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.


At the rectangular window I look

cracked squares of plain glass obscure my full vision,

the early May evening is beautiful

brightness has entered my place of confinement

and I contemplate

how anyone can stand this doghouse

without losing some of their sanity

is a treasure indeed

in someway or other it takes its toll

maybe not consciously, but it erases some tissue.

A cell to remove cells, a place of isolation

a futile experience to rehabilitate

a mockery to the taxpayer

The evening stretches and I am still here physically

the quietness has laboured

apart from the odd radio, here or there

a shadow has descended, on the left side of the window

another day has almost passed

I stretch and relieve myself

another part of this inhuman, degrading locker

my brain is disassociated from confinement

again I have travelled.

Paul Dillon.

(Next : ‘Time’, by Paul Dillon.)


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.


“The priest moves me to the hospital where they prepare to operate. I wake up hours later in the convalescent ward. I see the doctor and then a policeman interrogates me. He asks my name and angrily screams “Terrorist!” and continues to insult me. The woman doctor comes to my defence and asks the policeman what he would do if a son or a brother of his was in my condition, because to any one of them the same could happen.

Hours later the finger-print people arrive and they try to interrogate me. The woman doctor throws them out, telling them that the patient is her charge and as long as that is the case she will make sure he isn’t disturbed. After a while instructions come from the hospital administrator that I am being moved to a new ward. This is a manoeuvre to allow the agents to interrogate me without being disturbed ; I’m moved and the interrogation begins. They insult me and to frighten me they load their guns, then they threaten me about my wife and children but that brings no results, so they threaten me with the CNI and torture.Two days later the CNI arrive.

They bring photographs of my relatives, taken from my sister’s house , and use them to put pressure on me to talk. When they start to take me to one of their secret headquarters so that they can torture me at will, the carabinieros in the room load their guns and stop them, managing to throw them out of the hospital.

Hours later, with the agreement of the hospital administrator and the carabinieri, I’m taken to the barracks. I’m not being threatened any more, although the interrogation continues…” (MORE LATER).


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.

Whatever about the credibility of the story’s subject – Colin Wallace – Paul Foot’s track record in such matters ought to have made the publication worthy of mention at least. His 1971 book ‘Who Killed Hanratty’ demolished the evidence on which teenager James Hanratty had been sent to the gallows for the ‘A6 murder’. His ‘Helen Smith Story’ challenged official accounts of the still-mysterious death of a British nurse in Saudi Arabia. ‘Murder at the Farm’ was instrumental in persuading (British) Home Secretary Douglas Hurd to send the case of three men convicted of the murder of newsboy Carl Bridgewater back to the courts for re-trial.

Paul Foot was named Journalist of the Year by Granada Television’s ‘What The Papers Say’ in 1972 and Campaigning Journalist of the Year in the British Press Awards in 1980. The fact that he was joining his own credibility to that of Colin Wallace ought in itself to have made the story interesting, particularly to his fellow-journalists. (MORE LATER).


Michael Flannery (pictured, left) – born in North Tipperary in 1902, died in New York on the 30th September 1994, age 92. He joined the Irish Volunteers in 1916 (as did his brother, Peter) and often recounted how, as a teenage POW in a British prison in Ireland that year, he stood on a bucket at the window in his cell and watched the storm clouds gather over Dublin as the men of the Rising were executed.
He had three brothers and three sisters but spent his youth separated from them and the rest of his family – he was constantly ‘on the run’ from the British and, still only in his early teens, was known as a skilled guerrilla fighter, having learned to kill enemy forces “…without regret and without bitterness. I felt anger but not bitterness towards them. I hated their actions but always said ‘God have mercy on your soul’ as they died.” One of those who served with him, Jack Moloney, described him as “ as a cucumber under fire. He had brains to burn, and he never got angry. You couldn’t shake him.”

He stayed through to the Republic and fought for the Anti-Treaty side but, on the 11th November 1922, he was captured in Tipperary by Free State soldiers and spent nearly a year and a half in Mountjoy Prison (C Wing) during which time he witnessed the execution of IRA men like Dick Barrett, Joe McKelvey, Liam Mellowes and Rory O’Connor. His internment was interspersed with periods of solitary confinement and culminated in a 28 day hunger strike during which he was transferred to the Curragh prison camp in Kildare (Tintown camp #3, prisoner #886). He was eventually released on the 1st May 1924 and went to America in 1927 on behalf of the Republican Movement, sailing from Cobh in Cork and arriving in New York on the 14th February of that year. His job and intention was to help to organise, firstly, those in New York who, like himself, had remained true to Irish republicanism. He married Margaret Mary Egan ((known as ‘Pearl’) in Rockville Center, New York in 1928, and settled in Jackson Heights in that city, earning a wage as an insurance actuarial. Tipperary-born Margaret was a research chemist, educated at University College Dublin and University of Geneva. The couple had no children, but helped to raise and educate fourteen of their nephews and nieces both in Ireland and America.

As part of his work for the Movement, he formed the ‘Congress for Irish Freedom’, and then the New York-based ‘Irish Northern Aid Committee’ (‘Noraid’) . In 1982, Michael Flannery and four other Noraid officials (Thomas Falvey, Daniel Gormley, George Harrison and Patrick Mullin) were charged in New York of gunrunning to the I.R.A. but were subsequently acquitted. The trial of the ‘Brooklyn Five’ ran from 23rd September to 5th November, during which the defence reportedly asserted that the men were acting at the behest of the Central Intelligence Agency. He died in New York on the 30th September 1994 and is buried in Mount Saint Mary’s Cemetery in Flushing, New York with his wife Margaret, who died on the 12th November 1991.
The ‘National Irish Freedom Committee’
(‘Cumann Na Saoirse Náisiúnta’) , which he co-founded in 1987, hold an annual testimonial awards dinner in Astoria, New York, every spring at which the ‘Michael Flannery Spirit of Freedom Award’ and the ‘Pearl Flannery Humanities Award’ are presented.

Finally, I couldn’t mention Michael without also commending those who, already referenced, above, worked alongside him in supporting the Cause of Irish republicanism – Pat Mullin, George Harrison, Tom Falvey and Danny Gormley. Legends all!


Gerry Adams ( aka ‘Crown Steward and Bailiff of the Manor of Northstead’), pictured, left, looking at his “national responsibility”.

“Since the partition of Ireland, successive Dublin governments have run away from the Northern problem and thus have been part of the problem. Now it must become part of the solution. Dublin must assume its national responsibility” – from the Provisional Sinn Féin newspaper ‘AP/RN’, 30th September 1993, page 6, ‘editorial column’. The Leinster House administration (‘Dublin government’) claims jurisdiction over the 26-county State only ; since when has it had a “national responsibility”?


On the 30th September, 1979, Pope John Paul II ,the spiritual head of the Catholic Church, became the first Pope to visit Ireland. Those half-hoping that such an influential person might use the occasion to highlight the many injustices inflicted by Westminster on the Irish were to be disappointed : instead, we got the opposite – a pro-establishment, pro-Westminster/Free State and anti-Republican rant, during which, in an address to the Irish nation, the man said – “On my knees I beg you to turn away from the paths of violence and return to the ways of peace…”

No mention of the British military and political presence in Ireland ; no reference to the continuing claim of British jurisdiction over six Irish counties ; not a word about “the paths of violence” which lead to and from Number 10 Downing Street. Condemnation, only, for those attempting to resist foreign occupation. However , we salute those who wear a similar collar and are not afraid to speak the truth “Sometimes, I’m jealous of the Palestinians. They have one enemy, the Israelis. The Israelis are stealing Palestinian land and the Palestinians are resisting it and so they fight…” If that particular institution had more people like that active within it, it might not be in the troubled position it’s in today. However, better late than never – that particular religious leader has about three years in which to prepare a speech highlighting the continuing British interference, politically and militarily, in this country. Those thinking that he might just do so haven’t a prayer…


Ireland, 1942 : IRA Volunteers Paddy Dermody (who was the then Commanding Officer of the IRA’s Eastern Command) and Harry White were both on the run from the Free Staters and, on the 30th September, 1942 – 73 years ago on this date – decided to ‘take a day off’ and attend a wedding reception in a house near Mount Nugent in Cavan : Paddy’s sister, Jane, was getting married that day to Michael Tuite, a small farmer (their union produced eleven children – nine sons and two daughters). The house reception was in full swing when an armed Free State raiding party burst in, acting on information from two of their own type who had been observing proceedings and had seen the two IRA men enter the house. A gun battle said to be reminiscent to that of any such encounter during the 1920’s ensued and one of the musician’s, a man named Finnegan, was shot in the leg. A Free State Detective, a Mr. M.J. Walsh, was in the house and moved past a window when one of his colleagues outside mistakingly fired at him, a wound from which he died later, in hospital. At the same time, Paddy Dermody was killed instantly by a bullet in the back, just as he and Harry White were about to try and escape through a different window.

Harry White was on his own now, in a house which was surrounded by armed Staters, some of whom were coming in. He dived through a window into the night and shot his way through an armed cordon : hit twice in the leg, he collapsed in a clump of whins half-a-mile from the house. For two cold October nights he lay wounded under the stars as Free State soldiers scoured the area for him. A sympathetic soldier found him, fed him, got him to shelter and finally escorted him by bicycle to Dublin – he was back on active service for the IRA.

Later on that same month (October, 1942) as part of what the Free Staters called ‘an ongoing investigations into major criminal activity’,a detective Garda Mordaunt was one of a number of armed Free Staters who went to house number 14 on Holly Park in Donnycarney, Dublin, to arrest a group of wanted men. Just prior to the arrival of the Gardai the men escaped from the house and during the course of a search for them detective Garda Mordaunt became separated from his colleagues. It was a short time later that he was missed, and on a search being made for him, his body was discovered in the garden of a house in an adjoining street – he had been fatally wounded by a firearm and Harry White was one of those considered to be responsible.

It was October 1946 before Harry White was finally captured on a lonely mountain farm on the Derry side of the Sperrins. Four days later, he was ‘released’ from Crumlin Road Jail, bundled into an RUC car and driven to a bridge on the Armagh-Monaghan road : a Garda car stopped on the other side and he was bundled across the border without the slightest pretence of judicial process. Six weeks later, at the ‘Special Criminal Court’ in Dublin, he was sentenced to death. Sean McBride was his defence counsel and, under cross-examination, a detective admitted he and his companions had fired on three men in a passageway near the house. Of thirty to forty bullets fired in the lane, only two were ever produced – neither of those was the bullet that killed State detective Mordaunt . Instead , a pathologist claimed that the hole in Mordaunt’s skull was too small to have been made by a shot from any of the Gardai’s .45 revolvers, despite the fact there was evidence some had weapons of smaller calibre. Evidence was produced that Garda fire had hit targets well away from the lane. The State Appeal Court reduced Harry White’s conviction to ‘manslaughter’, on the basis that the Gardai had not identified themselves as such before opening fire…(…more on this event can be read here.)


The funeral procession in Dublin, 30th September 1917, (pictured, left) for Thomas Ashe, an IRB leader who died on the 25th September that year, after being force fed by his British jailers – he was the first Irish republican to die as a result of a hunger-strike and, between that year and 1981, twenty-one other Irish republicans died on hunger-strike. The jury at the inquest into his death found “..that the deceased, Thomas Ashe, according to the medical evidence of Professor McWeeney, Sir Arthur Chance, and Sir Thomas Myles, died from heart failure and congestion of the lungs on the 25th September, 1917 and that his death was caused by the punishment of taking away from the cell bed, bedding and boots and allowing him to be on the cold floor for 50 hours, and then subjecting him to forcible feeding in his weak condition after hunger-striking for five or six days..”

Michael Collins organised the funeral and transformed it into a national demonstration against British misrule in Ireland ; armed Irish Republican Brotherhood Volunteers in full uniform flanked the coffin, followed by 9,000 other IRB Volunteers and approximately 30,000 people lined the streets. A volley of shots was fired over Ashe’s grave, following which Michael Collins stated – “Nothing more remains to be said. That volley which we have just heard is the only speech which it is proper to make over the grave of a dead Fenian .”

The London-based ‘Daily Express’ newspaper perhaps summed it up best when it stated, re the funeral of Thomas Ashe, that what had happened had made ‘100,000 Sinn Féiners out of 100,000 constitutional nationalists.’ The level of support shown gave a boost to Irish Republicans, and this was noted by the ‘establishment’ in Westminster – ‘The Daily Mail’ newspaper claimed that, a month earlier, Sinn Féin, despite its electoral successes, had been a waning force. That newspaper said – ‘..It had no practical programme, for the programme of going further than anyone else cannot be so described. It was not making headway. But Sinn Féin today is pretty nearly another name for the vast bulk of youth in Ireland…’

Thomas Patrick Ashe’s activities and interests included cultural and physical force nationalism as well as trade unionism and socialism. He also commanded the 5th Battalion of the Dublin Brigade who won the Battle of Ashbourne on the 29th of April 1916. Born in Lispole, County Kerry on the 12th of January 1885, he was the seventh of ten siblings. He qualified as a teacher in 1905 at De La Salle College, Waterford and after teaching briefly in Kinnard, County Kerry, in 1906 he became principal of Corduff National School in Lusk, County Dublin. Thomas Ashe was a fluent Irish speaker and a member of the Keating branch of the Gaelic League and was an accomplished sportsman and musician setting up the Roundtowers GAA Club as well as helping to establish the Lusk Pipe Band. He was also a talented singer and poet who was committed to Conradh na Gaeilge.

Politically, he was a member of the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB) and established IRB circles in Dublin and Kerry and eventually became President of the Supreme Council in 1917. While he was actively and intellectually nationalist he was also inspired by contemporary socialism. Ashe rejected conservative Home Rule politicians and as part of that rejection he espoused the Labour policies of James Larkin. Writing in a letter to his brother Gregory he said “We are all here on Larkin’s side. He’ll beat hell out of the snobbish, mean, seoinín employers yet, and more power to him”. Ashe supported the unionisation of north Dublin farm labourers and his activities brought him into conflict with landowners such as Thomas Kettle in 1912. During the infamous lockout in 1913 he was a frequent visitor to Liberty Hall and become a friend of James Connolly. Long prior to its publication in 1916, Thomas Ashe was a practitioner of Connolly’s dictum that “the cause of labour is the cause of Ireland, the cause of Ireland is the cause of labour”. In 1914 Ashe travelled to the United States where he raised a substantial sum of money for both the Gaelic League and the newly formed Irish Volunteers of which he was an early member.

Ashe founded the Volunteers in Lusk and established a firm foundation of practical and theoretical military training. He provided charismatic leadership first as Adjutant and then as O/C (Officer Commanding) the 5th Battalion of the Dublin Brigade. He inspired fierce loyalty and encouraged personal initiative in his junior officers and was therefore able to confidently delegate command to Charlie Weston, Joseph Lawless, Edward Rooney and others during the Rising. Most significantly, he took advantage of the arrival of Richard Mulcahy at Finglas Glen on the Tuesday of the Rising and appointed him second in command. The two men knew one another through the IRB and Gaelic League and Ashe recognized Mulcahy’s tactical abilities. As a result Ashe allowed himself to be persuaded by Mulcahy not to withdraw following the unexpected arrival of the motorised force at the Rath crossroads. At Ashbourne on the 28th of April Ashe also demonstrated great personal courage, first exposing himself to fire while calling on the RIC in the fortified barracks to surrender and then actively leading his Volunteers against the RIC during the Battle.

After the 1916 Rising he was court-martialed (on the 8th of May 1916) and was sentenced to death. The sentence was commuted to penal servitude for life. He was incarcerated in a variety of English prisons before being released in the June 1917 general amnesty. He immediately returned to Ireland and toured the country reorganising the IRB and inciting civil opposition to British rule. In August 1917, after a speech in Ballinalee, County Longford, he was arrested by the RIC and charged with “speeches calculated to cause disaffection”. He was detained in the Curragh camp and later sentenced to a year’s hard labour in Mountjoy Jail. There he became O/C of the Volunteer prisoners, and demanded prisoner-of-war status. As a result he was punished by the Governor. He went on hunger strike on the 20th September 1917 and five days later died as a result of force-feeding by the prison authorities. He was just 32 years old. The death of Thomas Ashe resulted in POW status being conceded to the Volunteer prisoners two days later.
Thomas Ashe’s funeral was the first public funeral after the Rising and provided a focal point for public disaffection with British rule. His body lay in state in Dublin City Hall before being escorted by armed Volunteers to Glasnevin Cemetery. 30,000 people attended the burial where three volleys were fired over the grave and the Last Post was sounded. While imprisoned in Lewes Jail in 1916, Thomas Ashe had written his poem ‘Let Me Carry Your Cross for Ireland, Lord’ which later provided the inspiration for the Battle of Ashbourne memorial unveiled by Sean T. O’Kelly on Easter Sunday, 26th April 1959 at the Rath Cross in Ashbourne :

Let me carry your Cross for Ireland, Lord
The hour of her trial draws near,
And the pangs and the pains of the sacrifice
May be borne by comrades dear.

But, Lord, take me from the offering throng,
There are many far less prepared,
Through anxious and all as they are to die
That Ireland may be spared.

Let me carry your Cross for Ireland, Lord
My cares in this world are few,
and few are the tears will for me fall
When I go on my way to You.

Spare Oh! Spare to their loved ones dear
The brother and son and sire,
That the cause we love may never die
In the land of our Heart’s desire!

Let me carry your Cross for Ireland, Lord!
Let me suffer the pain and shame
I bow my head to their rage and hate,
And I take on myself the blame.

Let them do with my body whate’er they will,
My spirit I offer to You,
That the faithful few who heard her call
May be spared to Roisin Dubh.

Let me carry your Cross for Ireland, Lord!
For Ireland weak with tears,
For the aged man of the clouded brow,
And the child of tender years;
For the empty homes of her golden plains,

For the hopes of her future, Too!
Let me carry your Cross for Ireland, Lord!
for the cause of Roisin Dubh. (from here.)


The current crisis concerning asylum seekers/refugees/migrants has grabbed some people’s attention to the extent that they have offered their spare room and/or living-room sofa as shelter for those unfortunate people in a generous but, in my opinion, a misguided and short-term ‘solution’ which seeks to temporarily address one of the symptoms of the issue at the expense of ignoring and/or not addressing the cause of same. This ‘Indymedia Ireland’ post caught my attention as it reflects my own opinion on this divisive issue –

what exactly is “our fair share”

author by dupedpublication date Sun Sep 27, 2015 21:21Report this post to the editors

what exactly is “our fair share” of refugees anyway?

we didn’t start the wars in Libya, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan
or support corrupt regimes in nigeria and other african countries
which we wanted oil, coltan and other raw materials from
And we didn’t sell everyone loads of weapons to kill each other with.

So why are we expected to clean up after other warmongering psychopaths that did this stuff? Last I heard, there is plenty of room in america, Saudi arabia, france, UK.
Give em all green cards and UK/french/saudi passports. If you break it you own it. we are already living with a chronically inefficient and underfunded health service and education system and have a huge unemployment and housing problem. The government has no money for special needs assistants for disabled people, or for the mentally ill.

So where are we expected to get the money to support thousands of new subscribers to these systems all of a sudden?
And if these people are placed in the already unfit for purpose asylum system, how will that affect those already suffering in it at present if we pile thousands of people in with them? And these people will be our responsibility for generations. Have people worked out the total multi generational cost of taking these folk on? No, I thought not.

What is the agendas here? I know the likes of Peter Sutherland are up to no good, and that they couldn’t give a flying fuck about poor brown people, just low wages, engineering a lack of social cohesion and hence weakening resistance to corporate edicts such as TTIP

Germany needs young people to keep it’s economy going, but we don’t. So why should we help them solve a problem of their own making here. They didn’t break their asses trying to help us when we needed it. They just blackmailed us into bailing out their banks bad gambling debts

Cold and callous or calling it as it is? The theme of the post -‘responsibility’ – is accurate and, in my opinion, should be heeded as the forced displacement of populations by greedy and imperialist forces is only starting. And, as heartbreaking as it may be, there just isn’t enough spare rooms and sofas to go around.

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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