Monthly Archives: June 2017

A New Ernie O’Malley Site…..

Thanks to BM for this tip.

Ernie O’Malley’s son, Cormac has just unveiled a website dedicated to his father’s life and work. It can be found here.

Any student of Ireland’s history during the struggle for independence who ignores O’Malley’s writings – particularly ‘On Another Man’s Wound’ and ‘The Singing Flame’ – denies themselves a proper understanding of the period.

Ernie O’Malley

Not only is O’Malley’s personal account of the Anglo-Irish war and the civil war that followed essential reading, the two books are beautifully written, works of art.

The Northern conflict has yet to produce an Ernie O’Malley. So far we just have Danny Morrison, whose output to date includes the utterly indecipherable ‘West Belfast’.

When it first appeared on the streets, a very senior comrade of Danny’s confided to me that he had yet to meet anyone who had managed to read beyond Page One. This may be a tendentious claim but I can’t help thinking that there is a metaphor for the Provos somewhere in that.

Mar-a-Lago After Climate Change…..

Thanks to weather.com for this imagining of what Donald Trump’s Florida hideout, Mar-a-Lago will look like if his disastrous climate policies continue:

A Bad Result For The Guardian’s Blairites…..

O joy! Oh bliss! It’s not just that Corbyn has shown how useless and out of touch are the bulk of the UK’s journalists – just like their American counterparts were last November – but in particular that the worst of the worst, exposed as frauds, are the bunch of Blairites masquerading as reporters in Britain’s allegedly most left-wing, intellectual journal, The Guardian.

Here is Marina Hyde, Queen of the Grauniad’s Blairites in her column yesterday, as people were still voting. The crime is, she’ll still be in a job tomorrow. How much do these people get paid? :

Whatever the result (and for what sub-minuscule amount it is worth, I suspect it’ll be an eye-wateringly big win for the Tories)………

This is not journalism. It is a wishful, anti-Corbyn neurosis pretending to be journalism. I’m over here in the U.S., 3,000 miles away, and even I could see she was going to be wrong!

The Death Pangs Of Irish Historical Revisionism……?

As regular readers of thebrokenelbow.com will know, I recently posted a fascinating article about the IRA’s treatment of informers during the 1919-1921 War of Independence that had originally appeared in The Irish Story blog.

The piece was written by the historian, Padraig Og O Ruairc and among the gems in his article was a claim that out of 196 alleged informers killed by the IRA during that conflict, some twenty-five had been ‘disappeared’, shot dead and their bodies dumped in secret, unmarked graves where, presumably, most of them still lie.

If true, that assertion suggests that the Provisional IRA’s adoption of the same practice in 1972 was not an aberration but a tactic borrowed from an earlier generation of republican militants (and who knows, perhaps even from older antecedents), men whose leaders went on to form the Irish Free State and then De Valera’s Ireland, some of whom may even had had a hand or part in those disappearances.

Padraig Og O Ruairc

O Ruairc’s article was based on his book published last year by Mercier Press, which was in turn apparently derived from his doctoral thesis at the University of Limerick.

Titled, ‘Truce – Murder, Myth and the Last Days of the Irish War of Independence’, I was able to quickly obtain a copy courtesy of Kindle, and am now thoroughly enjoying what so far I have found to be a well-written and revealing account of what, it seems, has been a badly distorted chapter in Irish history.

I reproduce the first chapter below, not just in the hope that it may whet the reader’s appetite for more, but because it well illustrates that point. He begins with an especially inculpatory and tone-setting quote from an article written by Kevin Myers in The Irish Independent in June 2011.

It was published to mark the 90th anniversary of the 1921 Anglo-Irish Truce which culminated later that year in the Treaty, which ended the Tan War and cemented the partition of Ireland and, true to form, Myers was his usual unsparing foe of all thing Irish republican.

I have known Kevin for more years than I care to remember, meeting him when he worked and lived in Belfast, mostly for The Observer, in the early days of the Troubles; he was one of the finest British journalists in the North at the time, with sources across the spectrum, and a lovely writer, occasionally provocative and biting but always worth reading.

But in the late 1970’s, suffering a broken heart, he moved across the Border to Dublin, and at some point thereafter morphed into perhaps the leading journalistic propagandist for Irish historical revisionism, not just by reviling the IRA and its friends, but through single-handedly restoring the memory of the historic blood ties between the British Army and Ireland.

If there is one person responsible for the sight of red poppies in lapels in Dublin in November these days, or the names of British soldiers killed in 1916 being carved into the marble Rising memorial in Glasnevin cemetery, it is Kevin Myers.

But I often wondered if the disappointment that drove him southwards also turned him against the North and led him down this path.

Kevin Myers

Irish revisionism reviles all matters that smack of nationalism or republicanism and there is no doubt that the great fear of the North that descended on the South after Bloody Sunday in 1972 was its midwife.

Initially there was great sympathy for the civil rights movement in the North but when the guns started firing, it morphed into a strange and alien place for many Southerners, especially in Dublin’s more affluent sections, a source of terrifying instability and bewildering violence that might stream across the Border at any moment.

And so, in the wake of Bloody Sunday when the fever that had gripped the North threatened to contaminate the South, the Irish establishment – political, academic, journalistic – began to rewrite, revise and in the process revile crucial aspects of the origins of the State, most notably the character of those who had done the fighting that led to the Truce and Treaty.

After all, the methods and tactics used by the Provisional IRA – as O Ruairc’s claims about ‘disappearing’ informers during the 1919-21 period graphically illustrates – were in essence no different from those used by the founders of the Southern State. It was not intellectually possible to denounce one while exalting the other. So both had to be condemned.

And so revisionism was born, with one of its principal characteristics an eagerness to re-sculpt the founders of the Southern state in the image of the terrifying and diabolical Provos who now threatened the peace, prosperity and safety of the comfortable classes of Dublin and allied places elsewhere south of the Border.

The quote from Kevin Myers’ Indo article employed by O Ruairc is a classic of its genre. He describes how, with the Truce just hours away, two IRA gunmen took advantage of a lowering of the British guard to murder 20-year old Alfred Needham, an RIC man as he emerged from the registry office where he had just married his sweetheart.

But in fact, no such incident occurred. Needham, a Black and Tan, not a policeman, was shot dead for sure, but outside a stable, not a wedding registry, and in the company of armed RIC men; no happy bride was on his arm or anywhere nearby.

One can only assume that if O Ruairc’s account is correct, Myers did not bother to check the facts but took as gospel accounts that had been written up by others who may have had their own axes to grind, such as former RUC man Richard Abbott in his history of the RIC. But the story did its job: the IRA of 1921 were cowards and brutes, just like the monsters bombing Belfast in the 1970’s and ’80’s.

The extraordinary thing about this story is that the inaccurate Myers’ account has been repeated ad nauseam by other writers, even those who could not by any stretch of the imagination be described as revisionists, like Tim Pat Coogan.

What emerges from this story, at least to my mind, is a measure of the enormous damage done by Irish revisionism, not just to the historical record, but to the courage and independence of history writers – and others whose job was also to tell the truth.

To challenge the Myers’ version of the story risked the accusation of sympathy with Alfred Needham’s killers. Far easier just to let the matter rest.

I lived and worked as a journalist through the worst years of Irish revisionism when the charge that struck most fear in the hearts of reporters was the potentially career-ending accusation that you were ‘a fellow traveler’, or ‘a sneaking regarder’, i.e. that you were in the same camp as the Provos.

It didn’t take much to earn the charge. Such an imputation could be made  simply by questioning the guilt of the Birmingham Six or the Guildford Four. That is why it was British reporters and politicians who led the fight to establish their innocence, not Irish.

It was Ireland’s McCarthyite period, a shameful time which, by suppressing full and honest examination of what was happening in Ireland, warped understanding of the violence and why it happened, and in turn delayed – I suspect by many years – a resolution of the conflict.

And, just as McCarthyism imposed an ugly conformity on potential victims, so Irish revisionism forced many – journalists and historians – to keep their heads down.

The work of a new generation of Irish historians such as Padraig O Ruairc thus represents a refreshing, overdue and honest break with that mendacious past. It is to be welcomed with open arms.

Enjoy:

For decades, nationalist Ireland has told glorious stories of IRA flying columns beating the dastardly Black and Tans. In fact there were few flying columns and an awful lot of … murders … In [July] 1921, with the Truce just hours away, an RIC man named Alfred Needham, aged 20, clearly thought that finally he could marry his sweetheart. But a clerk in Ennis tipped off the IRA that the groom’s profession was ‘Constable’. So a beaming Alfred and his teenage bride emerged from the registry office and two gunmen shot him dead. Yet … this July our political classes will once again unite around the fiction that ‘the War of Independence’ was honourable and necessary and largely worthwhile.

This is how newspaper columnist Kevin Myers described one of the last killings of the Irish War of Independence in an article in the Irish Independent marking the ninetieth anniversary of the Anglo-Irish Truce, which ended the war on 11 July 1921. Myers dismissed the IRA military campaign of 1919–21, which eventually led to the creation of an independent state in southern Ireland, as part of a ‘cycle of psychiatric futility’. Furthermore, he claimed that the ‘murder’ of Alfred Needham exposed as a fiction the concept of the War of Independence as a necessary and legitimate war.

Ironically, Myers’ account of Needham’s killing is almost entirely fictional. There was no wedding ceremony, no teenage bride and no clerk who tipped off the IRA. Needham, a Black and Tan from London, was shot standing at the door of a stable with two other armed members of the Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) –not while leaving a registry office with his new bride. The tale about Needham being killed immediately after getting married appears to have been invented for melodramatic effect in a propaganda story. Yet different versions of this story continue to resurface every few years masquerading as factual history.

Author Richard Abbott, an RUC officer who compiled a history of RIC casualties during the War of Independence, claimed that the IRA had attacked both Needham and his new bride after their wedding ceremony – killing him and hospitalising her. Eunan O’Halpin, Professor of Contemporary Irish History at Trinity College Dublin, stated in a recent television documentary that Needham had married in a church ceremony and was shot dead in front of his new bride just minutes after they had exchanged wedding vows. A common element in most of these accounts is the suggestion that the IRA Volunteers who killed Needham knew a ceasefire had been agreed with the British forces and that this was a motivating factor in the attack.

The stories about Needham’s wedding are part of a wider narrative about the War of Independence, which claims that the announcement of the Truce on 8 July 1921 led to a wave of unjustifiable ‘eleventh-hour’ IRA attacks before the ceasefire began. Supporters of this narrative claim that republicans launched a determined campaign to kill as many people as possible before the war ended and that these final IRA attacks were made mainly against so-called ‘soft targets’, i.e. unarmed members of the British forces and loyalist civilians. Some historians and commentators allege that attacks on ‘soft targets’ accounted for the bulk of IRA activity throughout the War of Independence, which they claim was more akin to terrorism than to a military campaign. It has also been asserted that Protestants were targeted as part of a sectarian campaign conducted by the IRA, and that such attacks intensified after the Truce was announced.

A number of stories similar to the one about Needham’s wedding are reproduced regularly in histories of the War of Independence to support the idea that the IRA exploited the declaration of the Truce as an opportunity for wanton violence. These include claims that:

• After the announcement of the Truce, the IRA killed up to a dozen alleged spies, most of whom were innocent Protestants with no connection to the British forces.

• Four teenage soldiers, mere boys who had left their post to visit a sweet shop, were abducted and murdered by the IRA for no apparent reason. • Three Protestant boys were abducted, killed and secretly buried by the IRA in Cork city because of republican paranoia about spies.

• A devout Catholic serving in the RIC was shot dead by IRA gunmen while on his way to Mass on the morning of the ceasefire.

• The IRA in Kerry launched its only attack of the war, killing a soldier and an innocent young woman, just minutes before the Truce started.

• A Black and Tan strolling through a picturesque Wicklow village was murdered by republicans less than an hour after the ceasefire began.

Some of these stories have a grain of truth to them. Others are entirely fictional or are genuine killings taken out of context and with new details invented for propaganda value. For years, Irish and British authors writing about the War of Independence have accepted these stories as truthful, repeating and recycling them without question. Meanwhile the activities of the British forces in the same period have been ignored, with many authors unquestioningly accepting assurances that the British Army, RIC and Black and Tans all ceased hostilities the minute the Truce was announced, leaving the IRA as the sole protagonists in the final violent days of the conflict.

The allegation that the IRA callously took the announcement of the Truce as an opportunity to attack ‘soft targets’ was first employed as anti-republican propaganda in early accounts of the war written by British authors. The official history of the British Army’s 6th Division in Ireland, written in 1922, claimed the IRA exploited the declaration of the Truce as:

… an opportunity for attacking and murdering people when vigilance would obviously be relaxed, and if they could only postpone these murders to the last moment, the murderers could not possibly be punished. They carried out their programme to the letter. A private of the Machine Gun Corps was murdered on July 10th … four unarmed soldiers were kidnapped and murdered in Cork, and a patrol in Castleisland was ambushed, with results more disastrous to the rebels than even to the patrol itself; and finally, within fifteen minutes of the Truce, the inhabitants of Killarney, who had never summoned up courage to strike a blow for freedom during the progress of the war, attacked two sergeants of the Royal Fusiliers in the street, one of whom died. Thus was the Truce inaugurated.

Walter Phillips, an English historian who published one of the first popular histories of the conflict in 1923, said: ‘the weekend before the coming of the Truce was one of the bloodiest on record in Ireland’. Phillips held the IRA solely responsible for this increase in violence and focused on the killings of off-duty soldiers and loyalist civilians. In his memoirs, published in 1924, General Nevil Macready, the former commander of the British forces in Ireland, contrasted the morality of the military campaigns waged by the rival forces in the final days and hours before the Truce began.

According to Macready, British forces refrained from any hasty and unnecessary last-minute attacks, while the IRA intensified its military campaign through opportunistic killings:

The Truce would begin at 12 noon on 11th July, 1921, until which time the troops, while taking no risks, should abstain as far as possible from unnecessary activity against the rebels, who, far from imitating such chivalrous forbearance, continued their campaign of outrage and assassination until the clocks struck twelve on 11th July.

Like Phillips, Macready cited attacks on the British forces, the killing of civilians and the destruction of the homes of loyalists as proof of an IRA ‘campaign of outrage’ prompted by the announcement of the Truce.

Allegations that the IRA engaged in unjustified military operations in the dying hours of the conflict were not confined to British writers. This accusation became a core piece of anti-republican propaganda in the Irish Free State. During the Civil War both sides accused their opponents of cowardice, denouncing them as ‘eleventh-hour warriors’ and ‘Trucileers’, i.e. men who joined the IRA at the time of the Truce but who had played little or no part in the War of Independence. The military record of its various supporters and opponents often dominated the debates surrounding the acceptance of the Anglo-Irish Treaty. Free State propaganda defined republican opponents of the Anglo-Irish Treaty as ‘Johnny-come-latelys’ who ‘had never challenged Dublin Castle’ or ‘ever fired a shot against the British forces’. Furthermore they denounced the guerrilla tactics used by IRA ‘Trucileers’ and, with no sense of irony or hypocrisy, encouraged them to ‘fight fair’ even though the exact same guerrilla tactics had been employed during the War of Independence.

In his 1924 book The Victory of Sinn Féin, the Free State polemicist P. S. O’Hegarty condemned the anti-Treaty IRA as ‘a terrorist army’ of ‘Tinpikemen’ that had shied away from danger during the War of Independence but who had sprung into action at the last moment: ‘all the young men in all the counties who had kept aloof of the fighting when it was dangerous were now eager to become heroes, and to be able to tell stories about this and that ambush’. Piaras Béaslaí, the former IRA director of publicity who wrote a biography of Michael Collins shortly after the Civil War, castigated the republican opponents of the Treaty, whom he dismissed as ‘Trucileers’:

A great many eleventh-hour warriors, in comparatively peaceful parts of the country, hastened to make up arrears by firing shots at the last moment, and there were attacks on the English forces up to within a few minutes of the Truce. These belated exhibitions of prowess, with no military objective, when the danger seemed past, reflected no credit on Irishmen.

Many of the IRA units responsible for these operations later fought against acceptance of the Treaty, and Béaslaí’s comments are likely to have been influenced by his support for the Treaty and his experiences during the Civil War.

Abusive comments about ‘Trucileers’ were directed in particular against republicans in Kerry, where there had been limited IRA activity in the pre-Truce period but an increase in operations in the last days of the war. In October 1933, following a republican attack on a ‘Blueshirt’ rally in Tralee, Eoin O’Duffy, leader of the pro-Treaty Fine Gael party, taunted his political opponents in the county by declaring: ‘Kerry’s entire record in the Black and Tan struggle consisted in shooting an unfortunate soldier the day of the Truce. To hear such people shouting “Up the Republic” would make a dog sick.’

Years later, a number of historians began repeating allegations that the IRA had exploited the announcement of the Truce to commit unjustified and morally questionable attacks, and over time this allegation became widely accepted as historical fact. In his book The Black and Tans, Richard Bennett claimed that there was ‘a wild flurry of activity’ by ‘Eleventh hour warriors of the IRA [who] hurried to get their last shots in’. Bennett cited the IRA execution of civilians suspected of spying and attacks on off-duty members of the British forces as proof of this. He claimed that these ‘eleventh-hour’ attacks were typical of the IRA’s military campaign, which had ‘relapsed into a moral anarchy unconnected with any political or social or practical end other than the muzzle of a gun’.

Charles Townshend has claimed that the Truce was ‘preceded by one of the bloodiest weekends in the conflict, with the IRA killing some 20 people in the last 36 hours’. Joseph Curran attributed a propaganda and political motivation to the apparent escalation in IRA violence immediately before the ceasefire: ‘On July 8 Macready ordered his troops to abstain from unnecessary activity in view of the Truce agreement. The IRA, on the other hand, kept up its attacks until the last moment to demonstrate its capacity and willingness to carry on the fight.’ Tim Pat Coogan claimed that the IRA committed ‘cold-blooded’ killings after the Truce’s announcement: ‘the IRA kept up the offensive to within minutes of that noontide. On some it had a galvanic effect. Knowing that retribution could not occur after the 11th, many literally eleventh-hour warriors now took the field’. Maryann Valiulis claimed that some bloodlust was to be found on both sides in the last days of the war, but suggested that the republicans were primarily responsible, having provoked British forces through a series of unjustified and gratuitous killings:

Neither side … would let the hostilities cease without one last burst of violence before the Truce came into effect. The IRA received word that the British forces would attempt one final action … The reason for the contemplated action by the British forces was that six soldiers were captured and shot on about 9 July 1921. In addition, records indicate that 11 spies were executed by the IRA just prior to the advent of the Truce.

Peter Hart stated that local IRA units had advance knowledge of the Truce and this led to an increase in republican violence deliberately calculated to inflict fatalities on British forces and to kill loyalist civilians and other ‘soft targets’:

The first eleven days in July did bring a last-minute upsurge in political activity … this was partly a product of the impending Truce, allowing IRA units outside Dublin to wreak maximum havoc in the knowledge that they would soon be immune from retaliation … Civilian targets, in fact, offered the only remaining untapped market for IRA operations in early 1921, which guerrillas were already beginning to exploit when the Truce mercifully intervened.

Hart further claimed that anti-Protestant violence perpetrated by the IRA increased continually until the Truce began on 11 July 1921. According to him, the IRA engaged in a spate of unwarranted killings after the ceasefire was announced: ‘many guerrilla units had made a point of killing as many enemies as possible up until the last minute (twenty people in the last thirty-six hours)’.

More recently, Marie Coleman has suggested that IRA Volunteers who knew the Truce was imminent might have had a sectarian motive in launching last-minute attacks. Coleman cites the executions of the Pearson brothers, two Protestant farmers at Coolacrease, Co. Offaly, and suggests that their killers were motivated by ‘the desire of the hitherto inactive Offaly Brigade to record a success before the Truce’.

Through frequent repetition, the claim that the announcement of the Truce led to a surge in unjustifiable ‘last-minute’ republican killings has effectively become part of the standard narrative of the War of Independence. Over time, this narrative has become more exaggerated and has been incorporated into an increasingly melodramatic, propagandistic and factually inaccurate history. This repetition and promotion has been part of a wider ideological debate about ‘revisionism’ in the academic study of Irish history and an ongoing political debate on the legitimacy of physical-force republicanism. The debate on these issues has been conducted in overtly political and moral terms in newspaper articles, and on radio and television, with politicians and polemicists such as Conor Cruise O’Brien featuring prominently.

Newspaper columnist and political activist Eoghan Harris, a self-described anti-republican revisionist, has produced a number of television pieces and articles critical of the IRA’s conduct during the War of Independence, which allege that republican violence in that period had a strong sectarian intent. He has insisted that ‘the first duty of academic historians is to protect past victims of the IRA who no longer have a voice’. Harris has also made the specific claim that republican ‘bloodlust’ led to an increase in IRA violence after the announcement of the Truce.

Kevin Myers has made similar claims in his newspaper columns, which regularly feature the War of Independence as a topic. He has frequently repeated the claim that the IRA exploited the announcement of the Truce as an opportunity to indulge in sectarian killings and attacks on ‘soft targets’. In The Irish Times, Myers alleged that: ‘The conference in the Mansion House in Dublin, where the details of the ceasefire were being hammered out, gave three days’ notice of the Truce. Those days were filled with bloodshed as killers embarked upon a once-in-a-lifetime Summer Sale of murder, guaranteed without legal consequence.’

Claims by Myers and Harris cannot be treated with the same weight as serious historical research by academics, but the media in Ireland plays an important role in shaping perceptions of the conflict and opinion pieces by these commentators have helped to promote and expand the existing narrative of pre-Truce violence.

This book attempts to separate the fiction, myth and propaganda from the facts, and to establish what really happened from 8–11 July 1921 –to find out if there is any truth in the allegations, or if they are just made-up stories that have enjoyed an unnaturally long life. To date, almost all of the books and articles which claim that the announcement of the Truce led to a massive surge in violence have focused entirely on killings carried out by the IRA and ignored the actions of British forces in the last days of the conflict. This has resulted in a biased history of the last days of the conflict, in which those killed by the IRA are remembered as the victims of vengeful and futile militarism while those killed by the British forces are conveniently forgotten. Here, contemporary accounts from newspapers, military and police reports, testimony from Irish loyalists and eyewitness accounts from veterans of both the IRA and the British forces have been used to build up a detailed and accurate picture and to establish for the first time what really happened during the final days and hours of the Irish War of Independence.

Will A Hung Parliament In UK End Sinn Fein Abstentionism And Postpone Adams’ Retirement?

This is how The Guardian is reporting the exit polls from the UK general election.

Do the math. If this prediction holds, the Tories’ 314 seats exactly equals the combined total of Labour’s 266, the Lib Dems’ 14 and the Scottish Nationalists’ 34. That leaves 22 seats, eighteen of which are in Northern Ireland and they will be divided between the DUP, other Unionists, the SDLP and Sinn Fein.

The other 22 will, if this scenario unfolds, thus hold the balance of power at Westminster. Sinn Fein won four seats in 2015 and this time may win more. The DUP had eight seats, the SDLP 3 and the Ulster Unionists, two with one ‘other’. That may all change however when the votes are counted.

With political power so finely balanced can Sinn Fein afford not to attend the House of Commons, oath of allegiance to the Crown notwithstanding? Helping out their old mucker Jeremy Corbyn may bring SF all sorts of unexpected prizes; refusing to take part, on the other hand, could be badly penalised, especially if by so doing the DUP become king, or should that be queen-makers?

And another question pops up. Gerry Adams is due to retire, so the jungle drums tell us, sometime in the autumn. If there is a hung parliament, with all the possibilities that may flow from that, will he be tempted to stay on? Even arrange a sudden by-election in West Belfast?

Trump’s Unwittingly Revealing Response To ISIS’ Attacks In Iran

This is what Donald Trump had to say in the wake of today’s ISIS bombings and shootings in the Iranian capital Tehran which claimed twelve lives:

‘We grieve and pray for the innocent victims of the terrorist attacks in Iran, and for the Iranian people, who are going through such challenging times. We underscore that states that sponsor terrorism risk falling victim to the evil they promote.’

I am prompted by the last sentence to respond with a question:

‘You mean like invading Iraq on the basis of a lie, or overthrowing the leadership in Libya so the country’s oil and water reserves become available for exploitation?’

‘IRA “Disappeared” Twenty-Five Alleged Informers During The Tan War…..’

A fascinating article on the IRA’s treatment of alleged informers during the 1919-1921 War of Independence popped into my mailbox this morning courtesy of the ever entertaining and informative Irish Republican Education Forum on Facebook.

The article appears on the blog The Irish Story’ and was written by Padraig Og O Ruairc, the Co Clare-born author and historian. O Ruairc examines in detail the where’s, who’s, what’s and when’s of the IRA’s attitude towards British spies and in the first really detailed study of informers during this period, he writes that a total of 196 people were killed by the IRA, allegedly for working for the British.

Padraig Og O Ruairc at a book signing

You can read the whole article here.

Here’s one surprising revelation:

‘The execution of suspected spies was almost exclusively a ‘Southern’ phenomenon. Apart from a cluster of executions in Armagh, Cavan and Monaghan the IRA execution of spies was almost unknown in Ulster.’

Here is his map of executions of informers by the IRA and not surprisingly the bulk of victims were killed in Co Cork, the south Armagh of the 1919-1921 Troubles. Seventy-eight of the 196 slain informers were killed by the IRA in that county.

The most surprising revelation, about which I would like to know more detail, is his claim that the IRA ‘disappeared’, Jean McConville-style, twenty-five alleged informers during the Tan war. Their bodies were never recovered.

Perhaps Mr O Ruairc will some time in the future tell us more about them: who were they and what were the circumstances of their ‘disappearance’?

Were any efforts ever made to locate their bodies? After the Treaty were such victims just forgotten, their fate written out of the story of the fight for Ireland’s independence? Why the silence?

Should the Irish government, which has condemned the Provisional IRA for its behaviour in this regard and co-operated in efforts to recover the ‘disappeared’ from the North, not do more now to restore the ‘disappeared’ from their own conflict and jurisdiction to their families?

 

Some More Thoughts On John Finucane & Sinn Fein

The more I think about John Finucane’s decision to stand in the Westminster general election for Sinn Fein in North Belfast the more I find aspects to puzzle over.

John Finucane leaving Belfast High Court

The Shinners have clearly given up on Gerry Kelly ever persuading enough middle class Catholics in North Belfast to vote for him to make the seat winnable.

John Finucane however just might do the trick. He is a successful solicitor with a commendable track record in fighting for many years to expose the full story of his father’s murder. I have had dealings with most the Finucane family over the years but never John, But by all accounts he is a very nice guy, with genuine concerns for the people in his putative constituency and a lawyer with real interest in human rights issues.

He also comes from a family which is respected in the well-to-do Catholic parts of the constituency, of which there are quite a few. Unlike Mr Kelly, despite his ministerial mantle. As the saying goes, you can put lipstick on a pig……..

John Finucane on the other hand just could pull off a surprise and deprive the DUP of a seat which for many years they have considered almost part of the family silver. And it would be quite a coup for Sinn Fein, signifying a new dominance of electoral politics in Belfast.

So running John Finucane in North Belfast makes a lot of political sense for SF.

But what about John Finucane? Why did he throw in his lot with Sinn Fein, aside from an ambition to be an MP? Or to put it another way, did he think that Sinn Fein did all that it could to help his family get to the bottom of his father’s death and that, in return, helping the party score a striking political victory in this crucial seat is therefore warranted?

In the run up to the final power sharing deal between the DUP and SF back in 2006, there were multiple opportunities for SF to insist upon a firm British commitment to a full judicial inquiry, held in public, into the Pat Finucane killing as a precondition to progress. But Sinn Fein never played that card, even though it could have done so.

It was well known at the time that the people who were really ready and willing to do anything about the Finucane case were the SDLP but their clout was minimal. The game at the time was all about getting the Shinners into bed with Paisley. SF were in the driving seat and could have named their price. But, in relstion to Pst Finucane, they didn’t.

So why not?

The UDA team that killed Pat Finucane in February 1989 was essentially from the same part of the organisation that had attempted to assassinate the Sinn Fein president and West Belfast MP, Gerry Adams in the autumn of 1988, just a few months before Pat Finucane’s assassination at his home off the Antrim Road.

Pat Finucane leaving Crumlin Road courthouse with his client, the late Pat McGeown, a Sinn Fein and IRA activist. This was the photo that the UDA used to identify Pat Finucane. It had appeared in an MI5 produced propaganda sheet called ‘An Phobcrap’, which was published in the UDA’s name

Using a motorbike and pillion passenger, the UDA team had planned to place a limpet mine – constructed by a bomb-maker in East Belfast – on the roof of Adams’ car as he was driven away from a Housing Executive office in the city centre which he visited weekly. The mine had a very short fuse and the UDA calculated that it would almost certainly kill Adams.

The man who commanded the UDA unit for the Adams’ murder bid was the same man who led the unit which led and directed the killing of Pat Finucane. And in both cases, Brian Nelson, the UDA’s intelligence chief and an agent for the British Army’s Force Research Unit (FRU), did the preparatory intel work.

Pat Finucane, as we know, was killed by UDA gunmen who stormed into his home as he prepared to eat Sunday dinner with his family. Adams survived when the UDA’s limpet mine was discovered during a security force raid and the plan to kill him was then abandoned.

If there had been a proper public judicial inquiry into Pat Finucane’s death it is almost certain that the full story behind these two contrasting episodes would have been told. And given the overlapping role played in both incidents by FRU agent Brian Nelson, it stands to reason that this would have been a very interesting story.

Interesting for sure, but also possibly a story whose details would prove to be embarrassing and unwelcome for the Sinn Fein leader.

Is this why Sinn Fein never made a proper probe of the Finucane killing a precondition for sharing power with Ian Paisley? Was Sinn Fein just not willing to push for a public inquiry for fear of what might emerge?

If so, John Finucane should perhaps be asking himself why on earth he is standing for Sinn Fein in North Belfast?

Donald Trump’s Lies, Inventions, Distortions And Fake News……

This report is significant by virtue of the source, the Associated Press, or AP as it known in the business. The AP is known for its caution, some might say timidity, born out of the agency’s business plan, which is to supply copy to a wide variety of outlets with often differing politics.

So, it invariably prefers a circumspect style of journalism. This article is a significant break with that approach, effectively calling out the President of the United States for his lies and distortions. It is a significant way-point in the American media’s relationship with power in Washington.

Enjoy:

AP FACT CHECK: Trump contradicts homeland security secretary

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump can’t be counted on to give accurate information to Americans when violent acts are unfolding abroad.

The latest deadly London attacks, like one in the Philippines last week, prompted visceral reactions from Trump instead of statements shaped by the findings of the U.S. intelligence and diplomatic apparatus. He got ahead of the facts emerging in Britain’s chaos Saturday and got it wrong in the Philippines case, calling the episode there a “terrorist attack” when it was not.

A look at some of his weekend tweets about the London attack and rhetoric that came from the president and his aides about climate change and more last week:

TRUMP: “We need to be smart, vigilant and tough. We need the courts to give us back our rights. We need the Travel Ban as an extra level of safety!” — tweet Saturday, soon after the rampage at the London Bridge and Borough Market that killed at least seven people and wounded dozens

THE FACTS: Trump’s tweet directly contradicted an earlier statement by his homeland security secretary that the travel restrictions blocked by U.S. courts do not constitute a ban.

“It’s not a travel ban, remember,” John Kelly told Fox News on May 28. “It’s the travel pause. What the president said, for 90 days, we were going to pause in terms of people from those countries coming to the United States that would give me time to look at additional vetting.” The administration has asked the Supreme Court address the court decisions holding up Trump’s plan to bar entry temporarily of people from a half dozen Muslim-majority countries.

To make his point clear, Trump tweeted on Monday: “People, the lawyers and the courts can call it whatever they want, but I am calling it what we need and what it is, a TRAVEL BAN!”

Trump has also suggested terrorism was at play in the London attack, sharing on Twitter an unconfirmed report to that effect, well before British authorities said so.

It remains unknown whether a Trump-style freeze on entry of foreigners from certain listed countries might have somehow prevented the violence in this case. One of the three attackers was identified Monday as a British citizen, a status that would protect him from any such exclusion, and he was born in Pakistan, a country not on Trump’s list. Another was thought to be a native of Libya, which is on Trump’s list, or Morocco, which isn’t.

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TRUMP: “At least 7 dead and 48 wounded in terror attack and Mayor of London says there is ‘no reason to be alarmed!’ ” — tweet Saturday night.

THE FACTS: A look at the fuller context of remarks by London Mayor Sadiq Khan to the BBC on Sunday shows that he was telling Londoners there was “no need to be alarmed” at the heavier police presence they will see in the days ahead. He was not playing down the danger. “The threat level remains at severe,” the mayor said. “Severe means an attack across the country is still highly likely.”

But he said terrorists will not be allowed to “cower our city or Londoners.”

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TRUMP, at a Rose Garden ceremony Thursday marking his decision to withdraw from the Paris climate accord: “I would like to begin by addressing the terrorist attack in Manila. We’re closely monitoring the situation. And I will continue to give updates if anything happens during this period of time, but it is really very sad as to what’s going on throughout the world with terror.”

THE FACTS: Philippine authorities said the attack that killed 37 people at a casino-hotel complex was by a lone gunman who set fire to gambling tables and fled with casino chips. They said the motive was robbery, not terrorism.

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TRUMP: “The cost to the economy at this time would be close to $3 trillion in lost GDP and 6.5 million industrial jobs, while households would have 7,000 less income, and in many cases, much worse than that.” — Rose Garden ceremony Thursday announcing U.S. withdrawal from the worldwide agreement to curb emissions responsible for global warming. GDP is the gross domestic product, the broadest gauge of the economy.

THE FACTS: His claim is based on a study paid for by two groups that have long opposed environmental regulation, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the American Council for Capital Formation. It makes worst-case assumptions that may inflate the cost of meeting U.S. targets under the Paris accord while largely ignoring the economic benefits to U.S. businesses from building and operating renewable energy projects.

Both groups behind the study get financial backing from those who profit from the continued burning of fossil fuels. The latter group has received money from foundations controlled by the Koch brothers, whose company owns refineries and more than 4,000 miles of oil and gas pipelines.

Academic studies have found that increased environmental regulation doesn’t actually have much impact on employment. Jobs lost at polluting companies tend to be offset by new jobs in green technology.

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TRUMP: “I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris.” — Rose Garden ceremony.

THE FACTS: That may be so, but Allegheny County, which includes Pittsburgh, is not Trump country. It voted overwhelmingly for Democrat Hillary Clinton in November, favoring her by a margin of 56 percent to Trump’s 40 percent. The city has a climate action plan committing to boost the use of renewable energy.

Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto, a Democrat, has been an outspoken supporter of the Paris accord, and tweeted after Trump’s announcement that “as the Mayor of Pittsburgh, I can assure you that we will follow the guidelines of the Paris Agreement for our people, our economy & future.”

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TRUMP: Claims “absolutely tremendous economic progress since Election Day,” adding “more than a million private-sector jobs.” — Rose Garden ceremony.

THE FACTS: The number is about right, but it in no way counts as “absolutely tremendous economic progress.” Private-sector job creation from October through April (171,000 private-sector jobs a month) actually lags just slightly behind the pace of job creation for the previous six months (172,000), which came under President Barack Obama. On Friday the government announced a lower figure for jobs added last month — 138,000.

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TRUMP: “Our attacks on terrorism are greatly stepped up, and you see that — you see it all over — from the previous administration, including getting many other countries to make major contributions to the fight against terror. Big, big contributions are being made by countries that weren’t doing so much in the form of contributions.” — Rose Garden ceremony.

THE FACTS: Trump is recycling a misleading claim he made in April following a meeting with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, and it’s no truer now than it was then. NATO has not substantively changed its mission toward countering terrorism as a result of Trump’s agitating.

As evidence that NATO is heeding his call to be more aggressive on terrorism, the president has cited an alliance decision last year to establish a high-level intelligence coordinator who could make the alliance more nimble in responding to threats. But that position was in the works under Trump’s White House predecessor, and came about because of worries about Russian aggression as well as from a desire to respond more effectively to the Islamic State group.

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WHITE HOUSE: The Paris climate accord “would effectively decapitate our coal industry, which now supplies about one-third of our electric power.” — information released with Trump’s announcement.

THE FACTS: The U.S. coal industry was in decline long before the Paris accord was signed in 2015. The primary cause has been competition from cleaner-burning natural gas, which has been made cheaper and more abundant by hydraulic fracturing. Electric utilities have been replacing coal plants with gas-fired facilities because they are more efficient and less expensive to operate.

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VICE PRESIDENT MIKE PENCE: The Paris deal has “really put an extraordinary burden on the American economy.” — Rose Garden ceremony.

THE FACTS: If so, it’s a burden the U.S. put on itself. Each signatory to the Paris accord was left to devise its own emission goals and how to reach them; the negotiations were not a case of the world imposing standards on the U.S. The burden the U.S. placed on itself under the Obama administration is in part a function of the country’s status as the largest source of accumulated carbon dioxide emissions in the atmosphere.

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WHITE HOUSE, citing a study from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology: “If all member nations met their obligations, the impact on the climate would be negligible,” curbing temperature rise by “less than 0.2 degrees Celsius in 2100.”

THE FACTS: The co-founder of the MIT program on climate change says the administration is citing an outdated report, taken out of context. Jake Jacoby said the actual global impact of meeting targets under the Paris accord would be to curb rising temperatures by 1 degree Celsius, or 1.8 degrees Fahrenheit.

“They found a number that made the point they want to make,” Jacoby said. “It’s kind of a debate trick.”

One degree may not sound like much, but Stefan Rahmstorf, a climate scientist at the Potsdam Institute in Germany, says, “Every tenth of a degree increases the number of unprecedented extreme weather events considerably.”

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TRUMP: “We have a MASSIVE trade deficit with Germany … Very bad for U.S. This will change.” — tweet Tuesday.

THE FACTS: The U.S. has the world’s largest overall trade deficit, and has for four decades. Among trading partners, Germany’s contribution to that deficit last year was $55 billion, ranking it third on the list. For a truly massive deficit, see China, No. 1 at $347 billion.

Trump made no mention, though, of the benefits from the U.S.-German economic ties. About 600,000 people in the U.S. work for German companies such as chemical maker BASF, drug company Bayer and mobile phone provider T-Mobile USA. BMW’s auto plant in Spartanburg, South Carolina, was America’s largest single auto exporter, sending $9.5 billion worth of SUVs to the rest of the world.

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Associated Press writers Paul Wiseman, Seth Borenstein and Michael Biesecker in Washington and David McHugh in Frankfurt, Germany, contributed to this report.

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Find all AP Fact Checks at http://apne.ws/2kbx8bd

London Knifeman Was A Gooner!

From today’s Grauniad. Wouldn’t happen in a good Jewish club like Tottenham!