Monday, November 29, 2021

"Sinn Fein Tell How They Would Run the Country"- 1957

 In an interview with the Irish Times, Paddy McLogan addresses Sinn Fein's political program. 

The Irish Times, February 8, 1957 (Page 20) 

Monday, March 15, 2021

Books by Uinseann MacEoin - Now Online

    Republicans have the most adventurous stories to tell; what tales must exist about the present epoch! They should be got down; they should not be lost.

- Uinseann MacEoin


Uinseann MacEoin's books are gold for Irish republican historians and history lovers; detailed with invaluable first hand accounts, they are hard to find and expensive when they can be found. Survivors consisted of interviews with those survivors of the Irish Revolution and Civil War who were still alive in the 1970's and 80s. Harry told the saga of Harry White, Chief of Staff during the 1940's who spent most of his time on the run. His magnum opus was The IRA in the Twilight Years, a collection of over 30 accounts by IRA veterans of the time between the end of the Civil War and 1948. The latter two are perhaps the primary sources for information on republican activity during that period.
   The Bureau of Military History recently added PDFs of all three books, which can now be accessed at the links below: 



Twilight Years

There is also an excellent biography of MacEoin himself and his work for Dublin which you can read here.

Friday, March 12, 2021

Belfast and Dublin in the 30's by Bob Bradshaw

 (Originally published in the Irish Times, March 13 &14 1969, and July 9th 1970. Retrieved from  No copyright infringement is intended.)


Irish Times Thursday, March 13th 1969 

By Bob Bradshaw




The first of these riots occurred in 1931-1932 and the first cause was the high unemployment in the city. While naturally this was much higher amongst the minority third of the population it was also very bad in such areas as Shankill and Sandy Row. Unemployment was endemic in the ‘30’s, but in ’31 the shock waves from the great American crash had rippled across the Atlantic, making a hopeless situation desperate. Discontent in the city rose to revolutionary dimensions and in the great Belfast fitting-shops, the Queen’s island, and the densely populated labour exchanges, Socialist and Communist opinions were easy to hear. (I worked in the fitting shops and was also on the dole at periods.)

    The “dole” as unemployment benefit was called, was dependent on stamps paid for when working; when the stamps were exhausted the unemployed were left to their own devices. But the very large numbers who were without stamps forced the government to do something for discontent was clearly not far from violence. A system of outdoor relief was set up, whose salient features were that the dole-less unemployed should do a hard week’s navvying on the roads for a mere pittance- 25s. and 30s a week and even less. In accordance with the enlightened economic views of the day, as far as possible this work had to be useless- otherwise it might interfere with private profit. Famine follies were another example. Maynard Keynes had already published the theories which showed the nonsense of such attitudes; but in Unionist (synonymous with capitalist) Belfast such views were hated even more viciously than textual deviations from the Holy Book. They were not, of course, popular with the rest of the country either. About the beginning of 1933 Keynes gave a public lecture at Abbey Theatre and a very well known Dublin economics lecturer was heard to say, leaving the building, that “very dangerous nonsense” had been uttered there that night.



   Outdoor relief worked for a little while but by the end of ’31 the relief workers were setting up committees and organizing rapidly. After a few incidents in very bad weather, which involved the downing of picks and shovels, a city wide strike was proclaimed. It was the only “strike” of the unemployed that I have ever heard of.

      On the day of the strike I went down town in the morning to see what was to happen. It was about half-past ten when I reached the half-way point down the Falls road and found that things were already happening. The street paving stones were being dug up, the traditional source of ammunition for street-fighting Belfast. Rough barricades were going up. A few small groups of RUC men, armed with rifles, and revolvers, peered around corners. Small groups of men, some with pick handles, some parrying paving stones, rushed around looking for something to attack. When they got hold of a street tram they threw it on its side and set it on fire. If they saw armed police they rushed straight at them hurling their stones. In nearly all cases the police retreated, looking quite frightened, sometimes firing a few shots but mostly just pointing their rifles at the charging men, obviously expecting them to stop or run. In most cases the men pressed home their attack and it was the police who ran. However, they were from the local barracks, mostly Catholic, and some were old RIC men from the South of Ireland. They didn’t want to shoot anybody really, and know, too, that when the riots were over they would still have to patrol these narrow streets where dark-night revenge on over-enthusiastic policemen was far from unknown.



I was a very active member of the IRA, although still in my teens. The views of the IRA at that time in Belfast were fairly far to the Left and I couldn’t understand why the organization had given no instructions to members, and seemed to be taking it no part in what seemed like a revolutionary situation. However, I considered it a duty to rush around with the gangs of men, sometimes giving them instructions, although many were twice my age and old hands at rioting- most of that generation were. Sometimes they listened to me and afterwards I realized that this was probably because I was wearing the tricolor emblem of an illegal organization which most of them would recognize.

    One incident I remember sharply. Running our of the falls road near the public baths, I found about ten men , some with weapons, holding am idle aged man against a wall shouting that he was a police spy and should be killed or beaten- in practice there would not be much difference. I leapt in front of him before the blows could land, for he did not look like a police spy to me and I knew enough about mobs to distrust that kind of cry. He cowered behind me screaming in perfectly justified panic, for there was nothing in sight but a burning tram. The local police had made off to safer areas. Instead of pleading with them I just ordered them to leave him alone. Much to my surprise, they fell silent and then moved off. This convinced me I had the “Daniel O’Connell touch” but of course it was my metal button which some of them would have recognized.

     By afternoon news of rioting in the Unionist areas had drifted in. “B” Specials were now arriving in the nationalist areas and now the bullets were finding targets. By the following morning, over twenty had been wounded and, I think, five shot dead- all in nationalist areas. I immediately left the Falls road and rushed off to Royal avenue to which, I had been told, a crowd of Shankill road strikers had marched. It says something for the different atmosphere of those days that it never occurred to me to remove my tricolor button, the insignia of a proscribed and armed organization. I saw no reason why Loyalists should not riot with me in what I naively hoped was the first stage in a Socialist revolution.


 When I reached Royal Avenue a fairly large crowd of Shankill road strikers were there milling around and looking angry but not very active. After looking at them for a while I picked a tall athletic looking young man with a long, rather handsome and very angry face. “Any fighting?” I said. He looked disgusted and jerked a thumb at the mob. “That gutless lot won’t fight,” he said. This was my chance. “Why don’t you go to Falls road,” I said, watching him. “Why,” he said, “Is there trouble there?” “They have been fighting all day and many people have been shot,” I said.

     While we spoke his eye fell on my lapel button. For at least half a minute we stared at each other without speaking and his face clearly showed his changing emotions- ancestral dislike for tricolors and Fenians slowly changing to friendliness as he realized this particular Fenian spoke his language and that we were both in something a bit more important than the religious squabbles of our native city and attempting to deal with forces not likely to respond to placatory speeches. Our long eye-lock broke. “If that’s where the fighting is, that’s the place for me,” he said. He shouted to a couple of his mates and the three of them disappeared in the direction of the Falls road at the run.

    I moved around and tried the same tactic again, but did not have the same success. It was getting late, and it was clear the moment had passed in this area with this crowd. After half an hour I started off for Falls road again. It was beginning to darken by the time I reached it. A few armoured lorries prowled cautiously with very nervous looking policemen holding their rifles at the ready, sticking to the main road and keeping their guns pointed down the small streets. In this area the strikers know their business. They had cut off all the street lighting and trenched all the main streets leading into the area, bounded by the falls and Grosvenor roads. One armored car poked into the darkness and ran into a trench. The crew jumped out and ran hastily back to the safer main road. The area was held that night by the strikers with no trouble from the police. In the fighting ten years before, many Tans and policemen died in the very area.

    I had been surprised, and indeed elated, at the extreme caution and nervousness that the well armed and protected policemen were showing. I spent all my spare time learning the use of arms and explosive for what I believed would shortly be a head-on clash with just these forces. This belief turned out to be false, but I did not know that then. If the police were so worried about paving stones, how would they behave under fire? OF course this optimism on my part was not justified, but I was a teenager and knew less about such matters than I thought.

     Next morning I went out early for the papers, as I hoped to read accounts of Shankill and Sandy row rioting on much the same scale as in the Nationalist areas. There had been rioting in Shankill but on a small scale, and of course nobody dead from rifle fire as in the “rebel” areas, a disappointment. This callousness about casualties is repellant in our far more compassionate time, but in the ‘30’s people died in large numbers from actual starvation. All, except a few, existed in a sea of malnutrition. Women worried seven days a week about food for their children. Sickness in the family was a disaster, and very often untended medically for want of money- unemployment was a Grey Death less dramatic than the Red or Black Death of the Middle Ages. But if it took fewer lives, a matter of doubt, it made the lives of far larger numbers of people not worth living. Most of the young men with whom I associated talked about these matters and preferred revolution to their continuance, and the twenty odd who took the bullet were not uselessly sacrificed. An amelioration did take place. The harsh theological capitalism of Belfast began to learn a lesson, in profit and loss, that took a decade or two to sink in. In the end they learned it better than some of their counter-parts in the south.



    Next Day there was some mild rioting but by the afternoon all was over. On the fourth day police and armed “B” Specials were in the area in force. They seized adults and youths wherever they could find them and made them start to clean up and repair the littered streets. A squad of “B’s” got hold of me just off the Falls road. I might have escaped, as I looked about 15, but they spotted the seditious emblem I still stupidly wore.

     With rifles fronted, they ordered me to get busy. I stood still and said nothing but “no”. One, somewhat drunk and flushed with anger, put his rifle muzzle in the middle of my chest and having put a round in the breech, began to pull the cocking piece back and forth. I knew how dangerous this was, for one night in a small room a few doors from the ancestral pub of one of our former 26 County Government ministers (also noted for his theological brand of capitalism and patriotism) one of our instructors had started to pull back the cocking piece on a rifle, that, for lack of room, had to be pushed against my chest. As he dripped the small oily plunging cocking piece he suddenly shouted for me to move. This was difficult as the room was crowded. I had scarcely got out of the way when the cocking-piece slipped and the heavy service bullet plunged into the wall where my chest had been ten seconds earlier.

     When the drunken “B” pulled the cocking piece for the second time I realized that death was perhaps seconds away. The obvious remedy, to kneel down and put back a few paving stones until the band moved on a bit, was not even considered. A fanatical hatred of Specials made it unthinkable. The Special gave a third angry order. I knew he had nothing to fear from authority if there was an “accident.” As we looked at each other a mill whistle was blowing, the mill gates opened, a hundred mill girls, “doffers,” hurled through the gates in a phalanx as they did every day. They took in the situation in a flash for they all lived nearby. They hurled themselves straight at the Specials, screaming and pushing. In seconds there was a wall of them between the Specials and myself. How it ended I do not know for I was around the corner and away.  Shortly afterwards the same group of “doffers” soundly beat myself and a couple of friends for distributing republican propaganda at one of “Wee Joe” Devlin’s meetings. In my case they had earned the right, but they broke their banner poles on us.


 “Wee Joe’s” supporters were not republican, and we tended to despise them as being, among other things, sectarian. My father was a loyal Devlinite, and had got himself, in a fighting capacity, to places like Spion Kop, Magersfonstein, and the Tugela River, fighting on what separatist Ireland has always regarded as the wrong side, but which the slow wheel of time has made look remarkably like the right side.

      When all was over I asked the Battalion Adjutant why an organization drilling and arming for revolution had ignored what seemed to be the textbook situation for the start of a revolt. He said that the Battalion Staff had met and considered the matter and decided that the participation of the IRA would be immediately know, as it was not a stone-throwing organization, and returning the fire of the B Specials with Mausers and Lugers, which constituted a large part of its armament would amount to a proclamation of intent. This would have split the strikers along the old lines of sectarian demarcation. When left to themselves, they might have forged a new unity.

      The argument had some force as the events of the following year showed. But his regretful one showed he had some doubts and I shared them. I knew that it was from Protestant journey-men in the great Belfast textile fitting shops, then still the greatest in the world as streams of German and Japanese students showed, that I had first learnt that there were men in the world who did not believe that the hunger, squalor, and futility which darkened the lives of almost everyone knew was heaven-ordained and reducible only by prayer.


    One of them was called Billy Hall, who hoped to be a Methodist Minister. By my standards at the time he was a well read man and spoke earnestly about the evils of capitalism and about Keir Hardie. He told me about socialism before I read Connolly, and when I did read Connolly I did so by getting his work from a Public Library on the Upper Shankill road where King Billy beamed nobly from every wall. When I presented my ticket and made my request, the librarian glared savagely at me and said they did not have them. His glare made it clear he knew what he was being asked for. I said I thought it was usual for libraries to procure for students any kind of nook of a serious nature which they required. He glared again, then said “Come back in a fortnight,” which I did and received my Connolly. I never had the opportunity to show it to Billy Hall, although if my memory is not playing tricks, he mentioned Connolly to me and said he was a good man, great praise from a fundamentally Loyalist, putative Methodist preacher who sometimes talked of founding a chapel, for a very disloyal Fenian.



Irish Times Friday, March 14th 1969 

THE NEXT YEAR (1933) a transport strike brought all heavy transport to a stop and a very tense situation arose in the city. The bulk of the strikers were of course Loyalist and Protestant, but when the railways and lorry services recruited strikebreakers some violence occurred. Strikebreakers were attacked by loyalist strikers. At that time, everywhere tended to violence. World Capitalism was in chaos, and local conditions in Northern Ireland accentuated the Great Slump. The contraction in Belfast engineering, partly due to the know-how they dispensed generously to German and Japanese engineers, had begun and still goes on. I saw these engineers myself in the big engineering works standing, notebooks in hand, from eight in the morning to five-thirty in the evening, hardly speaking to anyone, watching all day and making sketches. They were treated with humorous contempt, if noticed at all, and nobody guessed how quickly they would be making the stuff themselves.

    Whether the large number of unemployed was due to general conditions or, as was widely believed by workers and tradesmen in Belfast at the time, it was the result of a shortsighted policy by Belfast employers, who knew that a large pool of unemployed men had a strongly depressing effect on wages, is now irrelevant. What is certain is that the strikes and the violence arose spontaneously as a result of living conditions so harsh as to be unimaginable to the young workers of today. Protestant workmen in a place like Belfast, where Protestantism and unionism automatically commanded a degree of caste benefit, would not have been striking and rioting at all had it been otherwise. And underneath it all, the unemployed, straight from Gorki’s “Lower Depths.”

Drinking Ideal

 What would the IRA do? To me, it was the organization that would either perish fighting in the streets or end all this by establishing the republic that would cherish all her children equally. Dream of fairytale, this was the notion that in that time and place gave the illegal and left wing organizations in the north their passion and driving force. To a considerable extent what would happen would depend on M., for the titular head of the four Belfast companies was in jail serving a three-year sentence for an arms raid. I was now a year older, but still a teenager, and, though I held some exalted rank or other in the companies, I was not privy to decisions of the Battalion Council, though I knew its members well enough to discuss such matters with them.

M. Worried me. If this second opportunity, as it seemed to me, were to pass, why did we spend all our leisure in little rooms in the winter, out in the fields in summer, learning all we could about arms and explosives? Better to stop it and concentrate on political activities, to which most of us were not necessarily adverse. We chose the IRA because we had seen absolutely nothing from the electioneering of “Wee Joe” and other parliamentarians except talk. At the moment, talk is proving a decisive weapon in Northern Ireland, as it should in any free society, but what could talk achieve in the far more ruthless North of that far-off day, untouched by the more humane and democratic views which have altered the climate in Western Europe- including Northern Ireland- in spite of Paisely and Bunting.

    M. was a worry simply because he was a devout Catholic and in strict logic it might be argued he should not have been in the IRA at all, much less trying to change a strike into a revolution. It is necessary to remind to-day’s readers that in that time Catholic clerics in Belfast ranted against Socialism and the “agitators” who brought it about. Between the ages of 13 and 16 years, at Confraternity meetings on Monday evenings and sometimes on Wednesday, I listened to outrageous ignoramuses togged out in clerical garb thump the pulpit and denounce the “socialist agitators” who were the cause of all this unrest.  In a series of Monday night lectures, the Director of Confraternity proved conclusively that no Government could nationalize any large industry, quoting tonnage, numbers employed, etc, and other statistics to show, not the immorality of the proceedings but their total impossibility.

     That capitalist governments were busy doing it had escaped his unskibbereen eyes, e.g. Lloyd George had nationalized the huge British munitions industry during the First World War. In a war where the gun was still the Queen of Battle, the British army had entered the Marne able to fire on four rounds a day per gun. There had been an error in probably profitability by private enterprise in the production of shells.


SO the priests ranted on, unaware of the real crisis of conscience on the part of their flock. M. was the kind of man they should have been concerned with, but in spite of such a major aid to psychological knowledge as the confessional, they did not seem to know he existed. M. was, in his personal life, about as Christian as could be expected of anybody brought up in his terrible circumstances. Given the choice between death at the stake and abjuration of his faith, nobody who knew him would doubt the result. But the savage experiences of his life forced him to ignore the rantings of the Belfast Priests. Yet if “agitators,” that portmanteau word, had anything to do with getting me into the IRA at a very early age, then, irrevocably Catholic men like M. were “agitators.” The real “agitators” were the barbarous circumstances of our lives. The people who knew least about this were not the wicked capitalist owners of the great shipyards and fitting shops, but the clergy.

       Considering how strong the Catholic faith of a man like M. was, there was reason for a congenial agnostic like myself to worry when it was a question of committing an organization to a strike in such a way that men might soon die. For if the priests ceaselessly condemned the IRA, which they certainly did, their condemnation of social revolutionaries was of a kind that only the serum developed by Pasteur could have been expected to combat. Yet the same ranting director of Confraternity had, about 1929, told us how glad he was that in Mexico the Pope had called on the people to rise in arms, he stressed “IN ARMS” in a shouting voice, against the wicked socialist government then supposed to be ruling th county.

       This may seem funny at a time when the Catholic Left has leap-frogged far ahead of the Communist Party, not scorned by the more embullient of the New Christians as square and conservative. Certainly one would have to strain one’s ears to hear any denunciations of Socialism in that quarter these days, then not even fornication had a higher decibel count in the pulpit, and was not considered a more certain bringer of eternal fire and brimstone. Of course it is very “bigoted” to recall all that now.



A day or two after the violence had been inflicted on strike-breakers by protestant strikers, M. told me we were “in”. The first operation, mild enough, but carried out by armed squads, was the cutting down of telegraph poles. IRA activities were to be limited to see if Unionist Workers would go along; if they did, participation would be all-out. In the next couple of weeks activities grew in scope; demolition squads attacked the Great Northern Railway at far-flung points. Lisburn, for instance, seven miles from Belfast. This tactic may have been intended to give the impression that arms and explosives were being used by the same loyalists who had been beaten by the strikebreakers, but all it achieved was to put the operating squads, usually three or four men, in extreme peril of their lives without deceiving the Northern Government for two seconds. B Specials and RUC, all heavily armed, ceaselessly patrolled the railways and all goods moved in great convoys under armed guard. IRA squads escaped death by minutes. On one occasion a  three-man and one-woman squad returning from a fairly successful demolition effort many miles outside Belfast saw the heavily-armed barricades thrown up 150 yards in the rear of their small, speeding car.

     Their revolvers and automatics were kept under the bed of the elderly maiden aunt of one of the car occupants. She always prayed loudly and blessed herself when her nephew rushed into the room and began dragging out guns. On that night the operation had run into trouble in its early stages, as the area selected for planting a large mine was heavily patrolled.  Late at night, her mud-stained and disheveled nephew staggered into her room and began shoving half a dozen guns under her bed. Her praying that night rose to a loud wail that threatened to wake the whole house.

     Finally, a heavily guarded convoy of lorries leaving the Great Northern Station in central Belfast was ambushed. The RUC guard returned fire and in a ten-minute gun battle a policeman was shot dead. The Belfast papers carried head-lines about “gunmen imported from Eire” but this was a bit like the priests and their agitators- it was a local job.



Republican life in Dublin of the 30’s and 40’s

Irish Times, Thursday, July 9, 1970

AT THE BEGINNING of 1933, for reasons outside my control I came to live in Dublin. My first night was spent in a hotel in Parnell square, and next morning I had my first view of the Gate Theatre known only to me by my odd reading of the theatre reviews in the Dublin papers- as a result of which all I knew of the cultural life of Dublin was that there was a painter called Harry Kernoff, and a very exciting theatre called the Gate, where two people named MacLiammoir and Edwards made some kind of magic that my own harsh and embattled city seemed to have none of. I was in my late teens. I knew a lot of political stuff as well: ’16, Hamman Hotel, Four Courts, etc. By my first surprise was my excitement at seeing the fabulous Gate Theatre through a front window of the hotel.

     Next day two women well known in the Republican movement of those days took me to a large house in Elgin road, and afterwards to a house that I was told would be safe and friendly, one of my earliest experiences of a major understatement.

      The house was occupied by an old lady in her late 60’s named Furlong, who became a permanent influence on me, and still gives the sieve of memory a shake when I think about her as I frequently do.

      She was from Co. Meath, a type of Irish woman whose presence over many generations explained much about the tenacious survival of ideas associated with Irish history, and the men who on one level or another tried to make the ideas a reality. Warm and generous in her ways and manner, she was tolerant towards those who did not share her fervent belief in the IRA and accepted, as I did not then, that there was more than one kind of Republican and therefore, more than one kind of truth.

    On one occasion she asked me for a small subscription for political opponents who would certainly have put me in jail if they knew enough about my activities. We argued and she slowly explained that political opponents were often good people who just saw things differently and were not necessarily dishonest . . .a very un-Irish view.

 Such views were not common in a movement whose emotional intensity made it comparable to say, the Spanish anarchists, and in which personality distortion was far from uncommon due to historical torque.

    He son, Jack, had been a ’16 man who died shortly after release from internment. His widow, Kathleen, had married Stephen Behan and they took a Georgian house in nearby Russell street.


     The house, close to Mountjoy square, had around it some of the finest Georgian doorways in existence, which were falling into ruin. The big basement kitchen, made into a living room, often housed an unusual collection of people. . . three or four wanted men, eccentrics like Captain Pat Fox of the Citizen Army, called by Connolly “The Impossible Man,” who threw a priest through a hedge for pulling Parnell’s flag off his house, plus stray IRA men with curious and varied histories.

     One day, about the end of 1933, Emily, Mrs Furlong’s daughter, a music teacher, said she specifically wanted us to meet her little nephew Brendan and would bring him next morning. Although some of us were still late teenagers, or just out of that age, we were sufficiently precocious in certain forms of experience to regard ourselves as elders of the Republican Church, and understood that for the young nephew meeting us would be part of his education. It turned out to be part of ours.

     I remember looking at the very bright faced boy in short pants who trotted through the door at Emily’s skirts. He stopped with his back to the window and burst at once into a speech, possibly prepared, about O’Casey, Shaw and Wilde, with quotations. He had a ferocious stammer which sometimes brought him to a halt, but he persevered and finished his speech. The moment he did so he said goodbye politely and vanished out the door leaving us a bit silent and with the feeling we were at the wrong end of a little bit of unconscious iconoclasm.

     Emily beamed pridefully back from the door and said: “and he’s only nine.” I had seen one O’Casey play (thanks to Mad Pat Fox who kept a box at the Olympia) and read a little Shaw, and knew the anmes of Wilde’s plays. It was at least six months later that I bought an anthology of Wilde, just published. When young Brendan made his comments I would have been much more authoritative abiout the inside of a Mills bomb. The little boy came to see us now and again and made good use of his eyes. When the Furlongs went to Clontarf we went with them and nearly 20 years later in Fitzwilliam place, in the “catacombs”, he told the equally curious but much more varied clientele, stories about stealing into my room in his “Granny’s” and sampling the contents. . . handbooks on machine-guns including the Thompson, then as much a favourite with the IRA as with the Chicago gangsters; military manual, Marx, the English edition of “Mein Kampf”, and the work of Nicolai Berdyaev, a Russian writer of the spiritual Right, then much in the news, plus a load of Communist, anarchist, and pacifist literature to take up any vacant space. . .a real ‘30’s bag.


This period, about the end of the ‘40’s, was near zenith in Brendan’s young energy, power to amuse, dance to sing, tell stories, mimic, and begin the famous take-offs- DH Lawrence, Toulouse Lautrec- which flagged not from pub-shut until dawn. Later when the terrible syndrome of disease, drink and publicity had made him into a megalomaniac hulk, streeling through the pubs looking for rows and ructions, this kind of quality and largely disappeared.

     But he did not make up stories about old Mrs. Furlong, nor use of her bantering tone natural to him when talking about relations. When she was mentioned, at any rate by me, he tended to grow serious and a bit silent.

    In the mid-30’s when Brendan could not have been much more than 14, a small prophetic incident occurred. I was alone one evening when Brendan came in looking agitated. He was big and precocious and I always talked to him as an adult. He was insistent that I go out beyond Donnycarney to hear some records which he said were part of a very interesting collection belonging to a friend of his. I had other things to think about, but I was a gramophone maniac at the time, as Brendan well knew. He almost used force getting me to the bus.

    The first two records were very good and I began to be glad he had dragged me away. However, while the records were playing, Brendan called the host out to the kitchen and I was left alone. After four or five records he rushed outside the house and I could hear the sound of vomiting. The host who had followed him, came back and said: “he’s drunk.”

     At that time anyway, this was highly unusual in one so young and it rushed on me that my being there at all was part of a ploy by Brendan to get more drink. He had been drinking before he called for me. It was my first experience of a new force in Brendan’s life and the deviousness to which it would often drive him

    Being landlady to IRA men was an occupation with a built-in path to bankruptcy. A few of us who were more or less full time with the IRA and could not live at home received I pound, or sometime 25/- per week. . . though not when down the country on training trips or when part-time work could be found. Mrs. Furlong insisted on giving us back five shillings if she had not fed us as well as she might have managed. . . or not kept our beds empty when we went on extended trips down the country. To have taken in real “payers” would have endangered the wandering patriots, so the bad money drove out the good, and economic breakdown sent Mrs. Furlong to live in an English city. One evening in the early days of the war, Brendan called to me as I was passing Nelson’s Pillar.

      He was not almost 16, and told me he was leaving for England that night and would stay with Mrs. Furlong. The bombing campaign in England was underway and Brendan was on a mission. I pointed out that the Furlong house was pretty sure to be under observation and that arrest was certain. He said curtly that he was “going anyway.”

       He had been raised to believe that not to go to jail for Ireland was something of a disgrace- execution of course, being better. He sailed that evening, and whether he laid that particular train or was just caught up in it when the fuse had been lit. In ten days or so the journey to Borstal had begun, followed by the writing of “Borstal Boy,” perhaps the best jail journal there is.


At the age of 77, old Mrs Furlong was sentenced to seven years imprisonment. Her daughters Emily and Evelun receiving five and three years respectively. As far as I knew her only statement in court was the one with which the Fenian prisoners were apt to greet sentence: “God Save Ireland.”

    Towards the end of the war she was found to be dying and was hurriedly put aboard the same ship on which young Brendan had sailed years before, and landed back on the Liffey where the journey had begin. She walked up along the Liffey for the last time and collapsed on O’Connell Bridge. Later, Emily, then released, told me that another daughter, living in Castleknock, on her way to the bus saw a crowd on O’Connell Bridge and went to have a look. She found her mother lying on the ground.

    During much of this time my relations with Brendan were a bit like the two figures on an old-fashioned weather vane. When he was “in” I was “out,” and vice versa. I was out in the middle of 1943 when Brendan was doing 14 years for firing at armed policemen. One morning I received a copy of his first play, the Landlady, by post. I read the play and wrote to him about it and received from him a very long, discursive and amusing letter, now in New York University.

    Women like Mrs. Furlong must have been plentiful in Ireland for hundreds of years and the host of outlaws, Rapparees, and wanted men who crowd the near, middle, and far distance of the Irish historical Landscape must have owed much to them, The hard revolutionary world of the 30’s, beginning for Brendan, was the end for Mrs. Furlong. That world has vanished, and they have too, but they are two people I find it very hard to forget.


Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Dan Moore

"'Man's dearest possession', said Mayakovski, "is life"
Alive or dead, that life and its style
May only be lived for man's fellow man
If the living of it is to be worthwhile."
- Dominic Behan, "Bas, Fas, Blas"


    Dan was born in 1939 to a family of ten children on the outskirts Newry. He joined the Fianna in the 50’s. Shortly after graduating to the IRA in 1957, he was arrested while posting manifestos around Newry (click here to read the story and background)  He was sent to the juvenile wing of Crumlin Road Gaol for 12 months, and when his sentence was up he was interned. He recounted some memories of prison life for the Newry Journal, which are reposted together here

   He was released in the early 60’s and rejoined his unit, but he returned to prison several times throughout the decade. Growing up his father would hoist the tricolor every Easter, and now Dan did the same as part of the IRA's color party, though the flag was banned under the Emblems Act. His recurring prison terms made him a local legend and to this day, for old-timers, his name brings back memories of those principled stands. 

Dan, third from the left, at a commemoration in the early 60's.

In 1961 he was carrying the tricolor when the police attempted to seize the flag mid-parade. A scuffle inevitably broke out and Dan was arrested for "conduct likely to lead to a breach of peace."

 In 1962 he was jailed for two months for organizing the Easter commemoration in Newry, and his brother Eugene was given two months for assisting him.  

 In 1964 it was for organizing a parade without permission in a town a few miles away in Armagh, where the Newry republicans were helping to re-organize. Dan was arrested some time after the fact along with John Lynch, Hugh Trainor, and Patrick Crilly.

  In 1966 he carried the flag for the 50th anniversary of 1916. With thousands watching, the police made no interference and Dan was left in peace for once.

Dan Moore, holding the tricolor aloft at the bottom center.



   His most dramatic arrest was that of the Civic Week Hungerstrike in 1967. 

    Civic Weeks were designed in the mid 60’s as a "bridge" event to bring people together through shared pride in their communities. They were part festival, part expo for trade, local, and government organizations, and the founders hoped it would close the sectarian divide. Newry was one of seven towns to host the new event in 1966, and was overall considered a wonderful success, which organizers hoped to repeat. 

    Then in 1967 the Newry town council invited the British Army. The Royal Ulster Rifles were to give a concert, show off their military equipment, and some recruiting was planned. The republicans supported Civic Week but took exception to this latter step, which in a mostly nationalist town was no surprise. On behalf of the Oliver Craven Republican Club, Dan Moore, a 50's veteran and ex-prisoner, announced he would start a hungerstrike until the invitation was rescinded. "The Civic week previous to this was a very good thing for the town" he explained later, "but on this the committee went a step too far. . . In the protest we stated that the main reason for objecting was that the B.A. were recruiting young Newry men, and the possibility was that within a few years they could be used to shoot people from Newry."(1)          

     Dan seated himself outside the town hall, placard in hand. He made a fairly lonesome sight, but he wasn’t there for long. A policeman approached and asked him to move somewhere else, as the Town Hall was in a Unionist area; protests usually confined themselves to Margaret Square, a Nationalist area, and where one of them was seen protesting more were sure to join. But the object of his protest - the council - met in the town hall and outside the town hall Dan would stay. He was asked again shortly after and again refused. Finally, a little later he was arrested for "conduct likely to lead to a breach of the peace."(2)   

    He was given the option of 10 pounds bail and one year of good behavior, or two weeks in the Crum. Like any republican he opted for the Crum, and announced the hungerstrike would continue in prison. Several vital organizations pulled their support, including the National Cycling Association and the local GAA club. The Nationalist Party expressed their displeasure with the Army's invitation and their support for Moore. The Council was left with no option but to cancel it. With that, Dan Moore was released from prison and called off his hungerstrike. 

    Civic Week went ahead, was a great success, and all seemed well except for the fact that in the treasurer's report there was no mention of the money paid to the Army, which was not reimbursed. Dan raised issue with this several times to no avail. "Sad to say the B.A. did come to the town a few years later and shot young men carrying out quite legal business at the Post Office."(3) (a reference to the 1971 "Newry Killings" by the Royal Green Jackets.)


      In between bouts in jail, he found time to help with the "Wolfe Tone Societies," an invitation-only think tank for the movement's "new direction." They acquired a membership of various personalities from across the political spectrum. Dan Moore represented his home town.(4) Dan was also one of the founding members of the local Citizen's Action Committee, set up to organize civil rights events, and chief steward of the People's Democracy march through Newry in January of 1969. He was an outspoken advocate for the Republican Clubs, quickly banned by the state but whose branch in Newry was a popular vehicle for local activism. 

Dan, flanked by Old IRA veterans, carrying the tricolor at the 1969 commemoration.


       In August of 1969 he helped with activities organized to divert the police’s resources from the beleaguered Bogside in Derry. This took the form of barricades and attacks on police stations. "The support of the people that night and each night after was amazing." After several days, their objective being realized, they set the barricades alight and Dan and the volunteers fled to the safety of Omeath. On the way some had the idea to attack the Killeen customs hut. "Reluctantly I agreed." His misgivings were well founded; his former O/c’s son, Colman Rowntree, almost died in the burning embers. "We broke in and doused the place in petrol. Most had then retreated outside but before we were all out someone struck a light and the place went up. I was knocked to the floor and was crawling to the door when I heard a shout from inside. It could have been one of us or a security man but I went back and managed to drag him out. It was then that I discovered it was Colman. We loaded up and headed for the Alexian brothers at Calvary on the far side of Omeath. (They) opened their house to us and arranged for ambulances to take our injured to (Dundalk)." Colman was later shot after being taken prisoner by the British Army. (5) Dan spent three months recovering from his burns.


   Dan’s republicanism (like the other Newry veterans as a group) was socially conscious. They stewarded marches, organized protests, and worked through the Republican Clubs to address day-to-day issues that affected the people of Newry. "He was never a narrow Nationalist,” a former comrade eulogized, “and the respect he commanded allowed him to cross the sectarian divide to make clear the difference between Nationalism and Republicanism, and he done all he could to dispel the myths and stereotypes that feed the evil of sectarianism."(6)  "I worked in Haldane Shields's (prior to his 1957 arrest),” Dan recalled, “and we had all sorts there. When I was in prison Bob Haldane came down to me in prison to confirm that my job was still there and that none of the staff were against me coming back. That was Catholic, Protestant and dissenter, the whole lot. They would have been glad for me to come back after coming out of prison. . . Newry always was a happy town, a happy city where people lived together irrespective of their class or creed. There never was any troubles among the people that way, but others, to justify themselves, helped to create sectarianism into republicanism and that was more an attack on the official republican movement, nothing more nothing less. The official republican movement incidentally was founded more by Protestants than Catholics so it never was a Catholic or a Protestant organisation."(7) 

    When the split happened he remained with the Officials, as did almost all of the Newry veterans, from Operation Harvest going back to 1916. “(They) were first at the time to recognize," he later said, "that armed conflict was counter-productive and was leading the people into a bloody sectarian cul-de-sac driving the people further apart.”(8) His brother Tom recalled for the Irish Times that “He was very much against what the Provisional IRA were doing and saw it as pure sectarianism. He was sorry and disgusted to learn about so many killings but there was one particular murder, of Bob Mitchell, that stayed with him. I remember him calling me after and asking ‘how bad are things going to get before people notice what’s happening?’”(9)


       After leaving the hospital he continued to support the movement but stayed in the Free State to "recover from it all." He found work as a bartender around the east and southeast. During this period he met his wife Noreen, and they moved to her hometown of Dublin. There he became a social worker and this vocation he pursued for many years (other Newry exiles like veteran republican Sam Dowling and Fr. Peter McVerry took up the same cause in the city as well). "He spent some years working with young people affected by addiction through the Merchant’s Quay drugs project and worked closely with the Daughters of Charity and the St Vincent de Paul Society to help set up the Rendu Apartments initiative which provides housing to women and children experiencing homelessness. He also helped set up the Money, Advice and Budgeting Service to support people on dealing with debt issues."(10) He was also a horse enthusiast, and pursued this passion through the Irish Draught Horse Society.

     In his later years he, along with most of the Newry veterans of the 50's and 60's, aligned with the Official Republican Movement (ORM). Dan served on the organization's National Executive Committee. "He would often travel to meetings and events all over Ireland, even though his health was failing, and he sometimes found it difficult to walk but he would always find a way to be there, many times travelling by bus or train from Dublin to Newry, Belfast, Derry or wherever and always arriving early and ready to lead by example." [11]   

At the newly dedicated memorial to Colman Rowntree and Martin McAlinden in 2014

     Dan died on February 8th, 2021.

 [1] Dan Moore

[2] Irish Independent Friday, June 02, 1967; Page: 9

[3] Dan Moore

[4] Sean Swan, Official Irish Republicanism

[5] Quoted in commemorative pamphlet on Colman Rowntree and Martin McAlinden

[6] Oration by Martin Mckevitt


[8 ]Dan Moore, oration at the 40th anniversary of Colman Rowntree and Martin McAlinden

[9] Irish Times Obituary

[10]  Ibid

[11] McKevitt

Many thanks to Gerard Byrne for the photos.

Friday, February 26, 2021

Bonfires on the Border


Saor Uladh, the Hard Border, and the Road to Operation Harvest 


     Customs in Northern Ireland was complicated prior to the open border so familiar to today’s generation.

     Motorists could only cross the border on certain “approved roads.” There were fifteen of these on the entire border. They could only cross at certain times, and there were a number of very official restrictions on what day of the week one could cross and whether you were going in or out. [i] The rules were enforced by lightly trained agents in small makeshift huts, usually of wood or corrugated tin, known by the Kipling-esque title "frontier posts." All the other roads, visible today by their narrow, rocky, footpath-like quality, were reserved for foot traffic with heavy penalties for transgressors. "A motorist crossing the frontier on roads other than (approved ones)" the law said, "is liable to very severe penalties, including confiscation of his car."[ii]

   These customs posts were a favorite all-occasion target for Republicans. The general population disliked the posts, attacks involved no great threat to life or limb, and the border made getting away a simple matter of driving across it. Brendan Behan's first operation was burning down Customs in honor of the Royal investiture in 1937. "We burned them down on both sides with great liberality"[iii] he recalled. A song by Brian O'Higgins on a customs attack in the 20's expressed the sentiment behind them:

"Here´s to the lads that played the game,
Here´s to the minds that planned it,
Here´s to the hands that lit the flame,
Here´s to the winds that fanned it:
May it blaze again from shore to shore
Consuming our land´s disorder:
May it leap and roar from shore to shore
Till it burns away the Border!"


      Three of these frontier posts, Culmore, Galliagh, and Kildrum, were on the border of Derry city and Donegal, a semicircle of land only a few miles long with the river Foyle on one side and Irish border on the other. The next closest crossing is in Strabane, 15 miles south. 

    In 1953 Saor Uladh celebrated Easter vigil by blowing up the huts in this strategically vulnerable area, or so they aimed.[iv] At Culmore and Galliagh they sprinkled the huts with tar and set them alight. At the former, the fire brigade responded almost immediately, and put out the blaze before it caused any damage. Gallaigh was not ignited at all, leading to speculation the raiders were spooked before they could set it alight. At the third, Kildrum they threw a bomb through the window. It only shattered the windows and left the hut perfectly operable.[v] 

     The IRA denied involvement and the RUC quickly pinned responsibility on a new group consisting of former volunteers assembled around the former Tyrone O/c, Liam Kelly. It was their third operation as a separate entity from the IRA- the previous being a takeover of Pomeroy at night to hold an Easter Commemoration, and a hold-up for funds. The organization had no public name or face yet, and did not claim the operation (nor most of their operations).

     They returned in 1956 with better results. Much had transpired in the interim, and this time they were reinforced by the Christle Group’s men, material, and expertise. In the early hours of Armistice Day that year, they launched their new alliance with a joint operation that destroyed 6 customs huts along a 150 mile stretch, mostly in Kelly’s newly adopted home base of County Monaghan. Participants included Kelly, Joe Christle, Gerry Lawless, and Christle's right hand man Pat Murphy.[vi]

    The new modus operandi was to fill suitcases with timed explosives, and, posing as ordinary gentlemen, hand them over to the Customs officials for safe keeping, supposedly to be picked up the next day. The explosives would then go off in the early hours when the hut was unattended. [vii]

    At Clontivern- near Monaghan- they handed over a briefcase, asking the guard to hold it in a safe until they could pick it up later. The customs man was more friendly than cautious, and when he retired that night he briefly considered leaving the suitcase in the safety of a friend’s house, just in the event the hut should be destroyed. He had it in hand, on his way to the house, when he changed his mind and left it at the post. In the wee hours the briefcase exploded through the safe, leveling the hut. [viii] It was the most powerful of all the explosions that night. The safe, embedded in several layers of concrete, “was rent in pieces, giving some idea of the powerful explosives used. The concrete foundations were also ripped up.” Residents living nearby were lifted out of their beds by the explosion, but there was, incredibly, no injury to their homes. Thanks to a “first rate”[ix] but unknown demolitions expert in the Christle group, “the contrivance was so manipulated as to send . . .most of its force away from the homes.”[x]

    That same night the IRA’s Charlie Murphy and Noel Kavanagh were driving past a hut they planned on burning down themselves in the near future. They had a routine in which they would drop a gas cap out the window, stop, and walk around looking for it as a ruse to spy on the site. They were in the middle of doing this when the hut exploded before their eyes. [xi]

    Near Newtownbutler two RUC men on their nightly patrol took refuge from a downpour under the eaves of the customs hut. They finally decided to resume their beat, and were only a couple minutes' walk away when the explosion happened.[xii] The near-misses are an example of the fine line that separates a successful operation from tragedy.

    The total roster of customs posts destroyed were Mullan and Clontivern in Fermanagh; Moybridge and Aghnacloy in Tyrone, and Middletown, Carnagh and Tullyodonnell in Armagh. These formed a ring comprising the approved roads connecting County Monaghan and the 6 counties. Of them, 5 were destroyed with explosives and one burnt down.[xiii]

    The next day was spent cleaning up, and there was much to clean. “The smell of explosives was still strong on Sunday evening” at Mullan. A ring of shattered wood, papers, tables, and tiles lay strewn for a hundred yards around making it "impossible to walk without trampling on some of the shattered hut.” Remarkably, whether by chance or another feat of engineering the direction of the blast, a cattle owner’s van parked a couple yards away was unscathed.[xiv]  At Agnacloy, district inspectors scrambled about the fields to salvage records among the ring of glass and wreckage, while locals assembled to gawk and collect souvenirs[xv].  At Clontivern “all day long, hundreds of sightseers from Clones . . .visited the scene to view the destruction. . .Official documents and records were clinging to the tops of trees and bushes along the road for over 200 yards.”

    But by the end of the day it was “business as usual.” The roads remained open and the police took time out of their cleaning efforts to process vehicles. Mullan, Carnagh, and Clontivern were handily replaced by using nearby huts normally used to process cattle across the border. Caravans were rented for Aughnacloy and Tullydonnel, and in Middletown they simply rented a room in a private house near the road. The chief of customs declared that the only actual result achieved “was the inconvenience caused to officials.”[xvi]

       The attacks garnered some headlines, but the spotlight was stolen by events in Hungary, where the Soviets launched a final offensive to crush the Hungarian revolution that very morning. The local events were raised at the House of Commons, where Northern politicians tried to explain the situation:

 "Christopher Armstrong (representing County Armagh), asked the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will make a statement on the blowing up and burning of Customs stations on the Irish border on Remembrance Day.

Mr Henry Brooke: Customs land boundary posts were destroyed as a result of explosion and fire. There was no loss of life or injury. Arrangements have been made for the Customs to operate from temporary accommodation, and investigations by the Royal Ulster Constabulary are continuing into these outrages.

Christopher Armstrong (Co Armagh): As it seems unlikely that it will be possible to take effective steps to stop the periodic explosions on the Irish border, can my right hon. Friend say whether it is proposed to rebuild these Customs huts in the cheapest possible material, as they have been built before, and, if so, whether arrangements will be made for important papers to be removed at night?

 Henry Brooke: I would not like to make any forecast about the steps that we shall take when we have done all we can to clear up what happened on these occasions. I fully appreciate the importance of looking after papers, and that is always done.

 Patrick Gordon Walker: Can the right hon. Gentleman say why these stations were not guarded?

 Henry Brooke: They were unmanned that night—

 Patrick Gordon Walker: Why?

 Henry Brooke: —because it would be most helpful to smugglers if they knew that Customs officers throughout the night always sat in the same place."[xviii]

     Soviet papers for their part praised them as ‘a new stage in the struggle of the long suffering Irish people against hated English oppression.’[xvii]  Ironically, Kelly and Christle would not have welcomed the endorsement had they heard it. The two were back in Dublin a couple days later, as if nothing had happened, to address an “Anti Communist, Anti-Imperialist Rally.” It was organized by the Student Council, an organization heavily influenced by Christle Group members which “made Dublin, on occasion, a locus of student anti-colonial agitation.”[xix] Students from Hungary and Egypt (on the brink of war with England after nationalizing the Suez Canal) spoke on the situation in those countries, and there was much talk in solidarity with the Cypriot rebellion. Kelly had strong words, declaring “the acts by both Russia and Britain in recent weeks were acts of aggression and the time must come when they both would fail.” “The Hungarian people, he said, had asserted in arms the right to national freedom and sovereignty, and in that assertion there was a lesson which they might well learn in Ireland. . . the people down here should make up their minds that if they really wanted freedom they should adopt the means of the Cypriots, the Hungarians and Egyptians. . .”[xx] 


       The IRA denied involvement. The Garda confirmed as much to the RUC and the press, further confirmed the attacks were not connected to the large group of IRA men drilling in Meath that weekend, and were not called on by the RUC to help their investigation. The men drilling in Meath were part of a contingent preparing for the IRA’s own campaign, which began December 11th.  

    Did the attack force the IRA into Operation Harvest prematurely? Gardai intelligence, Sean Cronin, Ruari O'Bradaigh, Mick Ryan, and Joe Cahill in their respective writings all concur, as do T.P. Coogan and Bowyer Bell in their histories. But the decision to go ahead had more facets to it than that.  

   The three chiefs of staff – Magan, MacLogan and MacCurtain- as a group were tepid about having a campaign to begin with. They preferred to accumulate strength over time. “They wanted a successful military campaign” and not simply a go at the enemy.[xxi] They caved to those impatient for action in early 1956 and set about laying infrastructure for a campaign. It tentatively set for sometime in the winter of ’56 or spring of ’57. Volunteers spent the summer training intensively several days a week, with bootcamps held periodically in Wicklow and Meath. The question was not if, but when, but the leadership wanted “when” to still be further away. Mac Curtain thought the Nationalist population was unprepared and 1958- the next election year- would serve better. [xxii] But it was not to be.

   Cork volunteer Seamus Linehan was one of those training in Meath that weekend and he gives a picture in his memoir:  

    Billy Early came out of the house and got the entire Cork contingent together and said there had been a change of plans. It seems that the initial plan was to spend at least ten days in that place being    briefed on the areas we would be going to and what the likely targets in the areas would be and also that the Cork group would operate as a flying column in one specific area. However, due to unforeseen circumstances, that plan would have to be changed, and I had to go in with him to meet the brass. When we went in there were about fifteen others in the room and when the meeting convened it was headed up by five members of the Army Council including, Tony Magan, Chief of Staff, Sean Cronin, Director of Operations and architect of the plan of campaign called Operation Harvest, and three other senior officers.

   Tony Magan opened the meeting by explaining to us that at least three years of hard work and detailed planning had gone into the preparation of Operation Harvest and nothing was left to chance. Senior Officers and Volunteers had made many trips across the Border to size up targets, map out the terrain, gather intelligence, and record the movements of the R.U.C. and the British Army, procure the necessary weapons, arrange for billets and safe houses and prepare the units around the country for active service. They were very happy and satisfied with the preparations and every detail and source of information had been checked and rechecked over and over again. It was decided that the Campaign should start on the night of the eighteenth of December but an incident had occurred a few days previously that necessitated a change of plans.

    That incident was the disappearance of the O/c of Belfast Paddy Doyle, who was made privy to extensive plans just before being arrested. That knowledge jeopardized vital ingredients such as the organization of the columns and their targets. That precipitated a much-criticized mash-up of the brigades in which men who had trained together were split up amongst other units. While they were in the middle of debating the ramifications of the arrest, news came that SU had attacked.

Tony Magan then said that another incident had occurred that very morning which necessitated a change of plans. He explained that if Saor Uladh carried out any further attacks before the eighteenth the possibility was that the R.U.C. might seal off the border and it would totally up scuttle our plans. After some further discussion, sometimes heated, it was agreed that we would go ahead with the change in plans. After the meeting we went back out to the lads and informed them as to what was happening and in fairness to them they were all happy to go along with the leaders. [xxiii]

       Organizers began filtering across the border immediately and the IRA launched their operation on December 11th.

     The IRA’s fears were reinforced as SU conducted scattered follow-up raids on more huts in the coming weeks. Results were less spectacular. In Clogher, an SU volunteer forced his way into the newly constructed hut at night, placed a biscuit tin with gelignite, and lit the fuse. The fuse burned out before reaching the explosives. A farmer passing by next morning noticed the door to the hut flapping open and shut, and upon investigating found the biscuit tin.[xxiv]  

        A Fourth International memo analyzing Saor Uladh insightfully points out that none of the IRA's campaigns were started by the organization itself, but rather by individuals who pushed it into action. Even the hallowed War of Independence was begun by the unauthorized shootout at Soloheadbeg. However, time proved correct the “Three Mac’s” reservations about a premature campaign. “It is impossible to estimate,” one commentator writes, “what might have been the result if the IRA leaders had been allowed to prepare and consolidate, as they had wished, for another two years” [xxv]


    The road between the attacks of 1953 and those of 56 was not a direct one. In between Kelly embraced politics. He was a prominent figure in local organizations around Tyrone, and in 1953 the Anti-Partition League nominated him as their candidate. He won, and afterwards he and his supporters used his election platform as a template for a new party, Fianna Uladh, which combined northern-focused republicanism with support of the Free State and its institutions. His ability to speak to people’s concerns and play the authorities when needed worked wonders. Between the launch of Fianna Uladh in late 1953, and when he went to the Seanad in 1954, the party accumulated 3000 members with 18 chapters across the north, with more in Dublin, Cork, and London, and an overwhelming number of Old IRA men among its vocal supporters. 

     This was a promising foundation, but it came to naught with a two-punch blow. 

     The first came from the Seanad. In 1954 Kelly was elected to the 26 county government on the Labour ticket (thanks to a legal technicality that allowed a party the right to nominate anyone) as part of a plan to allow northern senators, both Nationalist and Unionist, to be represented in the Southern Government. He gave a lengthy address touching on the benefits of the idea and how further tension in the north could be diffused by adopting the motion. "It would be the first step towards the extension of the Constitution to the whole of Ireland," he told the senators. "It would restore the confidence of the people not only in the Six Counties but of the whole of Ireland and in her national institutions." A couple of senators spoke in support. "There is no use in deploring physical force," Senator Frank O'Donnell said, "if we do not do something ourselves. Let us at least make this gesture; let us show in so far as we can that, whether they be of practical value or otherwise, we will open this House and the Dáil to the people of Northern Ireland who want to come down here to voice whatever grievances they may have." The response was disheartening; only 12 voted aye to the proposal, and 36 against it.[xxvi] His reference at the rally to "people down here" "making up their minds" betrays some of his frustration with the indifference.

    The second, and most devastating, came when Sinn Fein participated in the 1955 elections. Kelly's own election was fraught with infighting, and a divided nationalist vote empowered Unionist parties for decades. He determined Fianna Uladh would not be responsible for reenacting that scenario. Fianna Uladh stepped aside, and had its voters support Sinn Fein’s candidates with their votes and manpower. The stand was principled and secured Mid Ulster for Sinn Fein's Tom Mitchell, but consigned Fianna Uladh to history books.

    Although he remained visible and vocal in the political sphere, after the election his energies turned to building up Saor Uladh. And stated with the IRA above, it is impossible to tell what strengths Fianna Uladh could have gone on to had Kelly not stepped aside for Sinn Fein, or directed his energies to military action. 



      Once the IRA’s campaign was launched, border posts were attacked frequently. The crossing at Killeen alone (the primary road for traffic between Belfast and Dublin) was burned down about half a dozen times between 1956 and 1962. As per the IRA’s General Order 8, forbidding hostilities against the southern government, the posts were no longer attacked on both sides as they were in Behan’s day. As the campaign progressed authorities responded with a variety of measures against the unapproved roads to force traffic onto the easily monitored approved ones. Some were spiked, a phrase often used but little known to outsiders, referring to iron contraptions akin to anti-tank defenses from World War Two. Others were blocked with barriers. Many had craters blown in them, usually several yards deep, or had key bridges blown up. This not only disrupted the roads, it often interfered with water supply lines and electricity, and locals had short walks turned into many miles of detours. Locals, republicans, and smugglers responded by filling in the craters. Some livestock owners even invented makeshift bridges over the spikes. Despite the armed campaign, unionist appeals, and drastic security measures, the border was never sealed off as the IRA had feared.


      In the end, the hard border was brought down not by explosions but by trade. "The IRA did its best to blow away border posts but it was the 1986 Single European Act, the Single Market, and the Belfast Agreement that ultimately have given us our soft Border" one commentator writes.[xxvii] Or as Tim Pat Coogan writes a little less optimistically, "The nationalist slogan of “Hands across the border” has been translated into reality as – hands across the counter."[xxviii] Gone are the "frontier posts" and crossing now entails no effort at all, though in the shadow of complications entailed by Brexit many look back in fear to the days of the hard border, which in the 70's and 80's became far more bloody than the incidents described above. 

      When Liam Kelly died in 2011, he was carried home to Tyrone over an unapproved border road.

 Further reading on the border:

Unapproved Routes by Peter Leary is an excellent history of the border roads and the culture around them. Another good resource is the Border Road Memories Project, which is assembling an oral history archive, viewable on their website:



[iii] "Brendan Behan Sings Irish Rebel Songs" retrieved from

[iv] Sean McConville, Irish Political Prisoners 1920-1962 Pilgrimage of Desolation 

[v] Irish Examiner, Saturday, April 04, 1953; Page 7  

[vi] TP Coogan, The IRA

[vii]Monaghan Argus, 17.11.1956, page 5

[viii] Ibid

[ix] Bowyer Bell’s word’s describing a “first rate demolitions expert” who was recruited in the latter half of 56. The Secret Army

[x] Donegal News 17.11.1956, page 5

[xi] TP Coogan, The IRA

[xii] Monaghan Argus, 17.11.1956, page 1

[xiii] ibid

[xiv] Donegal News, 24.11.1956, page 5

[xv] Monaghan Argus, 17.11.1956, page 5

[xvi] Evening Echo 1896-current, 12.11.1956, page 1

[xvii] USSR paper "Trud", quoted in Cork Evening Echo, quoted in Matt Treacy, Rethinking the Republic


[xix] Ireland and the End of the British Empire : The Republic and Its Role in the Cyprus Emergency Helen O’Shea, 2015

[xx] Irish Press, Thursday, November 15, 1956; Page: 5

[xxi] Robert W White, Ruairí Ó Brádaigh: The Life and Politics of an Irish Revolutionary

[xxii] ibid

[xxiii] Seamus Linnehan, A Rebel Spirit, published online.

[xxiv] Donegal News, 24.11.1956, page 3

[xxv] McConnville, Pilgrimage of Desolation









Tuesday, January 5, 2021

The Newry Curfew- Making War on Rebellion


Men of the North - Part 4: Making War on Rebellion



    "Pour les Irish" TE Lawrence wrote to a bedraggled English general during the Irish War of Independence, "Only one horrid word: you cannot make war upon rebellion."[i] General Brian Kimmins assumed charge of British troops in the north in 1955 and, a veteran of both World Wars with experience in directing raids, he appreciated Lawrence's view. So did the Prime Minister, Lord Brookborough, "What we cannot stop are these sporadic raids," Brookeborough told the press. "You can disperse the military all over the country but you would lose your striking force."[ii] Meaning: the army would cease to be effective combating the threat and become targets themselves. By summer of 1957 it was not hard to figure out that although fond of land mines, ambushes, and timed explosions, the IRA was no longer capable of organized assaults. Instead of confronting a ghost, Kimmins kept the army in a highly subdued role in which they withdrew into their barracks like a turtle into its shell and refused the IRA's enticements to come out. The better informed, locally-run RUC and B-Specials took up the dirty day to day business. This deprived the IRA of the targets it sought - needed- for its war to gain momentum, and forced them to settle for inglorious "incidents." "Though the people might be irritated by the pin-pricks," Brookeborough reminded Unionist leaders, "the important was that the IRA were not accomplishing their objective."[iii]

      Despite the latter's efforts to soothe feelings, Unionist politicians continued to hold the view that the stricter the measure the better. In early July the Home Minister, W.B. Topping assured them the question of "curfew, armored vehicles and allied matters were continually under consideration and review."[iv]

  "The situation in Newry seemed touch and go for a while," Bowyer Bell writes, "to the delight of the IRA GHQ."[v] Jim Rowntree and his unit were depleted by arrests but still present, as sporadic attacks over the summer months showed. On the night of July 14, they planted a bomb, consisting of 22 sticks of gelignite inside a tin, at the base of the War Memorial- a granite pillar- and timed it to go off in the early hours. A second bomb of the same make was planted at an electric terminal just outside the town. An Orange march was to go through the area the next day as part of the "Marching Season" and since the memorial commemorated the British army it was a non-sectarian way for the IRA to voice its position. The memorial bomb was discovered the next morning, burned out during the last 3 inches of fuse, and the terminal bomb was similarly found. The nuances of timing and intent were lost on the 1,000 or so Orangemen.[vi] Towards the end of the month an army lorry was hijacked and set alight in an unclaimed and unexplained incident.  


   In August the IRA wrote up a notice addressing the people. Copies were posted up simultaneously across the north, as well as to embassies, and Republicans in New York distributed it to UN Delegates.

"The manifesto said the Resistance campaign 'is now more firmly based among our people and grows stronger by the day'. It said that attempts to portray the struggle as sectarian had failed and it was clearly a fight for national unity and independence. It regretted that the members of the RUC and B-Specials had ignored the IRA’s statement at the start of its campaign that they would not be attacked if they did not co-operate with the British Army. Now the RUC and B-Specials 'have been put on a war footing and are used in conjunction with British forces'.[vii]  (The full text can be found in the endnotes below.)

 On the night of August 8th two young volunteers drove out with a stack of these to tack up around Newry. One was Dan Moore, an 18 year old with a day job at a saw mill. He had recently graduated to the army from the Fianna. As they went up Drumolane they were accosted by an RUC constable; the police duly found Dan's car, complete with a stack of announcements. Dan was sentenced to the Crum, where he was placed in the juvenile wing. [viii] (Police throughout the north spent the day removing the posters).

    Dan later recalled for the Newry Journal:

  "The authorities were convinced that a bit of military discipline was enough to correct the misguided views and attitudes of the miscreant youths in their care. Joe Leslie, Moody and the other screws in charge of us were ex-marines.  In good old-fashioned British war-film tradition they interpreted this as the need for regular ‘square-bashing’. It was supposed to frighten us and turn us into ‘good citizens’.

    “I really enjoyed this square-bashing and threw myself enthusiastically into these exercises. I felt I was learning something every morning. As a young volunteer of just eighteen years who hadn’t yet had any drill training on the outside I was convinced I was doing something useful! Arms training we had had, but not drill. Priorities, I suppose!

    “After about two months Joe Leslie approached me and asked why I was so patently enjoying the drill exercises. I was young and lacking in subtlety. I answered immediately and with transparent honesty that if we were to do this on the outside, it would be sufficient reason – if one were needed – to imprison us. Sadly, that was the end of my square-bashing!"

    As a punishment he was tasked with chopping wood but the sawmill worker naturally enjoyed this as well. Dan was interned when his sentence ended, and remained in prison for the duration of the campaign although it would not be his last term. [ix]



   The posters were preliminary to a renewed offensive. On August 10th and 11th units in South Derry, Tyrone, and Fermanagh launched attacks on a variety of targets, from customs posts to police barracks at Swartagh and Cranagh. South Down's contribution was a blitz on infrastructure on the night of the 11th.

     That night a "very heavy bomb" which "must have been centrally planted" destroyed the Northern Ireland Electricity Board's offices. It "completely wrecked the interior of the building and blew off the roof," and people returning home late had a “first hand view of the explosion, which littered the street with debris, account bills, and other items of office furniture.”[x] Nearby windows were shattered and debris rained down for 50 yards around. A simultaneous attack on the GPO's garage destroyed 12 heavy vehicles. "The fire was so intense that the gates of the garage glowed white in the flames, which licked the walls of the nearby Town Hall."[xi] The firemen abandoned attempts to put out the GPO fire and focused on preventing the conflagration from spreading to the Hall.[xii] 

    Within hours Topping made good on his promise of “curfew, armored vehicles and allied matters.” He announced that a curfew was placed on Newry from 11pm to 5:30 am, effective that night. The curfew was applied to 9 areas that stretched for 20 miles around the town. The order enumerated that those who needed to be out after hours could obtain a pass from the police. The penalty for breaking curfew was 3 years imprisonment and/or 500 pounds.

     Designating curfew was within the legal rights assigned to Topping, but an explanation as to why Newry and why then wasn’t given in his order. Newry's bombings paled in comparison to East Tyrone and Fermanagh, where full scale attacks on the police happened almost nightly. It was unclear to people, one commentator calling it “a mystery buried in the mind of the Six County Minister of Home Affairs."[xiii] Bowyer Bell analyzed that Topping "felt it advisable to impose a curfew rather than risk the Nationalist population being converted to open defiance of the government."[xiv] Topping himself was unclear, giving a variety of explanations after the fact. In one of his statements after the curfew he explained it “was necessary because the large number of outrages there could not have been carried out without the connivance of sympathisers in the area."[xv] In another he ascribed it to the region's uncooperative response to police investigations.  In still another he said it was “owing to the number of incidents involving loss of property,”[xvi] an aspect that indeed distinguished Newry from the rest of the north. In this latter point one can read a certain level concession to those unionist objectors who had been hounding him for some sort of reaction.

      Aside from Topping, the RUC Inspector General Sir Richard Pike Pim is sometimes credited with the idea. If true, then to understand the Curfew it helps to consider the man behind it. Pim was a soldier like General Kimmins, and unlike the homegrown bigots (a la Brookeborough) that dominated the Unionist political scene. During World War Two he headed Churchill's map room, a veritable google earth that collected information on every allied plane, ship, and unit, and translated the data to maps. Its effectiveness was such that it earned the envy of President Roosevelt, who subsequently designed one for himself. After the war he returned home to Belfast and became the RUC's inspector General, in which position he combated rising crime rates by plotting out areas as he had in the war. As a professional rather than a loyalist, Pim sympathized with the plight of Catholics in their relation to the police. He went so far as to oppose the Emblems act which caused so many altercations around the flying of the Tricolor throughout the 50's. What that background, one can safely assume that Pim's suggestion of a curfew in Newry, if indeed his suggestion, was a strategically educated one rather than a knee-jerk response to the bombing. South Down, via the Newry Brigade, was the primary facilitator in smuggling arms and men across the border, and many of the attacks on communications and electricity were to provide cover for units going through the area (explained by Mick Ryan in his 2018 memoir My Life in the IRA.)

    There has been little or no scholarly examination of the curfew through government documents, and only cursory reference in the major histories of the period. As more files are declassified we may be able to draw a more complete picture.



    The demographic most affected by the measure were the youth and workers. Irish night life does typically not commence until around 10 pm and ends long after midnight. Workers typically worked late and the late evening and early hours after that were their time to wind down at pubs, clubs, cinemas, and sporting events- all of which now closed at 11, and taking into account the time needed for people to conclude business and get home, the effective end of social time was fairly earlier than that. Newry also was and remains the primary passage for traffic between north and south on the east coast. Travelers and commuters found themselves diverted from the highways to rural, winding back roads. It took up to an hour to navigate through what used to be a brief drive.   

   On the first night of the curfew, youths gathered around Margaret square to defy the curfew. Others, movie-goers and , who came out to stand in line for films (now cancelled) and other events swelled the numbers until about a thousand people had assembled in an impromptu protest. The atmosphere was like a fleadh as music started and a sympathetic bottle plant owner allowed cases of beer to be passed around. When the bell struck 11 the lights went out on cue, and the crowd took to the forbidden streets, marching in the direction of the town hall. [xvii]

   As they did they started singing The anthem of the Republic, "The Soldiers Song," which vividly expressed spirits that night:

We'll sing a song, a soldier's song,

With cheering rousing chorus,

As round our blazing fires we throng,

The starry heavens o'er us;

Impatient for the coming fight,

And as we wait the morning's light,

Here in the silence of the night,

We'll chant a soldier's song.[xviii]

    Among those who were marching that night was Dickie Rodgers, a laborer in between stints working abroad in England. Breaking curfew was the least exciting thing he had done: "I joined the British Army when I was just fourteen (and) fought through the Second World War. I was a paratrooper. I was injured three times; shot twice, once in the shin and once in the groin."[xix] He stayed on with the Paras after the war and served in Jerusalem, where one of his regiment's duties was to enforce a curfew on Zionist guerillas. Rather than reducing their activity it stoked tensions. He had the correct march and brusque manner of a Para, but when it came to his hometown his sympathies were increasingly on the side of the insurgents.    

    A convoy of police tenders raced ahead of the crowd, and a line of 50 policemen in riot gear formed across the road. A voice echoed over a loudspeaker entreating the crowd to turn back. They pressed on; the police charged, batons flew, and the protester reversed their course. The lucky ones, including Dickie Rodgers, were able to reach a series of side roads which provided cover. "I can vividly recall the feeling of real fear, fleeing along with the crowd," a journalist wrote later. "I could hear the heavy thud of boots from the pursuing, baton-wielding “Specials,” a few yards behind. Nipping down O’Hagan Street I escaped, as the chase continued up Mill Street."[xx]

 A handful were injured –from 3 to twelve depending on the source- and 12 arrested. A republican, Barney Larkin, was alone charged with "breach of the order" and fined one pound. His defense pointed out the curfew was enforced only 6 hours after being announced. 

    Although it was commonly described in the papers as a "riot" there was little or no actual disturbance that night, and no attacks on people or property. It was however the opening salvo of a month of unrest. The next night the crowd grew to over 1500, overseen by several hundred policemen. Protests continued nightly, following the pattern of the first with communal gathering and good-natured "great craic."[xxi] The objective was to break the measure symbolically. When the baton charges became tiresome to both police and protestors, they took to using police cars to force the people back. Wee Joe Campbell, no doubt miffed to not be involved himself, recalled anxiously awaiting news in his cell.[xxii]

    The town took on the appearance of one at war. A visitor from the James Connolly Society described "sandbagged strongpoints with ominous machine-gun slits, yards-deep barbed wire entanglements up the walls and all around the roof, the armoured car of the 'border patrol,'...tenders for carrying loads of abuse-shouting B-Specials careening around the streets after dark..."[xxiii] The B-Specials tasked with enforcing the curfew were unruly, made their authority known with violence, and were hostile to Catholics regardless of politics. Although no one was killed during the curfew a number of people had died in recent years through B-Special carelessness with arms and the possibility was very real to the people of Newry. 

    Some youths commandeered an abandoned linen factory known as Linenhall to make a stand. In a different life it served as a police barracks and its layout, a square with a courtyard with two entrances, was ideally designed for the task of repelling invaders. 

   They "barricaded themselves into their own self-made citadel.  They would then light a bonfire and wait to repel assailants. Sometime after the appointed hour for the beginning of the curfew the Crown forces would make an appearance. . . The outcome was simple to predict. The B-Specials would drive their Commer armoured tender through the barricade at one of the gates, and the youths of Linenhall Square would try to prevent them from doing so by whatever means they deemed necessary. After a bit of a scuffle and stone throwing the youths would make a tactful withdrawal back to their homes. They had made their point and honour was upheld."[xxiv]

     Another barricade was thrown up on High Street, a steep, narrow lane that winds up "to where the first purpose built Protestant church in Ireland, St. Patrick's stands, (which may have inspired Sean Jonathan Swift's famous rhyme about the town 'High church, low steeple, dirty town proud people'), in the predominantly Protestant North Ward of Newry. The United Irishman Patrick Cochrane is buried in its cemetery. Some of Newry's oldest and best known families came from there, and it had a strong Republican tradition." A barricade like the one at Linenhall was erected, built and manned by "crowds of mainly young people, boys and girls." They defied the B Specials sent to quell the scene and sang songs atop the barricade. 

   There was, appropriately, "We Won't go home till the morning:"

We won't go home till the morning
We won't go home till the morning
We won't go home till the morning
Til daylight has appeared.

 Then there was "Step Together," now little known, but then a classic marching song from the Tan War:

Step together, boldly tread

 Firm each foot, erect each head
 Fixed in front be every glance
 Forward at the word advance
 Serried files that foes may dread
 Like the dear in mountain heather
 Steady boys! And step together.

    Despite or because of the threat of baton-charges, children across town snuck away to join the excitement. From his bedroom in nearby Drumolane 9 year old Brian could hear the singing on High Street and watched his friends run off to join the festivities. His father Frank, an Old IRA man, was watching too and chuckled to himself at seeing the old spirit of defiance rekindled. Brian had his own curfew of 9pm which Frank enforced. His day to protest would come later.[xxv]



    A series of notices from the Newry unit were posted up encouraging people to join in the resistance, but aside from these the IRA remained in the background.

   The curfew inspired a song in their honor sung to the tune of the "The Belfast Brigade" (based on the American "Battle Hymm of the Republic") 

W. B. Topping put the curfew on Newry Town
He thought that he could keep the Newry people down
But he got a rude awakening at eleven o' clock that night 
When all the people came out to shout, 

Glory, Glory, to old Ireland,
Glory, Glory to the Sireland
Glory to the memory of the men who fought and died, 
No surrender is the warcry of the Newry Brigade

Overnight, the IRA had turned from unknowns with a curious choice of targets into folk heroes. "We never had the full backing of the people up to that point," Oliver McCaul remembered, "after that, we did." Oliver arrived home from at midnight one night: "The streets were deserted, I was walking over Francis Street when a door opened, and the lady of the house called me and said 'Come in son, they are due any minute' meaning a patrol was due. I went into her house and sure enough, within minutes, a patrol passed. She then said to me, you can go now, they won't be back for another half hour. She never asked me who I was, or what I was doing out after curfew. This was the spirit of the people."[xxvi]



    The curfew was removed in early September as quickly as it was instated. The people celebrated with an 11 pm march down Main street, jubilantly singing and banging pans. "The order has now been in force for four weeks," Topping said, "During which there has not been any further incidents."[xxvii] The IRA punctuated its end with an attack in Newcastle, a resort town on the rocky coast, sleepier then than today, that destroyed a transformer and empty prefab buildings that comprised a camp for the Girl Guides (the RUC's female equivalent of the Scouts or Fianna.)  At the end of the month, Kimmins and Topping met along with a select few government officials and cryptically announced a new security policy would be put in place. 

     A question loomed: did the curfew affect the IRA's movement or did they only step back to let the civil resistance take its course? Both answers, locked in the memory of men unknown and not given to talking, are equally possible. Non-involvement in popular events had precedent going back to the Outdoor Relief Strike of 1931, when republican leaders feared IRA involvement would be used as a reason to crack down, while if the strikers were left to themselves, real unity might develop. This is the popularly accepted reason which the "dogs on the street" tell to this day. And republicans were confident the tactic worked. The ever-informed Sean Cronin wrote in a booklet published during the campaign that:

  Stormont grew afraid of what it saw happening in Newry. It had over-reached itself. The mood of the people was ugly. The people were being driven and their point of no return seemed not far away. One week later when in Coalisland, Co. Tyrone, an R.U.C. sergeant was killed after military and police surrounded a deserted house and a booby-trap exploded, Home Affairs Minister Topping was asked if he would apply the curfew to East Tyrone. His reply was “No.” The curfew weapon had failed.”[xxviii]

      But the curfew had no political sequel. It did not spark risings in other cities. The IRA tried to capitalize on it with yet more posters, for which Two Tan war veterans in Belfast were arrested (one died from lack of medical treatment.) But without the infrastructure to attack barracks, and political power to supplant the Northern State, the IRA receded once more into little more than a nuisance, just as Brookeborough had predicted.

   September and October were checkered with a few, but only a few, “pin-pricks”. Then a column from Wexford, the Vinegar Hill Column, arrived in Dundalk to recover after a frustrating stint in Armagh before venturing back out. Newry continued to be one of the few areas that could field columns of their own, and the Dundalk O/c assigned a handful of on-the-run Newry volunteers to supplement the Wexford men. Their enterprise resulted in a tragedy that reshaped the war.


[ii] Irish Independent 08.03.1957, page 6

[iii] Ibid

[iv] Irish times Friday, July 5, 1957

[v] Bell, The Secret Army

[vi] Irish News, July 15th 1957

[vii] 9 August 2007 Edition “The Resistance Campaign 50 years on” An Phoblacht


[ix] ibid

[x] Irish Examiner 1841-current, 12.08.1957, page 5


[xii] Irish Independent 1905-current, 12.08.1957, page 7

[xiii] Irish Democrat, October 1957, page 3;

[xiv] Bowyer Bell, The Secret Army

[xv] Northern Whig, Wednesday 21 August 1957

[xvi] Fermanagh Herald 1903-current, 14.09.1957, page 3


[xviii] Cork Examiner, Tuesday August 13th 1957



[xxi] ibid

[xxii] ibid

[xxiii] Irish Democrat, October 1957, page 3;


[xxv] Brian Patterson

[xxvi] Song and account from Oliver McCaul, to author.

[xxvii] Fermanagh Herald 1903-current, 14.09.1957, page 3

[xxviii] Sean Cronin, Resistance, retrieved from 


 The full text of the appeal from the IRA that was posted in early August (printed in Cronin's 'Resistance", see above)

 "To the people of Occupied Ireland

The campaign of Resistance in Occupied Ireland which opened on December 12, 1956, is now more firmly based among our people than ever before and grows stronger by the day. The fight is directed against British Occupation of the Six Counties only. Attempts by our enemies to misrepresent the struggle for national unity and independence, and, to further their own ends, channel it along sectarian lines, have failed and will continue to fail. No Irish man or woman is deceived any longer by this blatant British propaganda tactic. When events during the last nine months exposed the falseness of the ‘cross-border’ raiding cry, the new one of ‘Nationalist versus Unionist’ had to be adopted.

The struggle of the Resistance Movement is most certainly not against the Unionist population of the Six Counties. It is not directed against any section of the Irish people or against any Irish man or woman. Its only target is the British Occupation of our country and it will continue until that Occupation ends The Irish people know this well, as they know that British interference in Irish affairs is backed up by military, naval and air garrisons and bases. They know that Ireland will have no peace until this imperial garrison is withdrawn. When this has been done the Irish people themselves will resolve their differences and their nation’s future in friendship, mutual understanding and peace. False propaganda slogans, which are designed to divide us, serve 57 only to maintain British Imperial control over the affairs of the Irish nation. At this hour we appeal to all our people to rally around the banner of a free Ireland and to ignore the differences that have kept us divided in the past. We must end foreign exploitation of our country so that its resources will be handed back to their true owners, the Irish people, and used for the benefit of all. We want to build here a free nation and people with full control over their own political, social and economic life. If this nation is to survive beset as we are by emigration, unemployment and poverty—this is an imperative need.

In a proclamation issued to the people of Occupied Ireland on December 12. 1956, we warned members of the R.U.C. and BSpecial Constabulary that they had nothing to fear from the Resistance provided they did not allow themselves to become the tools of Britain’s armed forces We told them their place was on the side of the freedom fighters. We asked them to stand aside from the struggle altogether if they found such a step too big at this time. Since then these forces have been put on a war-footing and are used in conjunction with British forces to screen military installations, terrorise the civilian population, patrol and search the countryside, engage in punitive expeditions, and generally hound, harry, torture and imprison Irish freedom fighters. This is doing England’s bidding with a vengeance.

 The Resistance can hardly be expected to differentiate between men, trained, organised and equipped along military lines (although clad in police uniforms) and British troops. To members of the R.U.C. and B-Special Constabulary, we repeat our call of December 12, 1956. We ask them to remember that they are Irishmen. We ask them to stop being England’s dupes in Ireland. We regret to see the 26-County authorities embarking on a policy of coercion and repression. We ask them to look at Irish history and recall the ruinous effects for Ireland and her people in the past of political repression.

Such measures are no solution for the problems facing our people. Such policies can only result in giving aid and comfort to British Occupation. They do not have the consent of the Irish people to proceed against Republicans. Their actions will not stop the Resistance although they may make more difficult the lot of our people in Occupied Ireland. The people had hoped for, at least, the moral support of that part of Ireland styling itself free.

To all the Irish people, to our glorious dead, to our imprisoned comrades, we pledge this struggle will go on until British Occupation ends and our country is allowed settle its affairs in 58 peace. In the days ahead, the men and women of the Resistance will find courage in the knowledge that history is watching them and is on their side; that their cause is great and is unconquerable.”