I’m sick of seeing foreigners everywhere. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I’m not racist or anything …. but they’re just everywhere. And as for Muslims building mosques! Here, in Ireland!
What’s wrong with that? We’ve got hundreds, maybe thousands of churches in Ireland.
Yeah, but we’re a Catholic country.
Do you object to Presbyterian, Anglican, Methodist and Unitarian churches too?
Er … no, they’re Christian religions. Muslim is completely different. We’re a Christian country – always have been.
What do you mean?
We were pagans once. Before Christian missionaries came in.
OK, before St. Patrick. And yes, I do know he was a foreigner. But since then, we’ve been a Christian country, right?
Yes, I grant you that.
That’s what we need to go back to – Christian Gaelic Ireland.
An bhfuil Gaeilge agat?
No, I don’t speak it. No need to be smart. That’s another thing that was taken from us!
They teach it at school, though.
Not very well. And they force it, which turns people off.
They force maths on people too. And other subjects.
Yes …. well. Anyway, this is getting away from the subject. I was talking about … Getting back to the old Christian Ireland. The Ireland we fought against the British for. Which so many people died for.
Like James Connolly, Patrick Pearse, Tom Clarke ….
James Connolly was born in Scotland, Tom Clarke in England.
Well I knew about Connolly, but Clarke … are you sure?
Yep, Isle of Wight, SE England.
OK …. but …. they were still Irish, weren’t they …. like our soccer team?
Listen, don’t try that one on me! She married a Polish count – but she was Irish.
She was born in England too.
Was she? Well ok, but of Irish stock too.
Gore-Booth – not exactly a Gaelic name, is it?
Look, let’s go back to Pearse – he was Irish through and through. He wrote in Irish – articles, stories and poems, didn’t he?
He most certainly did.
His father was English, though.
What? You’re codding me!
No, seriously. James Pearse was English. And had married previously in England.
Now you’re telling me Patrick Pearse’s father was a BIGAMIST?
No, no, calm down. She died – he was a widower. Thomas Davis’ father was Welsh, by the way.
Who wrote A Nation Once Again? That Thomas Davis?
Yes. And The West’s Awake.
OK, OK but Thomas himself was born in Ireland, wasn’t he?
Yes. Eamon Bulfin wasn’t though.
Bulfin? Who was he?
He hoisted the tricolour up on the GPO on Easter Monday 1916.
Did he? Was he born in England too?
No – in Argentina.
Yep. And De Valera’s da was apparently Cuban. Dev was born in the USA.
OK, OK, OK – but they were all part-Irish or wholly Irish …. in blood, I mean. Part of what they call the Irish diaspora.
True. But Erskine Childers wasn’t. Totally English.
Ah now you’re trying to wind me up. He was President of Ireland – of course he was born here.
That Erskine Childers was but his Da wasn’t.
OK, so what?
Well, he’s the one who brought the Mausers into Howth. In his yacht. And he was murdered by the Free Staters in the Civil War.
That was him?
Yeah, and part of the crew were two women – one born in England and one in the USA. By the way, the Tricolour that Bulfin hoisted on the GPO? You know what it signifies?
Yes. Peace between the original Irish, the Catholics and the descendants of the planters, the Protestants.
OK. Well, that’s not originally Irish either.
What? The Tricolour? Not Irish?
Not originally, no.
Where is it from then? Please don’t say England!
No – Paris. During the Paris uprising of 1848, French female revolutionaries presented it to an Irish Republican delegation.
So the Irish flag before that was …. just Green?
Well, Green yes, often with a harp in gold ….
Yes, Green, forever green, always the Irish colour …
Well, I hate to tell you this but …………..
On the 6th of March 1988, an undercover unit of the IRA in the Spanish State was being tracked by Spanish police. As the unit headed in to Gibraltar, their surveillance was taken over by a British Army unit of the Special Air Service. Very soon afterwards, the SAS attacked the IRA unit and shot them down, shooting them again with execution shots on the street. The IRA unit were unarmed and there was no attempt made to arrest them. The SAS claimed that they had a bomb ready to detonate but no such bomb was ever found. The three Volunteers were Mairéad Farrell, Seán Savage and Daniel McCann.
A Gibraltar woman, Carmen Proetta, who witnessed the murders from her flat and testified to what she had seen was villified and libelled in the British media (she successfully sued a number of them later). A Gibraltar inquest judged the killings to have been unlawful. Amnesty International in Britain denounced the killings — one of the few occasions in which Amnesty criticised the British Government with regard to its conduct in relation to the 30 Years’ War in Ireland.
Almost two months after the shootings Margaret Thatcher and her Foreign Secretary Geoffrey Howe tried to prevent an independent British TV company’s documentary on the killings, Death On the Rock and the career of the lead Editor, Roger Bolton, suffered severely, although an independent investigation of the program vindicated the program.
Streets of Gibraltar song
By The Irish Brigade (long version) + verse by DB*
Oh, sad are three homes in Belfast Town,
all Ireland shares their sorrow;
as they walked in the sun, the Brits drew their guns
and they died on the streets of Gibraltar.
They flew out of Belfast with an ambitious plan
to carry the struggle to free Ireland –
Mairéad Farrell, Seán Savage and Daniel McCann –
and they died on the streets of Gibraltar.
Hidden eyes had been watching, they followed each one
They knew they weren’t armed, that none had a gun
They gave them no warning and no chance to run
For the three must die on Gibraltar.
Each of them unarmed, without mercy gunned down, *
shot again in the head as they lay on the ground
by the Special Air Service, assassins of the Crown –
they were murdered on the streets of Gibraltar.
The SAS stood there, so proud of their deed –
three more freedom fighters shot down in the street:
Mairéad Farrell, Seán Savage and Daniel McCann –
they died on the streets of Gibraltar.
Mairéad, while in prison we watched you with pride;
True to all you believed in and for this you’ve died
With two fine volunteers Dan and Sean by your side —
A part of us died in Gibraltar.
It happens each time that a Volunteer dies —
They screen out the truth with a cover of lies;
But we know what happened on that warm peaceful night
The Brits planned their deaths on Gibraltar.
And their blood stained the streets of Gibraltar.
The heights around Phibsboro and Glasnevin were reported snowbound so I decided to head down to the Tesco post for my shopping. Bundled up warm and with boots coated in dubbin, I stepped out into snow powder whipped up by the icy wind. I had to close my eyes to slits when it blew against my face.
A whistle woke the dogs and they came out of their snow-holes, shaking themselves and trotting over. Handing out small pieces of meat which they wolfed down, I called Buck to follow me over to the sled, where he sat supervising while I put the other dogs in harness. They were eager to go, skittish, whining, tail-wagging, occasionally growling at a perceived trespass by a team-mate. Buck stared down the most fractious but ignored Bríd altogether. Lately she’d been getting at Buck, undermining him. I didn’t know what to do about it. I couldn’t put her in the lead as, apart from that reversing the problem, the team probably wouldn’t follow a bitch. A dog team is like a wolf pack – there can be a dominant male and a dominant female but in almost all cases the male is the lead, the top dog.
Heaving the sled to left and right a couple of times I broke it free of its ice, took the leads and, with my shouted “Mush!” we were off.
A little later, going down towards the frozen Tolka, I had to apply the brakes a little to ensure the sled didn’t run into the hindmost dogs. They all felt the drag and then the jolt as the left brake hit something hard frozen under the snow, canting the sled momentarily to one side. Buck looked back at me reproachfully. You think dogs can’t look reproachful? Many can … and Buck is a master at it.
“Sorry, Buck, couldn’t help it … couldn’t see it.”
But he was already turned away, his shoulder muscles bunched, pulling along, leading. We crossed the Tolka no trouble despite one of the hindmost dogs slipping for a moment, righting himself some what embarrasedly, continuing. The sled runners hissed from the snow, then a grating tooth-gritting high-pitched scraping and then a low hiss across the ice.
“Up boy, pull away!” I shouted but Buck was already bunching himself for the slope of the far bank, pulling steadily, all dogs in the traces pulling together. As soon as the sled was clear of the ice I jumped off and ran alongside it, one hand on the sled. As it gained the top of the bank, the dogs already over, I jumped back on and mushed them on to the Tesco post, the wind whipping ice powder towards me, sometimes higher than my head but often only at knee height.
There was another sled there, hitched to the rail outside the post, its dogs still in traces, huddled down against the wall. Swinging the team around by pulling on the leads, I got the sled in near the other dogs with my team furthest away. I didn’t want to come out to the aftermath of an argument between that team and mine.
Hitching the sled to the rail, I walked up to the front entrance, scraped the snow off my boot soles on the steel scraper and slapped it off where I could reach on my fleece-lined jacket. Opening the door, I stepped in quickly on to the mat and closed the door behind me.
Arnka Flaherty was on duty at the register and flashed me a smile.
“Fuar go leor duit?” I enquired.
“It is, yes it is cold enough,” she replied, still smiling, the blue eyes and curly hair looking a little out of place on her broad Inuit face. But her smile would light a dance hall.
I saw a few pairs of snowshoes by the door and guessed some customers had hiked it in. Not too bad really at the moment with snow only a foot to two feet deep most places, though in some hollows you might sink up to your waist in drifts.
Bart was there, a big Dutchman from over Santry way, as I already knew. I’d recognised his sled and some of his dogs outside.
“Bart”, I nodded.
“Diarmuid,” he nodded back.
“Looks like getting worse,” I said.
“Yes, says on the Internet.”
“Best get supplies in then, right?”
So saying, we went about our separate business. In that little exchange, we had enquired without the exact words about one another’s mental and physical health, whether we each had enough fuel and food. And said that we cared about one another and would help, were it needed.
Going through the aisles picking up my items I nodded to the other customers, a spry old woman who must have snowshoed in and two young students from the college not far away, a male and a female, perhaps a couple, perhaps not. Their winter clothes looked on the expensive end of the range.
I picked up some tins of fish (though I might catch some fresh later, hole-fishing through the Tolka ice), frozen meat for the dogs, a bag of tatties and a smaller one of rice, a parcel of briquettes, a bag of porridge oats and laid them in front of Arnka. Then I went back for milk powder, beet sugar, frozen butter, olive oil, frozen greens and a butane cylinder.
Arnka raised her eyebrows at the latter. “Where’s the empty?” she queried.
“I forgot and left it at home. I’ll bring it in tomorrow. I promise.”
She said nothing and started to tot up my account. Perhaps she minded, perhaps not. It was hard to tell with Arka. I paid, bid her slán on my second trip outside with the last of my supplies, waving to Bart and to the old lady on the way.
Outside, the wind had died down below but up above the clouds were moving fairly fast, leaving a clear starlit night. Beautiful but cold and soon to get colder. The dogs were already on their feet, shaking themselves, some whining. I loaded up the sled, pulled by scarf across my nose and mouth and we mushed back homeward, the dogs glad of the exercise and knowing they’d be fed soon. We crossed the Tolka ice, now glittering in the starlight or ghostly shining in places and up the opposite bank, the dogs straining, me pushing the heavy sled this time and trying not to slip ….
Then clear and pulling away up the rise into Drumcondra proper and soon to be home. Hot food and warmth for me, defrosted meat for the dogs and their own holes in the snow, curled up inside and soon warm with the snow piling up around them.
Diarmuid Breatnach, London, May 1981.
Last night, from afar, I watched the Lark die
and inside me, began to cry,
and outside, a little too.
There’s nothing more that can now be done,
to save the life of this toilers’ son;
another martyr – Bobby, adieu.
Imperialism takes once more its toll,
another name joins the martyrs’ roll
and a knife of sadness runs us through.
But sorrow we must watch,
for it can still,
yes, it can kill
the song that Bobby listened to.
And if his death be not in vain,
let’s fuel our anger with the pain
and raise the fallen sword anew;
and this sword to us bequeathed:
let its blade be never sheathed
’till all our foes be ground to dust
and their machines naught but rust ….
Then will the servant be the master
and our widening horizons ever-vaster
and our debt
(Written in London as the death of Bobby Sands was imminent or had just occurred, after the author had attended pickets and demonstrations in solidarity with the hunger strikers in attempt to avert their deaths by pressurising the British Government to accede to their just demands. Bobby Sands died on 5th May 1981, to be followed by nine others in the weeks and months that followed. The struggle was one for the human dignity of Irish Republican political prisoners of Britain in the Six Counties British colony).
End Internment FB page
Glasgow and Dublin Anti-Internment Committees joined forces on 18th February in a protest against continuing internment without trial in Ireland. Around two score protesters gathered outside the iconic General Post Office building in Dublin city centre’s main thoroughfare, O’Connell Street. They displayed the anti-internment banners of the Dublin and Glasgow committees and placards against internment, including one against the jailing of Catalan political activists by the Spanish state (also refused bail).
Leaflets of the Anti-Internment Group of Ireland were distributed to shoppers and visitors passing by, along with others about the conviction of Brendan McConville and John Paul Wooton (the Craigavon Two), framed and jailed in 2009 and still in jail, serving life sentences. Songs about internment and political prisoners were played on a sound system, as well as Labi Siffre’s Something Inside So Strong and Christy Moore’s Viva La Quinze Brigada.
Despite the official end of internment by the British in 19751 and by the Irish state in 19572, Republican activists continue to be jailed without trial in a number of ways: Licence revoked and bail refused or revoked.
When a Republican leaves jail under license, she or he can be returned there without any court hearing or the presentation of any evidence against them; this is what has happened to Tony Taylor and Gerry Mackle, for example. Refusing bail for accused Republicans has become almost standard, despite the fact that this is supposed to be a last resort, for example when there is a serious risk of the accused fleeing the administration, or interfering with witnesses – which has rarely applied to Republicans refused bail. The real reason has usually been revealed when they have been granted bail: they are required not to attend protests, meetings or to associate with other active Republicans. In other words, they are being prevented from exercising their civil rights to express their opinions and to organise politically.
Welcoming the participation of the Glasgow Committee in Dublin, a spokesperson for the Dublin Committee stated that “members of the Dublin Committee have been proud to attend anti-internment protests in Glasgow in the past” and went on to say that “we look forward to future cooperation with the Irish diaspora and internationally against political repression, particularly of jailing without trial of political activists.”
The Dublin Anti-Internment Committee is entirely independent of any political party or organisation and holds regular awareness-raising protests at different locations. The Committee welcomes the participation of other organisations or individuals in their protests but asks them not to bring political party material etc to the anti-internment protests.
On its FB page the Committee also maintains a list of Republican prisoners in jails on both sides of the British Border, updating it from time to time.
10th ANNIVERSARY OF DEATH OF VOLUNTEER BRENDAN HUGHES COMMEMORATED IN DUBLIN
(From the End Internment FB page, courtesy of the Dublin Committee of the Anti-Internment Group of Ireland)
Irish Republicans (mostly independent) and a number of anarchists and socialists commemorated Brendan Hughes (“The Dark”) today (18th Feb 2018) at the General Post Office building in O’Connell Street, main street of Dublin. Republicans from Glasgow also participated.
Around two score assembled with black flags and portraits of the IRA Volunteer who died aged only 59 ten years ago (2008). Hughes was from a Belfast Republican working class family and entered the struggle, enlisting in the Provisional IRA in 1969. He was arrested in 1973, beaten and jailed but escaped, leaving Belfast but subsequently returning to Belfast, to the Malone Road middle-class area under an assumed name while he continued in his resistance activities.
Captured again in 1974 with a number of firearms at his address he was sentenced to 15 years in jail. In 1973 he was convicted of assaulting a prison guard in the jail and was sent to Long Kesh. This was after political status had been removed from Republican prisoners and Hughes joined the “blanket protest” (refusing to wear prison uniform). Later he led the “dirty protest” (prisoners refused to “slop out” after being beaten by guards and emptied their bodily wastes out the windows until these were blocked up, then out under their cell doors, until they were swept back at them and finally on to the walls of their cells).
Hughes began hunger strike which he maintained for 53 days in 1980, ending with others only after what appeared to be a deal offered by Thatcher. It is believed his health never recovered from his prison experiences; he suffered from problems with his heart and eye problems, in addition to arthritis.
Released from jail after 10 years, he became a serious critic of the “Peace” (pacification) process; according to his brother, Hughes asked that his former comrade Gerry Adams not be permitted any role in his funeral. His brother admitted later that he had bent to pressure and had allowed Adams to carry Hughes’ coffin.
Brendan “The Dark” Hughes died on 16th February 1998.