ON THIS DATE (23RD DECEMBER) 36 YEARS AGO : RUC DISRUPT REPUBLICAN FUNERAL.
IRA Volunteer Ciarán Fleming (pictured) – ‘On Sunday 2nd December 1984, IRA Volunteers Antoine Mac Giolla Bhríghde, from Magherafelt, County Derry and Ciarán Fleming, who had broken out of Long Kesh prison in the Great Escape of 1983, were preparing to mount an operation against crown forces near Drumrush in County Fermanagh when Mac Giolla Bhríghde saw a car parked on the lane which he believed to contain civilians. Approaching the car to tell the occupants to leave the area, undercover SAS members opened fire, hitting him in the side. Cuffed with plastic stays, Mac Giolla Bhríghde was tortured before being summarily executed. His comrades, when later debriefed, reported hearing a single shot, then screaming, and a short time later a further burst of machine gun fire, after which the screaming stopped….’ (from here.)
Ciarán Fleming ‘…drowned in Bannagh River, near Kesh, County Fermanagh (while) escaping from a gun battle between undercover British Army (BA) unit and Irish Republican Army (IRA) unit. His body (was) found in the river on 21st December 1984..’ (from here) Ciarán was buried on the 23rd December 1984 – 36 years ago on this date – and his funeral was at the time described as ‘…the most gratuitously violent RUC attack of the year on any funeral. Many of the RUC had come in full riot gear of helmet, shield and body armour, to show that they were intent on violent disruption. Several times during a tense and exhausting funeral which lasted three full hours, the RUC baton-charged the mourners, which encouraged near-by children, standing on a wall, to throw stones at them in reprisal : the RUC then fired at least four plastic bullets into the funeral cortege, seriously injuring two people. During the afternoon, numerous mourners suffered bloody head wounds and one man was knocked unconscious by the RUC.
Stewards were often forced to halt the proceedings because of this harassment but, despite the RUC’s terror, the people stood firm and, in a twilight Bogside, three uniformed IRA Volunteers stepped out of the crowd and paid the IRA’s traditional salute to their fallen comrade, as a forest of arms were raised in clenched-fist salute. Finally , thanks to the courage of thousands of nationalists, Volunteer Ciaran Fleming was laid to rest..’ (from ‘IRIS’ magazine, October 1987.)
IRA sources that were contacted at the time by journalist Ed Moloney stated that Ciarán Fleming ‘…was noted for his hard line militarist republicanism. He is reputed to have backed a plan to form full-time guerrilla units or ‘flying columns’ based in the Republic, which would carry out four or five large scale attacks in the north a year. This approach was espoused by the militant Provisional IRA East Tyrone Brigade led by Padraig McKearney and Jim Lynagh, who wanted an escalation of the conflict to what they termed “total war”. They were opposed by Kevin McKenna, the IRA Chief of Staff and by the republican leadership headed by Gerry Adams, on the grounds that actions on that scale were too big a risk and unsustainable. The IRA leadership wanted a smaller scale campaign of attrition, supplemented by political campaigning by (Provisional) Sinn Féin….’ (from here.)
That “political campaigning by Provisional Sinn Féin” has seen that grouping morph into a slightly more-nationalist political party than either of the latter-day Fianna Fáil or SDLP organisations but, true to form, like Fianna Fáil and the SDLP, the Provisional Sinn Féin party has distanced itself (except verbally) from Irish republicanism. It’s an easier life, with a salary and a pension, neither of which were available when Adams and company professed to be advocates of change rather than that which they are now (and have been for the last 37 years, at least) ie advocates of British accommodation in Ireland.
‘SINN FÉIN VICTORY RALLY…’
From ‘The United Irishman’ newspaper, June, 1955.
Michael Traynor, Ard Runaidhe, Sinn Féin, said that the Ireland of today with its emigration and unemployment was not the nation visualised by James Connolly, nor did it enjoy the freedom for which he gave his life.
Seán O Riain, on behalf of the Comhairle Ceanntar Sinn Féin Ath Cliath, thanked all those who had helped to provide funds and cars for the election, in particular the Dublin Civil Servants and the employees of CIE, the Irish Bricklayers Society and the residents of Fairview who formed a committee to collect in their area for Tom Mitchell’s election fund. Other speakers were Eamon Thomas and Seosamh MacCriostail, Ath Cliath.
(END of ‘Sinn Féin Victory Rally’. NEXT – ‘Splendid Fight’, from the same source.)
ON THIS DATE (23RD DECEMBER) 49 YEARS AGO : TED HEATH, BRITISH PM, VISITS IRELAND, CALLS FOR PEACE. BUT IGNORES BRITISH VIOLENCE.
British PM Ted Heath, right, with his friend Jimmy Savile.
On the 23rd December 1971 – 49 years ago on this date – British PM Edward Heath paid a visit to the Occupied Six Counties of north-east Ireland and declared his ‘determination to end the violence’, making it clear in the process that he was referring to the then IRA campaign to remove the British military and political presence. Five weeks after that visit, his troops let loose with live rounds in the Bogside area of Derry, killing fourteen Irish people and, as a PR exercise, Heath (and his sidekick, Reginald Maudling) set up the ‘Widgery Inquiry’ into the massacre.
‘Lord’ Widgery proceeded to exclude the political background to the shootings, a politically motivated decision, as was suggested by the minutes of an extraordinary discussion between Widgery, Edward Heath and the British ‘Lord Chancellor’, ‘Lord’ Hailsham, at Downing Street, two days after the massacre, on the evening before the British ‘Commons’ announcement of Widgery’s appointment to conduct the ‘inquiry’. Among “..a number of points which I [Edward Heath] thought it right to draw to the Lord Chief Justice’s [Widgery] attention (was that) it had to be remembered that we were in Northern Ireland (sic) fighting not just a military war but a propaganda war…” and, indeed, Heath is on record as saying that the Derry Guildhall building would be unsuitable as a venue for tribunal hearings as it “…was on the wrong side of the River Foyle..” (ie – the ‘Catholic/Nationalist’ side) !
It should be noted that the day before the Bogside massacre (ie on Saturday 29th January 1972) , the RUC and the British Army issued the following joint statement : “Experience this year has already shown that attempted marches often end in violence and (this) must have been foreseen by the organisers. Clearly, the responsibility for this violence and the consequences of it must rest fairly and squarely on the shoulders of those who encourage people to break the law. The (British) security forces have a duty to take action against those who set out to break the law…”
Mutinous talk there, from that joint statement because, if they were to do their ‘duty’, then they would have had to “take action” against themselves and their own political leaders, including Edward Heath. But considering that Heath and his political establishment were pals with the Jimmy Savile’s of their world, then it should have been obvious to all that they would have no ‘duty’ of care or responsibility to 14 dead Irish people.
‘IN THE NAME OF THE LAW…’
Confidence in the Garda Siochana continues to erode as more incidents of questionable Garda ‘evidence’ emerge.
By Sandra Mara.
From ‘The Magill Annual’, 2002.
Garda Tina Fowley stated that she thought no more about it “until recently, when concerns about the veracity of the statement of admission had been expressed in the media”. Later that evening, a named officer claimed to have a signed confession from Frank McBrearty Junior admitting the killing of Richie Barron. Other gardai in the station were “stunned” – they claim they clearly heard McBrearty Junior protesting his innocence throughout the period. He continues to deny ever having made any such statement.
Garda Tina Fowley also made statements regarding “two distinct sets of notes” relating to the detention of Roisin McConnell on the 4th December, which she says an officer asked her for. She refused, phoned a superior officer at home, and was told to get the original notes out of the office and into the custody of another named officer. Tina Fowley’s honesty and courage resulted in her being subjected to harassment from some of her colleagues. She claims her computer was interfered with, she was given little or no work to do, a dead rat was left on her doorstep, and she received threatening letters and phone calls. A colleague said that “what Tina did was not popular with certain people”.
Eventually she was forced to leave Letterkenny – on sick leave from the force. She had paid a heavy price for her commitment to honesty and justice, the very qualities we expect from our police officers. Through her solicitor, Damien Tansy, in Sligo, she has issued proceedings against the Garda Commissioner and Attorney General for breach of contract, failing to secure a safe place of work and loss of legitmate expectations… (MORE LATER.)
ON THIS DATE (23RD DECEMBER) 81 YEARS AGO : IRA REMOVE GUNS AND AMMUNITION FROM A FREE STATE FORT.
“Now’s here’s a proof of Irish sense
Here Irish wit is seen
When nothing’s left that’s worth defence,
We build a Magazine.”(Jonathan Swift)
The Magazine Fort, Phoenix Park, Dublin (pictured) – built in 1735, raided by republicans twice ; in 1916, when thirty members of the Irish Volunteers and Na Fianna Éireann captured the building and took guns and withdrew from the area and again in 1939 – on the 23rd December, 81 years ago on this date – when, at about ten pm on that Saturday night, an IRA man walked up to the Free State sentry who was guarding the locked gate and told him that he had a parcel for his commanding officer. The sentry unlocked the gate only to be faced with a revolver pointed at his head : he was held there as other IRA men entered the Fort and then the hapless State soldier was forced to lead the IRA men to the guardroom where they ordered the Free Staters to surrender, which they promptly did.
13 lorries were then driven into the complex and crates containing Thompson machine guns and ammunition (estimated at 1,084,000 rounds!) were removed from the premises and neither side suffered any casualties. However, State soldiers who were based in the nearby Islandbridge Barracks were perplexed as to the reason why such a heavy volume of truck traffic was entering and leaving the Phoenix Park and they went to investigate : two of the IRA raiders were captured but their comrades made good their escape, complete with that which they came for. However, within a week most of the liberated munitions (including about 850,000 bullets) had been recovered by the Staters : two-and-a-half-tons were seized in Dundalk, County Louth, eight tons recovered in Swords, County Dublin, sixty-six cases of Thompson machine guns and ammunition were seized from an arms dump in South Armagh and 100 crates containing 120,000 bullets recovered in Straffan, County Kildare.
Also, on March 1st, 1940, Jack McNeela and Jack Plunkett – two of the many republicans who were ‘lifted’ by the Staters following the ‘Fort Raid’- were sentenced to two years and eighteen months respectively on a charge of “conspiring to usurp the function of government” by, of all things, operating a ‘pirate’ radio transmitter. On March 5th, 1940, Tony D’Arcy and Michael Traynor, both arrested during a raid on the Meath Hotel, Parnell Square, Dublin, the previous month, where an IRA meeting was being held to plan an attack in the Six Counties, were sentenced to three months imprisonment for refusing to answer questions. After being sentenced, the four prisoners were transferred to Arbour Hill Prison, Dublin and, on March 27th 1940, they were moved to St Brican’s Military Hospital next to the prison. On April 1st that year they were joined there by Tomas MacCurtain and Thomas Grogan, both of whom were still awaiting trial. MacCurtain was charged with shooting dead a Special Branch detective in Cork and Thomas Grogan with taking part in the Magazine Fort raid.
On April 16th, 1940, Tony D’Arcy, a native of Headford, County Galway, died after 52 days on hunger strike ; Jack McNeela, a native of Ballycroy, Westport, County Mayo, died three days later, after 55 days on hunger strike. The fast ended that night when the prisoners were informed that their demands had been met. The hunger strike began on February 25th, 1940, in Mountjoy Jail, Dublin, and resulted in the deaths of two IRA Volunteers.
From ‘The United Irishman’ newspaper, November 1954.
He had only one message ; it was that any young Irishman worth his salt should know how to use arms in defence of his freedom. This was stated by Mr Tomas MacCurtain, of Cork, when he unveiled a memorial in Cavan to eight soldiers of the IRA who gave their lives during the War of Independence.
The limestone memorial – the work of Mr Leo Broe, Harold’s Cross Road, Dublin – represents a Volunteer, and the names inscribed on the granite base are : Captain Thomas Sheridan, Drumcrow ; Staff Captain Joseph McMahon, Kilmaley, County Clare ; Volunteer Seán McEntyre, Laggan ; Staff Captain Michael E. Baxter, Kildoagh ; Volunteer Seán MacCartney, Belfast ; Staff Captain Edward B. Boylan, Corratober ; Captain Andy O’ Sullivan, Denbawn, Cavan and Commandant Thomas Fitzpatrick, Cavan Brigade.
A wreath was placed on the monument on behalf of the Memorial Committee by Miss Mary Brady, Chairman, Cavan UDC, and another wreath was laid, inscribed from the ‘Thomas McMahon Sinn Féin Club, Kilmaley, County Clare.’ Before the ceremony, 200 Cavan IRA veterans, members of Cumann na mBan and a body of young men paraded through the town to the music of the three local bands. The ceremony ended with the playing of the National Anthem.
(This report was published in ‘The Irish Press’ newspaper on the 25th October 1954, and reprinted in ‘The United Irishman’ newspaper in November 1954.)
(END of ‘Cavan Ceremony’ ; NEXT – ‘Fellow-Workers Generous Gesture’, from the same source.)
ON THIS DATE (23RD DECEMBER) 98 YEARS AGO : ‘VOICE OF LABOUR’ ROARS!
Liam Mellows (pictured) wrote, in his last letter to his mother – “The time is short and much I would like to say must go unsaid. But you will understand in such moments heart speaks to heart. At 3.30 this morning we [Dick Barrett, Rory O’Connor, Joe McKelvey and I] were informed that we were to be “executed as a reprisal”…I go to join Tone and Emmett, the Fenians, Tom Clarke, Connolly, Pearse, Kevin Barry and Childers. My last thoughts will be on God, and Ireland, and you. I had hopes that some day I might rest in some quiet place – beside Grandfather and Grandmother in Castletown (Co. Wexford), not amidst the wordly pomps [sic] of Glasnevin but if it is to be the prison clay, it is all the sweeter for many of our best lie here…” . That was on December 8th, 1922 – he was then executed by a Free State Army firing squad. However, forty-six years after that execution (ie in 1968) more information regarding that deed was made public ; in a letter to the media forty-six years after the execution of Liam Mellows (ie on April 24th, 1968) a Free State Army Captain, Ignatius O’Rourke, who was present at the execution of Liam Mellows and the other three men – Dick Barrett, Rory O’Connor and Joe McKelvey – wrote that, a few minutes before Mellows was shot dead he [Mellows] sent for the prison chaplain, a Father McMahon. Captain O’Rourke wrote that “… a few minutes later…I saw Father McMahon leaving the room [cell]..accompanied by Liam Mellows, with his right arm around Liam’s shoulders, and they walked along together leading the group as we all walked to the sandbags. Liam and Father McMahon appeared to be in deep, friendly conversation, with no sign of discord, disagreement or argument, just like two men discussing some point in a friendly fashion. They continued to talk until Father McMahon left Liam in the number one position at the sandbags …”
Fifteen days after his execution (ie on the 23rd December 1922 – 98 years ago on this date) an article he had written, entitled ‘Labour and the Irish Republic’ was published in the trade union ‘Voice of Labour’ newspaper : “Industries will receive encouragement ; employment will increase ; the natural resources of the country tapped ; emigration stopped ; education put on a proper basis, and direct contact with the outside world established. Yet all this, resulting as it would in the country being richer and more prosperous, would not mean that the freedom of Ireland has been attained if the economic system remained unchanged. A political revolution in Ireland, without a co-incident economic revolution, simply means a change of masters – instead of British capitalists waxing rich on the political and economic enslavement of Ireland, as at present, we would have Irish capitalists waxing rich on the political freedom, but continued enslavement, of Ireland. We do not want a change of masters* : it would be foolish, surely, to free Ireland from foreign tyranny today, and less than twenty years hence to have to free it from domestic tyranny. Therefore, the Irish Republic must have for its foundation the people. It is they who are freeing Ireland, and it is for the people – all the people – that it is being done, not for any section or group.
The Dail Éireann had this clearly in mind when, at its first session, in January 1919,it issued its ‘Programme of Democratic Policy’ that the soil of Ireland and all that grew upon it and lay under it, as well as all the wealth and wealth-producing processes in the country, should belong to the people. In the last analysis, the fight between the Irish people and the British government is not alone one between two nations : it is more than that – it is a struggle between two systems of civilisation, between the feudal system of England under its present guise of industrialism and the democratic system upon which the old civilisation of Ireland was built. A vestige of that civilisation remains in Ireland today – it is growing, expanding, and the end of foreign rule in Ireland will usher in not alone a new political era in Ireland, but a new economic one as well.”
Unfortunately, as Mellows opined, above, the citizens in this part of Ireland – the so-called ‘Free State’ – have had ‘a change of masters/domestic tyranny’ imposed on them, not only by an outside force (Westminster, which established the Leinster House ‘parliament’) but by a force that they themselves are responsible for – the ballot box. “The foundation, the people”, as referenced above by Liam Mellows, are for the most part made of clay and it is a relief that Mellows and his comrades did not live to witness the hypocritical shambles that the political institution on Kildare Street in Dublin, and those voters that time and again ‘legitimise’ that Free State cess pit, converted his efforts into. Small mercy that the man went to his grave believing that his contribution to the struggle for freedom would help to achieve a proper Irish democracy rather than the ‘whats-in-it-for-me’ political culture that has hijacked his efforts.
CABHAIR CHRISTMAS SWIM, 2020.
The 44th successive Cabhair Christmas Swim (1976-2020) will be held – in two days time – 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.
The Swim will not be going ahead in full ‘party’-type mode ie music, dancing, ‘soup’ for the adults (!), crowds etc ; it 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.
Definitely not the ideal, or usual, manner, for this event, but Covid circumstances have dictated that this is how it must be for 2020. This blog will be represented by one person (usually all three of us are there) and we’ll miss the party atmosphere for sure, but we’ll wring whatever craic we can out of it, and gladly contribute whatever we can to it. It’s for a good Cause – hope to see as many of ye as possible there, on the day. Safely and socially distanced, of course!
We won’t be here next Wednesday, 30th December 2020 ; taking a little break over the Christmas, getting our house in order for 2021 and will probably still be cleaning up after the holiday madness! But we’ll be back on Wednesday, 6th January 2021 or, if yer that desperate for our company (!), you can catch us on New Years Day at the Dáithí Ó Conaill wreath-laying ceremony in Glasnevin Cemetery, Dublin, at 1pm.
NOLLAIG SHONA DAR LEITHEOIRI!
Ar eagle an dearmaid ….
Ba bhrea an rud e siochain bhuan bunaithe ar an gceart a bheith againn in Eireann. Is i an bronntanas is fearr a d’fheadfaimis a thabhairt duinn fein agus dar gclann.
Coinniodh an ceart agus an tsiochain uainn le breis agus ocht gcead bliain, de bharr ionradh, forghabhail agus miriaradh na Sasanach. Socru ar bith a dheantar in ainm mhuintir na hEireann agus a ghlacann le riail Shasana agus a dhaingnionn an chriochdheighilt, ni thig leis an ceart na an tsiochain bhuann a bhunu.
Ni dheanfaidh se ach la na siochana buaine a chur ar an mhear fhada agus an bhunfhadb a thabhairt do ghluin eile. Tharla se seo cheana nuair a siniodh Conradh 1921 agus cuireadh siar ar mhuintir na hEireann e in ainm na siochana. Is mor ag Sinn Fein Poblachtach Eire a bheith saor agus daonlathach, an cuspoir ceanna a bhi i gceist ag Wolfe Tone agus ag na Poblachtaigh uile anuas go dti 1916 agus an la ata inniu ann.
Rinne a lan fear agus ban croga iobairti mora , thug a mbeatha fiu , ar son na cuise uaisle seo.
CEART. SAOIRSE. DAONLATHAS.
A PEACEFUL CHRISTMAS TO OUR READERS!
Least we forget…
A just and permanent peace in Ireland is most desirable. It is the greatest gift we could give to ourselves and our children. We have been denied justice and peace for more than eight centuries, because of English invasion, occuption and misrule of our country.
Any arrangement which, in the name of the Irish people, accepts English rule and copperfastens Britain’s border in this country will not bring justice and lasting peace. It will only postpone the day of permanent peace, handing over the basic problem to another generation.
This happened before when the Treaty of 1921 was signed and was forced on the Irish people in the name of peace. Republican Sinn Féin cherishes the objective of a free, democratic Ireland, as envisaged by Wolfe Tone and all republicans down to 1916 and our own day. Many brave men and women sacrificed a lot, even their lives, for this noble Cause.
JUSTICE. FREEDOM. DEMOCRACY.
Beannachtai na Nollag agus slan go foill anois!
Thanks for reading, Sharon and the 1169 team ; hope to see ye all back here on Wednesday, 6th January, 2021 but, in the meantime, you might read a few paragraphs from us here, if you’re that way inclined!