ON THIS DATE (26TH JUNE) 97 YEARS AGO : FREE STATE GENERAL KIDNAPPED ON THE EVE OF CIVIL WAR.
On the 26th June, 1922, Leo Henderson and a group of ‘Irregulars/Dissidents’ left the then republican-occupied Four Courts (which had been taken over on the 14th of April by anti-treaty forces) ‘..and arrived at Ferguson’s garage on Dublin’s Baggot Street, accusing them of doing business with Belfast ; this was, they said, in violation of the boycott the IRA had placed on the city due to violence against nationalists there. Leo Henderson, their leader, seized a number of cars at gunpoint, and was on the point of driving back to the anti-Treaty stronghold of the Four Courts when he was arrested by pro-Treaty/Free State troops. Henderson’s comrades in the Four Courts in response arrested a pro-Treaty General, JJ O’Connell (pictured) and, within 24 hours, Free State artillery was battering at the walls of the Four Courts in central Dublin.
The first shots of the Irish Civil War were caused by a row over selling cars to Belfast…’ (from here.)
Not altogether the full story, although the ‘bones’ of what actually happened are there. Harry Ferguson’s garage was a well-known Belfast automobile company, with a branch on Baggot Street, in Dublin. It was known to be unsympathetic to the ‘Irregulars’ and had blatantly ignored an overall directive from the IRA that for-profit business dealings with Belfast should cease until business bosses in that city took steps to ensure the safety of their nationalist workforce. Leo Henderson and his men commandeered about 15 cars which had been sent, for sale, to Dublin from Belfast – the IRA’s intention, as well as to be seen enforcing the ‘Belfast Trade Boycott’, was to use the vehicles, as part of the war effort, against the continuing British political and military presence in the Six Occupied Counties and in their campaign to overthrow the then-fledging Free State political administration.
Leo Henderson was captured by the Staters, with ex-IRA man Frank Thornton in command of them and, when the IRA leadership heard that Henderson had been ‘arrested’, they discussed abducting Collins himself or Richard Mulcahy in retaliation, but decided instead to seize Free State General Jeremiah Joseph (JJ) ‘Ginger’ O’Connell, who was Richard Mulcahy’s Deputy Chief-of-Staff. At 11.15pm on the night of Tuesday, 27th June, 1922, ‘Ginger’ was arrested in Dublin by the IRA after an evening out with his girlfriend – the couple had gone to the theatre and, after the girlfriend was dropped home, ‘Ginger’ went to McGilligan’s Pub in Leeson Street for a few pints. As he left the pub, the IRA seized him and held him in the republican-occupied Four Courts ; Ernie O’Malley actually telephoned Free State General Eoin O’Duffy, who was in Portobello Barracks, and told him that ‘Ginger’ will be returned to the Staters in exchange for Leo Henderson.
The republicans knew that ‘Ginger’ was valued by Collins and his renegades – he was one of the few that eagerly conveyed the ‘cancel-the-Rising’-order
from Eoin MacNeill in 1916 and both Collins and Mulcahy regarded him as a safe pair of hands. Collins’s political and military bosses in London were notified about ‘JJ Ginger’ being held in republican custody and made it clear to Collins that if he and his Free State colleagues didn’t take steps to remove the republicans from the Four Courts, they would – the Staters had already decided to attack their former comrades in the Four Courts and had already accepted the offer from Westminster of equipment with which to carry-out the task ; British artillery, aircraft, armoured cars, machine guns, small arms and ammunition were by then in the possession of Collins and his team, who then used the ‘JJ kidnap’-incident to press ahead with the assault.
At 3.40am, on Wednesday, 28th June 1922, the republican forces inside the Four Courts were given an ultimatum by Collins – ‘surrender before 4am and leave the building’. The republicans ignored the threat and held their ground and, less than half-an-hour later – at about 4.30am – the Staters opened fire on the republicans with British-supplied 18-pounder guns and practically destroyed the building (pictured), an act which was recently described as “..a major national calamity..an assault on the collective memory of the nation..such actions are considered as war crimes..a cultural atrocity..” The IRA held out for two days before leaving the building, but fought-on elsewhere in Dublin until early July, 1922, with Oscar Traynor (who later joined the Fianna Fáil party) in command.
‘JJ Ginger’ was rescued by his Stater colleagues on Friday, 30th June 1922 when they finally managed to enter the then shell of a building where the Four Courts once stood and, within months, was demoted from a Lieutenant-General to a Major-General and then to a Colonel, a position he was to remain at.
He got married in 1922 and, between 1924 and 1944 (he died in the Richmond Hospital in Dublin from a heart attack on the 19th February of that year), he was shifted around like a pawn on a chess board : chief lecturer in the FS Army school of instruction, director of Number 2 (intelligence) bureau, OC equitation school, quartermaster-general and director of the military archives. We wonder did he consider himself to be the man who started a Civil War…?
‘ONE DANCE’, ‘A GENEROUS GESTURE’, ‘PRISONER ELECTED VICE-PRESIDENT OF NCAI’, ‘ART FOR ? SAKE’.
From ‘The United Irishman’ newspaper, December 1954.
ONE DANCE – a new idea has been introduced in Glasgow by the Sinn Féin movement to assist Irish dancers ; the promoters call it the ‘One Dance’ competition, and it is a weekly event which was instituted for the benefit of the many young Irish traditional dancers in the city. The organiser is Mr Patrick White. This ‘One Dance’ competition is confined to a particular age group each week and is adjudicated by a leading dance teacher.
A GENEROUS GESTURE – The delegates to the Annual Congress of ‘The National Cycling Association of Ireland’ (NCAI) held in Dublin on the 28th November 1954 subscribed £20. 8 shillings towards the ‘National Sports Appeal’ for the Republican Aid Committee.
PRISONER ELECTED VICE-PRESIDENT OF NCAI – Philip Clarke, one of the men arrested after the Omagh Raid, was elected Vice-President of the NCAI, at the annual Congress held on the 28th November 1954. President Jim Killean said – “We are proud that one of our members is in jail for doing his bit for Ireland.” Clarke, a 21-year-old arts student at UCD, is one of the most outstanding racing cyclists in the country.
ART FOR ? SAKE – Not a penny of the £400,000 awarded to the Six Counties after partition had been spent on pictures, said Mr H D Hyde, a unionist MP, during a debate on the ‘National Gallery and Tate Gallery Bill’, in the House of Commons last month. The money had been needed for constabulary barracks, prisons etc.
(END of ‘One Dance’, ‘A Generous Gesture’, ‘Prisoner Elected Vice-President Of NCAI’ and ‘Art for ? Sake’ ; Next – ‘Who Rules In Ireland’, ‘A Courtesy Call’ and ‘Guests Of The Nation’, from the same source.)
ON THIS DATE (26TH JUNE) 28 YEARS AGO : ‘MAGUIRE SEVEN’ CONVICTIONS QUASHED.
‘Two brothers who were falsely imprisoned as teenagers for the Guildford pub bombings have spoken of the experience 40 years on. Patrick and Vincent Maguire were part of the ‘Maguire Seven’ group who were – together with the Guildford Four – wrongly convicted for the 1974 bombings ; “I remember the day I came home from school. It was a Thursday.. youth club night… a normal day,” Patrick – who was 13 at the time of his arrest – told RTE Radio 1’s Sunday with Miriam this morning.
“We [himself and his brother John] were eager to get and go there… [Afterwards] we saw a lot of police and unmarked car outside our home. I ran up to the house, knocked on the door. The door opened… I said ‘I live here’ and I was dragged inside. They said, ‘here’s another one’. That was the day my childhood ended,” he said. The ‘Maguire Seven’, who were convicted of handling explosives allegedly passed to the IRA to make bombs, were made up of Anne and Patrick Maguire, Anne’s brother Sean, Anne’s brother-in-law Patrick Conlon, family friend Patrick O’Neill, and Anne’s two sons Patrick and Vincent…’ (from here.)
‘On the day after the ‘Guildford Four’ had walked out of the Old Bailey, the British Government had appointed Sir John May to lead a public inquiry into the convictions of the eleven people charged with the Guildford and Woolwich pub bombings.
Sir John bared his teeth in July 1990 when he forwarded to the government his ‘Interim Report on the Maguire Case’ ; in this report
he criticised the trial judge Sir John Donaldson’s handling of the ‘Maguire Seven’ case and questioned the credibility of the forensic evidence that had been presented to the court. What is more, he recommended that the ‘Maguire Seven’ case should go back to the court of appeal. When this occurred, the court of appeal quashed the convictions of the ‘Maguire Seven’, on the 26th June, 1991…’ (from here.)
Could never happen again, could it – innocent people imprisoned to satisfy the requirements of an unjust political regime…?
ONE IN FOUR ON LOW PAY.
Colm Keena reports on a new survey on low pay and talks to workers caught in the trap.
By Colm Keena.
From ‘Magill’ Magazine, May 1987.
Martina lives with her family ; her parents are unemployed, and she gives a large amount of her wage to her mother, to be put towards the family budget. Edel lives with her sister, who is single and has a child ; “She doesn’t get much, so I give a good bit to her.”
Both say their union, the ITGWU, had to agree on wages and conditions with the company, before it finally set up its factory in Coolock, Dublin. They are unhappy with their pay, their conditions and their union, but they say there is little they can do. Most workers, they say, want to bring in another union, but are “not allowed”. Michael Wall, of the ITGWU, says that the union did enter into an agreement on pay and conditions prior to the company’s opening here, but denies that the workers at the Shamrock factory have ever tried to introduce a different union to the plant. He also says there is an agreed procedure for the dismissal of a worker, involving a series of four warnings.
Yvonne is also in her late teens, and working in the clothing industry. A seamstress with two years experience, she earns a little over £91 per week, with Orrwear, of Hill Street, in central Dublin. After deductions, she has about £70 to share between herself and her family. She has little prospect of promotion and little hope of any significant increase in her income. The Labour Court recently recommended against a claimed £10 per week increase for workers in the firm because it might affect others in the industry…
‘THE OLD STORY’.
From ‘The United Irishman’ newspaper, January 1955.
John Redmond had said after 1916 that the Rising really made no difference and that “..the constitutional movement must go on..”. The wits got busy and a fine ballad to the air of ‘The Horse Shoe’ came out. It poked fun at the Party habit of settling everything by deputations or by speeches across the floor of the British house. Here is part of this song –
‘De Valera in a burst of indignation,
Says our methods tried and true are nearly done,
But we’ll soon convince him by a deputation,
That the Constitutional Movement must go on.
“Then gather the Party round”, says Sinn Féin, scorning,
“And let your speeches roll across the Floor,
For the Constitutional Movement now take warning,
Must go on and on and on for ever more..!”
In 1955, the Constitutional Movement still goes on but, alas, De Valera himself is one of its main leaders.
(END of ‘The Old Story’. Next – ‘For Ireland, On The Hill’, from the same source.)
Thanks for reading, Sharon.