Saturday, 7 December 2013

The Communist Party of Ireland, the ANC and the IRA

The following is copied from the Belfast Telegraph today (7 December 2013).  It relates to contact between the Communist Party of Ireland, the Provisional IRA and the MK [Amkhonto we Sizwe or Spear of the Nation], the military wing of the African National Council in South Africa.
Some details of IRA aid to MK, ANC's military wing were revealed by Kader Asmal, a South African minister, in a biography published in 2011.
While living in exile in Dublin, Mr Asmal was a member of the ANC, but opposed IRA violence and had no links to Sinn Fein.
So, when the ANC asked him to secure military training from the IRA, he turned for help to Mick O'Riordan, leader of the Communist Party of Ireland.
He wrote that after Mr O'Riordan contacted Gerry Adams, IRA explosives experts gave MK militants a fortnight's training at camps in Angola.
IRA members later carried out reconnaissance on south Africa's Sasolburg oil refinery in preparation for an MK attack.
This raises a number of points:
(1) The Communist Party of Northern Ireland and then the Communist Party of Ireland kept a low profile in the years leading up to the Troubles and indeed throughout the Troubles.  They played a significant role in the early years, particularly in the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association, but generally stayed under the radar.  Nevertheless any study of the civil rights movement and the early years of the Troubles must take account of the CPI, including those members who transferred to the Official IRA.
(2) This revelation by Kader Asmal, who also played a role in the civil rights movement, is another very tiny piece in the jigsaw of the Troubles and probably that is how the jigsaw will develop.  As the years go by one little piece after another will emerge.  However many of the pieces will never emerge and will be taken to the grave as more and more of the protagonists die.
(3) Gerry Adams was able to supply IRA explosives experts to the ANC.
(4) While he was in Ireland, Kader Asmal was a member of the ANC and the Irish Anti-Apartheid Movement.  He was not a member of Sinn Fein but he was one of the people involved in the formation of the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association, along with members of Sinn Fein and the CPI.

Friday, 6 December 2013

Murder bid outside Holy Cross

On Thursday night dissident republican gunmen fired at three PSNI vehicles driving up the Crumlin Road.  They used automatic weapons and the vehicles were hit by a number of rounds.  This was the attempted murder of police officers but thankfully none of them was wounded or killed.
It seems that the gunmen fired from within Ardoyne and were hidden behind a wall at Herbert Street, opposite the grounds of the Holy Cross Roman Catholic Church.
There is a certain irony about this terrorist attack.
Republicans, including dissident republicans, complain about traditional Orange tunes being played when loyal order parades pass Roman Catholic churches.  Yet dissident republican gunmen have no problem attempting to murder police officers outside a Roman Catholic church!  Obviously they regard a tune played by a band as a greater offence than attempted murder. 
And Sinn Fein are in no position to moralise on this matter.  During the course of their terrorist campaign the Provisional IRA murdered several people, including Mary Travers, as they were entering or leaving Roman Catholic churches.
The next time that republicans complain about parades passing Roman Catholic churches I am sure someone will remind them that there is a history of republican gunmen attempting to murder people outside Roman Catholic churches.  Surely murder is a more serious matter than music?

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Communist Party of England (Marxist-Leninist) and Communist Party of Ireland (Marxist-Leninist)

Sometimes when I read a news story my mind goes off at a tangent and that is what happened yesterday.
It started with the report of the elderly couple in London who were alleged to have held three women as slaves for around thirty years.  They were named as Aravindan Balakrishnan (76) and his wife Chanda (67).
During the day it emerged that back in the 1970s they had been part of a small Maoist cult, the Workers' Institute of Marxism-Leninism Mao Zedung Thought, which they led and which was formed in 1974 when they were expelled from the larger Communist Party of England (Marxist-Leninist), another Maoist organisation.  Balakrishnan had been a member of the central committee of the CPE (ML).
This was a time when there was a proliferation of extreme left groups, some of them mainstream Marxist, some of them Stalinist, some of them Trotskyite and a few of them Maoist.
The CPE (ML) had a sister organisation, the Communist Party of Ireland (Marxist-Leninist), and they worked together very closely.  For example, on 12 May 1973 the CPE (ML) and the CPI (ML) organised a rally in London.  One of the speakers was David Vipond, an official representative of the CPI (ML) and a report of the rally states that 'after each speech the participants rose to shout enthusiastically “Hail the tenth anniversary of the founding of The Internationalists' and 'Long live the revolutionary spirit of youth and students.' 
Organised Maoism was introduced into Ireland on 9 December 1965 by Hardial Bains, who was working at Trinity College Dublin.  He formed a group known as Internationalists in Ireland and in 1969 they renamed themselves the Irish Communist Movement (Marxist-Leninist).  The group was relaunched on 4 July 1970 as the Communist Party of Ireland (Marxist-Leninist).
Both Maoist organisations, the CPE (ML) and the CPI (ML) supported the terrorist campaign of the Provisional IRA and their slogan was 'British Imperialism Get Out of Ireland!'.  The CPI (ML) even formed the Spirit of Freedom Committee to work with Irish republicans.  Indeed many of the plethora of far-left groups supported the Provos.
On 10 October 1974 the CPI (ML) fielded three candidates in Northern Ireland in the UK General Election.  David Vipond (South Down) secured 152 votes, Alan Evans (Fermanagh-South Tyrone) got 185 votes and between them the three candidates gained a total of 540 votes.  David Vipond also stood in a by-election in Monaghan in November 1973, securing 157 first preference votes.
Other prominent members of the CPI (ML) included John Dowling, Arthur Allen and Carole Reakes
At that time the CPI (ML) published the periodical Red Patriot and for a period of time it devoted many pages to the works of Mao.  However in 1978 there was a split between China and Albania and at that point the CPI (ML) rejected Mao and upheld the writings of the Albanian leader Enver Hoxha.  They also supported the Communist regimes in Vietnam and Cambodia.
In he early 1980s the CPI(ML) was a major force in student politics with Brendan Doris becoming president of the Union of Students in Ireland and Tommy Graham becoming president of the College of Technology (Bolton Street) Students Union.  Graham is now the editor of the journal History Ireland.  After a long period of passivity the CPI (ML) was disbanded in 2003.

The tragic story that has emerged in London will be reported in the media and over time more details of the case will become known but some time in the future I will post rather more about some of the far-left organisations which proliferated in Ireland, north and south of the border, in the 1960s and the early years of the Troubles, as well as their counterparts in Great Britain. 

Friday, 22 November 2013

DUP conference speech 2013 (3)

Building strong and successful communities

Finally, I turn to my commitment to building strong, successful, vibrant communities.  Across Northern Ireland there are some communities that have been consigned to a future of decay and failure.  Yes government, through initiatives such as neighbourhood renewal provides funding but this, I firmly believe, does not tackle the fundamental issues which are at the root of the problem and the approach is often piecemeal. Neighbourhood renewal has some fantastic success stories but for others the problem has just been, at best, kept at bay by such funding. There are those living in such communities who yearn that something – anything is done to make their lives better.  I firmly believe these communities can be turned around. 

At the end of October I announced six areas where we are going to take what for Northern Ireland will be an innovative approach.  These are areas that have been blighted by dereliction and decay, with empty houses that are boarded up and land that lies derelict and undeveloped. These problems drag a community down, becoming magnets for anti-social behaviour and dumping. They blight the lives of the residents, creating despair and they are a lost opportunity.  These same areas suffer from high levels of educational deprivation with many families being economically inactive.  These same areas typically suffer from exploitation from loan sharks and pay day loan companies.  They are in a spiral of decline with the communities dying and no one could be expected to want to move into these areas and set up home.  I want to change this, I want it to involve each of the relevant government departments and I am pleased that ministers across the Executive have responded and nominated lead officials in their respective departments.  Right now local community forums are being established and work is being taken forward by an assigned official from DSD.

Those derelict sites provide an opportunity to address housing need and an opportunity for affordable housing as well as social housing, thereby removing blight providing new homes.  But that is only part of the answer.  We need to think about such areas in a coherent and comprehensive way, looking at opportunities for social economy businesses that can create employment opportunities.

I also want to do something about the very real issue caused by Loan Sharks and Pay Day Loan companies preying on the most vulnerable.  Whilst this is presently a problem largely isolated to larger deprived urban communities, if not dealt with it will quickly spread across Northern Ireland.  We have to do something which tackles the issue of affordable credit being inaccessible, in particular for families for whom the traditional banks have nothing to offer.   That is the only way we will stop paramilitary organisations and pay day loans preying on these families.

My department is currently looking at ways in which the credit union movement can be given assistance to aid them further in their commitment to serve low-income and financially excluded households and yet in a recent report, only 7% of credit unions surveyed said that ‘serving members who are financially excluded or living on welfare benefits’ is their primary purpose.  We also know that although 34% of the Northern Ireland population are members of credit unions, only 4% of NIHE tenants have a credit union account.

Therefore conference, I am about to take forward a piece of work which would examine the potential for establishing a government backed ‘Peoples Bank’ scheme which could provide more affordable credit to financially excluded households, households which are even out of the reach of credit unions.  I believe that some of our local housing associations would be ideally placed to partner us in such a venture.

The development of financial management skills is essential for any family wanting to lift itself out of poverty.  Such a scheme would have, as part of its offering, advisors who will work with such families and help them build up these essential life skills.  This will no doubt be a risky venture for government to take forward, and we can learn from such ventures currently in place in Great Britain. It will require careful scoping and planning but something must be done to tackle this issue.

We have achieved much in the first half of this mandate but there is so much more to be done if we are to build the strong successful and vibrant communities that we all want to see.  Already the DUP is the party that is working hard for Northern Ireland and it is well able to meet the challenge.

DUP conference speech 2013 (2)

Welfare reform

Welfare Reform will not go away and all the parties in the Northern Ireland Executive need to face up to that challenge.  Burying heads in the sand and hoping it will go away will not solve the problem.  We need a welfare system that is fair and sustainable and which provides support to the most vulnerable in our society.  Indeed we are part of the United Kingdom welfare system and we receive from the Treasury in London, every year, about £5.5 billion into Northern Ireland in welfare payments whilst only paying £2.5 billion into central treasury funds. 

The welfare reforms that were agreed by the UK parliament at Westminster had some good elements but as we all know contained many flaws.  These flaws would have had a detrimental impact on Northern Ireland and indeed it is hard to imagine the government sustaining some of their changes in the medium term, for example around the ‘Bedroom Tax’.  That is why I negotiated with London a package of unique to Northern Ireland flexibilities that address some of the flaws in welfare reform to which I referred.

Those changes were negotiated by a DUP minister after lengthy engagement with UK ministers.  No other political party negotiated them and no other political party could negotiate them.  We did that because we are a compassionate party.  We have a concern for the most vulnerable and that is why so much time and energy and effort were devoted to this issue. 

I also engaged with the First and deputy First Ministers and the then Finance Minister to agree a further package of measures which will go even further.  The full package is there and ready to go to the Executive.  I am therefore frustrated at the procrastination of Sinn Fein and their refusal so far to face up to the issue.  Nevertheless we have played our part and I am sure, when the full package of flexibilities is announced that most people will be pleased by what we have achieved.

 Social housing

You will appreciate that change is a constant in most areas of government and none more so than the Department for Social Development.  There will also be change in relation to the provision of social housing.  I have already listed our achievements but we need to do more and that requires a reform of social housing.  The Northern Ireland Housing Executive has remained unchanged for 40 years but the time for change has come.  We are all aware of the problems there have been in the organisation for a number of years in relation to the way that the Housing Executive managed and monitored its response maintenance contracts and its planned maintenance contracts and that mismanagement has cost us millions of pounds.  Under the watch of the DUP those issues have now been identified and I am determined that they will be dealt with.

However these issues reveal a deeper malaise that existed in the organisation, especially at the top of the organisation.  I am pleased that slowly but surely change is happening, new appointments have been made to the Board and at the senior level within the organisation and I am very encouraged by the changes to date.

Moreover, looking to the future, I am also determined that we will develop a new model for delivering social housing and one that will be affordable, sustainable and able to build more social homes.  That work is already underway.

DUP conference speech 2013 (1)

DUP conference speech 2013

'Building strong communities'

In a previous speech to Conference as Minister for Social Development I spoke about the importance of compassion and this year I want to speak about the importance of community and especially building successful communities.
Back in 2011 the DUP said that this Assembly term would be about delivery and so at the mid-point of the Assembly term it is appropriate to look back and see what we have achieved so far.  Devolution must deliver, the DUP is determined to deliver and we have demonstrated that we can and will deliver.  Some of the highlights of DUP delivery through DSD are:

We have delivered 2,917 social homes across Northern Ireland at a value of £482 million of which £304 million was provided by the Northern Ireland Executive.
We have delivered £76.45 million of grant assistance to enable people across Northern Ireland to purchase 2,094 affordable homes through co-ownership, with a total value of £206.9 million.

To date 10,751 Housing Executive homes have had double glazing windows fitted delivering on our commitment to have all Housing Executive homes fitted with double glazing by 2015.
Over 11,103 homes across Northern Ireland now have new efficient heating boilers fitted as a result of the DUP boiler replacement scheme, with 2,470 local installers benefiting from the work.  The total grant aid provided so far is £8.3 million. 

Through the Warm Homes Scheme 24,095 homes have benefited from energy saving measures with £34.9 million of Northern Ireland Executive funding.  We are all aware of rising energy costs and the problem of fuel poverty but those thousands of families and individuals who have benefited from the Warm Homes Scheme are able to enjoy warmer homes at less cost.
Over 3,164 homes have now been visited across Northern Ireland as part of the DUP led Fuel Poverty Pilot Scheme and many of them have benefited from energy saving measures in their homes.

Through our Benefit Uptake Campaign over 8,289 people, many of whom are pensioners, have benefited to the value of £30 million each year through additional benefits and this has ensured that many of our most vulnerable people receive their full entitlement.
£104.6 million has been spent on 412 schemes for town and city centres across Northern Ireland, thereby supporting local businesses and improving the experience for local people and for visitors.  I don’t need to tell you that this investment makes those town centres more attractive and thereby increase footfall and boost consumer spend.  This is especially important at the present time when many shops are under real pressure.

£4.8 million has also been provided for the magnificent Venue in Londonderry for the United Kingdom City of Culture.
Volunteers play an important role in so many areas of society such as sport, youth work and support groups and 891 local voluntary organisations have benefited from £653,000 of small grants funding.

190 jobs have been secured for Northern Ireland by the Child Maintenance Service, delivering services for Great Britain and those jobs have been secured because of the quality of the service provided by Northern Ireland workers.
Those are some of our achievements but we must look forward and there is so much more to be done.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

William Greer - Ulster-Scot and driver to American presidents

The 50th anniversary of the murder of President John F Kennedy has raised the profile of the man who was driving the presidential car on the day that President Kennedy was shot in Dallas, Texas.  That man was William Robert Greer and he was born on 22 September 1909 on a farm at Drumbanaway, Stewartstown, county Tyrone. 
At the age of 19 Greer sailed from Belfast to Quebec on the Cunard ship Andania, as a third-class passenger, on 25 May 1929.  A further record exists of a William Greer crossing into America at Vanceboro, Maine, not long after that date.
For more than a decade he worked as a servant and a chauffeur to wealthy families
After serving in the US Navy during the 2nd World War, William Greer joined the American Secret Service in 1945 and joined the White House staff in November 1950.  He was a bodyguard to President Truman and President Eisenhower and was then chosen to drive Kennedy through Dallas on 22 November 1963.
In Ulster the family were Presbyterians but in America Greer became a Methodist and some conspiracy theorists have used this Ulster Protestant background to support their theory that Kennedy was the victim of an anti-Catholic plot involving Greer!
William Greer spent most of his life in America but never forgot his Ulster homeland.  On several occasions he travelled back to visit family and friends in Stewartstown and Belfast and in the 1970s he visited his parents' grave in Ballyclog churchyard.

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Gettysburg - the Ulster-Scots connection

Battle of Gettysburg
This is the 150th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address, one of the most famous of all speeches in American and world history and thousands of people gathered today at Gettysburg in Pennsylvania to remember and ponder.

The Battle of Gettysburg was fought from 1 to 3 July 1863 in and around the town of Gettysburg and it is considered to be the turning point of the American Civil War.  Thousands of Union soldiers were killed in the battle and on 19 November 1863 President Abraham Lincoln delivered the historic speech at the consecration of the Soldiers National Cemetery.

Gettsyburg was named for Samuel Gettys (1708-1790), who emigrated from Ulster to America as part of the great Ulster-Scots diaspora in the 18th century.  In the course of that century as many as 250,000 Ulster-Scots sailed across the Atlantic in search of a new land and a new life.

In 1761 Samuel Gettys settled at what became Gettysburg and established a tavern.  Twenty-five years later his son James laid out a town of 210 lots with a central square on the land surrounding the tavern and this became the town of Gettysburg.

Samuel and James Gettys were the founders of Gettysburg and today as America remembers the great Gettysburg Address, Ulster folk can remember the Ulster-Scots whose name is embedded in the name of the address.

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Crumlin Road Courthouse

Courthouse in 2011
The Crumlin Road Courthouse in Belfast was designed by the architect Sir Charles Lanyon and completed in 1850.    It is situated across the road from Crumlin Road Gaol and the two are connected by an underground tunnel, which led up to one of the courtrooms.  It is a Grade B+ Listed building, which shows its architectural and historical importance.

The courthouse closed in June 1998 when a new courthouse was built in the centre of the city and in 2003 it passed into the ownership of Barry Gilligan, a local businessman.  Ten years later the building is in a pitiful state.  It suffered serious fire damage in March 2009 and there was further damage with fires in August 2009.

Now a development study has been commissioned by my own department DSD, the Strategic Investment Board (SIB) and  OFMDFM.  Turley Associates are taking forward the development study and a public consultation day is to be held next Thursday (21 November) in Crumlin Road Gaol from 1.30 to 8.00.   
Following the consultation a final report will be produced.  This will include an economic appraisal highlighting development routes and will identify a preferred development option.

The Northern Ireland Executive has transformed Crumlin Road Gaol into a major tourist attraction and the regeneration of the courthouse is another stage in the regeneration of the Crumlin Road and adjacent communities.

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Nolan nonsense

This morning as I was travelling up to Stormont I listened to the Nolan Show on Radio Ulster.  The first item was a caller who said that she was unable to live on the benefits she received and had just £5 to keep her going until Thursday.  She said that doors were being closed in her face and there was no one to help her.  She went on to say that she was forced to sit at home with no heat and kept warm by wearing a coat and wrapping up in blankets.
I don't know her name but the caller said she is 33 years old and lives alone.  She referred to her local benefit office as Andersonstown and so presumably lives in West Belfast.  Stephen Nolan asked her about work and she explained that she had never worked and had no skills to get a job.
She also spoke about her experience of the benefit office at Andersonstown, in particular phoning about a crisis loan.  That really took my attention, especially as she had said that there was no one to help her.  Two points in particular stood out.
(1) She said that when she rang the Social Security Agency, the automated system said no appointments were available.
In fact the automated message does not comment on the availability of appointments and advises customers that, if they wish, they can leave their name and number for a call back.  Crisis loans are delivered on a face-to-face basis at local benefit offices through pre-arranged appointments, normally on the same day.  Customers can call about crisis loans on 0800 0288822.  Therefore the experience she described was simply impossible.
(2) She alleged that there was 'a big sign up' in the branch saying there were no appointments available.  In fact today was a fairly average day and when my officials checked on the availability of appointments at Andersonstown they found that there were 33 remaining appointments available for today.  Therefore once again the situation described by the caller was contrary to the facts.
That is one of the problems with the Nolan Show.  It is very easy for someone to ring in and describe a situation which may appear, on the surface, very distressing but which is totally at odds with the facts.
In this case after the interview the Nolan Show rang DSD for a comment and officials checked out the facts but by that stage the programme was over.  They have submitted a statement to the Nolan Show and that may be broadcast tomorrow but many people who heard the story this morning will not hear the explanation.
Any humanly devised system has its flaws and shortcomings and the Social Security Agency is no exception but the allegations made by this anonymous caller on the Nolan Show this morning were completely unfounded. 
For those not familiar with crisis loans, they can be awarded to assist a customer to meet expenses in an emergency situation, provided that the provision of such assistance is the only means by which serious damage or serious risk to the heath or safety of the person, or a member of the family, may be prevented.

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Lower Falls - is it really 'non-Catholic'?

Recently I announced six pilots for a programme entitled Building Successful Communities.  Three of the pilot areas in West Belfast (1) Lower Falls (2) Andersonstown and (3) Lower Shankill and Brown Square.  Two of the pilot areas are in North Belfast ((4) Lower Oldpark and (5) Duncairn and Mountcollyer.  The sixth pilot area is the Doury Road estate in Ballymena.
I was therefore surprised to read a letter in the Irish News (5 November 2013) from Pat Benson, chairman of the Sailortown Regeneration Group.  He started his letter by saying:
With reference to building communities Nelson McCausland has been very selective in the areas chosen for the pilot schemes.  We note the areas are all in non-Catholic districts ...
I had to read that several times to convince myself that I had not misread it but Pat Benson did actually write that 'the areas are all in non-Catholic districts'.
Yet two of the pilot areas that were selected are in Lower Falls and Andersonstown and unless there have been some incredible demographic shifts in the last few days they are most certainly 'Catholic districts'.  In fact they are almost 'entirely Catholic districts'.
How can we have a sensible discussion about housing in Belfast when a prominent housing activist such as Pat Benson makes such a bizarre claim?  What on earth led him to make that claim?  Does he really believe it and is that what the other members of the Sailortown Regeneration Group believe?  Or did the Irish News print something that he didn't write?

Tuesday, 5 November 2013

Teenage Kicks mural - minus John Peel

Earlier this year there was some controversy, largely driven by elements in the media, about the removal of  some graffiti from the Bridge End flyover in East Belfast.  The graffiti included the words 'Teenage dreams, so hard to beat', from the Undertones' debut single Teenage Kicks.

According to media reports the graffiti appeared on the day after the death of BBC Radio 1 DJ John Peel and there was a specific reference to him with the words 'John Peel 1939-2004 RIP'.

Now a new mural is to be installed, designed by young people from East Belfast, and I understand that it is based on the Teenage Kicks song.

The original work was put up as a tribute to John Peel, not as a tribute to the Undertones.  This time however there will be no mention of John Peel, who died in 2004, almost ten years ago, and the new mural will be all the better for that.

On this, as on many other subjects, one of the best commentaries on the previous controversy came from Belfast Telegraph feature writer Gail Walker.  In the Belfast Telegraph (25 June 2013) she wrote about what she described as 'the furore among the chattering classes' and then cut to the heart of the matter in relation to John Peel.
It would have been useful if at least one male person were to acknowledge  that the late Mr Peel's reputation is embroiled in the murky tales and allegations  which have emerged from the BBC since the death of Jimmy Savile.  Indeed Peel's track record of indulging in underage sexual activity on both sides of the Atlantic is well documented, and was well known for many years, largely from his own bragging testimony, but not completely from that source.  There were revelations exposed prior to his death which, we see now, followed exactly the patterns of prolific seduction and abuse so graphically documented in Savilegate, Hallgate and so many other cases. 
Gail Walker referred to 'our most sophisticated scions of art and culture' who wanted the mural restored as it was, a tribute to John Peel, and noted that there was 'a dribbling, misguided, incontinent reverence for the greasy abuser Peel'.
John Peel was unashamed about his prolific sexual activity with underage girls and today, with a greater awareness of 'celebrities' who engaged in such behaviour, it would be unthinkable to have a mural as a tribute to the now deceased Radio 1 DJ.

Monday, 4 November 2013

The Ardoyne dissidents

Back in September the Republican Network for Unity announced that they would field Sammy Cusick  in next year's council elections in the Oldpark area of North Belfast.  For those not up to date with the complex world of dissident republicanism, the RNU is normally fronted in Ardoyne by Martin Og Meehan, a son of IRA gunman Martin Meehan.  For a flavour of Meehan's politics take a look at his Ardoyne Republican blog, with its masked republican gunmen, and for Cusick, take a look at his Facebook page.

However Cusick was only the first dissident republican to enter the fray.  

Dee Fennell
Dee Fennell has just announced that he intends to stand in Oldpark as an Independent Republican.  It may be helpful to explain that he was the organiser of the anti-internment parade through Belfast back in the summer.  Fennell is also one of the leaders of the Greater Ardoyne Residents Collective (GARC) which  is the dissident republican alliance opposed to Loyal Order parades on the Crumlin Road.  

The RNU also supports GARC and so we will have two GARC supporters standing against each other.

Fennell and Cusick will be competing for votes in the little pool that is dissident republicanism and in effect next May they will be standing against each other.

For a variety of reasons, mainly to do with personalities and egos, there are four tiny dissident republican groups in Ardoyne - RNU, Eirigi, IRSP and the Sean MacDiarmada 1916 Society.  So by next May we could have four dissidents standing against each other!

They don't really like each other but they manage to collaborate within GARC where they stand together on a platform of 'Not an Orangeman about the place and Not an Orange foot on the Crumlin Road'.  

It will be interesting therefore to see what effect the forthcoming election will have on relationships within GARC and between the dissident republican factions.

Saturday, 26 October 2013

A councillor who left Sinn Fein

The following observation was made in the Irish News (19 October) by columnist Newton Emerson:
Moyle councillor Margaret Anne McKillop has resigned from Sinn Fein, citing its recent support for limited forms of abortion.  In the 11 years that McKillop was a party member the Provisional IRA committed five murders.  Where was her uncompromising respect for the sanctity of life then?
Newton Emerson makes a valid point and Councillor McKillop's position is inconsistent.

I believe in the sanctity of human life but that applies to the victims of IRA terrorism as much as an unborn child.

Saturday, 19 October 2013

North Belfast News

In this week's North Belfast News (19 October) Liam Murphy takes a look at some Belfast streets and the people after whom they were named.  However there were a number of errors in the article.
  1. 'Drew Street was named after the fiery Rev Norman Drew who was a 19th century street preacher.'  No it was named after Rev Thomas Drew, minister of Christ Church in Durham Street.  He was also responsible for the formation of the Drew Memorial Church on the Grosvenor Road.
  2. 'Twaddell Avenue [was] named after William Twaddell, a native of Portadown.'  No, William J Twaddell (1884-1922) was not a native of Portadown.  He was born at Ballintoy in North Antrim but came to Belfast.  He married a woman from Portadown and was buried at Drumcree parish church.
  3. 'Michael Pratley was later convicted and hanged for the murder.'  No he wasn't.  Michael Pratley was accused of the murder of Twaddell but was hanged for another murder.  The murder of Twaddell was carried out by the IRA but no one was ever convicted for the crime.
Liam Murphy really needs to brush up on his local history or else the North Belfast News needs a new local historian!

Friday, 18 October 2013

Division in the GAA

Last night Peter Robinson MLA observed that there have been changes in the GAA and indeed there have.  Some of the old divisive rules have gone and that must be welcomed.  However more needs to be done and there is still a long way to go.
The constitution of the GAA includes a commitment to a United Ireland and requires that a member of the GAA subscribe to that aspiration.  For that reason it is impossible for a unionist to join a GAA club or participate in GAA games.
In addition a number of GAA clubs, grounds and competitions are named after Irish republican terrorists - not IRA men from some historic era but from the recent republican campaign carried out by the Provisional IRA and the INLA.
That is why Peter Robinson told the GAA that it is wrong to use the names of clubs and grounds to eulogise men of violence.  This is a subject that I have addressed on several occasions and a number of posts on this blog contain examples of this practice.

Some GAA leaders agree privately that it is wrong to name GAA clubs and grounds after terrorists but they seem reluctant to remove this blight on their organisation.

Meanwhile other prominent GAA figures want to cling to the past and Joe Brolly was quick to say that the naming of GAA clubs was 'no one else's business'.  'People can either like it or lump it.'  Brolly, who had a successful career in the GAA, is a son of Sinn Fein politicians Francis and Anne Brolly.  Today he said that he was proud that the hurling club in his home town of Dungiven was named after Kevin Lynch, a convicted INLA terrorist.  Brolly used to play for St Canice's GAA Club which shares its ground with the Kevin Lynch hurling club.

There is clearly a division in the GAA over this important matter and Peter Robinson's speech has exposed that division.  The real test for the leadership of the GAA is therefore whether or not they step up to the mark and face down the republican backwoodsmen and the political bigots in their ranks.

No other sporting organisation in Northern Ireland eulogises terrorists and murderers and this aspect of the GAA is a hindrance to building a shared future and a united community.

They have come a considerable distance but there is more to be dome, including the removal of the Irish republican ethos from the GAA constitution and the renaming of clubs and grounds that are currently named after republican terrorists.

Saturday, 22 June 2013

Another error from the Irish News

I have not been blogging for the past few weeks.  I have been working on a particular project that has taken up a lot of time and there are only 24 hours in the day!  However I am now back again blogging and want to pick up on an article in the Irish News today.  It is another example of the poor standard of journalism in Ulster.
Irish News journalist Connla Young started his report on the Tour of the North with this paragraph:
Nationalist residents have reacted angrily after claims that bands taking part in the Tour of the North parade broke a Parades Commission ruling not to play music while passing St Patrick's Church last night.
In fact the determination by the Parades Commission was that the bands should play hymns while passing St Patrick's Roman Catholic Church, not that they should play no music.  The determination was that they should play hymns and indeed that is exactly what all the bands did.
A single paragraph, the first paragraph in the report and yet Connla Young got it totally wrong!

Responsible journalism should be accurate journalism.

Friday, 26 April 2013

Thanks to the Irish News!

I haven't posted anything on this blog for some days - pressure of work and other commitments have taken up so much time that it wasn't possible but I am glad to see that the daily pageviews remain at a very healthy level.
Nevertheless I am grateful to the Irish News (25 April) for devoting a whole page, apart from advertisements, to this blog!
Their story is based on information obtained under Freedom of Information through the website What Do They Know.  Since 2008 there have been 51 FoI requests to DSD from this website.

This particular FoI request was made by someone named Ben who appears to be a Ben Brown but of whom at present I know nothing other than that he is a prolific user of FoIs.
He requested information about how many DSD staff accessed my blog from DSD computers while they were at work.  The answer was 11 and I am glad to see that the figure was low.  I would be very disappointed if civil servants were spending too much time accessing blogs, even mine, during working time.  Indeed I understand that many staff are unable to access any blogs on work computers but I will have to check that out.
Now for the benefit of 'Ben Brown', the Irish News and anyone else who read the article, the number of pageviews every day currently stands at anywhere between arround 300 and 3,000 and depends on what has been posted.  As regards that audience I get pageviews from across the British Isles and also from many parts of Europe, the USA and Canada.

The Irish News also referred back to a post from last year and stated:
Last year he removed the business address of human rights activist Fra Hughes from his blog following a complaint to police.
For those who have forgotten Fra Hughes, he set himself up last summer as a 'human rights observer' at Loyal Order parades on the Crumlin Road.  I don't know what qualifies Fra Hughes or indeed anyone else to be a 'human rights observer' but there he was taking close up photographs of Protestant spectators in a way that was intrusive and invasive.
At the time I didn't know who Fra Hughes was but later it was pointed out to me that his name, his picture and his business address were on a North Belfast Sinn Fein blog and a Sinn Fein website.  I copied that information across to this blog and Fra Hughes then complained to the PSNI. 
When a policeman phoned me to say that there had been a complaint from Fra Hughes he said very clearly that I had done nothing wrong and broken no law and he simply passed on a request for the information to be removed.  Being of a generous nature I removed the reference to Fra Hughes' place of business on the Cavehill Road and the Irish News and the North Belfast News seemed to get rather excited about this.  Thereby drawing further attention to Fra Hughes but both papers missed one key point.  The details of Fra Hughes business were still there on the Sinn Fein website and the blog and they have been there since 27 August 2010, a period of two years. 
Fra Hughes objected to the information being on a unionist blog but not to it being on a Sinn Fein blog and website.  Surely if someone is concerned about his safety, as Fra said that he was, he would ensure that the information was also deleted from the Sinn Fein blog and the Sinn Fein website?  Does he think that only republicans read the information on Sinn Fein websites?
Moreover, I have just checked the North Belfast Sinn Fein website and their blog and the details of Fra Hughes business are still there today!  It really is farcical.
Finally, as a sort of recommendation, the Irish News journalist said that it was 'unfortunate' that 'few MLAs run a personal blog like social development minister Nelson McCausland.'  Yes I think I can definitiely take that as a sort of recommendation!
Oh yes, and back to 'Ben Brown'.  He also asked under the same FoI request if I had ever asked for DSD not to buy the Irish News and the answer was 'no'.  Isn't it important to know what is going on in the world of 'Pro Fide et Patria'?  But it makes me wonder if there is some connection between Ben Brown and the Irish News or did the newspaper simply pick up the FoI information from the What do Thery Know website?



Wednesday, 10 April 2013

The McMahon Murders (2)

In a previous post I referred to an incident on 24 March 1922 when five people were shot dead in a house in Kinnaird Terrace in Belfast.  They were Owen McMahnon, a publican, three of his sons, and a barman who lived with them.  McMahon was also a director of Glentoran Football Club.

In 1961 Rex Taylor, an English author who was sympathetic to Irish nationalism, wrote a book on the assassination of Sir Henry Wilson, the Ulster Unionist MP for North Down, and in it he referred to the McMahon murders: But soon a few astonishing facts came to light, though none of them tended to lessen the degree of Nixon's guilt. It was found that the late McMahons were the paymasters for the IRA trouble-makers in the North, a fact proved by a leakage from the banks of the necessary funds. With the deaths of the paymasters there came also, for a time at any rate, a sudden lull in Belfast.
I had never come across that suggestion previously and so asked if anyone had any more information.  I didn't receive any answers but yesterday I came across the background to this in a book entitled Northern Divisions: The Old IRA and the Belfast Pogroms 1920-22 by Jim McDermott.
McDermott's grandfather, also Jimmy McDermott, was an IRA officer in Belfast in the 1920s along with his brother Johnny.  The author himself is a teacher and historian.  The book was published in 2001 by Beyond the Pale Publications, which is based in Conway Mill in West Belfast.
At 12.15 on 23 March 1922 two A Specials were murdered by the IRA and this was followed by the attack on the McMahon home.  Jim McDermott quotes from a memoir written by Sean Montgomery, a member of the IRA at that time:
There was an attempt to disarm two Specials in May Street.  This was in the charge  of the Brigade OC and after of the Market company.  The two Specials died and one of the worst reprisals ever was the shooting of the well known McMahon family and McKinney their barman.  The McMahons were missed because they gave a sum of money which was in a book captured by the police.
Jim McDermott comments: 'While it is doubtful if the IRA group only wanted to disarm the Specials, it is conceivable that Owen McMahon did give a sum of money to the IRA.  There is often an ambivalence in Belfast nationalists about republicans and guns.'

Monday, 8 April 2013

The cost of alcoholism

The Irish News (28 March 2013) has reported that:
  • 300 lives are lost every year in Northern Ireland to alcoholism, six times the number killed on the roads last year.
  • There were 8,000 alcohol-related hospital admissions last year.
  • The cost to the economy was estimated at £900 million.
Those figures are a stark reminder of the cost of alcohol abuse in Northern Ireland, the human cost as well as the financial cost to society and especially to the health service.

Saturday, 6 April 2013

Ian Knox - cartoonist for Trotskyists

Earlier this week the Irish News published a good editorial in which they condemned the appearance of a gunman and the involvment of very small children in a dissident republican parade at Ardoyne on Easter Saturday.

However on the same page they published a cartoon by Ian Knox in which he sought to compare the involvement of the children in a parade celebrating terrorism, with the Junior Orangemen who take part in Loyal Order parades.

In the past I have seen many examples of the political bias and cultural bigotry of Ian Knox and Mark Thompson has identified a number of examples of such cultural bigotry on his blog.

This time it prompted me to look up what there is about Ian Knox on the internet.  I wanted to see what there was to explain that political bias and cultural bigotry.

Before proceeding to look at that it is worth noting that he was also the cartoonist on BBC's Hearts and Minds.  There his cartoons were somewhat more circumspect than those that appear in the overtly nationalist Irish News but nevertheless they were not altogether impartial, especially as regards cultural matters.

So back to Ian Knox himself.  He was born in Belfast on 4 May 1943 and after attending the Royal Belfast Academical Institution from 1954 to 1962 he studied at the Edinburgh College of Art and Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh.  Later he became a cartoonist and cartoon film animator.
Knox then became a political cartoonist with Red Weekly and Socialist ChallengeRed Weekly started in May 1973 and continued until June 1977 when it was replaced by Socialist Challenge.

These publications were produced by the International Marxist Group,a Trotskyist group in Britain between 1968 and 1982, when it changed its name to Socialist League.  In relation to Northern Ireland it is significant that the IMG was pro-republican and supported the Provisional IRA.
From 1977 to 1984 Knox signed his cartoons Blotski, a name devised by Cormac, the cartoonist with the Sinn Fein/IRA newspaper Republican News.  It was a cross between Trotsky and an ink-blot.  Knox and Cormac also worked together as Kormski.
In 1989 Knox joined the Irish News as their editorial/political cartoonist and so he has been with the newspaper for more than twenty years.  Of course people sometimes mellow with age and political views can change and evolve but Ian Knox's earlier career as the political cartoonist for the International Marxist Group does help us to understand the man and his political and cultural prejudices.

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Nazi graffiti in a Cork graveyard

IRA chief-of-staff Tom Barry
I do not condone in any way the actions of those who damage gravestones and I make that absolutely clear before penning this post about the scrawling of graffiti on headstones in St Finbarr's cemetery in Cork.
Last week, before the Easter Rising commemoration in the graveyard, some vandals had daubed graffiti on republican graves, including that of former IRA chief-of-staff Tom Barry.  The graffiti included a number of Nazi swastikas.
We can't know what was in the minds of those who put the graffiti on the graves but in fact there is a connection between Tom Barry (1897-1980) and the swastika.
After the defeat of the Anti-Treaty IRA, Tom Barry was released by the Free State government in 1924 and he was appointed general superintendent of Cork Harbour Commission from 1927 to 1965. 

At the same time he remained a militant republican and in March 1936 he was involved in the murder of Vice-Admiral Henry Somerville.  The following year he succeeded Sean McBride as IRA chief of staff and in January 1937 he travelled to Germany to seek the support of the Nazis for the IRA.  Support from Germany was to be organised through Clann na Gael in America.  In fact the IRA Army Convention in April 1938 went for another plan put forward by Sean Russell and Tom Barry resigned.  However he remained in contact with the Nazi agents until at least February 1939 and the IRA continued to seek and secure German support for its terrorist campaigns in Great Britain and Northern Ireland.  While Irishmen and Ulstermen fought in the ranks of the British Army against the Nazis, the IRA was happy to collaborate with Hitler and his Nazi regime.  So there was in fact a link between Tom Barry and the Nazis. 
In later years Tom Barry supported the Provisional IRA although he expressed some reservations about their methods.  However he had left the IRA around 1940 and was not buried in the republican plot.
Collaboration between the IRA and the Nazis is one part of their story that Sinn Fein prefer to forget.

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Update on the Ardoyne dissident parade

Yesterday North Belfast MP Nigel Dodds condemned the dissident republican parade organised in Ardoyne on Saturday by the Republican Network for Unity and the Henry Joy McCracken Republican Flute Band. 
He highlighted two aspects of the parade, the involvement of very small children dressed in paramilitary uniforms, and the fact that a masked gunman in full paramiltary garb fired a number of shots from a handgun.
He referred to the role of the PSNI in investigating the parade and yesterday a DUP delegation met the North Belfast commander of the PSNI to demand a thorough investigation into the firing of shots, which is a criminal offence.
He also spoke about the role of the Parades Commission, which will have to take full account of this event in considering future parades by the band.  The commemoration was chaired by Martin Og Meehan of the RNU and the speaker was Paul Crawford, national vice-chairman of the RNU but the 11/1 form for the parade was submitted by the band and the commemoration at Berwick Road, which included the firing of at least eight shots by a gunman in combat gear, was part of the parade. 
A DUP delegation is due to meet the chair of the Parades Commission tomorrow as a prelude to a meeting with the full commission at a later date.  What happened on Saturday must have serious repercussions for the Henry Joy McCracken RFB and anythings less will remove any remnants of credibility the Parades Commission may have.
As regards the involvement of small children in paramilitary uniforms, Nigel Dodds spoke in terms of child abuse and referred to the office of the Children's Commssioner (NICCY).  That comment has now borne fruit and tonight it was reported by the BBC that the Children's Commissioner, Patricia Lewsley-Mooney, has condemned the episode saying that it was placing children in danger.  Tomorrow morning when NICCY reopens after the holiday we will be requesting a meeting with the commissioner.

The BBC also reported that they had tried to contact the Republican Network for Unity but were unable to get any response from them.  Martin Og Meehan and the other dissident leaders in Ardoyne have obviously run for cover, trying to think of how they can explain it all away.

There was good coverage of the issues in the three morning newspapers today and there should be more tomorrow.  The Irish News was especially good with the whole of page 1 and more on page 7.  The paper quoted RNU spokesman Ciaran Cunningham as saying that the group had helped organise the parade but the 'pageantry' had been organised at a local level.  I assume the word 'pageantry' refers to dressing up children as young as five or six in the uniform of a terrorist organisation.  As regards the gunman Cunningham said 'I know absolutely nothing about the shots being fired.'  And if you believe that .....

The four Ardoyne Fianna (1) David McAuley

On Saturday 30 March the Henry Joy McCracken Republican Flute Band and the Republican Network for Unity organised a parade and republican commemoration in Ardoyne. Much of the focus has been on the fact that during the commemoriation a dissident republican gunman dressed in combat gear fired around eight shots from a handgun and that small children in the parade were dressed in paramilitary uniforms.

However it is worth remembering what the commemoration was actually about. It related to four teenagers who died in the 1970s and who were members of the Provisional IRA's youth organisation Na Fianna Eireann.

Paul Crawford from Warrenpoint, the national vice-chairman of the RNU gave the oration in Ardoyne and spoke about the four members of Na Fianna Eireann.
David McAuley
Josh Campbell
Joseph McComiskey
Bernard Fox

David McAuley was just fourteen years old when he was killed on 19 February 1972. After he was shot he was taken to a hospital in Dundalk in the Irish Republic and there a doctor signed a document stating that he had died from a 'non infectious disease'. However as his hearse was being brought back north it was stopped at Banbridge by the RUC. On inspection it was found that he had a gunshot wound to the stomach. The cortege had been stoppped when it was noticed that the coffin was covered with a tricolour. After a two-hour delay the cortege was allowed to proceed on to Ardoyne. 

Later it was established that McAuley had undergone surgery in the Dundalk hospital to have a bullet removed but the facts about the shooting have never been confirmed. Was he shot at an IRA training camp in the Republic, or was he shot in Ardoyne and then taken south to Dundalk for treatment?  The incident was raised at Stormont and John Taylor MP, the minister for home affairs, said that the integrity of the medical profession in County Louth was in doubt.

The North Eastern Health Board in the Republic, which controlled the hospital in Dundalk, denied that the document was a death certificate and said that it was only for the purpose of getting through customs. If he had died from an infectious disease certain precautions would have had to be taken before the body would have been allowed across the border.

At the funeral there was a bodyguard of Fianna in full uniform and five shots were fired. David McAuley's father confirmed that his son had died from gunshot wounds but would not comment on the circumstances. He told a reporter that his son had 'left home only a few hours when i heard that he had been shot. I do not know how it happened.'

However in a you-tube clip (8 October 2009), uploaded by Ogra Shinn Fein, Sinn Fein councillor Conor Maskey delivered a tribute to David McAuley and said clearly that he engaged in 'armed struggle" and 'died as a result of an accident with a weapon.'   He did not say if the accidental shooting took place in Ardoyne or Louth.

This is confirmed by Martin Og Meehan on his Ardoyne Republican blog and he should know because his father Martin Meehan was a senior IRA man in Ardoyne.  He states that 'Fian Davy McAuley was fatally wounded from an accidntal discharge from a weapon he was handling.'  He also states that at the time of his death the boy was the OC of the local Fianna Slua (branch).

Lost Lives gives the age of the boy as 14 but republicans give his age as 15.  Either way those who put a loaded gun into the hands of a boy of 14 or 15 are ultimately responsible for his death and that was the Provisional IRA.

The Conor Maskey clip was posted in 2009 and the following year, 2010, dissident republicans in Ardoyne started a commemoration of the four Fianna, probably as part of their claim to be the legitimate republican movement and the inheritors of that tradition.

Twelve members of Na Fianna Eireann were killed in 1972 and four of them were from Ardoyne.

Ardoyne riot accused in court

Nine men accused of taking part in rioting in Ardoyne last summer are to stand trial.  During the violence, which took place on the evening of 12 July 2012, dissident republicans attacked the PSNI with missiles and petrol bombs and burned a car.  At one point a gunman appeared and fired a number of shots at PSNI officers. 
According to newspaper reports the following people appeared in court:
  • Martin Faulkner (41) - Antrim Road
  • Paul Faulkner (31) - Queen's Parade
  • Christopher Anthony McDonnell (23) - Wyndham Street, Cliftonville Road
  • Daniel Padraig Neill (20) - Newington Street
  • Liam Michael Thompson (25) - Cliftonville Avenue
  • Christopher Stitt (23) - Carrick Hill
  • Liam Bernard Gavin (19) - Woodside Park, Dunmurry
  • Colin Loughlin (21) - Filbert Drive, Dunmurry
  • Pearse Toman (25) - Garland Drive, Lurgan
Republicans always claim that they are protesting against three Orange lodges walking up the Crumlin Road on their way home to Ballysillan.  So how many of the men who appeared in court actually live in Ardoyne?  Well, from the addresses, not one of the nine lives in Ardoyne and so against each of the names I have put the distance they must have travelled to be at the scene of the riot:
  • Martin Faulkner - 2 miles
  • Paul Faulkner - 2 miles
  • Christopher Anthony McDonnell - 2.6 miles
  • Daniel Padraig Neill - 2.2 miles
  • Liam Michael Thompson - 1.9 miles
  • Christopher Still - 2 miles
  • Liam Bernard Gavin - 8 miles
  • Colin Loughrin - 8 miles
  • Pearse Toman - 26 miles
 I know that one of the 'residents groups', Greater Ardoyne Residents Collective, uses the term 'Greater Ardoyne' but no matter how much you may try to stretch that term, surely it can't stretch to Dunmurry and Lurgan.
The annual republican violence in Ardoyne is not about the rights of residents at all - it is really about dissident republican hatred of the PSNI and about anti-Protestant bigotry.  
Four of the accused are also facing additional charges. 
  • Gavin, from Dunmurry, is accused of damaging a silver BMW, attempting to cause grievous bodily harm with intent, attempted arson and also acting provocatively.
  • Neill is alleged to have burned a silver Citroen.
  • Stitt is accused of stealing the vehicle.
  • Toman, from Lurgan, is accused of having thrown a petrol bomb at the police.
All of the accused deny the charges. 

Monday, 1 April 2013

Ardoyne Fianna commemoration parade 2013

On Easter Saturday 30 March 2013 the Republican Network for Unity and the Henry Joy McCracken Republican Flute Band held its annual Fianna commemoration.  The event has taken place every year since 2009 and is organised by dissident republicans.
According to the Ardoyne Republican Blogspot this is held 'to pay tribute to four young Na Fianna Eireann Activists, Josh Campbell, Davy McAuley, Bernard Fox and Joseph McComiskey, all of whom lived in Ardoyne and died tragically on Active Service in 1972.'
The commemorative march started at 3pm outside the Glenpark Social Club in Ardoyne Avenue and made its way to the Fianna Mural at Berwick Road, where there was a speaker, Paul Crawford from South Down RNU, and a wreath laying ceremony.
The Henry Joy McCracken Republican Flute Band notified the PSNI and according to the website of the Parades Commission they stated on their 11/1 form that there would be three bands and 700 participants in the parade with 500 supporters.  The website also records that this was a late notificiation.
The parade was not identified by either the PSNI or the Parades Commission as being contentious but I think most people will find that surprising.
A report on Ardoyne Republican blogspot has two photographs of the parade, one of which shows three very small children dressed in what appear to be Fianna uniforms, with white shirts, black berets and neckscarfs.

Even more disturbing is a short video-clip on youtube (Ardoyne Fianna 2013) which appears to show a masked man in a paramiltary uniform firing a handgun in front of the Fianna mural during the commemoration.  This is particularly alarming in view of the number of times that guns have been used by dissident republicans in Ardoyne over the past year, including the attemped murder of police officers.
One other point worth noting is that the notification for the parade was for 1,200 people.  The video-clip and the two photographs do not suggest a parade of anything like that scale.  Obviously they did not attract the crowds they were hoping for.

So then, what needs to be done?

1. The PSNI should explain their approach to this parade.
2. The PSNI must investigate the apparent firing of a weapon by a dissident republican gunman.
3. The use and abuse of very small children in such a paramilitary display is worthy of investigation by the PSNI and the Parades Commission and also by the Children's Commissioner.
4. In view of this evidence the PSNI and the Parades Commission must never again treat a parade by either the Republican Network for Unity or the Henry Joy McCracken Republican Flute Band as anything other than contentious.
5. In view of the use of material obtained from social media by the BBC and UTV, they should now highlight this particular incident.

Those points will now be taken up with the relevant agencies.

Saturday, 30 March 2013

Sean South GAA Club

This morning the Irish News reported a campaign to retain a small rural primary school in county Armagh.  St Michael's Primary School is at Clady and is a Roman Catholic maintained school.  It has just 44 pupils and falls well below the figure of 105 pupils for rural schools, as set by the Department of Education.
One of those supporting the school was Karen Savage, secretary of the Sean South GAA Club.  She said, 'Our community is stunned at this news.  We live in a very rural farming area.  Our football club is part of that community as is the school.  The two go together.  If one isn't there the other will disintegrate and disappear.  We need both these links to keep our community alive.'

The name of the GAA club took my attention because Sean South was a famous and indeed infamous member of the IRA during the Border campaign that started in 1956.  He is eulogised in the Irish republican song Sean South of Garryowen.  I checked out the website of the GAA club and this gives the name as Clady GFC Sheain Sabhat.  The club uses the Irish Gaelic form of Sean South.  There was a GAA club in the area back in 1888 but clubs seem to have come and gone and Sean South GFC was formed in 1957. 

Sean South was born in Limerick in 1928 and was educated in a school run by the Christian Brothers.  He was a member of the Gaelic League and Sinn Fein and according to his biographer Mainchin Seoighe he was also a member of the Fascist party Ailtiri na hAiseirighe.  This is sometimes disputed but he was certainly familiar with their publications and their views.

On 1 January 1957 fourteen IRA men mounted an attack on Brookeborough police station in county Fermanagh.  They were well armed but the attack failed and two of the IRA men were killed, Sean south and Fergal O'Hanlon.  Their bodies were taken across the border into the Irish Republic and there followed what J Bowyer Bell described as 'a week of all but national mourning'.

Vast crowds lined the route of Sean South's funeral cortege to Dublin and many local authorities passed resolutions of sympathy with the families of the two dead IRA terrorists.  At midnight on 4 January twenty thousand people, including the mayor, waited in Limerick for the hearse and the next day fifty thousand people attended the funeral.  Within a week of his death the song Sean South, which is a eulogy to the IRA gunman, appeared in the Irish Catholic, a weekly Roman Catholic paper

As well as being a militant republican, Sean South was a staunch Roman Catholic and he was at oneRosc
time a member of the Legion of Mary and the Knights of Columbanus.  He was also a member of Maria Duce (Mary our Leader), an ultra-right wing Roman Catholic organisation led by Fr Denis Fahey of the Holy Ghost Order in Dublin.  South established the Limerick branch of Maria Duce and between August 1954 and January 1956 he published a whole series of articles promoting Maria Duce teaching in the Gaelic League monthly newspaper

Fr Denis Fahey was closely involved with Fr Edward Cahill's An Rioghacht study group and wrote a number of books including The Rulers of Russia (1938), in which he argued that Communism was a conspiracy organised by Jews and Freemasons.  This was a view they shared with Hitler and the Nazis.  Following the death of Cahill in 1941 An Rioghacht became more moderate and so in 1945 Fahey founded Maria Duce, which was stridently anti-Protestant and anti-Semitic.  This was the organisation of which Sean South was an enthusiastic member.

Sean South was an IRA terrorist and a member of a Roman Catholic society that was anti-Protestant and anti-Semitic and which believed that Roman Catholic governments should suppress Protestants.  That is the truth about Sean South but you won't find it on the GAA club website.

The Clady GAA club was formed in the year that Sean South died and was named in honour of a man who was an IRA terrorist, a religious bigot and an anti-Semite.  We have seen some changes in the GAA and those changes are welcome but there is still some way to go, especially at a local level where there are clubs and competitions named after IRA terrorists.