Volunteers of Operation Harvest Commemorated


The following oration was delivered by Garrett Banks, Sinn Féin Poblachtach Átha Cliath.

“Dáithí Ó Conaill died on January 1, 1991 at his home in Raheny, Dublin, after a short illness.

The loss of Dáithí at the particular time was sorely felt by his family and all those who knew him and especially by the Republican Movement throughout Ireland. “Dáithí had shown himself to be a fearless Volunteer of the IRA and also a brilliant military and political strategist. “At the time of his death in January 1991 he had just completed the policy document Towards a Peaceful Ireland. This document is still Republican Sinn Féin policy today and is also the most radical and clearest path toward building a free and lasting united and inclusive Ireland.

“Dáithí was born in Rebel Cork in May 1938. His family were steeped in the Republican tradition. His uncle Michael O’Sullivan was a member of the First Cork Brigade IRA and was bayoneted to death by British forces in 1921. “He joined the Republican Movement at 17 years of age and took part in the IRA Resistance Campaign of the 50s. He was second-in-command during the ill-fated Brookborough Raid in 1957, which resulted in the deaths of comrades Fearghal Ó hAnluan and Seán Sabhat.

“Very much active during this period as a full-time revolutionary he was captured in the Free State and imprisoned in Mountjoy for six months and then Interned in the Curragh Concentration Camp. “As was his duty as a Volunteer of the Irish Republic Dáithí and his comrade Ruairí Ó Brádaigh escaped in 1958 and returned to active service. During this period the arrest and internment of Republicans was at its peak, Ruairí Ó Brádaigh was made Chief-of-Staff and Dáithí Director of Operations, bringing him onto the Army Council despite his relative youth.

“Dáithí always fulfilled his role and set about organising and effecting Resistance against the occupiers. The campaign was expanded deeper into the Occupied Six Counties with a plan underway in East Tyrone, around Lough Neagh.  Along with JP O’Hagan and local man Mark Devlin they were ambushed by the B-Specials and RUC. The British opened fire, hitting Dáithí six times whilst making his escape.

“He managed to seek refuge but was captured a short time later in a country house, covered in blood and in terrible condition. The wounds inflicted on Dáithí Ó Conaill that day no doubt contributed to his untimely death.

“He was again imprisoned, this time in Belfast jail to eight years and was released unconditionally in September 1963. Upon his release from jail, Dáithí lived in Glencolmcille Co Donegal, where he was employed as a teacher. He married Deirdre Caffrey, a cousin of Ruairí Ó Brádaigh.

“It was during this period Dáithí was appointed OC of Donegal IRA. The Republican Movement then split in 69/70. Cathal Goulding and his comrades sought to bring an end to abstentionism and take their seats in the Free State, Stormont and Westminster. “Dáithí and his comrades were totally opposed to this as it went against the principles of the Irish Republic and all that it stood for. To enter an enemy system would be to accept the partition syetem and sell out of the ideals of the men and women who went before him.

“Dáithí played a key role in the reorganisation of the movement, travelling to America seeking funding for NORAID and the war back home.

“He was not solely a militarist, far from it. He possessed one of the most strategically-political minds and was deeply involved in the drafting of the ÉIRE NUA policy which is a proposal for a four-province democratic, federal Republic that offers a real and viable united and free Ireland to all within the 32 Counties and as of yet remains the only policy document for a meaningful solution to centuries of British occupation and oppression.

“Central to ÉIRE NUA is the ideal of devolving power from local level within a federation of the historic four provinces of Ireland bringing power back to the people. Dáithí was instrumental in promoting ÉIRE NUA right up until his death.

“ÉIRE NUA is Sinn Féin Poblachtach policy and it is the duty of all members to support and promote our policies, which along with SAOL NUA will be central to any lasting peace and prosperity within Ireland.

“In 1974 the ÉIRE NUA document was put to the loyalist community who were open to it, but the talks were scuppered by both the Free State and British who both have vested interests in the current neo-colonial partitionist systems ie Leinster House and Stormont.

“Dáithí was one of the leaders who met with the British government in London 1972 to try and end British occupation. He played a leading role in the truce negotiations in which the Republican Leadership forced the British into on two occasions between 1972-1975. Dáithí was arrested in 1975 and sent to Portlaoise jail where in 1977 he took part in a 47-day hunger strike.

“In th early 1980s an internal power struggle began within the movement. The new Adams leadership after dropping the radical ÉIRE NUA policy decided to take the path of constitutional politics and accept their seats in Leinster House, thus dropping the core Republican principle of abstentionism, recognising the illegitimate imposed Free State parliament.

”This sell-out and u-turn by Adams, McGuinness and company has to this day proved ill-fated and against everything people like Dáithí Ó Conaill and Ruairí Ó Brádaigh worked all their lives for. Sadly today the long-drawn out manner of the Provisional surrender is evident.

“Stormont Sinn Féin administer and uphold British rule in Occupied Ireland and openly encourage support for the RUC, the military wing of the British establishment.

“Just as recently as Christmas the home of a member of the Sinn Féin Poblachtach Ard Chomhairle was raided in Armagh and he was arrested under the British Terrorism Act, whilst his family were subjected to intimidation and insults with children’s presents being taken and withheld without justification.  This is nothing new in a long line of attempted harassment against the Republican and his family.

”On Christmas morning Chief Constable of the RUC Simon Byrne posed outside Crossmaglen RUC Barracks with heavily-armed RUC militia. In his statement he said ‘I take my hat off to my colleagues policing such a unique part of The North@PSNI…’

“This, might I remind you, is the same Chief Constable who threatened Republicans in November with the seizure of their children if they were involved in Republican activities. Such statements from Simon Byrne bring back memories of tactics used by Brigadier Frank Kitson and pro-British death squads.

”This coming year marks 100 years since the year of revolution that was 1920. We think of all those today because of their commitment to the same ideals of Ó Conaill and Ó Brádaigh and all those who paid the ultimate sacrifice in pursuit of the Irish Republic proclaimed in 1916.

“I would also like to send greetings to Paddy and Ruth King and family who recently suffered the loss of Peig King before Christmas, a lifelong stalwart of the Republican Movement and Cumann na mBan.

“I also wish to send solidarity greetings to friend and comrade Jonathan Hawthorn, POW, Portlaoise Jail and his family and commend him for his steadfast adherence to his Republican principles.

An Phoblacht Abú!”


The following oration was delivered by Cumann na mBan activist, Colette Healy of Belfast and Galway.

“I am honoured to be asked to speak here at the grave of the great Irish patriot Seán Sabhat. Seán was a Volunteer of the Irish Republican Army who was dedicated to the cause of a free Ireland. His dedication led him to making the ultimate sacrifice 63 years ago on January 1, 1957.

“On December 12, 1956 the IRA launched Operation Harvest in a wave of attacks across the Six Counties, launching the latest phase in the historic fight for Irish freedom. On January 1, the Pearse Column of the IRA attacked the RUC barracks in Brookeborough, Co Fermanagh. In the face of overwhelming odds, the column withdrew, led by 19-year-old Dáithí Ó Conaill. Two Volunteers were critically wounded, Seán Sabhat and Fearghal Ó hAnluain. Both Sabhat and Ó hAnluain urged their comrades to leave them, as they would slow up their escape. Reluctantly Ó Conaill and the other Volunteers agreed to this course of action. Unarmed and seriously wounded, Seán Sabhat and Fearghal Ó hAnluain died at the hands of the RUC.

“Today faithful Irish Republicans commemorate the sacrifice of these brave men as we pledge to continue their fight for an end to British-imposed partition and a free and sovereign Ireland. In the Six Counties today the same forces of occupation remain in place, special laws, courts and prisons are used to jail Irish Republicans. On the ground the sectarian division of our people has never been greater. These are conditions that Republicans warned would be the outcome of the Stormont Agreement in 1998.

“We demand a New Ireland not a New Stormont. Stormont, Leinster House and Westminster are not stepping-stones to a free Ireland, they are obstacles. As Irish Republicans we know the road we have to travel is a straight road, which will bring hardship and sacrifice. However, it is the only road that will lead to the All-Ireland Republic, proclaimed in 1916. There are no short-cuts.

“This year we will mark the centenaries of some of the most momentous events in Irish history. The sacrifices made by the revolutionary generation of 100 years ago still inspires a new generation. The names of those patriots ring down the decades to us today, Tomás Mac Curtáin, Terence MacSwiney and Kevin Barry, to name but a few of the patriots who gave their lives for Irish freedom.

“We celebrate the actions of the Boys of Kilmichael who struck a blow against the British Empire that was felt around the world. Yet there are those who tell us that we should commemorate the same British Crown forces that burned Cork and Balbriggan and who murdered 14 Irish civilians, including children in Croke Park on Bloody Sunday 1920. No self-respecting country would commemorate the forces which occupied it and murdered its citizens. Ireland is no different, we will honour our patriots with pride this year and send out the message to world the that we will continue the struggle for a new and democratic Ireland.

“The two partition States, imposed on the Irish people in 1921 by threat of war by the British, are a betrayal of the principles of the 1916 Proclamation. In Ireland today, many of our people sleep in cardboard boxes or our old die on hospital trolleys, Both States have failed the Irish people, We demand a New Ireland and we believe the programme contained in Éire Nua provides the basis for an Ireland that will be worthy of the sacrifice of our patriots and will make a reality of the principles of the 1916 Proclamation and the Democratic Programme of the First Dáil.

“As we leave this sacred place, we pledge ourselves to continue the struggle for which Seán Sabhat and his comrade Fearghal Ó hAnluain sacrificed their lives. That is the most fitting tribute we can pay them.”


John Joe McCusker, Ard Chomhairle member from Fermanagh gave the oration at the Fearghal Ó hAnluain commemoration in Monaghan on January 12.

Speaking as Gaeilge agus i mBéarla John Joe began by paying tribute to the young Volunteer from Monaghan who was being remembered and said that the sacrifices of Fearghal Ó hAnluain and Seán Sabhat were an inspiration to those who came after in the 1970s and today.

He went on: “It was noticeable that after the English Brexit vote to leave the EU and given the upheaval this was going to create in the halls of Stormont Castle the late Martin McGuinness resigned and collapsed the regime at Stormont. Thereby removing any background and unpleasant noise at Stormont.

It is even more noticeable that there is now an urgent effort to have Stormont up and running again now that the Imperial government in Whitehall, London wants to show that when they effectively leave the European Union that everything is in ‘democratic order’ within England, Wales, Scotland and our Six Occupied Counties. I do not believe that the collapse of Stormont just happened by absolute coincidence.

It is also strange that nobody in the media has to my knowledge proffered any linkage in the collapse of Stormont and the Brexit referendum. Why was £50,000 miserly pounds withdrawn from an Irish language grant? Was the collapse purely about the ‘cash for ash’ scandal? What does the ordinary people not know?

The reality is that Stormont is now back up and running just in time to greet the new economic order established by English imperialists outside the EU. There has been no Irish language act and no final sanction of a financial audit regarding the ‘cash for ash’. It seems that the equality heralded in the Stormont Agreement only stacks up when the ‘Croppies lie down’.

It remains the intent of the imperialist government in London England to hold Ireland against the expressed wishes of the Irish people.  It remains the intent of the Provisional Government of the 32-County Irish Republic to uphold the right of the people of Ireland to the ownership of Ireland and the unfettered control of Irish destinies.

“Those in our country advocating for the continued union with England, those who thus far reject their birthright, as Irishmen and Irishwomen, need to recognise the actual empowerment that joint control of the New Ireland will bring them.  We in the Republican Movement are calling on you to take an equal part in the economic control of the land of Ireland for the betterment of all the people of Ireland.

You (the Unionist people) may hate the idea, however, can you put forward a sound economic reason for the continuance of the union with England.  Is your argument based on the premise that half of the unionist people shall continue to be well-to-do, while the other half remain as dependents of the English State without the ownership of their own structures, which would afford the capacity where you can shape and launch your own new-found trademark upon the world.

What every Irishman and Irishwoman needs to recognise is: their place in the economic order is down to economic engineering, which ultimately means economic discrimination.  The people across in England are hardly likely to recommend Belfast for 800 good jobs when they could be doing with those jobs themselves.  The Irish people must paddle our own canoe.

Going forward with the armour of unity and the agility of our god-given creativity I am confident that the union of Orange and Green can and will create the greatest chapter in human endeavour ever witnessed culturally, socially, economically and politically.

Some may consider that it would be best for to continue with the hatred which has been fostered from one generation to the next.  Sectarianism is negative in the extreme and shall chain the next generation of Irish people to the continuing rueful cycle.

We have last year reached out to the Unionist community with our recommendation of Éire Nua (New Ireland) proposals.  We hope to continue this year in this endeavour.

We have also reached out to others in the political arena across Ireland and hope to continue to promote our belief that a Federal Ireland gives control to the people on the ground across Ireland.  All people are close to the governance of their own local and regional areas.  With this representation further extended by the people to harness the National Assembly and thereby govern the country.

Going forward England strategy is to strangle the economy of Ireland and force our well educated and professional class to emigrate to England.   For many years we have heard people say, “sure weren’t we glad to have England to go to when times were bad”.  Those days across Ireland were the legacy of a conniving empire engineering the economies of countries peripheral to England.

The central Government in London England had the first refusal on all inward investment.  They could sweeten a deal or sink a deal as the circumstances dictated.  As these countries continued to lose their population to England then the ‘economies of scale’ generated by a growing population in England sucked the life blood from places like Scotland and Ireland.  This is where they would like us to revisit.  Should England be allowed to use ‘pirate economics’ outside of the EU. then this is where we are heading.

When we review what is proposed by those linked inextricably with the English model of partition we recognise the obvious pitfalls of ceding the rights of our country to a foreign imperialist power.  They have no right in Ireland and certainly no right to legislate for the people of Ireland.

Irish Republicans shall not be deceived by the trickery of English politicians or their economists or their collaborators in Stormont and Leinster House. The struggle for an Irish Republic and our resistance to English Rule shall remain steadfast.

Long Live the Irish Republic.

An Phoblacht Abú!