Random Ramblings from a Republican
Formation of the Provisional IRA
Today, December 28th, is the 35th anniversary of the split of the Provos from the IRA. The members of the Belfast Brigade held that the Army Council was not protecting the Catholic communities from the onslaught of ongoing UVF attacks. This stemmed from the August 1969 attacks by loyalists on Catholic housing estates, as well as a growing sense of helplessness spurred by the Southern domination of the AC. The Council refused to allow any reprisals or offensive action to be taken against the loyalists, favouring politics as the way forward.
It's funny how things change, isn't it?
The majority of the delegates at the Army conference voted to maintain a more political line, and the Northern Command split from what was now called the "Official" IRA. The annoucement regarding this split was not made for another two weeks, but the rifts were already rising between the factions. It would errupt into a feud in early 1971.
The IRBB (Irish Republican Bulletin Board) seems to be back up an running after a few glitches in the past couple of months. Glad to have it back. I was scaring myself with the volume of productive work I was doing without that board.
I recommend you check it out if you aren't already a member.
More posts after Christmas. It's been a busy few weeks.
Today in Irish History
- A French fleet under General Hoche with Wolfe Tone, 43 vessels and 14,500 men sails from Brest in December and is scattered by storms; 36 ships arrive at Bantry Bay but do not attempt a landing and return to France, thus preventing what might have been an Irish/French victory over the English
Dáil Éireann meets for the first time and elects Eamon de Valera as first President of Ireland
Anyone hungry for a big helping of TREACHERY?
There's plenty for everyone.
The most dreaded period of the semester for a college student is upon me.
Don't expect very much here until about Thursday. That is, unless all of you are interested in reading about Ancient Greek Drama? An essay on Medea's theme, or the soothsayer of Oedipus Rex?
I imagine those coming to read about Irish history would be peeved to be bombarded with literary blather, so I'll spare yis!
*This is from Irelands Own history section. Written by a lad named Máirtín. It's a good read. Hope you enjoy it as well
December 12th, 1957
The Border Campaign: (1957-1962)
The IRA’s 1939 bombing campaign in England had been a failure. A split in the organization in July 1946 (resulting in the foundation of Clann na Poblachta) weakened the IRA further. Despite these setbacks the GHQ of the IRA estimated that there were still 200 real activists still at work, with hundreds more on the fringes. An IRA convention took place in September 1948 with the purpose of electing a new Executive. The Executive appointed Tony Magan as Chief of Staff. Magan immediately set out to reorganize the movement.
The IRA conceded that one of the biggest mistakes of the 1939 campaign was the failure to harness popular support. Political naiveté was the result of the IRA being apolitical. At the 1949 army convention a resolution was passed allowing IRA members to join, infiltrate and control Sinn Féin so that the army could have a political wing. In 1950 there was an election in which Sinn Féin ran two IRA men as candidates and, as J Bowyer Bell points out, “the alliance was sealed and Sinn Féin was again a factor in the Republican movement”.
By May 1951 a ‘Campaign Plan’ was in place. The IRA had now begun preparing to attack the British army and RUC in the North. The IRA had started growing in size and arms raids took place, first in Derry, in which the IRA had procured a relatively small number of weapons (although they were more sophisticated than those used by the state army in the South at the time). A second successful raid took place in Armagh. The IRA took over 300 weapons from the British army’s Gough barracks. The IRA was evidently becoming more confident. Bowyer Bell describes the 1951 Wolfe Tone commemoration as the most enthusiastic in a generation. In addressing the crowd Gearóid O’Broín said: “These arms were captured by the Republican forces for use against the British occupation forces still in Ireland and they will be used against them…in due course”.
A rarely praised but extremely praiseworthy Republican(1879-1929)
Austin Stack was born on December 7th, 1879
in the town of Tralee, Co. Kerry. As a young man, he participated in Kerry GAA sports and events, and got acquainted with the Republican underground in his area. He became active with the Irish Volunteers around his town and his reputation as a determined man spread.
His first arrest came in April 1916, when he, acting as Commandant of the Kerry Brigade, was captured by RIC members with fellow Irish Volunteer and Dublin man Con Collins while planning an attack the Tralee barracks where Roger Casement was being held. Tried in typical British fashion, Stack was sentenced to 20 years.
In 1917, Stack was released under the general amnesty of Republican prisoners. He then became active in the new political arena developing in Ireland. He was elected as Secretary of Sinn Fein, a position he would hold for the next 12 years. Shortly after this, in early 1918, he was again arrested and taken to Crumlin Road Jail where he participated in numerous protests with his comrades. These hunger and thirst strikes would take a toll on Austin's health for the rest of his life.
While he was in prison, Stack stood in the 1918 General Election and won the First Dail
seat for Kerry West. This victory began a particular distaste from the British, and shortly after he was transferred to Strangeways prison in Manchester. He spent only a short time there; he escaped in the fall of 1919.
Upon returning to Ireland, he took his seat in the Dail
and participated as the Minister of Home Affairs during the 2nd Ministry in the first half of 1920. During this time, he was key in organising the new Irish Republic judicial system, to replace the long injust British courts. Amidst all this, he was also leading IRA men against the Tans.
Stack was re-elected to the 2nd Dail for the jurisdiction of Kerry Limerick West and again took the position of Minister of Home Affairs. He along with Cathal Brugha
and DeValera, were nominated to accompany the delegation that would later sign the Treaty of surrender. They all rejected the invitations. He refused to recognise the British Crown as having any hold on Irish self-determination.
He vocally rejected the signing of that Treaty of Partition in December of 1921 and vowed to fight on. He is quoted as saying in front of the whole Dail, "Has any man here the hardihood to stand up and say that it was for this our fathers suffered, that it was for this our comrades have died in the field and in the barrack yard?"
He fought with the so-called Irregulars[sic] (the "dissidents" of those days)
against the Free Staters. He was captured and imprisoned by Free State forces during their swoop of arrests in the Spring of 1923.
A mass hungerstrike was decided upon for October and hundreds of Republicans (women included) took part. The result of this strike was as desired. The Free State officials, fearing that their fledging hypocritic statelet would come under fire for allowing people to starve in their prisons, caved in and released the Republican prisoners. The number of Republicans participating in this strike is thought to have numbered around 700. Three men died during or directly after this strike, their names were Dennis Barry, Joseph Lacey and Andrew Sullivan.
Austin would never give up his hope for a 32-County Republic. He continued to fight politically for its recognition. He was elected three more times to the 32 County Dail. Sadly, towards the end of April 1929, Stack's body, riddled by years of hunger striking, finally quit on him and he died after complications from a stomach operation days before.
Austin Stack is revered in Republican circles as a man of no compromise and of flawless integrity. He is buried along with so many of his valiant comrades in Glasnevin Cemetery, Dublin.
Be back in a few days.
*since I lack the time and facilities to do this myself at the moment, here is the next best alternative:
The Kilmichael Ambush
All the positions were occupied at 9 a.m. The Column had no food. There was only one house nearby and although these decent people sent down all their own food and a large bucket of tea, there was not enough for all. The men's clothes had been drenched by the previous night's rain and now it was intensely cold as they lay on the sodden heather. The hours passed slowly. Towards evening the gloom deepened over the bleak Kilmichael countryside. Then at last at 4.5 p.m. a scout signalled the enemy's approach.
The first lorry came round the bend into the ambush position at a fairly fast speed. Then column commander Tom Barry, dressed in a military style uniform stepped onto the road with his hand up. The driver of the lorry, seeing the uniformed figure, gradually slowed down. When it was thirty-five yards from the volunteers command post a Mills bomb was thrown by Barry and simultaneously a whistle blew signalling the beginning of the assault. The bomb sailed through the air to land in the driver's seat of the uncovered lorry. As it exploded the rifle shots rang out. The lorry, its driver dead, moved forward until it stopped a few yards from the small stone wall in front of the command post. While some of the Auxiliaries were firing from the lorry, others were on the road and the fight became a hand-to-hand one. Revolvers were used at point blank range, and at times, rifle butts replaced rifle shots. The Auxiliaries were cursing and yelling as they fought, but the I.R.A. coldly outfought them. In less than five minutes all nine Auxiliaries were dead or dying sprawled around the road, except the driver and another who were lying lifeless in the front of the lorry.