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Never Say Goodbye


**The above link is one of my favourite sites on Michael Collins



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**Click on above link to read



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“Michael Collins has had many names of endearment attached to him by his people. But perhaps the most appropriate is that bestowed on him by Brendan Behan’s mother Kathleen when she named Michael Collins ‘My Laughing Boy’.” He had helped her when her own husband was in prison for IRA activities. Her son Brendan, born in1923, “was much taken with his mother’s talk of ‘Mick’ Collins” and wrote this ballad in tribute:

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The Laughing Boy
by Brendan Behan

T'was on an August morning, all in the dawning hours,
I went to take the warming air, all in the Mouth of Flowers,
And there I saw a maiden, and mournful was her cry,
'Ah what will mend my broken heart, I've lost my Laughing Boy.

So strong, so wild and brave he was, I'll mourn his loss too sore,
When thinking that I'll hear the laugh or springing step no more.
Ah, cure the times and sad the loss my heart to crucify,
That an irish son with a rebel gun shot down my Laughing Boy.

Oh had he died by Pearse's side or in the GPO,
Killed by an English bullet from the rifle of the foe,
Or forcibly fed with Ashe lay dead in the dungeons of Mountjoy,
I'd have cried with pride for the way he died, my own dear Laughing Boy.

My princely love, can ageless love do more than tell to you,
Go raibh maith agat for all you tried to do,
For all you did, and would have done, my enemies to destroy,
I'll mourn your name and praise your fame, forever, my Laughing Boy.

Derry Journal


Friday 20th August 2004

A former IRA leader in Derry has broken a 35 year silence to reveal full details of an explosive 1969 meeting at which an Irish Army intelligence officer allegedly offered the paramilitary group £50,000, weapons, ammunition and training in return for the 'elimination' of six members of the IRA's national leadership.

Johnny White, OC of the IRA's Derry brigade in 1969, says the meeting was attended by James Kelly - a captain in the Irish Army - and other senior IRA men from Derry.

In an interview in the latest edition of the 'Starry Plough', the official newspaper of the Irish Republican Socialist Party (IRSP), Mr. White and another former IRA man who attended the 1969 meeting in Derry, say they viewed Captain Kelly's proposal as an attempt to "split and divide" the republican movement.

Captain Kelly, who died last year, was a central figure in the Dublin Arms Trial of 1970 and is widely regarded as having been scapegoated by the then government for plotting to pass guns to northern nationalists at the beginning of the Troubles.

Although the trial acquitted Captain Kelly, and three others, his army career and reputation were irreparably damaged.

The Captain Kelly Justice Campaign was set up earlier this year "to clear his name of any wrongdoing".

A leading member of the Campaign is Derry-born Fionnbarra O"Dochartaigh, a founding member of the North's Civil Rights Association.

Mr. White initially referred to the "offer" last month at a news conference to officially launch the campaign.

Mr. White's remarks sparked angry scenes with Captain Kelly's widow, Sheila - who attended the event - branding the claim "absolutely ludicrous".

The claim was also strongly denied by former Sinn Fein MLA John Kelly who was also accused in the arms trial.

Fionnbarra O'Dochartaigh, who says he was close to the republican leadership in the city at the time, rubbished Mr. White's claim as "ridiculous."

However, in the 'Starry Plough" interview, Johnny White and Peter Collins, the Derry Brigade's intelligence officer in 1969 who also attended the meeting, insist their version of events is true.

They say they only spoke out "so incensed were they that someone who they have intimate knowledge of attempting to split the republican movement in 1969 should be lauded as an innocent victim of injustice."

Messrs. White and Collins believe that, at the time, the Irish government wanted to "eliminate those from within the [IRA] leadership who would have been considered Socialist or Communist." "This would then have laid the groundwork for the formation of a right wing and Catholic leadership that would have been prepared to dance to the tune of the Dublin regime," they say.

Turning to exact details of the 1969 meeting in Derry, the two former IRA men - who are, in fact, the only two surviving people who attended the gathering - claim Capt. Kelly told them he had "authority" to speak on behalf of the Irish government.

"The meeting lasted only a few minutes," the men tell the "Starry Plough". "Kelly, after explaining his role, offered those present arms, training and money (£50,000).

"When those present asked Kelly what the government wanted in return, Kelly said, ' a guarantee that the struggle would be contained within the Six Counties'." "The OC then pointed out to Kelly that he knew as well as him that such a situation was already guaranteed as the standing orders of the IRA prevented any attacks within the 26 counties.

"At this point, the OC then demanded to know exactly what Kelly wanted in return for these weapons and money and aggressively demanded, while pointing his finger towards Kelly, that he give him a straight answer.

"Kelly then said: 'the elimination of certain members of the leadership of the republican movement'."

The 'Starry Plough' report says that, at this stage, the two other IRA men at the meeting joined into the conversation.

One of them asked Kelly how many IRA men were to be eliminated, to which he replied: "Six".

The article continues: "Kelly was then told, in no uncertain terms, to f**k off. The meeting then ended."

Immediately, say the two former IRA men, they made contact with their leadership in Dublin, explaining the situation and seeking an urgent meeting.

The following day, a meeting took place in South Derry at which details of the Kelly meeting were revealed.

The men reveal: "The Chief of Staff told the Derry Brigade OC that he should have got the £50,000 first and then told Kelly to 'f**k off'."

The Derry members were the told the leadership would "take care of it from then on."

According to Messrs. White and Collins, over the years nothing was said about the events, other than to very few prominent republicans and former civil rights campaigners.

The two men say they believe the reason Kelly, on behalf of the Irish government, offered the 1969 deal was because "they feared less an armed struggle contained within the Six Counties than an armed struggle throughout the 32 counties.

"They feared a scenario where tens of thousands of working class men and women would take to the streets and challenge their authority and attempt to change their system into one that put working class people first.

"As the republican movement was to the forefront of that struggle, it would have been important to divide the movement and form an organisation that would have been prepared to pay lip service to the Free State Government."

Both men say that, if they had been listened to at last month's Captain Kelly Justice Campaign meeting, it may actually have helped the Kelly family "find the justice they are looking for."


Garvagh Catholic tells of daily hell

(Roddy McGregor, Irish News)

Police rejected claims yesterday (Tuesday) that they had not done enough to tackle sectarian attacks on Catholic residents of the Co Derry village of Garvagh.

Residents of the town contacted the Irish News following yesterday's report that the Catholic owned Clock Bar has closed after a series of loyalist attacks on staff, customers and property.

One man, who asked not to be identified, said Catholics in the predominantly Protestant town suffered "almost daily hell" from a small loyalist gang.

He said young Catholics left the town "en masse" every weekend to avoid being attacked by the gang.

He said the streets of Garvagh were "simply a no go area" for Catholics in the aftermath of loyal order marches.

The man, who has lived in Garvagh all his life, said he was proud to come from the town despite the sectarian attacks and intimidation.

"Everyone in Garvagh knows who these people are and I mean everyone including the police," he said.

"I have many good and loyal Protestant friends who are affronted by what is happening, but they, like me, cannot be identified because we know what will happen.

"It's hard to imagine the terror these people inflict on residents and business people who have lived and operated here all their lives.

"People have been beaten senseless, windows are regularly smashed, doors kicked in and cars attacked, but the police never do anything about it despite being told time and again.

"Ordinary people, both Catholic and Protestant, are fed up but at the same time wondering what they can do. People are just ready to flip."

A police spokesman confirmed that a number of reports of sectarian intimidation and attacks on Catholics and Catholic property in Garvagh had been investigated in recent months.

But he rejected the claim that police had failed to act on the complaints.

"Police have acted on those reports and people were identified as being involved in those incidents," he said.

"However, no statements were forthcoming and we were unable to proceed due to lack of evidence.

"Police thoroughly investigate all assaults, sectarian or otherwise. But we need the full cooperation of the community to bring such cases before the courts."

August 21, 2004

This article appeared first in the August 18, 2004 edition of the Irish News.


The corncrake, once a common visitor to NI, is all but extinct

Many birds native to Northern Ireland could become extinct, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds has warned.

A report published by the charity says the numbers of woodland and farmland birds are at their lowest level ever.

The report revealed that farmland bird numbers have plunged by as much as 60% over the past 20 years.

Species at risk include the corncrake, lapwing and the peeweet as their natural habitat disappears.

Dr James Robinson of the RSPB says good land management is the answer.

"Lapwing and redshank bred for the first time in a recently cleared nature conservation area next to the City Airport, showing that people and birds can co-exist and do so successfully," he said.

"The message we need to take away from the report is not to get depressed but to do something now so that the environment is safeguarded for people and wildlife."

The lapwing is under threat as its natural habitat disappears

The report also warns of a threat to seabirds due to a combination of over-fishing, climate change and diseases such as botulism from landfill sites.

Dr Robinson said the decline in the bird population was a wake-up call to people.

"Birds are at the top of the food chain and any fall in their numbers indicates that something is wrong with the environment," he said.

"It could be anything from water quality to depleting fish stocks.

"The Common Agricultural Policy from Europe has been the main mover behind the drastic falls in some of our most beloved species such as the peeweet, yellow yornie and curlew.

"The corncrake, once a common visitor to these shores is all but extinct in the north and struggling at record levels in the south."

However, the report also shows an increase in the numbers of birds of prey including buzzards and peregrine falcons.

"They have seen some recovery, however it must be remembered that they suffered the most appalling declines in the 70s when the pesticide DDT was used," said Dr Robinson.

"Their numbers crashed then and they are only starting to make a recovery."

Irish Examiner



TOMORROW marks the 82nd anniversary of a pivotal moment in the history of modern Ireland: the Béal na mBláth ambush in which Michael Collins died.

Collins’ relevance to an Ireland much changed since 1922 is remarkable. Given today’s mania for the calibration of almost everything into top 10 listings, Collins regularly finds himself in the position of chart-topper: political hero; significant public figure of the 20th century; cultural icon; inspiration for young people.

Despite the divisions that the Civil War wreaked on all aspects of Irish life, and the waning appetite for patriotism in the land of the Celtic Tiger, it is significant that Collins should hold such an exalted position in the hearts and minds of the nation today.

Tomorrow, his annual commemoration takes place at Béal na mBláth.

While the event has associations with the political party that lays most concrete claims to Collins’s political legacy - Fine Gael - it has also come to transcend politics, and that is not such a bad thing.

For many people, Béal na mBláth has become a place of secular pilgrimage. The atmosphere there in recent years has been celebratory - families and tourists standing side by side with Fine Gael veterans, all paying their respects. It’s a great pity that it hasn’t become a truly national event.

Collins remains significant enough to merit national commemoration. Perhaps a future Government might consider dedicating August 22 as a national holiday when Collins and all those who gave their lives during the War of Independence and Civil War may be commemorated.

Collins and his colleagues gave hope to the people. Would that there was such a figure in Ireland today.

For those who wish somehow to renew faith in citizenship and patriotism, or who just want to remember a truly great man, a trip to West Cork tomorrow wouldn’t be wasted.

Gerry O’Connell
Hon Sec, Collins 22 Society
Delaney’s Cross
Co Tipperary


Fallen Comrades of the IRSM

**Posted to group email by Danielle Ni Dhighe

**Click on above link for more photos

Fallen Comrades of the IRSM - Michael Devine
Died on Hunger Strike on 20 August 1981

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Michael James Devine was born on 26th May 1954 in Springtown, just outside of Derry city. He grew up in the Creggan area of Derry, where he was raised by his sister Margaret and her husband after both parents died unexpectedly when he was age 11.

Mickey was witness to the civil rights marches of the late 1960s in Derry in which civilians were often brutally attacked and the trauma of Bloody Sunday. In fact, Mickey himself was hospitalised twice because of police brutality. In the early 70s, Mickey joined the Labour Party and the Young Socialists. Then in 1975, Mickey helped form the INLA.

In 1976 he was arrested, and sentenced in 1977 to 12 years after an arms raid in County Donegal; he immediately joined the blanket protest. While on hunger strike an appeal to Irish workers he drafted was smuggled out of Long Kesh and it was this letter to Irish workers that was read at factory gates throughout Ireland.

Mickey was 60 days on hunger strike; he was the third INLA Volunteer to join the hunger strike and died at 7:50am on 20th August 1981.

He died as he lived: a Republican Socialist. Remember him with honour and pride.


It's hard to know what way to behave when a friend and a comrade is
slowly dying on Hunger Strike just a few cells away, everyone of
course tries to put on a brave face and act normal but both he and we
know that it is only make believe. We've organized story telling and
singsongs to keep up his morale, ours too, but it's hard, very hard.
It won't be long now until he's taken away to join the other Hunger
Strikers in the prison hospital and then?

Well it seems that only slow terrible death awaits them all. We try
to shout words of encouragement but what can you say to a dying man.
The screws for their part keep him as isolated from us as possible
and go out of there way to taunt and belittle him, yet in their midst
he, like his comrades is a giant. If they even had one ounce of their
courage if even they had a spark of decency, decency from these who
have tormented us all these years? Compassion from these who have
made all this suffering necessary?

No, not even a friendly word, not even a word of sympathy during the
long days and nights of agony but then neither he nor we expect it.
We know only too well that these people have been put here to torment
and persecute us and they have done their job well but not well
enough. They have served their British masters, the poor pathetic
fools, they think that inhumanity and cruelty can break us, haven't
they learnt anything? It strengthens us, it drives us on for then
more than ever we know that our cause is just.

Bobby Sands, Frank Hughes, Patsy O'Hara and Raymond McCreesh hunger
for justice, they have suffered all the indignities that a tyrant can
inflict yet still they fight back with their dying breath. Only a few
yards from here, four human skeletons lay wasting away and still the
fools the poor pathetic fools cannot break them. Even death will not
extinguish the flames of resistance and this flame will without doubt
engulf these who in their callousness and in greed have made all this
necessary. Britain you will pay!

Michael Devine
Long Kesh, 1981


**Click on above link for large view of mural

Portrait of Mickey Devine, the final hunger striker to die, and a quotation:

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"I refuse to change to suit the people who oppress, torture or imprison me, who wish to dehumanise me…I have the spirit of freedom which cannot be quenched by the most horrendous treatment. Of course, I can be murdered, but I remain what I am - a political prisoner of war"

Random Ramblings from a Republican

INLA Volunteer Micky Devine

Michael Devine was born May 26th, 1954 on the former American army base, Springfield Camp, outside of Derry City. Unlike his comrades on hungerstrike, Micky did not come from a typically extended family. His father died when he was only 11 years old and his mother when he was a teenager. He grew up fast and fiercely nationalist.

>>>Read it

1981 Irish Hungerstrikers

Died August 20th, 1981

A typical Derry lad

TWENTY-seven-year-old Micky Devine, from the Creggan in Derry city, was the third INLA Volunteer to join the H-Block hunger strike to the death.

Micky Devine took over as O/C of the INLA blanket men in March when the then O/C, Patsy O'Hara, joined the hunger strike but he retained this leadership post when he joined the hunger strike himself.

Known as 'Red Micky', his nickname stemmed from his ginger hair rather than his political complexion, although he was most definitely a republican socialist.

The story of Micky Devine is not one of a republican 'super-hero' but of a typical Derry lad whose family suffered all of the ills of sectarian and class discrimination inflicted upon the Catholic working-class of that city: poor housing, unemployment and lack of opportunity.

Micky himself had a rough life.

His father died when Micky was a young lad; he found his mother dead when he was only a teenager; married young, his marriage ended in separation; he underwent four years of suffering 'on the blanket' in the H-Blocks; and, finally, the torture of hunger-strike.

Unusually for a young Derry nationalist, because of his family's tragic history (unconnected with 'the troubles'), Micky was not part of an extended family, and his only close relatives were his sister Margaret, seven years his elder, and now aged 34, and her husband, Frank McCauley, aged 36.


Michael James Devine was born on May 26th, 1954 in the Springtown camp, on the outskirts of Derry city, a former American army base from the Second World War, which Micky himself described as "the slum to end all slums".

Hundreds of families - 99% (unemployed) Catholics, because of Derry corporation's sectarian housing policy - lived, or rather existed, in huts, which were not kept in any decent state of repair by the corporation.

One of Micky's earliest memories was of lying in a bed covered in old coats to keep the rain off the bed. His sister, Margaret, recalls that the huts were "okay" during the summer, but they leaked, and the rest of the year they were cold and damp.

Micky's parents, Patrick and Elizabeth, both from Derry city, had got married in late 1945 shortly after the end of the Second World War, during which Patrick had served in the British merchant navy. He was a coalman by trade, but was unemployed for years.

At first Patrick and Elizabeth lived with the latter's mother in Ardmore, a village near Derry, where Margaret was born in 1947. In early 1948 the family moved to Springtown where Micky was born in May 1954.

Although Springtown was meant to provide only temporary accommodation, official lethargy and sectarianism dictated that such inadequate housing was good enough for Catholics and it was not until the early 'sixties that the camp was closed.


During the 'fifties, the Creggan was built as a new Catholic ghetto, but it was 1960 before the Devines got their new home in Creggan, on the Circular Road. Micky had an unremarkable, but reasonably happy childhood. He went to Holy Child primary school in Creggan.

At the age of eleven Micky started at St. Joseph's secondary school in Creggan, which he was to attend until he was fifteen.

But soon the first sad blow befell him. On Christmas eve 1965, when Micky was aged only eleven, his father fell ill; and six weeks later, in February 1966, his father, who was only in his forties, died of leukaemia.

Micky had been very close to his father and his premature death left Micky heartbroken.

Five months later, in July 1966, his sister Margaret left home to get married, whilst Micky remained in the Devines' Circular Road home with his mother and granny.

At school Micky was an average pupil, and had no notable interests.


The first civil rights march in Derry took place on October 5th, 1968, when the sectarian RUC batoned several hundred protesters at Duke Street. Recalling that day, Micky, who was then only fourteen wrote:

"Like every other young person in Derry my whole way of thinking was tossed upside down by the events of October 5th, 1968. I didn't even know there was a civil rights march. I saw it on television.

"But that night I was down the town smashing shop windows and stoning the RUC. Overnight I developed an intense hatred of the RUC. As a child I had always known not to talk to them, or to have anything to do with them, but this was different

"Within a month everyone was a political activist. I had never had a political thought in my life, but now we talked of nothing else. I was by no means politically aware but the speed of events gave me a quick education."


After the infamous loyalist attack on civil rights marchers in nearby Burntollet, in January 1969, tension mounted in Derry through 1969 until the August 12th riots, when Orangemen - Apprentice Boys and the RUC - attacked the Bogside, meeting effective resistance, in the 'Battle of the Bogside'. On two occasions in 1969 Micky ended up at the wrong end of an RUC baton, and consequently in hospital.

That summer Micky left school. Always keen to improve himself, he got a job as a shop assistant and over the next three years worked his way up the local ladder: from Hill's furniture store on the Strand Road, to Sloan's store in Shipquay Street, and finally to Austin's furniture store in the Diamond (and one can get no higher in Derry, as a shop assistant).

British troops had arrived in August 1969, in the wake of the 'Battle of the Bogside'. 'Free Derry' was maintained more by agreement with the British army than by physical force, but of course there were barricades, and Micky was one of the volunteers manning them with a hurley.


At that time, and during 1970 and 1971, Micky became involved in the civil rights movement, and with the local (uniquely militant) Labour Party and the Young Socialists.

The already strained relationship between British troops and the nationalist people of Derry steadily deteriorated - reinforced by news from elsewhere, especially Belfast - culminating with the shooting dead by the British army of two unarmed civilians, Seamus Cusack and Desmond Beattie, in July of 1971, and with internment in August. Micky, by this time seventeen years of age, and also politically maturing, had joined the 'Officials', also known as the 'Sticks'.

He became a member of the James Connolly 'Republican Club' and then, shortly after internment, a member of the Derry Brigade of the 'Official IRA'.

'Free Derry' had become known by that name after the successful defence of the Bog side in August 1969, but it really became 'Free Derry', in the form of concrete barricades etc., from internment day. Micky was amongst those armed volunteers who manned the barricades

Typical of his selfless nature (another common characteristic of the hunger strikers), no task was too small for him.

He was 'game' to do any job, such as tidying up the office. Young men, naturally enough, wanted to stand out on the barricades with rifles: he did that too, but nothing was too menial for him, and he was always looking for jobs.

Bloody Sunday, January 30th, 1972, when British Paratroopers shot dead thirteen unarmed civil rights demonstrators in Derry (a fourteenth died later from wounds received), was a turning point for Micky. From then there was no turning back on his republican commitment and he gradually lost interest in his work, and he was to become a full-time political and military activist.


Micky experienced the trauma of Bloody Sunday at first hand. He was on that fateful march with his brother-in-law, Frank, who recalls: "When the shooting started we ran, like everybody else, and when it was over we saw all the bodies being lifted."

The slaughter confirmed to Micky that it was more than time to start shooting back. "How" he would ask, "can you sit back and watch while your own Derry men are shot down like dogs?"

Micky had written: "I will never forget standing in the Creggan chapel staring at the brown wooden boxes. We mourned, and Ireland mourned with us.

"That sight more than anything convinced me that there will never be peace in Ireland while Britain remains. When I looked at those coffins I developed a commitment to the republican cause that I have never lost."

From around this time, until May when the 'Official IRA' leadership declared a unilateral ceasefire (unpopular with their Derry Volunteers), Micky was involved not only in defensive operations but in various gun attacks against British troops.

Micky's commitment and courage had shone through, but no more so than in the case of scores of other Derry youths, flung into adulthood and warfare by a British army of occupation.


In September, 1972, came the second tragic loss in Micky's family life. He came home one day to find his mother dead on the settee with his granny unsuccessfully trying to revive her.

His mother had died of a brain tumour, totally unexpectedly, at the age of forty-five. Doctors said it had taken her just three minutes to die. Micky, then aged eighteen, suffered a tremendous shock from this blow, and it took him many months to come to terms with his grief.

Through 1973, Micky remained connected with the 'Sticks', although increasingly disillusioned by their openly reformist path. He came to refer to the 'Sticks' as "fireside republicans", and was highly critical of them for not being active enough.

Towards the end of that year, Micky, then aged nineteen, got married. His wife, Margaret, was only seventeen. They lived in Ranmore Drive in Creggan and had two children: Michael, now aged seven and Louise, now aged five.

Micky and his wife had since separated.

In late 1974, virtually all the 'Sticks' in Derry, including Micky, joined the newly formed IRSP, as did some who had dropped out over the years. And Micky necessarily became a founder member of the PLA (People's Liberation Army), formed to defend the IRSP from murderous attacks by their former comrades in the sticks.

In early 1975, Micky became a founder member of the INLA (Irish National Liberation Army) formed for offensive operational purposes out of the PLA.

The months ahead were bad times for the IRSP, relatively isolated, and to suffer a strength-sapping split when Bernadette McAliskey left, taking with her a number of activists who formed the ISP (Independent Socialist Party), since deceased.

They were also difficult months for the fledgling INLA, suffering from a crippling lack of weaponry and funds. Weakness which led them into raids for both as their primary actions, and rendered them almost unable to operate against the Brits.

Micky was eventually arrested on the Creggan. In the evening of September 20th, 1976, after an arms raid earlier that day on a private weaponry, in Lifford, County Donegal, from which the INLA commandeered several rifles and shotguns, and three thousand rounds of ammunition.


Micky was arrested with Desmond Walmsley from Shantallow, and John Cassidy from Rosemount. Along on the operation, though never convicted for it, was the late Patsy O'Hara, with whom Micky used to knock around as a friend and comrade.

Micky was held and interrogated for three days in Derry's Stand Road barracks, before being transported in Crumlin Road jail in Belfast where he spent nine months on remand.

He was sentenced to twelve years imprisonment on June 20th, 1977, and immediately embarked on the blanket protest. He was in H5-Block until March of this year when the hunger strike began and when the 'no-wash, no slop-out' protest ended, whereupon he was moved with others in his wing to H6-Block.

Like others incarcerated within the H-Blocks, suffering daily abuse and inhuman and degrading treatment, Micky realised - soon after he joined the blanket protest - that eventually it would come to a hunger strike, and, for him, the sooner the better. He was determined that when that ultimate step was reached he would be among those to hunger strike.


On Sunday, June 21st, this year, he completed his fourth year on the blanket, and the following day he joined Joe McDonnell, Kieran Doherty, Kevin Lynch, Martin Hurson, Thomas McElwee and Paddy Quinn on hunger strike.

He became the seventh man in a weekly build-up from a four-strong hunger strike team to eight-strong. He was moved to the prison hospital on Wednesday, July 15th, his twenty fourth day on hunger strike.

With the 50 % remission available to conforming prisoners, Micky would have been due out of jail next September.

As it was, because of his principled republican rejection of the criminal tag he chose to fight and face death.

Micky died at 7.50 am on Thursday, August 201h, as nationalist voters in Fermanagh/South Tyrone were beginning to make their way to the polling booths to elect Owen Carron, a member of parliament for the constituency, in a demonstration - for the second time in less than five months - of their support for the prisoners' demands.

Published in IRIS, Vol. 1, No. 2, November 1981. IRIS was a publication of the Sinn Fein Foreign Affairs Bureau.



**SOB--how apt

Glock this: SOB get new guns

PSNI Special Operations Branch (SOB) members have been stopped from carrying machine guns in their vehicles, the Andersonstown News can disclose.

SOB specialises in tactical weapons support for the PSNI, including VIP close protection, armed surveillance and “dynamic intervention”.

Known within the force as the ‘Spar Squad’ (because they work “eight ’til late”), VIP close protection units operate on a round-the-clock shift to bodyguard prominent official figures.

Armed surveillance units operate in a covert manner against targeted suspects who are believed to be in possession of weapons.

And “dynamic intervention” units operate in hostage-type environments.
It had been standard practice for SOB members – including bodyguards and surveillance units - to carry a Heckler and Koch MP5 9mm sub-machine guns in their vehicles.

Members would also be routinely armed with 9mm automatic pistols and mini sub-machine guns on their persons.

However, the Andersonstown News has learned that in a major change of policy one hundred and twenty MP5 sub-machine guns were removed from the Special Operations Branch in July and placed in storage at a PSNI facility in Ballykinlar, Co Down. To compensate for the withdrawal of the MP5s, the SOB vehicles have now been issued with powerful .40 calibre semi-automatic Glock 22 pistols.

The replacement Glock pistols carry a fifteen-round magazine and cost over £400 per piece. They have considerably more ‘stopping power’ than standard PSNI sidearms.

The Glocks are now being fitted to SOB vehicles in expensive custom-made holsters that fit under the dashboard for easy access.

Journalist:: Jarlath Kearney


Drunken loyalists march in Dunmurry

Nationalist residents of Dunmurry say they were in fear for their lives at the weekend after a gang of drunken loyalists returning from the Apprentice Boys parade in Derry attempted to attack two young Catholics.

A gang of loyalists – some still in band uniforms – chased two Catholic men through Dunmurry village at around 8.30pm on Saturday evening.
Members of the local Community Watch say it was lucky that the rampaging loyalists didn’t kill someone.

The loyalists then staged a mini-parade in the village without permission from the Parades Commission.

Community Watch say the PSNI facilitated the parade despite no permission having been sought from the Parades Commission for the march.

Stephen McGuinness of the local Community Watch told the Andersonstown News the loyalists acted with impunity and attempted to attack two nationalists within yards of Dunmurry PSNI station.

“Loyalists got off the train from the Derry march at around 8.30 on Saturday evening,” said Stephen. “There were two young nationalists standing at the crossroads in the village and a gang of about 20 loyalists chased them shouting sectarian abuse.

“If it wasn’t for the fact that these loyalists – some who were still wearing their sashes and band uniforms – were quite obviously the worse for wear from a day’s drinking, the situation could have been very grave indeed.”

Local Sinn Féin councillor Paul Butler says that it has been obvious for some time that “loyalists are attempting to turn Dunmurry village into a no go area for nationalists”.

“The weekend’s events show once again that these people can threaten and abuse with impunity.”

Journalist:: Staff Reporter


Plastic bullets: the agony continues

The tragic death this week of local father-of-two Dominic Marron is a timely reminder to us all that the issue of plastic bullets is still live a live one – much as the gun-crazy thugs within the British establishment here hope that we’ll just forget about it and get on with our lives.

Rather than phase out this deadly weapons as they promised they would, the British government, through the conflict-hungry super-unionists in the NIO, has cynically built up huge stockpiles of new and improved – ie more deadly – plastic bullets even as we’re daily being promised that a new beginning to policing really has taken place.

Sad as the death of Dominic Marron is, his life was an inspiration to us all. The plastic bullet that smashed into his skull and lodged there in 1981 caused devastating damage to him as a 15-year-old schoolboy. After coming out of a coma, Dominic had to learn to walk and talk again – and he had to endure a debilitating range of associated health problems that would have defeated a lesser person many years ago. But Dominic was determined to live his life on his terms. He fought his way out of his hospital bed to live a happy and fulfilled life with a wife and young family that he loved and who – as readers of our story this week will quickly appreciate – loved him very much too. His life may have been short and his passing has left a family and a community bereft, but we can all take comfort in this time of great sadness in the fact that Dominic’s was a life well-lived.

Last week Dominic spent an idyllic summer break in Donegal with his family. As they enjoyed their holiday, this week’s tragedy must have seemed like a million miles away. But as Dominic’s wife Jacqui so honestly and movingly reveals to us today, the couple had both accepted that one day the RUC plastic bullet that smashed into his head would some day take his life. And that is exactly what happened.

Last year, in conjunction with the tireless anti-plastic bullets campaigners in Relatives for Justice, we ran a countdown in the pages of our newspaper to the time when the British government had promised that plastic bullets would be no more. That promise was flagrantly and cynically ditched and today the arsenals of the PSNI and the British army are bursting at the seams with plastic bullets. Those members of the Policing Board who by either silence or acquiescence allowed this grotesque build-up of plastic bullets to take place, and who looked on without comment as promises were broken, should think this morning of Dominic Marron and all those other people, all those other families, all those other communities, whose lives were devastated by plastic bullets.

Had Dominic Marron not succumbed to his injuries this week, we would not be thinking of him today. He would go on living his life in the face of unthinkable mental and physical adversity and we too would go about our business. But Dominic Marron is dead, and this morning as we prepare to bury him, we should spare a thought not just for our plastic bullet dead, but also for those hundreds of living victims who continue to have their lives blighted by horrifying injuries caused by these vile weapons. And we earnestly hope that those involved in the new policing arrangements will think about them too.

A fitting epitaph for Dominic Marron – and given that he endured more suffering even than any of the 17 victims killed by plastic bullets, he would surely agree if he could speak to us – would be that he was the last to die as a result of plastic bullets. But with so many minds and bodies broken by plastic bullets, and with so many plastic bullets in the hands of the British, such an epitaph will not be written for a very long time.

Four years ago we interviewed Dominic Marron as part of a series of articles on victims. There was no anger or bitterness in him, just a realisation that while he had managed to stay alive up to that point, his future was unclear. He said that he thought that he might need a by-pass some time soon; in one of his arms all feeling was gone and he had suffered coronary problems in the aftermath of the shooting. Sadly, his words proved to be poignantly prophetic and on Tuesday his tired and battered heart finally gave out.

Dominic’s death certificate may read cardiac arrest, but the RUC man who fired that plastic bullet all those years ago killed him just as surely as if that 15-year-old schoolboy had never come out of his coma.



Dominic Marron, husband and father-of-2. Shot May 1981, died August 2004

A West Belfast man who battled bravely against devastating injuries he received after being struck by a plastic bullet as a schoolboy has lost his 23-year battle for life.

Father-of-two Dominic Marron collapsed and died while playing snooker with friends on Tuesday. An autopsy revealed he had died of a massive heart attack. Dominic had suffered from heart problems – as well as a number of other health complaints – after being struck in the head by an RUC plastic bullet in May 1981 at the age of 15. In an interview with the Andersonstown News four years ago, Dominic said he expected to have to undergo a bypass operation.


“I’ll have a bypass soon. It’s another legacy of being shot” – Dominic Marron, speaking to us in May 2000

The family of a West Belfast man who collapsed and died this week say they are in no doubt that his death is directly related to his being shot in the head by the RUC 23 years ago.

Father-of-two Dominic Marron collapsed and died while playing snooker with friends on Tuesday afternoon. A post mortem yesterday revealed that he suffered a massive heart attack.

The 39-year-old had suffered constant health difficulties – including heart problems – after being shot in the head by a plastic bullet in May 1981 at the age of just 15. Dominic’s distraught wife, Jacqui, said that she’s angry that she’s been robbed of a loving husband while the couple’s sons, Nicholas (13) and Gary (9), have lost a devoted father.

Four years ago the Forfar Street man spoke candidly to the Andersonstown News about the massive health problems he had suffered after being shot.
Yesterday, Dominic’s wife Jacqui said her life and that of her two sons had been ripped apart by Dominic’s death.

“I knew this day was coming… I just didn’t know that it would come so soon,” sobbed Jacqui.

“I know that being shot killed him in the end.”

The Marron family had just enjoyed a holiday in Donegal. Jacqui said that Dominic was in high spirits and enjoying life – she said he was talking enthusiastically about starting night classes in September.

“When he left to play snooker with his pals he was great. We are only back from holiday. We were in Bundoran and we had a great time, a great time,” she said.

Jacqui recalled a bubbly character who loved to laugh despite the huge burden of his poor health.

“Everybody knew him from one end of Belfast to the other. He was so well-known, he was a top prankster and loved carrying out practical jokes. He cared about everybody and wouldn’t have said a bad word about anybody.

He was the first to defend a person, people came to him for help,” she added.
Jacqui said that in the back of their minds both she and Dominic knew that his continuing serious health problems, caused by being hit with the plastic bullet, would kill him.

“I think he knew. He blocked it out and I blocked it out. He always just said that he was alright,” she said.

After being shot by the RUC in 1981 Dominic was awarded compensation from the NIO. His wife said that the money was meaningless when compared to what her husband had to suffer in his lifetime.

“I’m so angry that he’s gone. He would have done anything for us, we wanted for nothing.

“He was our life and I don’t know what we will do without him,” she added.
Speaking to the Andersonstown News in May 2000, Dominic recalled the day he was shot – May 9, 1981, the day of the funeral of IRA hunger striker Bobby Sands. Dominic was with his close friend Sean Savage at the time of the shooting. Sean was later shot dead by the SAS in Gibraltar along with fellow IRA volunteers Mairead Farrell and Dan McCann.

“In a way I’m glad I can’t remember what had happened, except what Sean Savage told me later,” Dominic told the Andersonstown News.

“He said we were standing outside the old incident centre on Linden Street when an RUC Land Rover pulled up on to the cribby about five yards away from us and just fired. The blood was gushing out of my head and everybody thought I was dead because I couldn’t move.

“The plastic bullet had actually lodged in my skull, but a St John’s Ambulance crew were on the Falls Road that day and took me to the Royal Victoria Hospital. According to my mother, God rest her, I died in hospital but they revived me and put me on a life-support machine, and then I lapsed into a coma.”

The father-of-two said that the health problems he had suffered since he was shot were numerous and debilitating.

“I was like a new-born child, learning how to walk and talk again,” he said.
“It was very frustrating. I still walk with a limp, but although I have feeling in my left arm I can’t move it, which has baffled the doctors, they can’t understand that. I’m only 34, but last year I had a massive heart attack and I’ll have a bypass soon. The doctors told me it happened because of the weakness on my left hand side. It’s another legacy of being shot,” added Dominic.

Dominic also suffered muscle spasms in his arms and legs as a result of the shooting. He said that in addition to health problems his personality also changed because of the shooting.

“I was a changed person, I’d go into tantrums,” said Dominic.
“I feel awful about it, but I know now that I just didn’t know what I was doing. It was all part of the brain damage I suffered from being shot,” he added.

Last night Clara Reilly, Chairperson of Relatives for Justice and a veteran anti-plastic bullets campaigner, said that she first met Dominic shortly after he was shot in 1981.

“As we highlighted his case across the world Dominic with his family tried to rebuild his life,” said Clara. “He had to learn to walk and talk again and would never regain full capacity and suffered serious ill-health for the rest of his too-short life,” she added.

“There is no doubt whatsoever in any of our minds that he died as a result of the injury that was inflicted on him in 1981.”

Clara said that she wanted to send a message to the RUC member who had shot at Dominic.

“Your actions are not forgotten and a family is left bereft. Your actions went without criminal charges, but they were a heinous crime which have now left two boys without a father and a wife without her husband.

“Dominic is the latest victim of plastic bullets. In these cynical times let us pause and reflect and all of us dedicate ourselves to ensuring that no family or child or community ever, ever faces the outrage of plastic bullets nor the impunity of state forces against such devastation,” she added.

Dominic Marron’s funeral Mass will take place at 10am on Friday at St Paul’s Church, with burial afterwards at the City Cemetery.

Journalist:: Roisin McManus


NI pupils tops for A-levels

Margaret Johnston and Linzi Quigley celebrate their results

Thousands of students have received their A-level grades as results revealed Northern Ireland has out-performed England and Wales.

A total of 28.5% of the students achieved A grades - almost 7% ahead of the national figure of 21.6%.

The overall pass rate on Thursday was 97%.

However, performance at the first stage of the exams, AS-level, was not as good as last year.

The pass rate was 93.3% this year, compared with 93.9% last year.

Education Minister Jane Kennedy welcomed the results.

She said: "Congratulations to all those pupils and teachers involved in achieving these results.

"Such results are not achieved without hard work and commitment."

They've got first class support materials, and they're very well prepared.
Gavin Boyd

As in the rest of Great Britain, girls are ahead of the boys, particularly when it comes to the top grade.

Overall, the only disappointment is that AS-level students scored lower than they did last year.

The CCEA exams body said it was confident that with almost 400 more extra staff than usual recruited to deal with the exams, it had done its best to avoid the large number of mistakes which affected results from the English boards over the last few years.

Chief executive of the CCEA Gavin Boyd said there were valid reasons for the improvements.

"A couple of weeks ago we looked at the specification for history examinations 40 years ago," he said.

"The specification ran to three lines. This year the specification is in excess of 40 pages. So, we're much clearer about telling teachers and telling students exactly what we're looking for."

Mr Boyd also said there had been no major problems with the exam results this year.

The A-level figures are released for the main exam boards in England, Wales and Northern Ireland by the Joint Council for General Qualifications.

They show a trend away from subjects such as maths, modern languages and science towards subjects such as psychology and media studies.

CCEA has set up a helpline for students, parents and teachers, which will be in operation until 22 August.

The phone line, 028 90 261260, will be open from 0900 BST and 1700 BST weekdays, or you can email on helpline@ccea.org.uk

32 CSM


32 County Sovereignty Movement

18th August. 2004.
For immediate release.
Contact: (Sean Burns) – inter_sol32@hotmail.com


The 32 County Sovereignty Movement (International Dept) stands behind the ongoing hunger-strike protest by Palestinian prisoners in the Eshel, Nahfa and Hadarim Jails.

At the time of writing some 1,500 prisoners have embarked on this course of action in response to the measures against them exerted by the Israeli authorities. This has included amongst other things; physical abuse, denial of medical attention, a total refusal of visits and telephone contact with relatives, solitary confinement and forcing numbers of prisoners into cells not designed for multiple occupancy. The prison administration earlier this week threatened to bring in the force feeding of those on hunger-strike if the protest was not brought to an end.

32 County Sovereignty Movement spokesperson Sean Burns commented that:
“….it is useful here to remember the systematic abuse, torture and murder of political prisoners in Khiam Jail by the Israeli forces in its operations against the Islamic Resistance in Lebanon. It seems that the IDF Leopard has not changed its’ spots and carries on such crimes with the same impunity and disregard for basic human decency that it showed then. As happened then, the suffering of the prisoners only renewed the dedication of those who struggle for freedom on the outside. Therefore the Israeli state would be well advised to take heed of this lesson and concede to the Palestinian prisoners reasonable demands, otherwise they will simply be hastening the day when the Palestinian resistance will burn the very ground upon which they walk”.
Message Ends.



**I think the way we treat the animals we slaughter so we can dine on their flesh is something like the brits have always treated the Irish, and anyone else they wanted to use. It's obscene.


Police said the cow posed a grave danger to the public

A cow that escaped from a meat plant in County Londonderry has been shot by a police marksman.

The four-hour drama began at about midday on Wednesday when the cow escaped from the factory on the Lower Newmills Road, Coleraine.

The animal plunged into a river before being trapped by staff from the meat plant and members of the public.

Police decided the animal would be a danger to the public if it got into the town centre.

Trains on the line between Coleraine and Ballymoney were stopped while the cow was cornered at the back of the town's leisure centre on Railway Street.

'Last resort'

However, the cow became distressed and it was decided to put it down because of the fear it could kill someone - especially if it got into the town centre.

A trained police marksman shot the animal just before 1600 BST.

Inspector Milne Rowntree said: "We considered there was a grave danger to members of the public had the cow escaped into the nearby town centre, which was very busy at the time.

"Regretfully, as a matter of last resort, it was decided to shoot the animal."

Mr Rowntree praised the efforts of workers at the meat plant and members of the public who had helped in the operation.

"Only with their assistance were we able to prevent injury to members of the public" he added.


The group's latest work promotes peace in vivid colours

Derry's murals traditionally mark nationalist or loyalist territory. But BBC's Ireland correspondent Denis Murray meets a group of artists determined to change that.

It is not what you expect - it is certainly not what I expected.

Northern Ireland is both bedecked, and bedevilled by murals.

Paintings on the gable walls in deprived working-class areas, both loyalist and republican, are there, by and large, to mark territory.

The quite deliberate message is: "You are now entering turf that belongs to us - not you," or, in Ulsterspeak, "us ones" or "them ones".

The message? In republican areas, if you are a Protestant, then you are not welcome there.

'Besieged people'

"We are a risen people, nationalist, republican and proud of it."

In loyalist areas, if you are a Catholic, then you are not welcome there.

"We are a besieged people, British, loyal to the Crown, and proud of it."

Get your head round this. Even the very kerbstones are painted green, white and orange - after the Irish National Flag - in Catholic areas, and red, white and blue - after the Union Flag - in loyalist areas.

The early murals were often based on photographs of famous events

So, I most definitely did not expect what I got from three working-class guys in Derry.

They call themselves the Bogside Artists - and during 10 years they have painted a series of murals that recall the painful moments of the past, in the area that is famous the world over.

Derry for years was the crucible of the Troubles.

But in 1994, those three guys, who grew up during the 30 years of those Troubles, and who happened to have a gift for art, started a project.

They probably did not realise then the full scale of what they were beginning, but they painted on those gable walls the things that had hurt, moved and angered them.


Bloody Sunday, when 14 people were shot dead by the British Army in 1972 during a civil rights march, the hunger strikes of the early 80s in which 10 men died - and many of them based on either photographs or news film of the time.

Tom Kelly, his brother Willie, and Kevin Hasson are deeply serious about their work.

They regard the first nine murals as snapshots of the past.

As Tom said: "This is our story... [these murals] are our front pages."

The early murals are deliberately monochrome - brutal and stark

Necessarily, their work is political, but not in the sense of party political.

They are absolutely not sectarian, nor purely nationalist.

If anything, to me at least - and I ain't no art critic - they have probably captured some kind of universal rage, or hurt, at what circumstances, and life, have hurled at a specific community.

For sure, it is the story of the Bogside - but after all, it is their story and they do not presume to tell anyone else's story.

It has been a labour of love across 10 years.

But their 10th mural, and definitely the final one, is different.

Their early stuff was deliberately monochrome - brutal and stark - and they are, in artistic terms, figurative and literal.


The last work is much more symbolic and impressionistic.

They chose a grid of squares as the background, an equality theme - squares are equal on all sides.

And those squares are brightly coloured - again a deliberate choice - to produce a sense of harmony and well-being.

It is also placed to be the last thing you see leaving the Bogside.

Superimposed on the squares is a white outline of a dove - the eternal symbol of peace - emerging from an oak leaf - the emblem of the city and county of Derry.

The Bogside Artists run art workshops for children from both sides of the community in this deeply divided society.

They asked the kids for ideas for a peace mural, and that inspiration led to their final piece of public work.

These three men want this last mural to sum up the hope of the peace process, faltering and stalled as it may be.

And they also want it to capture the notion that the next generation might just have a better future.

And they call their work, with pride - The People's Gallery.


Severe flooding hits city

The storms started at about 1500 BST

There has been serious flooding in Derry following heavy thunderstorms.

The rain flooded houses, tore manhole covers off and left motorists trapped in their cars.

The water in some areas of the city was a foot high.

Duncastle Road, Strand Road and the Shantallow area were all affected.

In Victoria Road and Foyle Road, cars were trapped by the rising water.

The police said at least one car crashed into an open manhole.

At one stage, a search and rescue team which operates on the River Foyle was also deployed in the city centre.

Inspector Bob Torrens, who said the storms started at about 1500 BST, advised people to remain indoors until the waters subsided.

"There were severe thunderstorms and very quickly because of the heavy rain some of the roads in the city started to flood," he said.

"There are eight so far and we are getting new reports all the time.

"This is causing virtual gridlock in the city. Nobody is moving anywhere.

"We are advising people to stay in their houses. If they are heading for the city, don't."

Meanwhile, in Cullybackey in County Antrim the roof of a bungalow in Brackley Heights burst into flames when it was hit by lightning.

Divisional Fire Officer Kevin Synnott said it was dealt with quickly.

He added: "We would appeal to the public that they contact the best placed public service to deal with incidents of flooding in homes and on the roads, unless of course there is a risk to life, where the Northern Ireland Fire Brigade would attend.

"The Fire Brigade cannot pump the water away and therefore can only serve the public where life is at risk at these incidents."



Irish News-Lead front page story-Monday, August 16, 2004-Exclusive by Seamus McKinney--NW Correspondent


NEW evidence has emerged that the Dublin government of 1969 was considering an Irish army invasion of Northern Ireland.

In September 1969-following the Battle of the Bogside in Derry and fierce street fighting in Belfast-a detailed contingency plan was drawn up for the office of the Irish army's then Chief of Staff exploring the possibility of
an invasion.

The proposal never reached implementation stage but still casts new light on one of the most traumatic periods in recent Irish history. Significantly the plan was drawn up just days before Taoiseach Jack Lynch said in Dail Eireann that his government only supported Irish unity through peaceful means.

Titled 'Report of Planning Board on Northern Ireland Operations' the document obtained by the Irish News is dated September 27 1969.

According to Sheila Kelly, widow of Irish army captain James Kelly- who, along with government ministers Charles Haughey, Neil Blaney, former Sinn Féin assembly member John Kelly and Belgian businessman Albert Luyx, was acquitted of charges of attempting to import arms into the south-the report was never shown to her husband during the 1970 arms trial.

The report stated as its objective: "To report on the feasibility of the defence forces undertaking military combat or support operations in Northern Ireland.".

But the report examined the feasibility of the Irish army moving into Derry and Newry. It considered the need for conventional and unconventional operations throughout the north but stated that "guerrilla-type operations" would be difficult to conduct over a protracted period.

It is significant that the report explored the feasibility of the Irish defence forces co-operating with extreme republicanism through training and the supply of arms.

It noted: "A number of courses suggested would involve support of and cooperaton with various movements in Northern Ireland such as civil rights and republican groups.

"They should also lead to co-operation with illegal groups in the Republic. These contacts would have serious political implications on the national and international scene."

According to historian Eamon Phoenix, this showed the establishment in the Republic was considering such a co-operation just weeks before Mr. Lynch dismissed it publicly.

Mr. Pheonix said he believed it unlikely that the document would not have been seen at government level.

He said of the document:"It is very significant. It means that Lynch after August 1969, had still not ruled out intervention despite the ramifications for the Irish state or [the possibility of] provoking loyalist paramilitaries and the A and B' Specials and a British government response."



Patrick Murphy
Irish News

It looks like the end of the road for the Provisional IRA.

Founded in 1969 on the incongruous twin principles of defending
Catholics and pursuing pure republicanism, the organisation
flourished for three decades through a combination of its own daring
ingenuity and a series of monumental blunders by a succession of
British prime ministers.

Established on a policy of 'Brits Out', the PIRA now seems willing to
disband in return for office in Stormont, thereby governing Northern
Ireland – the state it so fervently hoped to destroy.

So, are we about to witness a serious outbreak of history in which
the IRA will formally disband without having achieved its goal of a
united Ireland?

Or are we witnessing not the end of the IRA – just the end of an IRA?

Many republicans take exception to the distinction.

Like Christians, they believe that only one body can inherit the true

Republican debate and division has often been fuelled by claims of
unblemished succession back to the holy grail of the Republic.
Throughout a history of splits, schisms and splinters, the 'real'
republican movement always emerged in the royalist spirit of
continuity exemplified by "The king is dead – long live the king".

The last republican survivor of the second Dail, Thomas Maguire of
Leitrim, was often seen as the man who had 'inherited' the Republic
and it was in his power to decide who among the competing factions
was its rightful successor.

It was as if the Republic was something he had in a glass case on his

Blessed by Maguire, the PIRA's formation was also a reaction to the
growing political awareness of the then IRA.

This had emerged from a re-assessment following the unsuccessful 1957-
61 IRA campaign.

The new thinking ultimately challenged the north's record on civil
rights and the south's neglect of social and economic development.
The simplicity of the PIRA's 'Brits Out' policy proved a welcome
respite to both governments at the time.

Its accompanying violence was more grandiose, more spectacular,
bigger and bolder than any previous Republican campaign but the PIRA
also eventually reached the point of re-assessment: what were they
fighting for?

They had merely arrived at the same point that other republicans had
reached 25 years earlier.

Whereas the first generation of thinkers sought a solution in
socialism, the second generation analysed the situation almost
exclusively in a Northern Ireland context and drew their political
inspiration – and their language – from the United States.

Out went the political debate on the ownership of wealth – a key
issue in the 1916 Proclamation – and in came the sociological concept
of community.

The 'community' in this case was defined in a sectarian context as
northern Catholics, a theme which carried through to the Good Friday

Unionists were seen as the enemy rather than in Tone's inclusive
context of Protestant and Dissenter.

There have been recent republican references in this direction but 30
years of killing working-class Protestants, in and out of uniform,
has knocked the shine off the rhetoric.

So the hard men who set out to write Irish history began instead to
rewrite the English language.

What would previously have been disarming and disbanding became the
peace process. When a volunteer gave information which led to the
destruction of a weapon he was called an informer and usually shot
(sometimes, it appears, by a higher ranking informer).

Now, when the army council gives information leading to the
destruction of a whole arsenal, they are called heroes.

It is all down to language and communication.

The current Sinn Féin leadership are excellent communicators who do
not just master the English language – they mould it in a way which
few in Irish history have done before them.

They leave the British Labour Party far behind in this respect and
they leave unionists stranded.

If Pearse's oration at the grave of O'Donovan Rossa marked the
beginning of modern physical force republicanism, the speech by Gerry
Adams at Joe Cahill's grave marked an attempt to end it. A betting
historian might well put his money on Pearse's analysis because,
rightly or wrongly, Irish history has shown that each new generation
produces its own IRA.

There is a fair chance that the current republican leadership will
imprison the next generation of IRA men and women through control of
the PSNI. Whether this is good or bad depends on your politics.

But good or bad, right or wrong, reasonable or treasonable, it is
part of our historical process.

The IRA is dead – long live the IRA?

August 16, 2004


15 August 1998

**Story from the BBC archive


Sunday, 16 August, 1998, 01:33 GMT 02:33 UK

The bomb exploded in the centre of Omagh on a busy summer's day

From the archive: BBC reports from the archive on the day of the Omagh bomb, the worst terrorist attrocity in Northern Ireland.

At least 28 people, including an 18-month-old infant, have been killed in the worst paramilitary bombing since the start of the Northern Ireland conflict 30 years ago.

Political leaders have been joined by the Queen in expressing their sympathy for the bereaved and those injured in the explosion in the market town of Omagh.

The blast left about 220 people injured or maimed. Both Protestants and Catholics were hurt and killed.

Martin McGuinness, the chief negotiator for Sinn Fein, said: "This appalling act was carried out by those opposed to the peace process.

"It is designed to wreck the process and everyone should work to ensure the peace process continues."

A BBC correspondent said the statement was the strongest condemnation of an act of paramilitary violence by the party which represented the IRA in the Stormont talks.

Suspicion falls on "Real IRA"

No group has claimed responsibility for the bomb, which was planted in a maroon Vauxhall Astra.

RUC Chief Constable Ronnie Flanagan said: "Undoubtedly we will be focusing our attention on those who call themselves the 'Real IRA'. It is possible and probable that they carried out this attack.

"These are people who have murdered here today because they want to murder."

The Northern Ireland Secretary, Mo Mowlam, is flying back from Greece, where she had been on holiday, and plans to visit Omagh.

Scenes of utter carnage

People who survived the car bomb blast in a busy shopping area of Omagh, County Tyrone, have been describing scenes of utter carnage with the dead and dying strewn across the street and other victims screaming for help.

Police were clearing an area near the local courthouse, 40 minutes after receiving a telephone warning, when the bomb detonated.

But the warning was unclear and the wrong area was evacuated.

The bomb was planted in a maroon Vauxhall Astra
Instead, people were being directed towards the device when it went off shortly after 1500 (BST).

Women and children - one just 18 months old - are among the dead, many of whom, only moments before the blast, had been standing behind white tape which police had erected when clearing the streets.

Publican Nigel O'Kane said: "It was totally indiscriminate. Police were pushing everyone towards the bottom end of the town not knowing the bomb was there.

"It went off outside one of the busiest shops in the town flattening it and the one beside it."

There were reports that the town was holding its annual carnival when the blast happened.

Casualty figures

The ambulance service said at 1630 (BST) that "up to a dozen" people had been killed.

At 1820 (BST), the number of confirmed dead had risen to 21.

A trail of blood leading up the steps of Tyrone County Hospital illustrated the destruction caused by the bomb.

As dozens of worried relatives gathered outside, porters cleaned blood from the trollies used to ferry the injured and dying.

Catholic priest, Father John Ryder was almost lost for words. He said the scene inside the hospital was "chaotic" but staff were doing marvellous work.

"So many families uncertain, just coming along and not knowing what to do.They are distraught because some of them don't even know yet whether they've anybody here or not."

Hospital spokeswoman, Glynis Hendry, said a number of critically and seriously injured people were being treated.

"A lot of staff have come in from off-duty and a lot of staff from the community have come to help us," she added.

A BBC correspondent says "dozens, upon dozens, upon dozens" of people have been injured. Some have lost limbs, many were cut by flying debris.

Some victims were being transferred to the Royal Victoria and South Tyrone Hospitals.

Fifty-four casualties, many of them walking wounded, have been admitted to Erne Hospital, Enniskillen, and more were arriving.

A number of people responded to their appeal for blood and were liaising with the laboratory.

'Savagery and evil'

The Prime Minister, Tony Blair, is being briefed minute by minute by officials while on holiday in France.

He condemned the attack as an "appalling act of savagery and evil" by people determined to wreck the peace process.

The Queen: "Expression of sympathy"
In a statement, he pledged that the bombers would be pursued "to the utmost" in order to bring them to justice. "These people will never be allowed to win."

The Queen also issued a statement saying: "Please pass my heartfelt sympathy to the bereaved, injured and those others who have suffered in their distress".

Ulster Unionist security spokesman Ken Maginnis said he believed there had been at least 100 casualties.

"This is a dreadful crime against humanity," he told BBC News 24.

No-one has yet claimed responsibility but suspicions will fall on dissident republican groups, such as the "Real IRA".

The RUC has set up a casualty bureau to deal with inquiries from the public. The number is 01232 673371.

**I posted this story from NEWS HOUND last year after it appeared in remembrance of the 5th anniversary of the Omagh bomb. The information and photo of Oran are from CAIN.


Sharon O’Neill
(Irish News)

Oran Doherty (8), from Buncrana, County Donegal, Republic of Ireland. Oran was one of three boys from Buncrana to die in the explosion. His family said that he had been looking forward to going to Omagh all week.

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Five years after the Omagh bomb claimed the lives of 29 people including a woman pregnant with twins, Irish News Chief Reporter Sharon O’Neill spoke to Bernie Doherty whose eight-year-old son, Oran, was one of three children from Buncrana killed in the blast.

Buncrana – a small town on the banks of Lough Swilly in Co Donegal – is a haven for thousands of northerners escaping the normally turbulent summer months across the border. But as visitors enjoy the relaxed atmosphere, some of its residents will be rallying around families devastated by the indiscriminate hand of paramilitarism.

Buncrana, tucked away on the eastern shores of Inishowen and with a population of just 5,000, has suffered unimaginable pain inflicted by both loyalists and dissident republicans.

Sinn Féin councillor Eddie Fullerton was shot dead by the UFF in 1991 and ever since nationalist residents had feared their return.

But 12 years later the emergence of a dissident republican group, the Real IRA, cast another shadow over the town that has yet to lift following the murder of three children in the Omagh bombing.

Oran Doherty (eight), Sean McLaughlin (11) and 12-year-old James Barker were on a trip to the Co Tyrone town on Saturday August 15 1998, with a group of Spanish students when they were caught up in the horror that snatched away their young lives.

Spaniards Rocia Abad Ramos, a 23-year-old group leader and Fernando Blasco Baselga (12) were also murdered in the bombing that killed a total of 29 people, including a woman pregnant with twins, leaving hundreds injured – many permanently scarred for life.

Their deaths will be remembered in a small but poignant candle-light vigil in Knockalla Drive – where Oran and Sean lived just doors from each other.

Bernie and Michael Doherty still have a bag of sweets their son Oran left on the bus that took him to Omagh that day.

Five years on, Bernie recalls with distinct clarity the excitement of the eight-year-old as he was about to embark on a journey which unknown to everyone would end in carnage.

“Oran was hard to get up in the morning and the night before the trip he said ‘you better shake me hard in the morning’,” says Bernie, a mother-of-seven.

“When I woke him up I thought, for a split second,‘will I just let him lie?’ because I wasn’t happy about him going.

“He was only eight and had never been away before. It was his first time to go on a trip with students.

“But I thought no, it wouldn’t be fair not to let him go. When I called him he was up like a flash.

“He had a bath and I helped him to get dressed. His cousin Emmett called up to make sure he was still going. We only had punts and I had to get sterling. He was all excited when he saw the new £2 coin and kept looking at it.

“When Sean (McLaughlin) called they were sorting out the money for the bus and how much they had to spend.

“I remember him saying ‘ach, can I keep this (£2 coin)’. It was the last thing he said to me and I told him to watch himself.

“They were going to the Ulster American Folk Park. Spanish students would have a trip every Saturday and local children could go if they wanted to.

“They left here with one of the Spanish students my sister was keeping at the time. It was five boys and five girls from the town. When they got off the bus they separated from the girls. The five boys were caught up right in the middle of it.”

The 45-year-old full-time mother was unaware of the frightening events unfolding across the border until relatives of others boys on the trip came running to her door.

“Caoimhe (her daughter) was only eight months and sitting in her pram. I was standing in the front room looking out the window.

“They came running into the house and I just knew something was wrong.

“They said they were looking through text for football results and read the news that a bomb had gone off in the centre of Omagh.

“I lifted Caoimhe out of the pram and ran over to a neighbour’s, waiting for a call back from gardai.”

It was an agonising wait as conflicting news emerged about the boys.

“I kept thinking maybe they were still in the folk park, but then found out they were in Omagh,” says Bernie.

“I hoped the police would have them in a safe place. I kept thinking ‘I wonder what Oran is thinking. Is he frightened?’. Everybody gathered in Knockalla and my sisters who lived nearby came up.

“Some time later we were told some of the children were caught up in the bomb.

“Then we heard they left Omagh, they were on the bus and had got caught up in traffic but I still couldn’t content myself.

“At around 6pm my sister got a phone call to say Emmett (Oran’s cousin) had been taken to Enniskillen Hospital and had shrapnel removed from his bowel.

“There was still no news about Oran.

“Patricia Mc-Laughlin (Sean’s mother) kept saying ‘Oran will be all right, he is with Sean’. We just kept on hoping.

“Then we heard the bus was coming back, so my brother drove me up to meet the bus. There was no-one on it.

“My brother asked the driver if he knew where Oran and Sean were. He said ‘no. there are only Spanish students coming in on the other bus’.”

Several hours passed and the uncertainty was replaced by dread as more definite news started to filter through.

“There was still no word of them at 9pm, we were frantic,” says Bernie.

“My husband (Mickey) and Sean McLaughlin’s daddy and a lot of local people went to Omagh. We waited by the phone and gave descriptions to the RUC but still no word.

“Then at around 10pm a garda in the town rang and said ‘is your husband there?’ I said ‘no, he is in Omagh’. She said ‘I have to come back and talk to you, on your own’.

“I was expecting her to tell me my son was dead. She came back with a doctor from the town and told me three boys were missing, one was Oran. I let out an almighty scream.

“It was a long wait overnight. As the night went on, Mickey phoned and said he was at the leisure centre but there was still no word.

“He said: ‘Don’t worry, I’ll find the wee man and bring him home.’ I replied ‘please do’. I couldn’t sleep, the house was packed as we waited for word.”

By early morning the whole of Buncrana was immersed in grief for the loss of three young boys.

“At around 7am, I could see from my sister’s window that Patricia McLaughlin had some word through – there were people hugging each other outside.

“My sister’s phone rang, it was Mickey (her husband), He said ‘did you hear the news?’, I said ‘Ah, wee Sean is dead’, he then said: ‘Our Oran is dead too’.

“I just threw the phone to the ground.

“It is now all a blur to me. That night my brother and one of my sister’s took me up to the makeshift morgue to see Oran.

“It was late before we got to see him. It was so horrible. It was a cold place.

“His hair seemed to be all wet. There was a big bruise on his cheek and he had a lot of burns on his wee fingers and a deep cut on his forehead.

“His bottom lip was pushed out. I kept thinking he must have been crying when he died. I only found out at the inquest, two years later, that his lip was cut and had swollen.

“I looked at the body for a while and then returned home. It haunts me to this day that I left him there.

“When I feel low, I think I shouldn’t have left him.

“I still have the sweets he bought in the folk park. They were found on the bus with his wee bag. He was so innocent, he was hoping to come home and tell us all about his day.

“We still have his sweets, but not him.

“There was no need for this.”

Ex-Celtic star Mark Rieper helped carry Oran’s coffin and the young football fan was buried alongside his friends, Sean and James, whose body was later moved when his parents moved back to England.

“If we only had one child it would have been more difficult – they (the children) depended on me,” says Bernie.

“My family helped me, I have seven sisters. They were great.

“An unbelievable amount of people, Catholic and Protestant, came to visit and attended the wake.

“People have asked how did I cope but if there hadn’t been many people about I think It would have been far worse.”

Wall space in Bernie and Michael’s living room is at a premium with Oran’s smile lighting up the darkest of corners.

“Oran was full of fun – a real character. He loved his football and fishing with his daddy,” says Bernie.

“He wanted to either work in a sweet shop or play for Glasgow Celtic when he grew up.”

Oran is a regular topic of conversation after dinner with his death affecting the large family in many ways – but some emotions are too deep and too painful to expose.

“Not a day goes by when we don’t think about him. The girls talk about him but Gearoid (who was 12 when Oran died) doesn’t unless you bring it up,” says Bernie

“When something like this happens it is really the parents people think of, the children can sometimes be forgotten.

“I am very worried about Oisin. He was three-and-half at the time. He was there that day with me, he wouldn’t leave my side from the minute we heard the boys were missing.

“I didn’t want him to see Oran in the coffin because of what I thought it might do to him.

“I remember a few weeks later when we were going to see President Clinton in the leisure centre, I had the television on that morning and Eamon Holmes was interviewing someone at the bomb site, Oisin looked at me and said ‘mummy is that heaven’.

“I couldn’t tell him what happened. Later, someone told me to tell him as much of the truth as possible and I sat down with him and told him there had been a bombing and said God took Oran and Sean to heaven.

“I couldn’t tell him about Oran’s injuries, I was afraid of it affecting him. He wonders who did it and why would they do such a thing. It is so hard to explain.”

The youngest two in the family Caoimhe, who is five-and-a-half and Cillian, who is three-and-a-half, did not know Oran but are nevertheless inquisitive about their brother.

“Cillian knows Oran from his pictures. Caoimhe wouldn’t have remembered Oran, but she would talk about him and say: ‘Where did Oran go? Why is he dead, why won’t he come back’,” says Bernie.

“They talk away about him and laugh about the things he used to do. They have coped well.”

Cillian was born 12 months after Oran’s murder, but new life did not immediately bring fresh hope.

“The pregnancy wasn’t planned,” says Bernie.

“Cillian was great, he was a healthy baby but it didn’t help ease the pain over Oran.

“In fact, it was really sad at the time. I found it very hard, I wanted Oran to see him.”

It’s been a tough five years, but Bernie is slowly beginning to feel more upbeat.

“I now go out and enjoy myself like I used to. But there are times when you feel as sad as you were that day.

“Sometimes I just go to bed and cry my eyes out for Oran. Two daughters have got married since Oran died and there was a sadness on those days.

“It feels so long since I last saw Oran or spoke to him, but other times it seems like only yesterday.

“When I’m out walking I feel I have to walk to the graveyard or I feel guilty. For the first few weeks after Oran died I couldn’t go to the graveyard. I kept thinking Oran was with me anyway, I don’t have to remember him by going to the graveyard.

“Then one day I felt I had to go. I remember walking to the graveyard thinking ‘imagine, this is where I’m going to see my son’.

“I will always remember Oran, it doesn’t have to be in a graveyard. I wouldn’t say I will ever get over it but I will go on, I know I will.

“At the time, when it happened, I thought I would never do anything ever again. Anytime I saw a friend of Oran’s it was so hard but I have coped well.

“There is a big hole in my life. Rita Restorick whose son Stephen (a British soldier) was killed by the IRA wrote to me and said ‘the emptiness you feel now will be filled with memories as time goes on’ and I am now beginning to do that.

“Mickey found it harder. He would talk away about Oran but finds it very hard talking about the bombing itself.

“But we probably are a bit stronger, especially myself. I remember hearing my father saying at the wake to people ‘our Bernie is very weak, I don’t know how she is going to cope’.

“People in Buncrana, even to this day, say to me that they still think about it (Omagh). It was a big shock for the town.”

Although the Omagh families have the tragic events of that day in common, for Bernie other mothers whose children died in other circumstances, have been her source for healing.

“We are friendly but we don’t meet or discuss anything. Myself and Patricia (McLaugh-lin) cope in different ways.

“I meet up with a group of local women once a month who have lost children through sickness or accidents.

“We remember our children and light a candle for them. I find that a great help because none of us (the Omagh families) really got together.

“These other mothers share the same feelings even though our children died in different circumstances.

“It made me realise there are other people too, it is not just us that has lost a child, there are so many parents out there who have also suffered.”

Like many relatives Bernie is angry about the now well documented flawed original RUC investigation into the bombing.

While a number of those suspected of being behind the Real IRA attack are behind bars on unrelated offences, Bernie is adamant that only charges for murder will satisfy her quest for justice.

“They (police) know who they (killers) are. Police in Omagh that day were very good but I believe there has been a cover-up by those higher up. I still have questions,” she says.

“I can’t see them charging anyone with murder now. The punishment should fit the crime. These people should be convicted for murder.”

About the civil action by some families against those allegedly involved the bombing, she says: “It is a pity it had to be like that because so many people are running people down over the civil action because they don’t agree with it.”

The mother is scathing in her criticism of Sinn Féin.

“I think Sinn Féin could have helped to do more to bring these people to justice for they know who they are. Just because they don’t want to help the RUC/police,” she says.

“They seek justice for victims of loyalist and British killings, so why shouldn’t they want justice for ours?”

Asked for her thoughts about the Real IRA, she replies: “The two people who walked away from a car, left it in a crowded street full of people and children, I want to know how could they have done it.

“How would they feel if this had of been someone belonging to them? I would like to say to them how can they go on, being involved in an organisation.

“Stop this now, it is not worth it. Do you want to see more innocent people die?

“If they had stopped after Omagh, maybe some day I would have been able to forgive. But they are still a group, still together and still planning to take lives.

“If they are really sorry for all those innocent lives, they should stop now. If the Provos are willing to have a ceasefire, why can’t they? I can’t forgive them – I should as a Catholic, but I can’t. Maybe some day...”

Bernie had hoped that the bomb would have been a watershed in paramilitary activity but fears more innocent lives will be taken by those bent on violence.

“People were saying at the time ‘at least if there are no more lives lost now’, but I thought ‘why should Oran have had to die?’ ” she says.

“I kept thinking, I don’t care what happens any more, but as time went on I had hoped it had stopped. But now I see something happening again.

“I certainly don’t want anyone else belonging to me or any other innocent caught up in something like that again, but the way it is going....I can see it happening again...

“I can see more lives being lost.”

Should all paramilitaries disband? “Yes, all sides. I have no time for any of them, no right-thinking person does.”

“My daughter Amanda works in Derry and I would hate to think that she could be caught up in a bomb or anybody else killed by paramilitaries again.”

The conflict shattered their lives but Bernie wants nothing but permanent peace.

“We listened to the news about what was happening and sympathised but it wasn’t until it hit our own doorstep that we knew the suffering some people went through.

“I would just love to see lasting peace, Protestant and Catholics living together.”

August 15, 2003
This article appeared first in the August 14, 2003 edition of the Irish News.

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