The newspaper article (pictured, left) which was published in ‘The Sunday Times’ on the 30th July last, authored by Free State unionist Kevin Myers is, at the time of writing, still receiving top billing in other newspapers and on radio and television news programmes. The ‘Jews-and-women’ piece has, rightly, brought both Myers and the newspaper into (further) disrepute and has elicited apologises from all concerned except, at the time of writing, from the author himself.

However, in our opinion, an even bigger injustice has been ignored because of the publicity generated by that article – on page 3 of that same edition a piece by Justine McCarthy , entitled ‘St Patrick may make way for independence day celebration’, was published and, to date, there has been no turmoil as a result of it –

– the piece opened by stating that “The advisory committee on state commemorations is to recommend an annual independence day to celebrate the foundation of the state..unlike other countries, Ireland does not mark its independence with a national holiday..” and finished by informing those that managed to get to the end of the article without their head been turned inside-out like their stomachs would have been that “…India, which won its independence from Britain later than Ireland, has its independence day every August 15..”. Between the beginning and the end of that piece there were other equally misleading statements and claims in which the author continued to show her confusion in relation to the difference between ‘state’ and ‘country’ ie the state consists of 26 counties but the country consists of 32 counties and, as the country has not yet achieved its independence it is a nonsense to talk about organising ‘independence day celebrations’.

And, Justine, if you and other politically-confused individuals want to celebrate Free State ‘independence’, could I suggest that you put Kevin Myers in charge of organising the event and doing the publicity for it. That would be most appropriate and such an occasion would deserve it.



Padraig Flynn (left) has been facing the flak since he became Minister for the Environment. But Michael O’Higgins finds that nothing phases him. He retains the same certainty he had when saying quite different things. From ‘Magill’ magazine, May 1987.

Residents’ associations and tenants’ associations have queued up to meet the new minister, to protest about local charges and increased local authority rents, and have been only temporarily mollified by Flynn’s promise of “reviews”.

The government’s determination to take control, partly through the Department of the Environment, of the complex situation surrounding the wreck of the Kowloon Bridge, Flynn’s popular call, as minister, for the closure of the Sellafield nuclear reprocessing plant and the endless declaration of good intentions which the ‘European Year of the Environment’ allows for, have not eased the discomfort for the new occupant of the minister’s office in the Custom House.

The housing grants had first been introduced by Fianna Fáil in 1979 but were terminated a year later. On that occasion, they gave notice of their intention and had been flooded with 40,000 new applications. The decision on this occasion to terminate retrospectively was aimed at preventing a recurrence of that kind of rush. John Boland had reintroduced the grant schemes in 1985 and, in that first year of operation, £8.5 million was paid out. In 1986, the figure had jumped to £27.5 million and this year (1987) £100 million had been allocated and the department had taken on extra inspectors to cope with the applications, many of whom had given verbal approval to applicants who had proceeded with work.

Under the terms of the budget these people would now not receive their grants… (MORE LATER).



Henry James ‘Harry’ Boland (27th April 1887 – 2nd August 1922).
“I rise to speak against this Treaty because, in my opinion, it denies a recognition of the Irish nation…I object to it on the ground of principle, and my chief objection is because I am asked to surrender the title of Irishman and accept the title of West Briton…I object because this Treaty denies the sovereignty of the Irish nation, and I stand by the principles I have always held — that the Irish people are by right a free people.
I object to this Treaty because it is the very negation of all that for which we have fought. It is the first time in the history of our country that a body of representative Irishmen has ever suggested that the sovereignty of this nation should be signed away..we secured a mandate from the Irish people because we put for the first time before the people of Ireland a definite issue ; we promised that if elected we would combat the will, and deny the right of England in this country, and after four years of hard work we have succeeded in bringing Ireland to the proud position she occupied on the fifth December last. The fight was made primarily here in Ireland ; but I want to say that the fight that was made in Ireland was also reflected throughout the world ; and we — because we had a definite object — had the sympathy of liberty-loving people everywhere….I have taken one oath to the Republic and I will keep it. If I voted for that document I would work the Treaty, and I would keep my solemn word and treat as a rebel any man who would rise out against it. If I could in conscience vote for that Treaty I would do so, and if I did I would do all in my power to enforce that Treaty ; because, so sure as the honour of this nation is committed by its signature to this Treaty, so surely is Ireland dead. We are asked to commit suicide and I cannot do it..we are asked to annihilate the Irish nation. This nation has been preserved for seven hundred and fifty years, coming down in unbroken succession of great men who have inspired us to carry on. We were the heirs of a great tradition, and the tradition was that Ireland had never surrendered, that Ireland had never been beaten, and that Ireland can never be beaten..”
(7th January, 1922,from here.)

It is generally considered that Harry Boland was the first man to be ‘unofficially executed’ by a Michael Collins-controlled Free State death squad, on the evening of Sunday 30th July/early Monday morning 31st July 1922 and, following that shooting, in the Grand Hotel in Skerries, Dublin, the State gunmen issued this statement (on Monday 31st July 1922) “Early this morning a small party of troops entered the Grand Hotel to place Mr. H.Boland T.D., under arrest. Mr. Boland had been actively engaged in the irregular campaign. When accosted in his bedroom he made an unsuccessful attempt to seize a gun from one of the troops and then rushed out to the door. After firing two shots at random and calling on Mr. Boland to halt, it was found necessary to fire a third shot to prevent an escape. Mr. Boland was wounded and removed to hospital. A man giving his name as John J.Murphy with residence at 3 Castlewood Avenue, Ranelagh,Dublin, who was found with Mr. Boland, was taken prisoner. Subsequently he was identified as Joseph Griffin* , an active irregular, belonging to Dublin.” (*’1169′ Comment – Joe Griffin was an IRA operative within the Movement’s Intelligence Department.)

One of the Free State troops present at the time stated afterwards – “Mr.Boland was wanted and we went to the hotel and two or three of us entered his room. He was in bed. We wakened him and he got up out of bed and partly dressed himself. He had no gun. Suddenly he turned and rushed to tackle one of our fellows for his gun. A shot was fired over his head to desist but he continued to struggle and almost had the gun when a second shot was fired and Mr.Boland was wounded.” The bullet entered his right side near the ribs, passed through his body and came out through his left side causing very serious injuries.

A photograph of the actual bullet which killed Harry Boland….

…and his funeral service, Glasnevin Cemetery, Dublin.

Although unarmed at that moment, as admitted by his executioners, caught by surprise and outnumbered (a “small party” of Free State troops were in the room at the time) the Staters attempted to present the execution of Harry Boland as ‘a killing in self-defence’ ie ‘he attempted to jump us and then tried to flee…’. They had learned well from their British colleagues. Harry Boland died from his wounds on the 2nd August 1922 – 95 years ago on this date – in St. Vincents Hospital, Dublin and, as he lay waiting for death, he told family members that the Stater who shot him had been imprisoned with him in Lewes Prison, in England, but he refused to put a name to him – when his sister, Kathleen, asked him who had fired the shot he refused to tell her, saying “The only thing I’ll say is that it was a friend of my own that was in prison with me, I’ll never tell the name and don’t try to find out. I forgive him and I want no reprisals”. The funeral expenses were taken care of by the Cumann na Poblachta organisation.

‘Boland’s mix of animal charm, gregariousness, wit and a dash of ruthlessness made him an influential and formidable character. Though not an intellectual in his manner he was a clear thinker, a forceful orator and a graceful writer….’ (from here.) Thankfully, there are those like him who continue to this day to work for the Movement….



“We British are sometimes told we do not understand the Irish but, if this is so, the failure to understand is a two-way street. Everything on which the IRA is currently engaged suggests that it does not understand us at all.” – So wrote Peter Brooke, Secretary of State for ‘Northern Ireland’, last July in ‘The London Evening Standard’ newspaper. More august* persons such as CJ Haughey and Garret Fitzgerald have also said the same from their varying points of view. By Cliodna Cussen, from ‘Iris’ magazine, Easter 1991. (‘1169′ comment : *’August’ as in ‘ dignified and impressive’? Haughey and Fitzgerald? How so? From what point of view? Certainly not from a republican perspective, anyway…)

The English never define themselves in relation to the Irish. In fact their whole attitude in relation to Ireland, one of exhausted irritation and sporadic hatred mixed with fear, has been around since the 16th century. Constant influxes of the Irish into England since the 1800’s have caused strains on English society, but their ability to assimilate them only points to the strength of their culture.

The English never define their relation with Ireland, nor have they, since William Gladstone had a clear definite policy in regard to Ireland- their actions are political reactions as Garret Fitzgerald said ; “Their system is uncoordinated because there’s no system. Northern Ireland (sic) secretary people think there’s a ‘Northern Ireland’ policy, but there isn’t. No British government has succeeded, except in a very brief period of negotiation or an immediate reaction to something like the fall of Stormont, in concentrating its attention sufficiently to ensure the actions of all ministers are directed towards the same objective.

The result is that things are done, the cumulative effect of which can be negative, not because of ill-will but because of a lack of appreciation of the consequences of the action being taken. To Irish governments (sic – should read ‘Dublin administrations’) the whole issue is so important that we cannot afford to act negatively regardless of consequences.” In fact, “Ireland is very rarely on the Cabinet agenda,” as Merlyn Rees said in 1989, “to us it is not very important.” (MORE LATER).



‘As Ireland buries her heroes and martyrs,
Britain should hang her head in shame,
As Kieran Doherty fought for freedom
And gave his life to Ireland’s name…’
(from here.)

“On July 13th, 1981, we were shocked and dismayed to hear that Martin Hurson had been violently ill and had died unexpectedly and prematurely. The next significant development was the British government-sponsored intervention of the ‘International Red Cross’ (IRC), which tried to initiate direct dialogue between the Brits and ourselves – the Brits rejected this and suggested mediation based on their July 8th statement, which was aimed at defeating us and unproductive, and we rejected this as futile.

We pointed out to the IRC that, as the Brits were not interested in an honourable settlement, their interest in the IRC must logically be to use them ; a Red Cross delegate asked for a further break-down of our July 4th statement and was initially refused. However, after discussion, we complied and issued the August 6th statement and asked the British government, the Dublin government, the SDLP and the Catholic Church to respond to our statement. Soon Kieran Doherty, Kevin Lynch and Thomas McElwee were to be murdered by Britain..” – part of the text of a statement released by the H-Block ‘Blanket Men’, announcing the end of the 1981 Hunger-Strike, as published in ‘IRIS’ magazine, Vol. 1 No.2, November 1981.

‘Kieran hailed from the Andersonstown area of Belfast, being born into a family with a proud history of republican activity. He was a keen sportsman and won a minor Antrim county medal in 1971 for St. Theresa’s GAC. After seeing Loyalist gangs burning nationalists out of their homes while the RUC and British army stood idly by, he joined Na Fianna Éireann in the autumn of 1971. His outstanding ability led to him progressing to the ranks of the IRA very quickly. After evading capture on a couple of occasions, he was eventually arrested in early 1973 and interned in Long Kesh until November 1975. Upon his release he reported back to the IRA for service straight away.

In April 1976 he was involved in an operation which saw his comrade Sean McDermott killed and Mairead Farrell of future Gibraltar fame arrested. In August of that year he was arrested and and remanded to Crumlin Road Jail, where he often received ill treatment for refusing to bend the knee to the screws. In January 1978 he was sentenced to 18 years in the H-Blocks. He joined the blanket protest immediately and found himself in relentless conflict with the screws. He always resisted their efforts to enforce degrading anal searches, and in July 1978 he had to be hospitalized after taking a severe beating.

Kieran became fluent in his native tongue during his imprisonment, which was used as a weapon against the prison regime. As the painful struggle for political status continued, he joined the hunger strike on May 22nd 1981. In June he was elected as TD for the Cavan/Monaghan constituency during the 26-county general election with an impressive tally of 9,121 first preference votes, only 303 votes behind the sitting Free State minister for Education. He died on August 2nd 1981 after 73 agonizing days of hunger strike. He was buried with full military honours in Milltown Cemetery. He was 25 years of age. (from here.)

Between the years 1917 and 1981, twenty-two Irish men died on hunger-strike in our on-going fight for Irish freedom :
Thomas Ashe, Kerry, 5 days, 25th September 1917(force fed by tube , died as a result).
Terence MacSwiney, Cork, 74 days, 25th October 1920.
Michael Fitzgerald, Cork, 67 days, 17th October 1920.

Joseph Murphy, Cork, 76 days, 25th October 1920.
Joe Witty, Wexford, 2nd September 1923.
Dennis Barry, Cork, 34 days, 20th November 1923.
Andy O Sullivan, Cork, 40 days, 22nd November 1923.

Tony Darcy, Galway, 52 days, 16th April 1940.
Jack ‘Sean’ McNeela, Mayo, 55 days, 19th April 1940.
Sean McCaughey, Tyrone,22 days, 11th May 1946 (hunger and thirst strike).
Michael Gaughan, Mayo, 64 days, 3rd June 1974.
Frank Stagg, Mayo, 62 days, 12th February 1976.
Bobby Sands, Belfast, 66 days, 5th May 1981.
Frank Hughes, Bellaghy (Derry), 59 days, 12th May 1981.
Raymond McCreesh, South Armagh, 61 days, 21st May 1981.
Patsy O Hara, Derry, 61 days, 21st May 1981.
Joe McDonnell, Belfast, 61 days, 8th July 1981.
Martin Hurson, Tyrone, 46 days, 13th July 1981.
Kevin Lynch, Dungiven (Derry), 71 days, 1st August 1981.
Kieran Doherty, Belfast, 73 days, 2nd August 1981.
Tom McIlwee, Bellaghy (Derry), 62 days, 8th August 1981.
Micky Devine, Derry, 60 days, 20th August 1981.

“It is not those who can inflict the most, but those that can suffer the most who will conquer” – Terence MacSwiney.




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!


The normal practice in the Kesh was for groups of men to organise themselves into co-ops. This was concerned with better utilisation of the weekly parcel and the tea-making rota. If you had six men in a co-op then each member would get their parcels in on designated days, which meant we had a fresh parcel each day then, whatever was left on Sunday could be made up into a Long Kesh Goulash (but you don’t want to hear about that..!)

In Cage 22 when I was there I was ‘Man Friday’ – we also had a ‘Man Monday’, ‘Man Tuesday’ and so on, but our ‘Man Saturday’ was proving to be troublesome. He got his parcels all right but there was never a cake in it. This was very annoying for although he was getting a packet of Jammie Dodgers , we liked a bit of cake of an evening after our supper, with our tea, and what made it worse was his weekly attack on the prison service, accusing them of stealing his cake. Every week, that was!

Now, of course, we wouldn’t put it past the screws for doing just that, but it was always his and, by association, our Saturday night cake… (MORE LATER).



It’s that time of year again – or, rather, it is and it isn’t. Myself and the girlfriends are having a ‘staycation’ this year, as finances and/or time off work and/or kids/partners etc haven’t gelled for the five of us and we have decided to postpone our yearly shenanigans and just enjoy the time at home (as best we can!) with all our clans, with two or three outings a week and, probably, an overnighter or two in Tyrone and/or Donegal.

Between the jigs and the reels (and the 650-ticket raffle on Sunday 13th next) it’s looking like it’ll be Wednesday 23rd August before we can put together one of our usual offerings but, seeing as we won’t be eating apples 😦 this year, we’ll probably get a word or two posted here before then. But that depends – if the weather doesn’t get us down, the fact that we’re not ‘over yonder’ might, and we just may not feel like talking! However, our ‘troubles’ are nothing of the sort when compared with the poor souls in the following piece…


‘Paralysed on one side by a stroke and barely able to speak, the woman was left to die at the side of a road – by her own children…the 75-year-old only survived because a stranger took pity on her as she lay in the street..the wards are crowded with beds, all just a few centimetres apart, filled with elderly people who sit quietly staring into space or lie huddled under blankets..on one, a frail old lady whispered into the ear of a smiling plastic doll, her only companion since she moved to the facility from the shed she used to occupy in her family’s back yard..
Another woman was thrown out of a car next to a rubbish dump, where she was found covered in cuts and bite marks from rats. She made it to the nursing home but survived for only a few months.’
“We have nowhere to go. We have come here to wait to we feel less alone and people feed us..”
From here.

Puts things in perspective, doesn’t it? Proves that some of us are worse than the so-called ‘wild animals’ we share this planet with. ‘Go back, we f****d up’.

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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