ON THIS DATE (5TH MAY) 40 YEARS AGO : BOBBY SANDS DIES ON HUNGER STRIKE IN LONG KESH PRISON.
The 1981 hunger strike was the culmination of a five-year protest during this on-going struggle by Irish republican prisoners ; a ‘blanket protest’ began in 1976 when the British government withdrew ‘Special Category Status’ for political prisoners and, in 1978, after a number of attacks on prisoners leaving their cells to ‘slop out’, the protest escalated into the ‘dirty protest’, where prisoners refused to leave their cells to wash and covered the walls of their cells with excrement.
In 1980, seven prisoners participated in the first hunger strike, which ended after 53 days then, on Sunday, 1st March 1981, (P)IRA POW Bobby Sands began his hunger strike.
He received widespread media attention for his protest and more so when, on the 9th April 1981, he was elected as an abstentionist member in a Leinster House (Free State ‘parliament’) election, after being nominated to contest the seat by Dáithí Ó Conaill, the then vice president of the then Sinn Féin organisation.
Bobby Sands was, as far as Irish republicans are concerned, a ‘Teachta Dála’ (TD) who was elected to take a seat in a 32-county Irish parliament, unlike the Free State representatives who sit in an institution in Kildare Street in Dublin today and claim to be ‘TD’s in an Irish parliament’ and, indeed, Bobby’s motives and those of Dáithí and the other then Sinn Féin Ard Chomhairle members who nominated him to contest the election were pure, unlike the motives of the self-serving time-keepers who sit in that Kildare Street premises today : the motives of the former involved a principled unwillingness to allow themselves and the struggle they were part of to be criminalised and to highlight to the world that they were fighting a political struggle against Westminster and its allies in this country.
Bobby Sands was sentenced to 14 years imprisonment for his alleged part in a fire-bombing campaign which, as part of an economic war against the British presence in Ireland, targeted business premises (in this instance, the Balmoral Furniture Company) with the intention of making it financially unviable for Britain to maintain its grip on that part of Ireland, a fact which present-day Provisional Sinn Féin and other Leinster House members seek to ignore or gloss over when referencing the so-called ‘ineffectual/grubby deeds’ of those who continue that struggle today.
On the 9th April, 1981, Bobby Sands was elected by 30,492 of those that voted in the Fermanagh/South Tyrone district, prompting, years later, this thesis from a republican leader : “Contrary to allegations made in the news media, there was not a straight line from the election of Bobby Sands in 1981 to the Stormont Agreement of 1998. Rather was the line from March, April and May 1981 to the same months in 1998 disfigured and distorted by an internal power-struggle for the leadership of Sinn Féin accompanied and followed by deceit and artifice as the ideals of Bobby Sands were steadily perverted and a section of the then powerful revolutionary Republican Movement turned into a constitutional party..” (from here).
Bobby Sands, 9th March 1954 – 5th May 1981. RIP.
‘CORK MUNICIPAL ELECTIONS…’
From ‘The United Irishman’ newspaper, June, 1955.
It will be emphasised that the restoration of our language and culture is an important part of our programme (‘1169’ comment – “our ancient history and culture..”).
Voluntary workers and funds are urgently needed and any help, no mater how small, will be appreciated. Anybody willing to help can report to Election Headquarters, Thomas Ashe Memorial Hall, or ring Cork 24700 or Cork 23661.
(END of ‘Cork Municipal Elections’ ; NEXT – ‘Wolfe Tone Commemoration’, from the same source.)
ON THIS DATE (5TH MAY) 142 YEARS AGO : ‘FATHER OF HOME RULE’ DIES IN DUBLIN.
‘ISAAC BUTT (1813-1879) POLITICIAN, BARRISTER AND PHILOSOPHER (pictured).
Isaac Butt was born in Glenfin, Donegal, on the 6th September 1813. His father, The Reverend Robert Butt, became Rector of St. Mary’s Church of Ireland, Stranorlar in 1814 so Isaac spent his childhood years in Stranorlar. His mother’s maiden name was Berkeley Cox and she claimed descendency from the O’Donnells. When Isaac was aged twelve he went as a boarder to the Royal School Raphoe and at the age of fifteen entered Trinity College Dublin.
He trained as a barrister and became a member of both the Irish Bar and the English Bar. He was a conservative lawyer but after the famine (‘1169’ comment – it was an attempted genocide) in the 1840s became increasingly liberal. In 1852 he became Tory MP at Westminster representing Youghal, Co. Cork and in 1869 he founded a ‘Tenant League’ to renew the demand for tenant rights. He was a noted orator who spoke fervently for justice, tolerance, compassion and freedom. He always defended the poor and the oppressed.
He started the Home Rule Movement in 1870 and in 1871 was elected MP for Limerick, running on a Home Rule ticket. He founded a political party called ‘The Home Rule Party’ in 1873. By the mid 1870s Butt’s health was failing and he was losing control of his party to a section of its members who wished to adopt a much more aggressive approach than he was willing to accept. In 1879 he suffered a stroke from which he failed to recover and died on the 5th May (1879) – 142 years ago on this date – in Clonskeagh, Dublin.
He was replaced by William Shaw who was succeeded by Charles Stewart Parnell in 1880. Isaac Butt became known as “The Father of Home Rule in Ireland”. At his express wish he is buried in a corner of Stranorlar Church of Ireland cemetery, beneath a tree where he used to sit and dream as a boy.’ (from here.)
On the 18th November, 1873, a three-day conference was convened in Dublin to discuss the issue of ‘home rule’ for Ireland. The conference had been organised, in the main, by Isaac Butt’s then 3-year-old ‘Home Government Association’, and was attended by various individuals and small localised groups who shared an interest in that subject.
Isaac Butt was a well-known Dublin barrister who was apparently viewed with some suspicion by ‘his own type’ – Protestants – as he was a pillar of the Tory society in Ireland before recognising the ills of that creed and converting, politically, to the ‘other side of the house’ – Irish nationalism, a ‘half way house’, if even that – then and now – between British imperialism and Irish republicanism ie Isaac Butt and those like him made it clear that they were simply agitating for an improved position for Ireland within the ‘British empire’, as opposed to Irish republicans who were demanding then, and now, a British military and political withdrawal from Ireland.
Over that three-day period the gathering agreed to establish a new organisation, to be known as ‘The Home Rule League’,and the minutes from the conference make for interesting reading as they highlight/expose the request for the political ‘half way house’, mentioned above – ‘At twelve o’clock, on the motion of George Bryan, M.R, seconded by Hon. Charles Ffrench, M.P., the Chair was taken by William Shaw, M.R.
On the motion of the Rev. P. Lavelle, seconded by Laurence Waldron, D.L., the following gentlemen were appointed Honorary Secretaries : — John O.Blunden, Philip Callan M.P, W.J.O’Neill Daunt, ER King Harman and Alfred Webb. ER King Harman read the requisition convening the Conference, as follows : —
We, the undersigned feel bound to declare our conviction that it is necessary to the peace and prosperity of Ireland, and would be conducive to the strength and stability of the United Kingdom, that the right of domestic legislation on all Irish affairs should be restored to our country and that it is desirable that Irishmen should unite to obtain that restoration upon the following principles : To obtain for our countiy the right and privilege of managing our own affairs, by a Parliament assembled in Ireland, composed of her Majesty the Sovereign, and the Lords and Commons of Ireland.
To secure for that Parliament, under a Federal arrangement, the right of legislating for, and regulating all matters relating to the internal affairs of Ireland, and control over Irish resources and revenues, subject to the obligation of contributing our just proportion of the Imperial expenditure. To leave to an Imperial Parliament the power of dealing with all questions affecting the Imperial Crown and Government, legislation regarding the Colonies and other dependencies of the Crown, the relations of the United Empire with Foreign States, and all matters appertaining to the defence and the stability of the Empire at large…’ (from here.)
The militant ‘Irish Republican Brotherhood’ (IRB) was watching those developments with interest and it was decided that Patrick Egan and three other members of the IRB Supreme Council – John O’Connor Power, Joseph Biggar and John Barry – would join the ‘Home Rule League’ with the intention of ‘steering’ that group in the direction of the IRB. Other members of the IRB were encouraged to join the ‘League’ as well, and a time-scale was set in which to completely infiltrate the ‘League’ – three years.
However, that decision to infiltrate Isaac Butt’s organisation was to backfire on the Irish Republican Brotherhood : the ‘three-year’ period of infiltration ended in 1876 and in August 1877 the IRB Supreme Council held a meeting at which a resolution condemning the over-involvement in politics (ie political motions etc rather than military action) of IRB members was discussed ; after heated arguments, the resolution was agreed and passed by the IRB Council, but not everyone accepted that decision and Patrick Egan, John O’Connor Power, Joseph Biggar and John Barry refused to accept the decision and all four men resigned from the IRB.
Charles Stewart Parnell was elected as leader of the ‘Home Rule League’ in 1880 and it became a more organised body – two years later, Parnell renamed it the ‘Irish Parliamentary Party’ and the rest, as they say, is history.
Parnell’s predecessor, bar one, Isaac Butt, died in Dublin on this date, 5th May, 142 years ago.
NO RIGHT OF APPEAL…
Why the media consensus on a broad range of issues is increasingly disturbing.
By John Drennan.
From ‘Magill’ Annual, 2002.
The reaction of the people of Ireland against the media consensus was heartening, no matter what your views might be on the merits or otherwise of European integration.
It showed that we do not, after all, live in a society where the views of a nation are sculpted by self-appointed political arbiters. We just live in a society where the self-appointed arbiters believe the myth, and everyone else generally takes little notice. The ‘No To Nice’ campaign taught us all a few lessons in listening to the people on the ground. Quite simply, they were on message with the only person who really counts – ‘Joe Public’.
‘Nice’ was followed by the continued outworking of the ILDA/ASTI (trade union)war. Oddly enough, no sooner had the ATGWU accepted ILDA into its capacious folds than its General Secretary and some of his staff were suspended by their mother union for such horrors as the cooking of fish in a canteen and the possession by one of them of a mug which showed a half-naked woman when something hot was poured into it. This wasn’t a harassment case – this was high farce.
But the finest hour of the craven journalistic cabal was yet to come ; as bodies still burned in the tinder of the World Trade Centre, the RTE/Irish Times/Last Word-collective was on the job immediately as we were warned that we should be wary of the US embrace… (MORE LATER.)
ON THIS DATE (5TH MAY) 105 YEARS AGO : JOHN MACBRIDE EXECUTED BY THE BRITISH.
John MacBride (pictured, sometimes written as ‘John McBride’, Seán Mac Giolla Bhríde) was born on the 7th May, 1868, in Westport, County Mayo. He was a leading figure in the ‘Irish Republican Brotherhood’ in that county but, at 28 years of age, he left Ireland for South Africa, where he organised an Irish Transvaal Brigade to fight with the Boers.
After the war, he moved to Paris and married Maude Gonne, but they went their separate ways in 1906, and he returned to Ireland, where he resumed his contact with the IRB. He wasn’t involved with the planning of the 1916 Easter Rising, but played his part as Adjutant to Thomas MacDonagh in Jacob’s Factory. The British put him to death on the 5th May, 1916.
Sixteen Irish republicans, including the seven signatories of the 1916 Proclamation, were executed by the British, after the Rising, while hundreds were imprisoned and interned in England and Wales. Within two days of the ending of the Rising, ‘court martials’ were convened by the British at Arbour Hill and Richmond Barracks – one of the first to face ‘court-martial’ was Padraig Pearse, the President of the newly-proclaimed Irish Republic (32-Counties, NOT a 26-County State) and commander-in-chief of the Republican Army.
On May 2nd, 1916, he was sentenced to death and despite a plea that his life be forfeit and that those of his comrades be spared, his request was rejected. During the following ten days, 15 republicans were ‘court-martialled’, sentenced to death and executed. On the morning of May 3rd, 1916, Pearse and Thomas J Clarke, the veteran Fenian and first signatory of the Proclamation, and Thomas MacDonagh, commander of the 2nd Battalion at Jacob’s factory, were executed by firing squad in the yard of Kilmainham Jail.
The following day, four more executions took place – Joseph Plunkett (GPO Garrison), Edward Daly (commander of the Four Courts Garrison), Willie Pearse (GPO) and Michael O’Hanrahan (second-in-command at Jacobs factory).
Major John MacBride, a veteran of the Boer War in South Africa, who fought at Jacobs factory, was the only execution carried out on May 5th, 1916 ; 105 years ago on this date.
From ‘The United Irishman’ newspaper, March, 1955.
Watch Your Imagination : “Fianna Fáil is going to capture the imagination of the people as it did in the earlier stages of the great national (sic) reconstruction drive”, said Mr Erskine Childers, in Dublin, recently. It seems as if the truth is out at last that Fianna Fáil worked on the people’s imagination for almost 20 years and, not content with that innings, the Party is planning another ‘Operation Imagination’. Fool me once…
Westminster Elections :
A ‘Newsweek’ report states that Conservative Party strategists, who had been planning towards Autumn elections this year, now confide that unless the Far East situations clears up, elections will be put off until the Spring of 1956. Sinn Féin will contest all 12 seats in the Six Counties area and among the Sinn Féin nominations are a number of the republican prisoners at present under sentence in Belfast and English jails.
(END of ‘Comments’ ; NEXT – ‘With The IRA In The Fight For Freedom’, from the same source.)
Thanks for reading,