Mala Phoist

History Of Cumann Na mBan

A chara
I am in the process of compiling the history of Cumann na mBan and would appreciate assistance from your readers. If any of your readers have written or verbal information, photographs, pamphlets, cuttings – anything at all – I would be grateful if they would loan them to me or send me a photocopy. Any material received by me I will be extremely careful of. It will be logged, referenced and returned within a short time. I am also available to travel to view material if people do not want to leave it out of their care.

Belfast Prison Photograph

A chara
After attending the book launch of Accepting the Challenge, the Memoirs of Michael Flannery in Nenagh recently I spoke with Seán Ó Brádaigh who advised me to send you this old photo hoping you would print it in your paper, and maybe some of your readers would be able to provide some information on it, such as which Belfast prison it was taken in and maybe some of the names of the men in the photo.

The only information I have on it is that it was taken in a Belfast prison during a hunger strike between March 28 and July 11, 1920. The man sitting bottom row, second from right is John Casey, 2nd Battalion, Mid-Tipperary Brigade (my father). His CO was Cpt Michael Troy, Castleisland, Co Kerry. I don’t know if he is in the photo. The sign they are holding reads ‘Death or Victory’.
Nenagh, Co Tipperary

Stormont Agreement Doomed To Failure

A chara
The saga continues. We now have a suspended assembly in the Occupied Six Counties, a decision made by a foreign government for Irish people. How can this be construed as democratic I fail to see.

The supporters of the Bad Friday Agreement (for that’s what it was) must ask themselves some very searching questions. The unionists have shown themselves willing to use any tactic in delaying the implementation of the agreement and the institutions within it, and in any event they hold the veto over any such workings.

Can the pro-agreement supporters really believe that the unionists will act in a fair and democratic way to further nationalist and Republican objectives? Any such belief is naïve in the extreme. The Stormont Agreement was voted on by the people under the same threat as Lloyd George uttered prior to the signing of the Treaty of Surrender and Partition, peace or a terrible war. After 30 years of strife there appeared little choice.

The arms issue is just another delaying tactic by the unionists. The very formation of the partitioned Six Counties was caused by unionist weapons a fact recently reiterated by Conservative MP John Gunner in a recent interview. This agreement never will and never could lead to a lasting peace. There are alternatives – ÉIRE NUA has clear policies, objectives and workable solutions.

As for the Stormont Agreement, you must ask yourself one question, would Tone, Pearse or Bobby Sands have signed it. You know the answer.

Are Provo Police Now Redundant?

A chara
It was odd to hear Mitchell McLoughlin on Morning Ireland (RTÉ radio, August 22) condemning the new British police force. The Provos signed up to the Stormont Agreement including a new RUC, therefore they are responsible for the new British police force in Ireland, no matter who administers it or sits on its committee.

Maybe Mitchell might find it hard to make the Provo police force redundant which has its court hearings in lane-ways in west Belfast with no solicitors or members of the public present.

Come off it, Mitchell, you’re not taking to the Colombians now. Take it down from the mast, you brought on it nothing but shame.

De-Commissioning -- A Repeat

A chara
I would like to thank your paper for printing my [Belfast reader] letters over a period of a year or so, that being because I had returned to Belfast then after 10 years working in Britain.

Might I add, even today over there, there is still an anti-Irish brigade and I have experienced it once or twice myself, in jobs mainly. Many of them literally hate us but saying that not all were anti-Irish.

What I can’t understand why so-called Irish Republicans would ever even contemplate handing over even one gun or bullet or one ounce of Semtex to the British. Do they realise that this is total surrender to the enemy. This war, any war, it means the same thing. They are saying that “we are a defeated army/people. We’re sorry, here you are boys, it was all a big mistake.”

By the time this paper is out on the streets, September, they may have just done that. I’ll not know how to take it but I’ll feel less proud because I never thought I’d see that day – God help Ireland if we have these so-called Republicans speaking on our behalf as they say they do.

A sickened nationalist.

Fatal Attraction Keeps Ireland Divided

A chara
On reading a report in the Star (August 21) about Michael Noonan’s address to Fine Gael members at the spot where Michael Collins was shot in Co Cork, I could not help myself making a few observations on which I would like to comment on as a former member of Fine Gael, now a Republican Sinn Féin member.

First of all, Michael Collins was a very commendable Republican until he agreed to sign away six counties to a foreign government. That was an act of treason.

Michael Noonan quoted Collins in his speech but neglected when referring to Provisional arms that Collins did not surrender arms but on the contrary he acquired extra arms from the British to turn on his own people.

If Michael Noonan thinks so highly of Collins and his life why then is he complaining about the Provos policing north Kerry and west Belfast as in the case of Joe O’Connor? After all Collins did the same work. Noonan also said there was only room for one army in this country.

Well, there are 32 Counties in Ireland, the Brits govern six of those counties at the point of 300,000 loyalist guns and the so-called Free Starers control 126 Counties on licence from the Brits.

Michael Noonan stated that whether or not the Provisionals handed over arms he would adhere to the Anglo-Irish Agreement of 1985 and the Stormont Agreement of 1998 and if in power would work with the Brits on the cross-Border aspects of the latter agreement. It is this fatal attraction to work with the Brits that melts down potential Republicans and keeps our country divided and occupied by the Brits.

We the Irish must work and fight if necessary against the oppressors at all times. They will not leave unless they are shown the way. The following leaders suffered the fatal attraction bug and ended up turning their guns on Irish Republicans: Michael Collins, 1921; Éamon de Valera, 1926; and Gerry Adams, 1986.

I personally would not be surprised if Michael Noonan turned up in public one of these days with the Red Hand of Ulster tattooed on your forehead after hearing of your co-operation with Ireland’s one million unionists. They are not Ireland’s unionists, they are Britain’s unionists.

“In matters of principle there can be no compromise.” – Terence MacSwiney
Co Mayo

Provos 'Organised Crime'

A chara
Movies and books have been produced about the oldtime political machines where the sachems made backroom deals, doled out political appointments and financed the party with ill-gotten gains while their goons squelched oppos-ition. It might sound like New York or Chicago in the 1930s but it is in reality Northern Ireland of the 21st century.

Like the politics of this country in years past, [Provisional] Sinn Fein has appealed to the fears and the aspirations of their constituency by setting themselves up publicly as the people's Hibernian champion while legitimising Britain’s hold on the Six Counties. They still use the Republican rhetoric, but they are anything but Republican in practice.

And what of their military wing, the Provional Irish Republican Army, the one-time premier guerrilla force in the world? Adams may claim to have no influence over them, but just the same they have declared a cease-fire and put their arms stockpile "verifiably beyond use".

Meanwhile, the forces of loyalism have grown bolder and Britain has scrambled to make inroads in the void created by their cessation of military activities. What’s more, it has been shown that despite their cease-fire, up to at least two years ago thei were still procuring arms. And for what purpose?

Without a war to engage in the Provos have taken to heisting cigarettes, executing drug dealers, intimidating non-participants, and assassinating their rivals.

Everyone, myself included, is for peace in Ireland. Unfortunately, until the central issues are resolved there will always be determined individuals willing and able to sacrifice all for the love of their country. It may come to pass that dissent manifests itself as the RIRA, CIRA, INLA or some other military body, but it will not be the PIRA. They have become organised crime pure and simple, and [Provisional] Sinn Fein is the chief benefactor.
New Jersey, USA

Starry Plough

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September 20, 2001

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