ON THIS DATE (1ST JUNE) 100 YEARS AGO : BRITISH PARAMILITARY GROUP IN IRELAND RENAMED.
In every country it occupied (and in every country it continues to either occupy or take an ‘interest’ in) Britain, like other imperialist forces, recruits a native ‘workforce’ which it uses to serve its interests (!) .
In the mid-to-late 19th century in Ireland, for instance, Westminster decreed that the then Irish police force be re-named the ‘Royal Irish Constabulary’, a move which the then British ‘queen’, Victoria, was strongly in favour of, as a ‘reward’ to them in payment for the cruel manner in which they dealt with the Fenian rising : on the 1st June 1922 – 100 years ago on this date – (after Britain had partitioned Ireland) the paramilitary RIC outfit in the Six Counties was re-classified as the ‘RUC’ (‘U’ for ‘Ulster’ : sic – Ulster has nine counties , not six) and Britain’s reign of ‘official’ terror in that part of Ireland continued, albeit by a ‘different’ paramilitary gang.
For instance, in June of 1982, the 60th anniversary of the formation of the RUC was marked by a series of commemorative events ; articles filled newspapers, editorials and letters from loyal correspondents heaped praise and glory on that force, church services, some attended by well-known catholic clergy, prayed for its members, and local councils passed motions of support and congratulations in their ‘honour’.
In short, ‘respectable unionist society’ paid its tribute to its ‘police force’, formed in its image – and 60 years of brutality, torture, murder and lies were brushed aside as the unionist establishment congratulated itself for the continuing existence of a paramilitary force which had maintained and safe-guarded its rule over the turbulence of those years.
There were of course no prayers for young Michael McCartan, gunned down in cold blood in July 1980 by a plainclothes RUC man while painting ‘Up The Provos’ on a gable wall near his south Belfast home. Nor, doubtless, did any clergyman pause a moment in memory of 9-year-old Danny Rooney, shot dead by RUC men in August 1969 in his Divis Flats home ; or in memory of 42-year-old Samuel Devenney, beaten to death in his own home by those same ‘guardians of peace’ in April 1969.
There were no newspaper editorials recalling the hideous murder of trade union activist Brian Maguire at the hands of his RUC interrogators in Castlereagh in 1978. Or the ‘disappearance’ of Jackie McMahon on January 18th, 1978, after his arrest by the RUC, and the finding of his drowned body in the River Lagan months later.
The columns of ‘The Belfast Telegraph’ establishment newspaper were empty of condemnations of the RUC killers of young Julie Livingstone (pictured) in May 1981, and of those other nationalists murdered by the plastic bullet weapon which British rulers have equipped their RUC ‘peace-keepers’ with. And the local councils omitted to mention the torture centres such as Castlereagh and Gough barracks, or the Bennett Report, or the Amnesty International Report, or the European Court of Human Rights condemnation of torture techniques in 1971. The ‘conveyor belt’ from the nationalist ghettos to the H-Blocks and Armagh, in which the RUC played an integral role with their trade in torture , blackmail and perjury, was totally ignored.
The black history of the RUC is shrouded in a cloak of lies and false platitudes : although it was founded in June 1922, its roots, nonetheless, and its political nature, can be firmly traced back to the force which was established to maintain British rule in Ireland before partition. The ‘Constabulary (Ireland) Act 1836’, passed by the British government, created a constabulary of some 8,500 men but, by 1846, this was extended to 13,500 with, in addition, a large number of auxiliaries, specifically to protect the property of absentee landlords and to squeeze rent from impoverished peasants in the so-called ‘Great Hunger’ period, or to seize the property they attempted to ‘live’ on.
The ‘Royal Irish Constabulary'(RIC) as it was known, effectively acted as the strong-arm of the landlords and the mill and factory owners, carrying out evictions against tenants who defaulted on ‘rent’ payments – if those who had been evicted decided to squat on the land (as they often did, because they had nowhere else to go) the RIC and/or the Auxiliaries would attack them again for doing so. If a ‘street’ or village attempted to defend their neighbour from eviction, the same State thugs would move-in to break-up what they considered the ‘strike action’.
The RIC in the Six-County area was almost entirely composed of protestants : a British ‘royal commission’ reporting on the 1857 pogroms against Belfast catholics found that this overwhelmingly protestant paramilitary ‘police’ force had behaved in a sectarian fashion, and had actually led attacks on catholic homes and businesses – just as at Burntollet in January 1969, and in the lower Falls in August, when out-of-uniform and uniformed RUC men and ‘B’ Specials co-ordinated the attacks on catholics.
That ‘royal commission’ recommended that “a total change should be made in the mode of appointment and the management of the local police”. 112 years later, the Hunt Report commissioned by the British Government was still tinkering along the same lines of ‘reform’. But just as in 1857, so in 1969 – nothing changed in the essential sectarianism of the ‘police’, and throughout the 19th century, attacks on nationalist homes and property continued unabated.
On December 6th, 1921, the so-called ‘Treaty’ was initialed, soon to be ratified by the dominant Free State faction in the South of Ireland, and Ireland was partitioned. In the twenty-six counties the implementation of the new status was undertaken by Free State forces using British arms and equipment, and employing brutally repressive measures. In the Six Counties, the job of ‘pacifying’ nationalist opposition fell largely to the RUC.
A departmental committee established under the Stormont administration to enquire into the organisation of a force to replace the RIC, recommended (on March 31st 1922) that a ‘new’ force, the ‘RUC’, be set up comprising 3,000 men. Nominally, this force was to include one-third catholics in its number, but because of loyalist sectarianism and the force’s political role in defending partition, it was from the outset an almost exclusively protestant and loyalist force.
The first priority of the newly-formed RUC was to eliminate the republican forces who still enjoyed popular support in the nationalist areas of the Occupied Six Counties. To achieve this, the ‘Constabulary Act (Northern Ireland) 1922’, incorporated the already established ‘Special Constabulary’ fully into the RUC. This ‘Special Constabulary’ had been set up in 1920 by the British administration to combat the increasingly effective IRA forces in the north-east of the island.
The unionist leader, ‘Lord’ Edward Carson, had organised it, and it was composed almost entirely of former units of the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) from the gun-running era. Within a year of its formation the ‘Specials’ – ‘A’, ‘B’ and ‘C’ classes (although only the ‘B’ Specials lasted long) numbered more than 30,000 men, and at the end of 1921 the Stormont administration assumed control over them from the British government. By the end of 1922, when they were incorporated into the RUC, the ‘Specials’ numbered 50,000 well-armed men.
Both the ‘Specials’ and the RUC proceeded to wage a terror campaign against the nationalist people, indulging in widespread pogroms : reports of atrocities were common place between 1922 and 1925 and the ‘Murder Gang’ (a 1920’s version of the ‘Shankill Butchers’) was composed of ex-British soldiers, UVF men and RUC/’B’ Specials and, typical of their atrocities, was the McMahon Murders on March 24th 1922, which was organised and carried-out by RUC Detectives and District Inspectors J.W. Nixon and Harrison, in which all the male members of the McMahon family and a man employed by them were killed.
In another incident around this time, two elderly sisters were killed when ‘B’ Specials threw a hand-grenade into the bedroom of their Thompson Street home in east Belfast’s isolated nationalist ghetto of Short Strand. Perhaps the most sadistic killings took place in Tyrone in 1924 – four IRA Volunteers were captured by a large platoon of ‘B’ Specials and shot on the spot. Their genitals were cut off and placed in their mouths and obscenities about the Pope were written on the road with blood from their entrails. At the inquest, the ‘B’ Specials’ Commander defended their actions by stating that his men “..had seen action in Palestine..”. No action was taken against the perpetrators.
In the intervening years, the RUC came to reinforce its position as the institutional guardian of Orange sectarian privilege in the Occupied Six Counties, periodically (as in 1932 during the ‘Outdoor Relief’ strikes) repressing nationalists by extreme brutal force. Its importance in that institutional repression can be gauged by the fact that the RUC, through its advice and intelligence reports, were instrumental in operating the internment of nationalist opponents of the state, not just in 1971 but in every decade since the foundation of the state in 1920. The late 1960’s saw this repressive role emphasised again, as RUC thugs continued to ‘keep the peace’ with their batons.
The late 1960’s saw this repressive role emphasised again, as RUC thugs batoned civil rights marchers to the ground, first on October 5th 1968 in Derry, in full view of the television cameras. Despite the outcry no investigation took place. When on August 14th 1969 the RUC finally admitted defeat, faced with the undaunted nationalist resistance of the Battle of the Bogside, and British troops entered Derry and then Belfast to safeguard the status quo, the ‘B’ Specials gave full vent to their anti-nationalist spleen, shooting dead a bystander in Armagh and Francis McCloskey in Dungiven, while in Belfast ‘B’ Specials and RUC men led loyalist mobs on attacks into nationalist streets.
When the first flames died down and the nationalists counted the cost in terms of human tragedy, the British summoned ‘Lord’ Hunt to prepare a report on the RUC – like subsequent reports it was essentially a whitewash.
August 1969 had revealed to the watching world that the RUC was a sectarian paramilitary force, and the British felt pressurised to act. Typically they summoned an academic, ‘Lord’ Hunt, to prepare a report which essentially would salvage the ‘credibility’ of the force : Hunt’s report was issued on October 3rd 1969 and was announced as the ‘reform’ of the RUC. The ‘reforms’, however, were not real but apparent.
The ‘B’ Specials were disbanded but were replaced by the ‘Ulster (sic) Defence Regiment’ (UDR), which were attached to the British Army rather than to the RUC. But 90% of all ‘B’ Specials in 1969 joined the UDR at its formation in 1970, meaning that 80% of the UDR was composed of former ‘B’ Specials.
Most of the few nationalists who joined the UDR, in an initial belief in the reality of the ‘reform’ (about 12% of the UDR in all) resigned when it soon became clear that the UDR was no more than a ‘Special Constabulary’ in khaki uniform. As a further concession to the ‘pride’ of the ‘B’ Specials, former members were allowed to keep their weapons!
One other Hunt Report ‘recommendation’ was that the RUC be disarmed : this was implemented initially but, under loyalist pressure, the RUC soon resumed its traditional role as the armed paramilitary wing of loyalism. In fact, to suppress the militant nationalist population, the British administration actually strengthened the RUC in numbers and weaponry. In the history of nationalist and republican resistance to the Orange state, this better-armed, better-trained and numerically stronger RUC paramilitary force played a central and conscious role in the attempted repression of that struggle.
Their ‘contribution’ in particular to the post-internment H-Block/Armagh ‘conveyor belt’, through the use of RUC-trained interrogators in Castlereagh and other torture centres across the North, was a major factor in the torture, by physical or psychological methods, of the estimated 20,000 nationalists who have passed through these centres since the ending of political status in 1976. Over 80% of those subsequently convicted by non-jury Diplock courts were jailed solely on the basis of ‘confessions’ obtained while under interrogation in those centres.
The RUC’s immunity from criticism in employing these methods is well illustrated by the Rafferty Case : James Joseph Rafferty, from Dungannon in County Tyrone, was arrested in November 1976 and held for three days in Omagh RUC Barracks where he was brutally beaten by RUC detectives from the ‘Regional Crime Squad’, which had only recently been established by the then RUC assistant chief constable Kenneth Newman, for just such purposes. Eventually, James Joseph Rafferty was released without charge and taken to hospital where he remained for several days.
The evidence of the brutality used against him was clear-cut : he had multiple bruising, his scalp was covered with blood-red pin-pricks, and his backside was gashed. Doctors testified that these injuries could not have been self-inflicted. Nevertheless, after years of a stonewall conspiracy of RUC silence, which caused one member of the ‘RUC Police Authority’, Jack Hassard, to resign in disgusted frustration, James Joseph Rafferty’s torturers were acquitted in ‘court’ and his claim for compensation was dismissed.
As the ex-RUC ‘Police Authority’ member, Jack Hassard, said – “The bastards who beat up James Joseph Rafferty would stop at nothing, even killing…” And they didn’t stop for Brian Maguire –
‘In Castlereagh from day to day
The tortured know no rest,
And men don’t sleep and men must weep
Until they have confessed,
Confessed to ‘crime’ for sentenced time
Though guilt they may not know,
But that is law, however raw,
So bear your cross of woe.’ (Bobby Sands: ‘The Crime of Castlereagh’.)
– On May 12th 1978 there were two funerals of particular relevance for the nationalist people : one was Jackie McMahon’s, his body having been dragged from the River Lagan, the first time he had been seen since being taken into RUC custody four months earlier. The other was the funeral of 27-year-old Brian Maguire who, two days earlier on May 10th 1978, had been found hanging by a sheet from his cell ceiling, in Castlereagh Barracks.
Brian Maguire was an electronics engineer at the Strathearn Audio factory in West Belfast, a branch secretary of his trade union , the AUEW (TASS), and a militant in the ‘Trade Union Campaign Against Repression’. In November 1977 he had helped organise a march in West Belfast against repression, at which one of the speakers warned that unless Castlereagh were closed then somebody would be tortured to death. Brian Maguire was that somebody.
His murder was, typically, ‘offically’ dismissed as suicide, physically an impossibility in the regime of constant supervision in Castlereagh. A key to what did actually happen to him, however, is given by the case of Phelim Hamill from West Belfast who was being held for questioning about the same matters as Brian Maguire.
Phelim was 20 years of age when he was taken from his home on April 23rd 1978 : over the next two days he experienced the most severe physical and mental torture in Castlereagh, suffering ear damage, abdominal bruising and bruising to the kidneys and testicles. While being beaten by ‘teams’ of up to eight RUC men, he was made to stand against the wall spread-eagled for long periods. His RUC torturers also engaged in a specific type of mock strangulation which induced a drowning sensation : this is the last torture that is believed to have gone too far in Brian Maguire’s case and led to his death.
In a statement taken before Brian Maguire’s death, Phelim Hamill detailed this aspect of the torture : “My arms and legs were pinned down and a light-coloured towel was put over my head, obstructing my vision. The RUC tied the towel around my neck and choked me. While the towel was tied around my face a cup of water was poured down my throat and nose, giving me a drowning feeling.” After surviving this terrifying experience, Phelim Hamill spent eleven months on remand before being released. Brian Maguire was not so lucky.
‘Like withered leaf or side of beef
They hang you by the heels,
Then kidneys crunch with heavy punch
To tortured jiggling squeals.
Bones are bruised ‘cos boots are used
To loosen up your tongue,
So men admit a little bit
When nothing they have done.’ (Bobby Sands : ‘The Crime of Castlereagh’)
The RUC are/were a bigoted and sectarian force, existing to perform the function they were set up to perform – the defence of the Orange state. The child-killers of 1969 are the torturers of Castlereagh and the plastic bullet assassins, and any number of years on the RUC are an unchanged and unchangeable paramilitary force.
Their name spells repression and death to the nationalist community. That is why, for all the newspaper articles and editorials, and for all the middle-class prayers and council motions and, above all, for all the ambivalence and collaboration of the Leinster House and Stormont political establishment towards them, there are not and never will be any birthday greetings to the RUC/PSNI from the nationalist people.
On the 4th November 2001 , the RUC was renamed and rebranded as the ‘PSNI’ – another name change – but they remain the same : an armed wing of an unjust bastard ‘State’.
(‘1169’ comment – this is an edited version of a piece we first posted here in 2008.)
‘GET ENGLAND OUT!.’
From ‘The United Irishman’ newspaper, July, 1954.
Well done lads!
Armagh action shows the way ; British troops occupy our country and there are men and women in the Republican Movement preparing to drive them out. Is it possible that they will fail, because you failed to join them?
Think well on it – the political parties of Leinster House are hoping at some future time to buy the allegiance of the Orangemen. Meanwhile, the loss to the 32 Counties each year by emigration is far greater than any war. In fighting World War Two, the English lost approximately 500,000 out of 50,000,000 ; in the last 25 years, we have lost 675,000 out of little more than 4,000,000.
Is the price we are paying in blood worth the remote possibility of buying the Orangemen with money?
In jail for Ireland –
Cathal Goulding (Dublin), 8 years penal servitude,
Seán Stephenson (London), 8 years penal servitude,
Manus Canning (Derry), 8 years penal servitude,
Joseph Campbell (Newry), 5 years penal servitude,
Leo McCormack (Dublin), 4 years penal servitude,
JP McCallum (Liverpool), 6 years penal servitude. (Cathal Goulding, Seán Stephenson and Manus Canning were taken prisoner after an arms raid in England.)
Help the dependants of these patriot men by subscribing to ‘The Republican Aid Committee’, c/o The United Irishman, Seán Treacy House, 94 Talbot Street, Dublin.
To join the Movement, contact any known branch in your area or write direct to –
Rossa O’Broin, c/o United Irishman, Seán Treacy House, 94 Talbot Street, Dublin.
Sinn Féin, 3 Lr Abbey Street, Dublin.
Clan Na Gael Club, 112 West 72nd Street, New York 23, USA.
Cumann Na mBan, 9 North Frederick Street, Dublin.
Na Fianna Éireann, 32 Blessington Street, Dublin.
Clan Na Gael Girl Scouts, 9 North Frederick Street, Dublin.
You can serve the Nation in the republican ranks!
(END of ‘Get England Out!’ : NEXT – ‘False Doctrine And True’, from ‘The United Irishman’, April 1955. )
ON THIS DATE (1ST JUNE) 102 YEARS AGO : KING’S INN RAID, DUBLIN.
On Tuesday, 1st June, 1920, at about 3.50pm, a number of men entered the King’s Inn building in Dublin through the Constitution Hill entrance and padlocked those gates behind them.
At the same time, another group of men, some of whom were visibly armed, escorted their ‘prisoner’, Jerry Golden (B Coy, 1st Battalion Dublin Brigade IRA), an innocent law clerk, as far as the British were concerned, entered the building through a different door.
The group of men with the ‘prisoner’ went directly to the guardroom and took control of it, forcing the occupants, British soldiers, to stand against a wall. Both groups of IRA men then removed 2 Lewis machine guns, 25 rifles, boxes of hand grenades and thousands of rounds of ammunition, and then released their ‘prisoner’. Incidentally, a number of British soldiers were captured by the IRA during that operation but were later released.
Two cars had pulled-up and parked in Henrietta Street and the captured weapons were quickly loaded into them before driving away, to the cheers of on-lookers from the tenement buildings across the road. The IRA operation was over within 8 minutes.
Jerry Golden, the ‘prisoner’, went to work as usual the next day, in the ‘Registry of Deeds’ office, but was instead taken aside and questioned by a British Army officer about the events of the previous day ; he pleaded ignorance to knowing anything about the raid, other than the fact that he was taken as a hostage/prisoner by the raiders and, in a fit of frustration, the inquisitor stated – “In Ireland, we have law makers, law breakers and law strikers, all bloody well bunched together..” !
Incidentally, one of the captured Lewis guns was carried from the building by Kevin Barry ; months later he was was captured while on active service outside the entrance of Monk’s bakery in Dublin and executed by the British – the first republican to be executed since the 1916 Easter Rising.
Ulster loyalism displayed its most belligerent face this year as violence at Belfast’s Holy Cross School made international headlines.
But away from the spotlight, working-class Protestant communities are themselves divided, dispirited and slipping into crisis.
By Niall Stanage.
From ‘Magill’ magazine, Annual 2002.
Glenbryn housing estate, like many unionist working-class neighbourhoods, is succumbing to gradual but inexorable depopulation.
Two nearby schools have closed in recent years, neither having enrolled enough pupils to justify its existence. Since the current period of intercommunal strife first flared early this year, 12 homes on the 212-house estate have become vacant. But no statistics can properly illustrate the extent to which loyalism seems on the brink of psychological disintegration. At the outset of the peace process, republican strategists predicted that the unionist community would soon begin to fracture.
In the absence of an armed IRA campaign, they believed, some unionists would be keen to compromise with their traditional enemies, others would remain implacably opposed, and the resultant schism would provoke serious and unstinting internal crises. So it came to pass.
But while the divisions in mainstream parliamentary unionism manifest themselves in undignified scuffles in Stormont’s marble halls, it is within working-class loyalism that the bitterness and disillusionment runs deepest… (MORE LATER.)
BODENSTOWN SUNDAY 2022.
“To subvert the tyranny of our execrable government, to break the connection with England, the never-failing source of all our political evils and to assert the independence of my country – these were my objectives. To unite the whole people of Ireland, to abolish the memory of all past dissensions, and to substitute the common name of Irishman in place of the denominations of Protestant, Catholic and Dissenter – these were my means…” – Theobald Wolfe Tone.
The annual commemoration to the grave of Wolfe Tone will take place this year on Sunday, June 12th, 2022, assembling at the Crossroads below Bodenstown Churchyard, County Kildare, at 2.30pm. This commemoration has been organised by Republican Sinn Féin/Sinn Féin Poblachtach.
“Theobald Wolfe Tone was born on June 20, 1763 – the exact time and date of his death are unknown. Wolfe Tone was sentenced to death on November 10th, 1798 ; on November 11th he was informed by his gaolers that he would be publicly hanged on the following day, Monday, at one o’clock.
It is generally accepted that Wolfe Tone died on November 19, 1798 ; in fact, he could have been murdered at any time during the previous week, and there is no doubt, and none of us should be in any doubt, of his murder by British Crown agents. It is time now, once and for all, to bury the lie that Wolfe Tone took his own life.
These false stories were put out at the time not just to cover up the murder but also as black propaganda to denigrate Tone and the Cause he cherished with all his being. The proof of their successes in trying to destroy Wolfe Tone’s character is still evident today…” (from here.)
SUNDAY, 12TH JUNE 2022, 2.30PM : ASSEMBLE AT THE CROSSROADS BELOW BODENSTOWN CHURCHYARD, COUNTY KILDARE.
From ‘The United Irishman’ newspaper, March, 1955.
Kerry GAA Convention took a very practical step towards the Gaedhilg revival when delegates decided last month that the business of every second meeting of the new County Board would be conducted in Gaedhilg. Appropriately enough, the motion was proposed by Club na bPiarsach in Dingle, County Kerry.
‘POPPY DAY £13,000’.
An indication of the roots which the British Legion has in Ireland can be gleaned from the fact that in the Twenty-Six Counties a total of over £13,000 – the highest amount ever – was realised on ‘Remembrance Day’ by the sale of Poppies.
It would be interesting to compare this sum, raised for dependants of ex-British soldiers, with the sum raised for the dependants of the republican prisoners.
(END of ‘Gaelic Revival’ and ‘Poppy Day – £13,000’ ; NEXT -‘GAA Support’, from the same source.)
ON THIS DATE (1ST JUNE) IN…
‘During the Irish Rebellion of 1798, the Battle of Bunclody, or Newtownbarry as it is called at the time, takes place on June 1, 1798 when a force of some 5,000 rebels led by Catholic priest Fr. Mogue Kearns, attack the garrison at Bunclody as part of the Wexford rebels campaign against border garrisons.
The garrison is forewarned of the approaching rebels and have prepared defensive outposts facing the rebel line of advance. The rebel army occupies high ground to the west and stations an artillery piece, captured in their victory over the military at the Battle of Three Rocks, facing the approaches to town. As the bulk of the rebel army forms for the attack, their gunners open an accurate fire on the exposed lines of soldiers who retreat into the cover of the town…’ (from here.)
‘We took Camolin and Enniscorthy,
And Wexford storming drove out our foes;
‘Twas at Sliabh Coillte our pikes were reeking
with crimson stream of the beaten Yeos…’
On the 1st June, 1919, Eamon de Valera began his ‘American Tour’ to raise money and support for the IRA’s armed campaign against the British political and military presence in Ireland, and to gain political recognition from Washington for the Irish Republic.
However, in 1926, he was working hand-in-glove with the British against the Irish republican campaign and he and his fellow Free Staters were on another ‘American Tour’, but this time it was to try and stop US money and support going to the Republican Movement.
‘But we will be told that Mr. de Valera did not accept the surrender in 1922. No, maybe not, though recent speeches make even that doubtful. What is fact is that he has worked the Free State according to the rules laid down by the British, for many more years than anyone else. The very fact that some people still imagine him to be a republican make him a much more effective instrument for carrying out British policy in Ireland than any of the first Free Staters…’ – from ‘The United Irishman’ newspaper, November 1954.
On the 1st June, 1920, the IRA attacked four enemy barracks in three counties.
In Cork, RIC barracks in Blarney and in Carrigadrohid were attacked and damaged to the extent that they were unusable. The Blarney barracks would have been destroyed outright had a dynamite bomb done its job properly, but the explosion failed to make a breach in the wall of the building, but did render it too dangerous to be inhabited. About 35 ‘dissidents’ took part in that operation.
The attack on the barracks in Carrigadrohid led to its evacuation, and it, and the Blarney building, were then destroyed by the IRA.
Liam Pilkington led an attack on Fivemilebourne RIC barracks in North Leitrim which forced the RIC to leave the building, which was then destroyed, and Hugh Halfpenny (who later joined the Free State ‘Garda Síochána’) and Roger McCorley (who was later to offer his services to the Free Staters) were in command of an IRA unit, consisting of about 200 fighters, which attacked the RIC barracks in Crossgar, in County Down ; after a two-hour assault on the building (the gelignite malfunctioned) the IRA withdrew from the area, leaving behind a damaged barracks, frightened RIC members and a badly wounded RIC sergeant.
The British ‘justice system’ in Ireland began to collapse in parts of Ireland on the 1st June, 1920, when the IRA brought pressure to bear on those operating that system.
Westminster’s ‘Courts of Assize’ in Ireland failed across the south and west of the country, and trials by jury could not be held because potential jurors refused to participate. The collapse of the court system demoralised the RIC and many members left the grouping.
The edition of the ‘An t-Oglaigh’ (pictured, an IRA publication) which was published on the 1st June, 1920 (Number 12, Volume 2), stated – “It is our duty to make our guerrilla warfare against the enemy still more intense and menacing; to give his forces not a moment’s ease or rest in any part of the country.
This line of action has been followed out to a considerable extent, though not as widespread a manner as it should. It still remains our objective…large tracts of country have been abandoned by the enemy forces and the abandoned barracks and other strongholds have been destroyed by our troops…had all the Brigades been equally efficient and equally active, the enemy’s hold on the country today would be even more precarious than it is..”
Today, due to some Irish men and women – ‘service providers’ – in Leinster House and Stormont, “the enemy’s hold” has been strengthened.
On the 1st June, 1920, RIC member Daniel Crowley (‘Service Number 68895’) resigned from that grouping in protest against the treatment of Sinn Féin members by the Black and Tans and, later, he gave evidence to the ‘American Commission on Conditions in Ireland’.
The RIC then claimed that he had been dismissed ‘from the Force’ on the 17th June that year ; a face-saving exercise.
Also in that same month, another RIC member resigned ; Daniel O’Suillivan (31), a Limerick man with 12 years ‘service to the Empire’, was home on leave when a number of armed IRA men burst into his house, which he shared with his mother, and told him to resign or he would be shot.
RIC ‘Constable’ Crowley refused and told the men what they could do with themselves, so he was jumped on and was in the process of being taken out of the house when his mother tried to intervene but the poor woman fainted in the hallway.
Mr Crowley then changed his mind and signed a letter stating that he would resign from the RIC “on account of my mother’s health”, which he did. His mother’s health improved, as well as his own.
On the evening of the 1st June, 1921, RIC member Joseph C. Holman (21), from Sussex in England, who had joined that grouping the previous November, was stationed at Kilworth RIC Barracks in County Cork.
He was out for a walk with his girlfriend in the village of Killally, about a half-a-mile from the barracks, when he was shot dead
On the 1st June, 1921, an RIC bicycle patrol going from Castlemaine to Milltown, in County Kerry, was ambushed by IRA men from the Kerry No. 1 Brigade Flying Column (under Tadgh Brosnan) and men from the 3rd Battalion (under Tom O’Connor), comprising about 20 fighters altogether.
The IRA Unit were poorly armed, but were expecting a delivery of at least five more rifles imminently ; when they began the attack, most of them were armed with shotguns, one of them had a rifle and another man was armed with a carbine. They opened fire on the RIC members and, not long after they had done so, five more rifles were delivered to the scene for them.
Five RIC members were killed, including a sergeant (who was badly wounded and died later) and a ‘District Inspector’ : their colleagues named them as Michael McCaughey (the ‘DI’), (sergeant) James Collery, Joseph Cooney, John McCormack and John Quirk.
The IRA liberated 8 rifles, 6 revolvers and a quantity of ammunition from the dead men, and only suffered one injury themselves, a man named Jerry Myles, who was wounded by enemy fire.
Michael Lynch, a Dublin man, worked as a labourer but joined the Free State Army (‘Service Number 11541/34993’) soon after it was spawned in 1922, and was stationed with the ‘Railway Protection and Maintenance Corps’.
He was on duty at Loo Bridge, Glenfisk, in County Kerry, on the 1st June, 1923, when he discharged his own rifle and died from the wound.
“My fellow Americans, I am pleased to tell you I just signed legislation which outlaws Russia forever. The bombing begins in five minutes…” – then US President, Ronald Reagan, telling a ‘joke’. As a politician, he was more of a joke than a joker.
On the 1st June, 1984, he arrived in Shannon Airport at the start of a four-day publicity tour in this State. In 2015, we posted an article on the man, which you can read here, ’cause he’s just not worth the time it would take us to post it again!
That’s it for this blog post ; we should be back next Wednesday, 8th June 2022. I’ve also been known to say a few words on ‘Facebook’ and ‘Twitter’, so gimme a shout there, if ya can. Or maybe not, and if you’re gonna be like that, please yerself..!
Thanks for the visit, and for reading.
Sharon and the team.