WE NEED A ‘HARD BORDER’ IN ORDER TO MAKE A ‘HARD’* CHOICE.
Free State ‘Minister for Foreign Affairs’, Charlie Flanagan (pictured, left) recently stated the following re the English ‘Brexit’ decision in a speech in which he called for ‘no hard border’ – “…the border isn’t something that’s going to be decided by the UK government..it’s going to ultimately be decided by the 27 remaining EU states…”
The enforced and unwanted border in this country is an Irish matter and should not be placed under a ‘foreign affairs’ remit – by all means open the issue up to include suggestions from those outside Ireland but the border in question is first and foremost an issue which affects all Irish people, whether they live here or abroad and should, in the first instance, be dealt with by the Irish. If that border is visible (ie not ‘out of sight, out of mind’) then there will be more of an urgency to remove it, rather than to ‘hide’ it (ie a so-called ‘soft’ border).
As we stated before re this issue –“..for what it’s worth, this blog is firmly in the ‘Brits Out’ (ie vote ‘Leave!’) camp, for our own selfish (!) reason : we want the return of British Army checkpoints on their imposed ‘border’ in Ireland. We want to see a visible presence by the British military and customs and revenue ‘suits’ as they operate vehicle checks, passport checks and stoppages, and queries from armed British personnel directed at those travelling from one part of our nine-county Ulster into another part of same and at those travelling from the 26-county state into any of the six occupied counties, frustrated queues forming at every access/exit point etc – in short, we want visible reminders (for those that need same) that our country is still militarily and politically occupied and divided by Westminster…”
Frans Timmermans, vice president of the ‘European Commission’, recently stated re ‘Brexit’ – “The argument that won the Brexit campaign is the one that said take back control…which is another way of saying we want to control our destinies again. This is an existential issue for the whole of Europe not just for the UK because this sentiment is not limited to the United Kingdom…” We, too, want to ‘control our own destiny’ again but cannot do so as long as Westminster maintains a political and military presence in this country. In the context of ‘Brexit’ (or, actually, in any context of occupation) a ‘hard border’ is necessary to remind all concerned that the issue is not yet fixed, and we believe that that should be the position of any Irish republican or, indeed, of any concerned citizen who’s country is militarily and/or politically occupied – a ‘soft’ border, under those circumstances, is a cop-out. Such a political obstruction needs to be on view and ‘in-your-face’ until it is removed, and should not be hidden (ie ‘soft’) because some deem it ‘politically correct’ to do so. (*…as some would call it.)
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.
LONG JOURNEY HOME. (By David Lynch.)
Reaching out to touch the clouds
like a high rise building clawing toward the sky,
the bliss of ignorance
never knowing, or wondering why.
The beam of light piercing its barriers
releasing the beauty entombed by darkness.
Pleasure, pain, loss and gain
cast into oblivion,
the colourful vapour of its trail
like a boomerang in the rain.
Soaring now with perverse delight
not wondering of wrong or right,
filled with mystery and paradox
the freedom it feels.
Floating like driftwood upon the ocean
a migrating bird lands to rest upon it,
absorbing, yet remaining empty…
on its long journey home.
(Next – ‘Nature Of The Cat’, by David Lynch.)
IF IT AIN’T WHITE…
The Far Right has been resurgent across continental Europe for several years. But only in the last 12 months has Ireland seen an emergence of openly neo-Nazi cells.
By Alan Walsh.
From ‘Magill’ magazine, May 2002.
At first glance, Ireland would seem to be at the very other end of the political spectrum ; historically obsessed with its own national struggle against imperialism to the point where it did not develop a distinct left/right divide, even in the 1960’s when the world bifurcated into the two political options.
Yet it is in this very political and economic isolationism that Ireland exhibited its most obvious tendencies towards doctrines of racial purity and national socialism. Analyses of Ireland’s political standpoint in ‘world war two’ often assume that our reluctance to renounce neutrality was based on an aversion to siding with former (sic) colonial oppressors.
In fact, it could be argued that Hitler’s vision of a racially pure, culturally cohesive agrarian nation may have been more attractive in theory to many within the Irish government (sic) than Britain’s aristocratic imperialism. In such a nebulous ideological haze, it is perhaps unsurprising that we had already managed to foster our own strain of national socialism. Far from being immune in this country to extremist politics, the Blueshirt movement, arising from the 10,000-strong ‘Army Comrades Association’, was steered along regular fascist lines under Eoin O’Duffy. Back then, the main popular momentum was gained in response to fears of communism. (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!
CATCHING SEAGULLS. (In memory of Eddie Brophy, RIP.)
Cage 22 had an advantage over most of the other cages I was in during my stay Faoi Ghlas Ag Gall. The front right-hand corner of the cage was an easy place to catch seagulls (the aquatic variety) – not to be confused with the human variety ie a seagull is by nature a scavenger so anyone who ate more than their fair share in Long Kesh was called ‘seagull’.
Bits of bread would be thrown into this corner and when the seagulls came we would run down and capture them. This was made easy by the way the German razor barbed-wire hung over the corner making it impossible for the seagulls to rise up in the air without a good run, by which time we would have caught two or three of them.
There were a number of ways to use seagulls to lighten the day : you could wait until you had about ten of them then when someone went into the toilet, throw the seagulls over the top of the toilet cubicle, or put them into someone’s locker – this was considered cruel and so was only done about twice a day… (MORE LATER).
ON THIS DATE (5TH OCTOBER) 33 YEARS AGO : BRITISH DIPLOCK ‘JUSTICE’ FURTHER EXPOSED.
On this date – 5th October – in 1983, British ‘Lord Chief Justice’ Robert Lynd Erskine Lowry, during a ‘trial’ based on the ‘word’ of an IRA informer, had no choice but to dismiss part of the tout’s so-called ‘evidence’, stating that he found same “..so unsatisfactory and inconsistent that I could not contemplate allowing myself, as a tribunal of fact, to say that guilt has been proved beyond a reasonable doubt…”
The background to the above is as follows : even by North of Ireland standards, where dramatic political developments have a tendency to follow one another with unnerving rapidity, October 1983 and the weeks that followed was an unusually active period in the psychological warfare between the British government and the republican struggle that continues to focus around the use of paid perjurers. It was a month which, at least in terms of propaganda, republicans won on points – but it also heavily underlined the British government’s commitment to the perjurer strategy in the face of mounting opposition. The retractions by Robert Lean (Belfast) and Patrick McGurk [mentioned here] (Dungannon) of their incriminating statements against a total of 37 people accused of republican activities, by Lean on October 19th and by McGurk on October 24th, was a crushing embarrassment to the RUC. Robert Lean, in particular, had been portrayed in ‘leaks’ to a sensationalist media to be the IRA’s No.2 in Belfast, and in a classic exercise in ‘trial by media’ the RUC claimed that his evidence had secured the imprisonment of the IRA’s Chief of Staff and its Belfast Brigade Officer Commanding ; both of the individuals against whom these claims had been made were among those released two days after Lean’s retraction.
Patrick McGurk’s retraction a few days later was equally damaging to the image cultivated by the RUC around its use of perjurers. He had implicated nine Dungannon men as far back as February 1982, five of whom had been held on remand for twenty months – the longest remand period involved in any of the perjurer cases. On September 20th 1982 , the RUC, apparently doubtful that Patrick McGurk would go through with his ‘evidence’ if produced in court, instead invoked the obsolete ‘Bill of Indictment’ to by-pass the preliminary enquiry stage of the case against the nine accused. This meant that, until his return to Dungannon on Wednesday 26th October, Patrick McGurk had been held incommunicado, without access to family or friends, throughout the 20-month period. If, as seems to be the case, Patrick McGurk was unwilling to testify but was prevented by the RUC from retracting and prevented from contacting his family, it makes a nonsense of RUC assertions that – once having been given immunity from prosecution – their perjurers (or ‘converted terrorists’ in RUC jargon!) are ‘free agents’ voluntarily in protective custody. Not surprisingly, some of the defendants in the McGurk case are said to be considering suing the RUC for wrongful imprisonment.
The Robert Lean episode, too, has gone a long way to publicly undermining propaganda about ‘converted terrorists’ and ‘free agents’ : not only did Robert Lean feel so unfree that he felt it necessary to escape from ‘protective custody’ in Palace Barracks, Hollywood, County Down, by climbing out of a window and stealing the car of his RUC ‘minder’ but, on leaving a press conference in West Belfast the following afternoon, he was immediately arrested under Section 12 and held in Castlereagh for a further seven days! Apparently, the RUC seriously intended to charge him with a killing on ‘new evidence’ obtained from the perjurer, William Skelly (named here), who had originally implicated Robert Lean, in a revenge act for his retraction, but the RUC finally changed their minds. It is highly improbable that the (British) Crown Prosecutor could have persuaded even a Diplock Court that the informer William Skelly had forgotten this ‘evidence’ until after Robert Lean retracted, and then miraculously remembered it!
The inference that the RUC had been aware of ‘evidence’ linking Lean to a killing at the outset, but had suppressed it in order to do a ‘deal’ with him, and so imprison prominent republicans, would have been unavoidable . Most damaging of all from the RUC’s viewpoint was Robert Lean’s assertion that his ‘deal’ for immunity was to sign statements already prepared by the RUC incriminating specific individuals wanted ‘out of the way’ by them. Top of the list was Gerry Adams, but it seems the RUC were unable to charge him because Robert Lean refused to co-operate with a face-to-face confrontation.
On their release, two of those actually imprisoned on Lean’s statements – Edward Carmichael and Ivor Bell (both men referenced here) – confirmed that they had also been offered immunity if they would incriminate Sinn Féin elected representatives, Adams, Danny Morrison and Martin Mcguinness. Additionally, Edward Carmichael had been offered £300,000 and Ivor Bell was told to “..name my own figure..” The RUC were not having a one-hundred per cent success rate with their informer/perjurer strategy, but they were not prepared to give up on it.
But if the RUC’s optimism for the potential of their perjurer strategy has been tempered by a series of retractions in recent months – Walter McCrory (Derry), Charles Dillon (County Derry), Robert Lean and Patrick McGurk – and if they have been forced to the realisation that it will continue to be an imperfect strategy, with perjurers as much subject to the persuasion of the nationalist community’s abhorrence of their actions as they are to RUC threats and inducements, nevertheless the third major event in this momentous month ensured the continued successful use of paid perjurers as a means of securing convictions. It was an event that marked a further and fundamental diminishing in the standard of evidence required in Diplock Courts for conviction : (British) Lord Chief Justice Lowry’s sentencing of seven men on IRA charges, in Belfast Crown Court, on Wednesday 26th October, on the uncorroborated evidence of Kevin McGrady, was incredible even by Diplock ‘standards’. Three weeks earlier, on October 5th 1983 – 33 years ago on this date – he had released two of the ten defendants and thrown out 13 of the original 45 charges (including charges of murder), saying that in respect of those he found Kevin McGrady’s evidence “…so unsatisfactory and inconsistent that I could not contemplate allowing myself, as a tribunal of fact, to say that guilt has been proved beyond a reasonable doubt..”yet, in his final summation on the 25th of that month – despite acknowledging that McGrady’s evidence had contained “..some glaring absurdities..” and was “..contradictory, bizarre and in some respects incredible..” – and, despite finding the remaining eight defendants innocent of a further 19 charges, Lowry nonetheless returned verdicts of guilty against seven of them on the remaining 13 charges!
In one case, the former Sinn Féin National Organiser, Jim Gibney (then 28 years of age), was sentenced to terms of 12 years and 5 years on two charges, even though he was cleared of no less than 20 other charges on Kevin MGrady’s “bizarre” ‘evidence’!
British ‘Lord Chief Justice’ Lowry rubbed salt into the wounds of incredulity by using his summation for the purposes of a policy statement on the use of perjurers, in which he formally signalled the willingness of the northern judiciary to accept uncorroborated evidence of an ‘accomplice witness’ as the sole basis for a conviction : arguing that the judiciary was, and remained, independent of the (Westminster) ‘Northern Ireland’ Office and was not in any form of collusion, Lowry stated – “The resort to supergrasses has been described by some people as a method of convicting suspected terrorists. But the expression ‘method of conviction’ is a complete misnomer, since it is likely to give the impression that the Executive and Judges are together implementing a trial process with the joint object of convicting and imprisoning suspects. It is for the Executive to prosecute a case if, on the available evidence, that seems to be the right course. But the function of the Judges, acting quite independently, has not altered ; it is simply to decide whether or not in any individual case the allegations of the prosecutor have been proved.” Two days before Lowry made that statement, the British Attorney-General, Sir Michael Havers (forever tainted, and rightly so, by his involvement in the ‘Guildford Four’ case), had spoken about the “financial arrangements..” made with those informers. Havers, in a statement obviously timed to coincide with British Chief Justice Lowry’s comments in the wake of the Robert Lean/Patrick McGurk affair, also defended the ‘independence’ of the judiciary – but added, in response to loyalist criticisms of the system, that in future all “financial arrangements (made with) accomplice witnesses” would be disclosed to defence counsels.
The utter worthlessness of this ‘concession’ lies of course in the fact that the RUC deny, and will continue to deny, that cash bribes – such as Edward Carmichael’s offer from the British of £300,000 – are made to perjurers in the first place. Havers’ ‘sincerity’ should be judged in the light of his flagrant dishonesty in saying that the practice surrounding the use of “accomplice witnesses” was identical in England, Scotland and Wales with its use in the North of Ireland!
The Lowry verdict in the McGrady trial was a crucial one for the future of the perjurer strategy ; although the principle of accepting uncorroborated perjurer evidence had earlier been accepted by the judiciary in the UVF Joe Bennett (referenced here) trial which ended on April 11th 1983 with convictions for 14 of the 16 accused, and in the Christopher Black trial in which Judge Basil Kelly convicted 35 of the 38 defendants on August 5th, both judges in these cases had gone to considerable lengths to emphasise the ‘credibility’ of informers Bennett and Black and the general consistency “in all important respects” of their testimony. While this was incredible enough, the fact that Lowry convicted on McGrady’s ‘evidence’, which was substantially bizarre, contradictory and unsatisfactory, is an indication that the judiciary in the North of Ireland has fallen completely into line, contrary to Lowry’s denial, with the political objective of securing convictions, and has cynically redefined even the previously low standards regarding acceptable evidence.
British judges in the North of Ireland were defending the use of informers to obtain convictions at the same time as that perjurer system had started to come under attack from a variety of directions, while among the nationalist community itself – buoyed by the retractions and less open than it initially was to demoralisation over the issue (since it has seen the IRA’s continued ability to inflict losses on the British) – there have been the unmistakable signs of a ‘fight back’.
The first clear example of this was the mass rally at Beechmount Avenue in West Belfast on September 11th, 1983, which announced the holding of an open conference in Dungannon on October 2nd 1983 to establish a broad-based committee on the non-exclusive lines of the National H-Block/Armagh Committee established during the hunger-strikes of 1981. Up until that point public protest action on the perjurer issue had mainly been confined to small and isolated groups, such as ‘Relatives For Justice’ and ‘Campaign Against The Show Trials’ (CAST), which although active had drawn support primarily from relatives of the victims – in much the same way as the ‘Relatives Action Committee’ had campaigned between 1976-79 on the H-Blocks. The Dungannon conference announced the setting up of a new ‘umbrella’ organisation, the ‘Stop the Show Trials Campaign’, calling for an end to the use of perjurers, an end to show trials and the release of all the sentenced and remanded victims of perjurers. It voted to mount a campaign of political opposition to the perjurer system, at the same time embracing those sections of the community whose opposition to the use of perjurers is based on humanitarian or civil liberties motives and who endorse the campaign’s central demands.
It is inevitable that the campaign structure, and mobilisations, will focus heavily on the North, though it is envisaged that support groups will be established in the 26 Counties and abroad. However, not all Irish nationalists were opposed to the perjurer system – to date, the response on the perjurer issue from sections of the catholic establishment has been a muted one, explicable by their obvious ambivalence to a strategy which although seriously eroding the already blackened ‘judicial process’ is clearly seen to be aimed at undermining the political advance of republicanism – a shared objective, after all, with the catholic hierarchy and the SDLP.
In response to such a taunt by West Belfast MP Gerry Adams on September 11th 1983, SDLP spokesperson Seamus Mallon retorted that the use of perjurers was ‘law bending’ but the thrust of his attack was aimed not at the British but at Sinn Féin and republican resistance.
On September 28th 1983, however, the SDLP met the ‘Relatives for Justice’ group and condemned the use of perjurers – though they have maintained a low profile on the issue since then. And what of the Catholic church on the issue? They have maintained a low profile on that subject, with the exception of Dr. Edward Daly, Bishop of Derry, and a handful of priests, who have condemned the use of perjurers. Bishop Cahal Daly, previously so vocal on political issues, has adopted a studious silence. For his part, Dungannon priest Fr. Denis Faul, having failed to limit the opposition to perjurers to relatives (whose emotions, his experience during the hunger-strikes leads him to believe, can, at critical points, be exploited against republicans) has concentrated much of his efforts on vitriolic attacks on Sinn Féin – on one occasion going as far as to allege that Sinn Féin were ‘using’ the perjurer campaign to finance their involvement in the EEC elections!
Also ranged against the use of perjurers have been the SDLP-controlled Derry Council, the Belfast and District Trades Council and a number of British MP’s and British and American legal figures. British Labour MP, Martin Flannery, has said that the use of perjurers is bringing “the whole of the British system of justice into disrepute. It is the kind of thing that Hitler and company engaged in..” The use of paid perjurers by Westminster was welcomed by some Unionists but condemned by others – sometimes both ‘pro’ and ‘anti’ camps were in the same political party.
While so far the real pressure exerted within the nationalist community on the perjurer system has been largely ‘internal’ (perjurers retracting in response to their families’ efforts), since the Stormont administration will only feel pressurised by ‘external’ political pressure from nationalists when the campaign achieves its full impetus, there is undoubtedly strong concern among sections of the loyalist community too, which may eventually cause headaches for the British government. That concern stems, obviously enough, not from any opposition to the clinging of the northern judiciary to the coat-tails of Stormont, which after all is unionist policy, but from the increasingly heavy losses which perjurers are inflicting on loyalist paramilitary groups, and the spin-off effect which this undoubtedly has on loyalist political parties, particularly the DUP. Although the ‘Official Unionist Party’ has taken a strong line in support of paid perjurers under their ‘law and order’ spokesperson, Edgar Graham, individual members of the ‘OUP’ including John Carson, have identified themselves with a campaign of opposition. In April of this year (1983), DUP leader Ian Paisley condemned the use of perjurers as ‘undermining the rule of law’ and he specifically opposed the granting of immunity to perjurers. Immediately after the informer Robert Lean’s ‘evidence’ began to lead to the arrest of several prominent republicans, the DUP appeared to modify its stance considerably when leading spokespersons Peter Robinson and Jim Allister – at a press conference on September 13th, from which, strangely, Ian Paisley was absent – supported the use of uncorroborated evidence and only opposed the granting of total immunity, implying that perjurers should instead be given heavily reduced sentences for their own admitted involvement.
Significantly, in a ‘Panorama’ programme screened on BBC 1 television on October 24th – after Robert Lean’s retraction – Ian Paisley again appeared to resolutely oppose the use of perjurers : more than most politicians, he, arguably, has a great deal to lose from future loyalist perjurers bringing up parts of his past life! For loyalists, under greater pressure from the judiciary than for a long time, the use of paid perjurers must be causing a further crisis of identity and resulting in a heavy demoralisation. But for nationalists, existing under a constant regime of repression, the situation is clearer-cut and the option a simple one – resistance. With scores of nationalists and republicans still imprisoned on the ‘word’ of paid perjurers, there is certainly no room for complacency despite recent retractions and the ever-present hope of more, but there is now a will and an ability to mobilise on the issue in the nationalist community that was not fully there before. (This is an edited version of a piece we first posted here in 2005.)
ON THIS DATE (5TH OCTOBER) 9 YEARS AGO : FUNERAL MASS HELD FOR IRISH REPUBLICAN ICON.
Dan Keating (pictured, left), from Ballygamboon, Castlemaine, County Kerry, celebrating his 105th birthday with members of Republican Sinn Féin at Gally’s Bar and Restaurant, Tralee, County Kerry, on the 2nd January 2007.
DAN Keating was born in 1902 in the townland of Ballygamboon, Castlemaine, Co Kerry. In 1917, he went to work in Tralee at Jerry McSweeney’s Grocery, Bar and Bakery. Jerry McSweeney’s uncle, Richard Laide, was shot in the attack on Gortalea barracks which was the first barracks to be attacked in Ireland.
Dan joined the Fianna in Tralee in 1918 and about two years later he joined the Irish Republican Army. Others to join at that time were Gerry Moyles, Donnchadh Donoghue, Tommy Vale, John Riordan (Kerry All-Ireland footballer), Jerry O’Connor (better known as ‘Uncy’), Matt Moroney and Paddy and Billy Griffin. Dan met a soldier who used to frequent the bar where he worked and during conversations procured a rifle from him, which was then handed over to Johnny O’Connor of the Farmers’ Bridge unit. Dan was later to join this unit which included men of the calibre of Johnny Duggan, Johnny O’Connor, Timmy Galvin, Moss Galvin, Jack Corkery, Jim Ryle, Mick Hogan and Jamesy Whiston. This unit was very active from 1920 to 1924 and many of its members took part in the Headford ambush which claimed the lives of approximately 20 British soldiers. Volunteers Danny Allman and Jimmy Baily also lost their lives at Headford.
Dan took part in the ambush at Castlemaine in which eight RIC and Black-and-Tans were killed. Gerry Moyles was severely injured in this encounter. The last ambush in Kerry took place in Castleisland on the night before the Truce and Dan also participated in this. Four RIC members were killed in this action and Volunteers Jack Shanahan, Jack Prenderville, John McMahon and John Flynn also lost their lives. In 1922 Dan was transferred to a unit in Tralee which was commanded by Tommy Barton of Ballyroe when they occupied Ballymullen barracks for a period of three months, and also took part in the attack on Listowel barracks, now occupied by the Free Staters, in which one Free Stater was shot dead.
In Limerick, Dan, along with comrades from Kerry, fought the Free State troops over a period of ten days – republican Volunteers Patrick Foran, Charlie O’Hanlon and Tom McLoughlin lost their lives there, then Dan was sent to Tipperary to instruct Gerry Moyles to return to Kilmallock but on the way they were surrounded by Free Staters. After a battle at Two Mile Bridge, Dan and his comrades were taken prisoner and held in Thurles barracks for two days before being conveyed to Portlaoise jail where he was held for six months. This was to be the first of many times Dan was interned by the Free State. During this period in Portlaoise the jail was burned and Volunteer Paddy Hickey from Dublin was shot dead. Dan was then transferred to the Curragh Internment Camp and was held there until March 1923. A Free State soldier named Bergin from Nenagh, who became friendly with the republican prisoners and acted as a courier to republicans on the outside, was executed by the Staters.
Dan was charged with possession of a shotgun in 1930 and was issued a summons but did not attend court and was fined £1. In the true republican tradition he refused to pay and was sent to Limerick and held for one week. During a court case in Tralee involving Johnny O’Connor and Mick Kennedy, in which they refused to recognise the court, their supporters in the courthouse cheered loudly and when things died down the judge ordered Dan Keating to be brought up before him and gave him three months for contempt. Dan was jailed in Cork with Johnny O’Connor but after a hunger strike by Johnny both were released after three weeks. The next time Dan was interned was after O’Duffy’s visit to Tralee; he was sentenced to six months in Arbour Hill. Dan was later captured in Carrigans in Clonmel by a policeman who had previously arrested him in Tralee and was taken first to Thurles and from there to the Curragh where he was held for three years and six months. In this period the camp was burned and Barney Casey from Longford was shot dead. Dan was also on active service in England during the early 1940s.
Dan returned to work in Dublin and operated as a barman in the Eagle House, James Street, the Cornet and the Kilmardenny public houses. His other great interest was Gaelic games, and indeed between football and hurling he has attended more than 140 All-Ireland senior finals including replays, which must be a record in itself. When Dan retired he returned to Kerry in 1978 and resided at Ballygamboon, Castlemaine. In 2004, Dan Keating replaced George Harrison of Mayo and New York as the fourth Patron of Sinn Féin Poblachtach since 1986, following in the footsteps of such illustrious republicans as Comdt-General Tom Maguire and Michael Flannery of Tipperary and New York. During his long, healthy and adventurous lifetime Dan has seen many splits and deviations from republican principles, but he remained loyal and true to the end.
Dan Keating, born on January 2nd 1902, died in Tralee on October 2nd, 2007 – 105 years of age – after a short illness. His funeral mass was held on this date – 5th October – 9 years ago, in Kiltallagh Church, Castlemaine, in Kerry. I measc Laochra na nGael go raibh sé.
ON THIS DATE (5TH OCTOBER) 8 YEARS AGO : FAIRY TALES IN FAIRYHOUSE!
This a piece we found in our archives from 2008 – and it’s still as relevant today as it was then :
MICHAEL COLLINS LOOKS ON AS PARTITION AND CONFLICT ARE SAID BY ‘THE REBELS’ TO BE ‘IN THE PAST..’
(Click here for better image of the so-called ‘Past and Future’ poster.)
One of our regular readers found himself with a few hours to spare on (Sunday) 5th October 2008 – eight years ago on this date – so himself and his Missus headed-out to the County of Meath to have a browse around Fairyhouse Market. Whilst browsing the hundreds of stalls and units etc he came across a stall operated by Provisional Sinn Féin at which he noticed, incredulously, that not only were they selling framed prints of Michael Collins but they had one such framed print located right beside a framed poster which declared that partition in Ireland and the political conflict it feeds are things of the past!
Our reader asked one of the PSF stall holders if they would agree that they were being a wee bit premature in saying that partition and conflict on this isle are in the past and proceeded to give a brief history lesson to the hapless rep and asked how they could possibly support the notion that partition and the conflict which arises from it can be said ‘to be over’ as this country is still partitioned by Westminster, which maintains an armed, and political, presence here? The garbled reply was as dense as the framed poster – “But things are a lot better…we’re almost there….the leadership know what they’re doing….things are looking up….”
Our man walked away, shaking his head in despair, and wondering how such people can be left in charge of a market stall, never mind how they can ‘claim ownership’ to the best way to resolve the not yet resolved issue of partition and the conflict that arises from it. Needless to say, our man wasn’t buying it..!
ON THIS DAY NEXT WEEK (WEDNESDAY 12TH OCTOBER 2016)….
…we won’t be posting our usual contribution, and probably won’t be in a position to post anything at all until the following Wednesday, the 19th October ; this coming weekend (Saturday/Sunday 8th/9th October 2016) is spoke for already with a 650-ticket raffle to be run for the Cabhair group in a venue on the Dublin/Kildare border, work on which begins on the Tuesday before the actual raffle, and the ‘autopsy’ into same which will take place on Monday evening, 10th, in Dublin, meaning that we will not have the time to post here. But we’ll be back, as stated above, on Wednesday 19th October 2016, when our offering will include, I’m told, a piece about when the British military in Ireland used a ‘hamar’ in an attempt to crack the IRA…
Thanks for reading, Sharon.