Strand Road Police Station Targeted Again

A car bomb exploded last night at the Strand Road police station in Londonderry.  The station had previously been the target of an improvised mortar attack at the end of May.  Meanwhile police are also investigating reports of an explosion this morning at the Brownlow police station in Craigavon.  Adds updated BBC report.

, , , , ,

  • Gerry Lvs Castro

    ”Sinn Fein assembly member Martina Anderson said: “I would call on those who support the groups involved in this kind of activity to explain to the people of Derry the rationale behind this futile campaign.
    The only thing they succeeded in doing last night was damaging and disrupting local businesses and possibly putting people out of work.”

    And SF members didn’t make the above statement 20/25/30 years ago because…..???

  • Neil

    Yeah, if anyone on Earth should understand ‘the rationale’ you’d think Martina would have a quare head start.

  • Ulick

    “And SF members didn’t make the above statement 20/25/30 years ago because…..???”

    Dunno, Section 31, British censorship? Ah, I give up, why don’t you tell us why SF hid from the media 20 and 25 years ago? Oh wait…

  • Gerry Lvs Castro

    Silly me Ulick, I’d clean forgotten that SF never made a single media statement prior to 1994, dubbed or otherwise.

    Though of course you’re ignoring the central issue which is why SF used to consider last night’s incident just fine and dandy, but apparently now it’s a ‘futile campaign.’

  • Ulick

    Ah quit crying, the central issue is the dissident bomb, not the SF reaction to it.

  • Gerry Lvs Castro

    The dissident bomb is merely the continuation of a strategy pursued by the provos for decades — it’s nothing new.

    What is new is SFs apparent admission that the ‘armed struggle’ was a ‘futile campaign.’ For once I’m in agreement with Martina.

  • Alan Maskey

    Some people – those who planted the bomb most importantly – obviously think the reward justified the risk. Martina and Martin (ha ha) thought, in their day, the reward justified the risk. Times have changed.

    It would be instructive to read a RIRA/CIRA manual on how they feel the long war (I am thinking of Mao) can be successfully prosecuted. Let me see. They need men, materiel, opportunity, logistical and other support, finance. Can’t see it happening unless they can sink Sinn Fein. Cant see them sinking Ireland’s richest party.

    If the INLA decided to call it a day, maybe it is time for all others to as well. Can’t see it happening, unfortunately. More sheep will go to jail.

  • Munsterview

    First point of note…….. this was a successful bomb detonation by a Republican militant group.

    Second point…….. this bomb was of a significant size and in a different location could have done considerably more damage.

    Third point…………the armed group responsible have in this bombing demonstrated several capacities and the security authorities ( assuming that they are not directly involved) failed, to prevent this bombing.

    Fourth point……… the armed group, it must be assumed, has the capacity to carry out similar bombings.

    Fifth point………… this is the ‘City of Culture’ image going out around Europe; a few more such bombings and ‘the City of Culture …… city of bombing’ will be the mental connection killing off most of the potential for international and other visitors.

    This bombing has not arisen in a vacuum, we have at least ten wasted years on the peace process where we have had not peace and normality, just the absence of war and curtailment of overt security.

    The stagnation of politics on Stormount and the ‘business as usual’ attitude in the prison service to political prisoners are all providing credible counter arguments to the claims of normality. Without a functioning political process delivering credible results, bombs and guns will increasingly do the talking for some people…… and other people will listen, expanding the tolerance for such activity.

    Condemnations will not change that fact! An effective functioning and responsive political system, and the public attitude arising from this, is the only thing that can effectively nullify support for an armed campaign.

    The loudest condemnations will probably come from Gregory Cambell yet in few people in constitutional politics in the North have done more to denigrate Republicans and stymie the return to political normalcy.

    A bombing in any Southern city would bring a 100% citizen response in aiding the security forces…… what percentage of the Nationalist population in Derry would actually cross the line and directly assist the police forces irrespective of how they feel about the actual bombing.

    That is the nub of the problem, it is not a security issue, it is unresolved political issues that make the climate for these activities possible and while these issued remain unresolved the climate of opinion on the Nationalist side willing to tolerate these activities cannot but continue to grow!

  • joeCanuck

    it is unresolved political issues that make the climate for these activities possible

    Perhaps you could tell us what those unresolved issues are, apart from the Protestants (for want of a better word) refusal to be forced into reunification.

  • Alan Maskey

    Good analysis, Munsterview. As Derry is a relatively small town, I cannot see them doing many encores. This attack hardly registered and will do no good. They should really find better things to do with gtheir time.

  • HeinzGuderian

    Point Six…………..It’s all Gregory Campbell’s fault,so it is,so it is …………

  • HeinzGuderian

    ‘Unionists’,will do for a better word there,Joe . 🙂

  • Dissident Unionist

    i agree Munsterview.

    The media interviews with the kebab shop owner and the American tourist ( one of 200) at a hotel around the corner) will have a lasting effect on those people, who will tell their families who will tell their friends etc..NOT the image the UK City of Culture needs!

    I feel it’s up to those within the Republican/Nationalist communities to be put under pressure to flush these people out, if they support the rule of law and wish for a better future for their kids within the city, then they need to be more persuasive in their arguments that this is wrong to their own grassroots.

  • Gerry Lvs Castro

    ‘it is unresolved political issues that make the climate for these activities possible and while these issued remain unresolved the climate of opinion on the Nationalist side willing to tolerate these activities cannot but continue to grow!’

    Funny that — I could have sworn the overwhelming majority voted in favour of the GFA not so long ago.
    Fair enough some can’t accept that, but if every pissed off minority had carte blanche to conduct a violent campaign, we would have bombings by dissident Scots & Welsh Nationalists, anti-abortionists and extreme homophobes. Fact is we don’t so what makes Irish ‘dissidents’ so special?

    The ‘unresolved political issues’ you refer to existed for most of the last century. The IRA border campaign in the 50s was met with complete indifference by the NI Nationalist community, SF found violence counter-productive to their electoral prospects in the 80s & 90s and today’s ‘dissident’ riots are much more about a busload of wee thugs throwing rocks than any genuine grievances.

    ‘A bombing in any Southern city would bring a 100% citizen response in aiding the security forces’

    How exactly? Unless you know the bombers’ identities and have some evidence, what help can you give?

    ‘the climate of opinion on the Nationalist side willing to tolerate these activities cannot but continue to grow!’

    It would have to be a pretty thick Nationalist who would support last night’s bombing. Yeah sure blow up part of my city, wreck several people’s livelihoods and smear the ‘city of culture’ image, all while targetting a police force which every single political party supports. Nice one.

  • Munsterview

    If there is going to be a meaningful debate here on these issues, those on the unionist side should spell out their position and the reasons from their point of view as to why Stormount is stymied.

    Doire Columcille may have achieved ‘ City of Culture status’ but if European awards were handed out ‘ useless regional parliaments’, judged on results delivered, Stormount would repeatedly have won that title every year since reconvened under the Good Friday agreement!

    The usual smart ass one liners and catch phrases are not going to advance this debate one iota and will contribute nothing resolving the present stalemate. I personally know how small and ineffective the dissident republicans that became mainstream were in 69/70 and I also know what a small, determined armed group can do.

    The only thing that will prevent these groups operating is when there is insufficient toleration of their activities in their own communities to give them the cover to allow them to operate. Most Northern Nationalists did not consider Stormount their Parliament to begin with and what has issued from there since the GFA has done little to give it any new appeal to ordinary catholics, nationalists or republicans.

    Results, not reasons are what the ordinary public needs!

    The checkmated parliamentary farce that is Stormount has given neither results or reasons. Perhaps if there were a meaningful engagement here we could get some of the reasons and even actual engagement by active SF party members and supporters in the debate once it starts getting close to the bone.

    Meanwhile as certain people are anticipating their next clever one liner, others are preparing for their next bomb. ‘One liners’,no matter how clever, will not stop that !

  • Gerry Lvs Castro

    ‘I also know what a small, determined armed group can do.’

    You’ve hit the nail on the head here Munsterview — it doesn’t take a large number of people to conduct a terrorist campaign. It also doesn’t mean that they have anything but derisory support either.

    You complain of the stasis at Stormont — what exactly would you like to see happening?

    Progress has been made on policing & justice, minority languages, education (albeit controversially) and the Maze stadium. What are they failing to do in your opinion?

    The bottom line is that NI will remain within the UK until the majority vote otherwise. Blowing up police stations and throwing rocks isn’t going to bring that day one minute closer.

  • Munsterview

    Gerry Lvs “……..It would have to be a pretty thick Nationalist who would support last night’s bombing….”

    Very few would, but for these events to continue, the support is already there…… and much larger than is openly conceded. A framework of the organization now exists in most main urban centres in the North and around the border.

    In fact as I write John Mooney, Sunday Times security correspondend and one of the best journalists of his generation has made this very point. He has also given his opinion that a larger quantity of bomb mix was prepared than was used. He also said that the security forces involved ‘had taken their eye off the ball’ and were not as keyed in or on top of the situation or groups as they were implying.

    I know John, I have worked with him over long years, he is nobodys fool and his contacts are usually well inside and top notch. He is the sort of a guy not afraid to make as many ‘let me run this by you off the record’ calls as necessary to all sides in a situation, to get a handle on the story. His conclusions are not lightly reached.

    When John speaks or writes, I listen and read. Others concerned also should!

  • joeCanuck

    Stormont…what has issued from there since the GFA has done little to give it any new appeal to ordinary catholics, nationalists or republicans.

    Do you have a source to support that sweeping statement or have you just appointed yourself as spokesperson for the ordinary Catholics?

  • Gerry Lvs Castro

    Whatever Munsterview — even assuming you and John are spot on — the dissident groupings have a mere shadow of the support that the provos had. And the fact that the provo murder campaign was an abject failure despite the number of active members, substantial weaponry and support both at home and abroad would indicate that this particular generation are doomed to ignimonious failure via long prison sentences, internal ‘housekeeping’ and blowing themselves up.
    If they were in the music business they’d be Band Aid 2 — self-deluded as to their own importance and ultimately useless.

    The main danger is to the public — the RIRA slaughtered 29 innocent civilians in Omagh and there is a definite possibility such an atrocity could occur again. Instead of making sympathetic noises towards these illogical dinosaurs, you should be urging them to see sense before they have even more innocent Irish blood on their hands.

  • Munsterview

    Joe,

    I would have thought that by now the collective content of my other postings would have spoken for themselves. No point in shooting the messenger on this one, I am but reporting what I see and hear!

    While not having made any secret of my SF support, I have also publicly opposed SF on issues like the thirty-five day parade notice and I am one of the few posters that SF activists will bother responding to, as from time to time specific content cannot be ignored.

    I may be a ‘hurler on the ditch’ these days but I do know half the players on the field first hand and I am only an em away from a network of contacts who have their finger on the pulse of their communities.

    Since in the current circumstances, advancement of Southern Sinn Fein politics is dependent on the Northern situations for reasons I have analyzed in other threads, I do keep in close contact with what is happening up there. This is especially so in the past two years, as I have been monitoring the maneuverings of Fianna Failure to sideline SF and see the party neutralized a a political force on this island.

    This is a 1926 to 32 situation all over again…… we are around the 1928 stage and unless Republicans change strategy, then Fianna Failure’s version of Republicanism of the past sixty years ( since it last broke the real republican opposition) will be the dominant one and the same for the next half century as it was for the past one.

    Since the success or otherwise of Fianna Failure’s Northern venture will determine Republican politics on this island for decades to come, you can rest assured I am keeping a bloody close eye on the real mood of the ordinary catholic /nationalists/ republicans up there, it is my own, my children’s and their children’s future is being decided !

  • Munsterview

    Gerry.

    I am on record as opposing armed force in the current circumstances and also in my support for the GFA.

    There are several ways growing support could be curtailed, conceding political prisoner status is one. Another is to acknowledge these groupings for what they are, not ‘ the tugs and gurriers’ beloved of the ‘Red Top’ media but an armed group with a political agenda.

    Now that the Whitehall Mandarins have the Prisoner issue pot nicely on the boil, they are about to add a ‘criminalization campaign’ against republicans.

    In an area where a militant republican comes from a decent family where this person is also a member of community, sporting and cultural organizations etc, who are that community going to side with in the ‘criminalization campaign ‘ whiz against republicans, the Whitehall spokesperson spouting the same tripe as they did against the Long Kesh hunger strikers three decades ago or their own people, however much they may disagree with the activities of these individuals?

    It do not take an Einstein to answer that one, yet this is exactly the campaign that the Southern Dep of Justice are jointly cooking up with their Whitehall Mandarin counterparts. That is sure to help the authority Martin McGuiness, the Gerry’s, Pat Doherty etc with the wider nationalist community!

    There is only two ways that a bombing campaign can be halted, the first is to create the political conditions where the larger Nationalist community want to preserve the current status quo. The other is for security authorities to cause another type Omagh situation and a wave of revulsion in the Nationalist side to offside these groups.

    This is not alone possible, it is also probable if the bombings become an any way regular occurrence. Before the usual howls of outrage starts will all kindly reflect as to why ‘ security planners’ who have already caused hundreds of thousands of innocent civilian deaths in the Middle East in pursuit of political objectives, should be worried about causing a few dozen Irish ones?

    The securicarts most certainly will not but we should be!

  • Gerry Lvs Castro

    Wow Munsterview I have to hand it to you — you certainly can spin.

    Re conceding political status — you ignored my earlier point, but to phrase it in another way — would you support political status in the event of a Scottish or Welsh terrorist group mounting a bombing campaign? Do you support political status for Muslim terrorists? Should violent animal rights activists, anti-abortionists, violent racists and homophobics be regarded as prisoners of consience and hence be allowed to refrain from prison clothing and have their own prison wing?

    The dissidents crimes are political only in that they fail to respect the democratic mandate of the people of Ireland. This is their choice to make but wrecking town centres and killing fellow Irishmen is a crime in most people’s eyes.

    Siding with your family and friends in criminal matters is again a personal choice — that applies as much to domestic violence or sexual abuse as to violent behaviour — it does not invalidate the criminality of the action.

    ”the first is to create the political conditions where the larger Nationalist community want to preserve the current status quo.”

    Those conditions already exist and are glaringly reflected in the electoral mandate for SF and the other pro-agreement parties.

    ”The other is for security authorities to cause another type Omagh situation and a wave of revulsion in the Nationalist side to offside these groups.”

    The Omagh bomb was assembled, transported and left to detonate by Irish Republicans. If you have proof that it was planted by the ‘security authorities’ I’d be interested to know.

    I’d also be interested to know (as mentioned in your reply to Joe) exactly what SF might be able to offer the people of the south that Fianna Fail can’t/don’t. The general perception in the south is that SF is a one-trick pony with vaguely barking left wing views and no coherent policies.

  • joeCanuck

    vaguely barking left wing views

    I am totally convinced, by their actions, that SF are only “socialist” in the sense of national socialism.

  • Steve

    The unresolved issue is partition. If, as you say, indifference to republican causes is the norm, then fine, put the indifference about a united Ireland to an electoral test by putting the optioin on a ballot paper. The GFA referendum offered one constitutional option, even though most opinion polls in the Irish Republic have suggested an apathetic majority in favour of unity (i.e. an alternative option), but the ‘United Ireland’ box was never going to appear on the ballot paper because, er, the people might vote for it.

    Your comparison with the Scottish nationalism doesn’t work. Salmond’s bill was going to offer a MULTI-OPTION referendum. That’s right – one with a (united) independent Scotland on it. That’s real democracy and real choice for Scottish nationalists. Irish Republicans don’t have that option because a) they have never been/never will be able to vote for a united Ireland in a referendum and b) in any case it is how the people of 6 counties on the island vote that determines whether partition stays or goes.

  • Munsterview

    If MI5, as it is now generally acknowledged, had successfully infiltrated and compromised the IRAs own section responsible for internal security, what chance did the fragmented infighting group involved in Omagh have ?

    Most activities of these groups were stymied before they got off the ground. It is now a matter of public record having been broken in a number of newspaper accounts that the most of the vehicles used were first stolen to order by Dublin based criminals and sold on the Republican organizations.

    However between the theft and the delivery the vehicles were fitted by Gardai security with sophisticated tracking devices as the car supplier was also a paid police informer. Real questions arising from Omaha is if these vehicles could be tracked why was the one caring the bomb not stopped at the border as a Dublin prepared car bomb was before it could be loaded on the ferry for England ?

    But of course to a section of the populace all the MI5… 6 or whatever acronyms are used can do no wrong…… after all they are regarded as their forces! Others on our side of the fence take a less benign view of their activities…… and with very good reason.

  • Gerry Lvs Castro

    So let me get this straight — because the security forces, who may or may not have had advance warning of this attack, failed to stop the bomb-laden car at the border, they were somehow responsible for the Omagh murders?

    Grow up — the Irishmen who built and delivered this bomb were solely responsible for those 29 deaths. This was murder on a major scale, planned and executed by people laughably claiming to be Irish Republicans.

    I have to say Munsterview with twisted logic such as your own, god help Ireland if SF ever get into power.

  • White Horse

    Yes, Joe, in the Nazi sense of national socialism.

  • Charminator

    “I am totally convinced, by their actions, that SF are only “socialist” in the sense of national socialism.”

    A little broad and sweeping aren’t we there, Joe? I mean, it’s certainly not for me to defend SF (or any other political party for that matter), but I’d hardly think it possible to stand over a characterisation of the entire party as such.

    Instead, I think this is rather more an appropriate case of Godwin’s Law.

    I’d certain have to disagree with the first portion of your comment too. Not ‘socialist’? Certainly the hierarchy may not be, but their rank and file contains a fair few number of socialists!

  • joeCanuck

    Yes, that’s what I implied. I didn’t want to say the word in case someone invoked Godwin’s Law.

  • Charminator

    Yes, as I said below, this is most certainly an appropriate application of Godwin’s Law.

  • Gerry Lvs Castro

    Steve the problem for the dissidents is not only that an all Ireland referendum will never happen, but that mainstream Republicanism in the shape of SF have signed up to partition for the forseeable future. Since SF get the majority of Nationalist votes and the dissidents don’t even have the balls to stand for election, it seems fair to assume that the majority in NI accept the status quo.

    Fine, the dissidents don’t agree with partition — I personally don’t agree with religiously segregated education, but as most of the population accept it, I’m unlikely to get very far by launching a violent campaign to have it abolished.

  • joeCanuck

    I’d hardly think it possible to stand over a characterisation of the entire party as such

    Of course; no more that all of the people who voted for the Nazis (around 30%) were murdering monsters. I was referring of course, to the leadership; I would never condemn the 25% of the population who voted for SF in such terms. The vast majority are decent, normal, people.

  • Charminator

    Thanks joeCanuck.

    Of course, what I was flagging with you was the ‘entire party, ie party members’, NOT as you’ve now said ‘all of the people who voted for them’. Pretty big difference there! I’d like to think SF’s membership was not 25% of the population too!

    In fact, the entire Nazi party, or the vast vast majority of them were hardly pleasant people. Indeed, note the collective guilt of the German people of that time… resulting from Kristallnacht, full trains going East empty one’s returning, treatment of gays, gypsies, mentally ill, not to mention marching into half of Europe, which makes any comparison utterly inappropriate.

    If you were referring to the leadership of SF as Nazis, I personally consider that utterly inappropriate too.

    In fact, possibly a perfect application of Godwin’s Law, if ever there was one.

  • wee buns

    The mere ceasation of violence does/has not constituted a fully working peace process. SF and DUP, could have, should have done more for their respective communities. In 12 yrs, they haven’t even managed to reslove the marching issue, the symbolic root of devided communities. In my own case, left the north primarily to raise teenage boys in an enviroment that is not militarised, has a fairly normaly functioning police service and a low rate of sectarian related violence between young males. The housing estates look as rough now as they did 12 yrs ago, with town centers dickied up. Change has been slow and superficial in many instances. This recent upsurge (for it is strangely recent) in dissident violence is being used as a gun the institutions hold to people’s heads; always someone else to blame for their political incompetence As if they have no control, no say, no means, of dealing with these people. How useful. Looking at the hames being made in Afghanastan it amazes me how anyone can feign horror & surprise at the possibility of all sorts of sleekid collusion between main power players here. In fact it would be odd were there none.

  • joeCanuck

    I challenged their socialism, claiming that in my opinion, for what it’s worth, which might not be much, they are more nationalists than socialists. There are differing opinions and factions in all political parties but would you deny that Adams is a control freak who would love to be our “dear leader”?
    I didn’t say “Nazi” or “Hitler”, there were other NS parties in Italy, Spain and Portugal to name a few, so Godwin’s Law does not apply.

  • joeCanuck

    left the north primarily to raise teenage boys in an environment that is not militarised, has a fairly normal functioning police service and a low rate of sectarian related violence between young males.

    One of the reasons I have been living in Canada for 29 years.

  • joeCanuck

    Charminator, I disagree (see below). Others can decide for themselves.

  • wee buns

    Bien sur. I lasted until 7 yrs ago, and it was even worse than when I was wee!

  • Munsterview

    In the lead up to the ceasfire I took part in many behing closed door meetings with involving some or all sections of the Republican movement.There I supported both the ceasefire and the GFA. More than that as a 69 man and somebody with cultural and other status inside Nationalist communities, I went up there and frequently contributed to public meetings to support the Peace Process.

    I did not support furder armed action, indeed for a considerable period before the ceasfire as I have said in other threads months ago, the general millitary campaign had a net drain on human and other resources that could have been more productivly used elsewhere.

    Given what I have already put on the record in this regard and given those I have previously teased out these issues with in previous threads, the only conclusion to be drawn from some of the references to Omagh and the distortions of my comments, is that these have been deliberately introduced as an irritant, as my views should have registered with anyone, posessing retentive mental powers in excess of an average a goldfish!

    Widening the political prisoner issue to include animal right activist, the millitant league of atheists or whatever may have a place in a political prisoner debate per se but such comparrissons in this context are just another release of red herrings.

    We had what in millitary terms is known ‘ a low intensity war’ fought for almost three decades in Northern Ireland. Do not just take my word for it, anyone capable of looking up Goodwins Law can do likewise for General Sir Frank Ketson and all his works and prompts!

    Even normal wars seldom end clean and this one almost certainly did not. When Republicans went to the States to sell support for the ceasfire, MI5 ran a counter operation to discredit the Sinn Fein spokespersons necessating a in turn another operation by IRA intel to trump the Brits Intel effort. The same parties did everything possible to keep the minotity millitancy going, not stop it!

    All activity arising from or to do with the recent war should be dealth with as a whole inside the exceptional circumstances matrix that the situation warranted to secure the Peace Process. The heavy lifting has been done and a few dozen political prisoners more or less can make little difference to the establishment.

    They can however make one hell of a difference to the Peace Process !

  • Pete Baker

    “The same parties did everything possible to keep the minotity millitancy [sic] going, not stop it!”

    Your particular securocrat conspiracy theory founders on the supposed objectives of said securocrats.

    Continued conflict here?

    Don’t think so.

    But hey!

    If you want to believe that all the activities you, personally, engaged in…

    “In the lead up to the ceasfire I took part in many behing closed door meetings with involving some or all sections of the Republican movement.There I supported both the ceasefire and the GFA. More than that as a 69 man and somebody with cultural and other status inside Nationalist communities, I went up there and frequently contributed to public meetings to support the Peace Process.”

    …were contra to the agenda of the ‘securocrats’, then you just keep telling yourself that.

    Bless.

  • sliabhdubh

    Mybe,just,maybe if the unionist had listened to the griveances ,championed by the civil rights organizition,the provos would never have came about.Starting local co-ops and expousing socialism would never have got the unionist jackboot of a nationlist neck.They struck out in fear of losing power,and now their fears are justified,they showed no middle ground.They must share the responsibilty for the deaths that occured in this country.

  • joeCanuck

    What on earth is a 69 man? In 1969 I took part in many political activities, not related to any particular political party or sectarian sect. Does that make my view as important as yours?

  • Reader

    sliabhdubh: Mybe,just,maybe if the unionist had listened to the griveances ,championed by the civil rights organizition,the provos would never have came about.
    Most of the demands of the Civil Rights movement had been met by November 1968. The Provos had a very different ideology from NICRA. In fact, the Provos never even pretended to be interested in Civil Rights until a few years ago.

  • Munsterview

    Oh yes Pete, all fairy stories !

    When those who worked with Billy Flynn in exposing what became known as the Donegall Garda scandal, told a certain Journalist that they had reliable information that Irish Cops had a small explosive factory going and were manufacturing mix and planting explosives in the North, for the Northern cops to find, that press person literally laughed his head off.

    Read the Judicial enquiry into the corruption, all the details are there!

    Pete, I neither drink or smoke. On one occasion in the mid-lands while involved in activity that needed a bit of vigilance I did not like the look of guy that came to the bar shortly after I did. I ordered a small hennesy and a box of slim cigars.

    I singled out one of the locals, had a quick word with him and offered him the brandy to go up to the stranger, look him in the eye and ask him if he would like to be measured for a ‘wooden overcoat’ He did and the guy scampered.

    One refund on the cigars, one small hennesy down the swaney, even if in a good cause.

    Some years later in the UK while a temporary guest of Her Majesty, I was shown part of my intel file……. and right there was the details that I drank hennesy and the brand of small cigars that I allegedly smoked!

    Nobody really knows and probably ever will the true extent of Brit Intel penetration in all Ireland back then, up to the ceasefire and even now.

    These operatives had things so well arranged by the early seventies that they knew and could actually control the intel Jack Lynch and his cabinet got as they owned the Intel collator.

    Not forgetting our own Sean O’Callahan and how long he operated undetected in the IRA southern command. And take it from me the same Seanie, despite the impression given, did a little more than just make the tea!

    And what of those lovely new computers given to to another group of Freedom Fighters with build in transmitters that send Brit Intel an update of everything on it every time it was used to transmit ? This aint Monty Python stuff despite how it may look, this is reality as it happened. OK, I will save some smart ass the comment……..it was both!

    Grow up Pete or better still talk to someone who has taken a stroll down the hall of mirrors and knew something of what went on there ! As to manipulating a group split against itself and careless about it’s own security, it would not have even made a good training exercise for them ! Describing it as child’s play is putting it mildly.

  • Munsterview

    Not correct, the late Dathi O’Connell set up a civil rights association in the early seventies. The sticks showed up at ever public meeting and shouted it into the ground to stop it getting off the ground.

    With the outreach prevented after six months or so it was still mainly people involved with Sinn Fein that were fronting the organization and a decision was taken to let it quietly die as the sticks and the branch between them ‘persuaded’ any non aligned individuals that they should not be involved.

    Another lesson back then, if any were needed, that the gun was the only thing commanding respect and a hearing!

    Joe……… once during a 48 hour detention when in the Ard-Comhairle of Sinn Fein I was told I had two choices, conform or emigrate !

    There was always a third alternative, the handful that stayed home to fight……and who kept the resistance alive for another generation.

    As to the 69 reference, if that is lost on you, do not worry about it. Other people read this too even if they do not reply, there is still a dialouge of sorts going on and they are not all 3,000 miles away!

  • OldSod

    I love the republican caveat “opposing armed force in the current circumstances” whenever we talk about blowing human beings to pieces,… its -like- saying, “In principle, I agree with murder and political violence, just not in the current circumstances”.

    How and ever, I think its fair to say that the majority of leading dissidents would sacrifice their right arm to see Stormont or the GFA fall on their collective arse’s. They never wanted them to succeed or work, hence their hard work at ending “normalisation”, it is very disingenuous to suggest that dissident republicanism is in response to the failure for the GFA, Patton reforms and Stromont etc to deliver the goods. Their greatest fear was that they WOULD work, stealing their thunder and ending their raison d’etre.
    To further confound this hypothesis, by claiming that political status for prisoners is a contributor to the violence is very misleading,… they were plotting murder and mayhem long before the current wave of prisoner protests.
    I have no doubt there are disillusioned republicans, who feel that they got a bad bargain or that they had been miss-sold the GFA etc, by the same rationale, I am sure there are plenty of others who feel that they have been shafted in life,… it’s still unacceptable to just decide to hold the rest of the population to ransom with terror and bombings. We have to decide our constitutional destiny as a people, as a whole. The days of a small political elite taking charge of the masses or forming the core of a revolution, are over, hopefully consigned to the dustbin of history. We need consensual change, not forced change.

    Yes, dissident republicanism is getting stronger and better organised, but to be frank, there are plenty of angry, twisted and hate filled individuals out there to fill the ranks, all they need is politicising for the cause. This does not mean that the masses are rising or awakening, it just means more a*se h0les are being radicalised.

    No decent person could fail to condemn this and all the other terrorist attacks.

  • joeCanuck

    Munsterview,
    I understand where you are coming from. But many comments ago you said that the current problems with the “dissidents” was due to “unresolved political issues”. I asked you what those unresolved issues are. You never answered.

  • Gerry Lvs Castro

    Joe — Munster doesn’t seem overly inclined to answer any ‘difficult’ questions on this thread. He prefers to run around in circles in his little Boys Own la la land where blowing Irish people to pieces is all part of the game — all that’s needed is an excuse to justify it.

    As Oldsod correctly stated, ‘radicalising’ young men with entirely irrational hatreds isn’t exactly difficult — Al-Qaeda are a case in point. It’s the responsibility of the older generation to prevent this sort of crap happening all over again. All these young men can look forward to is prison and a likely early death for an archaic pointless cause guaranteed to fail. If it weren’t so dangerous and costly to the rest of us it would be genuinely sad.

  • Gerry Lvs Castro

    Munsterview you claim to know your NI history, even claim to have been part of it. You know as well as anyone that the provos had no use for the CRM other than as an excuse to renew an armed campaign.

    The IRA border campaign of 1956-62 was carried on with virtually zero support from the local population — it had no ‘civil rights’ aims — it merely aimed, however naively, to get the British out of Ireland. Likewise the recent 30 year campaign.

    The provos were and still are driven by an unshakeable hatred for all things British and Unionist — note the fact thaty despite it’s unspeakable crimes against the Irish community, the Roman Catholic church has had barely a cross word from SF, whilst the OO are constantly lambasted for having the temerity to walk down a road. Personally I’d take a parade over my kids being abused any day.

    The likes of sliabdubh continue to swallow the line that the NI conflict was all about civil rights. It wasn’t and isn’t — it’s about the fact that Republicanism don’t want a Unionist/Brit around the place. Unfortunately for them, we’ll be around the place for a long time yet.

  • quality

    I assumed he meant partition was the unresolved issue? The GFA is hardly explicit about the future in that respect.

  • joeCanuck

    Quality,
    With respect, not for you to assume. He was asked; he declines to answer.
    And the GFA is explicit. N.I. will continue to be part of the UK as long as a majority want it. The SOS is empowered/required, to call a referendum if he thinks the outcome would be close, as I remember.

  • Munsterview

    Joe,

    I appreciate your contributions, they give good insights to certain view points as I hope that mine also do. I regret the sometimes lack of specifics but where I know there are live issues on the table or matters of policy under discussion with the other parties or Brits, I tend to veer off discussing and perhaps inadvertently disclosing mindsets or negotiating positions. Besides one cannot be a detached commentator while at the same time a participant in the game!

    I did get into specifics with the 35 day notice and curtailment of civil rights issue…… and was let know that my contribution was unhelpful etc. On a major issue like that I have no difficulty in exposing and holding up a mirror. However I do, to paraphrase Yeats, want to comment in such a way as to enable readers to tell apart ‘ the dancer from the dance’ .

    For years I had read slugger without getting involved, when I did so earlier this year, it was for a specific one issue reason, to give open support to a victimized party in circumstances where it seemed the Republican Movement had questions to answer that it was not answering. I continued because currently as a historian taking part in academic round table seminars and such like I was to begin with stunned at how wrong post grad researchers were getting facts of history and events that I had lived through…’as history was made ‘ wrong.

    I thought that a republican historical perspective may be of some benefit to both our own Catholic/ Nationalist/ Republican side and to those on the other side of the divide who I know from my cultural contacts, are very interested in their own hidden history. There is my raison d’être in a nutshell !

    In the foregoing as in other postings I have outlined at some length how on the balance giving Political Prisoner status is necessary for the greater good at this time. The Armagh Women and the Kesh hunger strikes politicized a large section of the populace…… and many of these people are not in Sinn Fein.

    Even where they are it is still an emotive issue and is an issue where Republicans dissenting from a majority view who would not have support for most other aspects of the militant campaign, will support the prisoner issue. That support can then be worked on and broadened.

    Remove the Political Prisoner issue and there are very few other issues propagated by Republicans committed to an Armed Force campaign that will bring supporters outside of their narrow core on to the streets. I have already made the point that most of the heavy lifting has been done and that a few dozen more political prisoners are not going to make a lot of difference to the establishment .

    Granting Political status would not only remove an immediate irritant, it would also considerably reduce prison costs arising from extra guards and overtime and policing costs in covering marches etc. These costs are now coming, as far as I am aware, from the overall Northern Ireland budget.

    It is very easy to clock up a million in costs in these areas with nothing to show for it………and that is one million less for hospital services, education or housing etc, all the more reason for accommodating yet another action in a long line of artificial attempts to make an artificial statelet work!

    That is a rational response to an existing situation and long away from supporting these groups Armed Campain as such. Hope this clarifies a few things for you and others!

  • Damian O’Loan

    “Remove the Political Prisoner issue and there are very few other issues propagated by Republicans committed to an Armed Force campaign that will bring supporters outside of their narrow core on to the streets.”

    Is that why you’re raising it here when its relevance is tenuous at best?

    These people have rights and needs. Asking for Political status is a response based on ignoring those needs in the hope of repeating past tragedies. Some of the more immediate authentic needs are – implementation of basic human rights standards and access to education, as much and as good quality as required. Those could be given without Political status – would that interest you more than Political status without the needs being addressed?

    How does any of this justify the manslaughter/murder of innocents?

    “researchers were getting facts of history and events that I had lived through…’as history was made ‘ wrong”

    so, “I thought that a republican historical perspective may be of some benefit”

    I’d have thought getting the facts right would be a better response.

  • Munsterview

    Damian,
    “……..
    “researchers were getting facts of history and events that I had lived through…’as history was made ‘ wrong…..”

    I was responding with one eye on the computer screen and the other on the tv. Careless use of English, I will readily admit and as such inexcusable!

    To deal with this one aspect alone as it is important, what I intended to convey was that I have been to seminar after seminar where I have seen events as already reported in The Irish Times, Old Hibernia, Magill etc. distorted and not full researched, consequently conclusions were drawn based on incomplete information.

    It is difficult to appreciate at times that a twenty-five year old post grad researcher, no matter how bright was not even born at the time of the 86 Continuity/ Provo split never mind the momentous events of 69/70. Of course I have a Republican narrative and perspective on these event but that in itself is of limited importance.

    What is important is when through Slugger or other medium I put ‘inside’ information into the public forum, this specific information is then subjected to the same academic rigorous examination as say information from the same period coming from Garda sources. Only then do that information become hard history rather than as is more usual here, an excuse for another exercise in ‘whataboutery’ !

    “……..I thought that a republican historical perspective may be of some benefit”

    I’d have thought getting the facts right would be a better response. (D.O’L)

    I do not present information here that is not factual, it is a self defeating exercise. If my Republican perspective has an audience and any authority inside academic circles, it is because I have played the game by that set of rules in the first instance, something I detailed recently in the threads dealing with the all too young passing of a controversial historian.

    There are forces on this Island North and South of the border and indeed in the UK who want to present history from their particular narrative and to do that the reasons for the Provos must be denied, denigrated and where possible dismissed.

    Yet these same establishment forces are seldom challenged in their own narrative. Well endowed ‘chairs of history’ and research scholarships etc make sure of their narrative, such people are unlikely to bite the hand that feeds!

    In general what I have done in these postings is presented a Republican perspective, most times that is subjected to immediate challenge from the usual suspects and it is then up to the reader to make what they will of it.

    Political Prisoners V Human rights recognition etc. Republican prisoners carry a weight of history on their shoulders here, they know of the United Irishmen carried on ships sailing up and down the Western Irish Coast and provisioned at sea, without landing to prevent service of Habeas Corpus writs etc right through to some of the quasi legal methods used in the recent conflict.

    While a rose by any other name may smell as sweet to you…. there is a stage setting of over two hundred years old where these dramas are played out generation after generation according to prescribed formula. To these political prisoners, it is not just about their immediate rights, it is also about keeping faith with a past and not been found wanting.

    The wider nationalist community understands this and if push comes to shove, most will react emotively to abuse of prisoner from their community just as most protestants will have a gut reaction to the burning down of an Orange Hall irrespective as to how they may feel about the Orange Order.

    The problem here is not granting Dissident Republicans political prisoner status per se, it is that in so doing much of what had to be glossed over to make the GFA work ( in as much as it is working) including the very nature of the Six County Statelet is back again on the table laid bare for all to see!

    Far from being put to bed, is up and sleepwalking around the place. What is more to the authorities it is not just a sleepwalk, it is a bloody nightmare.

  • Charminator

    joeCanuck:

    Others can certainly decide for themselves if Godwin’s Law applies to your reference to ‘national socialism’. I note you now say you “challenged their socialism, claiming that in my opinion, for what it’s worth, which might not be much, they are more nationalists than socialists.”

    Of course, that wasn’t what you actually said initially: what you said was National Socialism and that’s not at all the same thing as ‘nationalism’, as you now claim you meant.

    Instructively, White Horse commented, in response to your initial National Socialism reference:
    “Yes, Joe, in the Nazi sense of national socialism.”

    You then replied:
    “Yes, that’s what I implied. I didn’t want to say the word in case someone invoked Godwin’s Law.”

    I’m going to hazard a guess here and say you failed to notice my post of one minute earlier, which already called you on your little-veiled Nazi reference.

    As you say, others can conclude for themselves, but if you were not referring to the Nazis, I fail to see why you would suggest to White Horse that that’s exactly what you were implying!?

    My own issue with this is that I feel such loose Nazi references devalue the real currency of language, as it applies to the true victims of these atrocities. Precisely because the atrocities were so great, I think we should err on the side of caution when making such comparisons, rather than drive-by references at ease, to whatever party that we harbour a particular resentment towards. I think such comparisons are rarely warranted and certainly not in the context of modern Irish politics.

  • joeCanuck

    loose Nazi references devalue the real currency of language, as it applies to the true victims of these atrocities

    Charminator, I agree, but only to an extent. Yes, the leaders of that political movement, especially in Germany, committed unspeakable atrocities for which they are mainly, and justifiably, remembered. But there was more; they wanted to replace the rule of law with their own perverted sense of existence which was that to the victors (the strongest thugs) belonged the spoils. Their “chosen”, the herrenvolk in Germany’s case, had a right to rule the world because of their supposed inherent superiority. Similarly, to some in Ireland, the pure folk are somehow superior to the “invaders”.

  • Damian O’Loan

    1. You didn’t answer my question, but that you think Political status to be more important than basic human rights is clear. Not only is this Absurd, it is just the abusive, nihilistic position that allowed young people to be starved unnecessarily not so long ago.

    2. A historian begins with objectivity and then forms an narrative. Since you admit you didn’t, you’re a polemicist, or a fantasist. I doubt your ‘fact’, given the suspension of Habeas Corpus between April 1798 and March 1801, and again repeatedly afterwards. Even if it were true, that is more germane. That you failed to mention the suspensions further undermines your credibility. But why use the denial of a human right by the British to defend the same by a so-called Republican?

    3. In order for me to play the ball, you have to stop presenting irrelevant aspects of your dubious autobiography by way of argument.

    4. You have come nowhere near justifying this attack. It was an insult to Republicanism and to human dignity, as, in a lesser way, is the level of your argument.

  • Munsterview

    “……….there are plenty of angry, twisted and hate filled individuals out there to fill the ranks, all they need is politicising for the cause……”.

    This is the same tripe that was written about Mcguiness, Adams, Ferris and the rest of our generation of republicans, it was not true then in relation to us and it is not true now in relation to most of the individuals in these armed republican groups. Much of this denigratory terminology is also coming from the same predictable sources now also as it did back then.

    This do not even merit a detailed reply, merely enough to say in passing that any group that relied on such indisciplined, self centered individuals for a serious militant organization would not last one wet week.

    In the old days these very type of individuals occasionally had to have the facts of life explained to them in relation to drug dealing or other serious anti social activity by having a quite word in one year while a gun was poked in the other! Very few of these ‘hard men’ that did not need a change of underwear immediately afterwards…… or so I have heard!

    Then there is the little matter of getting battered in State custody by people who are exempt from the rules. It takes something more than ‘an angry twisted, hate filled individual’ to emerge from that situation even more disciplined and motivated.

    Such emotive, descriptive language may sound good at the dispatch box in the Commons, indeed it was used against every armed group that opposed the British Empire and every Irish armed group that opposed British interests in Ireland. If there is to be any understanding of these groups, it must start with the reality of recognizing the people involved for what they are.

    Of course for certain parties the only problem with this this emotive language is it do not go far enough, so a few mulberry bushes coming up !

  • Alan Maskey

    A dissident supporter reading this would draw great solace.
    1. Munsterview made a good analysis of their position and it is getting inside their heads that is important. I am sure, as Mv said, MI5 and their off shoots have spent some considerable time doing just that.
    2. Conversations veer off tack into calling SR a bunch of Nazis. That is well trodden ground and does not belong here as SF have repeatedly said they hate these guys.
    3. Unionists still betray their No Surrender, this is our land mind set. That is a god send to dissidents. Maybe the dissidents prefer getting a rise pout of the Provos. I don’t know. But I would like to know.

  • quality

    Ok replace explicit with definitive.

    But my mistake it was ‘Steve’ who declared partition the unresolved issue, not Munsterview.

  • Skintown Lad

    Munsterview

    Given that you’re the man with the first hand experience, could you tell us what the “securocrats” are/were aiming to do by keeping a low intensity war going? What do they have to gain?

    You almost go so far as to suggest that republicans wanted to stop their conflict but the Brits wouldn’t let them. I fail to see how the fact that some incompetent spy thought you smoked cigars leads you to that conclusion.

  • Brian Boru II

    The dissidents will NEVER have the support that the provo’s had. NEVER.

    Someone spoke of the treatment of “political prisoners” as a factor in this continuing madness. They are not political prisoners, they are fanatics and madmen. The nationalist population has thoroughly rejected violence. Every bomb they plant, every off duty cop they shoot, stops or slows any development of our political system.

  • Munsterview

    Skin T

    Their spy system and spies are far from incompetent, another personal example from my own experience is a case in point. I was insured with a British insurance Co. for my first five or six years driving. On one occasion the person dealing with me was asked to go to the bank and my file was left on the counter.

    I had a look inside and was amazed to see that it contained a scrap book of press clippings; every trade union, political, cultural and social reference that had appeared in the press concerning me, was there together with notes contextualizing the references. The late Captain James Kelly later told me that this was standard policy (no pun intended) for all English insurance co. in Ireland to collect such data in any that were of interest to Brit intel.

    I do not underestimate these people one little bit. Just what Intel is now collected through open electronic sources including monitoring slugger ?

    Joe C….. Toss around Nazi references all you like : I have taken the trouble to go Auschwitz, I have looked out through the barbed wire, I have stood in a gas chamber, walked by the ovens etc. I did not just do the tour; I spend most of my break in the town talking to Solidarity people, Polish Families that were involved in War resistance to the Germans etc.

    Had some of the other ‘one liners’ here done likewise or had appreciation of the full extent off what was involved, then perhaps the horror would not have been devalued and diminished for a few point scoring sound bites!

    D O’L recall what I wrote regarding Yeats line regarding telling apart ‘the dancer from the dance’? I do not support Armed Force against the state in the present situation and in other postings in other threads I have gone into the reasons why in some detail, it is unnecessary to do so here.

    Abusive, nihilistic etc… I do not think so; this goes to the very nub of the matter of the confrontation between the prisoners in jail for waging war against British Crown Forces and their proxies such as the prison authorities. For the prisoners, having political prisoner status acknowledged is also de facto a recognition that their act was political.

    The authorities know this, they have, as I pointed out, over two centuries of experience of denying republican prisoners their status: the perspectives of both parties remain unchanging, political prisoners maintaining that they are in custody arising from a political offense and the authorities maintaining that any armed resistance to its forces is a criminal act.

    If the prisoners were offered detention in a five star luxury hotel conditional on they first not contesting the claim that they were criminals how many takers do you think there would be for that proposition?

    In the words of Terence McSweeney ” In matters of principle there are no compromises” That may be nihilistic to you but the broad nationalist community ( Queens Irish exempted of course ) understand those prisoners positions.

    The ‘Queens Irish’ also do, but have chosen for whatever reasons to throw in their lot with with the crown against the interests of the majority of their fellow citizens on this island. Always had them and always will!

    On item (2) on the use of State kidnapping and quasi legal means of countering republicans, I will hopefully be covering these areas later in a series of articles on the history of Republicanism and given the expected nihilistic responses from some quarters, it will be factually correct hence the deferral until every i is dotted and t crossed as the saying goes!

    Until then in regard to the prison ships and how they were used to keep the kidnapped United Irish men and their supporters out of reach of their legal advisers and court system, I but pass on the some of the information given in a lecture by Dr. Ruan O’Donnell at a cultural event that I attended last year.

    As head of the History Department in Limerick University and a world acknowledged expert on the United Irishman period, I am sure Dr O’Donnell would welcome any direct contact from you informing him as to where his extensive researches in the period were incorrect!

    Item (3) Yep the ‘been there wore the T shirt’ is a very annoying perspective especially when one party is writing from direct experience and the other from prejudicial conjecture! I would not purport to really understand the mindsets of OO or Unionists, yet apparently there is no shortage of Loyalists/Unionists or whatever who are experts on Republican and Nationalist thinking.

    I had hoped to make some contribution in this regard but when issues are reduced to basics as with the political prisoner issue, then the response is the usual red top tabloid sound bite response. If stating a factual position can be taken as a polemic for a particular viewpoint, then it is very likely that the viewpoint is in accordance with the facts to begin with, however unpalatable these facts may be to a contrary viewpoint!

    item (4) I did not set out to justify the attack. To again return to this subject, I have repeatedly written that I do not support the continuation of armed force in the present situation, so much so in fact that anyone on these threads, asserting to the contrary, is being deliberately disingenuous, distracting and perusing other agendas.

  • Reader

    Munsterview: The ‘Queens Irish’ also do, but have chosen for whatever reasons to throw in their lot with with the crown against the interests of the majority of their fellow citizens on this island.
    What the Queen’s Irish do has no negative effect on the interests of the majority of their nationalist neighbours on the island, who live under a different jurisdiction. So, ‘Aspirations’ (perhaps), but not ‘Interests’.

  • Alan Maskey

    Terence McSwiney (Traolach Mac Suibhne) few 69 ers would get that wrong.
    Your trip to Poland reminds me of a trip to Killarney talking to the jarvey men. I asked why did the IRA not burn down Muckross House in the Civila War. The jarveys almost had a heart attack, little tourist lackeys that they are. I am sure Polish tourist spots have the same. They all fought in the resistance, they all blah de blah and they all have f- all else to do but talk to and lick up to gullible tourists.

  • joeCanuck

    Well, there’s some hope at least. The organization that claimed to have carried out the bombing have said that they attempted to do the bombing the previous day but had to abandon the attempt when “..two taxi drivers refused to cooperate the instructions”. Well done those taxi drivers and hopefully others will do the same. If the cowards want to do bombings, let them do their own dirty work. Suicide bombing anyone?

  • Munsterview

    Clarifation : my remarks about Queens Irish did not include the Unionist or Loyalist community, while I may not agree with their view I would like to think that I have some appreciation of their position.

    Rather I had in mind those like the Catholic army deserters who joined the Cromwellian Army at the end of the wars to hunt down former comerades and kill them for a months wages. The same type of people who rounded up thousands of Irish females from infants to grandmothers ( males over twelve were just killed off) to be sold into slavery etc.

    Very easy to identify these people on squared ground when all is black and white…… the lines are a little blurred and not as easily discernable more closer to, and in contemporary times. However they are there and apparent!

  • Munsterview

    Not worth dignifying with a reply!

  • joeCanuck

    MV,

    I doubt that there is ever any black and white. I had never heard of those people (deserters) that you referred to. At this distance in time, how do we really know what was going on?

  • Munsterview

    Off thread but here is an interesting piece from the period for an article I am researching for another site. It may throw some light on the period.

    Irish Slavery in America

    In 1688, the first woman killed in Cotton Mather’s witch trials in Massachusetts was an old Irish woman named Anne Glover, who had been captured and sold as a slave in 1650. She spoke no English. She could recite The Lord’s Prayer in Gaelic and Latin, but without English, Mather decided her Gaelic was discourse with the devil, and hung her.

  • Munsterview

    Sorry Joe, link did not come up live! If interested this should take you and others to the related article.

    http://www.scoilgaeilge.org/academics/slaves.htm

  • joeCanuck

    Wow, MV. I wasn’t even aware that there were any Irish slaves.

    Most Montserratans spoke Irish Gaelic until about 1900

    Amazing almost beyond belief. Any good books you can recommend?

  • Munsterview

    Joe,

    The reaction of most people when this is first brought to their notice is the same as yours. The figure on aggregate is somewhere between half and three quarters of a million for the time span that the slavery continued

    I do not have my book list on this portable but if you google….. Black Irish + slavery…… or similar combinations you will get some interesting links. Also try Galway University sites, they have done most of the pioneer work in this area, especially Mountserrat. Quite a large part of the research is collateral in that African post colonial studies dealing with British Slavery must begin in Ireland as here is where it started.

    There was also a large mixed race and impoverished Irish community in New Orleans prior to the US civil war. They lived along the river and were known as ‘Warf Rats’. The elements of it that passed for ‘white’ provided some fine soldiers to the Confederate side in the Civil War.

    Believe it or not my family have been at daggers drawn with these forces since the mid-1500’s…and I stress forces rather than the English per se, their armies etc are but the physical manifestation of what they were doing but that is another story. And you are correct it has not all been black and white.

    Three cousins were involved in the 67 Fenian rising, one did the political prisoner bit and went on to become an MP for a decade at the end of the 19th, century, the son of another was also an MP in the early 20th, century, and I the great grandson of the third served in the Ard Comhairle of Sinn Fein in the seventies…… while a grandson of the second Fenian was still alive and…. a retired British Army General OBE, CBE among other decorations.

    I am currently editing a book on the Generals father and much of my research is conducted with the help of English friends. Two of his brothers, officers in the British army were killed in the First WW. Another distant cousin, a doctor and a Roman Catholic had the entire Protestant corporation of a Northern English city turn out in full robes for his funeral out of respect for his work for the poor of that city.

    So much for my perceived anti Englishism here!

    One interesting historical footnote : Thomas Davis’s epic poem… The Sack Of Baltimore….( probably on the net). purports to give the story of the sack of the town and this is accepted in popular culture. Folk tradition however has it that Baltimore was set up as a slave trading station and the Native Irish struck first and brought in Corsican pirates to clear out the lot and enslave the Anglo Colony first!