The ‘Sunningdale Agreement’ was an attempt in 1973 by Westminster at a ‘power-sharing’ arrangement between the British political establishment and Irish ‘civil-right’ nationalists regarding the British-occupied six north-eastern counties of Ireland. The document was signed by British PM Edward Heath and Free State ‘Taoiseach’ Liam Cosgrave on the 9th December 1973 (47 years ago on this date) at Sunningdale Park Hotel in Berkshire, England, and spawned a ‘power-sharing Northern Ireland Executive’ and a cross-border ‘Council of Ireland’, both of which were rejected by the then republican movement (but which were accepted by the UUP, the SDLP, Free State Labour Party and the Alliance Party) and, indeed, the whole set-up collapsed within a year and ‘direct rule’ from Westminster was imposed.

When, 25 years after Sunningdale (ie in 1998) a similar half-way-house treaty was being promoted by the political establishments in this country and England and by the Provisional organisation, the republican leadership here again spoke out about yet another bad treaty – “…the great unanswered question before history is why did Paisley on the one hand and the present Provo leadership on the other not accept and work the Sunningdale Agreement of 1973 which offered more and for which less was to be paid than the 1998 Belfast Agreement? Did we, as a people, have to endure 25 years more of sacrifice and suffering until both elements were poised to divide the major share of the spoils of office between them…when the Framework Documents were issued in 1995 (what) Irish people were facing was a repeat of Sunningdale with the Provos on board this time. Indeed, the British Prime Minister Edward Heath is reported as saying that “..the Good Friday Agreement was modelled on Sunningdale. But the present prime minister has never acknowledged that. He may even be ignorant of it for all I know. But obviously we know the people who were working out the new agreement went back over the whole of Sunningdale and more or less copied it.”

But the Stormont Deal was actually less than Sunningdale. The l973 Agreement provided for an evolving Council of Ireland while the 1998 accord contains the possibility of merely cross-border bodies which would be responsible to the New Stormont and cannot grow and develop without the permission of that Unionist-dominated assembly. Further, the 26-County State has paid more for the Stormont Agreement than it did for Sunningdale. Articles 2 and 3 of the 1937 Constitution were not given away in 1973; in 1998 they were and the nationalist people of the Six Occupied Counties were reduced – in the eyes of the 26-County State – to the level in rights of people with one Irish grandparent living as far away as Australia or New Zealand…”

The republican position, then as now, can be summed-up in the words of Seán MacDiarmada “We bleed that the nation may live. I die that the nation may live. Damn your concessions, England; we want our country.”


From ‘The United Irishman’ newspaper, June, 1955.

A Sinn Féin Northern election victory rally was held in Dublin on Saturday, 5th June last, at which Seoirse Dearle, who presided, said that the cynics and the “hurlers on the ditch” who had criticised Sinn Féin’s intention to contest the 12 Northern seats in the British imperial elections were confounded when, on nomination day, all the 12 nominatioons were filled.

Cries of vote splitting were also levelled at the Movement from all sides, completely ignoring the fact that Sinn Féin in contesting all seats were providing all the republicans of the Six Counties with an opportunity to express as a whole their desire to be free. Many of them had not had that constitutional means of expression for over 30 years.

Liam Fogarty, a fellow-student of Philip Clarke TD, called on the youth of Ireland to take inspiration from the courageous unselfish deeds of men like Eamon Boyce and Tom Mitchell. Michael Traynor, Ard Runaidhe Sinn Féin, and one of the candidates in the elections, stressed the weakness in our national economy through our connection with Sterling… (MORE LATER.)


The following article was published in ‘The United Irishman’ newspaper in January 1958 – ‘An article in ‘The London Times’ newspaper of December 9th, 1957 (63 years ago on this date), entitled ‘Actors In The Political Scene’, stated : ‘The country families of the North of Ireland, after surrendering control to the captains of industry for a long period, are well established in the present government.’ There, perhaps, is the key to the whole situation : the ‘lords of land’ and the ‘barons of industry’ who together make up the Tory-Unionist Ascendancy, the ‘master-minds’ with Britain’s Tories, of the anti-freedom struggle in Ireland. These are the ‘gentry’ who imposed their views on the Orange rank-and-file under the guise of religion – the ones who stand to lose most by separation from Britain. It is those gentlemen who act as Britain’s puppets in Ireland : even those who consider themselves as ‘left-wingers’ can be enticed to forget where they came from.

In a fit of pitiful pleading, David Bleakley stated : “It is an anachronism that an economically insecure Northern Ireland should exist in the midst of an industrially thriving British community. Ulster’s labour force is ready, anxious and able to work its way through to prosperity. All it asks is to be given the tools and the jobs.” He should have said that the whole concept of Occupied Ireland is an anachronism – that the only way we can all ‘work our way through to prosperity’ is by first winning vocational independence and driving British imperialism from our land. That would be wisdom but one does not expect wisdom for Ireland in the columns of ‘The London Times’ newspaper…’

The word ‘anachronism’ (‘something [such as a word, an object, or an event] that is mistakenly placed in a time where it does not belong in a story, movie, etc/ a person or a thing that seems to belong to the past and not to fit in the present..’) is apt when describing the continuing military and political occupation of part of Ireland by Westminster, but unfortunately it’s not only in the columns of English newspapers that such wisdom is absent. We have, and always have had, our ‘Times’ readers here, too.


Confidence in the Garda Siochana continues to erode as more incidents of questionable Garda ‘evidence’ emerge.

By Sandra Mara.

From ‘The Magill Annual’, 2002.

Brendan Howlin told ‘Magill’ – “Before they arrived I spoke to Jim Higgins. They had also been in contact with him. They appeared anxious to establish the source of our information. This wasn’t to be taken lightly. They came to me as if I was under some sort of suspicion myself. They said we need to get information, we need to get the name of the source.” The Carthy Inquiry, set up to investigate the circumstances surrounding the case, found itself conducting a widespread inquiry into allegations of garda corruption and incompetence in the Donegal Division.

At the time of Richie Barron’s death, three on-duty gardai, together with one off-duty member, attended the scene, but failed to preserve the ‘scene of crime’. Evidence, including bloodstains, was washed away by locals in the belief that it had been a car accident ; gardai continued to investigate the accident and, by early December, officers were drafted in from outlying districts to carry out multiple arrests of the extended McBrearty family. Four detectives arrived from Dublin and attended a pre-arrest conference in Letterkenny Garda Station ; some gardai expressed doubts about the legality of the powers of arrest in relation to some of the suspects, in particular that of Roisin McConnell, wife of Mark McConnell, who was also arrested as a suspect.

A young garda, Tina Fowley, was one of those casting doubts on the legality of the arrests – she was later to make a statement claiming a superior officer, who was at the pre-arrest conference, showed her a ‘half-sheet’, which is used to take statements from suspects, and she stated that “..there was writing on this sheet of paper, covering approximately a third of the page.There also was the name ‘Frank McBrearty’ written in long hand at the end of this writing. Also on the table in front of (named officer) was a black-and-white photocopy of a manuscript signature of the name ‘Frank McBrearty’…(named officer) showed me the half-sheet and asked me ‘was that a good likeness?’ I took this to mean were both signatures alike. I thought it was a practical joke. I started laughing and so did he..” (MORE LATER.)


From ‘The United Irishman’ newspaper, November 1954.

‘Oh how I wish that Ireland had a voice

To speak the praise of her whose heart is stilled

To beat no more in triumph to rejoice

Or grieve for those by foe or traitor killed.

What lips could frame an elegy for you

Whose heart encompassed all whose blood was shed

To cool the fevered brow of Roisin Dhú

That now you rest with our immortal dead.

Be this the epitaph they’ll carve for you ;

Her life was spent to lift the Saxons’ curse

She strove for Ireland, and ’till death was true –

Her sword still smites in all her searing verse.
By M. Ó Cinnéide.

(END of ‘Alice French RIP’ ; NEXT – ‘Cavan Ceremony’, from the same source.)


The 44th successive Cabhair Christmas Swim (1976-2020) will, as usual, be held – later on this month – on Christmas Day at 12 Noon at the 3rd Lock of the Grand Canal, in Dublin (opposite the Kelly’s/Blackhorse Inn building in Inchicore, Dublin 8), but a ‘Plan B’ has been put in place by the organisers to take account of the circumstances brought about by the Covid 19 issue.

There are, as stated already on this blog, two possible scenarios regarding this event : it either goes ahead in full ‘party’-type mode ie music, dancing, ‘soup’ for the adults (!), crowds etc etc, presuming that, by the 25th December 2020, Covid will have been dealth with, or the Swim will take place in a restrained manner to take account of Covid-enforced social distancing (‘Level 3’, at the time of writing) and other common-sense guidelines ie just the ‘bare bones’ – a reduced number of swimmers, one family member with each swimmer, a much-reduced Cabhair Crew on the ground and the public being asked to observe from a safe distance (ie the bridge, or further up the canal), with no foodstuffs, no ‘lemonade or soup’ (!) , no music etc on site, which should help to prevent a crowd from gathering at the actual Swim spot.

At the time of writing, it’s looking like it’s ‘Plan B’ that will be put into operation on Christmas Day at the Swim site, but we’ll hold our whist for now and hope for the usual, party-type affair on the day. What is certain, however, is that, for the 44th successive year, the Swim will be going ahead, in one format or the other!


…we won’t be posting our usual contribution, and probably won’t be in a position to post anything at all ; this coming weekend (Saturday/Sunday 12th/13th December 2020) is spoke for already with a 650-ticket raffle to be run for the Cabhair organisation (work on which began yesterday, Tuesday 8th) and the ‘autopsy’ into same which will take place on Monday evening 14th via ‘Zoom’.

Then it’s straight back to the preparations for the Cabhair Christmas Swim, which is the 44th successive such event. Our next ‘normal’ (!) post will be on Wednesday 23rd December 2020, although if anything grabs our attention between this and then we might do a ‘ghoster’ – but it would wannabe good!

At the time of writing, this State is still governed by the Leinster House-enforced ‘Level 3’ restrictions in relation to Covid which, compared with ‘Level 5’, offers some small comfort in regards to visiting loved ones in nursing home and some relaxing of travelling and shopping etc. But the ports in this State remain open for business, and this despite the fact that, for instance, in America, internal travel has been severly curtailed but business people and tourists from that curtailed country (and other countries) can freely enter this State and travel around!

That is as good an example as any of what is described here as ‘an Irish solution to an Irish problem’ ie put that ‘law’ on paper, refer any questions or queries about it to that written text and assure himself/herself that’s asking about it that ‘all is in hand (sure it’ll be grand on the day…)’! And that, for the most part, is acceptable to most of the citizens here, as its being like that since this corrupt entity of a Free State was spawned in 1922 and most people will shrug their shoulders and declare ‘ah sure, it’s about the best we can do..’.

Its attitudes like that that Irish republicans want to change – we shouldn’t just accept ‘second best’ and/or ‘half-baked’ so-called ‘solutions’ : we, as a Nation, are worth more than that. We deserve more than that, and we have earned more than that. And we will have more than that. We will have that which we are entitled to!

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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