CABHAIR ANNUAL TESTIMONIAL DINNER AND REPUBLICAN REUNION 2016.
Going back to at least the early 1970’s, the Republican Movement, and supportive and affiliated organisations, have come together each year to choose a handful of individuals who are deemed suitable emissaries to represent all that Irish republicanism stands for and that which it seeks to obtain. Having decided on the best honorees possible, a dinner, dance and reunion is held to properly convey the Movement’s appreciation to those people. And that pleasurable task has been undertaken this year, too –
On Saturday May 21st 2016, six Irish republicans will be honoured at a function to be held for them in a Dublin hotel, at which a presentation will be made to each one of them. Those six notable stalwarts of Irish republicanism are : Seán and Sadie Collins (chosen by republicans in Leinster), Seoirse de Rís (George Rice, Munster), Frank Beattie (Connacht), Eddie McKeown (Ulster) and John Hunt (USA).
This blog extends warmest ‘Congrats!’ to those honorees ; well done to ye all – Ni seoinini sinn go leir!
A LOAD OF (ODD-SHAPED) BALLS, APPARENTLY…
This picture of Irish rugby player Ronan O’Gara ‘snubbing’ an English ‘queen’ went global in 2009 when the player in question was alleged to have deliberately refused to shake her* hand, and her* (*’Her’?!) followers and supporters here rallied to her defence- “…what Ronan O’Gara did to the Queen was loutish and a breach of international protocol…he went up to Belfast, freely and of his own accord, and very deliberately kept his hands in his pockets in her presence, in order to establish some political point which also means that he is a lout….Ronan O’Gara travelled North last week to insult – either intentionally or otherwise — the Queen…” (from here.)
His ‘own people’ half-heartedly attempted to excuse his apparent ‘snub’, declaring that the picture in question ‘did not tell the full story’ – “The whole reception was both cordial and informal. In this environment, Ronan was obviously very relaxed..” (from here) while others supported his ‘loutish behaviour’ – “..a hero of Irish independence..” and “We’re not British, we’re not Saxon, we’re not English, We’re Irish! and proud we are to be…” (from here and here.)
And what has the man himself got to say? You’ll be sorry you asked – “The situation in terms of the Queen was horrendous, I addressed this in the book but it hasn’t really been put out there, people take out of it what they want…I was in the line to be introduced, my hands were a little bit sweaty, I put them into my pockets to clean them…” (from here). And, in an interview with Jarlath Regan, O’Gara stated – “I was in the line to be introduced. My hands were a little bit sweaty. I put them into my pockets to clean them. But the angle taken (ie the ‘snub photo’, above) – you couldn’t have staged it. It was a complete non-event in the day. I was like any other player on the day, shaking her hand, being respectful…but that’s all been lost and swept under the carpet, which astounded me..”.
And then there’s this – “The Ireland squad had been invited to an official congratulations ceremony with Her Majesty (whose “majesty”?)….it was optional for players to attend the reception but as a senior player I felt I should do so. This involved a flight from Cork and a train, so it was a big commitment. If I didn’t like the Queen, or if I’d strong feelings about the monarchy, I wouldn’t have travelled to Belfast…I can still picture the moments before meeting her. I had sweaty palms. I like to think I present myself well, so I put them in my pockets to keep them dry…I was next in line to be introduced when an opportunistic photograph was taken a moment before I took my hands out of my pockets to greet her…the fallout was disturbing, and I’m glad to have an opportunity to explain what truly happened. It bothered me, and I wouldn’t be bothered by much…you don’t disrespect the Queen…I am not a republican…some people are so stupid for thinking it was a statement, that I was trying to insult the Queen… I wish I had taken my hands out of my pockets sooner..” (from here.)
…and here’s what happened after he took his hands out of his pockets (from here) –
Not only did he ‘shake hands with the Devil’, but also chatted politely with her about her family – ‘Indeed, O’Gara is reported to have chatted to the Queen about her grandson William, who he met on two previous Lions tours..’ (from here) , an article which also mentioned how O’Gara was feeling ‘..just prior to shaking the hand and speaking with HRH..’. Also, O’Gara’s rugby-playing pal, Brian O Driscoll, has spoke about how great it was “..to have the Sovereign of the north of Ireland to come over, the queen, and give us her time…” We (as in the Royal ‘we’!) hope that both men make their pension from the game of rugby, as they are both obviously useless at pocket billiards…
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.
A dozen drops
fall from your face.
Shaking the rain in a quiet place
a fresh new day
awakes up the world to
a fragrant bouquet.
Listen to the sound of a constant fall.
Skies give water for life to all
if you reach into the air
rain will come and kiss
‘Magill’ magazine has unearthed new information which raises a grim but important question : were explosives from within this Republic used in the Dublin and Monaghan bombings? It is a question which, bizarrely, also encompasses the controversial Dónal de Róiste case. By Don Mullan, author of the book ‘The Dublin and Monaghan Bombings’.
From ‘Magill’ magazine, February 2003.
THE CLONAGH AFFAIR.
In an interview with ‘Magill’ magazine Garrett Fitzgerald said he personally had no knowledge of Captain Walshe’s efforts to stem the flow of explosives to subversive elements. He was unaware that a fellow minister had been apprised of the situation in mid-April 1974 pertaining to the Clonagh factory and that the Taoiseach of the day, Liam Cosgrave, was personally aware of the situation at the factory by at least 9th September 1974.
He expressed surprise at learning that Colonel Cogan had felt the need to seek an urgent meeting with Cosgrave to discuss the deteriorating situation at the factory – “You would have thought,” Garrett Fitzgerald said, “the government, having been informed, would have done something about it.” While expressing the opinion that this was an interesting line of inquiry and should be pursued he did not, however, accept that the Irish government knew about the situation at Clonagh before the British Army.
He said – “They may or may not have reacted adequately to concerns about security but that doesn’t mean that they knew or believed that explosives were actually leaking out. You wouldn’t expect any government to allow that to happen if they thought that.” (MORE LATER.)
GROWING UP IN LONG KESH…
SIN SCÉAL EILE.
By Jim McCann (Jean’s son). For Alex Crowe, RIP – “No Probablum”. Glandore Publishing, 1999.
Biographical Note : Jim McCann is a community worker from the Upper Springfield area in West Belfast. Although born in the Short Strand, he was reared in the Loney area of the Falls Road. He comes from a large family (average weight about 22 stone!). He works with Tús Nua (a support group for republican ex-prisoners in the Upper Springfield), part of the Upper Springfield Development Trust. He is also a committee member of the ‘Frank Cahill Resource Centre’, one of the founders of ‘Bunscoil an tSléibhe Dhuibh’, the local Irish language primary school and Naiscoil Bharr A’Chluanaí, one of the local Irish language nursery schools.
His first publication last year by Glandore was ‘And the Gates Flew Open : the Burning of Long Kesh’. He hopes to retire on the profits of his books. Fat chance!
“THANK YOU, BOYS, THANK YOU…” (PART ONE.)
“Suppose I was to tell you that you were going to be placed under close arrest tonight, bound and gagged until after the screws do their head-count first thing in the morning…”, he said, “..then tomorrow morning after hopefully the successful escape of Lasher Beirne, the screws were to find you trussed up in the toilets..?” Thereby guaranteeing no sleep for Damien that night.
And poor Damien sat up all night watching any movement in the hut – the slighest sneeze, snore or other bodily noise sent shivers running down his back. Next morning, bright and early, Damien woke Arder – “They didn’t come for me. They must have changed their minds…” “What time is it?”, asked Arder. “Ten minutes past six” , replied Damien. “Are you fucking simple or what?” screamed Arder, “You woke me up at this time of the morning for this?! It was a mix, for Christ sake. I was only joking…” Arder saw veins rising in Damien’s neck he never knew existed. “Where’s your sense of humour?” Arder shouted, “Take it easy , you’re tired..” “Tired?” said Damien, “Of course I’m fucking tired…” shouted Damien, “..I’m up all night sweating blood, throwing up and terrified, waiting on getting tied up and you’re telling me it’s a joke, ye rotten bastard..”
Damien chased Arder down the hut and out into the cage, screaming all sorts of abuse at him, and Arder was able to stay out of his grasp until a number of the boys caught hold of Damien and managed to subdue him. “What in the name of Jesus is going on here?”, asked the OC of the cage. When he was told the cause of the dawn chase through Cage 10, his face broke into a laugh. When he finally stopped laughing, he told Damien to cool down, then asked Arder to join him in the OC hut and to tell him the story again from the start, and not to leave anything out. Before long the story was all around the cage. Not surprisingly, the long-term POW’s had very little sympathy for Damien’s distress and lots of admiration for Arder’s inspiration. Then Lasher Beirne got involved… (MORE LATER.)
1916 AND ‘THE PAST’.
“..maybe we should all just forget the whole thing and treat Easter Week 2016 as so much drinking time, with perhaps a brief satirical parade outside the GPO on the Friday, which as it happens will be April Fool’s Day..” (from here) and this – ‘1916 was a zero-sum game which we should forget..’ (from here).
Who dares to say forget the past to men of Irish birth?
Who dares to say cease fighting, for our place upon this earth?
Let remembrance be our watchword, and our dead we’ll never fail.
Let their graves be to us as milestones, on that blood-soaked one-way trail.
Remember how Eoghan Rua fought, Port Lester mill beside,
no man can say a coward fell when Hugh O’Donnell died.
Remember Ruth and Sarsfield and forget, whoever will,
that glorious stand at Limerick and at Kilmacadden Hill.
Think of the men of ’98 who fought to hold at bay
the Butchers of an Empire and the wiles of Castlereagh :
how Emmett’s gallant handful, in historic Dublin Town,
marched out to give the challenge to the forces of the crown.
And then for a time, ’twas silence. Was Ireland’s struggle done?
“The answer’s in the negative”, thundered many a Fenian gun.
Then just as England thought she’d won and that we at last were meek,
crashed forth the glorious challenge of the men of Easter Week!
Think of how our solders fought the pick of many lands,
the scum of British prisons in Britannia’s Black and Tans.
And then by men we trusted, this land of ours was sold,
They sold their friends to enemies, as Judas did of old.
And on their own, who still were true, they turned and shot them down,
seventy-seven in all were slaughtered by those hirelings of the Crown.
Think of County Kerry where they butchered our lads like swine,
think, O God, of Ballyseedy, where they tied them to a mine.
Remember fighting Wexford, where the blood was never cold,
on Boulavogue and Oulart Hill their fathers fought of old.
How Rory, Liam, Dick and Joe to glut the Imperial beast
were murdered, while in prison, on our Blessed Lady’s feast.
How his overworked revolver as he dashed from that hotel,
roared a rebel’s last defiance as Cathal Brugha fell.
Think how the Staters fought for England, how they fought for British law,
and in Cosgrave’s last coercion how they murdered Captain Vaugh.
Hear we not the voice of Connolly, the worker-soldier friend?
Our conquered soul asserts itself, and we shall rise again!
For Freedom, yes and not to starve, and not for rocks and clay,
but for the lives of the working class, we fight and die today.
And what, says Cathal Brugha, if the last man is on the ground,
If he is lying, weak and helpless, and his enemies ring him round?
If he’s fired his final bullet, if he’s fired his final shot,
And they say “Come into the Empire”, he should answer, “I WILL NOT!”
Then back, back to that one-way trail-
“Ní Síocháin go Saoirse!” is the war cry of the Gael.
While our country stands beside us with the blood of martyrs set,
wayside crosses to remind us, “WHO DARES TO SAY FORGET?”
Remember, then, immortal Tone, to say “Forget!” is wrong,
work to break that vile connection that has lasted far too long.
That Emmett’s tomb is uninscribed, until we our rights assert,
until Ireland takes her place among the nations of the earth.
Yes, indeed – ‘forget the past’, and pretend that hardly anyone, except those dismissed by the establishment here as ‘a few hundred republican malcontents’ or somesuch, noticed that political ‘officialdom’ in this corrupt State recently attempted to pay homage to the men and women of 1916 and highlighted the fact that those Free Staters are the direct inheritors of those who, within five years of that Easter Rising, fought against those same men and women, borrowing arms and munitions from the British to do so. That, no doubt, is something they would like everyone to ‘forget’.
HAVING THE COURAGE OF YOUR OWN CONVICTIONS.
Put not your trust in Princes.
“There are many things about water charges that Fine Gael/Labour would prefer you didn’t know. At the top of the list is this : not one penny of the money they’re demanding you pay will be used to run, or to upgrade, the water system. In fact, even if everyone paid their water bill, every penny of the money would be spent on the admin involved in issuing us with bills…water charges should be abolished…the meter rollout should be stopped…” (from here) – Stephen Donnelly, ‘Social Democrats’, who made his name campaigning against the notion of demanding that citizens should pay twice for their tap water. But then he got a taste of power –
“I paid, because my not paying was getting in the way of important discussion, about water and many other issues.”
And then there’s this Leinster House politician who, like Mr. Donnelly, above, enhanced his political ‘man-of-the-people’ reputation by voicing support for those opposed to the double-water tax : ‘Independent TD Finian McGrath said the scale of the protest has sent out the clearest message yet to Government that water charges must be abolished…’ (from here, more here) only to change his tune when a ‘promotion’ was offered.
It’s understandable that some people would be disheartened by the carry-on of those two politicians, but not me – as I stated here three years ago “I am not relying on the courage of somebody else’s ‘conviction’…” and that remains the case today. And until enough people believe in themselves more so than in ‘political princes’, I will continue to be in the minority. But I will continue. Incidentally, on the 12th May last, this water company (of which I am not a customer of, as I never signed any contract or letter etc in connection with the ‘service’ it offers) sent me a ‘bill’ for €324.64 which it claims I owe them. As I have said before, I am lucky enough to have the money to pay that ‘bill’ if I wanted to but, as I have already paid for a water service through general taxation (and car tax, vat etc) I won’t be paying it. Because, simply, I don’t believe I owe them anything.
Thanks for reading, Sharon.