ON THIS DATE (10TH JULY) 92 YEARS AGO : FREE STATE MINISTER FOR ‘JUSTICE’ EXECUTED BY THE IRA.
Kevin Christopher O’Higgins (Caoimhghín Críostóir Ó hUigín, pictured) was 23 years young when he joined the Republican Movement in 1915, and proved himself to be a trusted operative and, unfortunately, also proved the truth in the maxim ‘put not your trust in princes’ ; he supported the ‘Treaty of Surrender’ in 1921 to the extent that he managed to keep a straight face when he declared, in relation to his support for that treaty – “I have not abandoned any political aspirations to which I have given expression in the past, but in the existing circumstances I advise the people to trust to evolution rather than revolution for their attainment..”. But, as expected from such a shabby and false institution as the Free State institution was then, and still is, it was (and is) ‘evolution of the self’ that O’Higgins and his Free State colleagues were interested in.
When war commenced between Irish republicans and Free Staters in June, 1922, O’Higgins was one of those who signed the paperwork ‘authorising’ the death sentences on 77 republican POW’s (including Rory O’Connor, who had been best man at his wedding) ; O’Higgins and his Leinster House colleagues now considered those they had fought with, against the British, as ‘criminals’ and were determined to do whatever it took to secure the Free State, as instructed by Westminster. His father was then shot dead by the IRA, and the family home in Stradbally, in County Laois, was burned to the ground.
There was turmoil in the country, North and South, militarily and politically resulting, in 1927, in Free State soldiers been given ever more of a free reign to impose the wishes of their paymasters in Leinster House, with the passing of the gloriously misnamed ‘Public Safety Act’. In July 1927 a general election was called in the Free State and Fianna Fail won 44 seats to Cosgrave’s 47 : de Valera’s policy was not to enter the Free State parliament until the Oath of Allegiance to the British monarch was removed but, in that same month, Kevin O’ Higgins was assassinated – on the 10th of July, 1927, 92 years ago on this date – and the Free State government passed a law which would force future Leinster House candidates to swear on their nomination that they would take the ‘Oath of Allegiance’. In August 1927, de Valera led the Fianna Fail elected representatives, many of them with revolvers in their pockets, into Leinster House and signed the ‘Oath of Allegiance’ document. A second general election was held in September 1927 and Fianna Fail increased its vote, winning 57 seats.
The ‘Public Safety Act‘, passed in the Free State assembly by 41 votes to 18 on the 27th of September, 1927, allowed for the State to execute those captured bearing arms against it and permitting State agents ‘to punish anyone aiding and abetting attacks on the National (sic) Forces’, and/or anyone having possession of arms or explosives ‘without the proper authority (or anyone) disobeying an Army General Order’. ‘Section 5’ of the Act declared that ‘..every person who is a member of an unlawful association at any time after it has become by virtue of this Act an unlawful association shall be guilty of a misdemeanour and shall be liable on conviction thereof to suffer penal servitude for any term not less than three years and not exceeding five years or imprisonment with or without hard labour for any term not exceeding two years..’.
‘Section 28’ stated that ‘..any person found guilty by a special court of the offence under the Firearms Act, 1925 (No. 17 of 1925) of having possession of or using or carrying a firearm without holding a firearm certificate therefor, shall if the offence was committed while this Part of this Act is in force be liable to suffer death or penal servitude for life, or any term of years not less than three years, or to imprisonment with or without hard labour for any term not exceeding two years, and shall be sentenced by such court accordingly..’ That ‘Act’ was a politically and morally corrupt piece of legislation and was enacted by a then, and now, politically and morally corrupt political assembly.
Anyway – Kevin O’Higgins, who once described himself as “..the most conservative-minded revolutionary that ever put through a successful (sic) revolution..” was shot by the IRA on his way to Mass at the Church of the Assumption in Booterstown, Co Dublin, and died in his house about five hours later. The Free State ‘intelligence service’ was almost certain that he had been shot by Mick Price, the then Director of Intelligence for the IRA. Or Seán Russell. Or Ernie O’Malley, Seán McBride, Éamon de Valera or Frank Aiken but it was revealed, over half-a-century later that, at the same time as O’Higgins was on his way to Mass on that day, three IRA men – Bill Gannon, Archie Doyle and Tim Coughlan – were on their way to a football match when they crossed paths with O’Higgins and took the opportunity to shoot him. This republican militant-turned-Free-Stater who, in his latter years, dismissed the ‘Democratic Programme of the First Dáil’ (pictured) as consisting of “mostly poetry” – despite having taking up arms and fighting for the implementation of same – was shot dead by the IRA on Sunday, 10th July, 1927 – 92 years ago on this date.
‘LEARN FROM OUR ENEMIES’ and ‘PHYSICAL FARCE MOVEMENT’.
From ‘The United Irishman’ newspaper, December 1954.
‘LEARN FROM OUR ENEMIES’ : A member of the 26-county naval unit which has been taking instruction at an English naval base was heard to say – “We’ll get the best training in sea warfare.” A new twist to John Mitchell’s injunction : “Let us learn from our enemies!”
‘PHYSICAL FARCE MOVEMENT’ : Free State Senator Liam Kelly is the latest ‘innocent abroad’ to be mesmerised by the Leinster House circus ; at a University College Dublin ‘Gaelic Society’ debate on November 17th last, he committed the extraordinary blunder of advocating physical force to free Ireland and then condemning the IRA! His reason? Sinn Féin and the IRA will not recognise a twenty-six-county ‘government’ and constitution and so is, the Senator says, “doomed to failure.”
In the same speech, the Senator (so far from the steadying influence of his Pomeroy mountains) admits the twenty-six-county ‘government’, which gives him £400-odd a year, has abandoned the Occupied Six Counties. Perhaps Senator Kelly thinks the Leinster House betrayal of his own people no reason for not supporting British-approved Leinster House puppet rule? And much as I admire the courage of patriotic-minded individuals, sticks versus stens and stones versus batons is not my idea of a physical force movement to free Ireland. It seems more like a physical farce movement – an army which has been used to prevent warfare against the traditional enemy, an army which has its equipment in the enemy’s bases and in the enemy’s barracks ; this is no make-believe army, it is the Free State army!
It is an army which has its equipment bought from the enemy, which honours enemy generals and which Leinster House leaders have committed never to fight the age-old enemy, England. Yet General MacEoin said recently that this is the old enemy that twenty-six-county youths and men should join ; an army that knows it is not allowed to fight Ireland’s only enemy!
(END of ‘LEARN FROM OUR ENEMIES’ and ‘PHYSICAL FARCE MOVEMENT’; next – ‘A Place With The Heroes’, by Tomas De Staic, from the same source.)
ON THIS DATE (10TH JULY) 79 YEARS AGO : DEATH SENTENCE ON REPUBLICAN COMMUTED.
Tomás Óg MacCurtain (pictured), a known member of the IRA Executive at the time, and as staunch a republican as his father was, was walking on St. Patrick Street, in Cork city centre, on the 3rd January 1940, when he was jumped-on by a Free State Special Branch detective, John Roche, from Union Quay Barracks ; Roche had apparently made it his mission-in-life to disrupt republicanism, and was known to have been harassing Tomás Óg for the previous few weeks.
A scuffle between the two men ensued and a gun was fired – the Free Stater fell to the ground, wounded, and he died the next day. On the 13th June 1940, the Free State ‘Special Criminal Court’ sentenced Tomás Óg MacCurtain to death – sentence to be carried out on the 5th July 1940. An application for ‘Habeas Corpus’ was lodged and the execution was postponed for a week, but the Free State Supreme Court then dismissed the appeal. The whole country was divided over the issue – some demanded that MacCurtain be put to death immediately as a ‘sign’ from the Fianna Fail administration that they were serious about ‘cracking-down’ on their former comrades in the IRA, while others demanded that he be released. Finally, on 10th July 1940 – 79 years ago on this date – the Free Staters issued a statement –
‘The President, acting on the advice of the government, has commuted the sentence of death on Tomas MacCurtain to penal servitude for life.’ Tomás Óg served seven years in prison, and reported back to the IRA when he got out. It has since been alleged that a sister of Cathal Brugha’s widow, who was then the Reverend Mother of an Armagh Convent, had intervened on behalf of Tomás Óg to get his death sentence overturned and this, if indeed it did happen, and the fact that his father had actually shouldered a gun alongside many members of the then Fianna Fail administration (before they went Free State, obviously), saved his life. He died in 1994, at 79 years of age.
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.
John Blackwell points out that Ireland (sic) has a particularly unequal distribution of earnings, compared to other countries. A ranking of 11 western countries, from most to least equal, puts Sweden and Norway at the top, and Ireland at the very bottom, below the United States and Italy.
Whereas most countries show considerable stability in earnings distribution over time, Ireland has undergone some changes in this area in the last two decades – the ratio of lowest decile to average earnings has gone from 62.1 per cent to 55.4 per cent between 1960 and 1979. Data for later years is not available. The flat rate increases included in some ‘National Wage Agreements’ of the 1970’s have apparently not closed the gap, and between 1977 and 1985, Blackwell notes, the marginal tax rate for a married couple ‘in low pay’ went from 24.4 per cent to 43.5 per
The report shows that low pay is ‘crowded’ into some particular sectors of the economy, and that it is also identified with certain age groups and with females more than males. The industrial sectors most affected are textiles, clothing, leather and footwear, all industries with high proportions of women workers – in fact, the only areas of industry with a majority of women workers. The other sectors distinguishing themselves by low pay are wholesale and retail distribution, parts of the public sector, professional services (ie secretarial work) and insurance and banking… (MORE LATER.)
‘FOR IRELAND, ON THE HILL’….
From ‘The United Irishman’ newspaper, January 1955.
‘On the flagstone by the fireside,
he struck his ferruled cane,
as if he raised his shining sword
to smite his foe again.
While his heart was throbbing madly,
and afire with every thrill,
was the blood that he’d have gladly shed,
for Ireland, on the Hill.
Alas! He thought, those days are gone,
and Ireland’s yet unfree,
the Saxon rag floats in the breeze,
around about Lough Neagh.
But praise to God we’ve soldiers yet,
brave lads are with us still,
prepared to fight and bravely die,
for Ireland, on the Hill.
(END of ‘FOR IRELAND, ON THE HILL’ : Next – ‘In Jail For Ireland’, from the same source.)
SOMETIMES ‘MULTI-TASKING’ IS JUST ONE TASK…
And it will be, for us, over the next week or so – this Sunday coming (the 14th July) will find the ‘1169’ crew and the raffle team in our usual monthly venue on the Dublin/Kildare border, running a 650-ticket raffle for the Dublin Executive of Sinn Féin Poblachtach ; the work for this event began yesterday, Tuesday 9th July, 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 is, as stated, to be held on Sunday 14th July, 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 (17th July) 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.
Or maybe not – but check back here anyway : sure you never know what might catch our fancy between this and then – probably a short post re a(nother) ‘staycation’ which we might be going on, later this month.
Thanks for reading, Sharon.