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April 24, 2006

Report on IRA: "The Most Positive Yet'

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News About Ireland & The Irish

IT 04/25/06
Report On IRA Activity 'The Most Positive Yet'
SF 04/24/06 DUP Now Need To Act To Form Executive
SF 04/24/06 No Alternative To Power-Sharing Executive
BB 04/24/06 DUP Will Consult Unionists On IRA
IT 04/25/06 DUP Find The Flag Flying On Jaunt To Killarney
IT 04/25/06 Read Nothing Into Party Absence From Easter Parade - SF
IT 04/25/06 Opin: Nuclear Power Not An Option
IT 04/25/06 Life Between The Piers
BN 04/24/06 Talks Radio Station Pledges Real Alternative To RTE
IT 04/25/06 Riverdance Couple Spend €20m On US Holiday Home
IM 04/24/06 1916 - Connolly, Blood Sacrifice & Defeating Imperialism


Report On IRA Activity 'The Most Positive Yet'

Gerry Moriarty, Northern Editor

The Independent Monitoring Commission will tomorrow publish
its "most positive" report to date on IRA activity. It will
confirm the weekend views of the Taoiseach and Northern
Secretary that the IRA is actively striving to prevent
individual members engaging in criminality, according to
well-placed sources.

The IMC will repeat its controversial finding in its
February report that there are "credible" reports that not
all of the IRA's weapons were handed over for
decommissioning last September. It will state more
positively, however, that these weapons were being retained
against the specific orders of the IRA leadership, The
Irish Times was informed.

The other disputed element of the February IMC report was
that the IRA, while not a paramilitary threat, was still
engaged in intelligence-gathering authorised by the
leadership. Tomorrow's report, to be published at a press
conference in Belfast, will state that while the IRA is
still compiling intelligence the organisation "is moving
away from intelligence gathering", senior sources said

"This will be the most positive report about IRA activity
so far," said one well-informed source yesterday.

The IMC is holding to its February position that there are
"credible" reports that some weapons and ammunition were
not decommissioned in September. In tomorrow's report,
however, it will state that some individual IRA members or
units appear to have retained arms but that this was in
defiance of IRA orders.

The report is about to be launched as the DUP in Killarney
yesterday continued to insist it could not enter into a
power-sharing government with Sinn Féin until it is
satisfied that the IRA has eschewed criminality as well as

The IMC will again state that the IRA poses no paramilitary
threat and also point to growing evidence that the IRA is
actively working to ensure an end to criminality carried
out by IRA members.

This will confirm the weekend comments by Taoiseach Bertie
Ahern and Northern Secretary Peter Hain that the IRA
leadership is "cracking down" on criminal activity, sources

This 10th report of the IMC will also make positive
reference to comments of senior Sinn Féin figures such as
the party's chief negotiator, Martin McGuinness, denouncing
criminality. In reference to the hijacking of a lorry in Co
Meath two weeks ago, it is expected to note how Mr
McGuinness directly after the raid condemned the hijacking,
said the IRA had "no, hand, act or part" in the incident
and that anyone involved in criminality "should be
arrested, charged and brought before a judge and a jury of
his or her peers".

The IMC will also say that dissident republicans continue
to pose a threat and while some loyalists speak of moving
away from paramilitarism and criminality, there is no
actual evidence of this happening, the sources said.

© The Irish Times


DUP Now Need To Act To Form Executive

Published: 24 April, 2006

Speaking from the British - Irish Parliamentary Body
meeting in Kerry, Sinn Féin TD Arthur Morgan said that the
DUP now needed to take decisive action to ensure that fully
functioning political institutions were put back in place
in the immediate time ahead. Deputy Morgan's comments came
after the DUP Deputy leader Peter Robinson addressed the
body for the first time.

Deputy Morgan said:

"I welcome the fact that the DUP decided to travel here to
Kerry and end their self imposed boycott of this grouping.
Peter Robinson stated today that his party wished to be
part of a power sharing government. The reality of this
means a fully functioning executive involving Sinn Féin.

"Sinn Féin have consistently stated that despite the
challenges of sharing power with the DUP we were up for
that challenge. The DUP now need to demonstrate by their
actions that they are prepared to share power with
nationalists and republicans on the basis of equality for
the first time.

"That means re-entering the Assembly and electing a First
and Deputy First Minister and the other ministries. The
stalling from the DUP must end if the disastrous Direct
Rule Administration the north is to be replaced by locally
elected and accountable politicians." ENDS


No Alternative To Power-Sharing Executive

Published: 24 April, 2006

Sinn Féin Chief Negotiator Martin McGuinness MP speaking
after an hour long meeting with British Secretary of State
Peter Hain has said that the DUP needs to face the reality
that the only alternative to power sharing is continued bad
government by British direct rule ministers.

The Sinn Féin delegation meeting with Peter Hain included
Caitriona Ruane MLA, Conor Murphy MP and Cllr Daithí

Speaking after the meeting Mr McGuinness said:

„Sinn Féin will only engage in the Assembly for the purpose
of electing the First and Deputy First ministers and the
formation of the power-sharing Executive. There is no
alternative to the power sharing arrangements set out in
the Good Friday Agreement and endorsed by the people of
Ireland, north and south. Sinn Fein will not be part of
anything short of this and we will adamantly oppose any
attempt to achieve unionist majority rule through a Shadow

"Nationalists want a return to the power sharing
institutions. Many unionists do also. But all of our people
need local government as an alternative to continued direct
rule. This is the challenge facing the DUP. Are they
willing to take responsibility away from British Direct
rule Ministers who known nothing about local issues and who
care even less.

"The DUP have a stark choice to make. To recognise the
enormous progress that has been made and join the rest of
us in building a future based on equality and respect, or
allow their own constituents to continue to suffer health
and education cuts, rates hikes, water charges, planning
restriction and much worse." ENDS


DUP Will Consult Unionists On IRA

The DUP says it will consult the entire unionist community
if and when, in its opinion, the IRA has moved from
violence to democracy.

DUP deputy leader Peter Robinson made the comments in an
address to the British-Irish Inter-Parliamentary Body, in
Killarney, County Kerry.

Mr Robinson said they were ready to begin this consultation
once a "prima facie case" could be made over the IRA.

He said that no party had more to gain from a working
assembly than the DUP.

During a wide-ranging speech, Mr Robinson said there could
be "no acceptable level of paramilitarism or criminality".

"While it would be foolish to suggest that considerable
progress has not been made, it would be dangerous to
suggest or imply that this process has been completed," he

'Consultation process'

"I cannot say if or when a judgement can be made that
completion has been reached, but if and when a prima facia
case can be made, we have committed ourselves as a party,
in our election manifesto, to a consultation process within
our community."

He said unionists had to be satisfied the IRA's
transformation was "stable and enduring and not tactical
and strategic".

Mr Robinson said his party had "nothing to gain by
unnecessarily delaying devolution".

"With over 30 MLAs, we are the largest political party in
Northern Ireland and would have greater influence than any
other party over decisions taken in the province," he said.

"It is in our interests, and more importantly, it is in the
interests of the people we represent, that when the
conditions are right we have devolution returned to
Northern Ireland at the earliest opportunity."

Mr Robinson is one of four Democratic Unionist MPs who have
travelled to the Irish Republic to address the body, which
was set up to strengthen British and Irish parliamentary

However, the party denies the address means an end to its
16-year boycott of the body.

The UUP continues to boycott the BIIB, which was
established in 1990 to "contribute to mutual

The DUP was invited to Monday's session by the body's co-
chairman, the former Northern Ireland Secretary Paul

Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern said the attendance of
the DUP was a "hugely important step".

He also said that there were "no circumstances" under which
the British or Irish governments would go outside the 24
November deadline for the re-establishment of a power-
sharing executive in Northern Ireland.

Sinn Fein's Martin McGuinness has said the DUP must be
willing to share power with his party.

The Mid-Ulster MP was speaking after meeting NI Secretary
Peter Hain to discuss the 15 May recall of the assembly.

Mr McGuinness welcomed the DUP's engagement with the
British-Irish Interparliamentary Body and said it had "big
decisions to make".

"But really the next stage in all of this is for the DUP to
join with Sinn Fein in the formation of this power-sharing
government and to take their places on the North-South
Ministerial Council," he said.

"That is where this needs to go.

"I think the recent developments, while welcome, could be
meaningless if all they are offering is a talking shop and
they are not really interested in forming a government with
Sinn Fein and the other parties."

The 68-member British-Irish Interparliamentary Body was
established as a link between Westminster and the Dail
(Irish Parliament).

It initially comprised 25 British and 25 Irish members
drawn from the upper and lower houses of both parliaments.

In recent years the membership of the body has been
extended with representatives from the Welsh Assembly, the
Scottish Parliament, the Northern Ireland Assembly and the
Isle of Man and Channel Islands.

Story from BBC NEWS:
Published: 2006/04/24 13:53:05 GMT


DUP Find The Flag Flying On Jaunt To Killarney


A high-powered DUP delegation arrived in Killarney, the
home of Irish tourism, yesterday to find the Union Jack
fluttering in the breeze outside the Brehon Hotel, where
they were to address the British-Irish Inter-Parliamentary
Body, writes Stephen Collins in Killarney

If that was not enough to put them in a good mood, they
were then ushered into the Ulster Room on the first floor
of the hotel to be greeted by their Irish and British
parliamentary hosts.

The DUP delegation of Peter and Iris Robinson, Nigel Dodds
and Jeffrey Donaldson had lunch with their hosts, Pat Carey
and Paul Murphy, the co-chairmen of the body, and were
joined by the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dermot Ahern.

No unionist politician had ever darkened the door of the
British-Irish Inter-Parliamentary Body, which has been in
existence for 16 years, so nobody was quite sure what to
expect from the DUP team.

Peter Robinson delivered a comprehensive address making it
clear that they had come to outline their position and not
to join the body, which is made up of representatives from
the British parliament, the Oireachtas and other
legislatures in these islands.

Mr Robinson started by saying that he didn't propose to
settle all the outstanding issues in British-Irish
relations which went back for 1,000 years or more but he
would settle for the more modest task of telling the body
his party's position.

That position was put firmly but courteously. The DUP
wanted to co-exist in Northern Ireland with those who
shared their homeland and to have harmonious and co-
operative relations with the Republic. He emphasised that
his party would share power with Sinn Féin only when they
were sure the republican campaign was over and would not be
bullied into an executive to a deadline set by the Irish
and British governments.

During a question-and-answer session later, Iris Robinson
spoke movingly of how she and her husband, her children and
grandchildren had lived their lives behind bullet-proof
glass, with panic buttons, TV monitors and police
protection because of the IRA campaign of terror.

Nigel Dodds said people in the North found it strange that
no party in the Republic would share power with Sinn Féin,
yet the DUP was being given a deadline to go into
government with the party.

All the DUP speakers emphasised that they would have to be
sure that the IRA campaign and criminality were over for
good and not just as a tactic, before they could agree to
share power. But they accepted the notion in principle once
there was completion.

Later Dermot Ahern, who met the group privately after their
presentation, said he was very heartened. "The presentation
was very good. They made it quite clear they are up for
business," he said, although he wondered "if we are going
to have to wait until the last Provo shoplifter is caught".
In his own presentation, though, Mr Ahern was emphatic that
there would have to be an agreement by November 24th.

How the DUP's caution and the deadline of the two
governments can be reconciled only time will tell, but at
least the mood was improved by yesterday's DUP jaunt to

© The Irish Times


Read Nothing Into Party Leaders' Absence From Easter Parade - SF

Gerry Moriarty

Sinn Féin's chief negotiator Martin McGuinness has said
that "nothing should be read" into the fact that neither he
nor party leader Gerry Adams was represented at the 90th
anniversary Easter Rising commemoration on Easter Sunday in

Mr Adams's absence in particular caused puzzlement in some
Dublin political quarters as the leaders of all the
political parties in the South, as well as SDLP leader Mark
Durkan, joined President Mary McAleese and Taoiseach Bertie
Ahern on the reviewing stand outside the GPO to review the
Irish Army military parade.

There was additional surprise related to the fact that
provisional republicans frequently cite Easter 1916 as
justification for the violent actions of the Provisional
IRA during the Troubles. Mr McGuinness spoke at a
commemoration in Cork on Easter Sunday while Mr Adams, who
had attended a republican commemoration in Dublin on the
Saturday, spoke at the republican plot at Milltown Cemetery
in Belfast on Easter Sunday.

Mr McGuinness and Mr Adams were on leave over the Easter
holiday but yesterday on his return from this break Mr
McGuinness said no significance should be attached to his
and Mr Adams's non-appearance at the parade of 2,500
members of the Defence Forces and veterans of peacekeeping
missions on Easter Sunday in Dublin.

"I had a longstanding commitment which I gave to
republicans in Cork city that I would speak at their
commemoration, and I was very proud and honoured to do so,
and thankfully thousands and thousands of Cork citizens
turned out for that commemoration. So, everything doesn't
necessarily have to be in Dublin," he said.

"Gerry Adams spoke in Dublin the day before and spoke in
Belfast the following day. We were adequately represented
[in Dublin on Easter Sunday] by very high-profile
politicians like Bairbre de Brún (MEP), Pat Doherty (MP),
Arthur Morgan (TD) and Michelle Gildernew (MP)."

"That was the only reason. There is nothing else to be read
into it other than we had committed ourselves. Long before
the Government in the South had decided to engage in a
commemoration we had committed ourselves to these important
commemorations. In fact the [Sinn Féin] Dublin
commemoration was moved to the Saturday in order to
facilitate the Government's commemoration on the Sunday."

© The Irish Times


Opin: Nuclear Power Not An Option


It rained heavily that weekend, writes Fintan O'Toole. The
first indication that the radioactive cloud had reached
Ireland came from an air filter sample taken in Glasnevin,
Dublin, on the Saturday.

There was something in the air: iodine-131, caesium-137,
caesium-134, ruthenium-103, ruthenium-106, tellurium-132,
barium-140: all radioactive isotopes. There was also a
small amount of plutonium. The level of caesium-137 was
about 40 times higher than it had been before the cloud
arrived. The rain carried these radioactive particles down
into the soil, increasing tenfold the amount of radioactive
caesium that was already there from nuclear bomb tests in
the 1950s and 1960s.

Soon, testing of milk samples was showing that there was a
significant level of radioactive contamination, especially
from farms in the south midlands and in the northwest. The
levels of iodine-131 in milk in Ireland dropped gradually
throughout May, and had virtually disappeared by the end of
the month.

But contamination with caesium was still detectable as late
as October. It was especially noticeable in cheese and in
milk powders of the kind that is used to make baby formula.

Vegetables collected in places as far apart as Donegal and
Wicklow also showed significant levels of radioactive
contamination. As late as December, sheep tested in upland
areas were still found to be contaminated with caesium.

Unlike RTÉ's fine drama-documentary Fallout, this is not a
what-if narrative. It happened. The explosions at the
nuclear power station at Chernobyl 20 years ago tomorrow
sent a cloud of radioactive material across Europe. It
reached Ireland on May 2nd, 1986.

Its effects were still measurable a decade later, when
sheep in the northeast, northwest and south of Ireland
continued to show radiation levels higher than the
recommended maximum. Those effects have probably not yet
gone away: just a fortnight ago the British Food Standards
Authority reported that sheep in upland areas there are
still showing contamination from Chernobyl. One in 10 sheep
going to market here in Ireland is still tested for

In some respects, Chernobyl may lie behind the success of
Fallout. The drama is convincing because the people playing
the roles of refugees from a putative nuclear accident at
Sellafield are completely believable. This surely has
something to do with the way most of us can now imagine the
drama's scenario. This kind of catastrophe is the
background radiation of our lives. Invisible but potent, it
has contaminated us all since the early morning of July
16th 1945, when the first nuclear explosion was detonated
at the Trinity Site in New Mexico, fusing the desert sand
into green glass and bringing a new thing into the world.

Sometimes, during the Chernobyl or Three Mile Island
incidents, or in periods of heightened tension during the
Cold War, that thing has been at the centre of our
collective consciousness. Mostly, though, it has been at
the back of our minds, a reality that we recognise but
prefer not to think about.

The opening sequence of The Simpsons, in which Homer's
nuclear accident is just part of family life, is emblematic
of contemporary life.

It is true, of course, that when we do think about it, we
tend to create our own chain reaction, in which one thought
rapidly and inexorably generates an explosion of hysteria.

We forget that we live with background radiation all the
time, and that some houses in Wicklow get doses from the
natural environment that compare unfavourably with Homer
Simpson's. (Natural radiation may cause 1 per cent of all
cancers, whereas nuclear radiation may cause 0.002 per
cent.) We forget that the byproducts of other ways of
generating electricity - like coal or peat-burning power
stations - have probably caused far more deaths than the
radioactivity created by nuclear power stations. We forget
that the risks involved in daily life are vastly greater
than the risks of dying because of a nuclear accident.

Yet none of this makes the current shift back towards
nuclear power as a viable and ethical way to deal with
global warming and the oil crisis any more sane. It is not
just hysteria that makes people fear the consequences of a
nuclear accident. Such accidents have happened before and
they will happen again.

Human incompetence, terrorist attacks, the transport of
nuclear materials and natural disasters (the Asian tsunami
in December 2004 actually hit India's Kalpakkam nuclear
power plant) are all real. So is the astronomical cost of
cleaning up the radioactive mess that nuclear power
stations leave behind. The British Nuclear Decommissioning
Agency estimates the cost of fulfilling its current remit
at £62.7 billion. And that waste remains dangerous for, in
some cases, hundreds of thousands of years - a legacy we
have no right to leave to future generations. Sherlock
Holmes famously maintained that the way to solve a crime
was to start by excluding the impossible.

In solving the gathering energy crisis, we have to start by
excluding the unacceptable - and that includes nuclear

© The Irish Times


Life Between The Piers


A brutal killing shattered members of a quiet community -
but they've found a way to rebuild. Anne Dempsey reports

Born within a stone's throw of Dún Laoghaire's West Pier,
Nuala Mooney hasn't been able to revisit it since her
brother Johnny Shortall was killed there on January 24th,
1992. She becomes visibly upset remembering the telephone
call indicating something was very wrong. "We still miss
him. Everyone loved Johnny; his death has left a huge gap."

The loss of innocence signified by the brutal killing,
themes of emigration, and stories of a closely-knit harbour
community are linked in Michael Kelly's film, Dún Laoghaire
Lives, which will be launched tomorrow night.

Nuala, one of nine children, remembers long days playing
around Salthill beach. "My mother never had to worry about
us. The girls would be playing shop, and the boys would
steal the stuff. Johnny was born with polio; my parents
used to get the train to Amiens Street and my father would
carry him to Clontarf for treatment. He walked with a limp,
it affected his speech, and one hand was twisted, but
Johnny never felt there was anything wrong with him, and
could row a boat perfectly with one arm. He would light up
your day."

Their father worked around the harbour, so Johnny too began
bringing the boats into dry dock, going out with the
trawlers and selling fish on Crofton Road. At 14, Nuala
went to work for a family in York Terrace for five
mornings' a week, home by lunchtime.

"My mother would have the washing done, ready to put out -
you can imagine the amount with all of us."

Nuala married Christy in 1966. They have five children, 12
grandchildren, and live in nearby Sallynoggin. Johnny and
his brother Harry remained in the York Road family home,
and at 50 Johnny got a job as night-watchman in the Motor
Yacht Club. "He would be home at 7.30am. Harry was a porter
on Stena Line and when he came in, Johnny had the fire lit
and breakfast ready. The job gave Johnny stability. Kids
could try to break in from time to time, but Johnny knew
them all and sent them home."

The night he died was different. Johnny was asleep on a
couch in the bar at 2am when two non-locals broke in. They
battered him to death as he slept, before stealing money
and champagne. They were caught and charged with
manslaughter, not murder, serving - the Shortalls feel - an
unjustly short sentence for their crime.

Life for Nuala has changed utterly. "I'm much more wary. I
would not have believed that people could be so vicious.
Even walking along the road now, I'm looking behind me.
Life is not so safe."

WHEN JOHNNY WAS in his early 30s, Michael Kelly was a 10-
year-old living in Booterstown who cycled to fish at the
West Pier, and regularly met the man with the limp who
cared enough to share the time of day. "I was touched that
he would say hello, it was as though he was keeping an eye,
making sure I came to no harm."

Last year Kelly set up a DVD company called Real Irish
Lives. His first documentary explores changing times in
Roundwood, Co Wicklow. His next, Forty Foot Lives, captures
friendships binding the hardy community who swim in
Sandycove all year round.

Now Dún Laoghaire Lives examines the significance of the
harbour, and describes stories of life growing up there. It
includes the reminiscences of Fred Espey, well-known sailor
and former commodore of the Royal Irish Yacht Club, but
focuses most on those earning their living between the

Mick Davis was born in the coastguard station 60 years ago,
and although the family moved to Sallynoggin, his childhood
was rooted by the sea.

"My father had a saddle on the cross-beam of his bike, so I
was very small when he began taking me down. He was known
as a professional sailor, one of a group who looked after
the boats. They were paid hands, taking the boats up in
October, working on them through the winter and sailing
them in summer. Some owners couldn't sail, they were
posers, more interested in the gin and tonic, and that
hasn't changed!

"My father looked after Susannah, a 25-30 footer, and later
Colleen, for the Callow family, Dublin coachbuilders. There
was huge mutual respect between the owners and men, though
they were paid a pittance. My father had a regular day job
in the Board of Works, as had most of the others, but they
loved the sea, and the harbour was their life.

"As kids we had our jobs. On Tuesday and Thursday we were
dispatched when the trawlers came in and you'd get a dozen
flat fish for a shilling. We had our trolley and shovel
ready for the coal boat, and anything that fell off the
lorry we would scoop up. You'd get six trolley-loads in the
few days. When the horse-drawn dairy carts came round, the
manure wouldn't hit the ground before we had it shovelled
up and brought to the grandfather's allotment beside the
railway tracks."

Mick, too, knew Johnny Shortall. "He used to row the owners
out to their boats, and if he wasn't there, we'd take his
boat and do it. If he caught you, you'd get a clip on the
ear, but he let you keep the money. Johnny could be an
unofficial truant officer. If you met him when you were on
the hop, he'd say 'why aren't you at school, young Davis?'
and a few times, he marched me there. You couldn't do it
these days, you'd be had up for assault or worse. Back then
we were allowed be kids. My father knew I would be
completely safe at the harbour. His friends were like other
parents offering great protection and authority. [If you
were told] 'Run up to Florrie Daltons and get me 10
cigarettes,' you'd do it, of course."

Like many contemporaries, Mick got his start in life
through those harbour days, serving a five-year
apprenticeship as coach builder with Robert Callow, before
going to work as a technical supervisor in Aer Lingus.
Married to Margaret for 40 years, he is retired and lives
in Killiney.

"Looking back, all the people I grew up with have been
steady: we kept our jobs, stayed married, reared good kids.
I think our childhood gave us something which has stood us
for life."

DAVID MOLONEY IS the fourth generation from his family to
work in Dún Laoghaire harbour.

"My great-grandfather was a porter on the coal boats in the
1850s. My grandfather was a general port operator on the
mail boats and my father, Joe, joined in 1945."

This was the time of mass emigration, which Joe graphically
recalls. Passengers were clocked through manually, and once
the figure of 1,200 was reached, the gangway went up,
causing panic. People queued often overnight, with just one
toilet. Sometimes British Rail would provide carriages to
sleep in, and local good citizens dispensed tea and cake.

"My father saw members of our own family go away, and never
come back," says David, who recalls playing football and
chasing pigs in the fields beside him in Sallynoggin.

When he was a teenager, heroin and cannabis hit Dún
Laoghaire, but he was into karate and got his kicks more
healthily. Trained as a mechanic, a recession in the motor
trade when he emerged from apprenticeship meant no job.

"I got work as temporary port operator. There was a
tradition then of father and son; it's not like that now.
We worked in a dilapidated building on Carlisle Pier,
conditions were very poor; one day I found a rat on the
table eating my lunch."

In 1989 Joe Moloney retired as foreman after 44 years.
David is now duty operations manager with Stena Line, with
a staff of 24, in a job where ongoing training in customer
relations and health and safety is standard.

"Today we run a service here like an airport. We have
check-in procedures, luggage handlers, loading supervisors;
we deal with customs, gardaí, security. We have a travel
centre, restaurant facilities, passenger lounges."

He met his wife, Deirdre, who worked in customer services,
through the job. They have three children and live in
Wicklow within sight of the sea.

"I'm a member of Wicklow Lifeboat Service. I could never
move inland, I think with my family history, there's a bit
of salt in my blood," he says.

Dún Laoghaire Lives (€20), dedicated to Johnny Shortall,
will be launched tomorrow night at the Motor Yacht Club,
West Pier at 8pm

© The Irish Times


Talks Radio Station Pledges Real Alternative To RTE

24/04/2006 - 17:19:31

Talk radio station NewsTalk 106 today vowed to offer a real
alternative to RTE if it is granted a national licence.

Insisting the public wanted more choice, multi-millionaire
chairman of the Dublin-based station Denis O’Brien told the
Broadcasting Commission of Ireland it would not mimic the
state broadcaster.

“The plan for NewsTalk is realistic. The shareholders, the
board, management and staff now have all the experience
necessary to go national,” he said.

“No-one has any programming like NewsTalk. It is different,
NewsTalk is ready to be an alternative radio broadcaster.”

NewsTalk hopes to take on an extra 15 new staff if it goes
national, bringing the workforce up to 94, but management
insisted it would not become a training ground for RTE, TV3
or other major broadcasters.

They told the BCI it would take a more flexible approach to
broadcasting. The station said it was prepared to ditch
planned schedules if breaking news stories demanded it, as
happened during the Dublin riots in February and the London
Tube bombings last summer.

The BCI was told NewsTalk has an advantage over big,
cumbersome structures such as RTE and that there are no
agendas being pushed, editorial independence is guaranteed
and guests are questioned not assaulted.

NewsTalk, which began broadcasting four years ago and was
the only bidder for the new quasi-national licence, expects
to run at a loss until 2009 even if it wins the new
licence. NewsTalk claimed 47% of people wanted to see a new
talk-based station.

It offered a sample of shows due for broadcast if the
application is successful. George Hook and Eamon Dunphy,
two of NewsTalk’s most popular presenters, would remain
central to the schedule while a daily phone-in show
‘Ireland’s Call’ would be given an evening slot.

Irish language will feature more strongly along with extra
programming for immigrant communities, while new presenters
being lined up include civil rights campaigner Senator
David Norris.

There are plans to broadcast historical documentaries at
the weekend along with a Sunday morning kid’s time slot and
an array of objective, lively, non-judgmental current
affairs shows.

NewsTalk bosses suggested magazine style shows hosted by
Orla Barry and Sean Moncrieff would be allowed to play
music, but limited to three tracks per hour.

And as BCI officials digested the statistics, the station
offered the audience a tongue in cheek look ahead to the
stories that would be making the news in 2007.

Headlines included a state visit by Queen Elizabeth,
demands from Aer Lingus chief executive Michael O’Leary for
a second terminal at Shannon Airport, criticisms of
Taoiseach and leader of the Green Party Trevor Sargent,
while George Hook recommended the still unopened Dublin
Port Tunnel be used to store the Government’s unused e-
voting machines.

A decision on whether to grant the licence is due to be
taken by the BCI in May and NewsTalk hopes to be in a
position to broadcast nationwide from October.


Riverdance Couple Spend €20m On US Holiday Home


Riverdance founder Moya Doherty and her husband, John
McColgan, have spent €20 million on the purchase of a
holiday home and waterfront estate at Martha's Vineyard in
the US, the fashionable east-coast island renowned for its
fine weather and celebrity appeal. Arthur Beesley, Senior
Business Correspondent, reports

The couple, whose wealth has been estimated at more than
€110 million, eclipsed records on the island when they
acquired the 4.7-acre property at Edgartown Harbour in
February for $25.17 million (€20.29 million). Their
interest emerged in a Boston Globe report last weekend,
which said the purchase was financed with a $37 million
mortgage from Anglo IrishBank for the property, and it is
believed extensive renovations.

A spokeswoman, Merle Frimark, told the paper they will not
be moving permanently to the Vineyard.

Situated some 75 miles from Boston and 261 miles from New
York, the island is as famous for the people that holiday
there as it is for its sandy beaches and historic villages.
Summer visitors include chat-show host David Letterman,
singer Carly Simon, movie star Michael Fox, and film
director Spike Lee.

According to the Globe, the estate has 300 feet of private
shore front and a deep-water dock. The 3,900-sq-ft shingled
two-storey house has four fireplaces and five bedrooms,
each with a private bath. The kitchen and dining areas have
ocean views in three directions. In addition to a boat
house and guest apartment, with two bedrooms and two
bathrooms, the property has a "lighthouseinspired

Moya Doherty and John McColgan created Riverdance, one of
Ireland's biggest cultural exports, from a seven-minute
Irish music and dance interval act in the 1994 Eurovision
Song Contest that featured dancers Michael Flatley and Jean

That act was developed into the Riverdance show, which has
been seen live by 18 million people in 30 countries. A new
musical, The Pirate Queen, opens later this year in
Chicago. It is based on the legendary sea queen Grace
O'Malley, or Granuaile.

The former owners of the Edgartown Harbour estate,
investment banker David Hedley and his wife Michelle,
bought the property for $2.4 million in 1989.

© The Irish Times


1916 - Connolly, Blood Sacrifice And Defeating British Imperialism

National History And Heritage Feature Monday April 24,
2006 21:49 by Andrew Flood - WSM 1916 Working Group

For the actual 90th anniversary

British troops barricade a street in DublinThe Easter
rising began at mid-day today 90 years ago. Traditionally
the anniversary is marked as being on the Easter Monday
rather than the actual date, perhaps in part because of the
common theme of blood sacrifice. Histories of the rising
tend to focus on the idea of blood sacrifice at both a
motivation for the rising and the reason for the creation
of the Free State. This article argues that although this
may have been an important motivation on the day it was not
the reason for the rising nor was the reason for the
subsequent rise of the IRA simply found in the execution of
the republican leadership after the rising. So using the
article to mark the actual '90 years on'' date seems

1916 - Connolly, blood sacrifice and defeating British

At 11.30 in the morning of April 24 1916 Bugler William
Oman, a member of a syndicalist workers militia the Irish
Citizen Army (ICA), sounded the 'fall-in' outside his union
headquarters. This was the start of an insurrection in
Dublin which was to see around 1,500 armed men and women
seize key buildings throughout the city, and to hold these
positions against thousands of British Army soldiers for
almost a week. In the course of putting down the
insurrection, 1351 people were killed or severely wounded
and 179 buildings in the city centre were destroyed.(1)

Around 20% of those who fought were members of the Irish
Citizen Army (ICA) - who were in an alliance with the
nationalist Irish Volunteers. The ICA had been set up in
1913, when employers had locked out members of the
syndicalist Irish Transport and General Workers Union
(ITGWU) from their workplaces. The lockout lasted for 6
months before the workers were starved back to work. Near
the start, a number of workers were killed or seriously
wounded by police attacks on their demonstrations, pickets
and homes.

In response, at a rally on November 13 1913 the
revolutionary socialist James Connolly had declared "The
next time we are out for a march, I want to be accompanied
by four battalions of trained men. Why should we not drill
and train our men in Dublin as they are doing in Ulster?"
An ex-British army officer, Captain Jack White, offered to
organise a defence militia of ITGWU members. The ICA kept
peace at meetings, protected workers from the police and
prevented evictions. (2)

Preparations for insurrection

In March 1914 the ICA was re-organised and a new
constitution was ratified. The constitution was republican
in character, without any explicit mention of socialism. It
did however demand that "the ownership of Ireland, moral
and material, is vested of right in the people of Ireland"
and for "equal rights and opportunities for the Irish
people".(3) The ICA was to be open only to members of a
recognised union and the Dublin Trades Council gave its
official approval.

The insurrection was planned by the ICA leader James
Connolly, who was now also the leader of the ITGWU, and the
nationalist leadership of the secretive Irish Republican
Brotherhood (IRB). The IRB had successfully taken many of
the leadership positions in the 20,000 strong Irish
Volunteers without most Volunteers realising it. Even W.J.
Brennan-Whitmore, who was one of the few non IRB Volunteer
officers aware that the rising was planned, only learned of
the IRB's role on the morning of the rising when he saw the
proclamation that mentioned their participation on the
morning of the rising.

From 1915 Connolly had been pushing publicly for a rising,
he had even converted part of Liberty Hall (the union
building) into a munitions factory which made bayonets,
crowbars and bombs. He also published a number of articles
in the 'Workers Republic' studying the tactics used in
previous insurrections in Europe. Commenting on Connolly's
article on the 1905 Moscow insurrection, a recent
biographer Donal Nevin observes "It is impossible to read
without noting the remarkable similarities in the tactics
to those used by the insurgents in Dublin eleven years

By 1915 the ICA was regularly engaging in training
exercises around Dublin. For example, "one night in October
, when heavy fog hung over the city, the entire army, men
and women, set out at midnight and for two hours engaged in
'attack' and 'defence' exercises around the Castle". (4)
The minutes of the Commission on the Rebellion in Ireland
include police reports on these armed training exercises.

Connolly and the IRB

Relationships between the ICA and the Volunteers were not
always smooth. On October 11 1914 there had been clashes
between Irish Volunteers and ICA over rival meetings at
Glasnevin to mark Parnell's death. In Christmas 1915,
Padraic Pearse said of Connolly

"Connolly is most dishonest in his methods. In public he
says the war is a war forced on Germany by the Allies. In
private he says that the Germans are just as bad as the
British, and that we ought to do the job ourselves. As for
writings in his paper, if he wanted to wreck the whole
business, he couldn't go a better way about it. He will
never be satisfied until he goads us into action, and then
he will think most of us are too moderate, and want to
guillotine half of us."

It was, however, obvious to Connolly that an insurrection
co-ordinated by both bodies would be militarily stronger
than one of them acting on its own. Brennan-Whitmore claims
to have been later told that

"Around the time of the outbreak of the First World War,
James Connolly .. told Cathal O'Shannon .. that he wished
to get in touch with the IRB and, if necessary was prepared
to take the oath of that body for the purpose of
establishing friendly relations between militant
nationalism and Irish labour".

By Christmas of 1915, the IRB Military Council was setting
Easter 1916 as the probable date for a rising. Connolly,
unaware that a date had been set, was concluding that the
IRB, like earlier generations of Irish, was taking too long
to act. Of the rebels of 1848 he had written "for the most
part those who undertook to give it articulate expression
were wanting in the essential ability to translate
sentiment into action." In January of 1916, Connolly told
JJ Burke "that the Citizen Army would move within a week on
its own and under his leadership." (5)

Connolly met with the Volunteer leadership January 16.
"MacNeill stated that Connolly favoured an immediate
insurrection and argued that the seizure of selected
buildings in Dublin would ignite the whole country. He
insisted that the ICA was prepared to rise alone." (6)
Nothing came out of that meeting, but on the 19th Connolly
vanished for a three day meeting with the IRB military
council at which they agreed joint plans for an
insurrection on Easter Sunday. At this point Connolly was
co-opted on to the Military Council of the IRB. Nevin says
that Connolly "may have been accepted into the IRB the
following month." Certainly this was claimed by a IRB
member, who at the time was also trying to recruit Frank
Robbins of the ICA.(7)

What if?

An interesting question arises as to what would have
happened if the ICA had gone out on their own in January
1916, as intended. Did Connolly see such an insurrection as
a token gesture doomed to defeat, or did he hope it might
spark off a more general rising. Asked if the time was ripe
for revolution in Ireland in 1915 he had replied with "You
never know if the time is ripe until you try. If you
succeed the time is ripe, if not, then it was not ripe."
(8) Shortly after the deal with the IRB was reached, he
wrote in the Workers Republic (Jan 26 1916) Revolutionists
who shirk from giving blow for blow until the great day has
arrived, and they have every shoe-string in its place, and
every man has got his gun, and the enemy has kindly
consented to postpone action in order not to needlessly
harry the revolutionists, nor disarrange their plans - such
revolutionists only exist in two places - the comic opera
stage, and the stage of Irish national politics."

The program of an ICA-only rising would have been different
to that of the Easter proclamation. In the previous issue
of the Workers Republic, which may been planned as the last
one before the ICA rising, Connolly outlined a program for
a new revolutionary government as follows

"All the railways at once to be confiscated and made public
property, no compensation being given to the shareholders.
All necessary ships ought at once to be taken from their
owners, without compensation and without apology. Let [the
Government] take the factories from the manufacturers, and
immediately confiscate all the idle land (the enormous
quantity of splendid land lying idle in demesnes and
private estates of the nobility and gentry) and put
labourers upon it to grow crops to feed the multitude. As
the propertied classes have so shamelessly sold themselves
to the enemy, the economic conscription of their property
will cause few qualms to whosoever shall administer the
Irish Government in the first days of freedom."

A lone rising of the few hundred ICA in January 1916 would
have had even less of a chance to success than the Easter
rising. A clue to Connolly's goals thinking may be seen in
his description of the ICA from August 1915; "Its members
are, therefore, of the number who believe that at the call
of duty they may have to lay down their lives for Ireland,
and have so trained themselves that at the worst the laying
down of their lives shall constitute the starting point of
another glorious tradition - a tradition that will keep
alive the soul of the nation". A rising on the program
outlined in the Workers Republic may have been intended to
"constitute the starting point of another glorious
tradition", intended to push the general tone of
republicanism to the left.

Might the Easter rising have succeeded?

Another interesting 'what if' concerns the Easter rising
itself. Afterwards, the nationalist consensus was that it
was a intentional 'blood sacrifice' - a fatal gesture made
in order to inspire future generations but there is a
counter argument that many saw a chance for success.

The rising took place in the middle of World War One and,
as with other Irish republican risings England's difficulty
was seen as Ireland's opportunity". Irish politics of the
previous thirty years had been dominated by the struggle
for Home Rule. In the years before World War One this had
seen the formation of rival nationalist and unionist
militias, numbering hundreds of thousands, and armed with
tens of thousands of smuggled rifles.

Later generations would largely accept that the rising was
a 'blood sacrifice', organised to make a statement against
the imperialist war or from a purely nationalist's position
to keep "faith with the past, and hand[ed] a tradition to
the future". But, as historian John A Murphy wrote, "it
should be remembered that up to the stage of the final
confusion, the Military Council believed the rebellion had
a real chance of success".(9)

The First World War meant that the British army in Ireland
"stood well below full strength." (10) If all the 20,000
Irish Volunteers had been mobilised they would have
outnumbered the army around five to one. It was only at the
last minute that MacNeill, the Volunteer leader, realising
the depth by which he had been tricked by the IRB, had
orders printed in the newspapers cancelling the
mobilisation order. German support, which did provide a
diversionary Zeppelin raid on London and a naval
bombardment of Lowestoft port, also supplied a huge
quantity of arms, intercepted at the last minute off the
Irish coast.

"On the whole the plans for the Rising were as technically
sound as the circumstances and resources available
permitted. Given a successful landing of adequate arms,
free co-operation and simultaneous action all over the
country, they would have gone far in the attainment of the
ultimate objective. That they could have resulted in a
complete victory for the Volunteers and the Citizen Army is
certainly open to conjecture"

"The basic idea was to seize Dublin by a swift surprise
attack and immobilise the British forces not so much be
dint of the attack as by threat and manoeuvre .. This, it
was confidently expected, would gain the necessary margin
of time not only to land the arms and distribute them but
also to get the provincial brigades properly in motion"

The plan for the rising

The rebels had well thought out military preparations. They
had studied street fighting and seized, and fortified,
well-chosen positions from which they ambushed the British
army. Instead of using the streets to move around, they
tunnelled through the walls of adjoining buildings, and
barricaded the doors and windows of their strong points.
Some units of the British Army deployed against them seemed
to have had little or no training for urban warfare,
allowing, for instance, a tiny rebel force of less than 17
insurgents at the canal at Mount Street to catch the
Sherwood Foresters in a crossfire and inflict over 240
casualties. Despite the vastly better equipment of the
British army, including armoured cars and artillery, their
better medical facilities, and the fact they outnumbered
the rebels 3 to 1 Irish Volunteer and ICA combined deaths
were only 40% of those of the British army and police.

The IRB military leadership made a considerable attempt at
keeping the specific plans for the insurrection secret. The
historian Max Caulfield, who interviewed many survivors for
his history of the insurrection, noted that some of the
rebels taking part that morning "presumed .. this was only
an ordinary route march, or, at best, a tactical exercise."
(12). Of course the planned mobilisation was not itself a
secret, in fact "Practically everyone in the city who knew
anything about nationalist affairs was aware, for days
ahead, that the Volunteers and Citizen Army had planned a
full muster parade through the principal streets for Easter
Sunday." But the political background of the previous years
meant that both the British authorities and the general
population were used to the sight of armed bodies of men
drilling in public, in fact "To lull officialdom, many
marches and mock 'manoeuvres' had been held in the city
from time to time." (13)

Why the Castle failed to act

However, despite these efforts, British intelligence knew a
good deal about what was planned and when it was timed. On
April 19 an informer reported that Thomas MacDonagh had
said "We are not going out on Friday, but we are going on
Sunday .. Boys, some of us may never come back." (14) The
directions to the German navy had been intercepted, and the
British were expecting the arms landing over Easter. This
"now open evidence of the connection of the Irish
Volunteers with Germany led Lord Wimborne to insist on
Sunday night that from sixty to one hundred of the leaders
be arrested .. Nathan however postponed the arrests until
permission was given by the Chief Secretary, Augustine
Birrell, in London. Permission was only received on Easter
Monday." (15)

The hesitation was because although the British knew
something was up they feared the consequences of a
premature move against the rebels. Chief Secretary
Augustine Birrell "saw as his paramount task the need to
keep a balance between prevention of a nuisance and the
inflation of nuisance value into something more important
that that it was" (16) The Castle hoped that the
interception of the German guns, and the subsequent
countermanding of the mobilisation order by MacNeill, meant
that the threat of a rising was over. They had spent the
evening before the rising debating moving against the rebel
HQ at Liberty Hall but had concluded they did not have
sufficient forces to hand. On the first day of the rising,
Lord Wimborne could only regretfully write that "If we only
had acted last night with decision and arrested the leaders
as I wanted, it might have been averted." (17)

Part of the reason the British administration in the Castle
felt secure was that they knew that the rebel cause was not
that popular with the population. A huge number of Irish
men were serving in the British army, 170,000 Irish men had
enlisted, 41% of the male population between the ages of 10
and 44. Around half were from Ulster and many of these
would have been loyalists, but of the 40,000 to 50,000
killed in the war at least half were Catholic. (18). Even
the ITGWU, the syndicalist union from which the ICA had
emerged, believed that half of its 1914 membership had
joined the British army by 1916 (19).

The lockout, ending only months before the outbreak of war,
meant that many of the strikers were driven by poverty into
the army. Connolly also claimed that one of the major
employers, Jacobs, had dismissed all men of military age at
the start of the war. Writing in the Workers Republic of
February 26 1916 he recognised that "The trenches in
Flanders have been the graves of scores of thousands of
Irishmen, a large proportion of whom were born and reared
in the slums and tenement houses of Dublin, slums notorious
the world over .. From out of these slums these poor
misguided brothers of our have been tricked and deluded
into giving battle for England." The Castle reckoned, not
without reason, that the relatives of these soldiers were
unlikely to look favourably on a rising.

The rising

The military events of the rising are well known. The
rebels successfully seized most of their objectives. Then,
over the following six days, the British army brought in
re-enforcements, including artillery and the gun boat
Helga, and proceeded to destroy selected rebel positions,
in particular the GPO and O'Connell Street area. The
British army were "occupying strategic positions, possibly
throwing up barricades and drawing a ring of fire tighter
and tighter around us. We had no effective reply to that
plan." (20)

Brenan - Whitmore's eyewitness account of the start of the
rising demonstrates that not all Dubliners were hostile. He
recorded that "as we marched up to the junction with
O'Connell Street pedestrian traffic paused to let us pass
and we received several cheers." And that, while initially
fortifying the GPO, "We had not long been at this work when
a great cheer from the crowd outside informed us that the
tricolour had been hoisted on the top of the building
fronting the street." (21)

He also claims that when commanding the North Earl street
position, on the first night "I could have quadrupled my
little garrison in a short time if I had taken in all those
who were volunteering their services." He turned those who
were not already members of the ICA or Volunteers away, but
in the GPO those taken in included a Polish and a Finnish
sailor as well as a British conscientious objector
(possibly called Allen) who wore the button of the
international syndicalist union, the Industrial Workers of
the World (IWW). He was wounded during the evacuation of
the GPO and died on Saturday. (22) Also on Friday a
"cockney socialist called Neale" (23) was mortally wounded.
Although the rising was nationalist even some of the
leaders, including Connolly, had been born outside of
Ireland. Padraic Pearse's final words to his pupils were
reported as being remember if we succeed it was the son of
an Englishman who set you free.

Many of the British army units involved in the suppression
of the rising were Irish regiments, this meant that members
of the same family were on both sides of the barricades.
One of the first British casualties was Lieutenant Gerald
Neilan, shot by a sniper on Ushers Quay. His younger
brother Anthony was taking part in the rising. (24) In the
South Dublin Union's fierce fighting Richard O'Reilly was
one of the first casualties on the rebel side, he had
another brother was also in the SDU but two other brothers
were in the British army. "That day there were two of us
fighting for England, two of us against." (25)

Reasons for public hostility

The insurrection took place on the first anniversary of the
2nd battle of Ypres, in which the Dublin Fusiliers, which
many of the ITGWU men would have joined, had suffered very
heavy losses. Eyewitness James Stephens noted, in his
account written just after the rising, that

"It is considered now (writing a day or two afterwards)
that Dublin was entirely against the Volunteers, .. Most of
the female opinion I heard was not alone unfavourable but
actively and viciously hostile to the rising. This was
noticeable among the best-dressed classes of our
population; the worst dressed, indeed the female dregs of
Dublin life, expressed a like antagonism, and almost in
similar language. The view expressed was 'I hope every man
of them will be shot'." (26)

Towards the end of the rising, as Brennan-Whitmore's unit
tried to sneak through British lines near Sean MacDermott
Street, he recalls the ICA men present saying "we were in
the middle of a very hostile area, being full of
'dependents' allowances' women who would certainly betray
us." They were betrayed while hiding in a tenement, where
"the majority of the inhabitants of the tenement had
congregated on the first landing and showered curse upon us
as we appeared. Several of the women called on the soldiers
to shoot the '**** Sinn Feiners'." (27)

Max Caulfield wrote that as the rebel prisoners where being
marched away the poor working class women attacked them,
"'Shoot the traitors they cried' .. the shawlies pelted
them with rotten vegetables, the more enthusiastic
disgorging the contents of their chamber pots." On a more
measurable level, Caulfield points out that during the
rising "Not a single trade, political or municipal society
anywhere in Ireland had declared for the republic". (28)

A terrible beauty is born?

Despite this initial public hostility, within two years the
republicans were to win the overwhelming majority of seats
in the 1918 election, and within five years the British
were forced to sign a treaty and then leave 26 of the 32
counties. The 1916 insurrection almost seems designed as a
perfect case study of how an insurrection can radicalise
the population and change public opinion.

Even during the insurrection James Stephens noticed that
public opinion was changing. He wrote that on the Wednesday
"There is almost a feeling of gratitude towards the
Volunteers because they are holding our for a little while,
for had they been beaten the first or second day the City
would have been humiliated to the soul." (29)

After the rising, the British establishment made up for
their lack of action beforehand; 3439 men and 70 women were
interned, 92 sentenced to death (30). 'Only' 16, including
Rodger Casement, were executed, but many observers recorded
public opinion changing as the executions were dragged out.
When they culminated with the execution of Connolly on May
12, who was so wounded that he had to be shot sitting in a
chair, the foundation was laid for the nationalist myth
that it was the insurrection, and in particular the blood
sacrifice of the leaders, that had 'freed Ireland'.

What really built the IRA?

Here I will sketch out an alternative explanation, details
of which will be developed in future articles. The
executions certainly gave the public cause to think again,
but it was the slaughter of World War One, and the need for
the British army to conscript Irish men to fight its war
that really recruited for the IRA. This is recorded in
Kerry police estimates that "the rate of affiliation to the
republican movement was highest between October 1917 and
November 1918 when the threat of conscription loomed
largest." (31) Ernie O'Malley who rose to OC of the Second
Southern, the second largest division of the IRA was in
Donegal at the other end of the country. He recorded the
same phenomenon there in reverse, that once "Fear of
conscription passed away with the European war. The numbers
in the Volunteer companies decreased and we had more
opposition." (32)

Michael Collins reckoned the IRA never had more than around
5,000 active volunteers during the war while the British
administration built up a force of tens of thousands of
armed men. In comparison with World War One, British
casualties were so light as to be insignificant. Foster
gives figures for the War of Independence showing only 400
police and 180 soldiers killed. In comparison, the British
armed forces lost one million men during World War One

Yet, by 1921, the British ruling class was in a panic.
Field Marshall Sir Henry Wilson recorded in his diary for
18 May 1921 "I said that directly England was safe, every
available man should go to Ireland that even four
battalions now serving on the Rhine should ought also to go
to Ireland .. I was terrified at the state of the country,
and that in my opinion, unless we crushed the murder gang
this summer we shall lose Ireland and the Empire." (34)

The cause of the British panic

Two things combined in to create this panic. Across the
world these were years of revolutionary struggle for the
working class. In most countries workers were defeated by
the forces of 'law and order'. The republican armed
struggle in Ireland, which was largely directed at making
it impossible to police the country, created a 'law and
order' vacuum. By the end of April 1921 800 police barracks
and courts had been attacked. (35) Into that 'law and order
vacuum' created by the IRA's military campaign, the working
class stepped and occupied land and workplaces. The unique
situation in Ireland meant in the southern 26 counties the
force of law and order that were able to repress workers
struggles elsewhere were largely ineffective.

There were 5 general strikes in Ireland between August 1918
and August 1923, and 18 general local strikes, twelve of
these in 1919. For example, the general strike of 14th
April 1920 saw workers take over the running of the country
and it had been called overnight by the union leadership.
The Manchester Guardian reported from Waterford that

"the City was taken over by a Soviet Commissar and three
associates. The Sinn Fein mayor abdicated and the Soviet
issued orders to the population which all had to obey. For
two days, until a telegram arrived reporting the release of
hunger strikers, the city was in the hands of these men."

In January 1919, the London Times wrote of fear that the
radicals would "push aside the middle class intelligentsia
of Sinn Fein, just as Lenin and Trotsky pushed aside
Kerensky and other speech makers." (37). The ruling class
really started to panic when the loyalist workforce of
Belfast started using similar tactics during the great
Engineering strike of 1919. Mutinies also broke out in the
Irish Regiments of the British army stationed in India.

In Glasgow, pitched battle were fought in George Square and
6 tanks and 100 lorry loads of troops with machine guns
were brought in to prevent rallies. (38) it is not hard to
see why the British ruling class was in something of a
panic. The Director of Intelligence at the Home Office
Basil Hugh Thomson wrote "During the first three months of
1919 unrest touched its high-water mark. I do not think
that at any time in history since the Bristol riots we have
been so near revolution." Winston Churchill recorded "We
had a considerable number of mutinies in the army .. We had
a number of strikes and a great many threats of strikes ..
there were serious riots in Glasgow which required the
presence of a large number of troops."(39)

The cost to the British establishment of pursuing the war
in Ireland was not military but political. They felt that

"If England goes on like this she will lose the Empire ..
The coming year looks gloomy. We are certain to have
serious trouble in Ireland, Egypt, and India, possible even
with the Bolsheviks. At home those who know best say we are
going to have a strike of the triple alliance and the Post
Office. This will be a direct threat and attack on the life
of the nation." (40)

Panic leads to compromise with Sinn Fein

The level of panic from the British state about the threat
of revolution shows why the Sinn Fein leadership came to be
seen by the British state as a reasonable alternative that
could be treated with. They reckoned - correctly as it
turned out - that a sufficient amount of the leadership
would settle for a deal that left key British interests,
including the naval ports protected. Through the land
courts, Sinn Fein was demonstrating that it posed no threat
to capitalism in Ireland. In 1921 the treaty offered a way
of stabilising a dangerous situation at little apparent

The treaty led to the civil war, and as the Free State
government won this civil war it used the forces of the
Free State to crush the workers movements. Labour historian
Emmet O' Connor describes how thousands of paramilitary
police (Special Infantry Corps) were deployed so that by
the Spring of 1923 "military intervention was becoming a
routine response to factory seizures or the disruption of
essential services". During the Waterford farm strike of
1923 "600 SIC were billeted in a chain of posts throughout
the affected area."

By the Autumn these forces were being deployed to defeat a
postal strike, triggered by the Free State government
rejecting the findings of its own commission of enquiry
into the cost of living for postal employees. During the
strike the government used armoured cars to disrupt pickets
and arrest officials. "Numerous arrests and re-arrests of
pickets were made until the right to peacefully picket was
asserted in the courts. Even then, troops continued to
intimidate strikers with armoured vehicles and rifle fire.
On 17 September a lady telephonist was shot in the knees.
Raids took place on union offices and arrests of officials
continued." (41) This was to demonstrate to the workers
that 'law and order' had returned, as the Post Master
General described it "at this critical juncture to smash
such a well organised strike was a salutary lesson to the
general indiscipline which just then seemed to run riot
through the land." (42).

Conventional nationalist histories of the period after 1916
do not provide a rational mechanism for how British
imperialism was defeated. There is almost no mention of
mass struggles, of the general strikes and of the
occupations. Instead we are to believe that the 'blood
sacrifice' of a few men transformed public opinion and then
that the actions of another gallant few in fighting the
black and tans imposed a military defeat on the British
Empire. The real force, in Ireland and internationally that
imposed a compromise on Britain are carefully hidden away.

1 The Easter Rebellion, Max Caulfield, Gill and Macmillan,
1995, p283
2 James Connolly 'A Full life', Donal Nevin, Gill &
Macmillan, 2005, p554
3 Constitution of the Irish Citizen Army, 22 March 1914,
online at
4 James Connolly 'A Full life', p591
5 James Connolly 'A Full life', p628
6 James Connolly 'A Full life', p629
7 James Connolly 'A Full life', p634
8 James Connolly 'A Full life', p574
9 The Insurrection in Dublin, James R Stephens, 1916, Intro
John A Murphy, p xv
10 The Easter Rebellion, , p16 + p28
11 Dublin burning; The Easter rising from Behind the
Barricades, W.J. Brennan-Whitmore, Gill & Macmillan, 1996,
12 The Easter Rebellion, p7
13 Dublin burning, p6
14 James Connolly 'A Full life', p637
15 James Connolly 'A Full life', p637
16 James Connolly 'A Full life', p636
17 The Easter Rebellion, p94
18 A History of Ulster, Jonathan Bardon, The Blackstaff
Press, 1996, p461
19 Syndicalism in Ireland 1917 - 1923 Emmet O' Connor, Cork
University press, 1988, p21
20 Dublin burning, p87
21 Dublin burning, p41
22 James Connolly 'A Full life', p646
23 The Easter Rebellion, p260
24 James Connolly 'A Full life', p646
25 The Easter Rebellion, , p80
26 The Insurrection in Dublin, p36
27 Dublin burning, p110
28 The Easter Rebellion, p184
29 The Insurrection in Dublin, p39
30 Conor Kostick, Revolution in Ireland: Popular militancy
1917 to 1923, Pluto Press, 1996, p23
31 The IRA in Kerry 1916 - 1921, Sinead Joy, The Collins
Press, 2005, p32
32 On another Man's Wound, Ernie O'Malley, Colour Books
Limited, 1936, p88
33 BBC,
34 The Real Chief: Liam Lynch, Meda Ryan, Mercier Press,
2005, p46p92
35 Revolution in Ireland, p97
36 Revolution in Ireland, p123
37 Revolution in Ireland, p139
38 Revolution in Ireland, p56
39 Revolution in Ireland, p54
40 Sir Henry Wilson quoted in Conor Kostick, Revolution in
Ireland, p27
41 Syndicalism in Ireland 1917 - 1923, p159
42 Syndicalism in Ireland 1917 - 1923, p159

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