This statement was issued almost one year ago by the POW Department of Republican Sinn Féin – ‘POW assaulted in Maghaberry : on Tuesday, April 12, 2016, Republican Sinn Féin learned that republican prisoner Gabriel Mackle was assaulted and dragged off Roe House, Maghaberry jail, Co Antrim, by the riot team, because he refused to turn off his music. The screw hit the alarm and the riot squad arrived and subsequently Gabriel was handcuffed, taken off the landing and the landing was locked down. We have no further details on Gabriel’s whereabouts. This is yet another incident in a long line of attacks against republican prisoners and specifically Gabriel Mackle who is singled out time and time again because he refuses to be criminalised.
Recently the jail administration refused Gabriel the right to engage with his religious beliefs and celebrate his son’s Confirmation. Later that same week he was mysteriously turned down for legal aid to pursue the case on a judicial review, which is beyond bizarre as it rarely occurs.
Clearly the petty vindictive attitude remains a part of the screw psyche, where the denial of political status and the general freedom to conduct their own affairs continues. Aggression will be met with resistance and thus the conflict continues, and the wishes of the POWs for a conflict free environment denied…’
(from here).

This same man is being victimised again, but by a different prison source : ‘Disturbing news came out to Sinn Féin Poblachtach today of dissent and conflict within Maghaberry prison. An attempt was made to remove a Cabhair POW from Roe house. Gabriel Mackle had only returned from a few days release to celebrate a family occasion when he was approached by some representatives of the IRPWA POWs…’ (more here) and this – ‘Statement by the President of Republican Sinn Féin Des Dalton –
Republican Sinn Féin salutes Gabriel Mackle on his courageous defence of his distinct identity and autonomy as an Irish republican POW within the Maghaberry prison. Irish republican POWs have historically had to run the gauntlet of British and 26-County state attempts to criminalise them and deny them their identity, shamefully on this occasion this latest injustice comes at the hands of those purporting to be fellow Irish republicans…’
(from here).

ON SATURDAY, 8TH APRIL 2017, at 11.30am, a picket will be held at the GPO in Dublin in support of Irish republican POW Gabriel Mackle. Please show your support.



..This City is song enough for me
To sit in old Eyre Square, holding hands with you, love, there –
There’s nowhere else on earth I’d rather be*

Serene. A place where you can take stock of yourself, catch your breath, and enjoy having nothing to do and all day to do it. Peaceful, restful and calm. The five of us spent a week-and-a-bit in Ballyconneely, in Galway, and feel the better for it. The scenery was of a picture-postcard quality, a walk through the woods, crossing little boreens and strolling through fields to get to the shops, and meandering back to base by the footpath-less small road, until it slowly veered off course, making us jump a wee stream and carry-on across a field or two in order to reach our bungalow. Bliss!

The locals are lovely people and we had the craic with them, and we were treated as long lost cousins by the shopkeepers and innkeepers etc that we had the pleasure to mix with, the weather held up for us, we had no kids or grandkids with us to ‘entertain’ (!) and we weren’t expected to meet anyone at any location at any particular time. Time was our own, in other words, and was worth twice as much for being so! But the goo was on all five of us for a bit of sweaty grit, and noise, and hot air carrying some quare smells to your nostrils and having to dodge (sometimes) grumpy people and drivers as you’re out and about and the sheer choice of what to see and where to see it and…never mind. Only annoying myself here.

If you need a relaxing break, then Ballyconneely is made for it. But if you want an experience of a different type…!



On Easter Monday this year (17th April 2017), RSF in Dublin will hold its annual Easter Commemoration : those attending are asked to assemble at the Garden of Remembrance in Parnell Square, from where, at 1.45pm, the parade will leave for the GPO, arriving at that venue at 2pm.Our pic shows the RSF Easter Commemoration from last year (2016).



Before being defaced…

..and after the act.

‘In Memory Of All Those Who Fought For Irish Freedom’ – the words etched into a marble plaque which is affixed to a memorial plinth on Meagher Quay, in Waterford, opposite the Granville Hotel ; that hotel, and the Quay it’s located on, are connected to Thomas Francis Meagher, who fought against the British presence in Ireland. A political dimwit considered it appropriate, for a reason best known to him/herself, to tape a poster of Martin McGuinness to the plinth, apparently in the mistaken belief that the latter, too, had ‘fought for Irish freedom’.

But that’s not the case, as any Irish republican will tell you – Martin McGuinness was active, militarily, to obtain that which he later achieved, politically – ‘civil rights’ for nationalists, from Westminster, as opposed to that which Meagher and other republicans were, and are, fighting for – a complete British military and political withdrawal from Ireland, not simply ‘to be treated better by the British’. It would be equally as politically absurd, insulting, inappropriate and wrong to tape a ‘tribute’ poster of, for example, Daniel O’Connell, to a memorial for Bobby Sands, and I hope a reader can bring this post to the attention of the perpetrator before s/he ruins any more republican memorials.



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.

YOUNG LADY FROM WOOSTER. (By D O’H, from an Indian Guru.)

There was a young lady from Wooster,
who dreamt a rooster seduced her,
she woke with a scream
but ’twas only a dream –
A bump in the mattress had goosed her.

(Next – ‘Dumbo the Elephant’, by Cian Sharkhin.)



Trade unionism and politics have a lot in common, including the fact that, if operated for the greater good, both can be beneficial to society and to the individual. Take, for instance, sports-mad Bill Attley (pictured, left), who was born in Dublin on this date – 5th April – in 1938 : he studied at the National College of Industrial Relations (formerly known as the ‘Catholic Workers College’ and the ‘College of Industrial Relations’, now known as the ‘National College of Ireland’) and was an active member of the ‘Workers’ Union of Ireland’, where he was elected as branch secretary at just 30 years of age.
Nine years later he became the deputy general secretary of that union and five years after that he was elected as the general secretary. In that same year (1982) he was appointed as a ‘UEFA Referee Observer’, a post he held for 28 years – indeed, in his second year in that position, he was elected as the ‘Chief Referee Assessor’ of the FAI. Not bad going, considering he got his first major ‘outing’ as an assistant ref in 1975, in a semi final, and then in a European cup final progressing, within a year, to the position of ref in an FAI cup final.

At 52 years of age, Bill assisted in merging the WUI with the ITGWU and a new trade union organisation, SIPTU, was formed and, on a personal note, I’ll say again that it was a bad move for the members of both of the pre-merged unions – the new entity lost its ‘bottle’ and became more ‘middle class’ than ‘working class’, and I know of many SIPTU members who, like me, are disappointed that, unlike the ‘old’ ITGWU, the SIPTU model constantly gives a very good impression of a union which is only really in your corner if you’re an air traffic controller or some such. Anyway : the then new trade union needed, among other such suits, a ‘joint general president’ and our Bill filled that position for the first four years of its existence (1990-1994) following which he officered as general secretary until he retired in 1998, at 60 years of age. Also, throughout his trade union ‘career’ he also affiliated himself with the State Labour Party, and it was to the chagrin of both of those groups that his name became associated with the ‘SIPTU Slush Fund Scandal’ (which wasn’t his first foray of that type…)

‘The fund, which spent more than €3 million over a decade of operation, has been heavily criticised following an audit that uncovered a catalogue of waste of taxpayers’ money and serious breaches of corporate governance…it has emerged that over €3m of state funds were paid into a bank account known as the SIPTU national health and local authority levy fund…the account was not one officially sanctioned by the union but under the control of two SIPTU officials…among those due to attend the hearing is CEO of the HSE, Cathal Magee, the secretary general of the Department of Health, Michael Scanlan and former general secretary of SIPTU, Bill Attley, who was head of the SKILL steering group…’ (from here) and this : ‘..also on the tab were laptops for union members (€30,000), a DVD (€30,526!), personal mobile phone costs and numerous taxi rides, including an amazing round-trip from Dublin to Tullamore via Louth (€544)! On the larger side there were “consultancy services” which were not put out to tender to the value of €526,444. This seems to have been for “Partnership training for SIPTU shop stewards and general operatives”, whatever that might mean. To the lucky member of the Skills steering group who was hired to provide the service it meant a tidy €73,000…(and some of the money) was used to top up someone’s pension. Neither the amount nor the individual involved have been disclosed…’ (from here).

The name ‘Attley’ apparently ‘..portrays partnership, the coming together of like minds and ideals (and) although it is flexible and patient, it is unnoticed and operates from the shadows…’ ; indeed – actions such as those outlined above cast a big dark spot and leave those not prepared ‘to operate from the shadows’ in the shade.



At the end of a year in which *IRA decommissioning has been met with widespread euphoria, Phil Mac Giolla Bháin takes a stubborn look at the facts and concludes that the celebration party may be a little premature. From the ‘Magill Annual 2002’ (*PIRA).

The transformation process that the Adams/McGuinness leadership has embarked upon since the hunger strikes of 1981, up until the recent supervised destruction of (P)IRA weaponry, has been the latest episode in the unresolved party/army debate – it is unresolved for republicans because it has been set by outside events (‘1169’ comment – actually, it was then, and remains, “unresolved for republicans” because it was an agenda promoted, internally, by nationalists [as opposed to republicans] who had unfortunately obtained leadership positions in the Movement).

The tidy ideological arguments of the Dublin-based leadership of the IRA under Cathal Goulding were not adhered to by Gusty Spence and the B-Specials ; the pogrom of northern nationalists made the unfashionable militarists come out of retirement. At the time, even the government of the Republic (sic – the author was referring to the 26-county Free State administration) – or at least a section of it – saw the need for guns. Specifically, guns in the hands of a threatened Irish citizenry. The objective of getting 500 Hungarian 9mm pistols and the appropriate amount of ammo into the North arose for the same reason that the British government parachuted ‘shorts’ (handguns) into occupied France in ‘World War II’.

The British even made a simple one-shot .45mm ‘saturday-night-special’ handgun for the purpose, complete with simple instructions in French, and it was hoped that patriotic French ‘terrorists’ would find it and use it to eliminate a German soldier or, perhaps, even better, a member of the Vichy administration. Vichy France was not a normal or stable society (‘1169’ comment – but what society under military and political occupation could expect to be “normal or stable”, despite even when certain members of that society decide to cooperate with the occupiers…?) – hence the guns in the hands of the citizenry. It would be bizarre to parachute handy ‘murder kits’ to civilians today. Context, historical context, is everything…(MORE LATER).




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!


‘Thonging’ is the strips of plastic that hold Long Kesh purses and bags together – holes are punched through the leather around the edges and the thonging is interlaced through them. In early 1974 the thonging was used to connect the cages of Long Kesh so as to provide supply lines from cage to cage. Loaves of bread were transported around Long Kesh by this method – it was a fantastic piece of resourcefulness, as demonstrated by republican POW’s.

The signing of ‘The Sunningdale Agreement’ of 1973 and the subsequent UWC Strike had far-reaching effects on the people of the North of Ireland and on the prisoners of Long Kesh. At that time I was on remand in Cage 10, and we were denied everything – no sports of any description ; we had a table-tennis table but couldn’t get bats or ping-pong balls. The Kesh was in a constant state of flux. We had no parcels, heating or visits and the food the screws sent up was nothing more than slops, so we threw it over the wire of the cage, usually at the Principal Officer’s bunk (a wooden hut that sat outside the cage). The idea was to try and hit the screws with the ‘food’ as they darted from place to place.

The only proper food we had was bread and margarine – we had no cigarettes, letters, electricity or heating, so we burned anything non-essential to heat water to make tea and when the tea-leaves were brewed to death we dried them and then smoked them. Not advisable, especially if the tea is Nambarrie’s… (MORE LATER).



..but this time it’s ‘work’, not pleasure! We’re not going to be able to post our usual contribution here next Wednesday, 12th April 2017, even though we will be here, in Dublin (and not in Galway [or further afield]!). We’ll be assisting the Cabhair organisation to run a 650-ticket raffle on Sunday 9th April (work on which began on Tuesday 4th) and, as usual, we’ll be attending the ‘autopsy’ on Monday evening (10th) into how it went. The gig itself is held in a hotel on the Dublin/Kildare border and the Monday evening end of it takes place in Dublin city centre, but the effort behind the scenes is what makes or breaks it, and it’s almost a full-time job from the Tuesday before the gig until, usually, the Tuesday after it, to ensure that all goes well. But it’s well worth it, as it brings in a decent few quid, brings us into contact with new people and helps us to keep in touch with existing colleagues. We’ll be back here on Wednesday, 19th April 2017 with, among other bits and pieces, a few paragraphs about an Irish republican radio operator who was battered and imprisoned by the Free State administration, acting under instruction from a former Irish republican gunman…

Thanks for reading, Sharon.



About 11sixtynine

A mother of three (and a Granny!) and a political activist , living in Dublin , Ireland.
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