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.
CELTIC TIGER (Based on a song by the Dubliners).
By Eamonn Kelly.
Dublin is to Dubliners’
a dear old dirty town.
It’s getting dearer every year
and hard to earn a pound.
Thugs and drugs and muggings
are the order of the day.
The headlines yell ‘We have gone to Hell
It’s time Crime didn’t Pay’.
Mortgage a home in Dublin town
and watch the banks
take your pound.
The gangs and the police
fight nightly on Foley Street
bleeding their way through the news.
The new show on our screen,
will soon be seen
as ‘Seán MacDermot Street Blues’.
And as for the Liffey
that stench throughout the city
it’s thicker than treacle or chalk,
it will soon be so grim
that instead of a swim
we’ll be holding the ‘Liffey Walk’.
But Dublin you’re my city
and I’m proud to call you mine.
‘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.
When shown photographs taken by Captain Walshe detailing the lack of security around the Clonagh factory, Garrett FitzGerald had this to say – “It is inexplicable that this information was furnished and no action was taken. I don’t understand it. It’s totally out of kilter with anything I would have known about my colleagues. It’s a problem. The allegation always was that Cosgrave and the cabinet went over the top with security (in relation to) the IRA, not that they were ever neglectful. So that’s why it is surprising.”
Patrick Walshe’s suspicion that the 1974 Dublin and Monaghan bombings were related to the Clonagh scandal and that the aim was to teach the Republic a lesson also needs to be examined. The Garda handling of the forensics in the aftermath of the bombings is deeply disquieting. It is known that bomb debris related to the biggest unsolved mass murder case in the history of the Irish Republic disappeared for 11 days after the explosions before being delivered to a forensic laboratory outside Belfast, by which time all explosive traces had effectively disappeared.
In the course of my research for my book, ‘The Dublin and Monaghan Bombings’ (Wolfhound Press, 2000) , the Garda Commissioner failed to explain this anomaly and also failed to state whether the Republic’s police could establish a chain of custody for the debris, especially for the 11 days it took to reach a forensic laboratory. (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.)
No-one was more impressed than Lasher Beirne, who declared – “I’m your man, let’s do it!”. Damien winced ; he knew that Lasher wasn’t given to flights of fancy and when it came to trying to get out of the Kesh, Lasher had absolutely no sense of humour. Damien looked at Arder as if to say ‘do you see what you’ve started now?’ and Arder sniggered impishly. Cold-blooded impishly. “There are four hours to pull this thing together,” urged Lasher but, as the OC saw the enthusiasm in Lasher’s eyes, he told him he would have to talk to the cage Intelligence Officer. “There isn’t enough time and we haven’t got the stuff,” the IO informed the OC, “we’ve no make up or wigs for disguises,” he continued. Damien interjected – “It’s a pity because it’s a cracker plan, but we have to be realistic – without them disguises, ye know..” “I’ll take the chance,” said Lasher, “I’ve nothing to lose.”
The OC pondered the logistics of transforming Lasher into Damien and, while Damien waited on the outcome of the OC’s ponderings, he pondered himself about how to avert the heart attack he could feel starting way down in his boots. “No!” , said the OC, “It’s a good idea for another time when we have the proper gear to do it right.” Lasher was disappointed. Damien feigned disappointment, but only a wee bit. “Jesus, but that’s a pity, Lasher,” said Damien, “I was all for it, no problem.” Nobody believed Damien but he couldn’t care less. (MORE LATER.)
IN THIS MONTH 61 YEARS AGO : SINN FÉIN TD’S ELECTED IN THE SIX OCCUPIED COUNTIES.
In 1955, splits were occurring in the IRA as several small groups, impatient for action, launched their own attacks in the Occupied Six Counties. One such activist, Brendan O’Boyle, blew himself up with his own bomb in the summer of that year. Another, Liam Kelly, founded a breakaway group ‘Saor Uladh’ (‘Free Ulster’) and in November 1955, attacked a Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) barracks at Roslea in County Fermanagh. One RUC man was badly injured and a republican fighter was killed in the incident.
In the UK general election of 1955, Sinn Féin candidates were elected as TD’s for the Mid-Ulster and Fermanagh and South Tyrone constituencies in the Occupied Six Counties, with a total of 152,310 votes. The following is the Election Manifesto that the then Sinn Féin organisation put to the people :
‘SINN FÉIN ELECTION MANIFESTO WESTMINSTER ELECTIONS, 1955 :
In the election of 1918 the Irish people, by an overwhelming majority, repudiated the claims of England and her parliament to rule them and they established the Irish Republic which was proclaimed in arms in 1916. The Republican Government and State then established were later overthrown by England and the nation was partitioned into two statelets. The cardinal objective of the Irish people is the restoration of the Republic thus unlawfully subverted.
The resurgent confidence of Irish men and women in their own strength and ability to achieve the full freedom of their country and the right of its citizens to live in peace, prosperity and happiness has enabled Sinn Féin to contest all 12 seats in this election and give an opportunity to our people in the Six Counties to vote for Ireland, separate and free. Sinn Féin candidates are pledged to sit only in a republican parliament for all Ireland. Apart altogether from the futility of the procedure, sending representatives to an alien legislature is in effect attempting to give it semblance of authority to legislate for and govern the people of North-East Ulster. Sinn Féin candidates seek the votes of the electorate and the support of the Irish people as the representatives of the Republican Movement now on the onward march towards achievement of the National ideal – the enthronement of the Sovereign Irish Republic.
The winning of seats in these elections will not be regarded by Sinn Féin as an end in itself, nor will the results, whatever they be, effect in any way the determination of republicans to forge ahead towards their objective. Neither will the number of votes recorded for the republican candidates be looked upon as something in the nature of a plebiscite affecting in any way the right of Ireland to full and complete freedom. That right is inalienable and non-judicable and must never be put in issue through referendum of a section of population nor of the people of the country at large. Through the medium of the election machinery, Sinn Féin aims at providing an opportunity for the electorate, in all constituencies, and for the people of the country to renew their allegiance to Ireland, and by their support of the republican candidates demonstrate to England and to the world the right of an ancient and historic nation to its complete and absolute freedom and independence.
Sinn Féin has been charged with disruptionist tactics. The aim of Sinn Féin today as always is to secure unity of thought, purpose and deed in the achievement of separate nationhood. Bigotry, persecution and sectarianism have no place in the Sinn Féin programme. Republican policy has ever been to secure civil and religious freedom for the Irish nation and the individual citizens. Ireland and all its resources belongs to the Irish people. Sinn Féin will, with the consent of the Irish people, organise and develop the resources of the nation for the benefit of its citizens irrespective of class or creed. The continued occupation of Ireland by England makes such development impossible, since England has succeeded in making effective in Ireland the imperial dictum of ‘Divide and Conquer’ thereby impoverishing not only the Irish people but the material resources of the country as well. Sinn Féin appeals to all Irishmen to forget all past dissension’s and to demonstrate by their support of the Sinn Féin candidates their opposition to English occupation and their determination to achieve national independence.
Published by Sinn Féin Northern Election Committee, Divis Street, Belfast and printed by the Cromac Printery, Belfast.’
The big news of that (1955) election was Sinn Féin’s two seats and its 23.6% of the vote, won on a clearly stated political platform policy of abstentionism from any British-linked parliament. Sinn Féin’s two successful candidates in Mid-Ulster and Fermanagh and South Tyrone, Philip Clarke and Thomas Mitchell, had been imprisoned for their part in the raid on Omagh but, as they were serving prison sentences at the time, they were deemed ineligible to serve in the House of Commons and their seats were awarded to the defeated unionist candidates!
ON THIS DATE (25TH MAY) 95 YEARS AGO : DUBLIN’S CUSTOM HOUSE BURNED.
‘The Burning of the Custom House (pictured, left) in Dublin took place on 25th May 1921 (- 95 years ago on this date -), during the Irish War of Independence. The Custom House was the centre of local government in the British administration in Ireland. It was occupied and then burnt in an operation by the Irish Republican Army, involving over 100 volunteers…’ (from here.)
In May 1921, the IRA decided to burn down the centre of British Administration in Ireland – the Custom House in Dublin. The Dublin Brigade of the IRA (consisting of approximately 120 Volunteers) moved in on the building during working hours. Positions were taken up around the Custom House by armed IRA Volunteers, while other members entered the building, carrying cans of petrol. The civil servants working in the offices were told to get out, which all did, except for one woman who, having being told to leave immediately (incidentally, she was given that instruction by one of the IRA men who had been active on ‘Bloody Sunday’, as the British called it, when Michael Collins hit out at British Intelligence operatives) replied – “You can’t do that..” The IRA man showed the woman his revolver and the can of petrol he was carrying, and she is alleged to have said – “Can I get my hat and coat?” to which he replied “Lady, you’ll be lucky if you get your life.” She left the building immediately.
The IRA men were scattering the contents of filing-cabinets and other paper work etc onto the floor and pouring petrol on it and the furniture. As the flames caught hold, the alarm had already been sounded in near-by Dublin Castle – “Armed men at the Custom House!” A force of British troops and Auxiliaries hurriedly left Dublin Castle and joined their colleagues, who were coming under fire, around the Custom House.
The gun-fight claimed the lives of two IRA men and forced the surrender of the Dublin Brigade IRA (approximately 120 Volunteers) , as they were surrounded and out-numbered by enemy forces.
The British administration issued the following statement the day after the attack – ‘Three tenders carrying Auxiliary cadets, accompanied by an armoured car, approached the Dublin Customs House, which was occupied by a large body of Sinn Féiners. The cadets dismounted from their tenders under heavy fire and surrounded the Customs House, which was seen to be on fire. Fire from the Auxiliaries and the machine-guns on the armoured car was poured into the windows of the Customs House, from which the rebels replied vigorously, and a series of desperate conflicts took place between Crown Forces and seven or eight parties of rebels, who rushed from different doors of the building and made dashes for liberty, firing as they ran. The first party to emerge from the building consisted of three men, one of whom was killed and two wounded.
By this time smoke and flame were pouring from the building, and the official staff, including many women, who had been held prisoners by the rebels, came flocking out with their hands above their heads and waving white handkerchiefs. While these defenceless people were leaving the building the rebels continued to fire from the windows. The staff were taken to a place of safety by some of the Auxiliaries. As the staff were leaving the building the rebels made their last sortie, and of this party, consisting of seven men, only one escaped, the rest being killed or wounded. Some of the Auxiliaries then stormed the blazing building, where many of the rebels surrendered. Some of them were found to be saturated with petrol which they had been pouring over the flames, and several of them were probably burnt to death before the Crown forces entered…at the conclusion of the fighting dead and wounded rebels lay about on all sides…four Auxiliaries were wounded, 7 civilians were killed, 11 wounded, and over 100 captured.’
That action took place 95 years ago on this date – 25th May.
ON THIS DATE (25TH MAY) 154 YEARS AGO : BAPTISED INTO A LIFETIME OF REPUBLICANISM.
James Nowlan (pictured, left) was born in Kilkenny in 1862 into a republican household – his father, Patrick, was a trusted member of the IRB – and was baptised at Cowpasture in Monasterevin in County Kildare on the 25th May that year – 154 years ago on this date. He was ‘trained’ from early childhood into sporting and republican activities and,during his short life (he was only 62 years of age when he died) , he became the President of the GAA (from 1901 to 1921) and is the only person to have even been appointed ‘Honorary Life President’ of that organisation.
In 1898, at 36 years of age, he was elected as Alderman to Kilkenny Corporation and availed of the position to great effect in his endeavours to publicise the then fourteen-year’s young ‘Gaelic Athletic Association’, but was less successful in persuading the Central Council of the GAA that it should begin preparations to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the 1798 Rising – indeed, the GAA leadership refused to even appoint representatives to the 1798 Centenary Committee, but James Nowlan and a few other GAA members insisted on playing their part in the celebrations. At the GAA Congress held in September 1901, he was elected President and attempted to steer the organisation towards a more Republican path ; for instance, when the ‘Irish Volunteers’ was formed, Nowlan stated that it was a most suitable group for GAA members to join, even though other GAA leaders were not as enthusiastic about the group.
He was arrested by the British in May 1916 following the Easter Rising, and imprisoned in Frongoch, in Wales ; in August that year he was released, and resumed his GAA and Sinn Féin activities. He was to the forefront in campaigning for a general amnesty for all political prisoners and also raised funds for the ‘Irish National and Volunteer Dependent Fund’. During the ‘Tan War’ (1919-1921) he publicly voiced support for the IRA’s armed struggle and was unmercilessly harassed by the British for doing so – the GAA itself as an institution and anyone associated with it were abused, verbally and physically, by the British establishment and its armed units in Ireland. James Nowlan retired as GAA President in March 1921, at the Congress that year, and was appointed ‘Honorary Life President’ of the association – the only person to be so honoured. He died on the 30th June, 1924, at only 62 years of age and, three years after his death, the Kilkenny GAA Stadium became known as ‘Nowlan Park’. In our opinion, there is a lot more that today’s GAA leadership could do to honour that man properly ; that leadership has to all intent and purpose aligned itself firmly with the establishment of the day and is wasting the potential it has to help achieve a British withdrawal from this country or even, indeed, to draw attention to that subject and the many issues that surround it. I would suggest that people of the calibre of James Nowlan would have little to do with them today except, perhaps, to try and avail of the organisation as a ‘platform’ from which to highlight issues of injustice.
‘INKGATE’ – PART TWO…
…Part One (‘Aengus Ó Snodaigh, a Provisional Sinn Féin member of Leinster House…has been discovered to have been in receipt of over €55,000 worth of printer cartridges – 434 units in total at a cost of €130 per unit, an average of 3 cartridges a day ; more than enough, overall, to print more than 3 million letters – in the last two years : indeed, in one year, when his ‘job’ was not-unusually only ‘open for business’ for 96 days in a twelve month period, the bould Aengus took 219 printer cartridges (and) Aengus’s leader in Leinster House, Crown Steward and Bailiff of the Manor of Northstead, Gerry Adams, is the second-highest user of ink cartridges in Leinster House…’) can be read here.
It’s not as if Gerry and Mary don’t have enough on their desk (!) without Mary having to explain why, over a seven consecutive day period earlier this year, she contacted the stationary stores in Leinster House and ordered 100 black pens, 24 packets of A4 paper, 24 permanent markers, seven screen wipes, 20 packs of post-it notes, 10 boxes of paper clips, 40 notebooks, three staplers, five printer toners, 50 document wallets, 10 storage boxes, five dividers, four lever-arch files, three multi-punch pocket holders, 10 box files, two desk tidy stationary holders and six rolls of tape. Maybe herself, Gerry and Aengus are opening a market stall in Dubai and Jonathan was just going over there to suss things out…
And perhaps Joe Carey, Fine Gael Leinster House member (22 rolls of sellotape and two tape dispensers), Fianna Fail leader Micheál Martin (100 pens, 48 highlighters, 26 packets of Post-It notes, 34 packets of A4 paper, 20 packets of photocopy paper, four lots of Tipex, two storage boxes and six letter trays) and Stephen Donnelly, the leader of the Social Democrats (180 pens, 38 notebooks, nine packs of A4 paper and seven packets of paper clips) are in on the market stall, too!
‘NICE TUNE, LADS AND LASSIES. ANY CHANCE YOU COULD PLAY FOR US…?’
Dublin, Easter Monday 2016 (28th March) : some members of an Irish republican flute band that was in the city to attend a republican commemoration decided to make a point and preformed a few bars of ‘Take it down from the Mast’ outside the Provisional Sinn Féin office in Parnell Square, to highlight the fact that those inside that office, and other Free State political party offices like it have, despite their verbal assurances to the contrary, abandoned Irish republicanism. Nothing complicated for republicans in regards to understanding the point that those band members were making, and why they were making that point. But, apparently, at least one member of that Parnell Square-based political party didn’t understand the significance of the tune played…
..and actually attempted to contact the band to enquire if they would play at an upcoming Provisional Sinn Féin event!
Brass neck or a complete lack of knowledge about republicanism? And do ya think she’d be any better working on a market stall…?
Thanks for reading, Sharon.