Radio Free Éireann
WBAI 99.5FM Pacifica Radio
New York City
Martin Galvin speaks to Joe Barr, the National Organiser for the revolutionary Irish Republican party, Saoradh, via telephone from Doire, about Saoradh’s decision not to support or attend this year’s Bloody Sunday March for Justice which is to be held a week from Sunday on the 28th of January. (begins time stamp ~ 26:44)
Martin: And with us on the line I believe we have Joe Barr from Doire and Saoradh.
Martin: Joe, are you with us?
Joe: Yeah, I’m with you, Martin. How’s it going there?
Martin: Doing the best. We were having trouble reaching you. I was just getting nervous for a second. Okay. Joe, we had – John and I just spoke a little bit about the Bloody Sunday March and how your group, Saoradh, is going to have a demonstration not next Sunday but on Saturday.
Martin: I just want to re-introduce you to our audience: Last time you were on you had actually been in New York on a work situation, you were picked up by the FBI, they questioned you about Saoradh and you then got sent home and basically you lost your job as a result. You’re now working in the Doire office of Saoradh. Joe, why is it that you joined Saoradh? (Martin spells Saoradh) There are a lot of movements where you can be a Republican today and it’s a lot safer and politically and financially advantageous – why did you choose to join Saoradh?
Joe: Well the reason I joined Saoradh was I was invited to the initial talks about two and a half years ago now. Saoradh’s made up by a number of, you know, Republicans who were part of different organisations before, like myself – I was a member of the 32 County Sovereignty Movement – groups were invited to talks. As the talks progressed, the more I learned, the more I listened to the views, the ideals and what way people wanted our party to progress. I thought that this was the party for me.
Martin: Okay. Joe, now you’re located in Doire. I’m sure that going to Bloody Sunday Marches was very important to you – an important part of your becoming a Republican and had a big influence on you. You’ve attended many of them. What is it about this year that made you take a decision that you wouldn’t attend this year?
Right well, to be honest now, it’s not just what went on this year – the last number of years Republicans, not just Saoradh but I also know other Republican groups, have felt that they’re being sidelined, that they’re being put to the back. Essentially, people believe that the Bloody Sunday Committee, the Bloody Sunday March, has been hijacked by a political organisation called People Before Profit – I’m not too sure if your listeners are aware of that group?
Martin: Yeah. Eamonn McCann would be one of the people involved there.
Yeah, yeah – that would be them, that would be them. So, we’ve just noticed – like I’ll give you and example: Last year, some march organisers were telling Republican groups to get to the back of the march, telling them they weren’t wanted at the front and they had to go to the back. So this is what was going on last year and then this year what happened – I’m sure that you’ve seen the poster which was put out. The poster is, to be honest I find it disgraceful, some of the things that’s on the poster and they expect Republicans to fall in behind…
Martin: …Right. John McDonagh read the poster out and I noticed too, for example: John Brady’s name is on it. Lorna Brady, his sister, who was on this programme some years back, right after John’s death, she actually said that she would not be involved in it and the John Brady Memorial Band from Strabane said that they are withdrawing – that’s some of the groups that are not going to be involved. And I know one of the controversies – Tony Taylor from Doire, who I know – his wife, people had requested that his wife be allowed to speak because Tony Taylor is interned-by-licence, as they call it – the licence was just revoked, secret evidence is used to keep him there, he doesn’t know how long he’s going to be involved, in prison, and the Bloody Sunday March itself in 1972 was against internment and the internees were just shot down so there was a request to have Tony Taylor from Doire, from the city, have his wife speak against his internment and that apparently was turned down and that was something else that led to controversy.
Joe: Yeah, and again, that was last year. Lorraine (Tony’s wife) you know she wanted to address the crowd,
I believe it was coming up to the first year anniversary of Tony’s internment, and approaches were made to the Bloody Sunday Committee and the approach was turned down. Now, coming into this year now, we have Neil Hegarty who is also interned. Neil was just released after doing five years in prison in December. He wasn’t out twenty-four hours before he had his licence revoked and taken straight back into prison.
Martin: Okay. And alright, so next week you’re going to have, on Saturday – and I’ve made this point: It’s not directly to conflict with the Bloody Sunday March – next week Saoradh is going to have a protest. What exactly – but that’s on Saturday, not Sunday, to conflict with the Bloody Sunday – what are you going to do?
So next Saturday at quarter to two we’re going to have a wreath laying ceremony at the Bloody Sunday Monument and then after that we’re going to have a white line anti-internment rally/picket at the Free Derry Corner between two and three – so that’s to highlight the on-going internment of Neil Hegarty and also Tony Taylor.
Martin: Yeah. Now I just, I wanted to ask you: How important was the Bloody Sunday March to you growing up? You know, as a Republican?
Joe: Bloody Sunday was a, it’s – it’s to any young Doire man, to any young Doire woman, the Bloody Sunday March is something that you just know, you know? It’s like Christmas, straight after Christmas, you’ve got, you know, Bloody Sunday, do you understand? It’s just an event that happens every year that you’re just used to getting prepared for – this decision, you know, we didn’t come to this decision lightly. There was a lot of talk and a lot of discussions with all our local members, not just in Doire but across the country, but it was felt that there was no way we could march this year with what was written on that poster.
Martin: How many years – how long have you been attending Bloody Sunday Marches?
Joe: So, I’m twenty-nine now so I started going whenever I went to secondary school when I was eleven, so eleven or twelve, so that’s about seventeen-eighteen years – that’s how many I’ve been going.
Martin: Alright. What would it take to get you and Saoradh back in the Bloody Sunday March next year?
Joe: Well, we would like to see the march going back to, you know, what is was set up for – it’s remembering the Bloody Sunday victims. It’s highlighting the fact that those victims did not get justice. An apology was never enough. And we also want to highlight, you know, Republican issues/local issues. We understand that, you know, that there’s things going on internationally…
Joe: …but we want to highlight our issues and get our message out.
Martin: Okay. Alright now, if people want information about Saoradh and I’m going to spell that again for our audience. (Martin spells Saoradh)
Joe: (Joe spells Saoradh)
Martin: Right. How would they get it?
Okay, so you can can find us at www.saoradh.ie . You can also find us on Facebook, Saoradh – The Unfinished Revolution – and if you’d like to find our specific Doire office, which is the headquarters for Saoradh – it’s Junior McDaid House on Facebook.
Martin: Okay. So if they’re in Doire, if any of our listeners visit the office, you can get information on the website or on Facebook.
Martin: Joe, we want to thank you for coming on with us and we hope that things work out for next year. We will try again to have somebody from the committee to give us their position, their thinking, but this was such, there’s so many people who feel that strongly – just the same way, articulated the view that you’ve articulated so well that we wanted to air it on WBAI Radio Free Éireann. Alright. Thank you, Joe.
Joe: Martin, no problem. Bye-Bye now. (ends time stamp ~ 35:12)