‘BLOODY SUNDAY’ PICKET, SATURDAY JANUARY 28TH, 2017, O’CONNELL STREET, DUBLIN.
After a peaceful civil rights march on January 30, 1972 – from Creggan to Free Derry Corner – units of the British Army Parachute Regiment opened fire with automatic rifles and shot dead 13 unarmed civilians, injuring many more. It was later revealed that some days prior to the massacre, the British soldiers involved had been briefed to ‘shoot to kill’ at the march.
“This Sunday became known as ‘Bloody Sunday’ and bloody it was. It was quite unnecessary. It strikes me that the (British) army ran amok that day and shot without thinking of what they were doing. They were shooting innocent people. They may have been taking part in a parade which was banned, but that did not justify the troops coming in and firing live rounds indiscriminately. I would say without reservations that it was sheer unadulterated murder. It was murder, gentlemen” – the words of British Major Hubert O’Neill, Derry City Coroner, at the conclusion of the inquests on the 13 people killed by the British Army.
On Saturday January 28th next, a picket to mark the 45th anniversary of that massacre will be held at the GPO in Dublin, from 12 Noon to 1.45pm. All welcome!
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.
THE PADDED CELL. (By Harry Melia.)
In the padded cell I sit
humiliated, dejected, depressed,
it seems that no-one cares, do they?
Am I forgotten?
I hear a jangle of keys
I bang, shout, curse
it seems there’s no-one there, is there?
At last some one comes, my saviour
from this hell, or not…
“WHAT DO YOU WANT?” the screw shouts at me
Just to talk, Guv, I say meekly
“NOT A CHANCE LAD”, he grunts
Is this real or an illusion?
(Next – ‘Wasted Time’, by Harry Melia.)
TRADE UNIONS AND CAPITALISM IN IRELAND….
The role of the trade union movement in Ireland in relation to the continued imperialist occupation of the North and to the foreign multi-national domination of the Irish economy – both north and south – remains an area of confusion for many people. John Doyle examines the economic policy of the ‘Irish Congress of Trade Unions’ (ICTU) and the general failure of the official Labour movement to advance the cause of the Irish working class, except in terms of extremely limited gains. From ‘Iris’ magazine, November 1982.
As stated earlier, the fundamental weakness of the trade union movement in Ireland today is its lack of a clear socialist ideology. In 1914, just prior to the outbreak of war, the then 20-year-old ‘Irish Trade Union Congress’ restructured itself as the ‘Irish TUC and Labour Party’, as a result of a proposal promoted by the ‘Dublin Trades Council’ and supported by James Connolly.
Yet that early conception, of a mass working-class political organisation with revolutionary socialist policies linked to a general trade union of industrial workers, has failed to materialise in the intervening years.
Why this has been so can largely be attributed to the official labour movement’s voluntary distancing from the national struggle but other aspects which prevented the building of a political and industrial organisation of the Irish working class are relevant here. Primary among those aspects was that those who carried Connolly’s policies forward were nearly all caught up in the developing national struggle, their energies concentrating on immediate objectives of surviving the massive repression across the country and defending the basic organisation against the general reaction and the sectarianism of the 1920’s and early 1930’s. (MORE LATER).
ON THIS DATE (25TH JANUARY) 140 YEARS AGO : BIRTH OF A REBEL PRIEST.
Patrick Canon Murphy was born at Whitehill, Kilmore, in County Wexford on the 25th January 1877 – 140 years ago on this date. He studied for the priesthood in Rome and at Clonliffe College in Dublin and, at 23 years young, in 1900, he was ordained as a priest. In 1955, at 78 years of age, he made the following statement to the Free State ‘Bureau of Military History’ : “I was a Member of the House of Missions, Enniscorthy, from 1900 to 1935. In that year I was appointed Parish Priest, Glynn, where I am now. I had a big share in starting the Gaelic League and the County Feis etc in the county. I was for some years a member of the Coisde Gnotha, Dublin. I was associated with Sinn Féin, the Volunteers and every National Movement…”
Easter Sunday, 1916 –“Knowing the plan of operations allotted to them, the Enniscorthy Battalion of the Irish Volunteers were at noon on Easter Sunday ‘standing at arms’ at their headquarters in ‘Antwerp’. Officers
and men were greatly disturbed on the arrival of “The Sunday Independent” newspaper which contained John McNeill’s countermanding of the Rising…Captain Seamus Doyle, Captain Rafter, Dr. Dundon, J.J (‘Ginger’)O’Connell and others were soon on the bridge and it was decided to call a Council of War at once to discuss the situation. We
assembled at the residence of Mrs. William Murphy on the MillPark Road. There were present the above mentioned and also Miss Ryan and myself. After a long deliberation it was decided to obey McNeill’s Orders and to await developments.
On the following day rumours of the Rising in Dublin had reached
Enniscorthy , on receipt of which officers and men, impatient at their inactivity, were anxious to come to the aid of their comrades in Dublin. Yet no mobilisation orders were issued. Commandant Galligan, who was to take command of the field forces of the Battalion, was in Dublin. Finally the Volunteers decided to take action on their own. On Wednesday afternoon all the officers of the Battalion, with two exceptions, assembled in the Athenaeum and decided to mobilise. Commandant Galligan arrived from Dublin with instructions from James Connolly that the Enniscorthy Volunteers were to take over the railway so as to prevent reinforcements reaching Dublin through
Rosslare. They were, also, to capture all points of advantage at all costs, but not to waste their ammunition on stone buildings such as the R.I.C. Barracks.
The Rising in Enniscorthy began about 2 o’clock on Thursday morning. About 200 Volunteers in full war-kit assembled in the Athenaeum which was taken over and (used as) the headquarters of the staff. The Republican Flag was hoisted over the building, there to remain until the morning of the surrender, when it was taken down and
handed to the writer in whose possession it still remains. A Proclamation signed by Captain Seamus Doyle, Adjutant, was posted on the Market House stating that the town was in the possession of the Volunteers. Early on Thursday morning an order was issued closing all public houses with the result that during the four days of republican rule not a single person was under the influence of drink. On the same morning the railway station
was taken over and a train on the way to Arklow was held to be used in case of emergencies. A party of men were sent to loosen the metals on the railway line over The Boro River. They were fired on by the police who captured one man and wounded another.
No attempt was made to capture the R.I.C. barracks. A few shots were fired from the turret rock wounding Constable Grace who was lying in bed close to a window in the line of fire. The first day’s events are described by Captain J.R. Etchingham in his account of the Rising in Enniscorthy written at the headquarters in the Athenaeum : “We have had at least one day of blissful freedom. We have had Enniscorthy under the laws of the Irish Republic for at least one day and it pleases me to learn that the citizens are appreciably surprised. We closed the public houses. We established a force of Irish republican police, comprising some of Enniscorthy’s most respectable citizens, and a more orderly town could not be imagined. Some may attribute this to the dread of our arms. Yet, strange to state, it is not true. True, we commandeered much needed goods from citizens who were not in the past very friendly to our extreme views. The wonder to me is how quickly a shock changes the minds of people..”
How Enniscorthy mobilised on this morning makes you feel optimistic. We never intended to attack the police, barracks or Post Office of Enniscorthy, or elsewhere. The action of Constable Grace in firing the first shot resulted in a desultory fire. It brought about a casualty to a little girl and a wound to himself. We hold all the town and approaches. We have cut the wires, blown up the Boro bridge and so assured that the men of Dublin will not have added to their foes further reinforcements through Rosslare.
April 30th 1916 : I did not get time to scrawl anything yesterday but ‘permits’ to residents of Enniscorthy and visitors to pass through our lines. We are working like steam engines, the staff has been 23 of
the hands on duty. Bob Brennan presides at the staff headquarters, his desk being the billiard table of the Athenaeum on which is all the commandeered stuff. The police are in a bad way in this isolated barrack by the Quay.
We have some difficulty in keeping the fighting heroes of our little army from capturing the building. We refuse to allow this, though we know the beseiged would welcome even an attack by rotten egg-throwers to give them an excuse for surrendering. Indeed, this is confirmed by the result of an interview arranged by us between the besieged and the members of the Enniscorthy Urban Council. The District Inspector Hegarty assured the deputation that he regretted he could not accede to their terms to lay down arms and don the ordinary clothes of citizens of the Irish Republic. We will not waste ammunition on this little force which will come out to satisfy the searching demand of the stomach. The town is very quiet and orderly. We are commandeering all we require and we have set up different departments.
The people of the town are great. Our order to close up the public houses shows to what an extent these buildings are in disorder. We were all discussing the bright prospect and even our most bitter enemies give
to us unstinted praise. The manhood of Enniscorthy is worthy of its manhood. They are working for us like the brave hearts they are. God bless you all brave people of this historic old town. It is 5.45 a.m. and Captain Dick King and myself get to bed. Dick is great! Of the day’s doings I may note occupation of the National Bank and the Institute for strategical reasons. We also occupied Ferns. Bravo Ferns! You hold the remains of Dermot MacMurrough but you boys of today are true as steel.
Rumours of an attack on Enniscorthy : By the end of the week about 2,000 English troops from the Curragh and elsewhere had assembled in Wexford town. They were under the command of Colonel
French, a Wexford man, who happened to be on furlough at the time. In addition to the regular forces, many of the Redmond Volunteers and sworn—in Specials offered their services. Rumours of an attack on Enniscorthy reached town. Fearful of loss of life and destruction of property a number of leading citizens formed themselves into a Peace Committee. Rev. R. Fitzhenry, Administrator, and Rev. John Rossiter visited the republican headquarters. What transpired is thus recorded by Captain J.R. Etchingham : “We discuss things and ultimately agree to recognise an armistice. We discuss terms of peace conditionally on the English Military Authorities issuing a proclamation in the four towns of Wexford of this action and that we will not compromise in one comma our principles. We are not averse if an almost bloodless blow wins Independence”.
A meeting of the members of the Peace Committee is held and Father Fitzhenry, Citizens P. O’Neill and S. Buttle go to Wexford. Next comes the return of the Wexford deputation and we know by the face of Father Fitzhenry that he considers he has had bad news. We assemble and listen to the result of the interview. It is unconditional surrender. A copy of a special edition of the “Free Press” is produced which announces the unconditional surrender of our noble Commandant Pearse. Copies of the telegrams purporting to have come to the County Inspector of Police were given to Father Fitzhenry. One asks all units of Irish Volunteers to surrender. Seamus Doyle is the first to wonder at this strange method adopted by P. H. Pearse of communicating the position of his followers and proposes that if he receives a corroboration from Commandant Pearse in his own handwriting, signed in a manner only known to them both, we would consider the situation. Commandant Brennan will not agree to that. He feels England equal to the trick of deceiving us by a knowledge of this gained through the Postal Telegraph Service. I agree with Bob and express wonder why, if Colonel French is the leading authority under Martial Law, the message did not come to him and not to the C.I. of the R.I.C. Eventually we agree to stand by our determination not to lay down our arms unless we are granted a personal interview with P.H. Pearse. The members of the deputation agree that our view is a reasonable one. Seamus Doyle offered to go up in the custody of two military men to interview Pearse. We all ask to put this statement in writing and we keep a copy which runs :
‘Irish Republican Headquarters, April 29th, 1916 –
With regard to the communication laid before the Staff by the Peace Committee we have to state that in view of the affirmation contained therein, to prevent useless bloodshed and destruction of property, we are prepared to obey Commandant Pearse’s Order to lay down our arms if we can be assured that Order has been issued. This assurance we can only accept from Commandant Pearse himself, and in order to satisfy ourselves entirely on this point, we ask
that a pass through the English lines to Commandant Pearse be issued to Captain Seamus Doyle who will, if necessary, travel under military escort.
Captain Robert Brennan.
Captain Seamus Doyle.
Lieutenant Michael de Lassaigh.
Seamus Rafter, Captain.
Captain J.R. Etchingham.
Captain R. F. King.’
There you see the names of the leaders of the “Wexford Revolt” of 1916. Lieutenant M de Lacy, who joined us and worked like half a dozen men as Civil Minister, did not hesitate a moment in signing the document although he could easily have avoided it. He is a married man in a good position. That is the spirit which proves to the world that Ireland has, as the Professor puts it, the germ of rebellion against foreign rule.
Well we have had a few days’ Republic in Enniscorthy”. The communication signed by the republican Officers was conveyed to Colonel French by the above-mentioned citizens of the Peace Committee. Colonel French agreed to the request and addressed a letter to Captain Brennan, stating that if Captains Doyle and Etchingham went to
Ferrycarrig they would be taken through the English lines and conveyed under safe conduct to Dublin to interview Commandant Pearse :
“We were brought to the British Headquarters which, as well as I remember, were at the Royal Hospital, Kilmainham ; thence we were brought to Arbour Hill Barracks, attended by quite a number of staff officers. We were escorted into the Main Hall, and the cell door was unlocked and flung open, the officers remaining in the hall. As we entered, Pearse was rising from a mattress in the far end of the cell, upon which he had been lying covered with his great coat. He wore the uniform of the Irish Volunteers, which was complete, except for the Sam Browns belt. The rank—badges were still on the collar of his tunic. I wrote in another place that he seemed to be physically exhausted, but spiritually exultant, and that description must stand. He told us that the Dublin Brigade had done splendidly — five days and five nights of almost continuous fighting – of The
O’Rahilly’s heroic death in Moore Street, and of the no less heroic death of our countryman, Captain Tom Weafer, at his position in the Hibernian Bank in O’Connell Street. The surrender was ordered, he told us, to save the lives of the people of Dublin, who were being shot by the British in the streets, adding that he saw them
being shot himself. We asked him to give us a written order to bring back with us. The military warder, who was present during the interview, produced writing materials and, when the order was written, brought
it outside to have it examined by some of his officers. While he was absent, Pearse said in a whisper, “Hide your arms, they’ll be needed later”, and so we said farewell. The memory of the handclasp and the smile remains with me”.
Whilst Captains Doyle and Etchingham were away, District Inspector McGovern, R.I.C., Arklow, and Rev. Owen Kehoe, C.C., Camolin, arrived in a motor car carrying a white flag and bearing the surrender order of Commandant
Pearse. He was told of the events on the spot and returned to Arklow. Captains Doyle and Etchingham returned late on Sunday night and gave an account of their interview with Commandant Pearse. With regret the officers and men agreed to obey the order from Pearse – to surrender – which they did on Monday morning to Colonel French. The military took the six officers who were conveyed under escort to Wexford. They were later tried by Courtmartial and
condemned to death, but the sentence was commuted to Penal Servitude for five years.
Signed: Patrick Murphy P.P.
Date : 22nd July 1955.” (From here.)
Disturbing, to put it mildly, that those that sit in Leinster House and Stormont seek to claim political lineage with the men and women of the calibre of those mentioned above. They are as different as chalk and cheese and will never command the same respect as those that ‘went out’ in 1916, and before and since then, to remove the British presence from Ireland, politically and militarily. This country is blessed to have had such people.
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!
PSYCHOLOGICAL WARFARE (does my head in…)
The Staff of Cage 22 were running about : there was something on. There was nobody laughing so we knew it could be serious. Packy Nolan was laughing but that meant nothing. We think that was the shape of his face, like the permanent laugh that Mary Robinson always had on her face. The word was that we were supposed to be getting moved down to Cage 11 ; the months of physical training and survival techniques were finally to be put to the test. The feeling of hopelessness engulfed the Camp.
The time in question was about seven months or so after the ‘Fire of Long Kesh’ : just after Christmas in 1975 we had been moved up to Cage 22 which had been temporarily rebuilt along with Cages 6, 7 and 23. The gable walls of these huts were wooden and they were built in a hurry to re-house us and, while we were in those cages, the bottom end of the Camp – Cages 9, 10, 11, 12 and 13 – were being rebuilt with brick gables.
The O.C. of Cage 22, who we’ll call ‘Gerry’, assembled us in the canteen and informed us that we were supposed to be moving to Cage 11 but that the O.C. of the sentenced republican prisoners had told the screws that we would not be moving. Sin é! But soon another comm (empty tobacco tin with note in it) was winging its way between Cage 7 and Cage 22, and it was brought into Gerry who read the contents and then called another meeting. This meeting was hastily arranged in the canteen and Martin, the adjutant (a Dublin man) read it out loud. (MORE LATER).
Thanks for reading, Sharon.