12 March 2005


Royal win for McEntee in by-election

12/03/2005 - 22:10:13

Fine Gael tonight crowned a new Dáil TD in the Royal County after Shane McEntee secured a historic victory in his first ever election.

Fianna Fáil, who were aiming for a record fourth seat in the Meath constituency, were beaten on first preference votes for the first time since 1927.

A lower than expected 40% voter turnout was blamed for affecting traditional party support for pre-poll favourite Shane Cassells.

Sinn Féin managed to increase their vote in the five seater by 30% since 2002, despite recent bad publicity created by criminality links to the party.

Sinn Féin’s chief negotiator Martin McGuinness described the by-election as one of the most critical for the party in 20 years and said the performance was a springboard for local and Westminster elections in Northern Ireland in May.

It was after 8pm when Returning Officer Maire Teehan declared Mr McEntee elected without reaching the quota after he had outstripped Mr Cassells by nearly 300 votes.

The Nobber publican, 47, was carried shoulder high at the back of the packed count centre in Simonstown Gaels GAA club in Navan.

Senator Frank Feighan led a chorus of “Oh what a beautiful morning” as a tricolour flag with a picture of Michael Collins was hoisted over Mr McEntee’s head.

Mr McEntee said: “I’d like to thank Fine Gael for giving me the chance to contest this election and I promise I won’t let down the thousands of people who I met and who voted for me.”

Party leader Enda Kenny said he was delighted that the party got out its core vote in the sprawling constituency.

“A lot of people did not want to give four seats to Fianna Fáil in Meath,” he said.

The vacancy was created by the departure of former Taoiseach John Bruton to Washington as EU Ambassador last year.

The Labour Party also performed well with over 10% of the vote gained by new candidate Councillor Dominic Hannigan.

The Labour party leader predicted that Councillor Hannigan would win a seat at the next general election when the constituency is redrawn around his home base as East Meath.


Former comrades' war of words over hunger strike

(Steven McCaffrey, Irish News)

The man who led IRA prisoners inside the Maze jail
during the 1981 hunger strike has dismissed a
controversial new book on the period as fictitious.

Brendan McFarlane speaks to Steven McCaffrey about a
period that still stirs deeply held emotions among

In his book, Blanketmen: An Untold Story of the
H-Block Hunger Strike, Richard O'Rawe fondly re-calls
his former republican comrade Brendan 'Bik' McFarlane.

Describing him as "six feet tall and full of
bonhomie", a "striking character" and a "great
singer", the author writes that both men were avid
fans of Gaelic football and that they "whiled away the
time dreaming of the day when the Antrim football team
would grace Croke Park in an all-Ireland final".

But it seems such close ties inside the Maze prison's
H-blocks have not survived the book's publication.

"He [Richard O'Rawe] uses me to give credence to his
argument. It's 'Bik and Richard this', and 'Richard
and Bik that'. And it's totally erroneous, totally and
absolutely erroneous," Mr McFarlane told the Irish

"I was absolutely horrified to read the account that
Richard had laid out and I just could not for one
second understand where he was coming from. I haven't
a clue as to the motivation behind it."

Mr McFarlane was the officer commanding (OC) of IRA
prisoners in the Maze during the 1981 hunger strike
when 10 republicans died. Mr O'Rawe was the prisoners'
press officer.

Both were close to the action but they now give very
different accounts of what went on.

Mr O'Rawe said that on July 5, after the first four
prisoners including the now iconic Bobby Sands had
died, Danny Morrison, director of publicity for the
republican movement at the time, visited Mr McFarlane
to brief him on a British offer of a deal.

Mr O'Rawe said his OC returned to the block after his
meeting and passed a 'comm' (communication) down to
O'Rawe's cell detailing the offer.

In Blanketmen, the author writes that the deal seemed
to largely meet the prisoners' demands for political
status. He claims that he then spoke to Mr McFarlane
from their respective cell windows.

"We spoke in Irish so the screws could not
understand," Mr O'Rawe told the Irish News.

"I said, 'Ta go leor ann' – There's enough there.

"He said, 'Aontaim leat, scriobhfaidh me chun taoibh
amiugh agus cuirfidh me fhois orthu' – I agree with
you, I will write to the outside and let them know."

But in his book Mr O'Rawe alleges that the IRA
leadership outside the jail did not believe the deal
was enough.

Three days later a fifth hunger striker, Joe
McDonnell, died. Five more men were to starve to death
before the strike ended.

Mr O'Rawe controversially asks if the IRA leadership
sacrificed the last six hunger strikers to fuel the
new groundswell of support buoying their movement.

Prior to the hunger strikes Sinn Féin, in the author's
words, "barely existed".

Years of prison protests had failed to generate
popular support but the funerals of the hunger
strikers drew tens of thousands.

At the time of the alleged deal republican candidate
Owen Carron was fighting a by-election in
Fermanagh/South Tyrone to hold on to the Westminster
seat that Bobby Sands had won from his bed in the
prison hospital.

By any measure of history 1981 was a watershed.

The election victories meant that Sinn Féin became a
political force, kickstarting the wider movement's
gradual shift away from violence.

The worry for the republican leadership is that if the
book's claims were true, it would necessitate a hugely
embarrassing rewrite of their own political history.

Mr McFarlane rejects the book's central tenet.

"That any republican should ever conceive in his
wildest imagination that we would put hunger strikers
to death to get somebody elected to a Westminster seat
or anywhere else, I think it is absolutely
disgraceful," he said.

The 53-year-old described the book as deplorable.

Married with three children, he was brought up in the
Ardoyne area of north Belfast. Unlike Mr O'Rawe, he
did not come from a republican family and at the age
of 16 left Belfast to train as a Catholic priest in a
north Wales seminary.

He returned to Belfast in the summer of 1969 and after
witnessing the violence that ignited the Troubles, he
found it difficult to settle back into his studies.

Within a year he was home to stay.

He was already involved "in a small way" with Belfast
republicans when he left the Divine Word Missionaries
behind and joined the IRA.

Five years later Brendan McFarlane was sentenced to
life imprisonment in connection with a gun and bomb
attack on the Bayardo Bar on Belfast's Protestant
Shankill Road that killed five people.

His time in prison was marked by protest and escape
attempts. He returned to his religious calling in
1978, when he tried to escape the Maze dressed as a
priest, but was quickly caught.

However, in 1983 he led the mass break-out of
republican prisoners from the top security jail when
38 escaped.

In January 1986 he was recaptured in The Netherlands
along with fellow escapee Gerry Kelly.

Nearly 20 years later Mr McFarlane is sitting in Sinn
Féin's modern press centre on the Falls Road. Its
gable wall carries the famous mural of Bobby Sands.

During the interview Gerry Kelly, now a prominent Sinn
Féin representative, calls in to the room. Jim Gibney,
the party strategist reputed to have proposed putting
Sands forward for the Fermanagh/South Tyrone seat,
also briefly walks in.

The hunger strike past and the Sinn Féin present are

Mr McFarlane said he has "countless memories" of 1981.

"For [younger people] this is an element of history.
For the families of the hunger strikers and for us who
were at the coalface of it, this was last week. And it
is as sharp and as raw as that," he said.

He described the bonds forged during the prison
protests as being those of "brother as opposed to

Recalling an encounter with Bobby Sands prior to the
strike, Mr McFarlane said Sands demanded to know if he
"had the list ready".

Mr McFarlane said he was shocked to find that Sands
wanted to know who was scheduled to follow him to

The first hunger strike at the Maze in 1980 ended
without death amid speculation of a deal. During it
the men starved as a group.

The second hunger strike began with Sands, while
another man was to join each week, cranking up the
pressure. It took 66 days for Sands to perish.

"We had these smuggled crystal [radio] sets and at
night we would fix it up with a wire to the window for
an aerial and we would listen in to the Radio Ulster
news," Mr McFarlane said.

"On the early morning that he died I had the radio
wired up. I actually heard it on the 2am news.

"I remember distinctly... 'Bobby Sands, hunger
striker, MP for Fermanagh/South Tyrone, died at 1:17am

"And even though we were waiting for it, it still
shocked. I woke up Paul Butler, who is a councillor in
Lisburn now, and told him.

"We rapped down at the heating pipes beside each cell
and passed the word quietly."

Mr McFarlane said he also had fresh memories of July 5
– the day at the centre of Mr O'Rawe's claims.

"Danny Morrison and myself had a visit together. He
informed me that that morning the British had opened a
line of communication to the republican movement in
relation to the jail hunger strikes. My eyes widened.

"And he said to me 'I am instructed to inform you, do
not under any circumstances build up your hopes'.

"Danny then went and briefed the hunger strikers. I
was able to go in and talk to them [and] went back to
the block later that afternoon.

"I went back to the block, wrote out a quick note,
passed it up to Richard, informed him that the British
had opened up a line of communication.

"We were not to spread the word. I told him and I
think I told one other member of camp staff. I told
him again that we need to see what's going to happen

Asked whether was any information was passed to Mr
O'Rawe on what might have been on offer?

Mr McFarlane replied: "There was no concrete proposals
whatsoever in relation to a deal.

"According to Richard he has a deal done. Richard then
says that he shouted down to me that 'that looks
good'. 'I agreed' and that I would write out to the
army council and say that we would accept the deal.

"That is totally fictitious. That conversation did not

"I did not write to the army council and tell them
that we were accepting [a deal]. I couldn't have. I
couldn't have accepted something that didn't exist.

"He then says that the conversation continued at the
window in Irish to confuse the prison guards so they
wouldn't hear. But there's 44 guys on that wing who
have Gaelic."

"Not only did I not tell him. That conversation didn't
take place.

"No way did I agree with Richard O'Rawe that a deal
was offered and that we should accept it and that I
would write to the army council and say that 'that is
a good deal we're accepting it'.

"And one thousand per cent, the army council did not
write in and say 'do not accept the deal'."

Mr McFarlane insisted that "prisoners took the

"I have spoken to Richard on numerous occasions in the
years that I have been released and never on any
occasion did he ever raise any difficulties, problems,
doubts, in relation to the hunger strike period. Never
once broached the subject."

Mr McFarlane said Sinn Féin had contacted the hunger
striker's families to "allay any fears" over the book.

Blanketmen asks questions of the republican leaders of
1981 and records Gerry Adams's central role.

Mr McFarlane raised this point and said: "I think the
vilification of Gerry Adams in this is scandalous,
absolutely scandalous."

Last night (Thursday) Mr O'Rawe stood over his account
of events and said the communication from Mr McFarlane
did contain details of a deal that they agreed to
accept. He reiterated the question: why would he make
it up?

"The only person who can answer that is Richard
O'Rawe," Mr McFarlane said.

"But I categorically state that never did I write to
the army council telling them that we were accepting a
deal, because a deal did not exist."

March 12, 2005

Belfast Telegraph

Flanigan kidnapper now held in US base
Armagh aid worker's abductor captured

By Sean O'Driscoll
11 March 2005

The self-confessed organiser of the abduction of Armagh aid worker, Annetta Flanigan, has been handed over to US authorities for interrogation in Afghanistan, the Pentagon has said.

Syed Akbar Agha, the leader of the Taliban's splinter faction Jaish-e-Muslimeen, has been handed over to the US authorities at a US military base in Bagram, 50km north of Kabul in Afghanistan.

He was arrested along with two other former Taliban officials in Pakistan and the three were handed over to the US authorities last Friday, according to Afghanistan's Pajhwok news agency, quoting senior Afghan intelligence officials.

While Pentagon officials say privately that Akbar Agha has been detained, US military spokesman Major Steve Wollman said he could neither confirm nor deny the reports.

Akbar Agha has never made a secret of his involvement in the kidnapping of Ms Flanigan, telling western news agencies last year that she and two other UN election workers would be released if Afghan authorities released 26 Islamic fundamentalist prisoners.

Pakistani Information Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed confirmed to Associated Press last week that Pakistani intelligence officers had captured Akbar Agha in Karachi and that he and the other two former Taliban officials were being held in different parts of the country.

A Taliban spokesman, Mufti Latifullah Hakimi, confirmed to an Afghan news agency Akbar Agha has been arrested along with the former Taliban military commander Mulla Abdul Razzaq, but said he could not confirm the third arrest, said to be that of a former high-ranking Taliban police officer.

The Taliban has sought to distance itself from the Jaish splinter group.

Agha, a former warlord, joined the Taliban as it rose to power in Afghanistan in 1995. He was the Taliban commander in Maidan Shahr, capital of Wardak province west of Kabul but was later expelled by Taliban chief, Mullah Mohammad Omar.

He launched his own Jaish-al Muslimeen, or Army of Muslims, group in December 2001 after the fall of the Taliban regime.

After the kidnapping of Ms Flanigan along with the other election workers, Afghan Interior Minister Ali Ahmad Jalali accused Agha's group of trying to disrupt Afghanistan's October 9 presidential election and suggested it had hired common criminals to carry about the abductions.

Agha told Associated Press last October the three would be released in exchange for the release of 26 prisoners held in Afghanistan and other countries, including the US military facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

However, Afghan authorities say the three captured UN aid workers were released without any exchange of prisoners.

Belfast Telegraph

Fear in the village
'UVF top boy' rules by intimidation in loyalist area, court is told

12 March 2005

AN alleged UVF "top boy" rules the loyalist Village area of south Belfast with fear and locals are afraid to speak out against him, the High Court was told yesterday.

The claim was made by a Crown lawyer opposing a bail application by Albert Hodgen (33), from Vernon Street, who denied intimidating two teenage brothers into leaving their home and assaulting one of them.

Barrister Charles McKay said Hodgen approached the boys and demanded the return of property which, he said, had been stolen from a friend's house.

When they protested that they had nothing to do with the burglary, Hodgen threatened to break their arms and legs.

It was alleged Hodgen referred to a punishment attack on an acquaintance of the brothers whose limbs were broken and said if they did not return the property by five o'clock they would suffer the same fate.

"These boys are afraid to return to their home and say this man rules the Village area through fear and no one will speak out against him," said Mr McKay.

"They have good reason to be afraid as their father was blinded in an assault in January and is still recovering."

Lord Justice Sheil asked if the boys' assertions were supported by police.

Mr McKay said that their view was confirmed by an officer in the area who knew what was going on in his patch.

The judge said he was concerned about the risk of interference with witnesses and refused bail.

Hodgen denies intimidating the two teenagers into leaving their homes. He also denies a further charge of attacking one of the teenagers.


PM accused of defying agreement

David Ford wants an executive without Sinn Fein

Alliance leader David Ford has accused Tony Blair of defying the Good Friday Agreement by failing to form a new executive without Sinn Fein.

Speaking at the party's conference in County Antrim, Mr Ford asked: "When will the Government stop punishing every party for the defaults of one?"

He accused the prime minister of sacrificing integrity for inclusivity.

"Why is principle sacrificed to expediency time after time, when it just results in repeated failure?"

Mr Ford told the conference in Templepatrick that the Agreement lays out clear sanctions "against parties and individuals defaulting on their obligations to end violence".

He said devolution had to return to Northern Ireland so its politicians could tackle a range of problems for their constituents, but called for a voluntary rather than enforced coalition.

He again attacked the system of designating assembly members as unionist, nationalist or other, claiming it had only served to reinforce divisions and discriminated against cross-community parties like Alliance.

Earlier, the party's deputy leader Seamus Close said Sinn Fein had "poisoned, polluted and perverted the democratic process".

Speaking ahead of the conference Mr Ford criticised the government for withholding funding for an integrated school in Ballycastle.

"They seem prepared to say that if there are difficulties about resources, they will support division at the expense of integration," he said.

"I think that's a fundamentally misconceived view."


Orange Order votes to sever UUP links

12/03/2005 - 12:57:30

The Orange Order has voted to sever its links with the Ulster Unionist Party.

The decision was made during a meeting of the Grand Lodge in East Belfast today.

Orange Order Grand Master Robert Saulters, speaking after the meeting, said: “The Loyal Orange Institution will continue to lobby for the unionist cause as events require and we will seek to establish good relationships with all those engaged in the political interests of the unionist people.”

The decision to pull out of the Ulster Unionist Council effectively ends the Order's 100 years of historical ties with the party.

The links go back to the formation of the UUC in 1905.

The Order said that while its members had been among the founding fathers of the UUC, today’s motion stemmed from the current restructuring of the party which had caused Orangemen to reflect on the relationship between the parties.

Mr Saulters said: “When the UUC was established there was only one Unionist Party. That is no longer the case and we feel that arrangements made in 1905 are no longer relevant to the political scene in Northern Ireland in 2005.”

The decision will please modernisers within the Ulster Unionist Party who have been trying to end the situation where Orange delegates who are not supporters of the party have a vote on the party’s ruling council.

An Orange Order spokesman said that the Order had always urged its members to take an interest in politics whichever party they supported.

“As a democratic organisation we never tell our members which way to vote but we do encourage them to exercise their democratic right and cast their vote in the interests of the people of Northern Ireland.”

Jim Rodgers, a UUP councillor and member of the Orange Order, said he was saddened but not surprised by the decision.

“It is a major blow just a week after we celebrated the centenary of the party.

“With public opinion polls showing us in a very bad position, it is another major setback. It is not good having people leave our party but it has been a cold house for the Orange Order for some considerable time,” he added.


Segregation costs North £1bn a year

12/03/2005 - 14:16:19

Sectarian division in the North is costing more than £1bn (€1.4bn) a year, it was claimed today.

The Alliance Party is to call on the British government to address the problems of segregation by meeting the growing demand for integrated school and mixed workplaces and housing areas.

A conference motion put forward by Deputy Leader Eileen Bell condemned the “enormous human and financial costs” of segregation and communal strife.

Mrs Bell said: “As a result of the policy failures of the past, people across whole swathes of Northern Ireland live in fear of violence in their own communities but don’t yet feel able to live in mixed areas, let alone areas dominated by the so-called other side.”

Mrs Bell said there was great anger in the community at loyalist paramilitaries seeking a £70m (€100m) pay-off from the Government as a result of ending their illegal activities.

“Alliance estimates that over £1bn (€1.4bn) of taxpayers money is eaten up every year in dealing with the consequences of a divided and segregated society.

“We must make it clear to all that it is rank stupidity to pour scarce public resources into the provision of facilities on a sectarian basis.”

In a separate motion, the British government’s controversial plan to introduce water charges was condemned.

Proposer Sean Neeson said people in Northern Ireland were being asked to pay for decades of under-investment in infrastructure.

“The present proposals for water charges are completely unfair and must be resisted at every level of society here.”

Noting that average incomes in the North were 19% below the UK average, the motion called on any water charges to reflect relative usage and ability to pay.

In a motion on International Development, the conference called for 100% cancellation of debt for the poorest Third World countries and for the Government to commit 0.7% of GDP to development aid.

The motion also called on the EU and others to lower trade barriers to goods from the developing world.

Proposer Naomi Long said: “If we are to resolve the issue of poverty on a global scale then it will require not just short term aid based interventions but longer term strategic solutions.”

She said Chancellor Gordon Brown’s promise of reaching the goal of spending 0.7% of national income on aid by 2013 would be too little too late for many in the Third World.

The conference also debated the rights of older people, calling for an immediate improvement in the basic state pension, with future increases based on national average earnings.

Strangford MLA Kieran McCarthy said older people in Northern Ireland experienced social exclusion.

“The latest intervention by the Labour government is the Pension Credit Scheme. My experience has been one of crisis ever since its inception.

“Indeed we are told frequently that many, many senior citizens simply do not get what they are entitled to, either by lack of knowledge or by having to fill in horrendously complicated forms,” he added.


Sinn Féin candidate in McCartney murder bar

12/03/2005 - 13:15:43

A Sinn Féin Assembly election candidate was among around 70 people in the bar where Belfast father-of-two Robert McCartney was murdered, it emerged today.

Cora Groogan, who ran for Sinn Féin in the November 2003 Assembly elections in Martin McGuinness’s Mid Ulster constituency, has said she was in Magennis’s bar on January 30 when a fight erupted resulting in the murder of Mr McCartney.

During the attack, Mr McCartney’s friend Brendan Devine also sustained serious stab wounds.

However, she insisted she saw nothing inside the bar and confirmed she had given a full statement to her solicitor.

The Sinn Féin member said: “I got to the bar about 10pm that Sunday. I was there for a short while.

“There was a commotion in the bar but I witnessed nothing and left shortly after 11pm. I have given a full statement to my solicitor.”

Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams has in recent weeks called for all witnesses to come forward with information about what happened on the night when Mr McCartney was killed.

The IRA has expelled three members following an internal investigation over their role in the killing and subsequent cover-up.

That followed claims from Mr McCartney’s family that members of the organisation involved were being shielded and witnesses were being intimidated.

Last Tuesday the IRA also confirmed that at a five-and-a-half hour meeting with the McCartney family they had offered to have those involved in the murder shot - but this was rejected.

Catherine McCartney today said she was astonished to learn that a Sinn Féin candidate had been present on the night her brother Robert was killed.

“She says she has given a statement to a solicitor but I would challenge her to give a statement to the police or the Police Ombudsman,” Catherine McCartney said.

“Giving statements to solicitors is not really what is needed. The statement should be given to people with the proper investigative skills who can help to bring those responsible to court.”

The revelation that a candidate was present on the night of the murder in Magennis’s bar will place further pressure on Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams who has already suspended seven party members after receiving their names from the McCartneys.

The West Belfast MP also passed on the details of those seven members to the Northern Ireland Police Ombudsman Nuala O’Loan whose investigators had offered to help the detectives.

Republicans have been reluctant to ask witnesses to come forward with information directly to the police because of their belief that the new police service has failed to match nationalist expectations of police reforms.

The SDLP, the Catholic Church and the Irish, British and US Governments have all backed the new policing arrangements and support co-operation with the detectives probing Mr McCartney’s murder.


Adams in America to begin tour ahead of St Patrick’s Day

12/03/2005 - 09:51:14

Gerry Adams will start a tour of the US today that will see him meeting many members of the Irish-American community ahead of Saint Patrick’s Day.

The Sinn Féin President will speak to a number of political leaders and government officials. However, he has not been invited to Thursday's celebrations at the White House.

He will visit New York, Washington, Cincinnati, New Jersey, Philadelphia and Cleveland.


Loyalist paramilitaries accused of link to Dorrian disappearance

12/03/2005 - 11:06:27

Loyalist paramilitaries have been accused of involvement in the murder of missing shop assistant Lisa Dorrian.

Walls have been daubed with graffiti in the village where she disappeared during a late night party.

Her body has yet to be recovered but as police intensified their search, the Loyalist Volunteer Force was blamed.

Ms Dorrian, 25, disappeared after a party at a caravan site at Ballyhalbert on the Ards Peninsula almost two weeks ago.

Messages painted on the entrance of the village’s Moatlands Estate say ‘PSNI: ask the LVF where Lisa is’ and ‘LVF drug-dealing scum’.

Even though her body has not been found, the massive hunt for the shop assistant has been turned into a murder inquiry.

Police returned today to carry out house-to-house inquiries in the Co Down village. They asked householders if they noticed any suspicious people in the area on the night she disappeared and also appealed for caravan owners to return to the park where she was last seen.

Ms Dorrian, who lived 10 miles away in Bangor, went missing after leaving the party in the early hours of February 28.

Two men arrested and questioned about her murder were released without charge yesterday.

Air and land searches have been carried out along the Co Down coast, with police divers also brought in to strengthen the effort.

The detective in charge of the inquiry, Chief Inspector Mark Dornan, said: “It has been necessary for police conducting the investigation to open some caravans with the permission of site wardens.

“However, as far as possible we want to work with caravan owners.”


**Bobby's diary - 12th day

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Thursday 12th

Fr Toner was in tonight, and brought me in some religious magazines.

My weight is 58.75 kgs. They did not take a blood sample because they want to incorporate other tests with it. So the doctor says they'll do it next week.

Physically I have felt very tired today, between dinner time and later afternoon. I know I'm getting physically weaker. It is only to be expected. But I'm okay. I'm still getting the papers all right, but there's nothing heartening in them. But again I expect that also and therefore I must depend entirely upon my own heart and resolve, which I will do.

I received three notes from the comrades in Armagh, God bless them again.

I heard of today's announcement that Frank Hughes will be joining me on hunger-strike on Sunday. I have the greatest respect, admiration and confidence in Frank and I know that I am not alone. How could I ever be with comrades like those around me, in Armagh and outside.

I've been thinking of the comrades in Portlaoise, the visiting facilities there are inhuman. No doubt that hell-hole will also eventually explode in due time. I hope not, but Haughey's compassion for the prisoners down there is no different from that of the Brits towards prisoners in the North and in English gaols.

I have come to understand, and with each passing day I understand increasingly more and in the most sad way, that awful fate and torture endured to the very bitter end by Frank Stagg and Michael Gaughan. Perhaps, -- indeed yes! -- I am more fortunate because those poor comrades were without comrades or a friendly face. They had not even the final consolation of dying in their own land. Irishmen alone and at the unmerciful ugly hands of a vindictive heartless enemy. Dear God, but I am so lucky in comparison.

I have poems in my mind, mediocre no doubt, poems of hunger strike and MacSwiney, and everything that this hunger-strike has stirred up in my heart and in my mind, but the weariness is slowly creeping in, and my heart is willing but my body wants to be lazy, so I have decided to mass all my energy and thoughts into consolidating my resistance.

That is most important. Nothing else seems to matter except that lingering constant reminding thought, 'Never give up'. No matter how bad, how black, how painful, how heart-breaking, 'Never give up', 'Never despair', 'Never lose hope'. Let them bastards laugh at you all they want, let them grin and jibe, allow them to persist in their humiliation, brutality, deprivations, vindictiveness, petty harassments, let them laugh now, because all of that is no longer important or worth a response.

I am making my last response to the whole vicious inhuman atrocity they call H-Block. But, unlike their laughs and jibes, our laughter will be the joy of victory and the joy of the people, our revenge will be the liberation of all and the final defeat of the oppressors of our aged nation.

This blog actually started out here at this address and was the very first blog I ever made. It was called 'micheailin's Irish Republican Fenian Blog'. Then I moved it to Xanga, but came back here as well when Xanga had problems. For 2 years, the posts have been going to http://saoirse32.blogspot.com, but the size of the data base (over 3 thousand stories) seems to be stopping me from making new posts, so I am going to leave that site as an archive and try this address again for current posting. If you look to the right, you will see a list of links of alternate sites with the same posts because it seems that all sites have down times now and then, and I don't like to keep all my eggs in one basket, plus I just like to play with the different systems, and some people prefer reading at one site over another. The main purpose is to propagate knowledge of the Irish republican view and the issues that affect us in a part of the world that doesn't always receive much media coverage, especially, I have been told, in the United States.

There are also archive links, and a long list of Irish sources as well as one of the BOBBY SANDS sites. Feel free to make constructive comments or to email me with any suggestions or concerns. I try to post articles from various sides just so the reader will know what the other side is thinking. It doesn't mean I agree with everything posted.

Tiocfaidh Ár Lá


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