Judicial internment thwarted

Speaking at a press conderence held on Wednesday, November 11 Ruairí Ó Brádaigh, President, Republican Sinn Féin, said that the six Ard-Chomhairle members of Republican Sinn Féin and one former Ard Chomhairle member who were released on Tuesday, November 10 following 48-hour detention see their arrest and subsequent treatment as essentially a civil rights issue.

He continued: “Republican Sinn Féin insists on the right to hold political opinions, to express them openly and to organise politically on that basis – whether in regard to the national question in Ireland or the Maastricht or Amsterdam treaties, the question of neutrality or any political, cultural, social or economic idea.

“Mr Ahern publicly named Republican Sinn Féin on August 18 and said he would 'break' us as an organisation. The file on subsequent harassment of our members at local level is available to journalists.

“With regard to the Ard-Chomhairle arrests following the Ard-Fheis, the 26-County State publicity had a five hour advantage on us and their version was carried exclusively in the initial stages. RTÉ acted as an arm of government throughout the 48-hour period of detention.

“Parallels exist with the 1957 arrest of the entire Ard Chomhairle while meeting at Head Office and their subsequent internment without trial.

“The homes of all concerned were raided, whether by RUC or 26-County police and property seized. Much material from our bookshop as well as the records of the Ard-Fheis are still in police custody and we shall be taking action to recover them.

“On November 10 at 4.30pm, Colm Ó Floinn, PRO of Limerick Republican Sinn Féin, was arrested and held again under OASA. He had been intensively engaged in publicity regarding the arrests for two days and had to be silenced once more.

“Nationally and inter-nationally our cause was taken up and Republican Sinn Féin has learned from the experience. We have for the time being thwarted an attempt at judicial internment of half our leadership under the new legislation. Clearly a series of show trials of political opponents of the Stormont Agreement was intended and has been frustrated for the moment,” Ruairí Ó Brádaigh concluded.

In a co-ordinated swoop on the ending of the Republican Sinn Féin Ard-Fheis on Sunday, November 8, 26-County Special Branch arrested three national officers and three Ard-Chomhairle members as well as a delegate to the Ard-Fheis from Co Westmeath and took them to Navan, Kells, Trim and Ashbourne police stations.

Those arrested were Des Long, Vice-President, whose home in Limerick was raided on Sunday, November 8, Clr Joe O’Neill, Bundoran, National Treasurer, whose home and business were also raided, Ruairí Óg Ó Brádaigh, Publicity Officer and Editor of SAOIRSE and three Ard Chomhairle members from South Armagh and Fermanagh.

The home of Ruairí Óg Ó Brádaigh was forced open and raided in his absence for two-and-a-half hours with no member of the family present.

Seosamh Ó Maoileoin, a delegate from Tyrellspass, Co Westmeath was also held.

Mrs Mary O’Neill, wife of Councillor O’Neill, who was with her husband when their car was stopped between Drogheda and Collon, Co Louth, was manhandled by police and was marked on the body as a result.

Property damaged in Special Branch raids

At a press conference in Republican Sinn Féin’s head office on November 18 photographs were presented to the media of the damage caused to the homes of two Republican Sinn Féin members, Councillor Joe O’Neill, Bundoran, Co Donegal and Seosamh Ó Maoileoin, Meedin, Tyrellspass, Co Westmeath in 26-County Special Branch raids on Monday and Tuesday, November 9 and 10 last while they were in 48-hour detention under the Offences Against the State Act.

In addition lists were presented of Republican Sinn Féin property and personal property seized from those arrested. In the case of Publicity Officer, Ruairí Óg Ó Brádaigh items essential to the production of the December issue of the Republican Sinn Féin newspaper SAOIRSE were seized. A statement issued said:

“The only result of this harassment is to increase bitterness and resentment and to attempt to provoke an incident. With modern technology available most of the wrecking and the thrashing of homes which occurred in the cases of Joe O’Neill and Seosamh Ó Maoileoin is completely unnecessary.

“This heavy-handed approach will not deter Republican Sinn Féin, will strengthen our resolve and deeply-held belief that the way to a permanent peace in Ireland is not through the Stormont Agreement but rather through British disengagement from Ireland and the building of structures here that will ensure that all sections of our people – including the unionists – have a great deal of control over their own affairs.

“Republican Sinn Féin calls upon our members and supporters not to be provoked by these raids and arrests. Our response must be through publicity by exposing such activities for what they are.

“In Seosamh Ó Maoileoin’s empty house on November 9, entry was forced by a special unit of the 26-County police by breaking a window on the ground floor. Ceilings, floors, walls, surrounds of kitchen units, picture-frames were ripped and damaged. A car window was smashed, a pump-house door was damaged and rockeries dug up. The house was thrashed, with clothes all over the floors.

“In Joe O’Neill’s home the contents were thrashed and spread over the floors.”

Garvaghy Road harassment increases

The alleged peace process continues in its momentous state of denial. Drumcree in Co Armagh is the tension point from which the reality of British/Orange rule contradicts the grand illusion of peace and parity of esteem for Irish people in a British colony.

As we went to press on the night of December 3 a crowd of 1,000 Orangemen fought running battles with the British colonial police (RUC) as they attempted to march down the Garvaghy Road. Bricks, bottles and fireworks were hurled at the RUC and a stand-off developed. Youths tried to hijack a lorry on the nearby Dungannon Road. Nationalist communities in Portadown had been bracing themselves for an eruption of Orange triumphalist terror coming up to Christmas. Since November 13 the numbers of Orangemen attending the nightly protests at Drumcree Church has swelled from an average of 100 to 300 to 400 and their supporters accompanied by loyalist bands blasting out their sectarian music into the early hours of the morning.

Residents of the Garvaghy Road are aware that the Orange Order are aiming to break the stand-off at Drumcree Church from where they have been holding a round-the-clock vigil for the past five months and taking the Garvaghy Road by storm. There have been reports of fireworks been thrown at colonial police (RUC) lines and injuries to two RUC men as the Orange throng test the reaction time of the RUC.

On at least two occasions the Orangemen came within 100 metres of the Garvaghy Road before being halted by the RUC. On November 28 Orangemen staged a pro-Drumcree parade from Portadown town centre sanctioned by Britain’s Parades Commission and passed through neighbourhoods where nationalists have been subjected to an ongoing series of intimidation for the past six months. The Grand Lodge of Ireland has also applied for a mass demonstration at Drumcree on December 19.

While the British continue to play the game of impartial peacemakers in disputes between their loyalist underlings and the oppressed nationalist community, they are careful not to alienate the primary supporters of the status quo — British rule via Stormont. By means of the Parades Commission Britain shows her determination to keep her loyalist underlings happy even to the point of farce.

Apparently this British-appointed body can tell Irish people where and when they can and cannot march in the Occupied Six Counties. But it is not within their remit to consider “illegal” Orange parades when making their decision to sanction further marches by the loyal orders.

Speaking on November 26 a spokesperson for the Garvaghy Road Residents Coalition said: “We, along with several other groups locally, presented evidence to the Commission of the loyalist demonstrations which have taken place at Charles Street and Garywell Avenue since July. Now we find that the Commission must disregard those demonstrations because they were illegal. It is a completely farcical situation.”

A spokesperson for the Commission confirmed on November 26 that it can only consider “formally-notified parades”, and only had the power to impose conditions on these parades.

Drumcree 1998 has been used as a launching pad for loyalist terror throughout the Six Counties which included murder, house burnings, physical attacks and poison letter campaigns against nationalists.

In the early hours of July 12 as ranting mobs took to the streets in support of Portadown Orangemen, three young children endured an agonising death in their Ballymoney home from a petrol bomb attack.

The murders of the Quinn brothers — Jason (8), Mark (9) and Richard (10) — which horrified decent people did not stop Orange supremacists from engaging in their sectarian intimidation even to the point of marching past the Quinn family home.

British Crown Forces open fire on South Armagh citizens

A joint British Army/Colonial police (RUC) patrol launched a horrific attack on patrons of a South Armagh pub on November 22 incurring the wrath of locals who accused them of attempted murder.

Six men had just left the bar in the village of Silver Bridge near Crossmaglen at 6pm when they were confronted by the patrol. With gung-ho, one of the Brits shouted “we are going to sort South Armagh out”.

Unimpressed by this show of triumphalism, the six revellers asked the Brits “what they were talking about?” The Royal Marines cocked their guns, an RUC man cocked his weapon and fired a shot into the air before dispensing another shot into the group.

A 20-year-old man said: “We all thought we were going to be killed. “We had been watching rugby in the pub and left just after 6pm. He described the scene as the RUC man fired into the crowd: “We panicked and as we were moving away the soldiers called us cowards. We went in one direction and the soldiers went the other way.

“I was hit in the chest with a shell, which I still have. We all thought we were going to be shot.” Saying he was to scared to return to his home in Silver Bridge that night and would be seeing a lawyer, he maintained the Brits acted without provocation. “In my mind it was attempted murder”, he said.

Spokesperson for the South Armagh Residents Committee, Toni Caraher described the Crown Forces attack as outrageous. “What we are questioning is why their was such a presence of police and marines outside this pub on a Sunday afternoon. This was blatant attempted murder.”

Inhabitants of the village said they feared slaughter from the highly-strong Royal Marines who had verbally abused the men as they came out of a crowded bar.

They said the Brits threatened to “take a number of locals out”, before they finished their tour.

McAleese quizzed on Hayden case

A significant protest against the imprisonment of Josephine Hayden was held in Liverpool on November 24.

The occasion was a private (ticket only) address by Mary McAleese to an audience at St George’s Hall in the city centre. She had earlier unveiled a memorial to victims of the Great Starvation to mark the 150th anniversary of that event. The monument, by sculptor Eamon O’Docherty, was unveiled amidst scenes of tight security before invited guests and with over half the crowd locked outside the grounds of St Lukes churchyard where the monument now stands.

Those inside the approved enclosure numbered many ‘civic dignitaries’ including the leader of the Liverpool Labour Group, Frank Prendergast, now in disgrace because of his devious role in the appointment of discredited new Chief Constable, Norman Bettison. Frank Prendergast waged a personally-motivated vendetta against all attempts to restore Liverpool Irish Centre to its rightful owners, the Irish community. However, treachery towards the Liverpool-Irish community was not to prevent Mr Prendergast from being invited into the approved enclosure.

When the unveiling ceremony was completed and after a few short speeches, Mary McAleese walked among the crowd inside the churchyard being introduced to, and shaking hands with, many of them. When it came to her turn to be introduced to Sheila Coleman, former Chair of the Irish Centre Co-op, Shelia told her that many Liverpool-Irish people were very concerned about the health and continuing detention of Josephine Hayden, and asked Mary McAleese to intervene directly on her behalf.

Sheila made her points forcefully, to the obvious embarrassment of some of those within hearing distance. Mary McAleese, while saying she had no responsibilities in this area, appeared to be sympathetic and urged Sheila and other supporters of Josephine to continue pressing her case with “the appropriate authorities”. Mary McAleese then left to prepare for the speech to be made — again to a hand-picked audience — at St George’s Hall.

Half an hour before the start of the meeting, members of the John Whelan Cumann of Republican Sinn Féin lined up outside the main entrance to the hall armed with a thousand leaflets and carrying placards calling for the release of Josephine. A separate leaflet was headed, ‘Four questions for Mary McAleese’ :

  1. Do you justify the treatment of Josephine Hayden and, if not, what do you intend to do about it?
  2. If the Stormont Agreement holds, do you accept that you cannot continue to describe yourself as, ‘President of Ireland’ and what do you suggest as an alternative tittle?
  3. How does it feel to preside over a State whose police swoop on and arrest the democratically elected leadership of an open, legal political organisation attending its own Ard-Fheis?
  4. Why did you agree to be flown into a British Army base in South Armagh when you know that local residents and farmers have been campaigning for years for the removal of this eye-sore and symbol of English oppression?

The protest group was surrounded by police and Special Branch officers though no attempt was made to interfere with the protest. Many hundreds of leaflets were accepted by students and other invited guests entering the hall and it was felt that the protest made a significant impact.

New York benefit for Josephine Hayden

Over 50 members of the Irish community in New York attended a holiday social at Kate Kearney’s pub in New York on November 22 for Josephine Hayden, the only female Republican prisoner currently being held in the 26 Counties.

The Save Josephine Hayden Committee sponsored the event and is calling for Josephine’s release on humanitarian grounds.

The programme included music by John Kennedy, a buffet, raffle and prizes. Committee members and quests signed Christmas cards to send to Josephine. Chairperson Gina Sigillito thanked the crowd for their continued support and asked them to continue to write letters and cards to Josephine.

The Committee has also launched an extensive letter-writing campaign to influential politicians in the United States and Ireland asking for their public support for Josephine.

For more information on the Save Josephine Hayden Committee in the US write 74-16 Roosevelt Avenue, Box 128, Jackson Heights, NY 11372 or call (800) 687-EIRE.

Blair not welcome while British rule remains

On Wednesday, November 26, Ruairí Ó Brádaigh, President, Republican Sinn Féin, said in a statement Republicans not reconciled to English rule in Ireland do not welcome Mr Blair to Dublin while his government still exercises jurisdiction in any part of Ireland.

The statement continued: “In addressing the members of Leinster House he is facing one pillar of the bogus peace settlement of 1921 which never brought peace to Ireland.

“The other pillar of that enforced agreement – Stormont – has just been restored in an updated form, more acceptable internationally.

“The tragedy is the assistance he has received from some of those who brought down the old Stormont to replace it with a more sophisticated version, thereby strengthening and prolonging British rule in Ireland.

“From its foundation in 1922 Leinster House has collaborated fully with the British occupation forces in the Six Counties and has been a coercion mill, grinding out legislation to repress Republicans who continue the struggle abandoned by those who participate in that southern partitionist assembly.

“The British Prime Minister may be welcome there by those who have formally accepted English rule here, but faithful Republicans say such a visit should await final British disengagement from Ireland,” Ruairí Ó Brádaigh concluded.

A man of the people — Jemmy Hope

A commemoration in memory of James (Jemmy) Hope, United Irishman (1764-1847) took place at Mallusk cemetery, Co Antrim on November 29, 1998.

A wreath was laid on behalf of Republican Sinn Féin, Belfast, and a graveside oration given in his memory by Seosamh Ó Leagáin, of north Belfast. He described Hope as “one of Ireland’s finest and noblest sons.”

“Jemmy Hope is surely one of the most faithful and true sons of Ireland and faithful and true Republicans of today have a lot in common with Hope. I am humbled to be here today at the graveside of Jemmy Hope.

“I find myself at a loss to find the right words to tell of this man’s greatness, so it is with great pride that I draw your attention to the inscription on Hope’s headstone, and ask what more needs to be said, what more can be said, of this great Irishman:

“ ‘Sacred to the memory of James Hope, who was born in 1764 and died in 1847. One of nature’s noblest works. An honest man. Steadfast in faith and always hopeful in divine protection. In the best Era of his country’s history a soldier in her cause and in the worst of times still faithful to it. Ever true to himself and to those who trusted in him, he remained to the last unchanged and unchangeable in his fidelity.’ ”

Seosamh Ó Leogáin concluded: “It is 200 years since the birth of the Irish Republican Movement. We are the bearers of Ireland’s noble cause. We remain true, faithful, unchanged, unchangeable and unbroken.”

Craigavon workers face sectarian intimidation

Those nationalists who sign on for employment within the Six Counties British colony may also signing their death warrant/ This is the clear message shouting from the walls of a Craigavon factory.

Workers at Wilson Double Deck Trailers Ltd were met with graffiti exclaiming “Fenians Remember Hyster” painted across the walls of the factory. This is a sinister reference to a massacre at the plant eight years ago. In November 1991 three men — Dessie Rogers, Fergus Magee and John Lavery — were mercilessly gunned down by the pro-British death squad the UVF as they finished their day’s work at the Hyster factory in Craigavon.

The intimidation came to light on November 24 when workers made it known via the local media that the intimidation had been going on for several days in the recent past. A company spokesman said: “The management of Wilson Double Deck Trailers Ltd views the matter most seriously and will not tolerate such behaviour from whichever perceived side of the community it may emanate.”

Republican Sinn Féin and visit of British royal consort

In a statement commenting on the visit to Ireland by the Royal Consort of the British Queen, Ruairí Ó Brádaigh, President, Republican Sinn Féin, said:

“While three national officers of Republican Sinn Féin, including the Publicity Director and Editor of SAOIRSE and three other Ard Chomhairle members together with an Ard-Fheis delegate are still under arrest in Co Meath, the British Royal Consort visits Dublin and is officially received.

“It has been stated that he is preparing the way for an official visit by the Queen of England who claims jurisdiction in part of Ireland. Republican Sinn Féin will oppose any such visit while she is styled ‘Queen of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (sic)’.

“It is convenient for the Dublin administration that so many national leaders of Republican Sinn Féin, and especially the Director of Publicity, were in unjust detention this morning when the British royal intruder was in Dublin. Energies were directed elsewhere.

“We refuse to subscribe to the fiction that relations between Ireland and England are now completely normalised. This cannot be the case while the English ruling class exercise actual physical control over part of Ireland,” the statement concluded.

Starry Plough

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December 7, 1998

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