ON THIS DATE (31ST MAY) 5 YEARS AGO : A MISSED OPPORTUNITY FOR PAYBACK!

On (Thursday) the 31st May 2012 – 5 years ago on this date – a vote was held in this State to decide whether to support or not to support a European treaty in relation to fiscal rules which would limit State spending by the Leinster House administration, placing those limitations into State law. At the time, the Euro currency was in trouble (“the most serious financial crisis at least since the 1930’s, if not ever..“) and the quickest way for the political and financial ‘bosses’ to stabilise it (and, by extension, their own profits) was to take more of it from the ‘ordinary joe’ throughout the EU, by instructing local politicians to cut back on their share of the ‘cake’. But, as expected, when those ‘captains of industry’ were raking it in during the cyclical ‘boom times’, they were quite happy to leave us little people to our own devices, sink or swim.

At the time, we stated – ‘This Treaty is about trying to shore-up a failed currency – the Euro. In this State, that failure is compounded by the activities of the gangster politicians, property speculators and bankers who, although already wealthy and financially comfortable, wanted more and, because they move in the same ‘circles’, closed ranks to protect each other’s backs as their joint efforts bankrupted the State. Those who still have jobs, and those who have lost them, are now being penalised for the mistakes and the outright greed of that ‘elite’… (from here.) Unfortunately, more of those that voted went with the establishment and the good guys lost, prompting the following from us –

‘I don’t write this post as a sore loser, or a begrudger or because I’m in a vindictive mood (well..no more than usual, anyway!) but rather as someone who has seen the same mistake being made over and over again and, despite repeated warnings to the victim, as someone who has recently witnessed the same again : scare tactics and a pro-administration and business-friendly media manipulated enough victims into the path of the cushion-covered snare it had hidden in the undergrowth and obtained the result that their employers in the IMF and the EU ordered : a ‘YES’ vote for more austerity for the unemployed and the low paid, to secure the continued comforts of the ‘protected class’ ie the politicians themselves and their ‘friends’’ (‘interests’, rather..) in the banking and property-speculating industries.

Although over three million people (3,144,828) in this State were entitled to vote on the ‘Austerity Treaty’, only slightly more than one-and-a-half million (1,584,179) of those actually did so and, of that latter figure, 955,091 voted for more ‘austerity’ (after being told by the ‘Establishment’, among other frightening lies, that the ATM’s would soon be cashless!) whilst 629,088 voted ‘NO’..

The ‘Yes’ vote was signed into FS law by the Free State President, Michael D. Higgins, on 27th June 2012 but, five years after the fact, the Euro currency is still in trouble, the ‘cops’ (who are as ‘careless’ now as they have been in the past..), like the State that employs them and gives them succor, are bent but are still sometimes the only point of rescue for those that the State would rather forget while those that the decent among us would rather forget are allowed free reign. And neither Brussels or Leinster House will do anything – except probosculate about it, occasionally – because the careerists in those institutions would be making headlines like that themselves were it not for the fact that they are placed in positions where they can cover for each other.

 

PROSE AND CONS.

By prisoners from E1 Landing, Portlaoise Prison, 1999.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS :

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 SERPENT. (By Cian Sharkhin.)

Sliding through the swaying Savannah
his presence is scarcely felt.
Satan’s sacred servant
is slinking through the veldt.
A glint, a gleam and shimmering sheen,
his form so lithe and svelte.

Skulking in the Savannah
that swaddles the Swaziland,
he stops and smiles, his simpering smile,
whilst striking the serpents stand.
He sighs a lisp, a sibilant lisp,
sensing his prey at hand.

The rummaging rat came rooting,
sniffing, twitching, snooting, snouting.
Rustling, bustling through the brush,
its presence it was-a-flouting.
Without a care and unaware
it was on its last outing.

The reptilian gin whips it in
with swishing slash and scything.
A squeal, a squeak and piercing shriek,
in tightening tendrils writhing.
A twist, a quirk and spasmodic jerk,
the resistance is now subsiding.

Swallowing the prey, he slithers away,
never lauded as heroic.
That wry simpering smile,
so merciless and stoic.
A projection of our darkside,
so complexly metaphoric.

(Next – ‘In My Heart’, by Keith Sinnott.)

 

ON THIS DATE (31ST MAY) 219 YEARS AGO : ‘UNITED IRISHMEN’ LEADER ELECTED.

Farewell my brave United men,
who dearly with me fought,
though tyrant might has conquered right,
full dearly was it bought.
And when the sun of freedom
shall again upon you shine,
oh, then let Bagenal Harvey’s name array your battle line

Beauchamp Bagenal Harvey was born in Wexford in 1762, into a fairly well-off (Protestant) family, and was educated at Trinity College in Dublin (his father was a senior civil servant). Beauchamp, by now a barrister, was an outspoken supporter of Catholic emancipation and, at 30 years of age, joined the ‘Dublin Society of United Irishmen’. In that same year (1792) his father died, leaving him property in Wexford and Waterford, which yielded an annual rental of £3,000.

Harvey was arrested by the British in late May 1798 and was imprisoned in Wexford Jail but the prison was forcibly taken over a few days later by the United Irishmen and he was set free. On the 31st of that month – 219 years ago on this date – he was appointed by the approximate four-thousand strong rebel army in that area as their Commander-in-Chief. He gathered his forces and headed for the walled-town of New Ross, intending to set up camp there – they set up a temporary base at Three Rock, just outside Wexford Town, and spent about three days there, drilling and learning basic military manoeuvres. From New Ross they intended to march on Kilkenny, where they could recruit more fighters. On the 5th June 1798, Harvey sent a despatch rider into New Ross with an instruction to the British general in charge (Johnson) demanding the surrender of the town ‘to avert rapine and bloodshed’ but the messenger was killed by Johnson’s yeomanry. The Irish, numbering approximately four-thousand strong, attacked New Ross and won the fight, and the town, only to lose it when the British re-grouped and drove them out. However, within hours the Irish had themselves re-grouped and were ready for another attack.

The rebel leaders – Beauchamp Bagenal Harvey, Thomas Cloney, Father Philip Roche and John Kelly – led their army into New Ross again and scattered the British but failed to properly secure the town ; the British again re-grouped, attacked and, for the second time, put the Irish to flight. Feeling that a final victory was within their grasp, the United Irishmen assembled for another push – the third such attack. They divided into three groups, two of which – each consisting of hundreds of rebels – were dispatched towards Wicklow, to confuse the enemy, while the third contingent, consisting of about three-thousand men and women, headed for New Ross again. The two ‘Wicklow’ groups put up a fierce struggle against professional British Yeomanry, but were eventually forced to scatter, leaving hundreds of fellow rebels dead or dying. By this time, the largest group (under Harvey) had reached Carrickbyrne Hill, about two-hours march from New Ross ; on their journey from Three Rock to Carrickbyrne Hill they had encountered and defeated armed British contingents and Harvey decided they should set-up base at the Hill and teach the rebel army how to use the captured pieces of artillery which they had taken from the British forces they had met along the way.

After a few days in training, the rebel army were judged to be ready to be moved to the next ‘camp’, Corbett Hill – the last such stop before they would reach the town of New Ross, and from where they could look down on the town. They knew that there was about three or four-thousand enemy soldiers in New Ross, commanded by a General Johnson and a ‘Lord’ Mountjoy, the latter in charge of an enemy Brigade from Dublin. Beauchamp Bagenal Harvey wanted to take the town without bloodshed, if possible, and sent a number of his men, under a flag of truce, to let the British know that he was willing to accept their surrender and take prisoners. The British shot the truce party dead. A battle that was to last thirteen hours was about to begin.

The rebels gathered a huge herd of cattle and stampeded the animals towards the town, following immediately behind the terrified beasts. The British outposts fell, and the Irish fought their way into the middle of New Ross , meeting strong resistance – the enemy retreated, re-grouped and, once more, succeeded in forcing the United Irishmen out of the town. Some of the rebel army were reluctant to lose the ground they had gained, and had to be practically dragged away by their own comrades ; one such rebel was Mary Doyle, who ran from body to body of dead and dying enemy soldiers, finishing them off or just making sure they were dead before removing their ammunition belts and weapons which she then distributed to her own side! –

‘By 1798 the wearing of the colour green was forbidden by order of the English government, but this order was defied by the women, especially in Wexford. The women of Wexford had their petticoats, handkerchiefs, cap ribbons and all parts of their dress that exhibited a shade of green, torn off and were subjected to the most vile and indecent language by the Yeomen. Any women who encountered the government troops ran a most terrible risk. In
a desperate encounter with a Hessian Captain, Anne Ford of Garrysackle, County Wexford, slew him with a mallet. Peg Kavanagh was one of many women who conveyed despatches and food to Michael Dwyer and Joseph Hall in their hiding place in the Wicklow Mountains. Susan O’Toole, the blacksmith’s daughter of Annamore, carried ammunition and provisions to the insurgent chiefs for many a long year. Joseph Hall used to call Susan O’Toole his “moving magazine”. William Rooney has immortalised the memory of Mary Doyle, a fearless Wexford insurgent :

But a figure rose before us,
Twas a girl’s fragile frame
And among the fallen soldiers

There she walked with eyes aflame,
And her voice rang o’er the sea :
“Who so dares to die for Ireland
Let him come and follow me!”
(more here.)

It was during that retreat that Mary Doyle was said to have climbed on to a British cannon and vowed to stay with the gun regardless of what happened – her own comrades could only get her to safety by wheeling the weapon out of the town, with Mary Doyle said to be sitting on the barrel of it! The town of New Ross was now on fire, with buildings crumbling and hundreds of bodies strewn around ; one of the leaders of the United Irishmen, John Kelly (from Killane), assembled the remnants of the rebel army for one last push, which he led. It was in that last attack that Kelly was badly wounded and Mary Doyle was killed by one of the many fires which now consumed the town. Both sides were by now exhausted. One of the surviving United Irishmen, Thomas Cloney, described the last battle as a free-for-all “with two confused masses of men struggling alternatively to drive the other back by force alone.” For the third time in 13 hours, the Irish rebels were forced out of their own town – they had lost the battle. The British ‘Lord’, Mountjoy’, who was in command of a British force from Dublin, was killed during the fight. Beauchamp Bagenal Harvey was captured within a few weeks by the British and was ‘tried’, convicted and hanged on the 28th June 1798 at the bridge of Wexford. His body was then beheaded, the torso thrown into the River Slaney and his head displayed on a spike at the courthouse in Wexford town.

The British no longer ‘behead and spike’ their enemy anymore (at least not in Ireland) but they continue to make enemies of the calibre of the Harvey’s and Mary Doyle’s of this world and will continue to do so until they realise that their ‘days of empire’ are over.

 

RICOCHETS OF HISTORY…

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).

Had there truly been a pan-nationalist front, the Sinn Féin leadership would never have found itself in a situation of having to approach the IRA to ask them to destroy weaponry under the gaze of a British proxy. The present departure is, partly, a leap of faith by the republican leadership (sic – the author was referring to the leadership of the Provisional grouping) in the goodwill of Blair and the British government. Partly, too, it has occurred because this was the only tactical option open to republican leaders in a situation that had been constructed to corner them (‘1169’ comment : what nonsense! That leadership willingly walked into a political cul-de-sac, feigned surprise that it actually was a cul-de-sac, and then attempted to blame those who pointed them in the direction of that cul-de-sac!).

The narrow-minded streets of Glenbryn may yet remove the veneer of a settlement. In some ways it is already business as usual in the Alabama of the North, with pipe bombs and burnings on a weekly (and sometimes nightly) basis. If history tells us anything, it tells us that the nice new mission-statemented ‘Police Service of Northern Ireland’ will look and act remarkably like the ‘old’ RUC.

What has happened over the past couple of years is that the leadership of the republican movement (sic – the author was referencing ‘the PSF leadership’), cut adrift by the Dublin government, had no choice but to consent to unionist demands (‘1169’ comment – so those the author considered to be ‘the leadership of the republican movement’ had placed themselves in the political position wherby they were reliant on the backing of a Free State administration? Completely ludicrous to suggest that any republican would do that. A (constitutional) nationalist would, but not a republican..). No amount of ‘strategic thinking’ by the republican base will get away from that central reality… (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!

“HEY, DO YOU WANT ANY DRUGS?”.

It was Saturday afternoon in Cage 11, Long Kesh, and most other places as well, I suppose. Anyway, I was out walking around the cage – the crims (‘ODC’s) were out on the football pitch, as was normal for a Saturday, playing football. I recognised one or two, as I walked around, and waved to them.

The match was getting a bit heated so I stopped to watch for a while. It started to cool down again and wasn’t much of a spectacle, so I decided to continue my dander. “Hey, do ya want any drugs?”, asked a voice from the other side of the wire on the football pitch. “I’ll drugs ya, yea wee bastard ye, if I get my hands on ya…”, I shouted. One of the lads on the pitch that I knew came running over to me – “What’s wrong, Jim?” , he asked. “That skinny wee bastard there is trying to sell me drugs”, I replied.

“Hey you, fuck off”, he said to the pusher. “I’m only trying to swap some drugs for cigarettes”, the pusher moaned. “He doesn’t wany any, so fuck off”, was the reply he got from my friend, who was a good republican who, charged with an unscheduled offence, could not qualify for ‘Special Category Status’. He explained to me that there was a major drug problem among the young crims and how it was easier to get drugs than cigarettes… (MORE LATER).

Thanks for reading, Sharon.


 


 


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About 11sixtynine

A mother of three and a political activist , living in Dublin , Ireland.
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