Random Ramblings from a Republican
Come Gather Round Me, Parnellites
by William Butler Yeats
COME gather round me, Parnellites,
And praise our chosen man;
Stand upright on your legs awhile,
Stand upright while you can,
For soon we lie where he is laid,
And he is underground;
Come fill up all those glasses
And pass the bottle round.
And here's a cogent reason,
And I have many more,
He fought the might of England
And saved the Irish poor,
Whatever good a farmer's got
He brought it all to pass;
And here's another reason,
That Parnell loved a lass.
And here's a final reason,
He was of such a kind
Every man that sings a song
Keeps Parnell in his mind.
For Parnell was a proud man,
No prouder trod the ground,
And a proud man's a lovely man,
So pass the bottle round.
The Bishops and the party
That tragic story made,
A husband that had sold his wife
And after that betrayed;
But stories that live longest
Are sung above the glass,
And Parnell loved his country
And Parnell loved his lass.
The Fall of Parnell and the Aftermath of His Scandal and Death
CS Parnell and Katherine O'Shea (later Parnell), a married though estranged woman, met in 1880 and they began an affair that would last 10 years. It would ultimately mean the end of one of the finest political careers in Irish history, and also the end of any real hope for Home Rule. Katherine Parnell is still best remembered as "Kitty O'Shea"
the married woman, who ensnared Charles Stewart Parnell, destroyed his career, hastened his death and set on hold the cause of Irish Independence for another generation.
In 1881, Kitty was pregnant and the truth of their adultery was brought to the forefront. The child was born in February of 1882 but died only a month later. They no longer attempted to hide their relationship from people close to them. Anyone who visited their house was exposed to the situation. Two more children was born in the next 2 years, 1883 and 84.
During this time, Parnell ridden with on and off illness that continued until about 1890, when he seemed to have regained his full health for the first time since 1883. But then, prompted by political adversaries of Parnell, Capt. O'Shea took Kitty to divorce court claiming Parnell as the cause of their separation. The political backlash of the adultery charge was immense and hasn't been seen in Irish politics in that much force since.
In 1891, the Home Rule Party split into Parnellites
, the first serious split since Parnell united the men under one block almost a decade before. The most dependable traitor
in Irish history was there to lay their agenda out against the ill chief. Mother Church issued a manifesto that condemned Parnell as an "immoral" ruler. And said as a political excuse that there was "the inevitability of a [party] split, if Parnell were retained." So, typically, the Catholic hierarchy in Ireland stabbed the cause of Independence in the back. And their reasoning was proven to be shit as usual when the split occurred anyway.
The final party meeting before the split of the Home Rule Party consisted of Tim Healy
screaming at Parnell for a lengthy period of time. At the peak of this verbal assault, Parnell attempted to draw his pistol
and shoot Healy where he stood, but party members held him back. Justin MacCarthy
saw the meeting was at an end and called for his supporters to follow him out of the room. Forty-five left with him and Healy, twenty-six stayed with Parnell.
In America, England and Ireland, the working classes
supported Parnell. It was the upper and middle classes that were fooled by the treachery
of the Church and the spouting of the Anti-Parnellites. With several by-elections coming up in 1891, Parnell looked to win at least one of them. Time and time again, Parnell was defeated
, until there was no hope to win a seat.
The speeches of Healy and other AntiParnellites would even shame the venomous Rev Ian Paisley
. Words like "Morality" and "religion" and "sinner" laced the speeches. Between this and ongoing condemnation by the Church, Parnell never gave up
. He understood that there would be a long and difficult battle ahead and he tried to convince his supporters to stick by him. He told them that within the next few years, he would win back the faith of his complete party and overtake MacCarthy and Healy.
Before this could happen, Parnell's health rapidly deteriorated. Being stubborn and determined, he refused to take time off to recover from his lagging sickness. This caught up with him on October 6, 1891. Parnell died near Brighton, England and was prepared for his travel back to Dublin. Every stop on the way supporters gathered to see for the last time, the fallen leader of the Irish. His coffin was placed at the base of the statue of a man he had long been compared to: Daniel O'Connell
. Thousands of people went to view him at this spot, but nothing would compare to his funeral. Estimations vary, but the general consensus seemed to be that the crowd was no small than 150,000 mourners; described as a mass of "grim-faced Irishmen"
by the then British Chief Secretary Arthur Balfour
. Parnell was laid to rest well after dusk in Dublin's Glasnevin Cemetery
His death was the closing of another chapter in the quest for Irish self-determination. It would be another 24 years before men would again gather in mass once again to fight for Irish freedom. This time it would not be with Parliamentary action but with rifles
Parnell's Years of Prominence
Parnell's time spent in the British Parliament helped many Protestant landowners and members of the Ascendancy realise their Irish heritage and value it. National aspiration for self determination spread across the land owners of Ireland, not reaching many, but still enough to shake the establishment. This seems rather counter-productive considering Parnell's agitation against the landlord class. He demanded the 3 F's: fair rent, freedom to sell, and fixed tenure. The agrarian masses gathered around this great figure, the president of the Land League
. He became known as the "uncrowned king of Ireland,"
a term which originally was used to describe the "Liberator" Daniel O'Connell
For a man of his renowned status in Parliament, Parnell was not much of a speaker. However, his strength lie in his ability to organise and plan things never before perceivable for Irish MPs. All of his MPs voted as one block on all issues, forming a unified front. If it were not for this unity, the Home Rule Party would have been fractured as the many Irish parties before it.
Parnell's involvement in the Land League
put him in prison on numerous occasions. His colleagues in that organisation also suffered prison terms of varying lengths. These men included John Dillon
, William O'Brien
, and Tim Healy.
Meanwhile, the First Home Rule Bill
was brought to the Commons in 1886. By this time, some of the most prominent political figures of Ireland were under the umbrella of the Irish party. Some of these included: Dillion
, Michael Davitt
, and Swift MacNeill
, amongst many others. The bill these politicians attempted to push thru the House of Commons was squashed. It would take another 7 years to gain the necessary alliances within the Commons to pass the Home Rule bill.
In 1882, an event that the British media tried to pin on Parnell occurred; the Phoenix Park murders
. The Times
, in 1887, presented documents that implicated Parnell in the murders of Chief Secretary for Ireland Lord Frederick Cavendish and Under Secretary T.H. Burke. These men were killed by Fenian extremists, who acted on their own whim and were denounced later on.
Forgeries penned by Richard Piggott
, an anti-Parnell journalist, were exposed as such and Parnell was vindicated. Piggott would eventually kill himself after the wave of charges rained down on him from the courts. A commission set to try Parnell on the murder charges freed him, and he won his libel case in the British courts.
In 1893, a Home Rule Bill
was introduced in the Commons which called for a bicameral legislature which held almost no power. It would only have powers of local legislation and would still be overruled by Westminster at any whim. The bill eventually was passed by the Commons and mercilessly dumped by the Lords.
*Tomorrow, Parnell's fall and the split of the Irish party.
Lagging a bit today...
I apologise for the lack of article today, but I have not been feeling motivated to write. Instead, I have used my newly acquired knowledge of basic HTML and Java to add some bells and whistles to the site. Now, readers have the ability to post comments directly to the weblog. This option appears at the bottom of every article. Please feel free to comment with suggestions, comments, and questions.
Also, I have added a search engine, and a direct link (via the image above my email link) to the Fianna Eireann
website. Also, I have updated the links; they now include the Irish Republican Bulletin Board
, The Blanket
, The Newshound
, Ireland's Own
, Broom of Anger
, The Shamrockshire Eagle
, the IRA news and discussion Yahoo Group
. Check out those sites at your leisure. Some of them are fellow web logs, others are great sources of current events and also databases for Republican information.
Parnell and the Home Rule Party
The Home Rule Party
was one of diverse composition. Catholics
all came under one umbrella; dedicated to the ideal of an independent Ireland ruled by its own parliament. Typically, every single legislation that could even be construed as positive for the new party is defeated by the combined will of the Tory
parties of the British. This may seem as if it would have been terribly discouraging, but the opposite effect actually happened. This united even MORE people more tightly under this simple principle. It also inspired the voters of Ireland and they votes en masse for Home Rule candidates for Westminster seats. Prior to the middle of the 1870's, the Irish voters completely ignored Westminster politics because they had no means of fair representation in order to have their grievances heard. But with the introduction of passionate and dedicated MPs who were ready to listen and act on complaints, the electors of Ireland finally found an adequate political voice.
As for actually achieving any progress towards their goal of an independent Ireland, there were no concrete results to speak of. The Home Rule Party with Isaac Butt
as its head would never achieve its goal and would essentially be eradicated by the rise of militancy after the 1916 rising
. It's downfall began well before that event. But the successes of the party laid in its ability to sparking nationalistic spirit by educating and organising those willing to fight British occupation.
When John Martin
died in 1875, his vacant Westminster seat brought to the political forefront a man who would shake the British establishment's perception of this new party. This man was Charles Stewart Parnell
from Wicklow. He was a Protestant and a landlord whose family was known for involvement in politics. His great grandfather was a prominent figure in Henry Grattan's Parliament
of the late 18th century.
Considered by most to be a quiet gentlemen, he was not perceived to be much of a threat by the British establishment. He was expected to make a speech of little importance of now and again and sink back into the background as merely an observer. An for a while, this was true; Parnell observed the ways of the Parliament. This was only as an act of feeling out for a sense of parliamentary procedure, soon enough, Parnell was making his views heard and making the Brits irritated beyond belief
The Home Rulers with Parnell as one of its loudest voices, became masters of parliamentary stalling, what we know as filibustering
. Alongside him was a Belfast merchant by the name of J. Gillis Biggar
, who advocated the practise of parliamentary "procrastination" as well. Biggar was also a member of the Irish Republican Brotherhood's
"Supreme Council"; a modern congruent of the Army Council.
This was the beginning of a decade of Home Rule Party prominence.
*Tomorrow will be Parnell and the Home Rule Party thru the first Home Rule Bill and up until the fall of Parnell.
Continuing the trend of following a time-line...
The Time Between the 1867 Rising and the Rise of Parnell
The rise of the Home Rule Party
or Irish Parliamentary Party
as it is otherwise known was different from nationalistic minded movements in the past in that its main influence was militant. The Fenian Movement greatly aided in the ideals of those involved with the Home Rule Party. The failure of their armed rising fueled the minds of the politically apt into taking the cause for Irish freedom to the British Parliament.
With its leaders in veritable exile in America and elsewhere, the Irish Republican Brotherhood had no possible armed agitation in the foreseeable future. They continued to build their financial and recruiting networks throughout the world.
Politically, following the Fenian era, the voice of the Irish people was initially heard thru the Amnesty Movement
. With its help and broad support base, Prime Minister Gladstone
admitted that their were "deep grievances" in Ireland. It was therefore unjust to those who made an attempt to remedy the grievous situation to rot in prison. These statements, along with the brutality of the Dublin police in dealing with Amnesty meetings only augmented the indignant feelings of the people of Ireland. Further support was found in England with Marx
and the International Men's Working Association
The greatest fear of the ruling class and the bourgeoisie was being realised. With the working classes of England and Ireland in cohorts, the Prime Minister and the British government feared a great popular uprising. Gladstone was forced to grant many of the demands of the Amnesty group to quell the unrest. About 100 of the prominent Fenian leaders and rebels were released and the rest were promised freedom in intervals there after.
Adding to the alarm of growing popular support for the cause of Irish Nationalism was large percentage of votes received by Jeremiah O'Donovan Rossa
while he rotted away in an English jail. Rossa was elected as a Member of Parliament in 1869 for Tipperary. Although he was declared ineligible as he was a "convicted felon," but the statement had already been made.
The growing support for nationalist politics was been melded together with the Fenian spirit and the Fenian intelligence. The newly proclaimed "Home Government Association for Ireland" contained men of all nationalistic backgrounds; from Catholic monarchist pacifists to communist militants.
*Tomorrow: The Rise of Parnell and Constitutional Nationalism.
Aftermath of failed Fenian Rising
In the view of a military strategist, the 1867 Rising was a complete failure
. But it planted in the minds of young men and women unshakeable thoughts of nationalism. It would be another 60 years before the Irishmen strove to free themselves once again from the British grasp with armed rising. The following decades are filled with Parliamentary action and "Home Rule" bills which lead nowhere.
The Fenian's bid for Irish freedom reincarnated the ideals of Wolfe Tone
and set armed rising as the normal means for its striving. It showed the world the spirit for freedom within the common Irish person was so large that it would never be completely extinguished. It re-iterated the fact that the Act of Union was a complete and utter failure
Marx and Engels'
writings became to take hold with the working classes of Ireland. The founding of the International Working Men's Association
in 1864 and the National Reform League. These organisations led the call for the repeal of the Act of Union. They supported the Irish cause and understood Britain's exploitation
of the Irish working-class.
Following the Manchester executions Engels wrote to Marx saying:
"All the Fenians lacked was martyrs. These they have been presented with. Through the execution of these men, the liberation of Kelley and Deasey has been made an act of heroism which will now be sung over the cradle of every Irish child. The Irish women will take care of that. The instance of an execution for any similar act is that of John Brown after Harper's Ferry
. The Fenians could not wish for a better precedent."
This would be proven true more than a half century later when the leaders of another failed armed uprising
were put against the barrack and gaol walls and riddled with bullets. Their memories fueled a war against the Brits which brought them to the negotiating table.
Marx pushed the IWMA to initiate a campaign of agitation for Repeal, but was ultimately turned down. The general sentiment was that there was enough problems in England, and to let Ireland fend for themselves. Engels and Marx continued to push thru IWMA channels with the help of the Anmesty Movement
to ultimately secure the early release of Fenian leaders in January of 1871.
The concept of a completely separate Irish Republic, in its modern sense, was firmly established thanks to the Fenian campaign. The 1867 failure also created a large network of sympathisers throughout the world. These networks would eventually form into organisations such as Clan Na Gael. Fenian's released from prison in England would travel to America, and continue their struggle by publishing writings and getting the word out about British injustice and Irish suffering. The Irish Republican Brotherhood, went underground, perpetually recruiting and building support chains.
The ideals of the Fenians were straight from the thoughts of Tone
, as well as those of Thomas Russell
and Thomas Davis
. The general consensus in beliefs included those of democracy side-by-side with a revolutionary agriculturally based type of communism. These ideals of equality and freedom appealed to the large immigrant communities in the USA, Scotland, England and Australia; as well as in New Zealand and Canada.
A song, written by J. Boyle O'Reilly says it better than I ever could:
"Side bye side for the Cause
, have our forefathers battled,
When our hills never echoed the read of a slave;
On many green fields where the leaden hail rattled,
Thru the red gap of glory they marches to their grave.
& we who inherit their name and their spirit
Will march 'neath the banners of Sasanach
Must out and make way for the Fenian Men
Contemporary sources regarding the tragedy of the Manchester Martyrs
William Phillip Allen spoke in his own defence:
"No man in this court regrets that death of Sergeant Brett more than I do, and I positively say, in the presence of the Almighty and ever-living God, that I am innocent, aye, as innocent as any man in this court. I don't say this for the sake of mercy; I want no mercy
- I'll have no mercy. I'll die, as many thousands have died, for the sake of their beloved land, and in defence of it. I will die proudly and triumphantly in defence of republican principles
, and the liberty of an oppressed and enslaved people. Is it possible we are asked why sentence should not be passed upon us, on the evidence of prostitutes off the streets of Manchester, fellows out of work, convicted felons - aye, an Irishman sentenced to be hung when an English dog
would have got off. I say positively and defiantly, justice has not been done me since I was arrested. If justice had been done me, I would not have been handcuffed at the preliminary investigation in Bridge St. and in this court of justice has not been done me in any shape of form.
I feel the righteousness of my every act with regard to what I have done in defence of my country. I fear not. I am fearless - fearless of the punishment that can be inflicted on me . . . My name, sir, might wish to be known. It is NOT William O'Meara Allen. My name is William Phillip Allen. I was born and reared in Bandon, in the county of Cork, and from that place I take my name; and I am proud of my country and proud of my parentage. My lords, I have done."
A short poem written in a letter by Michael O'Brien to his brother:
"Far dearer the grave or the prison,
Illum'd by one patriot name,
Than the trophies of all who have risen
On liberty's ruin to fame"
The last declaration of Michael Larkin:
"I am not dying for shooting [Sergeant] Brett, but for mentioning Colonel Kelly's and Deasey's names in the court. I am dying a patriot for my God and my country, and Larkin will be remembed in time to come by the sons and daughters of Erin. Farewell, dear Ireland, for I must leave you, and die a martyr for your sake. Farewell, dear mother, wife, and children for I must leave you all for poor Ireland's sake. Farewell, uncles, aunts, and cousins, likewise sons and daughters of Erin. I hope in heaven we will meet another day. God be with you. Father in heaven, forgive those that have sworn my life away. I forgive them and the world, God bless Ireland!"
A poem that appeared in The Nation following the execution of the "noble hearted three":
Let the echoes fall unbroken;
Let our tears in silence flow;
For each word thus nobly spoken,
Let us yield a nation's woe;
Yet, while weeping, sternly keeping
Wary watch upon the foe
An eyewitness to the Manchester men's funeral procession in Dublin:
"The procession took one hour and forty minutes to pass the Four Courts. Let us assume that as the average time in which it would pass any given point, and deduct ten minutes for delays during that time. If, then, it moved at the rate of two and a half miles per hour, we find its length, with those suppositions, would be three and three quarter miles. We may now suppose the ranks to be three feet apart and consisting of ten in each, at an average. The total number is therefore easily obtained by dividing the product of 3 1/2 and 5280 by 3, and multiplying the quotient by 10. This will give as a result 61,600
, which I think is a fair approximation to the number of the number of people in the procession alone."
Another Incident of Fenianism
On the 11th of September Colonel Thomas Kelley
along with his fellow Fenian, Captain Timothy Deasy
were arrested in Manchester by the city police for loitering. They were soon identified as leaders of the Fenian movement in Dublin and remanded for trial a week later. On the way from the police barracks to Bellvue Prison, the van (a black Maria horse drawing carriage) carrying the men was intercepted by a group of armed Fenians. These men held up the van and scared off the police escort, leaving only the sergeant locked in the van with Capt. Deasy and Col. Kelley. This police officer was unintentionally
killed when the Fenians blew the lock off of the door of the van.
During the escape from the city, four of the rescue party sacrified themselves to throw the police off the trail of the two high ranking Fenians. These men were arrested on the spot and charged with the killing of the sergeant. Their names were William Phillip Allen
, Michael Larkin
, Michael O'Brien
, and Edward O'Meaghar Condon
Despite all the efforts of the Fenian's counsel, Ernest Jones, the court found the men guilty of murder
and they were all sentenced to death
. Condon's sentence was overturned because of the fact that he was an American citizen. He served a short prison term and was deported to the US. The other three were set to be hanged on the 23rd of November 1867 despite the fact that none of them fired the unlucky shot that killed the police sergeant.
In the week following these executions, there was widespread horror and protest. Even people who were against the actions and methods of the Fenian movement, such as '48 rebel John Martin
, spoke out against this injustice. Great funeral processions marched thru the city and long streams of people followed the men's coffins thru the streets. These mass funerals and events with the Land League focused the minds of the popular masses on the injustice of English rule in Ireland.
Out of this incident came one of the most famous songs about freedom. "God Save Ireland"
, penned by TD Sullivan remained the adopted national anthem of the Irish people until the Soldier's Song
took its place after Easter Rising of 1916
*Tomorrow: Bits from speeches and eyewitness accounts of contemporaries of the Manchester events.
Specific Incidents of the 1867 Fenian Rising.
The Battle of Tallaght
Though this particular engagement is not deserving of the title "Battle"
that is how it is remembered. The image above was the scene of the engagement known as the Battle of Tallaght which occurred during the Fenian rising on 5th March 1867. Thanks to a well-developed network of informers
, the British establishment knew very well the plans for that date and still allowed the men to collect their arms and come together with rebellion in their hearts.
They rebels moved out that night to a spot on Tallaght Hill previously assigned. The large number of armed men heading toward this one point from all over the area alarmed certain "loyal"
elements within the area and local barracks were alerted of this happening.
There were 14 constables
and a head constable under Inspector Burke at Tallaght Police Barracks, and these men took up positions outside their barracks (above) from which they commanded the roads from both Greenhills and Templeogue.
The first contingent of Fenians (numbering about 40) to come into contact with the police came under immediate and heavy fire. They were quick to retreat dragging with them a wounded comrade who was bayoneted by a constable after the Fenian made an attempt to strike him with a sword. They left behind a cart of cartridges and other ammunition supplies.
The second probing attack by the Fenians was comprised of nearly 500 men
. They approached the barricaded police and came within 20 metres of the fortified spot before they were driven back by a hail of bullets from the peelers. Inspector Burke called on them to surrender "in the name of the Queen"; and said that there were a large number of police with him behind the barricades. The Fenians halted and hesitated. They fired a few potshots at the barracks and then the whole lot of them ran away down the same road from which they approached. Again, around half-twelve, a similarly sized number of Fenians approached the barracks. Once again, upon being ordered to surrender by Burke, they turned and fled.
Finally, a contingent of Fenians numbering around 1,000
marched with military precision toward the police position. Again they were told to surrender or they would be fired upon. On hearing this, the rebels opened fire on the peelers. Not a single shot hit its target and the police returned fire; wounding several Fenians. The Fenians fled, many leaving their weapons behind. The police picked up numerous arms, consisting of rifles, bayonets, pikes, and daggers, as well as a large amount of ammunition.
In 1963, almost a hundred years after the "battle", a skeleton was found in a hollowed out tree near the badminton club in Terenure armed with a sword. This man must have taken refuge in the tree after one of the number of retreats during that night. He could have died from wounds, or the exposure to the terrible blizzard and temperatures that blustery March night.
This is the shameful story of how 14 peelers defeated an estimated 5,000 armed Fenians
. The leadership that was expected on Tallaght Hill that night never showed
to lead the battle. The men, like headless chickens, ran about in disarray, inflicting NO casualties and never taking the police barracks.
The Fenian Uprising - 1867
The arrests and convictions of the key Fenian leaders threw American and Irish IRB circles into chaos. In America, John O'Mahoney
was deposed from his position as leader of the US Fenians and a split in the organisation occurred gradually. The majority of the American Fenians fell under inexperienced and unwise leadership and wasted their resources on a pointless and badly timed invasions of Canada.
remained in Ireland until John Devoy was captured. This event signalled to Stephens that it was a prime time to flee. He landed in America in March of 1866 and made an attempt to heal the rift in Fenian Brotherhood abroad. He promised action by the end of the year and when nothing happened, the split re-ensued.
The date for the looming Rising was fixed for Februrary 11th, 1867, but as this date approached leadership decided to push it further to March 5th. Two large contingents of armed Fenians failed to received this second notice and attacked on the 11th of February. In Kerry, Fenians captured police barracks and a coast guard station. They found transmissions of intercepted telegraph messages setting the rising date on the 5th. The men were then ordered to disperse back to their homes. In the North of England, near Chester, John McCafferty led a sizable number of Fenians to launch a surprise attack on a large arms store in Chester Castle. If it were not for a last-minute informer, this attack would have been brutally effective; instead it was shamefully abortive.
These events mixed with other informers and blunders doomed the rising planned for March 5th to failure. The British forces were on full alert and the weather was not on the Rebels side as a blizzard set in. Many men turned out for the rising (many thousands across the island and in England), but were forced to turn back home because they were not prepared to face the weather. A large amount of these men were arrested as they made their way home and remanded without charge or trial.
The failure was sealed when General Massey of the Fenians was captured at Limerick Junction, after an informer supplied the British Army with information about the Rising. Massey too spilled his guts about everything he knew, and the day was lost.
*Soon: Tallaght, Manchester, Clerkenwell, and the aftermath of revolt.
Rising in Limerick
Rising in Cork
Rising in Kilbaha
Excerpts from the speeches from the dock of the Fenian leaders Luby, and O'Leary.
Thomas Clarke Luby upon hearing his sentence of 20 years of penal servitude:
"Well my lords and gentlemen, I don't think any person present here is surprised at the verdict found against me. I have been prepared for this verdict ever since I was arrested, although I thought it my duty to fight the British government inch by inch.
. . .I know, that no man ever loved Ireland more than I have done - no man has ever given up his whole being to Ireland to the extent that I have done. From the time I came to what has been called the years of discretion, my entire thought has been devoted to Ireland. I believe the course I pursued was right; others may take a different view."
Luby continues in saying:
"I believe the majority of my countrymen this minute, if, instead of my being tried before a petty jury, who, I suppose, are bound to find according to British law - if my guilt or innocence was to be tried by the higher standard of eternal right, and the case was put to all my countrymen - I believe this moment the majority of my countrymen would pronounce that I am not a criminal, but that I have deserved well of my country. When the proceedings of this trial go forth into the world, people will say the cause of Ireland is not to be despaired of, that Ireland is not yet a lost country - that as long as there are men in any country prepared to expose themselves to every difficulty and danger, in its service, prepared to brave captivity, even death itself, if need be, that country cannot be lost. With these words, I conclude."
Next in the dock was John O'Leary. He continued to build and expand on what Luby said earlier:
"I have been found guilty of treason, or of treason-felony. Treason is a foul crime. The poet Dante consigned traitors to, I believe, the ninth circle of hell; but what kind of traitors? Traitors against king, against country, against friends and benefactors. Engliand is not my country; I have betrayed no friend, no benefactor. Sidney and Emmet were legal traitors, Jeffreys was a loyal man, and so was Norbury
. I leave the matter there."
Continued from yesterday. . .
When the Civil War ended in the United States in April of 1865, 200,000 battle-hardened men were now free to participate as members of the Fenian movement. The bulk of that number had been sworn in during the course of the War between the States, but with the end of the conflict, many more decided to join.
Those involved within the British and American armies waitied for "the word" from Stephens
to initiate rebellion. But the Fenian leader held back. The general consensus amongst historians as to the reason why is that the Fenian leaders had not formulated a real military plan.
Shortly after the end of the Civil War, British "authorities" in Ireland made a number of swoops on Fenian "hotspots," including the headquarters of the Irish People
. James Stephens, Thomas Clarke Luby, and O'Donovan Rossa were apprehended in these arrests. Stephens, the leader of the group, made a daring escape not long after being incarcerated in Richmond Prison, Dublin.
It was not long before the word got out about Stephens' escape and its details. Apparently, John Devoy
, the leader of the Fenians within the British army informed two prison warders who happened to be Fenian supporters of the situation. Stephens was whisked away to a safe house in the country.
While Stephens was away from Dublin, Devoy attempted to make a move towards violence that many believe would have been very effective. TA Jackson's Ireland Her Own
seems to believe that any sizable uprising at that point in time would have secured a large a part of the island saying: "There is a weighty reason for believing that if John Devoy's advice had been taken, the result would have been to secure for Ireland as much as was secured by the Treaty of 1921, without Partition".
The trials of the remaining incarcerated Fenian leaders (Kickham
) caused great uproar throughout the country when renowned (and widely hated) conservative Catholic judge William Keogh
was appointed to try their cases. Called "the solo-trombone in the Pope's brass band," his appointment meant a completely unfair trial for those accused.
Their counsel, Isaac Butt
, presented a case full of love of country and culture. He said the men desired greatly to see Ireland an independent state from Britain and they viewed armed uprising as the only means of attaining this objective.
*Tomorrow's bit will include excerpts from some of the prisoners speeches from the dock.
*note: this is not finished
. I was invited out while I was typing it and published it on the spot. I apologise, and I will finish it tomorrow once I wake up feeling awful. Slan anois.
The American Civil War and the rise of the Fenian Brotherhood
The Civil war between the Union and the Confederacy gave many Irish immigrants the opportunity to become familar with various arms and battle tactics. On each side of the Mason-Dixon line, there were brave Irish Brigades, though the New York "fighting" 69th with its 2nd (Irish) Brigade was by far the more famous. These brave men were led by 1848 Young Irelander, Thomas Francis Meagher.
Fenian leaders John O'Mahoney
and James Stephens
took a pragmatic stance on the Civil War. They understood the large number of Irish immigrants across the Atlantic and instructed Fenian supporters in America to encourage men to join the Northerners. They even began to encourage young nationalist-minded to join the British Army in order to learn arms and war tactics for later use against the oppressive Crown.
With Britain supporting the South's attempt at independence, the Fenian leaders took the usual stance of "Britain's enemy is Ireland's ally".
Following the Union victories at Vicksburg and Gettysburg in 1863, the Fenians in Ireland decided it was time to open a political forum in the form of a rebel journal; the Irish People
. The major figures behind this revolutionary media were Thomas Clarke Luby and John O'Leary with regular contribution by Finton Lalor
and Charles Joseph Kickham
. Later, Jeremiah O'Donovan Rossa
would join the staff as the business manager and was in charge of the journal's circulation.
The Irish People
fought a fierce battle against less political and more constitutionalist periodicals that had the backing of priests and the middle class. Due to the great power the Church held over the common citizen of Ireland, the People was forced to build its support chain in the "underground".
Historical Summary Account - The Funeral of '48 Rebel TB MacManus
Terence Bellew MacManus
was born to a traditional Fermanagh family who immigrated from Ireland to Liverpool. He would return to Ireland in 1843 to join the Repeal Association
and the Young Irelander Party. During the Young Irelanders
' short uprising in 1848
, MacManus joined Smith O'Brien
and John Blake Dillon
at Ballingarry, County Tipperary, where the only sustained combat took place. For his part in the Rising, he was sent to the British penal colony of Tasmania. Within two years of his arrival, he had his escape planned. He and a few comrades, including a future American Civil War hero, Thomas Francis Meagher
escaped via a ship headed for the coast of California. Upon arriving in San Francisco, he settled in the large Irish community and lived out his days.
When MacManus died towards the end of November of 1860, the Irish community of San Fran, who had grown to respect and love this man, funded his trip back to the land he loved most: Ireland. His extended funeral procession was the most effective fundraising means imaginable at that time. Any town with a sizable Irish population demanded the funeral pass thru on its way to Boston.
These stops along the train tracks and dusty roads of rural America fed the Fenian Brotherhood and Clann na Gael with both funds and fresh recruits. The demand to hold memorials for this man in every town along the way was so great that it took nearly 10 months for his coffin to reach Boston harbour.
Arrangements for further processions once the body reached Ireland were made. The Church made a failed attempt
to stop these memorials from happening, but the Fenian show of strength and support in Cork City was breathtaking and quashed any hope of shutting them down. Nearly the entire population of the city and surrounding areas showed up to be a part of this man's funeral procession.
The coffin then traveled north to Dublin, where the major procession had been planned. On November 10th, 1861, an estimated 200,000
people showed up for the final trip of the Young Irelander. 50,000 men marched in military formation while a greater number lined the streets. Included along the way were numerous stops to tell the tales of hallowed spots of great fallen Irishmen. These included the church in front of which Emmet
was hanged, the house where Tone
's body was prepared before its burial, and the house where Lord Edward Fitzgerald
The church again tried to quell this open spurning of its authority and refused to allow the body to rest in any church or to give the dead man any funeral rites. But Father Patrick Lavelle
, a previously secretive Fenian, defied Archbishop Cullen and openly performed the funeral ceremony. It was dark by the time MacManus' coffin was laid in the ground in Dublin's Glasnevin Cemetery
This funeral helped to cement in the minds of many the true case for Irish independence from Britain. It also helped to expose the large amount of support at home and abroad for the cause of Irish nationalism. It was very much akin to the funeral of Jeremiah O'Donovan Rossa
The quote below taken from The Wild Geese website:
"I think it no exaggeration to say that the funeral seems to me to be something in its kind unparalleled, or, at least, only to be compared with the second burial of the great Napoleon. But, in the last-named pageant, the power and resources of a great nation were called into action, while the MacManus funeral was the unaided effort of a populace trampled on or expatriated."
-Fenian Thomas Clarke Luby
From the letters of John Mitchel
"In plain English, my Lord Earl, the deep and irreconcilable disaffection of this people to all British laws, lawgivers, and law administrators shall find a voice. That holy hatred of foreign dominion which nerved our noble predecessors fifty years ago for the dungeon, the field or the gallows (though of late years it has worn a vile nisi prius
gown, and snivelled somewhat in courts of law and on spouting platforms) still lives, thank GOD! and glows as fierce and as hot as ever. To educated that holy hatred, to make it know itself and avow itself and at last fill itself full, I hereby devote the columns of the United Irishman
"I will not believe that Irishmen are so degraded and utterly lost as this. The earth is awakening from sleep: a flash of electric fire is passing thru the dumb millions. Democracy is girding himself once more like a strong man to run a race; and slumbering nations are arising in their might, and 'shaking their invincible locks.' Oh! My countrymen, look up, look up! Arise from the death-dust where you have long been lying, and let this light visit your eyes also, and touch your souls. Let your ears drink in the blessed words, 'Liberty! Fraternity! Equality!' which are soon to ring from pole to pole! Clear steel will, ere long, dawn upon you in your desolate darkness; and the rolling thunder of the people's cannon will drive before it many a heavy cloud that has long hidden from you the face of heaven. Pray for that day; and preserve life and health, that you may worthily meet it. Above all, let the man amongst you who has no gun sell his garment and buy one."
"For me, I abide my fate joyfully; for I know that, whatever betide me, my work is nearly done. Yes: Moral Force and 'Patience and Perseverance' are scattered to the wild winds of heaven. The music my countrymen now love best to hear is the rattle of arms, and the ring of the rifle. As I sit here and write in my lonely cell, I hear, just dying away, the measured tramp of ten thousands marching men - my gallant confederates, unarmed and silent, but with hearts like bended bow, waiting til the time comes. They have marches past my prison windows, to let me know there are ten thousands fighting men in Dublin - 'felons' in heart and soul.
I thank God for it. The game is afoot at last. The liberty of Ireland may come sooner or later - but it is sure
; and wherever between the poles I may chance to be, I will heart the crash of the downfall of the thrice-accursed British Empire."
"Neither the jury, nor the judges, nor any other man in this court presumes to imagine that it is a criminal who stands in this dock.
I have sown what the law is made of in Ireland. I have shown that, her Majesty's government sustains itself in Ireland by packed juries, by partisan judges and by perjured sheriffs."
"I have acted all thru this business, from the first, under a strong sense of duty. I do not repent anything that I have done, and I believe that the course which I have opened is only commenced. The Roman who saw his land burning to ashes before the tyrant, promised that three hundred should follow out his enterprise. Can I not promise for one, for two, for three, aye for hundreds?"
Republican Immigrants Face US Injustice System
Recently a slew of former Republican activists have faced the wrath of a country that was in part built upon the backs of Irishmen and women. After a period of calm following the signing of the GFA, the persecution of Irish Republican ex-pats in America has resumed with renewed fervor.
These are men who are wanted by loyalist murder squads in their own country and fled to an apparent safe-haven in the US. They raised or continued to raise their families until the Bush Administration swooped into power. They have since been exploited and subjected to injustice at the hands of the United State's immigration services.
In November of 2003, after living for almost a decade as a residents of New Jersey, former member of the INLA Malachy McAllister
and his family were denied an appeal against their deportation from the United States.
That same month, Ciaran Ferry's asylum appeal was denied. Ferry, a former member of the Provisional IRA, has been living in the US for a number of years with his wife Heaven. He was released from Long Kesh as a part of the Good Friday Agreement
. A site detailing his persecution and status can be found here
John Eddie McNicholl
, a former member of the INLA was deported from the US in the summer of 2003. McNicholl, according to a statement made by the Department of Homeland Security Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement was a member of the "Irish National Liberation Army (INLA), a terrorist organization in Northern Ireland". Truth is that the INLA has NEVER appeared on the United States' list of recognised terrorist groups. This is a violation of mandates of Congress regarding the procedure of identifying a "terrorist."
The hypocrisy of the current US Administration is sickening. It's stranglehold on Irish nationalists within the American Irish communities is ever-strengthening. Fears of being labeled a terrorism supporter keep people sitting back while people are unjustly ousted from a country that was founded with ideals of justice and freedom as its building blocks.
The US/UK Extradition Treaty
is just another stake in the heart of democracy and a huge threat to Irish Republicans living in America. Do not
let this "Treaty"
be silently enforced.
SPEAK OUT AGAINST THE FASCISM
Desecration of Milltown Republican plot.
Last night numerous headstones and memorials of high profiles Republicans were desecrated in Milltown Cemetery, Belfast. Memorials included in this DESPICABLE act of cowardice
were those of recently deceased Gerry Adams Sr, hungerstrikerBobby Sands
as well as Gibraltar shoot-to-kill
victims: Mairead Farrell
, Sean Savage and Daniel McCann.
This is not the first time that these gutless bastards
have vandalised the Republican plot at Milltown. As recently as 3 years ago, in late 2000, twenty headstones were damaged in another chicken-shit attack.
In this attack sixteen separate memorials have been destroyed and a pipe bomb was left behind. This device was found during the clean up earlier today. Provisional Sinn Fein
are blaming loyalists for the attack.
Estimated damage is soaring towards the 15,000stg mark.
As is usually the case, the RUC/PSNI will most likely make their promises about catching those responsible and then no results will ever be seen.
Here are a few very good posts that were made yesterday by a member of the IRBB.
Mental Toll of Revolution
Irish Women and Revolution
Ireland Her Own
- Fintan Lalor
Ireland her own, and all therein, from the sod to the sky. The soil of Ireland for the people of Ireland, to have and hold from God alone who gave it — to have and to hold to them and to their heirs forever, without suit or service, faith or fealty, rent or render, to any power under Heaven. Not to disturb or dismantle the Empire, but to abolish it utterly forever — not to fall back on '82, but to act up to '48 — not to resume or restore an old constitution, but to found a new nation and raise up a free people, and strong as well as free, and secure as well as strong, based on a peasantry rooted like rocks in the soil of the land — this is my object, as I hope it is yours; and this, you may be assured, is the easier as it is the nobler and more pressing enterprise.
The following is an excerpt from Ireland Her Own
authored by TA Jackson in 1947. Jackson essentially builds upon and expands Connolly's Labour In Irish History.
To End Partition
Englishmen, during the war, paid in added peril from the crimes committed in Ireland by the rulers of England (and Ireland) for nearly 800 years. But for that evil legacy
- for which every honourable Englishmen recognises the obligation to make reparation - we could have counted on the invaluable aid a free and united Ireland could give. We must pay our debt - if only to earn, thereby, the right to applaud, as fellow fighters from Freedom, the men whose deeds and struggles are recorded in this book.
Partition - a crime and an insult in one
- was imposed from England. In England, the work of undoing Partition must be, and will be, begun.
Partition was imposed by the rulers of England to serve their class ends. The common people of England, impelled by their class deeds, must struggle to end Partition as a part of the process of winning their own emancipation.
Partition has established vested interests, on either side of its dividing line. It is reinforced on either side by a mass of inculcated prejudices. Because of that it is not possible to end Partition in a merely formal fashion by a simple repeal of the laws which instituted "Northern Ireland". It must be ended by the common agreement of all parties concerned - THE COMMON PEOPLE
in the Six Counties, the Twenty-Six and in England.
The English democracy has the duty
, as well as the privilege, of so cultivating the friendship of the common people on either side of the Boundary that this concrete embodiment of an evil past will fall before the combined assault of the three democracies operating in concert.
In this effort we can, and will, realise the prophecy of James Connolly
"In our movement North and South will again clasp hands, and again it will be demonstrated, as in '98, that the pressure of a common exploitation will make enthusiastic rebels out of a Protestant working-class, enthusiastic champions of civil and religious liberty out of Catholics, and out of both a united Socialist democracy."
And we can make Patrick Pearse's
words also come true:
"Let no man be mistaken as to who will be Lord in Ireland, when Ireland is free. The People
will be Lord and Master."
The following is an excerpt from Ireland Her Own
authored by TA Jackson in 1947. Jackson essentially builds upon and expands Connolly's Labour In Irish History.
The Evil of Partition
That Partition is an evil
- that it was inflicted upon Ireland expressly to twart the national aspirations of the Irish people - we have in this book abundantly prove. Forced to abandon the Act of Union - and "Protestant Ascendancy" - the ruling class of England retorted by re-establishing the Pale in a new geographical location.
The excuse for Partition was the pretence that the "Protestants" of N.E. Ulster might be penalised and discriminated against by a Catholic majority. That this was a pure pretence is proved by the abandonment to the Catholic majority of the Twenty-Six Counties of a 6 per cent Protestant minority; and by the enforced inclusion in "Northern Ireland" of a 33 per cent Catholic minority which has been insultingly and injuriously discriminated against ever since.
There are many things in the constitution and practice of "Eire" which deserve drastic condemnation from the standpoint of (say) James Connolly, Patrick Pearse, or Theobald Wolfe Tone. But they are matched and surpassed at their worst by the gerrymandered representation and the all-but Fascist adminstration of "Northern Ireland".
Even if this were not so, the war-situation and its outcome shows how very much the enemies of the people of England and of their true interests have been those ruling classes
who, the better to be able to exploit the people, have for nearly eight centuries sought to destroy Irish Nationality and to hold Ireland in permanent subjection, directly or indirectly.
On the ground that the English workers can never be free while they consent to the holding of the Irish people in subjection, it is our case that Partition must be ended to make possible free and fraternal co-operation between England and Ireland.
Ireland would have taken its rightful place in the Liberation War of Humanity as a matter of course. A partitioned and insulted Ireland was morally forced to occupy the less honourable, but necessitated, position of neutral.
**Tomorrow will include a section entitled "To End Partition" from the same text.
Na Fianna Eireann Attacked in the Evening Herald.
The Republican Youth Movement, Na Fianna Eireann
were libelled earlier this week by the Free State gutter paper
, the Evening Herald
(the evening release of the Irish Independent
). Scans of this trash article
in its entirety can be viewed here
A statement made on this topic on Newstalk radio by the NFE PRO can be read here
news release on this topic can be found here
Letters commenting on this article can be sent to this address: email@example.com
Phoned into: Free phone
1-800 733 733 (Monday To Friday)
Don't let this typical garbage press carry on attempting to discredit a respectable and hardworking organisation!
After re-reading portions of "Killing Rage" by Eamon Collins, I have a bit of commentary on certain interactions and points from the text.
The book is a biography of a Newry area IRA operator and eventual member of the greatly feared Nutting Squad who becomes a supergrass. He would later be killed in a breach of the Provos ceasefire (aka SURRENDER
) in January of 1999. It gives information on many operations and known figures within the Provisional movement.
The parts I wish to discuss and paraphrase today are those dealing with the alleged "Stakeknife"
of the Provisionals. As a member of the Nutting Squad for the border area, Collins had a great deal of contact with Freddie Scappaticci
and therefore gives a decent, though vague, character assessment of the man.
He is displayed as a brutal and ruthless killer who takes some amount of joy from seeing people die at his hands. The two short pieces of dialogue I am going to take from Collins' book are in reference to an alleged informer that was court-martialled in abstentia and executed by Scap.
Scap told him to keep his blindfold on for security reasons (i.e.
he didn't want him to know the car he was riding in and also the direction from which they came).
"It was funny watching the bastard stumbling and falling, asking me as he felt his way along the railings and walls 'Is this my house' and I'd say, 'No not yet, walk on some more....'"
Then Scap's superior officer and head of the Nutting Squad, John Joe Magee threw in his memories of the occurrence saying "and then you shot the fucker in the he back of the head." They both had a good laugh at the reminiscing and at the touts expense.
The Nutting Squad is a grim necessity of a revolutionary group at war with a empire with almost endless intelligence resources. Also, I don't really have a big problem with the execution of touts, but to express extreme glee at the sight of a pathetically helpless person is just completely sickness.
Even at this stage of the game, Collins and other members of the security squad suspected a tout within their ranks, as operation after operation was spoiled. The text never came to a conclusion as to who should be suspect, so Scap was keeping a low profile with his touting. Collins seems to respect his ruthlessness as a necessary evil in an organisation such as the IRA and I very much doubt that he believed Scap to be the tout.
Sooner or later, the books will be written on the Stakeknife issue and some amount of truth will be known. Just recently, it was exposed that the real Stakeknife's voice as heard on security recording will be released to the public in the near future. On that day, things may clear up a bit. People who knew and know Scap personally will know the truth of the collusion claims.
After re-reading portions of "Killing Rage" by Eamon Collins, I have a bit of commentary on certain interactions and points from the text.The book is a biography of an IRA operator and member of the greatly feared Nutting Squad who eventually becomes a tout from the Newry area. He would later be killed in a breach of the Provos ceasefire (aka SURRENDER) in January of 1999. It gives information on many operations and known figures within the Provisional movement.
One of the most outstanding parts in the books is Collins' recollection of an encounter at a funeral with Gerry Adams in which he essentially calls Adams a Stick. Adams was attempting to quell a confrontation between a group of mourners and the RUC.
The nationalists were stamping their feet in protest to the RUC's prescence at the IRA Volunteer's funeral and Francie Molloy (now head of PSF's Tyrone office) was trying to get them to stop. Collins was egging the crowd on; telling them to ignore the PSF
"Stop, stop" Molloy said. "This is not helping our cause."
Collins was disgusted with this attempt to hinder the natural feelings of disgust being displayed by these people in mourning. He told them "don't listen to him. Bang your feet if you want. Don't listen to him. Show the RUC you're not afraid. Show solidarity with the dead Volunteer!"
Molloy ran like a little child to tattle-tale on Collins. Adams, who had already stopped a few of these disturbances during the day, moved in quickly to talk his sort of sense to the people. They eventually stopped at the beckon of this man, who's position demanded a sort of respect amongst nationalist people.
When asked how the funeral "went," Adams said "No, it went quiet will. Nos erious incident, apart fromt his man here."
Collins asked him "What incident was that?"
Gerry replied "the incident when you encouraged the crowd to stomp their feet after they had been asked to stop."
"There was nothing wrong with that," Collins shot back, "They were showing their support for a dead volunteer."
Adams shook his head "To me it smacks of militarism and fascism.
Collins cut him off and thru clenched teeth said "That's like something the Sticks would come out with."
It had been said before and has been said many times since then, but that is just about the worst insult you could have said to the Provisional president. Adams is often criticised because of his rejection of the military operations that thrust him into the political arena in the first place. No matter what the man says, it was not his involvement in anti-internment and civil rights protests that gave him recognition; it was the fact that he was the head of the Belfast leadership of the Provos from after the Sunningdale Agreement(perhaps before) that gave him his noteriety and his rise thru the ranks of both Sinn Fein and the PIRA. His constant denial of his PIRA involvement and status within that organisation has just become an old and boring dance.
**Tomorrow, I'll go thru Collins involvement with Scap and the Nutting Squad.
Here are a few quotes relating to my recent hungerstrike articles:
Among the best traitors Ireland has ever had, Mother Church
ranks at the very top; a massive obstacle in the path to equality and freedom.
-Bernadette Devlin McAliskey
In a physical contest on the field of battle it is allowable to use tactis and strategy, to retreat as well as advance, to have recourse to a ruse as well as open attack; but in matters of principle
there can be no tactics, there is one straight forward course to follow and that course must be found and followed without swerving to the end.
-Terence MacSwiney, 1920
If our last bullet had been fired, our last shilling spent & our last man were lying on the ground with his enemies howling round him with the bayonets raised ready to plunge into his body, that man should say – true to the tradition handed down – if they say to him “Now, will you come into our Empire” – he should and he would say “No, I will not.”
-Cathal Brugha, 1921
You have got your pound of flesh, now give us our rights, Do not for one minutes think that we will allow you to rob us of our principles. There are more Bobby Sands in these Blocks and we will continue to die if need be to safeguard these principles.
-Republican Prisoners in Long Kesh, May 7th, 1981
Let the fight go on.
-INLA Vol. Patsy O'Hara
The aftermath of the 1981 Hungerstrike: An article of some sort of closure.
Having exhausted all means of protest, the brave men suffering in the H-Blocks called an end
to the second Long Kesh strike in as many years. On the 3rd of October, the prisoner spokespersons released a statement
stating an end to the death and mourning.
The many reasons cited in this statement and elsewhere include Church deception
in trying to push the strikers' families into breaking the Volunteers' wishes not to be brought off strike. They attempted to guilt the loved ones into believing the mens' souls would be damned to hell for their stand. It is typical of the treachery of the Catholic Church
in Irish history.
After this deception, it was apparent that many of the men still on strike following the death of Micky Devine would be pulled off in light of any immediate danger to their lives. With this in mind, it was decided by the prisoners' that the strike was at a point where it would be pointless
to carry on.
Their statement had been made with the murder
of the ten Volunteers between May 5th and August 20th by the indifference and ignorance
of the Conservative British government. Another thing that spoke loudly for the prisoners' cause was the large number of votes received by prisoners in elections both in the Six Counties and in the Free State.
Paddy Agnew topped the poll in Louth, Bobby Sands
was elected as MP for the Fermanagh/Tyrone constituency, and Kieran Doherty was elected for the Cavan/Monaghan constituency. First preference votes received by prisoners and prisoner representatives were as follows: Kieran Doherty
polled first preference 9,121 (15%); Paddy Agnew, Louth, 8,368 (18%); Joe McDonnell
, Sligo/Leitrim, 5,634; Martin Hurson
, Longford/Westmeath, 4,573 (10%); Sean McKenna (1980 hungerstriker),
Kerry North, 3,860; Kevin Lynch
, Waterford, 3,337; Tony O'Hara (Patsy's brother),
Dublin West, 3,034; Mairead Farrell (later killed on Gibraltar),
Cork North Central, 2,751 and Tom McAllister, Clare, 2,120. Also, later Owen Carson, a prisoner representative, won the Westminster by-election to replace the murdered Bobby Sands in Fermanagh/Tyrone.
The determination of the prisoners to see their cause through until their last breath captivated the people of Ireland. This was shown both by the above mentioned election results and also by the strength of the pan-nationalist front forged by the H-Block/Armagh Committees. Such unification was not seen since internment and the civil rights marches.
After 217 days of hunger striking
between the two protests, the blanketmen called off their death fast. Many Volunteers were still in the ready to take their place, but with no indication that the demands would be met, the prisoners and the movement as a whole felt that more dead Volunteers would accomplish very little.
In a purposely late move by the Hell-Bitch
Thatcher's government, political status was granted. It was granted at a time when the negative publicity would have been at a lull for the British. The concession that 10 men died and thousands suffered for was nothing more than a black eye for Thatcher's Conservatives. The Brits played the hardline and watched good men die only later to give the remaining brave men what they had long fought for.
All historically minded people need
to remember the facts of this tragic event. It was the turning point that the new Belfast-based leadership of the Provos was waiting for. They began to shift Sinn Fein
to a more nationalist and less republican position. They entered candidates into the 1982 Assembly elections and pulled more than 10% of first preference vote. But this was not was those men died for. They died to see Ireland free of British tampering.
By running Provisional SF members in the Six County statelet's elections, the Adams' leadership of the Provos were doing nothing more than reinforcing the illegal border
that hundreds of men died to abolish. It needs to be known that the Provos are not a Republican party
. They are still on a shift that will ultimately see them joining the ranks of Parnell's Irish Party and Fianna Fail
. They are replacing the Stoops
as the constitutional nationalist
party of the Six Counties.