus, Scotland are up against Gibraltar, Denmark are taking on France and, amongst other such fixtures, Serbia are playing against Portugal. A ‘full house’ in the raffle hotel is always good for business for them, once they have a good supply of food and drink to sell and the same goes for us – it would be good for our ‘business’ if only we had a good supply of tickets to sell, which we don’t, unfortunately. But we’re working on solving that problem…!
The ‘Eve of All-Ireland Rally’, which has been held in Dublin since the 1950’s (if not before), took place on Saturday 19th September last, on the traffic isle facing the GPO in O’Connell Street and was, as usual, extremely well organised by the RSF committee behind it as, indeed, it was in the 1950’s :
‘One of the largest public rallies seen in Dublin for years was held by Sinn Féin at the GPO on the eve of the All-Ireland Football Final . Headed by a Colour Party and a pipe band , a parade of more than 2,000 people marched from Parnell Square through the main city thoroughfare as a protest against the continued unjust imprisonment of Irishmen without charge or trial . Contingents from all over the country took part and many carried banners and placards including groups from England and Scotland . In the Ulster section was a strong representation of the Derry supporters who thronged the capital city for the Final . One placard they carried asked – ‘ Why are Six-County Nationalists interned in the Curragh?’ …..’ (From ‘An tÉireannach Aontaithe/The United Irishman’ newspaper, November 1958.)
The event was Chaired by Josephine Hayden and two RSF members – Des Dalton, President, and Geraldine McNamara, PRO – spoke from the lectern as did one uniformed member from Na Fianna Éireann.
Three-hundred-and-fifty ‘leaflet packs’, comprising 1,200 printed items of a republican nature, were distributed on O’Connell Street before and during the proceedings and were eagerly accepted by the public, as were the words of Des Dalton in relation to the recent Free State hijacking of a republican icon : “The hijacking of the remains of the executed 1916 leader Thomas Kent by the 26-County Administration is a blatant attempt by that discredited administration to claim ownership of the legacy of the 1916 Rising for its own political advantage. The Irish people will see through this for the empty charade that it is. However, it shows scant respect for the memory of our patriot dead.
The 26-County State came about through the suppression of the All-Ireland Republic proclaimed in 1916; its foundation moment lies in the passage of the Government of Ireland Act of 1920 through the British Parliament at Westminster and not the reading of the Proclamation at the GPO on Easter Monday 1916. They have no legitimacy in commemorating 1916; the 26-County State is a negation of everything that the All-Ireland Republic stood for as articulated in the 1916 Proclamation. In their haste to lay claim to the memory of Thomas Kent and the other patriots of 1916 the Leinster House establishment have accused Irish Republicans of ‘hijacking 1916’. How can republicans hijack something they have never abandoned? Irish republicans have faithfully commemorated the events of 1916 since 1917, at times they have faced imprisonment and harassment at the hands of the 26-County State for doing so. Infamously the Leinster House regime banned the 1976 commemoration, prosecuting the daughter of James Connolly, Nora Connolly O’Brien ,for her participation in the commemoration at the GPO as well as Fiona Plunkett, sister of Joseph Plunkett, another of the signatories of the 196 Proclamation.
Consequently these latest attempts ring hollow while the hijacking of the remains of our patriot deed is a distasteful act of political opportunism. 1916 belongs to the Irish people and those who are faithful to its ideals and vision of a New Ireland.”
A full report and more pics will be published in the October 2015 issue of ‘Saoirse’, which goes to print on Wednesday, 7th of that month.
TA GAEILGE BEAG AGAM – NI TIR GAN TEANGA!
Tá Facebook ag glanadh ainmneachaí Ghaeil, agus pobail mionlaigh eile, ón suíomh acu faoin bpolasaí “fíor ainm” agus ag iarraidh ar dhaoine cáipéisí a thaispeáint ag cruthú nach “bréag ainm” atá á n-úsáid acu. Is ionsaí é seo ar chearta bunúsacha teanga agus féiniúlacht dhaoine!
Beidh agóid ann ag ceanncheathrú Facebook i mBÁC 2 ar an 7ú Deireadh Fómhair @ 2 i.n. (‘Facebook are deleting the accounts of Irish speakers, and other minority communities, from their site under their misguided ‘real name’ policy and demanding people show documentation proving they are not using ‘fake names’. This represents an attack on basic language rights and people’s identities! There will be a protest at Facebook HQ in Dublin 2 on Wednesday 7th October at 2pm.’)
As Pádraig Pearse stated – “Tír gan teanga, tír gan anam” (‘A country without a language is a country without a soul’).
“Facebook is where people come to make real connections with the people they care about. An important part of this is being able to express your true self. We recognise that some people want to be able to define their true gender identity beyond the definitions of just ‘male’ or ‘female’ in order express themselves authentically.
Following feedback from our community in Ireland and successful launches elsewhere, we are proud to announce the launch of a custom gender option to help people from Ireland better express themselves on Facebook…”(..from here.) “Better express themselves” on ‘Facebook’ provided they don’t attempt to do so in their own name, in their own language, it seems. Fair play to all who assemble at FB HQ on Wednesday 7th October next to tell the Zuckerberg’s of this world to póg mo thóin…!
Thanks for reading, Sharon.