ON THIS DATE (5TH OCTOBER) 39 YEARS AGO : BRITISH DIPLOCK ‘JUSTICE’ FURTHER EXPOSED.
On this date – 5th October – in 1983, British ‘Lord Chief Justice’ Robert Lynd Erskine Lowry, during a ‘trial’ based on the ‘word’ of an IRA informer, had no choice but to dismiss part of the tout’s so-called ‘evidence’, stating that he found same “..so unsatisfactory and inconsistent that I could not contemplate allowing myself, as a tribunal of fact, to say that guilt has been proved beyond a reasonable doubt…”
The background to the above is as follows : even by North of Ireland standards, where dramatic political developments have a tendency to follow one another with unnerving rapidity, October 1983 and the weeks that followed was an unusually active period in the psychological warfare between the British government and the republican struggle that continues to focus around the use of paid perjurers.
It was a month which, at least in terms of propaganda, republicans won on points – but it also heavily underlined the British government’s commitment to the perjurer strategy in the face of mounting opposition. The retractions by Robert Lean (Belfast) and Patrick McGurk [mentioned here] (Dungannon) of their incriminating statements against a total of 37 people accused of republican activities, by Lean on October 19th and by McGurk on October 24th, was a crushing embarrassment to the RUC. Robert Lean, in particular, had been portrayed in ‘leaks’ to a sensationalist media to be the IRA’s No.2 in Belfast, and in a classic exercise in ‘trial by media’ the RUC claimed that his evidence had secured the imprisonment of the IRA’s Chief of Staff and its Belfast Brigade Officer Commanding ; both of the individuals against whom these claims had been made were among those released two days after Lean’s retraction.
Patrick McGurk’s retraction a few days later was equally damaging to the image cultivated by the RUC around its use of perjurers. He had implicated nine Dungannon men as far back as February 1982, five of whom had been held on remand for twenty months – the longest remand period involved in any of the perjurer cases. On September 20th 1982, the RUC, apparently doubtful that Patrick McGurk would go through with his ‘evidence’ if produced in court, instead invoked the obsolete ‘Bill of Indictment’ to by-pass the preliminary enquiry stage of the case against the nine accused.
This meant that, until his return to Dungannon on Wednesday 26th October, Patrick McGurk had been held incommunicado, without access to family or friends, throughout the 20-month period. If, as seems to be the case, Patrick McGurk was unwilling to testify but was prevented by the RUC from retracting and prevented from contacting his family, it makes a nonsense of RUC assertions that – once having been given immunity from prosecution – their perjurers (or ‘converted terrorists’ in RUC jargon!) are ‘free agents’ voluntarily in protective custody. Not surprisingly, some of the defendants in the McGurk case are said to be considering suing the RUC for wrongful imprisonment.
The Robert Lean (pictured) episode, too, has gone a long way to publicly undermining propaganda about ‘converted terrorists’ and ‘free agents’ : not only did Robert Lean feel so unfree that he felt it necessary to escape from ‘protective custody’ in Palace Barracks, Hollywood, County Down, by climbing out of a window and stealing the car of his RUC ‘minder’ but, on leaving a press conference in West Belfast the following afternoon, he was immediately arrested under Section 12 and held in Castlereagh for a further seven days!
Apparently, the RUC seriously intended to charge him with a killing on ‘new evidence’ obtained from the perjurer, William Skelly (named here), who had originally implicated Robert Lean, in a revenge act for his retraction, but the RUC finally changed their minds. It is highly improbable that the (British) Crown Prosecutor could have persuaded even a Diplock Court that the informer William Skelly had forgotten this ‘evidence’ until after Robert Lean retracted, and then miraculously remembered it!
The inference that the RUC had been aware of ‘evidence’ linking Robert Lean to a killing at the outset, but had suppressed it in order to do a ‘deal’ with him, and so imprison prominent republicans, would have been unavoidable. Most damaging of all from the RUC’s viewpoint was Robert Lean’s assertion that his ‘deal’ for immunity was to sign statements already prepared by the RUC incriminating specific individuals wanted ‘out of the way’ by them. Top of the list was Gerry Adams, but it seems the RUC were unable to charge him because Robert Lean refused to co-operate with a face-to-face confrontation.
On their release, two of those actually imprisoned on Lean’s statements – Edward Carmichael and Ivor Bell (both men referenced here) – confirmed that they had also been offered immunity if they would incriminate Sinn Féin elected representatives, Adams, Danny Morrison and Martin Mcguinness. Additionally, Edward Carmichael had been offered £300,000 and Ivor Bell was told to “..name my own figure..” The RUC were not having a one-hundred per cent success rate with their informer/perjurer strategy, but they were not prepared to give up on it.
But if the RUC’s optimism for the potential of their perjurer strategy has been tempered by a series of retractions in recent months – Walter McCrory (Derry), Charles Dillon (County Derry), Robert Lean and Patrick McGurk – and if they have been forced to the realisation that it will continue to be an imperfect strategy, with perjurers as much subject to the persuasion of the nationalist community’s abhorrence of their actions as they are to RUC threats and inducements, nevertheless the third major event in this momentous month ensured the continued successful use of paid perjurers as a means of securing convictions.
It was an event that marked a further and fundamental diminishing in the standard of evidence required in Diplock Courts for conviction : (British) Lord Chief Justice Lowry’s sentencing of seven men on IRA charges, in Belfast Crown Court, on Wednesday 26th October, on the uncorroborated evidence of Kevin McGrady, was incredible even by Diplock ‘standards’.
Three weeks earlier, on October 5th 1983 – 39 years ago on this date – he had released two of the ten defendants and thrown out 13 of the original 45 charges (including charges of murder), saying that in respect of those he found Kevin McGrady’s evidence “…so unsatisfactory and inconsistent that I could not contemplate allowing myself, as a tribunal of fact, to say that guilt has been proved beyond a reasonable doubt..” yet, in his final summation on the 25th of that month – despite acknowledging that McGrady’s evidence had contained “..some glaring absurdities..” and was “..contradictory, bizarre and in some respects incredible..” – and, despite finding the remaining eight defendants innocent of a further 19 charges, Lowry nonetheless returned verdicts of guilty against seven of them on the remaining 13 charges!
In one case, the former Sinn Féin National Organiser, Jim Gibney (then 28 years of age), was sentenced to terms of 12 years and 5 years on two charges, even though he was cleared of no less than 20 other charges on Kevin MGrady’s “bizarre” ‘evidence’!
British ‘Lord Chief Justice’ Lowry rubbed salt into the wounds of incredulity by using his summation for the purposes of a policy statement on the use of perjurers, in which he formally signalled the willingness of the northern judiciary to accept uncorroborated evidence of an ‘accomplice witness’ as the sole basis for a conviction.
Arguing that the judiciary was, and remained, independent of the (Westminster) ‘Northern Ireland’ Office and was not in any form of collusion, Lowry stated – “The resort to supergrasses has been described by some people as a method of convicting suspected terrorists. But the expression ‘method of conviction’ is a complete misnomer, since it is likely to give the impression that the Executive and Judges are together implementing a trial process with the joint object of convicting and imprisoning suspects.
It is for the Executive to prosecute a case if, on the available evidence, that seems to be the right course. But the function of the Judges, acting quite independently, has not altered ; it is simply to decide whether or not in any individual case the allegations of the prosecutor have been proved.”
Two days before Lowry made that statement, the British Attorney-General, Sir Michael Havers (forever tainted, and rightly so, by his involvement in the ‘Guildford Four’ case), had spoken about the “financial arrangements” made with those informers.
Havers, in a statement obviously timed to coincide with British Chief Justice Lowry’s comments in the wake of the Robert Lean/Patrick McGurk affair, also defended the ‘independence’ of the judiciary – but added, in response to loyalist criticisms of the system, that in future all “financial arrangements (made with) accomplice witnesses” would be disclosed to defence counsels.
The utter worthlessness of this ‘concession’ lies of course in the fact that the RUC deny, and will continue to deny, that cash bribes – such as Edward Carmichael’s offer from the British of £300,000 – are made to perjurers in the first place. Havers’ ‘sincerity’ should be judged in the light of his flagrant dishonesty in saying that the practice surrounding the use of “accomplice witnesses” was identical in England, Scotland and Wales with its use in the North of Ireland!
The Lowry verdict in the McGrady trial was a crucial one for the future of the perjurer strategy ; although the principle of accepting uncorroborated perjurer evidence had earlier been accepted by the judiciary in the UVF Joe Bennett (referenced here) trial which ended on April 11th 1983 with convictions for 14 of the 16 accused, and in the Christopher Black trial in which Judge Basil Kelly convicted 35 of the 38 defendants on August 5th.
Both judges in these cases had gone to considerable lengths to emphasise the ‘credibility’ of informers Bennett and Black and the general consistency “in all important respects” of their testimony. While this was incredible enough, the fact that Lowry convicted on McGrady’s ‘evidence’, which was substantially bizarre, contradictory and unsatisfactory, is an indication that the judiciary in the North of Ireland has fallen completely into line, contrary to Lowry’s denial, with the political objective of securing convictions, and has cynically redefined even the previously low standards regarding acceptable evidence.
British judges in the North of Ireland were defending the use of informers to obtain convictions at the same time as that perjurer system had started to come under attack from a variety of directions, while among the nationalist community itself – buoyed by the retractions and less open than it initially was to demoralisation over the issue (since it has seen the IRA’s continued ability to inflict losses on the British) – there have been the unmistakable signs of a ‘fight back’.
The first clear example of this was the mass rally at Beechmount Avenue in West Belfast on September 11th, 1983, which announced the holding of an open conference in Dungannon on October 2nd 1983 to establish a broad-based committee on the non-exclusive lines of the National H-Block/Armagh Committee established during the hunger-strikes of 1981.
Up until that point public protest action on the perjurer issue had mainly been confined to small and isolated groups, such as ‘Relatives For Justice’ and ‘Campaign Against The Show Trials’ (CAST), which, although active, had drawn support primarily from relatives of the victims – in much the same way as the ‘Relatives Action Committee’ had campaigned between 1976-79 on the H-Blocks.
The Dungannon conference announced the setting up of a new ‘umbrella’ organisation, the ‘Stop the Show Trials Campaign’, calling for an end to the use of perjurers, an end to show trials and the release of all the sentenced and remanded victims of perjurers. It voted to mount a campaign of political opposition to the perjurer system, at the same time embracing those sections of the community whose opposition to the use of perjurers is based on humanitarian or civil liberties motives and who endorse the campaign’s central demands.
It is inevitable that the campaign structure, and mobilisations, will focus heavily on the North, though it is envisaged that support groups will be established in the 26 Counties and abroad. However, not all Irish nationalists were opposed to the perjurer system – to date, the response on the perjurer issue from sections of the catholic establishment has been a muted one, explicable by their obvious ambivalence to a strategy which although seriously eroding the already blackened ‘judicial process’ is clearly seen to be aimed at undermining the political advance of republicanism – a shared objective, after all, with the catholic hierarchy and the SDLP.
In response to such a taunt by West Belfast MP Gerry Adams on September 11th 1983, SDLP spokesperson Seamus Mallon retorted that the use of perjurers was ‘law bending’ but the thrust of his attack was aimed not at the British but at Sinn Féin and republican resistance.
On September 28th 1983, however, the SDLP met the ‘Relatives for Justice’ group and condemned the use of perjurers – though they have maintained a low profile on the issue since then.
And what of the Catholic church on the issue? They have maintained a low profile on that subject, with the exception of Dr. Edward Daly, Bishop of Derry, and a handful of priests, who have condemned the use of perjurers. Bishop Cahal Daly, previously so vocal on political issues, has adopted a studious silence. For his part, Dungannon priest Fr. Denis Faul, having failed to limit the opposition to perjurers to relatives (whose emotions, his experience during the hunger-strikes leads him to believe, can, at critical points, be exploited against republicans) has concentrated much of his efforts on vitriolic attacks on Sinn Féin – on one occasion going as far as to allege that Sinn Féin were ‘using’ the perjurer campaign to finance their involvement in the EEC elections!
Also ranged against the use of perjurers have been the SDLP-controlled Derry Council, the Belfast and District Trades Council and a number of British MP’s and British and American legal figures. British Labour MP, Martin Flannery, has said that the use of perjurers is bringing “the whole of the British system of justice into disrepute. It is the kind of thing that Hitler and company engaged in..” The use of paid perjurers by Westminster was welcomed by some Unionists but condemned by others – sometimes both ‘pro’ and ‘anti’ camps were in the same political party.
While so far the real pressure exerted within the nationalist community on the perjurer system has been largely ‘internal’ (perjurers retracting in response to their families’ efforts), since the Stormont administration will only feel pressurised by ‘external’ political pressure from nationalists when the campaign achieves its full impetus, there is undoubtedly strong concern among sections of the loyalist community too, which may eventually cause headaches for the British government.
That concern stems, obviously enough, not from any opposition to the clinging of the northern judiciary to the coat-tails of Stormont, which after all is unionist policy, but from the increasingly heavy losses which perjurers are inflicting on loyalist paramilitary groups, and the spin-off effect which this undoubtedly has on loyalist political parties, particularly the DUP. Although the ‘Official Unionist Party’ has taken a strong line in support of paid perjurers under their ‘law and order’ spokesperson, Edgar Graham, individual members of the ‘OUP’ including John Carson, have identified themselves with a campaign of opposition.
In April of this year (1983), DUP leader Ian Paisley condemned the use of perjurers as ‘undermining the rule of law’ and he specifically opposed the granting of immunity to perjurers. Immediately after the informer Robert Lean’s ‘evidence’ began to lead to the arrest of several prominent republicans, the DUP appeared to modify its stance considerably when leading spokespersons Peter Robinson and Jim Allister – at a press conference on September 13th, from which, strangely, Ian Paisley was absent – supported the use of uncorroborated evidence and only opposed the granting of total immunity, implying that perjurers should instead be given heavily reduced sentences for their own admitted involvement.
Significantly, in a ‘Panorama’ programme screened on BBC 1 television on October 24th – after Robert Lean’s retraction – Ian Paisley again appeared to resolutely oppose the use of perjurers : more than most politicians, he, arguably, has a great deal to lose from future loyalist perjurers bringing up parts of his past life!
For loyalists, under greater pressure from the judiciary than for a long time, the use of paid perjurers must be causing a further crisis of identity and resulting in a heavy demoralisation. But for nationalists, existing under a constant regime of repression, the situation is clearer-cut and the option a simple one – resistance.
With scores of nationalists and republicans still imprisoned on the ‘word’ of paid perjurers, there is certainly no room for complacency despite recent retractions and the ever-present hope of more, but there is now a will and an ability to mobilise on the issue in the nationalist community that was not fully there before.
And, finally, ‘Establishment’ policy in relation to touts has not changed over the decades, whether in the Occupied Six Counties or the Free State ; this tout, for example, was a member of an ‘Establishment’ Leinster House-based political party which once condemned touts and the ‘policy of touting’. A so-called ‘republican’ (!) poacher-turned-State poacher, if you like!
(This is an edited version of a piece we first posted here in 2005.)
‘TOMÁS MacCURTAIN COMMEMORATION…’
From ‘The United Irishman’ newspaper, April 1955.
In his oration, Domhnall O Cathain said –
“The Movement gained momentum ; slowly but surely, progress was reported in every part of Ireland, until now we were no longer on the defensive.
The sick and bleeding body of the separatist movement was convalescent – groggy and weak after after absorbing intense punishment but nevertheless convalescent, on its feet and slowly gaining strength. Then came the wonderful stimulant.
The injection, the vitamins necessary to the ailing body were provided in a quick daylight raid on Armagh Barracks and a short sharp battle on the square of Omagh Barracks. The separatists had again reached the ear of the people.
The break that had been waited for and hoped for and prayed for had come. Out of the depths of darkness rang the voice of a reawakened resurgent Ireland…”
ON THIS DATE (5TH OCTOBER) 48 YEARS AGO : GUILDFORD EXPLOSIONS AND TRAVESTY.
The Guildford pub bombings occurred on the 5th October 1974 – 48 years ago on this date – when the IRA detonated two 6-pound (2.7-kilogram) gelignite bombs at two pubs in Guildford, Surrey, in England.
The pubs – the ‘Horse and Groom’ and the ‘Seven Stars’ – were targeted because they were popular with British Army personnel stationed at Pirbright barracks. Four soldiers and one civilian were killed and sixty-five people were wounded.
On the 22nd October, 1975, Patrick Armstrong, Gerard Conlon, Paul Hill, and Carole Richardson (who became known as the ‘Guildford Four’) were found guilty at the Old Bailey in London of causing explosions in that city in October 1974, and all four were sentenced to life imprisonment. Following an appeal, the four were finally released on the 19th October, 1989, after the court of appeal decided that the ‘confessions’ had been fabricated by the police.
In a linked case, members of the Maguire family, the ‘Maguire Seven’, were convicted on the 3rd March, 1976, of possession of explosives (even though no explosives were found) and some served 10 years in prison before the convictions were overturned.
Judith Ward, another innocent person who sampled British ‘justice’, wrote a book- ‘Ambushed ; My Story’, which 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 Marie Maguire, a mother of 5 children, was menstruating heavily and denied all toiletries for a week and was beaten senseless. Carole Richardson, who didn’t even know she was pregnant, miscarried in Brixton Prison days after her arrest.
Westminster didn’t care who was found ‘guilty’ once they satisfied the gutter press and it’s readership that ‘justice had been served’, and they continue with that policy to this day – ‘The Craigavon Two’, Brendan McConville and John-Paul Wootton, are the ‘Guildford/Birmingham’ etc examples of ‘British justice’ in Ireland today.
ON THIS DATE (5TH OCTOBER) 15 YEARS AGO : FUNERAL MASS HELD FOR IRISH REPUBLICAN ICON.
Dan Keating (pictured), from Ballygamboon, Castlemaine, County Kerry, celebrating his 105th birthday with members of Republican Sinn Féin at Gally’s Bar and Restaurant, Tralee, County Kerry, on the 2nd January 2007.
DAN Keating was born in 1902 in the townland of Ballygamboon, Castlemaine, Co Kerry.
In 1917, he went to work in Tralee at Jerry McSweeney’s Grocery, Bar and Bakery. Jerry McSweeney’s uncle, Richard Laide, was shot in the attack on Gortalea barracks which was the first barracks to be attacked in Ireland.
Dan joined the Fianna in Tralee in 1918 and about two years later he joined the Irish Republican Army. Others to join at that time were Gerry Moyles, Donnchadh Donoghue, Tommy Vale, John Riordan (Kerry All-Ireland footballer), Jerry O’Connor (better known as ‘Uncy’), Matt Moroney and Paddy and Billy Griffin.
Dan met a soldier who used to frequent the bar where he worked and during conversations procured a rifle from him, which was then handed over to Johnny O’Connor of the Farmers’ Bridge unit. Dan was later to join this unit which included men of the calibre of Johnny Duggan, Johnny O’Connor, Timmy Galvin, Moss Galvin, Jack Corkery, Jim Ryle, Mick Hogan and Jamesy Whiston.
This unit was very active from 1920 to 1924 and many of its members took part in the Headford ambush which claimed the lives of approximately 20 British soldiers. Volunteers Danny Allman and Jimmy Baily also lost their lives at Headford.
Dan took part in the ambush at Castlemaine in which eight RIC and Black-and-Tans were killed. Gerry Moyles was severely injured in this encounter. The last ambush in Kerry took place in Castleisland on the night before the Truce and Dan also participated in this. Four RIC members were killed in this action and Volunteers Jack Shanahan, Jack Prenderville, John McMahon and John Flynn also lost their lives.
In 1922 Dan was transferred to a unit in Tralee which was commanded by Tommy Barton of Ballyroe when they occupied Ballymullen barracks for a period of three months, and also took part in the attack on Listowel barracks, now occupied by the Free Staters, in which one Free Stater was shot dead.
In Limerick, Dan, along with comrades from Kerry, fought the Free State troops over a period of ten days – republican Volunteers Patrick Foran, Charlie O’Hanlon and Tom McLoughlin lost their lives there, then Dan was sent to Tipperary to instruct Gerry Moyles to return to Kilmallock but on the way they were surrounded by Free Staters. After a battle at Two Mile Bridge, Dan and his comrades were taken prisoner and held in Thurles barracks for two days before being conveyed to Portlaoise jail where he was held for six months.
This was to be the first of many times Dan was interned by the Free State. During this period in Portlaoise the jail was burned and Volunteer Paddy Hickey from Dublin was shot dead. Dan was then transferred to the Curragh Internment Camp and was held there until March 1923. A Free State soldier named Bergin from Nenagh, who became friendly with the republican prisoners and acted as a courier to republicans on the outside, was executed by the Staters.
Dan was charged with possession of a shotgun in 1930 and was issued a summons but did not attend court and was fined £1. In the true republican tradition he refused to pay and was sent to Limerick and held for one week. During a court case in Tralee involving Johnny O’Connor and Mick Kennedy, in which they refused to recognise the court, their supporters in the courthouse cheered loudly and when things died down the judge ordered Dan Keating to be brought up before him and gave him three months for contempt.
Dan was jailed in Cork with Johnny O’Connor but after a hunger strike by Johnny both were released after three weeks. The next time Dan was interned was after O’Duffy’s visit to Tralee ; he was sentenced to six months in Arbour Hill. Dan was later captured in Carrigans in Clonmel by a policeman who had previously arrested him in Tralee and was taken first to Thurles and from there to the Curragh where he was held for three years and six months.
In this period the camp was burned and Barney Casey from Longford was shot dead. Dan was also on active service in England during the early 1940s.
He returned to work in Dublin and operated as a barman in the Eagle House, James Street, the Cornet and the Kilmardenny public houses. His other great interest was Gaelic games, and indeed between football and hurling he has attended more than 140 All-Ireland senior finals including replays, which must be a record in itself.
When Dan retired he returned to Kerry in 1978 and resided at Ballygamboon, Castlemaine. In 2004, Dan Keating replaced George Harrison of Mayo and New York as the fourth Patron of Sinn Féin Poblachtach since 1986, following in the footsteps of such illustrious republicans as Comdt-General Tom Maguire and Michael Flannery of Tipperary and New York. During his long, healthy and adventurous lifetime Dan has seen many splits and deviations from republican principles, but he remained loyal and true to the end.
Dan Keating, born on January 2nd 1902, died in Tralee on October 2nd, 2007 – 105 years of age – after a short illness. His funeral mass was held on this date – 5th October – 15 years ago, in Kiltallagh Church, Castlemaine, in Kerry.
I measc Laochra na nGael go raibh sé.
‘THE BRITISH STORY’.
Roy Foster (pictured) in the British media.
By Barra Ó Séaghdha.
From ‘Magill’ Annual, 2002.
Even as a schoolboy, Roy Foster did not subscribe to official versions of Irish history.
He remembers exam papers where the answers were implicitly flagging up the liberationist struggle ; fortunately, his history teacher was a Quaker, a sceptic, so Foster “got the idea that there wasn’t one, indivisible story.”
His new book shows how fact and myth are confused in Ireland and analyses “how nostalgia rather than reality shapes a false, if comforting, understanding of past events.”
This is how Tim Teenan of the ‘Times’ of London introduces “the fiery Roy Foster” in an entirely adulatory interview headed ‘Greentinted spectacles of Irish history’. Can we look to ‘The Guardian’s’ Jonathan Freedland for something a little more bracing…?
‘FORTH HIS BANNERS GO…’
Jer O’Leary (pictured) has become bannermaker to the radical and labour movement. Brian Trench reports on the growing recognition of his art.
From ‘Magill’ magazine, May 1987.
Starting by designing and executing banners for his own union, the ITGWU, Jer O’Leary has since been commissioned by all of the general unions and by a number of the white-collar and craft unions to do banners for them too.
He has also designed banners for soccer clubs and is proud that a banner of his – for the Oliver Plunkett Hurling and Football Club in Phibsboro, north Dublin – won a prize in a competition at Croke Park. He was proud, too, when a banner commissioned by the ‘Irish Anti-Apartheid Movement’ to mark the 75th anniversary of the ‘African National Congress’ (ANC) was presented in Dublin’s Mansion House last December to an executive member of the ‘ANC’.
The commissions he has on hand currently have come from a Newry cumann of (P) Sinn Féin and from playwright John Arden, for a forthcoming theatre production…
ON THIS DATE (5TH OCTOBER) IN…
On the 18th November, 1916, ‘The Cork Examiner’ newspaper carried the following report –
‘Private Michael Burke, Irish Guards, killed in France October 5th, 1916. He had volunteered from the RIC, in which he had served nearly four years in Killorglin and Cahirdaniel, Co. Kerry. He joined the colours at the outbreak of the war. He was youngest son of the late John Burke, Scart, Ardfinnan, Co. Tipperary.’
Sad that he should die ‘in the service’ of a foreign ’empire’, whether in Ireland or elsewhere.
On Tuesday evening, 5th October 1920, Volunteers from different parts of County Clare met up, as arranged, in the village of Feakle, in County Clare, to finalise the plan for an operation they intended to carry out the next day.
The following morning, they took over the post office and waited for an RIC patrol which they knew would be passing the building and, as the six-man team of British operatives were passing by, one of them, William Stanley, was shot dead, and one of his colleagues, Francis Doherty, was severly wounded, and died from his wounds later.
The IRA men then withdrew from the area.
On the 7th October, 1922, ‘The Northern Whig’ newspaper reported that, on the 5th October, a Mrs Mary Sherlock, who lived on Vulcan Street, in Ballymacarrett, in Belfast, was out shopping on the Newtownards Road when she was shot in the head by a gang who had followed her into a grocery shop in the loyalist area of East Belfast.
It was reported that two revolver shots were fired at her head and the poor woman fell to the ground, bleeding, and died later in hospital.
Two Free State Army Privates, Peter Martin and Patrick Byrne, died on the 5th October 1922, and are both ‘…interred in the area surrounding (Michael) Collins’ Grave in Glasnevin..’
That’s the only information we can find on them ; hope their families, at least, remembers them properly, even if the State doesn’t.
‘The Belfast Telegraph’ newspaper of the 5th October, 1963, carried a report on a Mr John Cecil Wilson, of 420 Oldfield Park Road, Belfast, who was said to be the last surviving RIC man to serve in Belfast.
Mr Wilson (!) was a Carlow man who joined the RIC in 1920 and was first placed ‘in the service of the crown’ in Listowel, in County Kerry and then in Portarlington, on the Offaly/Laois border.
When the RIC was ‘disbanded’ (…more like just got a name change and a different uniform) in 1922, Mr Wilson joined the new grouping, the RUC, and was stationed in Henry Street Barracks in Belfast from 1922 until 1927.
In 1927, he was moved to the Shankill Road and remained there until 1939, when he was placed in the Springfield Road Barracks for a year, then to Brown Square for a year, then to Oldfield Park Barracks from 1941 until 1962.
His final year working for the (half-)crown (1962-1963) was spent in Musgrave Barracks. We’re not sure if he ever made it back to Tom Hanks, even though he got around a good bit…
On the 5th October, 1968, the RUC attacked a group of demonstrators in Derry who were holding a peaceful rally for ‘civil rights’. An estimated 400 people lined up on the street with a further 200 watching from the footpaths.
That British ‘police force’ baton-charged the small parade at Duke Street, in Derry, who were campaigning for five key demands –
one man (sic), one vote,
an end to housing discrimination,
an end to discrimination by public authorities,
the abolition of the ‘B Specials police reserve’ and an end to political gerrymandering.
That was only the second ‘civil rights’ march in the campaign of marches which commenced with 3,000 people marching from Coalisland to Dungannon on the 24th August, 1968. Irish republicans, on the other hand, wanted then – and now – a complete British military and political withdrawal. We never said to Westminster, nor will we – ‘stay if you want, just treat us better’.
On Wednesday, 5th October 1977, Seamus Costello, the founder member and leader of the ‘Irish Republican Socialist Party’ (IRSP), was shot dead near the North Strand, in Dublin. Both the ‘Official Irish Republican Army’ (OIRA) and the ‘Provisional IRA’ denied that they were responsible for the killing.
‘There was an earlier attempt made on Seamus Costello’s life in Waterford on May 7th, 1975 : Costello had spoken at a meeting in the city that night and on his way to the home of one of the organisers, the car in which they were travelling was raked with machine gun fire by a passenger on a motorbike. The motorbike keeled over and it was this which saved Costello’s life at the time.
We have been informed that both men on the motorbike were senior members of the Official IRA in Dublin, who were attached to the GHQ Staff of that organisation. It is believed that the gun used in the attempted murder was later found by Gardai but not identified by them as such…’ – from ‘THUGGERY : THE UGLY FACE OF SINN FEIN THE WORKERS PARTY ; THE MURDER OF SEAMUS COSTELLO’ (‘MAGILL’ magazine , April 1982, covered here.)
On Thursday, 5th October 1978, the three leaders of the ‘Peace People‘ – Betty Williams, Mairead Corrigan, and Ciaran McKeown – announced that they intended to step down from the organisation. This misguided grouping eventually fell apart over finances.
On Friday, 5th October 1979, the British Labour Party conference voted against a resolution calling for a British political and military withdrawal from the six occupied counties of Ireland.
The leadership of the British Labour Party have never been a friend of Irish freedom, as to be so would ostracise them from what they believe to be their place in the political ‘pecking order’ in their country and parliament.
ON THIS DATE (5TH OCTOBER) 14 YEARS AGO : FAIRY TALES IN FAIRYHOUSE!
This a piece we found in our archives from 2008 – and it’s still as relevant today, on this 5th October, as it was then :
MICHAEL COLLINS LOOKS ON AS PARTITION AND CONFLICT ARE SAID BY ‘THE REBELS’ TO BE ‘IN THE PAST..’
(Click here for better image of the so-called ‘Past and Future’ poster.)
One of our regular readers found himself with a few hours to spare on (Sunday) 5th October 2008 (14 years ago on this date) so himself and his Missus headed-out to the County of Meath to have a browse around Fairyhouse Market.
Whilst browsing the hundreds of stalls and units etc they came across a stall operated by Provisional Sinn Féin at which he noticed, incredulously, that not only were they selling framed prints of Free Stater Michael Collins but they had one such framed print located right beside a framed poster which declared that partition in Ireland and the political conflict it feeds are things of the past!
Our reader asked one of the PSF stall holders if they would agree that they were being a wee bit premature in saying that partition and conflict in Ireland are in the past and proceeded to give a brief history lesson to the hapless rep and asked how they could possibly support the notion that partition and the conflict which arises from it can be said ‘to be over’ as this country is still partitioned by Westminster, which maintains an armed, and political, presence here?
The garbled reply was as dense as the framed poster – “But things are a lot better…we’re almost there….the leadership know what they’re doing….things are looking up….” Our man walked away, shaking his head in despair, and wondering how such people can be left in charge of a market stall, never mind how they can ‘claim ownership’ to the best way to resolve the not yet resolved issue of partition and the conflict that arises from it.
Needless to say, our man wasn’t buying it..!
ON THIS DATE (5TH OCTOBER) 101 YEARS AGO : ‘RIC GREASE MONKEYS’ DISRESPECTED!
On the 5th October 1921 – 101 years ago on this date – mechanics working for the RIC on their fleet of weaponised cars etc were promised, in writing, certain terms and conditions, which they were happy with, only to have same removed, in writing, two days later!
Obviously, they objected to having been treated in that manner, and ‘upped their game’ when their actual yearly contracts of employment were interfered with by their management in a manner that reduced them to ’employees on a weekly contract’.
A political rep raised the issue for them in Westminster on the 20th February 1922 –
“As regards these constable mechanics, they were originally engaged to serve on a yearly contract. In a question I pointed out to the Chief Secretary that these men were engaged on a yearly contract, that it was subsequently modified into a monthly contract, and finally into a weekly contract, and he denied that that was the case.
I have chapter and verse here for my statement. I have in my hand the notices calling for recruits and each one states that it is a yearly contract. It says :
‘Here is a job for you at good pay. Are you a motor driver or a mechanic? If so, join the transport section of the Royal Irish Constabulary.’
Then follow the conditions offered upon a yearly contract. These men were serving on a yearly contract and they have been discharged with a sum of £10 as a gratuity. Some of them were actually sent off on the date on which their contract expired without any notice whatever. Some of them were sent away from Dublin and were told that they would have to pay their own passage money home, although I know that that matter has been put right since.
That is how they started. Last June, 30 were treated in that way. They were told to find their way back to England and pay their fares themselves. The matter was raised in this House. I have a paper signed by three sergeants and four constables, dated the 14th November, stating that on the preceding day they were notified that their services were no longer required and that their duty would cease from that date. They were also told to find their way home without their passages being paid.
That, surely, is not generous treatment to mete out to these men. These mechanics now have great difficulty in getting work. Some of them were turned out with a bonus of £10 instead of being allowed to take on another year’s engagement at 10s. a day. They find it very difficult to get work in this country. Some complain that even here there is a certain amount of feeling against them in their trade unions because they served in the Royal Irish Constabulary, and it militates against their getting employment.
In the case of these men an extraordinary bungle was made. An Order was issued on the 5th October from Dublin Castle directing county inspectors that temporary mechanics who had completed 12 months’ service should be allowed to draw their bonus and to re-engage for a further 12 months. Some did so re-engage, but two days afterwards another Order was issued cancelling the first one and intimating that for the present no men were to be engaged for a year or any other fixed term, but those who completed their yearly engagement might be retained subject to a month’s notice on either side.
That is bungling and very bad management, and it certainly was not fair to the men. It is a matter which might well be inquired into by the Committee which I have suggested should be set up…”
Typical Brits, politically and militarily. They send you out to get your hands dirty and when you do they don’t wanna know ya…
Thanks for the visit, and for reading!
Sharon and the team.
We won’t be here next Wednesday, 12th October 2022, as some of the adults among us are doing a ‘dry run’ to a staycation venue in Waterford (or maybe Galway!) that the full complement (!) of us – numbering at least 30 people, young and old, male and female – will be descending on (like locusts!) in late October or early November.
We’ll be the ‘advance party’, if you like, to see what location would best suit/be able to handle a sudden influx of about 30 mad, bad and wild Dubs for a period of one week and, even though we know such a place doesn’t exist, we’re gonna impose ourselves somewhere anyway!
See ye on Wednesday, 19th October 2022 (…all goin’ well with the ‘test’, that is..)!