Monday, 29 January 2018

Martin Rattigan commemoration oration

Firstly let me say how honoured I am to have been asked by the Family and Friends of Martin and Joe to come and here today and speak. The fondness in which Martin & Joe’s friends speak of them is touching, they speak of warm, witty and determined people, men who loved their country immensely, two men who touched the lives of so many in their community.
For many Martin Rattigan is the epitome of old school Republican, he travelled the length and breadth of Ireland campaigning, on his travels he picked up many friends and acquaintances and nowhere outside of his home town was Martin so well-known and loved as in County Armagh.
Martin operated as an IRA volunteer in South Armagh for many years, during his time spent there on behalf of his country, Martin developed a great affection for the place, he referred to Slieve Guillion  as “my little mountain”.  At the beginning of whats referred to as the troubles, Martin was part of an active service unit, made up of mainly Navan Volunteers, he was billeted in Iniskeen when the unit heard word that British Soldiers had blew up the road at Courtbane, the unit took up position on the road and an ambush followed, it was here that the first British Soldier of the campaign in South Armagh was killed.
Martin was involved in many IRA operations in subsequent years, based mainly around Portadown and Lurgan.  After ending active service Martin was to continue his Republican activism, throughout his life he campaigned for Republican prisoners and was involved in the Cuban 5 campaign, a keen internationalist Martin also made important links with the Basque Separatists.
Joe was equally as active in campaigning on Republican issues, his friends describe him as “Martin’s right hand man”, Joe sold Republican papers religiously to try and get the word out, and he did whatever was needed.
The esteem in which these two men are held is evidenced here today, the very many of their friends who have come out to commemorate them, and their family will never allow their memory to be forgotten.
If Martin and Joe where alive today, I have no doubt that they would be to the forefront of the very many campaigns Republicans are currently fighting.  One of those very serious issues is Internment.
Internment or Licence revocation as the Brits are calling it, has become a very worrying trend in Irish Republican circles, at present we have 3 men, all in Maghaberry Jail who are subject to this.  In the case of Tony Taylor who has now been in Jail for nearly 2 years, no acceptable reason has been forthcoming, citing a generic “risk to security” is not a reason, it is an assumption and not a fact, it is not a strong enough assumption to take away someone’s liberty. The same goes for Gabriel Mackle released only a matter of weeks and thrown back in Jail, once again a mantra of being a “security risk” is all we know. Having secret reasons given by a secret police in order to deprive someone of their liberty is the stuff of tyrannical despotic states that decent society is allegedly supposed to oppose.
The most shocking of these 3 cases though it has to be said is that of Neil Hegarty, Neil was released from Jail in December after serving a 5-year sentence; Neil was welcomed home by his family and friends and was undoubtedly looking forward to reconnecting. With Christmas only a matter of weeks away, his friends and family were elated about having him back at home, the first time in 5 years they would socialise together, enjoy a meal and have quality time with their loved one.  Just over 24 hours after his release the Police arrived at Neil’s door, told him his licence had been revoked and carted him off.
In the 26 counties we have an onslaught of IRA membership charges being brought against Republican activists in an attempt to censor them, to hamper the good work they are doing. Any Republican can be arrested and charged with IRA membership, all it takes is the “belief” of a Chief Superintendent. No evidence need be provided just simply the “belief” of one person. And we all know that these Chief Superintendents are hardly the most reliable of witnesses, given the atrocious track record of the Gardai of telling lies and setting people up.  When the charged person eventually gets to court; and the Superintendent is questioned on their “belief” they have in the past used privilege, in other words, secret information. Essentially you can be arrested, charged and convicted of IRA membership without having any specific allegation or evidence ever given to justify it.
All this is supported by the Governments and a willing media. The propaganda and media bias against the Republican people of Ireland means that the Public are completely apathetic about these human rights abuses, so it is our duty to inform them at every opportunity.
In recent years we hear people constantly talking about how to make republicanism relevant, how we as “alternative” republicans must somehow change ourselves and our ideology along with it, to those people we state clearly that we are not alternative Republicans, there is no alternative Republicanism, we stand by the Republic as laid out in the 1916 Proclamation.
One hundred years ago Irish Republicans took part in the first sitting of an all Ireland Dáil Éireann. On the same day volunteers of Óglaigh na hÉireann struck the first blow against the crown in the Tan War. Both are seminal moments in Irish history and both are still an example and inspiration to Irish Republicans.
Attempts are currently underway once again to try and deny the legitimacy of the republican struggle and undermine resistance to British rule. Let there be no doubt in people’s minds, the republican struggle is and always has been legitimate. The illegitimacy lies in the British occupation and those who seek to normalise it. It lies with those who seek to equate resistance to the occupation with the savagery meted out by the forces of the occupation. Republican resistance to British rule was legitimate in 1798, it was legitimate in 1916 and it remains legitimate today. As long as the British occupation remains and the Irish people as a whole are denied self determination free from foreign interference then to quote Padraig Pearse “the only honourable attitude for Irishmen and Irishwomen is an attitude of revolt.”
The Irish Republic is the embodiment of the sovereignty of the Irish people past, present and future. It is what countless generations gave their lives and liberty for. It cannot simply be a passing piece of rhetoric, we as republicans must act towards its re-establishment.
What we must also do however is face reality, we are at a critical time in our history, The challenges we face are real and the British and Freestaters are certainly winning the war of “hearts and minds”.
Martin Rattigan knew only too well when it was time to face reality, as a member of the Provisional movement for many years, he gave them his all, and he worked tirelessly believing that their plan was a new way, a chance. However Martin like so many others  realised, that PSF  had went down the path of reformism and revisionism, a testament of Martin’s character was his courage and strength, his ability to put ego to one side and say enough is enough, he walked away from the movement he had dedicated his life to. He put his Country before pride.
Martin demonstrated a political maturity that surpasses what many people are capable of, it would have been easy for Martin to stay with them, to see out his days quietly, to not rock the boat, but Martin was a man of integrity and honour and when he realised that PSF had actually become part of the problem, that they were in fact propping up British rule instead of trying to end it, his mind was only on the cause of the Republic and nothing else.
The lesson that we can all take from Martin and Joe is that it is never too late, you are never too old to do service for your country, that as Republicans we must always follow the cause and never the man.
In leaving here today, let us take that lesson with us and act upon it
An Phoblacht abu
Go raibh maith agaibh

Monday, 22 January 2018

The Irish National invincibles

The Irish National invincibles

For me, there couldn’t possibly be a group of more tragically romanticised figures in Irish Republican history than the Invincibles, the name alone is something that conjures up images of men who are indestructible, unmoving and burly, throw in hearty nicknames like “skin the goat” and you have the stuff legends are made of.  

I remember the first time I ever heard of the invincibles; it was years ago, my father was telling me the story of Donegal man Patrick O’Donnell. I grew up hearing obscure stories about people my father deemed to be great Irish patriots, a great story teller he told me of an Irish man who was on a boat travelling to South Africa, minding his own business as my da would put it.

Patrick O’Donnell in my father’s version of the story was just an ordinary Irish man and not involved in anything Political at that point. As fate would have it, on the very same voyage was the great Irish traitor and all round rogue James Carey.  James Carey had been a member of the invincibles and he had betrayed them to the British in an act of snivelling cowardice after the Phoenix Park killings. After he saw to it that his comrades had been executed he was spirited out of Ireland and was travelling under a pseudo name.

Patrick O’Donnell and James Carey met on this trip, after a while Patrick O’Donnell figured out who James Carey was, he had read about him in the newspapers and saw a portrait, and in a moment of patriotic fervour, loyalty to Ireland and courage he executed him on board the boat! There was jubilation in Ireland, bonfires were lit to celebrate, Patrick O’Donnell was a national hero and everyone rejoiced at the ending of Carey's miserable treacherous life. Patrick O’Donnell was arrested, convicted and executed for killing the traitor.

This story I remember vividly, I proceeded to read everything I could find about Patrick O’Donnell and of course naturally everything about the invincibles also.

The invincibles were a radical splinter group from the Irish Republican Brotherhood, active for only a handful of years in Dublin their biggest and most well-known operation was the Phoenix Park assassinations. They had settled on a plan to kill the new Permanent Under Secretary Thomas Henry Burke at the Irish Office, on the chosen day Lord Frederick Cavendish was walking with Burke in the Phoenix Park when the invincibles attacked. Using what they had at their disposal, knives, they struck and killed both men.

Invincible members Joe Brady, Michael Fagan, Thomas Caffrey, Dan Curley and Tim Kelly were convicted of the killings and were hanged and buried in the grounds of Kilmainham Gaol in Dublin between 14 May and 9 June 1883. Their bodies to this day are still there in convicts graves, in an area closed off to the public.

I was nosing through Facebook just before Christmas as I usually do, and to my delight, I saw a page called “Invincibles Reinterment Committee”, intrigued I had to have a look into it. The National Graves association (NGA) have formed a committee to have the bodies of these 5 Irish Patriots re-interred in a resting place befitting their status. Their mission statement reads as follows:

“This page is run by members of the Invincibles Reinterment Committee whose chief mission statement is to campaign for the burial of the five Irish National Invincibles in consecrated ground in place of their current resting place in convicts' graves in the grounds of Kilmainham Gaol. The names of these Irish patriots were Joe Brady, Daniel Curley, Tim Kelly, Thomas Caffrey and Michael Fagan, all executed in 1883 for their part in the Phoenix Park assassinations of the previous year.”

They have already got the ball rolling, having contacted the Office of Public Works who would oversee such requests, the response to say the least is disheartening, with Kevin Moran the minister for this office not even believing that their resting place is at all inappropriate.

This committee and reading about their campaign is what spurred me to write this blog, I have an affection for the Invincibles as I believe a great many Irish people do. I think all Republicans can get behind this campaign, it is only right that Irish Patriots be laid to rest in a place befitting their status and importance to the Irish Independence struggle. I hope that going forward should any rallies or events be announced that the numbers are out in force to support them.

You can keep informed of the current campaign on social media by following the below Facebook link


Thursday, 7 December 2017

Licence revocations become a worrying trend

Tony Taylor, Gabriel Mackle & Neil Hegarty – Three Irish republican prisoners among dozens but what do they have in common? Today they are all victims of internment!

Some might say oh they had their “licences revoked” that isn’t internment, they obviously did something wrong, broke their conditions; sure they don’t just throw you in jail for nothing!

Well to those people I say this - Yes they have had their licences revoked, but ask yourselves why? Is there is a reason? Is it good enough in 2017 to have men thrown in Jail and not give an explanation? Is putting a man in jail after a sentence served and not giving a reason, not internment? To me, it is absolutely internment.

In the case of Tony Taylor who has now been in Jail for nearly 2 years, no acceptable reason has been forthcoming, citing a generic “risk to security” is not a reason, it is an assumption and not a fact, it is not a strong enough assumption to take away someone’s liberty. The same goes for Gabriel Mackle released from Jail only a matter of weeks and thrown back in Jail, once again a mantra of being a “security risk” is all we know. Having secret reasons given by a secret police in order to deprive someone of their liberty is the stuff of tyrannical despotic states that we are all allegedly supposed to oppose.
The fact that it is the so-called civilized brits, which are doing this, means no one bats an eyelid. The Republican people of Ireland know only too well there is nothing civilized about how the Brits have treated the general people of this Country, never mind Republicans.

The most shocking of these 3 cases though it has to be said is that of Neil Hegarty, Neil was released from Jail only on Tuesday (5th December) after serving a 5-year sentence; Neil was welcomed home by his family and friends and was undoubtedly looking forward to reconnecting. With Christmas only a matter of weeks away, his friends and family were elated about having him back at home, the first time in 5 years they would socialise together, enjoy a meal and have quality time with their loved one. Last night (6th December), just over 24 hours since his release the Police arrived at Neil’s door, told him his licence had been revoked and carted him off.

Now come on! What could he possibly have done in just over 24 hours to warrant this, how did this happen so speedily? Who approved this and what is the end game here? This is a shocking turn of events, even to Republicans who have come to expect almost anything from the British establishment here in Ireland.

These “licence revocations” cross all Republican groups, these 3 men all come from separate organisations, each group has come out and condemned respectively their member's incarceration. There is a harsh reality that has to be said, now is not the time for partisan politics and outlook, now is the time to be united in our rage, united in our opposition. We cannot just care for those who politically swing with us! We are all Irish Republicans and we have a duty to support all 3 men and anyone that may follow.

These revocations are extremely political in nature, however, this is not just a Republican issue this is a human rights issue. It is cruel and degrading to release someone from Jail and have them unsure of their own liberty, have them living in fear every day of being arrested and thrown back in Jail.

Some of the conditions that Republicans have been released under are quite simply bizarre. The issue of not allowing a prisoner to return to their home or boundaries is internal exile; it is designed to demoralise them and alienate them from their own community.Today I am angry, angry for Tony Taylor, Gabriel Mackle and Neil Hegarty, I am angry for their families and friends, angry at the sheer injustice of it all. Please do not let this trend continue unopposed, there is a danger here that the more this continues, the more we become desensitised to it.

It is time now for us ALL to speak out and for everyone single one of these men. There can be no hierarchy when it comes to prisoners, human rights or liberty.

I support all 3 of these men and I implore my readers to do the same.


Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Bono & Geldof Cultural Cringe

Why do we hate Bono & Geldof?

I have mentioned before in my blog that Ireland is suffering from National Stockholm syndrome and that there is an inferiority complex issue, no one illustrates my point more adequately than the much maligned and Irish hate figure Bob Geldof. Irish people get outraged at Geldof; his continual revisionism is downright offensive to some people. Geldof is an attention seeker, a side effect of dealing with a major inferiority complex, paradoxically people who suffer with an inferiority complex often times manifest symptoms of a superiority complex which would explain his arrogance.

For me I think Bob Geldof exemplifies perfectly the phenomena known as “Cultural Cringe”
Cultural Cringe is an internalised inferiority complex which causes people to dismiss their own culture as inferior to the cultures of other countries. Bob Geldof has certainly shown this in abundance.

His handing back the freedom of Dublin, due to his outrage at sharing such an honour with Aung San Suu Kyi due to the ongoing Rohyinga crisis and her handling of it, may to some seem more than hypocritical, considering he is more than happy to be a an honorary knight of the British Empire. The very notion of empire is offensive, The British Empire that was built on the backs of slaves, occupation theft, murder and oppression and let us not forget that it was the British Empire who introduced the concentration camp – all this Bob Geldof is apparently OK with.

So aside from the obvious hypocritical nature of his viewpoint what is it that makes it OK to turn down an Irish Honour, which let’s be honest is nothing like an OBE, but accept with open arms and gratitude an honour bestowed by the British Monarchy. It is cultural cringe! Geldof wouldn’t want to offend the British, he views them as superior and worthy, whereas the Irish can be insulted and ridiculed because we are thickos and sure he knows better, he has been enlightened into our backward ways and thoughts by years spent in England.

So ingrained into the British Culture that he has adopted, he took a leading role in opposing Brexit, not for any of the reasons Irish People may oppose it, but because he is number 1 Englishman these days, who can forget the pathetic sight of Geldof and Nigel Farage sailing about on the Thames trading insults to each other over the EU Referendum.

He was a no campaigner for Scottish Independence and memorably likened the 1916 patriots to ISIS Jihadis, Geldof is a true Brit, when talking about Westminster and British Politics he says “we” and has declared “the United Kingdom is one of the greatest ideas for the modern age” and people wonder why the Irish hate him!

Now let’s not just be picking on poor oul hangover face Bob Geldof, he is not alone in being a self-hating Irishman, his good mate Bono joins him in the ranks.

Like Geldof he too has accepted an honorary knighthood from the British Monarchy. Many will know the U2 song Bloody Sunday, a direct reference to the murder of 14 innocent Irish Civilians in 1972 by the  British Army, when talking about it U2 cannot bring themselves to condemn the murder or offer condolences, instead he focuses on the condemnation of all violence and openly condemn the IRA!! Ignoring entirely the events from which he takes the title of his song.

Of course when David Cameron gave an apology in the House of Commons nearly 40 years later, self-appointed spokesperson Bono sycophantically heaped praise on him, Bono has condemned many incidents in Ireland, The Omagh Bomb, Enniskillen etc but not once have I heard him outright condemn the British Army for their atrocities. His moral outrage is reserved only for his fellow Countrymen and not those who have occupied us. 

Only on Sunday Past, the once self described aggressive Pacisift Bono, dedicated the song "in the name of love" to the British Military. The admiration he has for the British Government and Military  does not allow for him to condemn them, it was all the stupid paddies fault!

At a recent concert in July Bono thanked the British for “looking after” Irish Immigrants “Us Irish are immigrant people and of course we came here into this great, Great Britain and we thank you for giving us safety and sanctuary for all these years” he said, conveniently forgetting the rampant anti Irish sentiment prevalent in British Society in years gone by and the torture and internment of Irish Citizens by the British Government such as the Birmingham 6 and Guildford 4.

Of course in Bono and Geldof’s eyes us Irish need looked after, we are not fit to run our own affairs, and we need the British to come in and adult the situation. We don’t know what is good for us.
Now Geldof, Bono and the rest of this crew will put our criticisms down to begrudgery, so self-assured are they in their righteousness, we are all just jealous backward types.  But it is far from this, for centuries we have been oppressed, our culture driven underground in an attempt to properly colonise and own us, it has worked to such an extent that even some Irish people as evidenced by Geldof and Bono have bought into this notion that we are inferior. Colonialism is successful when you can get the natives on board with it and by God have they got two brilliant ones with Bono & Geldof!

Cultural Cringe in Ireland is not a new phenomenon; it is part of the colonial/slave mentality and goes back centuries. It has affected many areas of Irish Culture from Irish Language, music and dress to even some people modifying their accents!

While I use the term Cultural Cringe or slave mentality, I think the good old fashioned “West Brit” sums it up perfectly.


Sunday, 12 November 2017

Edentubber 60th anniversary oration

Today, as in years past, we again gather to pay tribute to the memory of five republicans, who made the ultimate sacrifice here in Edentubber, as a result of a premature explosion on this lonely mountainside in the early hours of Monday, 11th November, 1957. While later tragedies would sadly eclipse it in number, at the time this would be the single biggest loss of life incurred by the IRA since the bitter counter-revolution of 1922 – 23. 

A newspaper at the time, the Newry Reporter, would describe a sad and devastating scene in the aftermath of the explosion: “As the early morning mists cleared from the rocky defile abounding in that area, the grim gaunt evidence of the earlier hours was visible. The blast was heard over 5 miles away. Little remained of the building, but a heap of scattered rubble. A small portion of one wall was still standing. Wood splinters and masonry and parts of shattered furniture littered fields up to 150 yards away. Four Thompson sub-machine guns and ammunition were found among the wreckage.” 

The four IRA Volunteers, assisted by Michael Watters, were preparing for an expedition that would take them across the border. This was to be another chapter in what we republicans remember as the Border Campaign of 1956 – 62, to the members of Oglaigh na hEireann, it’s codename was of course, Operation Harvest. 

Operation Harvest would take place against the backdrop of great economic hardship and mass emigration across the two partitioned states in Ireland, and would be the first armed campaign in the 20th century by Oglaigh na hEireann to focus exclusively on the occupied six counties. After Oglaigh na hEireann’s repeated repression by successive Free State governments since the counter-revolution of three decades before, in 1948, an IRA Convention issued General Order No. 8, prohibiting "any armed action whatsoever" against the 26-county state, thereby focusing their attention to the north-east.

In that same year, the Free State parliament had passed legislation that arrogantly renamed this state the ‘Republic of Ireland’. In 1949, the IRA Army Council issued a statement to clarify its position to this development, and we would do well to remember how these words are still true  The statement reads as follows: “By an act of British Parliament passed at Westminster in 1920, in a deliberate absence of the entire Irish representation – and through the acceptance of the Articles of Agreement for a Treaty, the Irish Republic, proclaimed in arms Easter 1916 – and ratified in 1919 by the elected representatives of the people of all Ireland – was prevented from functioning, and in its stead two Partition Parliaments were set up to govern Ireland. 

Thus Ireland was forcibly partitioned by England and has remained partitioned since. Any attempt to give the 26 county area a new status by representing it as “the Republic of Ireland” does and cannot alter this fundamental fact.

England still retains direct control over six counties of Irish territory, and maintains within that area an army of occupation. While that position remains Republicans cannot concede the claims that Ireland’s centuries-old struggle for freedom is ended.”

Operative Harvest would begin in earnest at midnight, 12th December, 1956, and the offensive would be launched across the occupied six counties with the intention to draw the British army out of their bases, only attack the RUC and B-Specials in self-defence and ultimately destabilise the institutions of northern state. While of course they did not outright achieve all of this, the IRA had still caught the governments in both jurisdictions by surprise, returning to revolutionary activity most dramatically in incidents that night in Armagh, Enniskillen, Newry and Derry.  The tail-end of 1956 into the months of 1957 would see the brave men of Oglaigh na hEireann step up their bold campaign of sabotage and armed actions in the northern state.

On this lonely hillside in 1957 4 IRA volunteers where planning their own contribution to Operation Harvest, and we remember them with pride here today. 

Volunteer George Keegan came from a family with a proud republican tradition is his native Enniscorthy, Wexford. Keegan was descended from a rebel executed in the 1798 rebellion, and also had a very important link to the 1916 Easter Rising: His father, Patrick, was among the last group of Volunteers in the country to surrender, as they did in Enniscorthy at the end of Easter Week.
Patrick Keegan would go on to be commandant of the IRA’s North Wexford Brigade during the Tan War. Following in the revolutionary path of his father, George had been on the run for some time at the beginning of Operation Harvest. When he made the supreme sacrifice for his cause here, he was 29 years old. 

Volunteer Paul Smith, from Bessbrook, County Armagh, was only 19 years old. Yet, at the time of his death he held the rank of adjuntant in Oglaigh na hEireann, and was said to have a flair for leadership and responsibility. For over six months, Paul lived with a price on his head by the Stormont authorities due to his activities as an IRA Volunteer. The eldest of a family of seven, he was an architect’s apprentice before dedicating his life to the cause, and is recalled as a young man of a happy and carefree nature.

Also on the run in this time and would also meet his tragic end here, was Volunteer Oliver Craven, from Newry. Also 19 years old, Oliver was a labourer and driver before joining the ranks of Oglaigh na hEireann. Though a quietly spoken young man, he was noted by his comrades for his cool headedness. It is said before his death, he had avoided capture by the colonial forces several times.  

Volunteer Paddy Parle, 27 years old, was from William Street, in Wexford Town. A founding member of his local GAA Club, Paddy was also a member of Congradh na Gaeilge. It is said he held a special affinity for the writings of James Connolly and the cause of the Irish working class. 

At the outset of Operation Harvest, Paddy, along with several Wexford men, became an organiser and member of the Vinegar Hill Column. While arrests put an end to their activities, Paddy himself avoided capture and continued to be a dedicated soldier of Oglaigh na hEireann.

Also today, we also remember Michael Watters, the 50 year-old forestry worker who lived alone in the cottage that stood near this spot where the four soliders of the Irish Republican Army were preparing to head over the border that on fateful night. Though not a member of the IRA, Michael Watters followed in the tradition of countless, often forgotten ordinary men and women down through the decades. who helped in any way they could for the cause of a free Ireland and the soldiers who would fight for their country. In this instance, he provided his home in what he surely believed was a safe base for them to operate. Men and women who provided shelter, food and safety for IRA volunteers were the backbone of the Republican movement and we must never forget their contribution, without it the IRA could not function.

While we must never doubt the bravery and commitment of those who fought on in the Border Campaign therafter, by 1962, with mass imprisonment, divisions within the movement, lack of support and often poor strategies, Operation Harvest would ultimately end in failure. It’s then-chief-of-staff, the great Ruairi O’Bradaigh, would write a statement that would call off the campaign, his words encouraged republicans to reflect on these developments pragmatically, one segment reading as follows that “the situation obtaining in the earlier stages of the campaign has altered radically and is convinced that the time has come to conserve its recourses to augment them and to prepare a more favourable position. The policy of not taking aggressive military action within the 26-country area remains unaltered, and the movement takes its stand against any attempt to foment sectarian strife which is alien to the spirit of Irish Republicanism.”   

Today we are in a situation not unlike the Border campaign period, fundamentally we have to be honest - we too have divisions within our movement, mass imprisonment, and a poor strategy for gaining support, we must like the patriots of Operation Harvest have the maturity to reflect pragmatically on our failures and address them. We must take the lessons of history. We all stand here today as proud and unrepentant Irish republicans, however this is not enough, we need to work together to secure our independence, we cannot lose sight of that goal. We cannot deny that the last few decades have served a severe body blow to our cause, successive sell outs and factions have immeasurably damaged morale, and how can we unite a Country if we cannot even unite ourselves in a movement of people, ready for radical change? 

We have very real immediate issues that we must focus on, we have Irish Republican prisoners by the hundred, the British Police continue to raid homes and harass people, we have internment still alive and kicking  with Tony Taylor interned now for nearly 2 years, in the 26 counties an onslaught of IRA membership charges have taken dozens of Activists off the streets, all of these things and more are designed to crush any last remnants of opposition to Occupation, couple that with the enormous normalisation project going on all over Ireland, the attempted rehabilitation of the British Army, the GAA running recruitment adverts for the RUC, the shameful wall at Glasnevin commemorating British Army along with our patriots and honestly the list goes on and on. 

We must oppose it all and we must stand together and do it, we must make Republicanism a force to be reckoned with once more. For too long now we have been consigned to the fringes, for the general public genuine republicanism has been pushed to the history books, our job now is to ensure that Republicanism is revitalised for a new generation, and that with the help of future generations coming up, we will one day finally see the establishment of our declared Republic. 

The next few years will see many changes not least because of Brexit, the fears surrounding Brexit for Irish people seem to be centred on the border, scare mongering abounds while the Politicos in Stormont try to exploit it to their advantage. The idea that there could be border posts is a shock for many people; this reminds them that we still live in a divided and occupied Country. As Republicans we do not need this reminder, we are all too aware of the very real British occupation that is ongoing. The People who are deluding themselves that everything is ok in Ireland as long as there is no physical border perhaps needs this little wakeup call!  

The Edentubber Maytyrs goal was to eradicate British rule in this Country, and we know what the volunteers in the 50’s did with Customs huts on the border back then, not that I would advocate that now!!

One year after the beginning of Operation Harvest, the IRA Army Council issued a statement on 12th December, 1957 – little over a month after the deaths of these five great patriot men here at Edentubber. It was a statement to encourage it’s volunteers to continue the fight, and there is one paragraph in it I feel that has direct relevance to our own continuing republican struggle today. It reads:

“We must recover for the Irish people possession of the natural resources of our country. We must win for the Irish people the ownership and control of our nation. We must secure for the Irish people democracy, unity and sovereignty. To achieve these objects we must end forever interference in our affairs by an outside power. We must drive from our shores the forces of this outside power. We must establish national independence.”

Comrades, six decades have passed since George, Paul, Oliver, Paddy and Michael gave their lives for Ireland not far from where we stand. They left us a heroic legacy that we, the faithful few, will always continue to commemorate and be proud of. As republicans, while our strategies and the means available to us may greatly differ then those employed by the volunteers of Operation Harvest, we share their same goal: That of a free and united Ireland. Let their memory inspire us always and may we never be dissuaded from the path of restoring the true Irish Republic of which our martyrs dreamed. 

An Phoblacht Abu!

Tuesday, 7 November 2017



So having a casual look through Facebook, as you do on a cold Tuesday night, I couldn’t help but see the interest in Leo Varadkar and his sporting a glitzy Shampoppy in Leinster house today. For those of you who don’t know, the leader of the Freestate today donned on his lapel a red poppy which commemorates the British Army but to “paddy” it up a bit, it was surrounded by a Shamrock!

Why is this alarming? Well for many people they still live in the days when even the Freestate wouldn’t be so obvious or offensive to the people of Ireland as to commemorate an Army that has murdered, tortured, harassed and mutilated its people. The idea floating about now is to try and rehabilitate the British army and to get the general public to accept a notion that “our men” died in its ranks and so, therefore, we should commemorate. Even PSF in later years have attended British Army commemorations and who can forget the image of Alex Maskey laying a wreath at a British Army cenotaph.

Personally I have never really spoken about my opposition to wearing the Poppy, partly because I am not really opposed to people doing what they want, you want to wear a poppy knock yourself out, I am for freedom of expression and speech, but do not ram this propaganda down my throat that somehow “our men” also died in these World wars. The new Irish attitude towards the British is nauseating, the rehabilitation of Irish men who went to fight and die in an army, for a country that was occupying their native land and murdering its people is nothing short of despicable, they weren’t “our men”, yes they were Irish men, but they were Irish men in the British Army and this isn’t something to commemorate for a nation that is still under the occupation of that very same government and Army.

Of course Leo Vardakar wearing this shampoppy should come as no surprise to anyone; it is just the latest in a long list of Freestate stunts to appease their former colonial masters. This isn’t a new thing for Fine Gaelers either, in previous years other members haven’t even bothered to sham it up and just outright wore the British Legion’s original poppy. In stark contrast to their support of the British Legion’s poppy they are vehemently opposed to the Republican Easter Lily which commemorates the men and women who have gave their lives for Irish Freedom, Fianna Fail’s opposition to the Easter Lily stretches right back to the 1930’s when they tried to introduce an alternative called the “Easter Torch”, at that time at least the people of Ireland still had some national pride left and the new badge floundered.

I have said this more than once before, we are in the middle of a national epidemic, national Stockholm syndrome. The Shampoppy is the least of our worries. We have had British Royals parading around Ireland basically treating Ireland as their little Island retreat, we have the so-called “Republicans” in the form of PSF having dinner with the British Monarch and having tea with the heir to that throne, we have a wall in Glasnevin that lists all those who died in 1916 including British Army with no distinction made. The despicable propaganda that is spouted out to the Irish people day in and daily, in an attempt to bring them on this ride of a national sell out, should be opposed vigorously.

I am not going to go into the moral and political reasons why Irish Republicans should not wear the Poppy; it is so obvious that it would be an insult to my reader’s intelligence, however I think for the week that is in it, it is worthy to note that Irish Republicans have always opposed such British Militaristic symbols, whether they be badges or monuments. Tomorrow the family, friends and comrades of Liam Sutcliffe will lay him to rest after he died on 3rd November. Liam was a well-known Republican and the man who blew up Nelson Pillar. Nelsons Pillar was blown up in 1966 by Republicans, much like the Poppy it was a British symbol of commemoration.

It had no place in Ireland, much as the wall in Glasnevin does not, nor does the British Legions Poppy. Let us hope that these two symbols of British Army commemoration go the way of Nelson’s Pillar, and are only a thing only to be remembered, not experienced in Irish Society.


Monday, 25 September 2017

Thomas Ashe remembered 100 years after his death on Hunger-strike

Transcript below of the oration I delivered for the 100th Anniversary commemoration on the death of Irish Patriot Thomas Ashe.

Oration was delivered in Duleek, Co. Meath on 23rd September 2017

Today is the 100th Anniversary of the death of the great Irish Patriot Thomas Ashe, he was only 32 years old when he died on Hungerstrike. Please see below the transcript of the oration I gave in memory of him at the 100th Anniversary commemoration, organised by Duleek Hunger Strike monument committee.
The First Republican hunger-striker! That is how Thomas Ashe is remembered by Republicans today, he does not just stand out in Irish history as being the first hunger striker to die; he was so much more than that.
Thomas was born on 12th January, 1885, the seventh of ten children to Gregory and Ellen Ashe. Thomas was born in another period of upheaval in Ireland, as the land agitation across the country threatened British rule. He grew up in the townland of Kinnard, near Dingle in Kerry. His father Gregory instilled in his son a great love of Irish language, literature and culture that was to continue throughout his life.
As a young man, he would become prominent in the Gaelic League and the GAA in Kerry. Thomas' other great love was teaching, and on the 16th March 1908, took up his position as the headmaster of the Corduff National School in the parish of Lusk, in north County Dublin. It was a job he would continue in until Easter Week 1916.
As well as being an excellent teacher, he instilled in his pupils a love of Irish history and national identity - which often led to the disapproval by school inspectors. In Sean O'Luing's biography of Ashe, one pupil recalls:
"He taught us all the Fenian songs and rebel ballads which of course were not on the programme."
Another recalls Ashe's geography lessons, where he would point to England on a world map and humorously remark: "Never mind it boys, it will disappear one of these days."
But let there be no mistake of the progressive nature of Thomas' republican ideals! A cousin of Ashe's would recall:
"Thomas Ashe had a terrific love of Ireland but he was not bitter against England. Thomas just wanted freedom for Ireland”
By all accounts, Thomas Ashe was an active member of the nation - engaging in areas of Irish language, sport, and of course, politics. One noted aspect of his legacy is being the founder of the Black Raven Piper's Band in Lusk, still in existence today.
Of course, the founding of the Irish Volunteers led to the most important aspect of Thomas Ashe's activism. After the Redmond-ite split in 1914, he remained true to his nationalist beliefs and remained with the minority, becoming commander of the fifth battalion.
That he ascended to such a position so quickly demonstrates his natural leadership and skill that he would put to good use in Easter Week 1916. In this time, he also was a member of the secret society known as the Irish Republican Brotherhood.
In was in this role as commandant, which had Thomas lead the Fingal Battalion during Easter Week, which included over 30 of the Volunteers, attacking a number of RIC Barracks across north county Dublin in those important few days. Thomas was overjoyed to soon receive a message from James Connolly in the GPO, reading:
"The Republican flag still flies triumphantly over Dublin City. There will be glorious days for Ireland yet."
At the Battle of Ashbourne, his Volunteers attacked the RIC Barracks until it surrendered, losing two of their comrades. It was one of the few military engagements outside Dublin city centre during Easter Week, and the most outright military victory; most notably, his tactical genius foresaw the more successful guerrilla tactics later used by Oglaigh na hEireann during the Tan War. It does make you wonder how much his talents could have helped during the latter conflicts had he have lived.
Following the Rising, he was arrested, court-martialled and sentenced to death like so many others. With the outcry over the first fifteen executions, he was barely saved, with his sentence later being commuted to life imprisonment. He would spend months in various British jails, all the while planning with his comrades the next blow to strike for Irish freedom.
As part of a general amnesty in June 1917, Thomas was released and immediately got back involved with the national movement, his stint in Jail doing nothing to dampen his desire to see Irish independence. In this period, Thomas was elected President of the IRB.
He travelled the country campaigning for Sinn Féin and the republican cause, making many addresses to the people of Ireland to gather support, just over 1 month after his release he was re-arrested for making seditious speeches and jailed in Mountjoy Prison.
While imprisoned he demanded to be treated as a prisoner of war, like republicans since he refused to wear a prison uniform, when his demands where rejected he along with 6 of his comrades embarked upon a hunger strike for Political Status. While on hunger-strike the authorities savagely put Thomas in a straitjacket and force-fed him, they made constant pleas for him to end his strike; however he was not for turning stating:
“They have branded me a criminal. Even though if I die, I die in a good cause"
On the third day of his strike, he collapsed shortly after the force feeding; they had pierced his lung while administering the cruel act. He was later released and taken to the nearby Mater Hospital where two days later, Thomas Ashe died. His funeral to Glasnevin and burial in the Republican Plot there would be a seminal moment in these years.
The Jail struggle has been a constant in Irish republicanism, from the great Fenian O’Donovan O’Rossa to the present day with Prisoners such as Tony Taylor, who is currently interned in Maghaberry Jail.
Since Thomas Ashe gave his life on hunger-strike, 21 fellow Irish men have also died while Hunger Strike, the most recent being the 10 H-Block hunger strikers of 1981 led by Bobby Sands. The memories of all Hunger strikers is held dearly by the Irish people, monuments are dotted throughout the country and indeed today we stand in a memorial garden to the hunger-strikers, beautifully maintained by the Duleek Hunger-strike monument committee.
Like Thomas Ashe and many Republicans before us, we today have our own set of present struggles, we have scores of political prisoners in Ireland, and the corrupt Freestate Government is intent on seeing this number rise even further, with their spate of trumped up IRA membership charges against Political activists.
The Insult of these trumped up charges is that a person arrested does not have to have been arrested doing anything, all is needed to arrest and remand someone to Portlaoise prison is the word of a Garda Superintendent, and as we all know they hardly qualify as the most honest of people, in the last few years alone the scandals in this Police force have been outrageous, from falsifying motorists breath tests, to fabricating explosives finds. It would not be an exaggeration to state that the Garda Siochana is the most corrupt Police force in Europe.
If that is not bad enough currently we have the ominous super-grass at work in the shape of Tout Dave Cullen, betrayers and deceivers are the curse of the Irish Nation, in every generation we have them, genuine Republicans who act in good faith fall prey to the duplicitous nature of the Tout, they are a conceited bunch who are bought and paid for by the highest bidder, even their handlers know they are liars and conmen, and when their usefulness expires they are cast aside like the human garbage that they are.
Those who are victims of these insidious creatures may spend years of their lives incarcerated, but they can hold their heads high, they are men and women of integrity and honour, while the crawling and scraping tout usually lives out a life of a desperate and pathetic wretch, begging for British handouts and as we have seen recently with Seán O’Callaghan ending his life a pathetic drunk choking on his own vomit in a pool.
But! for every generation where we face the curse of the informer, so too do we have the dedicated, loyal and honest Republican, I do not believe this generation is any different. Against all the odds, the criminalisation attempts, the factions, the continued British Occupation and harassment, I see a vibrancy of renewed optimism. Albeit Republicanism is fractured and weary, but we are not broken, we are still here; they have not succeeded in their normalisation plans.
The ongoing partition of this country propped up by the constitutionals both north and south stands in direct opposition to the Republic to which we all pledge our allegiance, our focus must be on the establishment of that All Ireland Republic, a permanent national government which will work for all the people.
It is time to stop looking to the past, stop worrying about what the politicos in Stormont and Leinster house are doing. Our only interest in Stormont or Leinster house must be to smash it!
They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results, for Republicans to even contemplate flirting with constitutional politics is absolutely insane, it didn’t work for Fine Gael, it didn’t work for Fianna Fáil, it didn’t work for Provisional Sinn Féin and it won’t work for us.
Dropping abstentionism was always the Trojan horse used to undermine the Republican movement when winning; the lesson from all these abject failures is there is no parliamentary Road to Freedom, it moves us back not forward, Irish Independence will only be borne out of Radical Revolutionary Republican action.
As in 1917, we must today be wary of those who would have us stray from the path of republicanism and the establishment of a true Republic, even from unexpected quarters and those we might consider allies.
Recall that on the day of Thomas Ashe's funeral in Glasnevin, after the volley of shots over Ashe's grave, a man in a Volunteer uniform stepped forward and said so memorably:
"Nothing additional remains to be said. That volley, which we have just heard, is the only speech which is proper to make above the grave of a dead Fenian."
Well, that man was Michael Collins, who in only a few years would betray the ideals of his dead comrade Thomas Ashe, and lead a counter-revolution that sought to overthrow the Republic of 1916.
Collins offered an alternative to the Republic in the shape of the Freestate, we have current people offering alternatives to the Republic, let us take the lessons from history and reaffirm here today that we will accept nothing less than a united Independent Ireland. There are no alternatives.
In closing it is appropriate to end with the words of Ashe himself, he gave an oration to a gathered crowd at Casement Fort, Co. Kerry in memory of his comrade, the great Roger Casement, who had been executed a year prior.
He said:

“The voice of each succeeding patriot and martyr ringing from the scaffold is but another call - a trumpet call to the generations that are to come. The attempt which is meant to strike terror into the hearts of patriots, reveals only a fierce resolve to be ever more determined, to resist all that tyranny can do, to crush the spirit of liberty”
With his words, Thomas Ashe left for us a call to continue the fight for the Republic, let us not be found wanting in this task.

An phobhlacht abú

A video of the Oration can be viewed here: