ON THIS DATE (12TH AUGUST) 66 YEARS AGO ; SCOTLAND YARD MEN IN DUBLIN.
‘Commander Len Burt, Special Branch Chief of Scotland Yard, and an Inspector Gale, also of Scotland Yard, visited Dublin on August 12th last where they met Chief Superintendent P. Carroll, head of the Special Branch, Dublin. The visit was described as “purely routine”, whether that means there is a routine police inspection similar to the military inspection of General Woodall at the Curragh is not clear.
It is also said that the police in Northern Ireland (sic), in conjunction with Scotland Yard, had been taking extensive precautions against the possibility of hostile demonstrations on the occasion of the English Queen’s visit to Belfast, and the visit of the Scotland Yard men may have been to gather information on the likelihood of protests organised from the 26 Counties.
It is interesting to note that Kevin McConnell, who was sentenced in Belfast for having copies of ‘The United Irishman’, was first arrested on Friday 13th August, taken to the barracks for questioning and then released. The following evening Special Branch men called to his home in Dublin and questioned his parents, at the request, as they admitted, of Belfast. About three hours later Kevin was again arrested in Belfast, and this time held for sentence.
Another interesting item is that since the Scotland Yard men’s visit, the Dublin Special Branch have started a check-up on those men and women who had been deported from England during the Bombing Campaign in 1939-1940. A number of deportees have already been visited, questioned as to their own movements, whether they were going back to England, whether any of their comrades had already gone back, where they were and so on.
How’s that for cooperation?’ (From ‘The United Irishman’ newspaper, October 1954.)
From ‘The United Irishman’ newspaper, June, 1955.
It would cost comparatively few shillings to hire a room for a few evenings per week. The whole trouble, however, is the curriculum. It could easily take us a whole year, or more, to compose a curriculum because it must be chosen wisely and with great care.
Sinn Féiners know well the original work of Padraig Pearse in this field but, as time passes, he is being put into a special class of his own and is in danger of losing his humanity and, on account of this, one unconsciously gives tacit consent to the idea that only a Pearse could found such a school. Pearse, however, being a most human man, would be the last to desire this attitude, as the main principle of his system was to develop individuality and, consequently, individuality of effort.
Now, as Pearse’s school was suitable for his generation, so we feel the type of school which we have in mind may be more suitable for our times and for the present generation… (MORE LATER.)
ON THIS DATE (12TH AUGUST) 100 YEARS AGO : ‘ARRESTED’ BY BRITISH FORCES FOR POSSESSION OF “SEDITIOUS ARTICLES AND DOCUMENTS”.
Terence MacSwiney, pictured, with his wife Muriel and their daughter, Máire, photographed in 1919.
“If I die I know the fruit will exceed the cost a thousand fold. The thought of it makes me happy. I thank God for it. Ah, Cathal, the pain of Easter week is properly dead at last…” – Terence MacSwiney wrote these words in a letter to Cathal Brugha on September 30th, 1920, the 39th day of his hunger strike. The pain he refers to is that caused by his failure to partake in the 1916 Easter Rising. Contradictory orders from Dublin and the failure of the arms ship, the Aud, to land arms in Tralee left the Volunteers in Cork unprepared for insurrection…’ (from here.)
In his book ‘History of the Irish Working Class’, Peter Beresford Ellis wrote : “On October 25th, 1920, Lord Mayor of Cork, Terence MacSwiney – poet, dramatist and scholar – died on the 74th day of a hunger-strike while in Brixton Prison, London. A young Vietnamese dishwasher in the Carlton Hotel in London broke down and cried when he heard the news – “A Nation which has such citizens will never surrender”. His name was Nguyen Ai Quoc who, in 1941, adopted the name Ho Chi Minh and took the lessons of the Irish anti-imperialist fight to his own country…”
On the 12th August, 1920 – 100 years ago on this date – Terence MacSwiney was ‘arrested’ in Cork by the Crown Forces for possession of “seditious articles (a cipher key) and documents”. He was born on the 28th March 1879, was the Commandant of the 1st Cork Brigade of the IRA and was elected as the Lord Mayor of Cork. He died after 74 days on hunger strike (a botched effort to force feed him hastened his death) in Brixton Prison, England, on the 25th October, 1920, and his body lay in Southwark Cathedral in London where tens of thousands of people paid their respects.
He summed-up the Irish feeling at that time (a feeling and determination which is still prominent to this day) – “The contest on our side is not one of rivalry or vengeance but of endurance. It is not those who can inflict the most but those who can suffer the most who will conquer. Those whose faith is strong will endure to the end in triumph.”
And our faith is strong.
ON THIS DATE (12TH AUGUST) 150 YEARS AGO : ‘DIVISIVE’ BRITISH ARMY GENERAL BORN.
British Army General ‘Sir’ Hubert Gough (pictured) was a contentious figure (a man of “extreme opinions”) in the (on-going) history of British imperialism (‘a key figure in the Curragh Mutiny..’) and, occasionally, caused confusion in the posh halls of Westminster.
He was born in London on the 12th August, 1870 (150 years ago on this date) and apparently found it hard to ‘play cricket’ with those around him, both politically and militarily – ‘Historians are divided in opinion about Gough ; some label him a callous “butcher among generals”, whereas others judge him to have been unusually considerate towards his soldiers…in his retirement, he stewarded the Fifth Army Comrades Association and led the Chelsea Home Guard in the second World War. It was in this capacity that, ironically, Gough attacked Northern Ireland’s (sic) unionist government in August 1941. He co-authored a letter to Churchill and Canadian prime minister William Mackenzie King, criticising Stormont for organising a local defence force, analogous to Britain’s home guard, but “recruited along politico-sectarian lines”. Gough, and other retired Anglo-Irish officers, castigated Craigavon for his policies…’ (from here.)
‘On the morning of Friday 20 March (1914?), Arthur Paget (Commander-in-Chief, Ireland) addressed senior officers at his headquarters in Dublin. By Gough’s account (in his memoirs ‘Soldiering On’), he said that “active operations were to commence against Ulster,” that officers who lived in Ulster would be permitted to “disappear” for the duration, but that other officers who refused to serve against Ulster would be dismissed rather than being permitted to resign, and that Gough – who had a family connection with Ulster but did not live there – could expect no mercy from his “old friend at the War Office…” (from here.)
In 1921, British General Sir Hubert Gough stated – “Law and order (in Ireland) have given place to a bloody and brutal anarchy in which the armed agents of the Crown violate every law in aimless and vindictive and insolent savagery. England has departed further from her own standards, and further from the standards even of any nation in the world, not excepting the Turk and Zulu, than has ever been known in history before..”.
However – he stood-by those “Crown standards” and died, as he had lived ie a member of the British ‘establishment’, at 92 years of age, in London, in 1963. The damage in Ireland done by that man and his type lives on.
‘FREEDOM OF INFORMATION OR FUMBLING OF INFORMATION…?’
By Paul O’Brien.
From ‘The Magill Annual’, 2002.
(‘1169’ comment – Interesting article, considering the recent changes to this particular piece of State legislation.)
But, explaining the confusion over the ‘Magill’ request, the spokesman said – “Each body has their own decision-makers, and there’s no obligation to take a common approach.”
While they might later be reined in, as appeared to have happened with the ‘Magill’ request, the nature of the initial responses to that request would seem to indicate the departments not only take their own decisions but understand the Act differently. Is this really good enough when the importance of the Act is considered?
It must be said, in the departments’ defence, that the FOI Act is still relatively new, and may take some time yet before the system is totally streamlined. And, no doubt, the vast majority of requests have been handed in the correct fashion. But there remains an issue at stake here.
The purpose of the FOI Act is explained by the Office of the Information Commissioner as follows – “An Act to enable members of the public to obtain access, to the greatest extent possible consistent with the public interest and the right to privacy, to information in the possession of public bodies and to enable persons to have personal information relating to them in the possession of such bodies corrected. Thus, the Act is designed to provide a right of access to information held by public bodies to the greatest extent possible.”
Laudable indeed, but what’s “the greatest extent possible” if the government departments interpret the Act as they see fit?
(END of ‘Freedom Of Information Or Fumbling Of Information?’ ; NEXT – ‘Why are we Turning a blind eye to Psychiatric Patients who have a Propensity for Violence?’, from the same source.)
ON THIS DATE (12TH AUGUST) 98 YEARS AGO : DEATH OF TREATY-SIGNING SINN FÉIN FOUNDER.
Arthur Griffith was born on the 31st March, 1872, at 61 Upper Dominick Street, Dublin, and matured into a somewhat contradictory political life – ‘..a printer by trade, he developed a passionate interest in Irish history and culture and became active in the Gaelic League. A gifted and influential journalist, he was made editor of several radical newspapers. He had been an admirer of Parnell but after 1891 he developed a growing contempt for the Irish Parliamentary Party and sought to map out an alternative strategy for Ireland.
He rejected the use of force.
Influenced by the experience of dissidents in Hungary, he argued in 1904 that Irish MPs should withdraw from Westminster and set up an assembly at home. It was his belief that the Irish electorate would support this policy and in time the British government would be compelled to support it too. Ireland would thus become a self-governing state and equal partner with Britain under the Crown. Drawing on the German economist Friedrich List, Griffith also suggested that Ireland could develop a balanced national economy, mainly through imposing high tariffs on British industrial imports. These two elements were central to the programme of the Sinn Féin party which he helped set up in 1905. It attracted little popular support but had disproportionate influence largely because of Griffith’s propaganda skills..’ (from here.)
There are two schools of thought in relation to the ‘Sinn Féin Republican/Sinn Féin Home Rule Party’-issue in relation to the political organisation that Griffith founded in 1905. Contrary to the perception which has been advanced by some that Sinn Féin in its first years was not Republican in character but rather sought a limited form of Home Rule on the dual monarchist model, Brian O’Higgins, a founding member of Sinn Féin, who took part in the 1916 Rising, and was a member of the First and Second Dáil, remaining a steadfast Republican up to his death in 1962, had this to say in his Wolfe Tone Annual of 1949 : “It is often sought to be shown that the organisation set up in 1905 was not Republican in form or spirit, that it only became so in 1917 ; but this is an erroneous idea, and is not borne out by the truths of history. Anyone who goes to the trouble of reading its brief constitution will see that its object was ‘the re-establishment of the independence of Ireland.’ The Constitution of Sinn Féin in 1905, and certainly the spirit of it, was at least as clearly separatist as was the constitution of Sinn Féin in and after 1917, no matter what private opinion regarding the British Crown may have been held by Arthur Griffith.”
Arthur Griffith was one of those who were in a pivotal position during the talks on the ‘Treaty of Surrender’ in 1921 which he accepted and signed, stating, in a press release immediately after dipping his pen in the blood – “I have signed a Treaty of peace between Ireland and Great Britain. I believe that treaty will lay foundations of peace and friendship between the two Nations. What I have signed I shall stand by in the belief that the end of the conflict of centuries is at hand.” Yet historian Nicholas Mansergh noted that, at practically the same time as Griffith had penned the above, the British were talking between themselves of “..concessions (from the Irish) wrung by devices…some of which can be described at best as devious…every word used and every nuance was so important…”
The Treaty-signing Sinn Féin founder never did see “the end of the conflict of centuries” and was certainly never going to see it if he was depending on that Treaty to deliver it – for it was designed to make British misrule in Ireland easier for them to ‘manage’, rather than to bring to an end that misrule. Arthur Griffith died of a brain haemorrhage in Dublin on the 12th August, 1922, at only 51 years of age, and is buried in Glasnevin Cemetery in Dublin.
‘THE SLAVE MIND’.
From ‘The United Irishman’ newspaper, November 1954.
The newly formed ‘Waterford Cricket Club’ invited the Duke of Edinburgh to become its honorary patron and president. The invitation was sent by Mr AJ Blyth, Organising Secretary to the Club.
Questioned about it, he said he did it in a burst of enthusiasm (loyality, we suppose). Even ‘Duke’ Philip realised what a blunder it was, and refused the ‘honour’. It is an indication of the continued existence of active anti-Irish elements throughout the country. The well-organised ‘RAF Association’, the various British Army and Navy clubs, are all centres for British espionage and hostile fifth-column activity against the Irish nation. But they are not interfered with, certainly not by Leinster House.
(END of ‘The Slave Mind’. NEXT – ‘He Objects’, from the same source.)
ON THIS DATE (12TH AUGUST) 29 YEARS AGO : JUDITH THERESA WARD WAS ‘GRANTED A REVIEW’ OF THE CASE AGAINST HER.
Judith Ward (pictured), an ‘IRA activist’, was arraigned on the 3rd October 1974 at Wakefield Crown Court, West Yorkshire, England, on an indictment containing 15 counts : Count 1 – causing an explosion likely to endanger life or property on the 10th September 1973, at Euston Station, Count 2 – a similar count relating to the explosion on the motorcoach on the M62 on the 4th February 1974, Counts 3-14 – twelve counts of murder relating to each of the persons killed in the explosion on the motorcoach and Count 15: causing an explosion as before on February 12, 1974, at the National Defence College at Latimer. She pleaded “not guilty” to all counts but, on the 4th November 1974, she was convicted on all counts, by a majority of 10 to two on Count 1 and unanimously on all the others.
She was sentenced to five years’ imprisonment on Count 1, 20 years’ imprisonment concurrently on Count 2, life imprisonment for the murder Counts 3-14 and to 10 years on Count 15, to be served consecutively to the 20 years on Count 2, making a determinate sentence of 30 years.
On the 12th August, 1991 – 29 years ago on this date – Judith Ward was ‘granted a review’ of the case against her ; it took eighteen years of campaigning to have her conviction quashed, which it was on the 11th May 1992. It transpired that she had changed her ‘confession’ several times and that the police and the prosecution selected various parts of each ‘confession’ to assemble a version which they felt comfortable with!
One of the main pieces of forensic evidence against her was the alleged presence of traces of nitroglycerine on her hands, in her caravan and in her bag. ‘Thin Layer Chromatography’ and the ‘Griess Test’ were used to establish the presence of nitroglycerine but later evidence showed that positive results using these methods could be obtained with materials innocently picked up from, for instance, shoe polish, and that several of the forensic scientists involved had either withheld evidence or exaggerated its importance.
Her book, ‘Ambushed – My Story’ makes for interesting reading and allows the reader to draw comparisons with the injustices suffered by the Maguire Seven, the Birmingham Six and the Guildford Four ; a total of 18 innocent people, including Judith Ward (13 men, 3 women and two children) who, between them, spent a total of 216 years in prison. Anne Maguire, a mother of 5 children, was menstruating heavily and denied all toiletries for a week and was beaten senseless. Carol Richardson, who didn’t even know she was pregnant, miscarried in Brixton Prison days after her arrest.
Pat O’Neill, who had minutes before entered the Maguires house to arrange for a baby-sitter when the police arrived, was told by a cop to swear that he saw a big cardboard box on Maguires table or else he would be done, but he refused to lie – he served eleven years. On his release, he found his marriage was broken beyond repair and that his six children had left the family home.
How many more Irish children will have to ‘leave the family home’ before the British eventually give a date for their political and military withdrawal from Ireland, because the situation as it still exists here is that their very presence continues to be objected to by Irish republicans and continues to give rise to unrest. And, if our history is to be used as a yardstick, that will always be the case.
Thanks for reading – Sharon and the ‘1169’ team. And here we go again ; we won’t be here next Wednesday (19th August 2020) as we’re still trying to deal with what this part of the world and its mother (!) are calling ‘Staycationgate’. It seems we left a suitcase and at least one holiday-maker behind us, in our haste to depart from our posh holiday accommodation a few weeks ago…yes, I know it sounds careless, to put it mildly, but think ‘Home Alone’, only in reverse ; the ‘1169’ team come from large families and…well, sometimes, after a certain number of days without sleep, a few flagons of cider, no phone signal or wi-fi and no change of clothes, you tend to forget your own name, never mind whatshisnames cousin or auntie or sister-in-law or whoever…anyway, long story short : we’ve been served legal paperwork by three sturdy bailiffs to call in person to ‘collect our belongings’.
Apparently, all concerned are too afraid to actually open the suitcase, for some reason (!), and the cousin/auntie/sister-in-law/whoever has gone rabid and was ‘speaking in tongues’ and, we’re told, ‘reverted to something that must have existed in the Stone Age..’. Ah Jaysus, there’s always somethin’, isn’t there..?!!
Anyway – we won’t be here on the 19th, but should – all going well with the bailiffs, the medical people and the cops – be back on the blog on Wednesday, 26th August 2020. Unless we win the lotto in the meantime, thus enabling us to buy/build a Time Machine and go back to put a stop to this bleedin’ nonsense. And ya can only imagine how far back we’ll have to go and how long that would take us..!