ANNUAL EVE-OF-ALL-IRELAND REPUBLICAN RALLY 2017.
‘GAA : Target of British Normalisation.
This Year the annual All Ireland Rally will be at the door of Croke Park. On Sunday September 17th 2017, at 12 noon, republicans will gather at Croke Park to distribute leaflets highlighting the GAA top brass quisling actions in recent times. Everything from selling broadcasting rights of championship matches to the British run Sky Sports forcing Irish people to pay to view matches to the removal of Rule 21 and the RUC/PSNI and British Army setting up teams needs to be opposed.
Republican Sinn Féin will not stay silent, we have GAA members across the entire country sickened with the direction being taken. Next on the agenda of ‘normalisation’ will be the removal of the National Anthem, Amhrán na bhFiann, and the National Flag to appease British Loyalists. The GAA is for everyone in Ireland, it was founded side by side in the struggle for Irish independence. Whatever small degree was achieved the GAA stood out as a beacon of light of Irish culture, identity and community spirit. This is now being targetted by the counter-revolutionaries trying to bring about an ‘agreed Ireland’ fully welded to British constitutionalism…’ (from here.).
Change in format, this year, for the event – from O’Connell Street in Dublin city centre to the actual sports venue itself, Croke Park – but the objective remains the same ; to highlight the continuing unwelcome political and military presence by Westminster in this country and to garner further support for the continuing campaign highlighting the republican position that support for that unwelcome presence, from any quarter, will be protested against.
‘One of the largest public rallies seen in Dublin for years was held by Sinn Féin at the GPO on the eve of the All-Ireland Football Final. Headed by a Colour Party and a pipe band, a parade of more than 2,000 people marched from Parnell Square through the main city thoroughfare as a protest against the continued unjust imprisonment of Irishmen without charge or trial. Contingents from all over the country took part and many carried banners and placards including groups from England and Scotland. In the Ulster section was a strong representation of the Derry supporters who thronged the capital city for the Final. One placard they carried asked – “Why are Six-County Nationalists interned in the Curragh?” ‘ (From ‘An tÉireannach Aontaithe/The United Irishman’ newspaper, November 1958).
SUNDAY, 17TH SEPTEMBER 2017, CROKE PARK, 12 NOON – see you there!
JOKER IN THE PACK…?
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.
He stresses how conscious he is of the need to improve Dublin – just because he is from the country, he says, doesn’t mean that he doesn’t regard it as his capital city. He regards it with the same sense of propriety that he regards ‘his’ Custom House and is, he says, acutely aware of the irony that responsibility for “restoring” it rests with him, a countryman.
He has taken to going for early morning strolls along O’Connell Street to see “what improvements” could be made and, one morning, a number of people recognised him and stopped to talk. They wanted to express their concern that a Nelson’s Pillar-type column would be re-erected on the street. The idea for the column came from the Metropolitan Streets Committee set up earlier this year by John Boland with the task of revitalising Dublin, and abolished by Padraig Flynn, as an unnecessary body.
He has taken a direct, personal interest in plans for the construction of banks, hotels, apartments and ‘centre city’ housing schemes on the disused 27 acre dock site adjacent to the Custom House. He has already had talks with Irish and international agencies who are interested in investing in the project but refuses to specify what international interests are involved. People can take his word for it. He wasn’t “talking to ghosts…” (MORE LATER).
ON THIS DATE (6TH SEPTEMBER) 77 YEARS AGO : REPUBLICANS EXECUTED BY DE VALERA.
Tom Harte and Paddy McGrath (left), two Irish republicans executed on the 6th September 1940 – 77 years ago on this date – by a Free State firing squad, commanded (politically) by a man that once (allegedly) supported their objectives – Eamonn de Valera.
‘On 16 August 1940 the Special Branch raided 98a Rathgar Road in Dublin. The shop had been watched for some time and was thought to be an IRA training centre. In an effort to be first to catch the IRA, Sergeant Denny O’Brien decided to go in before his competitors in the Special Branch could get the credit and reward money from the slush fund, which was distributed periodically among zealous and particularly efficient officers. Inside the building Patrick McGrath, Tommy Harte and Tom Hunt were determined not to give up without a fight. Bursting out of the door firing revolvers and a Tommy gun, they cut down three Special Branch men, killing Sergeant Patrick McKeown and Detective Richard Hyland and wounding Detective Pat Brady. The three IRA volunteers raced down the street away from the stunned detectives who then opened fire and hit Harte. When McGrath went back to help him, both were arrested. Hunt managed to elude police until 22 August when he was arrested in a house on Gloucester Street.
The Military Court sentenced McGrath, Hunt and Harte to death. Despite appeals, and McGrath’s Easter Week record, only Hunt’s sentence was commuted. McGrath and Harte were executed by firing squad in Mountjoy on 6 September 1940…’ (from here).
And this (from here) – ‘On 16th August 1940, Special Branch officers, led by Denny O’Brien, stormed 98a Rathgar Road, guns blazing, hoping to get reward money from a slush fund used to encourage similar raids against known IRA bases. In the ensuing gun battle, two branch men were killed, Sergeant McKeown and Detective Hyland, and a third wounded. An IRA staff officer, Thomas Harte from Lurgan, was wounded and captured along with a senior IRA officer Paddy McGrath who had broken free but returned to assist Harte…according to Donnacha Ó Beacháin (in ‘Destiny of the Soldiers’), there were no autopsies held on McKeown or Hyland. An internal inquiry into the shooting was reportedly suppressed by Gerry Boland, the Minister for Justice…nevertheless, McGrath and Harte were tried by the Military Tribunal, which could only impose a death penalty and had just had its right of appeal removed…without an autopsy or forensic evidence, there was no attempt to establish who had fired shots (and the suppressed internal inquiry was claimed to have identified that McKeown and Hyland were killed by ‘friendly’ fire’)…’
Tom Harte was born in Lurgan, County Armagh, on the 14th of May, 1916 (the day before the trial of Roger Casement was to begin in London – he was charged with ‘high treason’ for his part in the Easter Rising), and had three brothers and two sisters. He received his primary education in St Peters School in Lurgan and, on leaving there, became an apprentice painter to Charlie McIntyre. He joined the IRA and went to England as part of the ‘Expeditionary Force’ to take part in the bombing campaign – he was in London in 1939 with Arthur Conway when he was pulled in for questioning by the British police. He told them his name was Tom Green, from Baileborough in Cavan, but was still deported to Dublin. Once back in Ireland, he worked as an organiser for the GHQ Staff of the IRA, and was wounded when the Staters raided a shop at 98a Rathgar Road in Dublin on the 15th of August, 1940. He was executed, at 24 years of age, in Mountjoy Jail in Dublin by a Fianna Fail-organised firing squad on September 6th, 1940 – 77 years ago on this date. In his last letter, which was addressed to his mother, he wrote –
“I am writing my last letter to you, because I thought more of you than any other person on earth..you know I was always strongly republican, was always thinking out ways and means of furthering republican ideals..if I fought for my country, it was for the poor downtrodden people of Ireland..I knew I never showed my feelings much at any time, but you were always loved just the same..I am going to finish now, asking you to remember me as a son you can be proud of. Say farewell to all for me. Goodbye and God bless you all, your loving son, Tom.”
In 1948, the remains of Tom Harte were re-interred in the Republican Plot at St. Colemans Cemetery in Lurgan, County Armagh, following an oration by Ruaidhrí Ó Drisceoil of Cork, who finished his speech with the following poem –
‘Prepare once more, march forth again
to fight and play your part
in Ireland’s fight for Ireland’s right
like Captain Thomas Harte.’
Paddy McGrath was born into an old Dublin republican family and took part in the 1916 Rising, as did two of his brothers. He was sent to Frongoch Internment Camp after the Rising and served his time there with, among others, Michael Collins, Gerry Boland (who signed the execution order on Paddy in 1940) and Dinny O’Brien (who, years later, as a member of the Free State ‘Broy Harriers’, was to lead the raid on Rathgar Road in Dublin , in August 1940, in which Paddy McGrath was arrested). Following the Treaty of Surrender in 1922, Paddy took the republican side, as he did in the Civil War ; indeed, he carried a bullet in his chest from a British soldier, when he was shot at the GPO in 1916 – it was too close to his heart to be removed. He undertook a hunger-strike in Mountjoy Prison with Dick MacCarthy, Jer Daly and Jack Lynch to obtain political status and they were released, after 42 days,unconditionally. Paddy was brought to a shop in Rathgar Road in Dublin on August 15th 1940, by the then IRA Chief of Staff, Stephen Hayes, for a meeting with Tom Harte and Tom Hunt ; the meeting was raided by Free State forces, led by ex-IRA man Dinny O’Brien. Paddy McGrath escaped but, instead of making a run for it which he could have, he went back to comfort his friend, Tom Harte, who had been shot. The two of them were arrested together and were later put to death together by a Free State firing squad.
Tom McGrath was known to be an uncompromising Irish republican who rejected ‘positions of power’ which were offered to him by de Valera and would not have appreciated the fact that his sister, Josephine, wrote a ‘mercy letter’ to de Valera in August 1940, in which she stated – “..it is unbelievable that I should have to appeal for my brother’s life to you, who was once his comrade-in-arms..”
“On September 18th 1948, the bodies of Patrick McGrath, Thomas Harte, George Plant, Richard Goss, Maurice O’Neill and Charles Kerins were disinterred in prison yards and given to their comrades and relatives for re-burial among their own. These men were condemned to death and put to death as criminals, as outlaws, as enemies of Ireland. Today, that judgement and verdict is reversed, even by those who were and are their opponents, and they are acknowledged to be what we have always claimed them to have been – true comrades of Tone, of Emmet, of Mitchel, of the Fenians, and of all the heroic dead of our own day and generation. There was no bitterness in their hearts towards any man or group of men, no meanness in their minds, no pettiness or brutality in their actions. They were, and are, worthy to rank with the greatest and noblest of our dead, and the younger men we salute and pray for and do homage to today are worthy to be their comrades.
The only shame to be thought of in connection with those republicans is that Irishmen slew them and slandered them, as Irishmen had slain and slandered the men of 1922, for the ‘crime’ of being faithful soldiers of the Republic of Ireland. Let us remember that shame only as an incentive to action and conduct that will make recurrence of it impossible ever again. Wolfe Tone built his plan for true independence on the resistance tradition of all the centuries from the beginning of the conquest to his own day, and these men who were his faithful followers, knew no plan but his would ever end English domination in Ireland.
Those who would make all Ireland free must follow in his and their footsteps or fail. Men talk foolishly today, as they and others have talked for many futile years, of ‘declaring’ the Republic of Ireland. There is no need to declare it. Wolfe Tone and Robert Emmet founded it and made it known to the world. Daniel O’Connell reviled and repudiated it, but John Mitchel and Fintan Lalor stood beneath its banner and gave it their allegiance. The Fenians made it articulate and preserved it through two generations until the men and women of 1916 proclaimed it in arms. The whole people of Ireland accepted it a few years later, giving it the most unanimous vote that has ever been cast in this country, and it was established and declared on January 21st, 1919. It has never been dis-established since, but it has been suppressed by falsehood and by force, and it is suppressed at this moment. Against that force and falsehood, against that unjust and unlawful suppression, the men we honour today – Patrick McGrath, Thomas Harte, George Plant, Richard Goss, Maurice O’Neill and Charles Kerins – did battle unto death. Their blood cries out for only one vengeance – the restoration of the suppressed Republic of Ireland.”
Those two brave Irish republican soldiers were executed by their former comrades on this date, 6th September, 77 years ago (incidentally, Paddy McGrath was de Valera’s best man at his wedding…).
“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 continued lack of an Irish Press Office to present the Irish position to the world, means that events in Ireland – the plight of Irish citizens, scandals like the Stalker-Sampson report etc – are never related to the world from an Irish viewpoint. The Irish viewpoint is thus ignored and in some way we are now ashamed of it. The escalated, incessant harassment of Irish citizens by the British troops gets little or no coverage in the southern media.
The media is paranoically anxious not to be seen to be siding with Sinn Féin, just as their counterparts were in 1914-1922. It is as if Irish perception of Irish-related events signifies nothing, as if the Irish reality eludes us. As if in some way we do not want to take full responsibility for our own being, but instead are still hiding behind the ‘poor little nation’ cushion. We lack nerve, we lack audacity, we lack national pride. I do not speak of jingoism, but of a solid strengthening mórtas cine (pride in one’s heritage). This the English have never lost – who in Ireland talks of Irish values as being something we have historically found out to be good for us? We sadly lack what the English call ‘backbone’.
Irish politicians, like a lot of others in England, Scotland and Wales, were anti-Mrs Thatcher’s policies, but no one in Ireland discusses Tom Nairn’s scenario of the possible break-up of the British hegemony, the possible secession of Scotland and the effect this might have here. (MORE LATER).
ON THIS DATE (6TH SEPTEMBER) 204 YEARS AGO : BIRTH OF A ‘HOME RULER’.
ISAAC BUTT (1813-1879) POLITICIAN, BARRISTER AND PHILOSOPHER (pictured, left).
‘Isaac Butt was born in Glenfin, Donegal, on the 6th September 1813 – 204 years ago on this date. His father, the Reverend Robert Butt, became Rector of St. Mary’s Church of Ireland, Stranorlar in 1814 so Isaac spent his childhood years in Stranorlar. His mother’s maiden name was Berkeley Cox and she claimed descendency from the O’Donnells. When Isaac was aged twelve he went as a boarder to the Royal School Raphoe and at the age of fifteen entered Trinity College Dublin.
He trained as a barrister and became a member of both the Irish Bar and the English Bar. He was a conservative lawyer but after the famine in the 1840’s became increasingly liberal. In 1852 he became Tory MP at Westminster representing Youghal, Co. Cork and in 1869 he founded the Tenant League to renew the demand for tenant rights. He was a noted orator who spoke fervently for justice, tolerance, compassion and freedom. He always defended the poor and the oppressed.
He started the Home Rule Movement in 1870 and in 1871 was elected MP for Limerick, running on a Home Rule ticket. He founded a political party called The Home Rule Party in 1873. By the mid 1870s Butt’s health was failing and he was losing control of his party to a section of its members who wished to adopt a much more aggressive approach than he was willing to accept. In 1879 he suffered a stroke from which he failed to recover and died on the 5th May in Clonskeagh, Dublin. He was replaced by William Shaw who was succeeded by Charles Stewart Parnell in 1880. Isaac Butt became known as “The Father of Home Rule in Ireland”. At his express wish he is buried in a corner of Stranorlar Church of Ireland cemetery, beneath a tree where he used to sit and dream as a boy.’ (from here.)
On the 18th November, 1873, a three-day conference was convened in Dublin to discuss the issue of ‘home rule’ for Ireland. The conference had been organised, in the main, by Isaac Butt’s then 3-year-old ‘Home Government Association’, and was attended by various individuals and small localised groups who shared an interest in that subject. Isaac Butt was a well-known Dublin barrister who was apparently viewed with some suspicion by ‘his own type’ – Protestants – as he was a pillar of the Tory society in Ireland before recognising the ills of that creed and converting, politically, to the ‘other side of the house’ – Irish nationalism, a ‘half way house’, if even that – then and now – between British imperialism and Irish republicanism ie Isaac Butt and those like him made it clear that they were simply agitating for an improved position for Ireland within the ‘British empire’, as opposed to Irish republicans who were demanding then, and now, a British military and political withdrawal from Ireland.
Over that three-day period the gathering agreed to establish a new organisation, to be known as the ‘Home Rule League’,and the minutes from the conference make for interesting reading as they highlight/expose the request for the political ‘half way house’, mentioned above – ‘At twelve o’clock, on the motion of George Bryan, M.R, seconded by Hon. Charles Ffrench, M.P., the Chair was taken by William Shaw, M.R. On the motion of the Rev. P. Lavelle, seconded by Laurence Waldron, D.L., the following gentlemen were appointed Honorary Secretaries : — John O.Blunden, Philip Callan M.P, W.J.O’Neill Daunt, ER King Harman and Alfred Webb. ER King Harman read the requisition convening the Conference, as follows : —
We, the undersigned feel bound to declare our conviction that it is necessary to the peace and prosperity of Ireland, and would be conducive to the strength and stability of the United Kingdom, that the right of domestic legislation on all Irish affairs should be restored to our country and that it is desirable that Irishmen should unite to obtain that restoration upon the following principles : To obtain for our country the right and privilege of managing our own affairs, by a Parliament assembled in Ireland, composed of her Majesty the Sovereign, and the
Lords and Commons of Ireland.
To secure for that Parliament, under a Federal arrangement, the right of legislating for, and regulating all matters relating to the internal affairs of Ireland, and control over Irish resources and revenues, subject to the obligation of contributing our just proportion of the Imperial expenditure. To leave to an Imperial Parliament the power of dealing with all questions affecting the Imperial Crown and Government, legislation regarding the Colonies and other dependencies of the Crown, the relations of the United Empire with Foreign States, and all matters appertaining to the defence and the stability of the Empire at large….’ (from here.)
The militant ‘Irish Republican Brotherhood’ (IRB) was watching those developments with interest and it was decided that Patrick Egan and three other members of the IRB Supreme Council – John O’Connor Power, Joseph Biggar and John Barry – would join the ‘Home Rule League’ with the intention of ‘steering’ that group in the direction of the IRB. Other members of the IRB were encouraged to join the ‘League’ as well, and a time-scale was set in which to completely infiltrate the ‘League’ – three years. However, that decision to infiltrate Isaac Butt’s organisation was to backfire on the Irish Republican Brotherhood : the ‘three-year’ period of infiltration ended in 1876 and in August 1877 the IRB Supreme Council held a meeting at which a resolution condemning the over-involvement in politics (ie political motions etc rather than military action) of IRB members was discussed ; after heated arguments, the resolution was agreed and passed by the IRB Council, but not everyone accepted that decision and Patrick Egan, John O’Connor Power, Joseph Biggar and John Barry refused to accept the decision and all four men resigned from the IRB.
Isaac Butt died in 1879 and, within twelve months, Charles Stewart Parnell was elected as leader of the ‘Home Rule League’ and it became a more organised body – two years later, Parnell renamed it the ‘Irish Parliamentary Party’ and the rest, as they say, is history…
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!
Paddy kept hammering away for hours about how he was convinced the screws had stole the cake. “Paddy, forget it, said Stuarty, “we’ll find out on your next visit.” Smig spoke then – “I just had a brilliant idea. Paddy, write to your mother and tell her to get the same cake as she got this week (chocolate sandwich), take the top off, scrape off the cream and smear vaseline all over it, then replace the top part and send it in. That’ll sicken the screws who are stealing your cakes.”
“I don’t know,” said Paddy, “why ruin a good cake?” “What’s the difference – we’re not going to see it or taste it anyway!”, added ‘Lettuce-Black’, one of our lads. The OC was informed of the plan – “There’s an evil genius in our midst”, he said, and then turned to me and whispered in my ear “You’re one bad bastard!”
The letter was written by Paddy, albeit reluctantly and, the following Monday morning, it was transferred from Honky’s Y-Fronts to Alice’s bloomers and smuggled out on a visit. We awaited developments… (MORE LATER).
ON THIS DAY NEXT WEEK (WEDNESDAY 13TH SEPTEMBER 2017)…
..we should be just about finished our multitasking job – this Sunday coming (the 10th September) will find me and the raffle team in our usual monthly venue on the Dublin/Kildare border, running a 650-ticket raffle for the
Dublin Comhairle of RSF.
Work for this event began yesterday, Tuesday 5th September, when the five of us started to track down the ticket sellers and arrange for the delivery/collection of their ticket stubs and cash and, even though the raffle itself will be, as stated, held on Sunday 10th September, the ‘job’ is not complete until the following night, when the usual ‘raffle autopsy’ is held. The time constraints imposed by same will mean that our normal Wednesday post will more than likely not be collated in time for next week (13th September) and it’s looking like it will be between that date and the Wednesday following same before we get the time to put a post together. But check back here anyway – sure you never know what might catch our fancy between this and then, time permitting…!
Thanks for reading,