[R . S . F news] Irish Republican Information Service (no. 318)

Irish Republican Information Service (no. 318)

Teach Dáithí Ó Conaill, 223 Parnell Street, Dublin 1, Ireland
Phone: +353-1-872 9747; FAX: +353-1-872 9757; e-mail: saoirse@iol.ie
Internet resources maintained by SAOIRSE-Irish Freedom

In this issue:

Free State invitation to British to mark Easter Rising

Recreant Irish Traitor

THE slave mentality of the 26-County Administration was seen again on September 7 when foreign minister Éamonn Gilmore [Labour] said he hoped to host representatives of the British Royal family and the British government, along with the leaders of unionism, at commemorations for the centenary of the Easter Rising in 2016.

Gilmore also wants all sides to “respectfully remember” those who gave their lives at the battle of the Somme, as well as Irishmen who died fighting in a British uniform.

In an address to the British Irish Association in Cambridge he said both countries shared a dual history. He also plans to lay a wreath at Belfast’s Cenotaph on Remembrance Day for the second year running and said all have a responsibility to prepare and carry out commemorations in a way that gives no offence and is mindful of the sensitivities of all citizens.

The 26-County Administration have for some time, as the centenary of the 1916 Rising approaches, made it obvious that they intend to place it and the anniversary of the deaths of many Irishmen in the trenches in France at the behest of the British government on an equal footing. This must be resisted by all right-thinking Irish people.

This month’s SAOIRSE said in its editorial:

“For the second year a ceremony was held to commemorate the Black-and-Tans. It is an event which ostensibly is organised by a “commemoration committee” but in reality is sponsored by the British and 26-County states as evidenced by the presence at the event on August 31 of 26-County Minister of State for Finance, Brian Hayes, a representative of the 26-County Garda Commissioner and the British Ambassador to the 26 Counties, Rod Fenning.

“This year the event took place in Mount Argus Church in Dublin as opposed to Glasnevin Cemetery last year. The very fact the 26-County State would give such obvious and overt endorsement to such an event in itself speaks volumes. No self-respecting state would commemorate the occupation forces. Can you imagine the French Stae commemorating the Vichy forces or those who collaborated with the German occupation forces for instance?

“The Irish Times quotes one of the organisers, retired Garda Gerard Lovett as describing the deaths those members of the RIC and DMP killed during the 1916 to 1922 as a ‘sacrifice made by policemen in the course of their duty’. Let us examine the facts. These men were all embers of a British colonial police force, upholding in arms British occupation in opposition to their fellow countrymen and women.

“Following the December 1918 election the establishment of the First Dáil they were acting in defiance of the clearly-expressed will of the Irish people for independence.

The ranks of the RIC were augmented by the infamous and hated Auxiliary Division, the Black-and-Tans as well as the notorious A, B and C Specials within the Six Counties. There can be no equivalence made between the Independence Movement and the RIC or any of its surrogates.

“In Hickey’s and Doherty’s A Dictionary of Irish History gives the historical context of the RIC: ‘The RIC was unpopular in many areas because it was used to assist at evictions and because, owing to the discontented state of the country throughout most of the nineteenth and the early part of the twentieth, it filled a semi-military role. A highly efficient force, it supplied Dublin Castle with most of its intelligence information.’

“As we mark the many significant centenaries of the revolutionary decade from 1913 to 1923 it is obvious that a concerted effort will be made to sanitise and airbrush our history in order to normalise continued British rule. The political establishments in Westminster, Stormont and Leinster House are determined to deny future generations any understanding of the context or nature of British rule in Ireland historically so as to normalise it in a modern context.

“We must take ownership of our history and ensure that it is not stripped of its meaning by those with a political agenda which is opposite to everything that was represented by the revolutionary generation of a century ago.”

Public Meeting in Rome to be addressed by Republican Sinn Féin President .

REPUBLICAN Sinn Féin will hold a public meeting on September 10, in the pub “One for All”, on Via Rutilio Namaziano, 27, in the Ostia district of Rome, Italy at 8pm. Speaker: Republican Sinn Féin President Des Dalton. The meeting will be chaired by Massimiliano Vitelli of Republican Sinn Féin in Rome. For further information contact Massimiliano Vitelli (349.23.04.936, rsf-roma@email.it) or Republican Sinn Féin International (international@rsf.ie)

All welcome! http://www.rsf-international.org/

NB: The new e-mail address for RSF Armagh is: armagh@rsf.ie

Fresh inquest into 1971 British army killing

4138372897THE [British] Attorney General in the Six Counties, John Larkin, ordered a fresh inquest into the British army killing of Kathleen Thompson, a mother of six, in the back garden of her Creggan home in November 1971 according to a report from the Pat Finucane Centre (PFC) on September 6. The Thompson family have welcomed the news.

Kathleen’s son Erne Thompson, described the development as “welcome news at last after many years of lies and cover-up. This is official recognition at some level that a woman, a mother, cannot simply be shot dead in the garden of her own home and there are no consequences, no investigation, only a cover-up. Soldier D will be compelled to attend. This is our opportunity to set the record straight.”

Fearghal Shiels of Madden & Finucane, Solicitors, who represent the Thompson family said:

“This new Inquest will be very different to that which occurred in 1972. Soldier D, the soldier responsible for shooting Kathleen Thompson, did not attend to give evidence as he was not obliged to. He is now however a compellable witness and will be required to attend for cross examination by the Thompson family lawyers. This will be first public rigorous exploration of the circumstances in which Kathleen died, in stark contrast to the charade presided over by the Royal Military Police (RMP), to whom the Chief Constable of the RUC had unlawfully delegated responsibility for the investigation.”

Paul O’Connor of the Pat Finucane Centre which has supported the family over the years said,

“Four soldiers of the Royal Greenjacket Regiment were ‘interviewed’ by the RMP in the hours after Kathleen Thomson was shot dead. These so-called ‘interviews’ lasted a total of two hours with the soldiers, including the soldier who fired the fatal shots, being interviewed on average for 15 minutes. That was the extent of the investigation.

“In November 2001 the then Chief Constable in a letter to the PFC stated that he,

‘takes the view that there was an actual and acceptable investigation into the death of Kathleen Thompson’. The Attorney General clearly does not agree with the [RUC/]PSNI. The contempt with which the family have been treated over the years is exemplified by the compensation payment made years after the death. A cheque for £84.07p (eighty-four pounds and 7 pence) was sent to Kathleen’s husband Patrick.”

A PFC factfile on the incident is available.


RUC abandons appeal in stop and search case

IT was reported on September 6 that the RUC/PSNI has decided to abandon its appeal of a court decision that the stop, search and question of former IRA hunger striker Bernard Fox, his partner Christine Fox and Marvin Canning, was unlawful.

In March 2011, the British police stopped Fox and his companion in a car and searched it for munitions, with members also allegedly going through his partner’s handbag. Canning, who is Martin McGuinness’s brother-in-law said he had been stopped by the RUC/PSNI over 100 times.

A court in May this year ruled that there was a lack of adequate safeguards for the three people against potential abuse of the system because there was no code of practice. The judge therefore ruled that the RUC/PSNI would not have a proper basis for exercising the power until a code was introduced.

This ruling was rejected by the RUC who said at the time it would launch a Supreme Court challenge but the solicitor for the Foxs confirmed that the Chief Constable “formally abandoned an appeal” against the decision in May.

“Any person who was subject to stop and search should proceed to issue civil actions against the Chief Constable concerning any stop and searches which occurred up until May 15, 2013, the date on which a code of practice was implemented,” Fearghal Shiels said.

Both men now plan to seek damages from the RUC.

British army commander on Bloody Sunday shot dead in Kenya

ON September 7, 2013, the retired British Army colonel who was the commander of the parachute regiment unit that killed 13 people and injured fourteen more, one of whom died later, in what became known as Bloody Sunday in Derry on January 30, 1972 was shot and killed during a robbery in Kenya.

Edward Loden was on holiday when he was attacked at his son’s home in Nairobi. His son is also a former Parachute Regiment officer who served in Afghanistan and now works as a director with Barclays Bank’s Africa division.

Born in 1940, Edward Loden was commissioned into the parachute regiment in 1959. He was awarded the Military Cross for gallantry during the 1967 Aden Emergency in Yemen. He left the British army in 1992 and followed a career in business management, before retiring in 1999.

Loden was exonerated by the Saville Inquiry into the killings on Bloody Sunday. Representatives of the families of the deceased and the wounded criticised him, saying that he had failed to exercise any proper control over his soldiers.

The inquiry’s report stated: “In our view, events moved so fast after the soldiers had disembarked in the Bogside that Major Loden had no idea what was actually going on; he assumed that his soldiers had come under attack from republican paramilitaries (sic) and were responding.”

But it added: “It could be said that another officer in Major Loden’s position might have appreciated earlier that, in view of the amount of army gunfire, something seemed to be going seriously wrong.”

While there is no doubt that the events in Derry on January 30, 1972 were cleared at a very high level by the British government of the time, Saville’s exoneration of Major Loden is very strange. He was in command of troops that Saville said were out of control and yet he didn’t “appreciate” that “something seemed to be going seriously wrong”. Loden was a decorated officer in the British army.

He is the second senior Parachute Regiment officer to be killed in a fortnight in the country, following the murder of Lt Col David Parkinson, who was hacked to death by machete-wielding robbers on the nature reserve he managed.

Insolvency Service criticised

THE new Insolvency Service is being criticised for the fees charged to those struggling with debt.

The system, which is being presented as an alternative to bankruptcy, began accepting applications on September 9, 2013 from people who hope to have some of their debts written off.

Those who wish to avail of the new service must first request the services of a registered Personal Insolvency Practitioner (PIP), who may or may not charge a fee.

The Irish Mortgage Holders Association has raised a number of concerns, saying those in debt could end up paying fees costing thousands.

“The original fee structure was estimated to be about €4,500 for a personal insolvency arrangement involving a family home,” said David Hall of the IMHO.

“There are no prescribed fees. This is a wholly privatised system, it’s not a public system, unlike MABS [the Money Advice and Budgeting Service], and it should have been created in such a way as to allow people a choice.”

Lorcan O’Connor, head of the Insolvency Service of Ireland, said fees will vary from practitioner to practitioner.

“With regard to whether there’s an up-front fee, I know certain PIPs have stated they won’t be charging an up-front fee, and others may well be if it’s a very particular, complex case.

“But invariably in complex cases there is a revenue stream or other income stream to support that up-front fee.

“It will depend on the case, but I am confident that people will be able to find a practitioner they need to avail of these arrangements.”

Death squad threat to Belfast Catholic schools

IT was reported on September 7 that a man claiming to be a representative of the Red Hand Defenders loyalist death squad contacted the Irish News newspaper the previous day saying “military action” would begin on September 9 if the parents, pupils and staff of three Catholic schools in north Belfast did not take the threat seriously.

The man is said to have made it clear parents, pupils and teachers are not welcome at the three schools which he added were in “Protestant, unionist and loyalist areas”. He said the threat had been “reactivated” due to “attacks on the Protestant, unionist and loyalist community in recent months”.

HET chief to stand down

THE head of the Historical Inquiries Team (HET) Dave Cox is to leave his post three months earlier than expected following a sharply critical review of the way it investigated British military killings in in the Six Counties.

Members of the [British] Policing Board said they got an email saying he was leaving on September 28, just a day after a heated meeting with the Chief Constable Matt Baggott who had insisted Dave Cox would remain until the end of the year.

Accusation of accepting Shell bribes

GardaíSGT James Gill (now retired) is threatening Pat “The Chief” O’Donnell with bankruptcy over a defamation case in which he was awarded €33,000 plus legal costs.

The former Garda, who retired in the aftermath of the furore over him making comments in which he spoke about raping female campaigners in Garda custody, is now seeking a total of €70,000 from Pat O’Donnell. The defamation case stemmed from a protest on November 3, 2006 in which James Gill alleged that Pat O Donnell accused him of stealing diesel and smuggling tyres. Pat O’Donnell denied accusing Gill of these things. Judge Heneghan sided with Sgt Gill.

In the case against Pat O’Donnell, James Gill initiated defamation proceedings very quickly. He has not however initiated other defamation proceedings against OSSL or its directors. Since September 2012 there have been consistent references on the Shell watchdog site:

http://www.royaldutchshellplc.com to an invoice published by OSSL a former service-provider to Shell on the Shell/Corrib Project.

In the invoice Gill is among four named Gardaí who are accused of accepting alcohol from the Shell subcontrator that had been smuggled into the State. James Gill has been openly accused in a much more publicly visible manner than any accusation by Pat O’Donnell, of accepting bribes from Shell and accepting goods that had been smuggled into the State.

In November 2006, Sergeant James Gill initiated defamation proceedings in a civil suit against Pat O’Donnell. The case was due to be heard in mid-2011. However around that time the ‘rape tape’ surfaced. Gill’s legal team made a unilateral application to the court to have the hearing deferred until November of that year; a medical cert was produced to the court for Gill and this was accepted.

The case began on November 7, 2011 with Judge Margaret Heneghan presiding. By this time Gill had retired from the force and was therefore out of the reach of GSOC who had behaved badly in the whole Rape Tape issue ( http://www.wsm.ie/c/gsoc-garda-rape-threat-tape).

Accounts of the court case can be read at http://www.mayonews.ie/index.php?option=com_content&vie…id=46 and http://www.indymedia.ie/article/101060

Shortly after this judgement was reported in the press O’Donnell was contacted by a person of conscience who let him know that the presiding judge (Margaret Heneghan) had boarded in Gortnor Abbey Secondary School, Crossmolina for five years and that Gill, repeating his Leaving Cert there, had been in the final year with her. It also emerged that Gill and the judge had both been in attendance at a school re-union some years later. This matter is now the subject of further court proceedings.

Despite unfinished court business, Gill’s solicitors have recently informed Pat O’Donnell that they intend to have him declared bankrupt if he doesn’t pay approximately €70,000 (legal costs plus Gill’s good name award) immediately.

The story regarding the alcohol invoice was covered in the Observer newspaper on August 11, 2013 and a follow-up appeared in the London Times (Irish and English editions) on August 18, 2013. This has been followed up on in local and national press, Mid-West Radio, RnG, Newstalk and, eventually, on RTE radio and television; articles also appeared in the Norwegian press.

Gill is among five named police on the invoice which can be seen on: http://www.indymedia.ie/article/104036

German man killed at Corrib pipe tunnel site

INVESTIGATIONS are underway into the death of Lars Wagner (26) from Offenburg in southern Germany, who was killed in a workplace incident in the Corrib gas tunnel under construction in north Mayo on Sunday, September 8, 2013.

Wagner sustained fatal head injuries in the tunnel currently being dug some 1.8km below Sruwaddacon estuary when a compressed air pipe reportedly came free.

It is understood that Wagner was a mechanical fitter attached to the maintenance support crew for Herrnknecht, the German sub-contractor which built the tunnel boring machine hired for the final section of the Corrib gas onshore pipeline.

Wagner worked periodically at the Aughoose work site from November 2012, when construction of the 4.9km long tunnel began as part of a 15-month programme.

The Health and Safety Authority sent two inspectors to north Mayo, while gardaí were also informed and initiated an investigation.

Local residents have expressed concern about “sinkholes” which appeared periodically from last May in the estuary, but the company said that these were “small depressions” caused by some “air migration to the surface of Sruddacon bay” and did not pose any risk to public safety.

Tunnelling, using a technique known as segment lining where a series of precast concrete rings are laid, is due to be completed next year.

Limerick jewellery manufacturer to shut factory

PL Holdings, Limerick announced on September 7 that it is to shut its jewellery manufacturing facility, putting 169 jobs at risk. A liquidator from KPMG will be appointed to the Rathkeale-based company, Andersen Ireland, on 23 September 2013.

The parent firm said the costume jewellery manufacturer was put into voluntary liquidation due to “continued losses generated by significant over capacity issues at its production facility”.

Staff had been placed on a three-day week prior to the decision to shut the factory, which makes costume jewellery and accessories for independent sales agents in Germany, Austria, Switzerland France and Italy.

The business will continue to trade for the next two weeks before the liquidator, Kieran Wallace, assesses its viability. According to management, he will engage with employees to see if some positions can be protected.

The company had been through an insolvency process in 2012 when PL Holdings acquired them in December that year with an aim to turn the business around through revitalising sales. However, the market for costume jewellery had been impacted by the economic crisis and increasing competition.




Manik Mukherjee, General Secretary, International Anti-Imperialist Coordinating Committee (IACC), expressing deep concern over the US plan to attack Syria and ignite war, issued the following statement on August 29, 2013:

“NO word is strong enough to denounce the sinister move of the US imperialist to attack Syria in order to Topple President Assad government and to bring stooges of imperialists in power.

“It is now well known that there is no evidence that the Assad government carried out the chemical attack as alleged by the imperialist powers. Syrian government itself requested United Nations to send inspection team to prove that Syrian Government did not use any chemical gas. And now the UN inspectors are in Syria and the chemical gas was used at a place ten miles away from the inspection team on the very day they arrived in Syria.

“One of the investigators Carle Del Ponte has stated that the Syrian government has not used the chemical gas, the rebels have used.

“We cannot forget that USA`s unprovoked attack and invasion on many countries were completely on false pretexts which were later proved as blatant lies and manufactured propaganda. Two most recent examples are Iraq and Libya.

“The US invasion on Iraq in 2003 was based on “reports of weapons of mass destruction” and “chemical and biological weapons”. After the invasion and killing of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi people and destruction of the country it has been proved that the so-called reports were absolutely false and Iraq never had such weapons.

“The US intervention on Libya was justified on the claims of mass killings, rape, mayhem etc. Now after Gaddafi was overthrown, none of the claims proved correct, rather all are discredited.

“Now the target is Syria. The motive is clear. Actually US and its allies want to establish control over the middle east and to arrange profits for the war merchants of their countries. Imperialism cannot survive without war and invasion.

“IACC calls upon the anti war peace loving people of the world to raise their voice against imperialist war mongers.”

New report reveals effects of US detention without charge at Bagram

A NEW report revealed on September 4 the effects on detainees and their families of US detention at Bagram prison in Afghanistan.

Produced by NGO Justice Project Pakistan (JPP), which represents 11 of the men, the report, carried on http://www.reprieve.org.uk, includes newly-gathered testimony from family members and former detainees.

Bagram, sometimes referred to as ‘the Afghan Guantanamo’, affords no due process or basic legal rights to the men detained there. Although the prison was transferred to Afghan authorities in March 2013, 60 non-Afghan nationals remain under US control; 40 of these men are Pakistani. None has ever been charged with a crime.

It is in Bagram that Yunus Rahmatullah and Amanatuallah Ali are held – two men rendered in a joint UK-US operation which was the subject of a UK Supreme Court ruling.

One Bagram prisoner, Kaleem, was 14 years old when he was kidnapped by US forces. He was cleared for release in 2010 yet remains detained.

‘Closing Bagram, the Other Guantanamo’ also details how:

Detainees are not permitted access to independent legal counsel. JPP has never been able to meet with and never has any contact with the men it represents.

A Detainee Review Board (DRB) reviews prisoner status every six months yet at no point are detainees represented by a legally trained advocate. Instead, each detainee is assigned a ‘personal representative’ (PR) who is tasked with representing the detainee’s best interests. The PR is a member of the US military.

Former detainee Ayaz, arrested aged just 15, said: ‘The DRBs (Detainee Review Boards) were a joke, another way to humiliate us. I had a representative who was not a lawyer. He would often make my case worse…The only evidence they had against me is what they first forced me to sign at [a U.S. military base in] Paktika (province).

Family members of Pakistani detainees are unable to meet with their loved ones because of the difficulty in travel and time spent away from employment.

The US military only allows detainees to speak with their family in Urdu or Pashtu. Any discussions in other languages, which are often the mother tongue of family members, are strictly forbidden.

Barrister Sarah Belal (Director, JPP) said: “JPP’s Bagram Campaign highlights the plight of the Bagram detainees and the suffering their families have had to endure. Bagram is Guantananamo’s evil twin – a lawless hell-hole and a stain on the US global reputation.’

Strike begins in South Africa’s goldmines

UPWARDS of 80,000 miners working in the goldmines in South Africa began strike action in a pay dispute with the mining bosses on September 3. Workers are demanding pay increases of between 60%-150% for workers earning around €400 per month. The mining bosses have offered increases of approximate 6.1% (just below the rate of inflation)

Talks in the Platinum and Coal mining sectors are also on the verge of collapse leading to the possibility that another 300,000 mine workers will embark on strike action. Anglo Amarican Platinum announcement that they have begun sacking 3,300 platinum miners in Rustenburg is likely to be met with strike action by the workers committees in the AmPlats mines.

On top of the mine workers a further 335,000 workers are currently on strike in South Africa in construction, car manufacturing, car and petrol distribution sectors, among municipal workers in Sun City and post office workers in Gauteng. Strikes are looming among tens of thousands of farm workers against farmers who have failed to implement agreed pay increases after a month long strike last October and 50,000 textile workers in Kwa-Zulu Natal who have voted overwhelmingly for strike action over demands for pay increases.

The Workers and Socialist Party (WASP) issued a statement giving its full support to the striking workers:

“The Workers & Socialist Party gives its full backing to the gold mineworkers who begin their strike action at midnight tonight. WASP calls on the NUM organised workers taking strike action to appeal to their brothers and sisters in Amcu to join them to bring about a complete shutdown of the gold mining sector until their wage demands are met. WASP calls on the rank and file of both NUM and Amcu to pressure their leaders to give notice of a unified strike.

“There is a war being waged by the mine bosses against their own workforces. It has been reported that the mine bosses have been preparing themselves to weather a long strike by beefing up security and hoarding billions of rands. They are prepared to try and starve the workers back to work and impose their paltry pay offer of just 6.5%. They want to maintain the cruel irony of having those workers who dig out gold – the symbol of wealth and value – live in abject poverty. There is only one answer to this: workers unity. We call on mineworkers in all sectors to organise strike action in support of the gold workers’ wage demands and against the retrenchments planned across the industry.

“It is crucial that in the course of this strike the mineworkers themselves have democratic control over every aspect of the action. It is for the workers to democratically decide on the tactics used, elect those they trust to negotiate on their behalf, and decide on what terms they are prepared to return to work. The best way to do this is to elect independent strike committees, a tactic successfully employed in last year’s sector-wide strike action. It is for the unions – NUM and Amcu – to carry out the democratic mandate of the workers.

“WASP stands for the nationalisation of the mines under democratic workers control and management.

“WASP is preparing itself for its first electoral challenge in the 2014 national and provincial elections. The cause of the mineworkers will be at the centre of the WASP campaign, and mineworkers themselves will be candidates on the lists.”

Leonard Peltier

LEONARD Peltier will celebrate his 69th birthday on 12 September. The Release Leonard Peltier campaign is asking that people write to him and send him cards and to urge President Obama to free him. Letters to Barrack Obama can be sent to:

President Barack H. Obama

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW

Washington, DC 20500

It is also asking that on September 12 people call the White House on: 202-456-1111 or 202-456-1414.

A supporter of Leonard Peltier, Lia Moldovan, will run a 50-mile race in LaGrange, Wisconsin, on November 2 (http://www.tbunk.breezellp.com) on behalf of the Peltier Legal fund.

Kilmichael Ambush site should not commemorate auxiliaries

The following was written in August by Pádraig Óg Ó Ruairc, author and historian in reply to a report in the Southern Star:

THE Southern Star recently reported on an approved planning application to redevelop the Kilmichael Ambush site. This application includes a plaque naming the RIC auxiliaries killed, and has been described as a ‘suitable commemoration for both IRA volunteers and auxiliaries’.

Unsurprisingly, this plan has produced strong opposition. This controversy raises important questions about who we should commemorate.

Commemoration is a political act. Communities make decisions on who to commemorate based on their current political values. This year saw hundreds of suffragette commemorations – there were none to remember those who campaigned against giving women the vote. This is because society now accepts women are entitled to equal rights. The Dublin Lockout commemorations will honour the workers who fought for decent working and living conditions. There are no plans to similarly honour William Martin Murphy and the Employers Federation because it’s accepted that workers have the right to join a trade union, and that those who struggled to secure that right were justified in doing so.

Traditionally the same approach was taken regarding War of Independence commemoration in southern Ireland. The traditional view was that when Irish Republicans launched their campaign for independence they were justified in doing so, and fought a ‘clean’ campaign against the British forces. Of course the conduct of the war was far more complex than this – but claims by the historian Peter Hart’s about the IRA’s ‘dirty war’ went to the opposite extreme and were frequently exaggerated or oversimplified. Hart’s work was promoted by those who sought a reassessment of the British forces’ role in the war and called for them to be formally commemorated – a process which has now begun.

The proposed redevelopment at Kilmichael is set to cost €100,000 in public funds. Surely it is wrong for semi-state bodies to spend public money commemorating those who fought to prevent the emergence of an Irish state, and sought to deny Irish people what we now accept are fundamental democratic rights?

Recession has refocused Irish minds on the importance of fiscal independence. ‘Autonomy’, ‘independence’ and ‘sovereignty’ are now political buzz-words employed by politicians stressing the importance of reclaiming these rights. If these freedoms really are that important, why would we commemorate and celebrate the memory of those who fought to deny them to our forefathers?

It would be natural for the British to want to commemorate those who fought to keep Ireland under British rule. However, few Britons are eager to do so. British histories, school texts and military museums gloss over the conflict or ignore it entirely. British memorials naming soldiers killed in ‘peace time’ do not mention those killed in Ireland. The British don’t commemorate these troops because they are not proud of the appalling reputation they earned in Ireland.

The Auxiliaries, in particular, have one of the worst track records. The Auxiliaries were involved in the Bloody Sunday massacre at Croke Park in November 1920. A week later Auxiliaries killed two Galway brothers who were in the IRA, Pat and Harry Loughnane, and left their charred bodies so disfigured that there was nothing left of Harry’s face except his chin and lips. The Auxiliaries were also responsible for the burning of Cork, which caused £3 million damages, left two locals dead, and 2,000 others unemployed. In March 1921 Limerick’s mayor, George Clancy, and his predecessor, ex-mayor Michael O’Callaghan, were assassinated by Auxiliaries.

‘C Company’ – the unit of the Auxiliaries ambushed at Kilmichael – also carried out reprisals. Two weeks before Kilmichael, an Auxiliary from C Company shot dead Jim Lehane, an innocent civilian. Lehane’s killer celebrated by getting drunk and proclaiming that shooting Irishmen was the ‘one way of teaching them manners’. The Auxiliary in question was Cadet Gutherie, who escaped the IRA at Kilmichael only to be killed a few hours later. Another member of C Company, without any provocation, shot dead Cannon Magner and his travelling companion Timothy Crowley.

It is interesting that people from southern Republican/nationalist backgrounds have been prominent in organising commemorations for the Auxiliaries. This is possibly the result of post-peace process politics and ‘parity of esteem’. Alternatively it may spring from the ‘delusional’’ and ‘’warped sense of nationhood’ that Geraldine Moane, senior lecturer in psychology at UCD, has stated is a legacy of Ireland’s colonial experience.

Regardless, if Irish people commemorate those who fought to deny our forefathers the rights we now cherish, surely it will be ‘political correctness’ taken too far. Once we stop asking what people fought for, and whether their actions were justified, we will have reduced history to a bland equation where there is no context, morality or sense of right and wrong.

The British don’t commemorate the Germans, Turks and Irish rebels killed during the ‘Great War’ – nor do we expect them to. Americans don’t erect monuments to the Redcoats killed by Washington’s army. British soldiers killed in the Indian Mutiny aren’t celebrated by Indians. Those killed fighting the Mau Mau aren’t commemorated in Kenya. Indeed as the recent apology to the Kenyans demonstrates, it is more common for the British to make apologies for their past colonial misdeeds than for the colonised to honour their colonisers. In Ireland we seem intent on moving the opposite direction.

We can’t ignore the presence of the Auxiliaries at Kilmichael and pretend it was a bloodless ambush. But there is a significant difference between recalling someone’s place in history and celebrating them through commemoration. The significance of the Kilmichael ambush and the debates about the war are too nuanced and complex to be adequately explained in a few lines on a plaque.

If those intent on developing the ambush site want to foster a deeper understanding of our history, the €100,000 they want for the scheme would be better spent renovating a farmhouse as a Kilmichael museum. This would give greater scope to explore and debate the history and controversies from that time. If a museum were established within walking distance of the ambush site, visitors could go to view the battlefield without spoiling its integrity. A museum would also benefit the local economy, through seasonal employment and sustainable tourism – benefits the proposed re-development is unlikely to bring.

During the ‘decade of centenaries’, we need to have serious debates about our history. We need to ask hard questions, and be prepared to abandon comfortable fables in favour of difficult facts. Today Irish people are free to commemorate whoever they want – but we need to consider whose memory we are celebrating and why. We should also keep in mind who won this freedom for us – and how it was won.

A video featuring the famous song in relation can be seen here:  “The Boys of Kilmichael”


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