Having just bought a fleet of 15 top-spec black Audi A6 for ministers at around €80k a pop, along with committing to around €200k a year a pop for three Garda drivers, govt is now buying a new €50m jet.
Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar and Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan backtrack on controversial RIC/RUC and Black and Tans police commemoration
An Irish state commemoration to remember pre-partition police forces has been deferred by the Irish justice minister amid growing controversy.
The event was due to commemorate the Royal Irish Constabulary and Dublin Metropolitan Police later this month.
But many opposition politicians vowed to boycott it, criticising the RIC’s conduct in the War of Independence and that of its armed auxiliary forces.
The minister is planning an alternative commemoration in the coming months.
The Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) and Dublin Metropolitan Police (DMP) were formed in the early 19th century when the whole island of Ireland was under British rule.
During the Irish War of Independence (1919-21), the IRA began targeting police officers and the British government bolstered RIC ranks by recruiting thousands of ex-soldiers, mainly from England.
Those who joined the RIC special reserve were nicknamed the Black and Tans because of their distinctive uniforms, while a later group of more experienced soldiers were known as the Auxiliaries.
Both forces acquired a reputation for brutality by carrying out violent reprisals on civilians in the aftermath of IRA attacks.
Speaking about his decision to defer the event, Mr Flanagan said: “There were those in the RIC who committed atrocities.
“The horrific record of the Black and Tans and Auxiliaries is well known.
“But there were thousands of other officers who behaved with dignity and honour in serving their communities. And we should not seek to airbrush these people from our history.”
BBC – History – The Black and Tans
The commemoration was due to form part of the government’s ongoing Decade of Centenaries programme.
The programme marks significant events during a turbulent period in Irish history from 1912 to 1923, including the 1916 Easter Rising and Irish Civil War.
The decision to commemorate the RIC and DMP has proved the most controversial to date, with many politicians condemning the conduct of both the RIC and its auxiliary forces.
On Monday night, Dublin City councillors voted to boycott the Dublin Castle event with a motion that was passed by 38 votes to 10.
In his statement on Tuesday, the minister said he realised that his decision to defer the event would be “a cause of hurt and upset to many people”.
“As a government, we have at all times sought to have a national programme of commemorations that is authentic, sensitive and inclusive.” Mr Flanagan said.
“However, given the disappointing response of some to the planned event on 17th January, I do not believe that the event, as planned, can now take place in an atmosphere that meets the goals and guiding principles of the overall commemorative programme.
“Therefore, I am announcing its deferral.”
People power defeats Fine Gael revisionism – deferral of their planned RIC commemoration only a step in the right direction. This event must be cancelled. #BlackandTans
“This was never going to be a eulogising of the black and tans, but rather a solemn and sombre event commemorating the tens of thousands of the members of the RIC and DMP.”
More than 500 police and police reservists were killed during the War of Independence and its aftermath.
The minister added that he still firmly believed the planned commemoration event was the “right thing to do”.
“As a next step, I will consult further with the expert Advisory Group on Centenary Commemoration, with the all-party consultative group on commemoration and with other stakeholders, with a view to organising an event that is inclusive and fully respectful of all the traditions and memories on this island,” his statement said.
With many thanks to: BBC NewsNI for the original story
Follow these links to find out more: https://www.derryjournal.com/news/politics/more-than-40-000-people-sign-petition-demanding-leo-varadkar-cancel-royal-irish-constabulary-commemoration-1-9193411
Lifetime achievement award for Clannad star Brennan
“She has drawn from the well of history and home” Ann-Marie Power,
DONEGAL singer Moya Brennan is to receive the lifetime achievement award at this year’s RTÉ Radio 1 Folk Awards.
Considered the first lady of Celtic music, Brennan fronted the hugely successful group Clannad (pictured Below) with her brothers and two uncles. Their hunting sound, drawn from the West Donegal Gaeltacht, opened the way for a fusion with contemporary Irish music. Brennan pictured, who also plays the harp, has won Grammy, Bafta and Ivor Novello awards and has worked on projects with U2, the Chieftains, Paul Young, Michael Crawford and others. From the Rosses parish in Co Donegal, she was one of nine children of Máire and Leo Brennan who would preform in the family’s bar Leo’s.
RTE’s head of arts and culture Ann-marie Power said Brennan was an ambassador for Ireland at a very interesting time in the country’s history. “Throughout her career as a solo artist, she has drawn from the well of history and home while also not being afraid to take on a new challenge or direction,” she said. “She is also admirably very committed to nurturing young talent with her monthly nights in Donegal.” This year’s Irish Folk Awards will take place at Vicar Street in Dublin on October 24th 2019 and will be hosted by John Creedon and Ruth Smith.
With many thanks to: The Irish News and Seamus McKinney for the original story firstname.lastname@example.org
Geraldine Kriegel tells court she was ‘immediately concerned’ when Ana left home with one of accused
The mother of Ana Kriegel was “immediately concerned” when she heard her daughter had left home with one of the accused.
Geraldine Kriegel was giving evidence on the second day of the trial of two 14-year-old boys charged with her murder.
She told Dublin’s Central Criminal Court she woke Ana at 8.15am on May 14, 2018, before leaving for a meeting at the city centre solicitor’s firm where she worked.
Mrs Kriegel added: “[Ana] liked for me to wake her in the morning and I kissed her goodbye.”
She said she gave her daughter a note so she could get out of school early to attend her counsellor.
Mum recalls search for missing Ana
Ana Kriegel suffered ‘horrific bullying’
Trial hears how Ana’s body was found
Shortly after 4pm, Ana rang her mum’s mobile twice but she texted back to say she was at a meeting.
When she returned home to Newtown Park in Leixlip, Co Kildare, she found 14-year-old Ana missing.
Referring to Boy B, who had called to the house earlier, Mrs Kriegel said: “I was immediately concerned. She had no reason to be with him.
She texted her daughter, “Home now” but did not get an answer.
Teenagers accused of Irish schoolgirl Ana Kriegel’s murder to go on trial jointly
She went on: “I was so worried. I texted again, ‘Answer me now or I am calling the police’. I was feeling like
a paranoid mother, between being over-protective and being terrified.”
Mrs Kriegel said her daughter was a “communicator” who never ignored her calls and was never late.
The family carried out a desperate search of the general area before going to the local Garda station to make a report.
Mrs Kriegel said she had looked at Ana’s WhatsApp and found the last time she accessed her account was at 5.13pm on the day she vanished.
The court heard Mrs Kriegel and her husband Patric went to Dublin City Mortuary on May 18 last year
to identify their daughter’s remains, accompanied by a garda.
Mr Kriegel confirmed Ana was being bullied.
Ana Kriegel murder trial hears mum recall desperate search for missing Kildare schoolgirl
However, he told the hearing that during an inquiry into a complaint she had made, her school discovered she had set up two “fake” social media accounts which she had been using to “bully herself”.
Mr Kriegel, who is originally from Paris, had retired from his job as a French lecturer six years before.
He said he was in the back garden enjoying the warm weather on May 14 when the door bell rang at 4.55pm.
Another person in the house, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, answered the door.
Her father saw Ana “whispering” with the caller. He said she went back upstairs and came down wearing a distinctive black hoodie with a white symbol on it.
Reminding her she had to study for exams, Mr Kriegel told the court: “I said don’t be long and she replied, ‘I won’t be long’. I knew she meant exactly that. I knew by how she said it.”
He added his daughter left without saying where she was going and the person who answered the door was also unaware of her destination but identified the caller as Boy B.
Mr Kriegel said he saw Ana walking away with a boy in the direction of St Catherine’s Park.
As soon as his wife returned home they began the search. Mr Kriegel was shown a CCTV still which showed her leaving the house with Boy B.
Ana Kriegel’s mum tells murder trial of horror bullying suffered by her “vulnerable” daughter
He told the court he did not think they were talking as the teen was walking “three paces” in front of Ana.
Three gardai also gave evidence yesterday.
Gda Conor Muldoon told the court he was on duty when the Kriegel family arrived at the station.
He took the details and placed the missing person report online. He then carried out inquiries with colleague Gda Eoin Kelly in the patrol car.
Calling at the home of Boy B, the officers spoke to him and his mother and he said he had gone to the park with Ana.
Gda Kelly and Sgt John Dunne made an application to “ping” the last location of Ana’s phone.
They continued to search for her over the next few days.
Boy A and Boy B are charged with Ana’s murder. Boy A is also charged with aggravated sexual assault.
Both teens kept their heads bowed during yesterday’s evidence.
The trial continues today before Justice Paul McDermott.
With many thanks to the: Irish Mirror and Niall O’Connor for the original story
Former high-ranking RUC/PSNI officer set to lead new garda transformation unit
Exclusive: Former Chief Superintendent Ivan Farr will lead the Strategic Transformation Office
A former top-ranked PSNI officer is set to be brought in to work with his one-time colleague Drew Harris to lead the garda change programmes.
The officer, former Chief Superintendent Ivan Farr, who was involved in counter terrorism among other operations, is set to take on the job in the coming months.
The Irish Mirror has learned that he will lead the Strategic Transformation Office in the Phoenix Park Headquarters.
It is understood that he will be appointed on a one year contract and will report to the Commissioner’s office.
A source said: “The officer underwent a full interview scenario in the recruitment phase – he was selected because of his background in difficult policing situations.
“One of the key areas for the appointee will be the proposed strategy of offering a severance package to senior officers.
“He will asked to produce a plan on how An Garda Siochana will cut back on Assistant Commissioner, Chief Superintendent and Superintendent ranks.
“He will come up with the strategy for the targeted redundancy package.
“The Strategic Transformation Office is going to be a difficult post, it will involve coming up with a lot of strategies that may be met with disquiet among the ranks.”
It is understood that Mr Farr has worked all his service in the RUC and PSNI and is seen as a “straight down the line” officer.
A source, who knows the former officer, said: “He is hugely well known in the PSNI as a manager who was very straight and down the line.
“He has a very strict view on wrong doing and will certainly involve that outlook in decision making.
“He has retired in recent times and is now involved in contract work.”
The Department of Justice, who gave the green light to the appointment, were asked about the contract but refused to comment and referred queries to the gardai.
A garda spokesman said: “The Report of the Commission on the future of Policing in Ireland identified that An Garda Síochána will need an injection of technical capacity and skills to support the level of change in this report and particularly in the initial phase of implementation, which is critical in any change programme.
“In response to that recommendation, An Garda Síochána is seeking to engage a range of external expertise to support change management, project managements and specific other skill sets for major projects.
“Given the timeframes for the delivery of projects under the action plan for the delivery of a Policing Service for the Future, a contractor has been appointed to the Strategic Transformation Office approved by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.”
With many thanks to the: Irish Mirror for the EXCLUSIVE and Niall O’Connor for the original story
Dublin Airport ‘runaway parrot’ reunited with owner
A parrot that attempted to take off from the main runway at Dublin Airport has been reunited with its owner.
The African grey female named Hugo was spotted taxiing for flight by a firefighter who was carrying out a routine safety inspection on Sunday.
Eagle-eyed Craig Wade said when he saw the bird, it was “obvious that she was a pet”.
The breed is among the most intelligent animals to be kept as a pet and can live for up to 60 years.
Naughty parrot keeps buying unwanted gifts
What you didn’t know about parrots
“A live runway wasn’t a safe place for her so after some difficulty we eventually coaxed her into a makeshift carrier made from a cardboard box,” added Mr Wade.
The pretty polly was then taken to the airport’s fire brigade station
Our firefighter Craig Wade found this African grey parrot during a routine runway inspection earlier this week. She’s being given specialist care & is calm & doing well. We’d like to reunite her with her owner. Please RT to help us find them & DM us if she is yours.
Dublin Airport tweeted that it was looking for her owner.
It received calls from four people who claimed to own Hugo, each of whom was unable to provide the unique identification number engraved on a metal ring attached to the bird’s ankle.
Who’s a clever girl then?
But the mystery was soon resolved thanks to a little help from a German supermarket chain.
Lidl Ireland replied to Dublin Airport on Twitter, saying: “Guys this is going to sound unbelievable but there’s a ‘Missing Parrot’ poster in one of our stores.
“So we called the number to check and it’s his parrot!” it added.
Guys this is going to sound unbelievable but there’s a “Missing Parrot” poster in one of our stores, so we called the number to check and it’s his parrot! We’ll drop you a DM now
He said he could prove that the African grey – a breed best known for its ability to copy words – was his and he had taught it some Slovak sayings.
Mr Michna sent an audio recording, which was played Hugo and “she instantly reacted”, said Dan Donoher, who looked after the pet before the reunion.
Hugo had escaped through a door which had been mistakenly left open in Mr Michna’s house on Saturday.
Mr Donoher said there was “no doubt in my mind that Lubomir was her rightful owner”.
“As soon as the carrier opened, Hugo jumped onto Lubomir’s arm and cuddled into his neck,” he added.
“You could see they have a really close bond, it was lovely.”
With many thanks to: BBCNI for the original story
Rememering with pride Óglach Séamus Murphy who passed away on November 2nd 2015
RA man Séamus Murphy, who has died in 2015 , was the only man to succeed in escaping from Wakefield prison in west Yorkshire on February 12th, 1959, when republicans staged a daring rescue attempt.
“There were five men that had been earmarked for the escape. Two of them were Eoka men [George Skotinos and Nicos Sampson], another two were IRA, myself and Joe Doyle, while there was also a fifth with us, Tony Martin, who had deserted the British army in Cyprus and fought on the side of Eoka before he was arrested,” Séamus Murphy said afterwards.
Murphy had been serving a life sentence for an IRA raid on an arms depot at Arborfield in Berkshire in 1955. The raid, which was part of Operation Harvest, intended to obtain arms to use against the British army in Northern Ireland, had succeeded, and the main party, including Ruairí Ó Brádaigh, escaped. Séamus Murphy had stayed behind to tidy up loose ends and he and Joe Doyle and Donal Murphy were arrested, charged and given life sentences.
Already in Wakefield prison then was Cathal Goulding, IRA chief of staff, along with a future chief of staff, Seán Mac Stiofáin. The Irish quickly made common cause with Greek Cypriot Eoka members, the two groups seeing in each other fellow freedom fighters.
In prison Murphy played chess with Klaus Fuchs, a German scientist jailed for giving atomic secrets to the Russians, while his fellow IRA prisoner Marcus Canning learned Greek from the Cypriots. Another Cypriot prisoner, George Ioannau, translated the writings of James Connolly into Greek.
The IRA had failed in an earlier attempt to get Goulding out, and the Séamus Murphy escape was the work of a splinter group associated with maverick republican Joe Christle, working with Eoka sympathisers living in London.
Outside the prison, republicans Aine and Séamus Grealey acted as decoys by pretending to be a courting couple, while Hughie Farrell and Pat Farrelly threw a rope over the prison wall. In the event only Séamus Murphy made it to freedom. The operation, which involved the rent of flats and the hire of two cars, was paid for by a Cypriot woman, Katerina Pilina, with her £500 wedding dowry.
Murphy hid in a flat in Manchester for three weeks, while a Sunday Press “interview” in Dublin proclaimed his return to Ireland. He eventually made his way home via Glasgow.
Séamus Murphy, Jim to his parents and younger sisters, was a native of Castledermot, Co Kildare, where his mother was the postmistress. His father, a baker, died young. While boarding at Terenure College, Dublin, he joined the IRA.
On his return to Ireland, he had difficulty finding work, eventually working on a baker’s delivery round. He met a young woman, Betty O’Donoghue, also from his home county of Kildare, and they married in 1963. They settled in Bray, Co Wicklow with their son, and Séamus Murphy worked in the nearby Solus light bulb factory.
His days of active service were over, but he remained a member of the republican family, did not embrace Goulding’s move to socialism and opposed the Belfast Agreement.
When Vivas Lividas launched the Greek language edition of his book Cypriot and Irish Prisoners in British jails 1956-59 in 2007, Séamus Murphy visited Cyprus and met many old friends from prison days, including Nicos Sampson, by then a highly controversial, some would say suspect, figure.
There he also got to thank in person Katerina Pilina, who had donated her dowry to get him out of jail.
With many thanks to: Ireland Long Held in Chains Stair agus Cultúr na hÉireann
Follow this link to find out more on Irish History and Culture: https://www.facebook.com/irishhistoryandculture/
Gerry Adam’s IRA years: An insider’s account Anthony McIntyre recalls the Sinn Féin leader’s time in the Provisional IRA
Declaring to the BBC’s Andrew Marr that his struggle for a united Ireland was not a failure, Gerry Adams made an implausible claim: the target had not been missed as Sinn Féin had bagged half a million votes . . . and still counting.
Success having many parents and failure an orphan, it is perhaps not surprising that Gerry Adams would seek to adopt something that might be loosely called success even if the goalposts had to be moved right off the pitch.
As the Provisional IRA’s strategic primus inter pares for many years, it is a bitter pill for the alpha and omega of armed struggle to swallow that the IRA’s campaign considerably underachieved.
Sinn Féin now fully embraces the British terms for unity, only by the consent of a majority in the North: by implication, a stark repudiation of the IRA’s methodology of coercion throughout the Troubles.
Better known publicly in 1970 for his letters as a Sinn Féin cumann PRO, protesting British army harassment, Adams was at the same time assiduously developing within the ranks of the Ballymurphy IRA, where he was the local commander.
In a calculated bid to build up community resentment that would morph into support for a revitalised IRA, he smothered the impulse of armed IRA volunteers to engage British troops during serious rioting over Orange marches.
It was the type of tactical ingenuity that would repeat itself a year later when the Belfast IRA’s second battalion, which he now commanded, attacked the military and police in a bid to force Stormont’s hand on internment. The calculation was that the draconian measure might be introduced long before RUC Special Branch had mastered the intelligence terrain.
As anticipated, internment was an intelligence debacle. Most senior IRA figures evaded the dragnet. Its one-sided application, followed by torture in Palace Barracks and elsewhere, so enraged the nationalist community that the IRA found a surplus of eager youth from which they could recruit.
Already it was clear that the IRA’s capability for strategic intelligence and action during the early years of the Troubles was coming to reside within the circles peopled by Adams and his coterie.
With the removal through arrest of Billy McKee as Belfast Brigade commander, his replacement, Joe Cahill, valued Adams’s advice in a way that McKee was reluctant to, making the second battalion even more influential.
Arrested in March 1972, Adams’s release from internment in June of that year was secured only after the new leadership of the second battalion made clear that there would be no ceasefire if he was not freed.
That Belfast was now becoming the Provisionals’ powerhouse was to be seen in the presence of three Belfast IRA leaders in the six-man delegation that travelled to London for talks with then Northern secretary William Whitelaw.
On the return journey to Ireland, despite chief of staff Seán Mac Stíofáin preferring a prolonged truce, the Belfast delegation decided that it would be broken, as it duly was.
On his June release from internment, Adams moved into the Belfast Brigade adjutant slot, a position he held at the time of the Bloody Friday bombings the following month. The first of “the disappearances” also began in June.
‘They wouldn’t let you say a bad word about Gerry Adams’
Séamus Mallon: Adams legitimised killing of members of other community
Adams should admit to IRA role, says Enniskillen bombing victim’s daughter
Belfast IRA man Joe Lynsky was killed and secretly buried. More such acts would follow. The “smoking gun” was never found in Adams’s hand, but his handpicked squad, colloquially referred to as “the Unknowns”, was deeply involved.
The three people who accompanied Jean McConville as she stood trembling at her secret graveside were members of the Unknowns, including the man who led it and answered directly to Adams.
Prominent IRA figures Brendan Hughes and Dolours Price, both now deceased, firmly contended that Adams was the architect of “the Disappeared”, as well as being the one who took the bombing campaign to London.
Martin McGuinness and Adams, however, has always denied involvement in “the disappearances”, just as he has always denied ever being a member of the IRA, unlike his longtime, now deceased, colleague Martin McGuinness.
By now, with the departure of Seamus Twomey to GHQ staff in October 1972, Gerry Adams was the Belfast Brigade commander. There, he won the unalloyed admiration of those who worked closely with him.
Despite being on a British army shoot-on-sight list, and billeted outside West Belfast in the evenings, each morning saw him travel into the heart of West Belfast – the area he would later represent as an MP – “to run the war”.
One colleague who later turned out to be an implacable opponent of the Sinn Féin leader observed that whatever attributes Adams lacked, “courage did not figure amongst them. He took serious risks.”
Running concurrent with much of this, Adams opposed IRA sectarian assassinations.
When Twomey was arrested towards the end of 1977, Adams moved into the vacant chief of staff spot, despite his denials that this occurred
He was particularly scathing of the killing in July 1972 in North Belfast of two Protestant brothers. The two men, Peter and Malcolm Orr, had gone out to meet their Catholic girlfriends. They were picked up by the Provisional IRA and shot dead.
Adams’s relationship with the man who led the killings was strained, though he later appointed that same individual, now deceased, to the heart of his personal security entourage.
This opposition to the targeting of Protestant civilians later came to the fore in 1976 when, from within prison, Adams fumed at the Kingsmill massacre of 10 workmen.
On release in early 1977 from prison, where he was a vehement critic of the 1975 IRA ceasefire, he went almost immediately to meet Seamus Twomey, by now serving a second term as chief of staff of the Provisional IRA, with his plans for a “long war”.
This was a military strategic vision for the most part put together by the late Pat Ward. When Twomey was arrested towards the end of 1977, Adams moved into the vacant chief of staff spot, despite his denials that this occurred.
His tenure came to be defined by the La Mon bomb attack which saw 12 Protestant civilians incinerated. The event brought his chief of staff spell to a close as he was arrested the following morning.
There is no reason to think Adams personally ordered the attack or knew about it. The most that can be said is that the operation was part of a wider incendiary bomb campaign that had been approved by the IRA’s army council.
Released from prison six months later, Adams’s return to the army council was delayed because there was by then no vacancy. Martin McGuinness was IRA chief of staff and Adams soon became his adjutant-general.
He retained the post until the assembly elections of 1982, by which time he had long since recovered his seat on the army council. It was an important period for the IRA and cemented the credentials of its increasingly northern leadership.
Major operations like the killing of Lord Mountbatten and the Narrow Water attack at Warrenpoint on the same day in 1979, which claimed the lives of 18 Parachute Regiment soldiers, signalled the military acumen of the Long War leadership that had resolutely positioned itself against any form of ceasefire.
Adams was IRA adjutant-general during the hunger strikes. He also developed a practice that would become most pronounced during the peace process: the authority of the army council was gradually usurped as its power incrementally haemorrhaged to committees managed by Adams.
Richard O’Rawe has persuasively demonstrated that the offer to end the hunger strike which Danny Morrison claims to have “described to the hunger strikers, including Joe McDonnell”, was rejected by Adams’s committee and the prisoners’ acceptance of the offer overruled.
The arrest of Ivor Bell and his subsequent detention in prison for six weeks was, according to British security strategists, the key moment in the ultimate defeat of the IRA campaign
After the assembly elections at the end of 1982, the IRA decided that its members holding elected office could not at the same time hold down “army briefs”.
This did not affect either Adams or McGuinness in respect of their army council roles. But it did bring to a close Adams’s hands-on day-to-day management of the IRA organisation in posts such as chief of staff and adjutant-general.
Gerry Adams helps carry the coffin of IRA man Brendan Moley at his funeral in 1988. Photograph: Pacemaker Belfast
At this point the balance of power in the army council was 4-3, with those not enamoured with the current electoral strategy in the ascendancy. That changed courtesy of the RUC’s supergrasses strategy.
The arrest of Ivor Bell and his subsequent detention in prison for six weeks was, according to British security strategists, the key moment in the ultimate defeat of the IRA campaign. With shifting allegiances, Adams now had five in favour of the electoral strategy.
With the sidelining of Bell and others in prison for two years, substantive obstacles to the emergence of a peace process had been removed. From that point on Gerry Adams’s position on the army council remained for the most part secure, up until 2005 when the IRA announced an end to its war.
The one serious challenge to his hegemony, from those who went on to form the Real IRA, was averted by a unanimous decision by the army council in February 1996 to end the ceasefire it had declared two years earlier.
The result was the devastation of Canary Wharf. Even though Manchester in the same year would be subject to a similar attack, there was only one direction in which the Provisional Republican Movement was headed, the road of peace.
Anthony McIntyre (pictured above) is a former Provisional IRA member, writer and historian, and a longtime critic of Gerry Adams. He was imprisoned for murder for 18 years in Long Kesh, spending four of those years on the “no-wash” protest.
With many thanks to: The Irish Times for the origional story
On a cold overcast New Year’s Day in 1957 an IRA unit launched an ill-fated attack on an RUC barracks, sparking a bloodly battle that has reached almost mythological status in Irish history.
Limerick man Sean South (28) and 20-year-old Fergal O’Hanlon, from Monaghan, had been members of the 14-strong IRA unit, led by Sean Garland, that set out that morning in an attempt to storm the Brookeborough RUC barracks in the Co Fermanagh village.
The assault had been planned as part of Operation Harvest – the IRA’s Border Campaign between 1956 and 1962, which intended that flying columns would cross the border from the Republic and attack military and infrastructure targets within Northern Ireland.
An IRA document found in 1956 stated that the aim of the campaign was to “break down the enemy’s administration in the occupied area until he is forced to withdraw his forces”.
IRA members had travelled from as far afield as Cork, Dublin, Wexford, Galway and Limerick to take part in the New Year’s Day assault. But their plan to bomb the barracks went dramatically wrong.
In his book Sean South of Garryowen, author Des Fogerty says that about a week earlier the RUC had received intelligence that a border station would be attacked. Officers at Brookeborough were well-armed while the station had been sandbagged and equipped with a radio telephone to call for reinforcements if needed. The fateful gun battle began within seconds of an RUC officer discovering by chance the IRA man Phil O’Donoghue attempting to lay a bomb at the barracks door. Two devices failed to detonate and a grenade bounced off the barracks and injured O’Donoghue instead.
Seven men were injured in the attack. Five would survive but Sean South had received a fatal wound to the lower back while Fergal O’Hanlon was bleeding badly after being struck in the legs.
The unit fled the scene, taking temporary shelter in a cowhouse where O’ Hanlon lay dying. It is likely that South was already dead.
The survivors eventually managed to make their way back across the border to a farmhouse.
The wounded were later taken to hospital while the others were arrested.
An inquest would find that South had been beyond help when the unit had entered the cowhouse but that O’Hanlon’s life could have been saved by first aid – a finding that has been disputed over the decades.
Sean South had lived a quiet but industrious life with his mother and two brothers in Limerick before the raid.
His brother Ger, aged 21 at the time of the Brookeborough attack, recalls how the killing of the man they had known as a hard-working timber yard clerk, scout leader and Irish-language enthusiast had a lasting effect on the family.
“We had all been unaware of the depth of his involvement in the IRA at the time,” Ger South said.
“We first learned of what was happening shortly after he went to the north and used me as a conduit for communicating with the family. We realised that he had been working away while training with the IRA in the mid-west.
“We’ll never be fully sure what motivated him to take the line he did. We lived together. We slept in the same bed. We were very close. But when he was away from here nobody would know where he was. He was obviously out training.
“He’d always loved books and would buy some every week when he got his wages.
“It was after his death that we looked at what he’d been reading and got some insight into what he was thinking.
“There were books on economics, how wealth was dispersed in society, the Irish language and Irish organisations.”
Ger South remembers that his brother had “seen a lot of life” in the years before his death. He had joined the FCA (An Forsa Cosanta Aitiuil or army reserve) and An Rialt, an Irish-speaking wing of the Legion of Mary. As a scout leader, he had encouraged local youths to speak Irish.
“But after Sean died there were a lot of changes. Our house had always been full of chat and craic but my mother Mary refused to live there and we moved to a corporation flat. There were too many memories.”
Over the decades, Ger South has heard “all strands of the republican movement” claim they would have had his brother’s support.
He remains convinced Sean would not have taken his decision to join the IRA lightly.
“He would never do anything in a foolish or haphazard way,” he said.
“Everything was thought through. He obviously had studied [the situation in the north] to the extent he felt it was the only thing to do. It annoys me when people think they know what he would or would not want today.”
Fergal O’Hanlon had worked as a clerk and local authority draughtsman. He spent his spare time going to dances and playing Gaelic football and handball in his native Monaghan.
His sister Padraigin Ui Mhurchadha, aged 15 at the time of his death, describes him as a “wonderful son and brother” who had many friends and was “great to everybody in the family”.
While the South family had been taken by surprise at news of Sean’s IRA activities, the O’Hanlons had been been brought up in a “very republican house”.
“He would have grown up with Irish as his first language. We lived in a border county so we were very aware about what was happening in the six counties. We knew that Catholics were enduring terrible intimidation and suffering.
“Although I was young and it wouldn’t really have been discussed in front of me, I would have sensed that Fergal was involved in the [border campaign] but we believe [Brookeborough] was his first military activity.”
Ms Ui Mhurchadha, a Sinn Féin Monaghan town councillor, had been visiting a relative’s house when the radio reported that two men had been killed in the north.
“We had known Fergal was away because he had said goodbye to us all. He had taken his leave of my mother Alice and when we heard the news she felt straight away he had been killed.
“The next morning we were asked by the gardai to go to Monaghan Hospital and were told by the men being treated there that Fergal was dead.
“I remember all the sounds – the knock on the door by the guards, Daddy telling Mammy, her crying.
“He was a month off 21. We were very proud of Fergal. He had been fighting for Ireland but we were heartbroken when he died.
“We received many many visitors, letters and telegrams of support. It was incredible. Thousands attended the funeral. Fergal and Sean’s deaths had caught the imagination of the whole country.”
Crowds lined the route to the border to pay a final tribute to South and O’Hanlon as their bodies were carried from Enniskillen to the cathedral in Monaghan, where they lay in state overnight. Thousands more attended the funerals in Monaghan and Limerick.
With many thanks to the: James Connolly Association, Australia.
Asgard 1916 Society are set to host a commemorative event to remember the landing of ‘The Asgard’, a yacht owned by Erskine Childers on 26th April 1914, with 1,000 Mauser rifles and ammunition onboard.
The weaponry would in time be used in the Easter Rising two years later.
Subsequent and in response to the landings, which were supervised by the then Irish Volunteers and assisted by Na Fianna Éireann, the British Army killed four unarmed civilians at Bachelor’s Walk in the city. The victims will also be remembered on the day and as part of the commemoration.
Join us at the East Pier in Howth on Saturday the 22nd of July at 2pm, in tribute to those who landed the Asgard and to the victims of Bachelor’s Walk. Wreaths will be laid and guest speakers from the 1916 Societies will address the gathering. A Colour Party in period dress and Republican Flute Band will also be in attendance for what is sure to be a fitting commemoration.
Refreshments and traditional Irish music in O’Connell’s Bar at the Est. Pier Howth after the commemoration, all are welcome.
As allways this is a non-party political event and family friendly.
With many thanks to: Asgard 1916 Society Howth, Dublin.
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