SAOIRSE - Irish Freedom
Issue number 113

September, 1996

Detesting violence, (except at Dunkirk, the Gulf or the Malvinas)

In a thought-provoking lecture to the annual Desmond Greaves Summer School, held in Dublin on the weekend of September 23-25, Dr Terry Eagleton, Warton Professor of English Literature of Oxford University, said that the study of Irish history "needs to be cut loose" from certain potent mythologies.

He went on to describe these mythologies as "liberal humanism, post-modern pluralism, Eurocentrism, Anglophilia, multinational cosmopolitanism, ideologies of progressiveism, modernisation and the like".

His lecture, entitled ‘Ideology and Irish Studies’, went on to examine the impact of these ‘isms’, many of which, he said, had a great deal of value to offer. He said that deconstructing Irish nationalism "is fairly fashionable in some circles these days and with any luck will get you a job; deconstructing liberal humanism or post-modern pluralism will probably not, but at least it’s a mite more original".

He pointed out that revisionism is not necessarily a bad thing, saying that the greatest enterprise of historiographical revisionism in Ireland "was surely the nationalist one, which took the official imperial narrative and rewrote it with breathtaking boldness from below, with all of the courageous imagining, . . . historical truth, . . . that that entailed".

The negative side of that was that some of the nationalist historians rewrote the narrative to make Ireland seem more civilised and "hence more palatable to its British neighbours" as some contemporary revisionist history does. These he described as being symptoms of post-colonialism.

He went on to characterise this latest phase of revisionism as to a great extent "middle-class liberalism" and said that in a certain sense, the middle-class liberal pluralism shared by a large number of Irish historians and cultural commentators "is more hopelessly mystified than unionism or nationalism ever were".

Dr Eagleton said that liberal humanism detests violence, "except perhaps when it comes to Dunkirk or the Gulf or the Malvinas, celebrates individual liberty and supports a socio-economic system which makes a mockery of it, praises pluralism but is scrupulous about who it allows to address its seminars and is in general every bit as much an ideology as Seventh Day Adventism".

He went on: "The real difference between revisionists and their critics sometimes strikes me as being less about nationalism or colonialism than about class – a concept which liberal humanists have some difficulty in grasping . . . I mean there are people who believe that it hasn’t been all that bad, and people who believe that it is actually very bad indeed and has been so for a very long time. Roughly speaking, these groups correspond to the dominant and the dispossessed – to those for whom states of emergency are untypical and those for whom they are chronic . . .

"A nation which has come of age – the French, for instance, would celebrate their great revolutionary history and then move on, without getting too steamed up about it either way. When a society can praise its past without fetishising it, then it is free . . .‘I detest all heroism’, a well-known Irish historian once commented to me. But of course he wasn’t thinking of Sylvia Pankhurst or Steve Biko. The fact that he can see political martyrdom only as destructive, unlike the way most Americans see Luther King, just indicates how much he is is hampered by a history he deplores.

"Liberals generally like to imagine that the truth lies somewhere in between . . . But when it comes to the quarrel between dominant and dispossessed ways of seeing, I’m afraid they are mistaken."
Archive 96 Index

Republicans honour Dundalk patriots

The annual Goss and Gaughan commemoration took place on Sunday, August 11 in Dundalk, County Louth. A crowd of sixty people attended the ceremony led by John Gallagher carrying the National Flag.

A wreath was laid on behalf of Republican Sinn Féin, Dundalk by Rose Martin. Jimmy Farrell led the Rosary as Gaeilge and bugler James Callan played the Last Post and Reveille. The ceremony was chaired by Pádraig Mac Mathúna who welcomed the attendance which included Richard Goss’s sister Rosemary and her husband Tom Doran.

He then called on Michael Donegan, South Armagh to give the oration during he said: "Proud we are today at this patriot grave on the 45th anniversary of the vile execution of the Republican soldier Richard Goss by the collaborationist Free State regime at Portlaoise Prison on the morning of August 9, 1941 at the tender age of 26 years.

"His remains were interred initially in a foul prison grave by his Free State executioners, where they lay, denied the honour worthy of his courage and Republican principles, until 1948, when they were finally brought home to Dundalk.

"Buried here also is his lifelong friend, fellow Dundalkman, and Republican comrade-in-arms Liam Gaughran, who accompanied him in a renewed fight against the British occupation of the Six Counties, and who suffered gravely for seven years in an English prison, Camphill, on the Isle of Wight.

"Liam Gaughran suffered dearly for a desire to see Ireland free and for his patriotic involvement in the IRA’s 1930’s Bombing Campaign in England, the home soil of his nation’s oppressor. Liam was released only after contracting TB and he was sent home to Dundalk to die in 1947."

Michael Donegan reminded the attendance that it was a government of former Republicans which included the militant Frank Aiken that shot Richard Goss, making the comparison with the "constitutional Republicans" of today. The ceremony was closed with the playing of Amhrán na bhFiann by bugler James Callan.
Archive 96 Index

Casement confronted England’s tyranny in Ireland

Speaking at the annual Roger Casement commemoration at Murlough in the Glens of Antrim on Sunday, August 4, Republican Sinn Féin Ard Chomhairle member Séamus Leonard from Fermanagh said that Theobald Wolfe Tone, Roger Casement and Charles Stewart Parnell were comfortable members of Irish society who need never have challenged the Establishment.

He went on to say that the vicious oppression by Imperial and colonial powers of small nations and peoples spurred these unique human beings to shout stop and confront England’s tyranny in Ireland.

"As it transpires they were to be dealt with in similar vindictive fashion by the English Occupation Forces. Such was the occupiers’ fear of these men whom they thought would compromise because of their contact with officialdom in Ireland that even in death they were regarded as a threat to England. Destroying the character of these men became an imperative for the British and they pursued this policy ruthlessly.

"Wolfe Tone was painted as a suicide with the emphasis of the time on the cowardice and sinfulness of such an act. Against Parnell they used a scoundrel of a British army officer in their attempts to discredit him in the eyes of the Irish people. Roger Casement’s vow not to compromise on his report of the barbarity in the Congo, and his equally adamant view that he would not stand idly by while his own people were abused and degraded, incensed the English government.

"Hanging this noble Irishman was deemed not enough to extinguish the respect Casement had gained nationally and internationally. The equivalent of today’s British tabloid press was employed to destroy the good name of Casement and again like Tone and Parnell a moral aspect was used.

"Compromising traitors and quislings are very soon forgotten in Ireland, but for the steadfast there are rewards like that afforded to Roger Casement by the people of Ireland, and the Glens. Our presence here in Murlough today gives a clear message to the British that there is a continuity of Irish resistance that is as strong today as it was in 1798 and 1916. Nowhere is that continuity better demonstrated today than by the eight men and one woman Republican prisoners in Limerick prison.

"As we approach yet another display of arrogant triumphalism and humiliation of nationalists by the camp followers of the British army in Derry next week we take this opportunity to restate the Republican message to the executioners of Casement, the unionists and the Free State government.

"To John Major we say you have no right now or ever to occupy our country and after eight-and-a-quarter centuries resistance to your army will continue and intensify. Take your army and paramilitary police force out of Ireland. Release the unionist population of the Six Occupied Counties from their misplaced loyalty to the English Crown and allow them to work out their destiny with their fellow Irishmen and women.
Archive 96 Index

Pearson wins reprieve in US extradition case

Brian Pearson, a former Republican POW, who served 12 years of a 24-year sentence in Long Kesh concentration camp was granted a chance to plead his case against US extradition by an American court on August 2.

Pearson, a 45-year-old carpenter living in Pearl River, New York, is one of over a dozen Irish activists facing deportation to British tyranny. He asked for political asylum after enduring several hours of detention by the US Immigration and Naturalisation Service (INS) on April 9 last.

He was due for an interview at INS offices in Manhattan on that date to discuss his second application for residency when he was detained. Brian Pearson was denied his application on the grounds that he had overstayed a 90-day visa when he first arrived in the United States in 1988.

A US Immigration Court judge granted him leave to return on November 20 to plead his case, after it was discovered that the INS had decided to refuse Pearson’s application for residency five days earlier but had failed to notify his Manhattan lawyer James O’Malley.

Brian Pearson travelled to the US after spending 12 years in the H-Blocks of Long Kesh for acts of resistance against British rule in the occupied Six Counties. He was charged with attacking a British Crown Forces base and taking part in the bombings.

Looking forward to appearing on November 20, he said he would attempt to prove his case by bringing experts on the Six Counties into court. "They'll be testifying to how this all came about and why nationalist people were forced into defending themselves," he said.
Archive 96 Index

Apprentice Boys march in Derry as nationalists protest

BRG stewards hold nationalists back for the RUC

On Wednesday, August 7 British direct-ruler in the Six Occupied Counties Patrick Mayhew announced that part of the walls of Derry were to be sealed off by the British army until the end of August.

He admitted that if the Apprentice Boys were not prohibited from proceeding along the 150-yard stretch of the walls overlooking the Bogside, the combined resources of the RUC and the British army might not be able to contain any resultant "disorder".

The British army used heavy lifting machinery to block off the western section of the walls and 500 British soldiers from the Princess of Wales regiment were recalled to the Six Counties to provide extra back-up for the RUC.

Roads leading to the walls were also closed to both pedestrians and vehicles and security screens and large bollards designed to prevent pedestrian access were erected on the disputed stretch of the walls, known as the Grand Parade.

Throughout the week unsuccessful talks had taken place between the Bogside Residents Group and the Derry Apprentice Boys, chaired by SDLP leader John Hume, in an attempt to reach a compromise. The BRG organised a march in Derry city on Friday, August 11 but re-routed it away from the loyalist Fountain enclave in the city.

On Saturday the Apprentice Boys agreed not to walk the walls of Derry on that day but their governor Alistair Simpson said that they reserved the right "to walk them at a time of their choosing", an implicit threat to the nationalist people of Derry city. The Apprentice Boys negotiated the consent of the BRG to do a tour of the inside perimeter of Derry’s walls.

At 12.30am a member of the Apprentice Boys came to where Donncha Mac Niallais, chairperson of the BRG and BRG stewards were standing at Butcher’s Gate, which leads directly into the Bogside. The Boys said that it was traditional for 13 of their number to touch the pillars of the four main gates to signal the lifting of the siege in 1688.

They said there would be no singing, chanting or drum playing and agreed that Mac Niallais and his stewards would escort them around the perimeter with no media presence and six policemen walking at a distance.

This they did and as the BRG stewards participated in their own oppression the nationalist people standing around assumed that they were merely watching a BRG patrol, unaware that it was accompanied by members of the Apprentice Boys.

In the glory days of the Apprentice Boys, before they were forced to cease marching along Derry’s walls after 1969, it was their custom to stand on the walls overlooking the Bogside, shout insults, throw pennies and play triumphalist loyalist music down at the nationalist people living under the walls.

A counter-march which had been scheduled to take place at Free Derry Corner on Saturday, August 10 was cancelled by the BRG.

On Saturday afternoon about 15,000 Apprentice Boys descended on Derry and marched from the largely Protestant Waterside area across Craigavon Bridge to the west bank to hold their annual commemoration of the 1688 lifting of the siege of Derry by forces loyal to King William of Orange.

Earlier, agreement to re-route contentious parades in the 100 per cent nationalist town of Dunloy, Co Antrim and in the lower Ormeau Road in Belfast had taken some of the heat out of the situation in Derry. These parades were scheduled to take place early on Saturday morning as members of the Royal Black Preceptory and Apprentice Boys set out for Derry.

In Newtownbutler, Co Fermanagh nationalists ended a protest when Apprentice Boys on their way to Derry agreed to take a direct route out of the town while in Roslea, also in Co Fermanagh, the annual mobilisation of the Apprentice Boys was curtailed.

The agreement between the members of the Royal Black Preceptory, the RUC and the Newtownbutler Area Association allowed 50 Black members to parade outwards from their hall to board buses bound for Derry but were not allowed to parade down the entire main street. A number of nationalist residents of the town expressed unease at the agreement entered into by the Newtownbutler Area Association on their behalf.

Skirmishes took place between the RUC and loyalists in Derry throughout the afternoon and two loyalist marchers were arrested and charged with rioting. A woman shopper suffered a badly cut head after she was hit by a bottle when loyalists attacked nationalists at the Foyleside Shopping Centre in the city centre.

During the parade members of the BRG acted as stewards, or assistants to the RUC, to keep a large crowd of nationalists behind RUC barricades at Butchers’ Gate in Derry city. As a drunken loyalist staggered from the memorial hall towards the nationalists behind the barricades one of the ‘stewards’ asked the RUC "Are you gonna sort this out or are we?"

As John MacElhinney said in his Bodenstown address in June of this year: "Some dress like clowns. Some act like clowns. Undoubtedly they are all clowns. . ." but the RUC are paid a huge salary to act as Britain’s policemen. They do not do it gratis.

Early on Sunday morning over 500 nationalists attacked the RUC in various parts of Derry’s city centre. Eighteen people were arrested and charged with public order offences. The crowd attacked the RUC with stones and petrol bombs.

The Strand Road RUC barracks was also petrol-bombed and several premises had windows broken and minor scorch damage. Vehicles, including two buses, were burned.

The rioters, many wearing masks, also tried to burn the war memorial at the Diamond, close to the Apprentice Boys’ memorial hall. Members of the Provisionals’ leadership "worked until 5am to restore order".
Clowns doing the work of the British Occupation Forces.
Archive 96 Index

AOH convention supports visa for Ruairí Ó Brádaigh

The Ancient Order of Hibernians in the United States passed a resolution at its National Convention at the end of July calling for a US visa for Republican Sinn Féin President Ruairí Ó Brádaigh. He has been denied a visa for more than 20 years now.

More than 1,000 delegates attended the biannual conference in St Paul, Minnesota. The successful motion, proposed by AOH Division One , Boston, read: "Resolved that Ruairí Ó Brádaigh, President of Republican Sinn Féin, Parnell Street, Dublin, a legal political party in Ireland, be issued a visa to the United States for political purposes". Republican Sinn Féin welcomes the support from the AOH for a visa for Ruairí Ó Brádaigh and urges all concerned individuals and organisations in the US to lobby for a reversal of this unjust visa denial which bars the people of the United States from hearing Republican Sinn Féin’s political position and our alternative peace strategy which seeks a constituent assembly for all Ireland based on a 32-County election, in the context of a public British declaration of intent to withdraw from Ireland.
(See also Fenian Notes,)

15 nationalists charged over Derry clashes

Fifteen nationalists were in Belfast High Court on August 13 on charges of rioting in Derry on August 10 after the Apprentice Boys’ march in the city. Ten of the men were given bail while five were remanded in custody.

The charges were in relation to a riot in Derry on the night of August 10-11 involving up to 500 nationalists which began with an attack on Strand Road RUC barracks. The RUC admitted firing at least 52 plastic bullets. Hundreds of petrol bombs were thrown at the RUC.

Nine of the ten given bail were ordered to pay amounts varying from £500 to £1,000. The tenth, a student in Magee College, Derry from Letterkenny in County Donegal was given bail of £100 and ordered to lodge a further £2,000 cash with the court stating that he would only return to the Six Counties to attend court and college when the new term starts.
Archive 96 Index

Starry Plough

Web layout by SAOIRSE -- Irish Freedom

Send links, events notifications, articles, comments etc, to the editor at: marked "attention web-editor".