Monthly Archives: December 2017

The Taking Of Jerusalem, Part One

On December 11th, 1917, British forces, led by General Edmund Allenby, captured Jerusalem from the Ottoman empire, crowning a foray into Middle East politics featuring, amongst others, T E Lawrence, the so-called Lawrence of Arabia.

Turkey had made an alliance with Germany during the First World War and so the capture of Jerusalem was a significant waypoint in the ending of that conflict. Allenby’s victory would begin more than thirty years of British involvement with Palestine which would end with the establishment of the Israeli state.

Five days shy of exactly a century later, Donald Trump is today recognising Jerusalem as the official capital of Israel.

British forces parade at the Jaffa Gate in Jerusalem in anticipation of greeting their victorious General, Edmund Allenby as he made his official entrance to the captured city.

British troops corral Palestinians in Jerusalem

Seamus McGrane’s Last Speech As PIRA Executive Chairman

Media profiles of Seamus McGrane – read here and here – who was sentenced to 11 1/2 years jail time today for his part in an alleged plot to plant a bomb during Prince Charles’ visit to the south of Ireland in 2015, failed to pick up on his crucial role as Chairman of the Provisional IRA Executive in the years before the Good Friday Agreement when Gerry Adams – and the peace process – were a hairbreadth away from political extinction.

Seamus McGrane

Below is the text of a speech he gave as Executive Chairman to the IRA Convention of 1997. That convention came a year after Adams had his narrow escape and saw the effective defeat of dissident opposition, led by Quarter-Master General Michael McKevitt, followed by a split and the formation of the breakaway Real IRA.

I reproduced the text of the speech first in A Secret History of the IRA. Here it is in full:



Trump Gives Jerusalem To Israel And Despair To Everyone Else

As I write this, the world is waiting nervously for a speech by Donald Trump in which he is expected to announce America’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
This brought my mind back to a language laboratory at the University of Tripoli in Libya, circa the autumn of 1973 where I was teaching English as a foreign language (TEFL) to Arab students, mostly Libyans but not exclusively so.
If you have ever been in a language lab you will know that it consists of a series of cubicles, each of which has a built-in tape machine, head phones and mic and an electronic link to the teacher.
This was my first session with this particular class and since I didn’t know what level of English they already had, my first task was to talk to each student individually to assess their ability. As I expected it was okayish – not great but a far better grasp, it should be said, of English than their Irish counterparts would have of French, or German or, heaven forbid, Arabic.
Until I came to a young girl sitting at the very back of the room. She spoke in perfect English, with what they call received pronunciation, i.e. BBC English.
I got to know her and her family quite well in the ensuing months. They were Palestinians, a small part of that unfortunate people’s diaspora, but not exactly on the same level as the Palestinians forced to eke out a living in squalid refugee camps.
As that girl’s mastery of English suggested, her family was well off by Palestinian standards. Her father had a job somewhere in the Libyan government and held a PhD from Oxbridge in philology. All her siblings were well educated and bright and showed it, but in all other respects however, they had suffered for being Palestinians under Israeli rule.
They had owned a olive farm in the southern part of Palestine but in 1948, after the establishment of the Jewish state and the successful war against Arab armies, the Israelis confiscated it, gave it away to fellow Israelis and left her parents and grandparents to fend for themselves.
Being affluent Palestinians they were more fortunate that their fellow citizens; they had property in Jerusalem, a house in the east of the city where they moved and set up a new home.
You can guess, I expect, what comes next. In the 1948 war Israel had captured and occupied West Jerusalem while Jordan occupied the old city and East Jerusalem.
But after the Six-Day war in 1967 Israel occupied East Jerusalem, threw out the Jordanians and my student’s family were quite literally tossed on to the street, their home confiscated and themselves suddenly made displaced people.
And that is how my Palestinian student, whose name I have decided not to use out of an abundance of caution, given the recent terrors visited on Libya, ended up sitting in my language laboratory in the University of Tripoli.
By the time, dear reader, you have digested this article we will know officially what is being reported widely, viz that Donald Trump has completed the process which caused my student’s family, and countless other Palestinians, so much misery by handing over Jerusalem in its entirety to the Netanyahu regime, thus legitimising decades of theft and larceny.
Trump is also allegedly working on what is grandly termed a peace plan for the Middle East. Given that it has been preceded by the legalising of the theft of an entire city, God only knows what it will look like.
Actually, we do have a clue of what is likely to come courtesy of the excellent Mondoweiss website. For the benefit of Irish readers unfamiliar with Mondoweiss, it is a website supported by young, or youngish, American Jews who are firmly anti-Zionist and who are both angry and ashamed at what has been done to the Palestinians.
It was founded by Philip Weiss, pound for pound one of the best and most ethical journalists in New York. Here is what he wrote recently by way of an astonishingly bleak curtain-raiser to the Trump peace plan for the Middle East.

Israel will get ‘more understanding’ from Trump’s negotiators because they’re all observant Jews, Sharansky says

on 37 Comments

Donald Trump’s Middle East negotiating team is preparing a “serious” peace proposal, because the team is made up of observant Jews who understand Israel better than previous American negotiators, says Natan Sharansky, the chairman of the Jewish Agency for Israel.

“Frankly, forget about the president, but if you take simply the people who are involved in negotiations– know that these people understand Israel much better than the previous set of people,” Sharansky said. “And they definitely understand the concerns of Jews, because they are part of this… It’s really very interesting to see that when prime minister [Benjamin Netanyahu] sits with Ron Dermer, [Jared] Kushner, David Friedman, and [Jason] Greenblatt, the only one who does not have kippa [yarmulke] is prime minister. So you can expect more understanding.”

Jared Kushner’s family foundation has given tens of thousands of dollars to illegal Israeli settlements. In years past, Netanyahu stayed in the family’s house in New Jersey. David Friedman, the US ambassador to Israel, led an organization that raised money for a settlement.

Sharansky said that Israeli Prime Minister will come out with a peace proposal for a demilitarized Palestinian state, and the Palestinian leadership will reject the deal, but Arab countries will put pressure on the Palestinians to accept it. “They [Arab states] will not be automatically with the Palestinians. It’s a new situation.”

Sharansky spoke at the Manhattan Jewish Community Center on Tuesday night. He said he based his prediction on no inside information, though he had spent time with Israeli ambassador Ron Dermer and attended recent speeches by Netanyahu, in whose government he once served.

Natan Sharansky

“If you simply careful, careful listen, it’s absolutely clear to you that something is preparing,” he said. “Simply listening to what he is saying to all the people in the world, I have a feeling, again it’s not official, unofficial, I have a feeling that something serious is prepared.”

As to the outlines of the deal, Sharansky said: “From the speeches of Bibi, I understand more or less what will be. The Palestinians probably will get, well, the state, but the security issues will not be in their hands… because in today’s middle east the competition will be between Hezbollah and Hamas– who will be controlled. So Israel cannot afford it.”

Sharansky said that President Obama’s secretary of state, John Kerry, never envisioned a Palestinian state without an army.

Netanyahu, he said, “knows how to give them [Palestinians] an opportunity to rule their life, how not to give them opportunity to control security in the Middle East.”

Overwhelmingly Israelis would support a peace plan, because they want hope, he continued. “I’m almost sure that… the Palestinian leadership will not accept it. And again I don’t know what is prepared. I’m sure that the reaction of the Arab world will be very different from the past.”

Sharansky said he had spent his entire life, including when he was imprisoned in the former Soviet Union, trying to build bridges between Jews and Israel. The organization he heads, the Jewish Agency, helped foster the creation of Israel in the last century and today works to build global Jewish support for the state.

Sharansky spoke with Jodi Rudoren of the New York Times and Amir Tibon of Haaretz. Listening to the speech, I was struck by the arrogance of the arrangement. Can you imagine a forum on sexual harassment issues today at which only men were invited to speak? Impossible. Yet over and over the peace process is debated in the United States– and negotiated too– and the less powerful party, Palestinians, are never invited as equals. The game is transparently rigged. And you wonder why the peace process has produced nothing in 25 years.

A Biting Review Of Aaron Edwards’ Study Of The UVF

Ouch! Gareth Mulvenna, author of a fascinating study of the Tartan Gangs of Belfast in the 1970’s – see this review – has himself entered the often uncomfortable world of book reviews and has put Aaron Edwards’ book on the UVF: ‘The UVF – Behind the Mask’ – under the microscope. He has found it, how shall I put it, less than satisfying.

Here it is below:

More Puzzling Questions From Brexit Breakdown

In no particular order of significance:

1. Surely Theresa May would/should have known that the DUP would never accept anything approaching the deal she discussed with EU chiefs? The DUP had made it clear a day or so before her lunch with European Council President Donald Tusk that it would not accept any deal which diluted NI’s membership of the UK. Doing a deal behind the DUP’s back would also torpedo the confidence and supply agreement May struck with the party in order to sustain her government in power. Did she not realise that treating NI is such a way would set a precedent for Wales and/or Scotland, and that the road she proposed travelling could lead to the break up of the UK as we know it?

2. This question follows from what I wrote above: Is Theresa May therefore just stupid or has she failed to understand the last century or so of Anglo-Irish politics?

3. If Leo Varadkar did insist that the DUP should not be told about the ‘regulatory alignment’ deal before it has been settled between May and Tusk, as has been reported inter alia in the Guardian, what does this say about his lack of understanding of Unionism? Since the days of Daniel O’Connell and the Home Rule crises of the 19th century, Unionists have never trusted governments in London, always fearful of being sold out, always suspicious that they were being tricked and/or lied to. It is part of their political DNA and explains why conditional loyalty has defined political Unionism for decades (and why the British body politic and media have always found difficulty getting their heads around the concept of Loyalism). Varadkar’s insistence that the DUP be kept in the dark played to all these fears, meaning that even if May had done the deal with the EU, May’s government would probably have been brought down by the DUP, notwithstanding the possibility that a fresh election would have brought Corbyn into Downing Street. The reality is that the DUP would probably have calculated that if it had allowed the deal to survive, Arlene Foster would have been overthrown, the DUP riven by dissension and the hard men of Loyalism would be back on the streets. Neither Varadkar nor May appear to have understood the fires they were playing with.

4. A crucial event was the leak to RTE yesterday morning, just before May’s lunch with Tusk. Seemingly intended to signal an Irish diplomatic triumph (the EU had already given Dublin a veto on the deal), it instead alerted and alarmed the DUP, by all accounts, and led to Foster’s angry phone call to May as she prepared to break bread with the EU chiefs. RTE journalist, Tony Connelly, the station’s Europe editor who broadcast details of the deal, has denied that the leaker worked in or for the Irish government. Hmmmmm. That proves nothing. If I was Leo Varadkar and I wanted to leak the document without leaving telling fingerprints that would be the easiest thing to do. If you want to know who leaked something ask two questions: which outlet was chosen as the conduit (i.e. whose audience was targeted?) and cui bono?

5. I am entirely out of touch with who is who in the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs (a bunch of people I never had easy relations with by the way) but I do wonder about the calibre of the people dealing with the North these days, assuming there any. When all is said and done they were the guys who allowed this to happen.

Did Varadkar Screw Up Or Was The RTE Leak Done To Hide His Failure?

That, in a sentence, is the question that arises from yesterday’s collapse of Brexit talks between Theresa May and the EU. Was the early morning briefing of RTE, clearly by the Irish government, to the effect that May had accepted a Border in the Irish Sea a screw up, done without thinking through the consequences, i.e. a likely DUP and pro-Brexit Tory backlash, or done in the knowledge that the sea border was never a starter but that it was in Leo Varadkar’s interests to paint May as the rejectionist and to hide his own failure?

Answers on a postcard to L Varadkar, Government Buildings, Dublin. Copy to Micheal Martin, Fianna Fail, Leinster House, Dublin.

How ‘Hard Border’ Propaganda Shifted The Brexit Debate

As I write this, it is unclear whether or to what degree early news reports about the Brexit deal negotiated by the May government with the EU mean that Northern Ireland could be economically separated from the rest of the UK or if so, what shape that arrangement will take.

What is beyond debate however is that the fact that events have even moved so far in this direction represents a resounding triumph for those who hawked the transparently false proposition that the erection of a ‘hard border’ between the two parts of Ireland would precipitate a return to the bad old days of the Troubles.

As regular readers of this blog will know I have argued that while a ‘hard Border’ will certainly not be welcomed by Nationalists in the North, it was not the existence of the Border, hard or soft, that actually sparked the Troubles but rather the complaints of Nationalists that they could not get a square deal inside Northern Ireland under Unionist rule.

To rectify that they took to the streets in the late 1960’s to demand civil rights – not the removal of the Border – and it was Unionist resistance/refusal to concede civil rights, along with a ham-fisted British military, that caused the Troubles.

Now, you could argue, and you would not be wrong, that the existence of the Border made this possible, or even inevitable, but it is also clear that the majority of Nationalists were and are ready to accept the Border as long as they are guaranteed a fair swig of the jug inside Northern Ireland.

That, more than the actual nature of the Border crossings, is what matters to them. Hence the popularity of the Good Friday Agreement.

Suggest that Unionist majority rule be re-established in Northern Ireland and for sure the Troubles would erupt again, probably with greater violence. But re-impose Border controls that were, in my memory at least, not that exceptionally burdensome (I can not recall, for instance, ever having been stopped en route to Dublin in the 60’s) and I suspect the response would be closer to insouciance.

But since the Brexit crisis began to address the situation of Northern Ireland post-withdrawal from Europe, it has become almost a truth written in stone that a hard Border equals a resumption of violence. To those who sold this false bill of goods – and here you had a de facto alliance between the Varadkar government in Dublin and Sinn Fein – this was a stunning achievement. (So don’t write off an FG-SF coalition!)

The other EU governments and the EU bureaucracy appear to have swallowed this notion almost entirely and I suggest if you doubt all this then you should read the article below, published on November 30th, in the influential German magazine, Der Spiegel.

Note the headline ‘Potential Catastrophe’ and the unquestioning acceptance that a hard Border has the potential to ‘reignite old feuds’.

When Theresa May carved her now notorious deal with the DUP after the last UK general election, many in the British media immediately asked: Who are the DUP? This was only twenty years or so since the GFA yet already the British media had totally forgotten who Ian Paisley was and his role as midwife to three decades of bloodshed.

If that was how the British media remembered the most violent internal convulsion since the Second World War, then how much more susceptible would their European cousins be to misleading or exaggerated consequences in Ireland arising from the Brexit vote?

Potential Catastrophe

How the Irish Border Became Brexit’s Biggest Hurdle

A new “hard” border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland could have dire economic consequences for both sides — and reignite old feuds. Now Dublin is playing hardball with British negotiators.

Photo Gallery: Ireland's New Border Dispute

Jean Hegarty turns around and points to her buttocks. “This is where the bullet entered Kevin’s body.” Her finger moves upwards, following the path the bullet took through to his upper body. “Kevin was shot from behind, when he tried to crawl away from soldiers.” Kevin McElhinney was one of 13 unarmed young men who died on so-called Bloody Sunday, in the Northern Irish city of Derry, on January 30, 1972. He was Jean Hegarty’s younger brother. He was only 17 years old.

Hegarty – small, energetic and prone to bursts of contagious laughter – spends much of her time reminding people about Bloody Sunday. For the past 18 years, she has overseen the small Museum of Free Derry in Bogside, the Catholic neighborhood in the city, which lies close to the border with the Republic of Ireland. The museum is located only a few feet from the place where Hegarty’s brother died. Weapons, bullet casings, gas masks in glass cases serve as reminders of the horrors.

Now that conflict between nationalists, those who want a united Ireland, and unionists, those who want to stay part of the United Kingdom, could reemerge. The Ireland question is currently the most difficult hurdle of the ongoing Brexit negotiations, and the deadline for a solution is approaching. There is a danger that a “hard” border, with inspections of people and goods, and the violence that had supposedly been overcome, might return. If no solution is found, the United Kingdom could exit the EU without a withdrawal agreement – partly at the instigation of the Irish government.

Jean Hegarty


Derry – though unionists prefer the official name of Londonderry – is today still marked by the conflict, known as The Troubles, which resulted in the deaths of over 3,600 people. The Good Friday Agreement of 1998 put an end to the killing, and it made the approximately 500-kilometer border between the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland invisible. Soldiers and barbed wire disappeared. Drivers now only notice they’ve crossed the border because the speed-limit signs switch from kilometers to miles.

Cars cross the virtual border almost 1.9 million times per month: People drive to work, trucks to factories, ambulances to clinics. Both parts of the island are practically united in their everyday lives. Brexit threatens to abruptly end all of this. The virtual border could be turned back into a real one, where police officers and border guards inspect almost everything and everyone. For the island’s economy that would be a catastrophe – and for the peace process, potentially, as well.

‘Mother of all Ducks’

According to the most recent promotional video from Silver Hill Foods, the mother of all ducks comes from Emyvale, a small town close to the border with Northern Ireland. With meat that is juicy and tender, and feathers that are soft, the “best-feathered duck in the world,” is said to not only fills the world’s stomachs, but also the comforters and pillows of countless five-star hotels. The “Silver Hill Duck,” the ad argues, is quite simply the “mother of all ducks.” At culinary duck hotspots, like London’s Chinatown, they have even established a monopoly. “For 10 years, we have had a market share of 100 percent,” boasts Silver Hill CEO Micheal Briody. He explains that the British market has been satiated, which is why they are currently aggressively expanding into Asia.

Micheal Briody

Micheal Briody

When the subject turns to the Irish border, even Briody becomes quieter. Three quarters of the 80,000 ducks that are killed every day at the Silver Hill plant in the Republic of Ireland come from Northern Ireland. Eggs, chicks and fledglings cross the border up to five times until the ducks are slaughtered. If border controls were to be reinstituted, Briody says, “it would have a significant impact on our business,” with enormous new time and financial constraints. He says that his company has already stopped signing new contracts with suppliers from Northern Ireland, because one never knows.

If the United Kingdom leaves the EU without a trade agreement, it would mean WTO tariffs of over 30 percent. The demand in the UK would then probably collapse, and the Silver Hill monopoly in the British capital would be over. “London would then have to make do with inferior products,” says Briody, defiantly.

The problems for the economy overall would be even bigger. Eighty percent of the goods exported from Ireland go first to the UK, 66 percent are then distributed to other countries. The British land bridge is thus the lifeline for the Irish economy – and, accordingly, Dublin is very worried about potential customs barriers.

Irish Government Threatens Veto

As a result, the Irish government is dramatically increasing the pressure on London in the Brexit negotiations. Dublin is insisting on a written guarantee that there will be no hard border. Otherwise, according to the barely concealed threat by Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, Ireland would use its veto to scuttle the transition to the second Brexit negotiation phase.

The Republic of Ireland is currently in a rare position of power. The other 27 EU member states claim they are only willing to talk to the British government about their common future and a trade agreement once “sufficient progress” has been made on three issues: London’s financial obligations, the future rights of affected citizens and the Ireland question. This decision must be made unanimously by all 27 heads of state and government. Without Ireland, nothing will happen.

But, although there is movement on the question of citizen rights and even on the heated issue of Brexit’s exit bill, little progress has been made on the Ireland question. If there is no breakthrough at the next EU summit in mid-December, then the schedule of the negotiations could completely fall apart. In the most extreme case, a Brexit could happen without a withdrawal agreement, with terrible consequences for the EU economy and worse consequences for the British one.

The Irish Want to Use Their Chance

The Irish are putting on a poker face. Ireland’s Foreign Minister Simon Coveney, addressing journalists from several EU countries in Belfast last Wednesday, said that it was necessary to have a written agreement about at least the framework for the future border. “We can’t accept the promise of a check in the post.”

Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney

Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney

Although EU diplomats say they are optimistic that the Irish won’t allow the situation to become extreme – and want to put pressure on Dublin in case of an emergency — they cannot be certain, because the government in Dublin is worried about having only one shot. Once Brexit negotiations move to the second phase, Ireland’s veto rights are gone. The withdrawal agreement only requires a qualified majority in the European Council to pass. “When Ireland and the EU task force say that we need significantly more progress and reassurance and clarity on the Irish border issue, we mean it,” said Coveney. “We are not in the business of building barriers on the island of Ireland ever again.”

But nobody knows how that can be avoided. British Prime Minister Theresa May has repeatedly made it clear that her country will be leaving the single market and the customs union when it exits the EU on March 29, 2019. According to the law, new personal and customs inspections will be carried out at the new outer EU border from that point onward.

Unionists Reject Special Status for Northern Ireland

Although the British government also emphasized in its official paper on the Ireland issue that they do not want any new screenings of goods and people, they pointed out that this would require an “unprecedented solution.” London did not describe in detail what this would look like and EU Chief Negotiator Michel Barnier promptly dismissed the British offer.

An obvious solution, which Coveney also suggests, would be to give Northern Ireland special status and allow it to remain in the customs union and the single market. The border would then, in practical terms, be relocated to the Irish Sea. But the Northern Irish unionists reject this outright: They fear a loosening of Northern Island’s ties to the UK and a move towards the island’s reunification. One problem: The Democratic Unionist Party has been propping up the UK government since Theresa May’s disastrous snap election. If they withdraw their support, the prime minister falls.

Based on the current positions, people in diplomatic circles argue, the Irish question is currently unsolvable. On top of this, they argue, it’s utterly unclear how a compromise could be found. The Irish government also narrowly avoided a no-confidence vote in parliament this week, after the deputy premier, Frances Fitzgerald, was accused of being aware of a smear campaign against a whistleblower in the Irish police. Fitzgerald stepped down on Tuesday, averting an early election at a crucial time.

Ultimately, said Foreign Minister Coveney, the border question is about much more than trade and barrier-free travel. “It is about peace.” A new hard border, people in Dublin government circles are saying, wouldn’t just inflict economic damage, and cause a rise in unemployment and dissatisfaction, but also present a new target for old hatreds. People in Ireland rarely talk about peace, instead speaking of a peace process. That process is far from over.

Trump’s Hypocrisy On Disability

The Words:

“As Americans, we must set the global standard for ensuring those with disabilities are treated with the dignity and respect that all people deserve” – From Presidential statement from Donald J Trump on the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, December 4th, 2017.

The Deeds:

Sinn Fein Bullying – The Carpetbagger Versus The IRA?

If Mary Lou McDonald really means what she says in this Irish Times article below and does ‘address’ the bullying issue as Gerry Adams’ successor, she will have to take on the IRA and effectively kick it out of Sinn Fein, for it is the IRA, through the exertion of its overriding authority, which ultimately is responsible for the bullying in that party.

If she is any doubt about IRA hegemony in SF she should read the re-organisation document found by Gardai Special Branch when they raided IRA Chief of Staff,  Seamus Twomey’s Dublin flat in 1977. If Gerry can’t give her a copy, I’m sure someone in the Department of Justice can dig it out for her.

(And by the way let’s not try to pretend the IRA no longer exists. It may not have the numbers and structures of the past but it hasn’t gone away by any means. It still runs an Intelligence Department and oversees an investment portfolio worth many millions of dollars. Where did you think the Northern Bank robbery loot went?)

Discovered inside a pencil case, the Twomey document mapped out the IRA re-organization plan authored by Gerry Adams and others which, inter alia, said that Sinn Fein should come under IRA authority at all levels.

Nothing has changed to alter that relationship since then. The bullying is simply the outworking of IRA authority and while it may be tolerated by most in the North, for historical and cultural reasons, SF’s Southern membership have increasing difficulties with it. Hence the spate of resignations.

The only effective way to end the bullying is to cut the cord. Mary Lou has to know that, and if she does, has she the gumption to follow through? Time will tell.

In the meantime here is what she told The Irish Times. Enjoy:

McDonald plans to address spate of Sinn Féin resignations
TD will announce run for leadership at Dublin Central selection convention

By Fiach Kelly

Sinn Féin leadership frontrunner Mary Lou McDonald will examine how the party is run in light of a series of resignations if she is elected to succeed Gerry Adams.

On Monday night Ms McDonald will officially declare she is standing to succeed Mr Adams, with the vacancy to be filled at a special ardfheis to take place by the end of February.

Speaking to The Irish Times ahead of her Dublin Central selection convention on Monday, Ms McDonald acknowledged there is an “issue to be addressed” following a number of resignations.

She strongly rejected suggestions there is a “culture of bullying”, but added Sinn Féin must be better able to manage its development into a large political party. This will be a key element or her discussions with party members in the coming weeks as she seeks the leadership, she said.

“I don’t for a second accept or buy into this kind of thing of a ‘culture of bullying’. That is not true. But that is not to say there isn’t an issue to be addressed. There is, but to suggest it is a ‘culture of bullying’ is wrong. Are there issues? Yes there are. It is managing growth.”


Ms McDonald will talk to members about “modernising the party . . . shaping ourselves up a bit”.

She said it is not possible to manage a large- or medium-size party in the same way as a smaller operation, pointing out that Sinn Féin now has 13,000 members and has grown rapidly in the Republic.

“There is no doubt that we have had tensions, interpersonal difficulties and in some cases disciplinary difficulties. We are not an outlier in that. That is absolutely normal.

“I think of course we need to look at how we get better at managing on an ongoing basis all of these things that arise. We also have to be clear, and every member of Sinn Féin has to be clear, that we have a constitution and rules and the rules are applied fairly, transparently, without fear and without favour.”

Sinn Féin lost another elected representative yesterday after a county councillor in Galway resigned and accused some in the party of “unacceptable behaviour”.

‘Great regret’

The resignation of Gabriel Cronnelly came days after a Galway Senator Trevor Ó’Clochartaigh also quit amid allegations of bullying. Ms McDonald said she heard news of the two resignations “with very great regret”.

Councillors have also resigned or been expelled in Tipperary, Limerick, Cavan, Westmeath, Kilkenny, Kildare and Wicklow.

The Dublin Central TD will not fully outline her policy platform on Monday evening. This will be done at a later stage in the campaign.

She added that, despite assumptions she is the runaway favourite, “there is no done deal here . . . there is no ordination, coronation”.

“It is the members and the members alone who select their leader and I am going out to have that conversation with that membership.”

This will mean speaking about Irish unity, Brexit and Northern Ireland, among other subjects.

British Army Training Zones During The Troubles

By Ed Moloney and Bob Mitchell

During the Troubles the British Army constructed or used already erected mock towns/streets to replicate the urban environment that their troops would experience during tours of Northern Ireland. Below is a selection of photos of the sites and some training exercises. Only one, at the Ballykinlar camp in Co Down, was situated in the North. The rest were in England.

Since the end of the Troubles some of the same sites have been used for training troops about to serve in Iran and Afghanistan. You can see that at the training village in Rype, Kent one of the streets has been re-named ‘General Massoud Road’. Interesting, yes?


Rype Village in Lydd, Kent

Dymchurch Redoubt – A fort constructed off the Kent coast in anticipation of an invasion of England by Napoleonic forces at the beginning of the 19th century

A soldier surveys a map of a fictional town called, would you believe ‘Killymurphy’

In the meantime, here are some pictures of actual training during the early 70’s. Look familiar?