Martin Galvin (MG) speaks to Kate Nash (KN) via telephone from Doire and gets updates on the Bloody Sunday cases. (begins time stamp ~ 39:48)
MG: With us on the line we have Kate Nash whose brother was one of the victims murdered by British troopers on Bloody Sunday and is still fighting to have those troopers brought to court and be publicly charged for the crimes that they committed that day. Kate, welcome back to Radio Free Éireann – I know you’ve been doing this programme a lot longer than I have.
KN: Oh, thank you, yes, and thank you for inviting me.
MG: Alright, Kate. Now we now have another milestone in the Bloody Sunday, in your fight to bring those British troopers to justice for the murder of your brother, the wounding of your father, the killing and wounding of so many other people. What is the latest that has happened with your fight for justice?
KN: Yes well, we got an update eight days ago from the PSNI (Police Service of Northern Ireland) to actually say that they had finished questioning soldiers and that will be the end of questioning when this is all together so that’s very significant in our fight for justice and especially in this murder investigation because it’s taken four years to get this far so yes, you’re right, it’s a very significant milestone.
However, they have also told us that they will now sit and consider and see about compiling a case to present to the Public Prosecution Service. But however, there’s a little fear there, too – because they did warn us, the leading detective on this case, did warn us four years ago when it started that it could possibly be – they might not prosecute using that term ‘public interest’. It’s a (inaudible) term you know so they might not think it’s in the public interest to prosecute these soldiers.
MG: Alright Kate, I know it seems – four years for this investigation, they’ve been through so much, you had a Saville Inquiry, you had the original investigation – for most of these troopers, they said they had to be questioned – all they did is said they wouldn’t answer any questions. Why did it take four years to get to this point and why is it you still – you and the other families have no idea whether they will even recommend that charges be brought and of course, that recommendation would have to be approved or disapproved by the Director of Public Prosecutions like what we would call a District Attorney here in New York.
KN: Well, we also have to remember that at the Saville Inquiry – Saville had the powers of a High Court and he himself could have recommended prosecutions at the end of that. He chose not to do that. And if fact, there was a lot of perjury committed by soldiers at the Saville Inquiry and he could have recommended even arrests for that and he didn’t do it. So I think just…I mean the delays in this case and the unwillingness, really, to actually prosecute soldiers – it’s been that way all along. We have fought from the very start and it seems, really, that before they get soldiers into court the idea really is for us to die off, you know, that seems to be – the judiciary here, as you know, Martin, the judiciary here have been unwilling to deal with any of these cases, any of these state murders, and that’s the way it is. We’ve become used to that. So it’s another wait for us now to find out if they will actually, if the Public Prosecution, will actually prosecute.
MG: But Kate, this case – we’re talking with Kate Nash whose brother was one of the Bloody Sunday victims who was killed, whose father was wounded on Bloody Sunday and is actually one of the people who leads the Bloody Sunday Marches each year – in this case you had a British Prime Minister say that this was ‘unjustified and unjustifiable killings’ – that’s a legal definition of murder if I ever heard one. You had Saville talk about how the testimony under oath was knowingly not truthful which seems to fit, pretty much, a legal definition of perjury. How is there any hesitation, how is there any hold up, how is there any doubt as to whether they would recommend charges of murder or manslaughter or perjury against those troopers?
KN: Yes, well the fact of the matter is there has been political interference from the start and went all through – not just in the case of Bloody Sunday – in other cases as well. And the fact is they simply don’t want to put soldiers in jail. I don’t know if it’s because there’s been deals made, I’m pretty sure there has been, the Good Friday Agreement – and I think they probably all decided that an apology would be enough. As a matter of fact it’s not enough. An apology certainly wouldn’t take the place of justice for anybody and it certainly won’t take the place of justice for us or most of the families. I believe there is one or two families who would be involved with Sinn Féin who are happy enough with this apology. However, we’re not – most of the families aren’t.
MG: Alright. Now, how far up do you expect, if there are charges at all, is it just going to be…
KN: …Yes, well if there are charges I would expect – I have asked, on many occasions, I’m in touch with the PSNI at least once a week by email. And I have asked have they questioned General Sir Michael Jackson, who took a leading role on the day of Bloody Sunday. He was the man who compiled the famous ‘shot list‘ where bullets went and also the man responsible for putting the story around the world in fact within twenty-four hours that those who were shot that day were bombers and gunmen and indeed, they did try to allude to the fact that my brother was one of those people.
MG: Now Mike Jackson is a senior British officer at this time. But it’s clear: British soldiers were brought together. They were given a scenario to comply with, to tell a story to try to justify what happened and concoct it – you don’t get that many different stories from that many different people. They all say the same thing and they all say something which is so different from what everybody saw on Bloody Sunday itself. They couldn’t have done that unless there was a concerted effort to concoct and stick to and give out a cover story.
KN: Oh, absolutely!
MG: Do you think that there’s any possibility of somebody, British officers who did that, who concocted the cover story, who started it and put out the cover-up of them being charged for perjury and for perverting the course of justice in a murder investigation?
KN: Well absolutely! I feel that General Sir Mike Jackson should be one of those who’s charged with perjury. There’s a very strong case actually for it. He actually appeared back at the Saville Inquiry and had to be called back a second time because of lies he told the first time. So absolutely there’s a case for it. However, when we do ask the PSNI about this they tell me: It’s inappropriate for us to answer these questions and you know, you’ll find, eventually, whenever the time is right, you know so – I don’t know. But certainly they won’t even actually confirm that they’re questioning General Sir Mike Jackson – but however and indeed the soldier who led them in, Derek Wilford, Lieutenant Colonel Derek Wilford, so we’ll have to just wait and see.
MG: He was knighted, of course. But in, for example…
KN: …Yes, he was. He was given an OBE at the end of 1972.
MG: …In the United States, if you had a case like this, the District Attorney, the police would attempt to liaise with the families of the victims. They would speak to them, they would keep them updated, they would brief them. Does any of that happen with you and the other Bloody Sunday families on any sort of regular basis?
KN: No. We have probably met with the PSNI in four years probably about six times. Now last time we met with the PSNI was actually – and I’m talking the families – was actually almost a year ago – September – it will be a year since we met with them. Although my Liaison Officer, who is somebody who forwards my messages to the leading detective – you know, she’s what we have – a buffer – she told me that she didn’t think the PSNI would be meeting with the families soon so it’ll be interesting to see.
MG: Just to show you how this is not something that just happened once on Bloody Sunday: During this past week there was something very poignant: Mary Murphy, whose husband, Joseph Murphy, was shot down in Ballymurphy in 1971, in August of 1971, in what is called the Ballymurphy Massacre and what happened the same regiment, the Paratroop Regiment which would fire on civil rights marchers and shoot down people on Bloody Sunday in Doire in January of 1972. In August of 1971 during internment they shot down a number of people. Mr. Murphy who was killed so many years ago – actually his body was recently exhumed. They found that he was shot twice and he had to be re-buried along with his wife. But those families, the Ballymurphy Massacre families, who are also a victim of injustice, also victims of British murder at the hands of the Paratroop Regiment, they haven’t even got to the point where you are, they haven’t even got an inquiry, they haven’t even got to the point where their cases will be taken up and there would be any consideration given about murder charges against the troopers?
KN: Joseph Murphy, as you rightly pointed out, Joseph Murphy was shot between the ninth and the eleventh of August in 1971. That’s six months before Bloody Sunday and rightly you said, too, by the First Battalion of the Parachute Regiment. Now Joseph Murphy’s story is very sad: He was a forty-one year old father of twelve and Joseph was actually shot over that three day period in the leg. Now Joseph maintained – Joseph lay in hospital for thirteen days before he actually passed away and Joseph maintained to his wife, Mary Ellen, that they had actually him after they shot him the Army had actually taken him to the Henry Taggart Hall, which they were using you know, as a stop-gap, and they’d actually shot him in the same wound a second time! Now, how cruel is that? And he maintained that so his wife disputed that evidence all those years and finally Joseph was exhumed last year and lo and behold! There was the bullet! The family had known all along. Now the families of Ballymurphy are expecting inquests and I’m told that some day they actually – it was actually her lawyer, Michael Mansfield from London, is going to represent some of those families so I wish them all the best I really do. They’ve some struggle, the really had and they’ve had all along – they’ve gotten absolutely no where so they’re just putting everything they wish for on these inquests but it’s not prosecutions – it’s just going to get the truth out there – hopefully. Hopefully.
MG: Alright now Kate, you have been one of the leaders in the annual Bloody Sunday March which continues every year and I know you’re expecting to be marching next January again…
MG: …which you have so many years. Why is it that it’s so necessary to march, to put pressure on the British government, to go forward if you’re ever to get justice in this for your brother’s murder?
KN: Martin, we just don’t actually do the march. We have a whole week of events and it’s raising and highlighting other injustices and many other victims of state killers actually. And indeed and for instance like Stakeknife. You’ve heard of him – he was a double agent. He worked for the IRA and the British government or MI5 and those are the kind of cases that we’re – because there was a lot of collusion in our wee country, an awful lot of collusion. And although the British say that they feel they were only responsible for ten percent in actual fact, with the undercover groups that worked in Ireland and just behaving as paramilitaries, really, and just the shoot-by-killings and stuff like that I mean, I would imagine they’ve killed many, many more people. And it’s incumbent upon them, you see, to cover that up. They don’t want to be disgrace in the world by perpetuating a war – and that’s what they did in Ireland – they perpetuated a war by their acts of aggression and their acts of murder and undercover, of course, and that’s what they don’t want to world to find out – what they have done in Ireland. Really they should be facing a war crimes tribunal, they really should.
MG: Well what they did on Bloody Sunday was still – there were civil rights marches, there was internment and by shooting people down on Bloody Sunday they convinced many people that you were never get civil rights, you were never going to get any kind of justice from a British government that was prepared to answer marches for justice and appeals for civil rights with Bloody Sunday and shooting down civilians and lying about it.
KN: …And of course, we still have internment. Of course, we still have internment. And we still – there’s still political interference in the law. You know of the case of Ivor Bell. There’s one grand example and also the latest example would be Tony Taylor, a man who got out on licence and who was living his life and helping in the community, raising his family, one of his children is special needs, and Tony, who only has one kidney actually and a spleen – doesn’t have a spleen – Tony was arrested again and put in jail and he’s been there for five and a half months and there has been no evidence put up to show that this man should be in jail again. They’ve absolutely nothing at all and so they have him there – they won’t let him out.
I mean this is supposed to be a democratic country we live in. You know, this sort of thing? This is what we fought against forty-five years ago. This is why my brother died. And here it is all these years later and we still have that kind of thing hanging – that kind of dictatorship hanging over our heads.
MG: Well one of the sad things is that Martin McGuinness and others with Sinn Féin have publicly said that Tony Taylor should be released. They have representation on the policing board. They’re there, they say they have political power within the Six Counties as Deputy First Minister and yet that means absolutely nothing – a British Secretary keeps him in jail.
KN: That’s right. Well, that shows you really who’s running the show.
MG: Alright, Kate. We’ll let that be the last word. And thank you again for being with us.
KN: Well, thank you for having me. Thank you very much. (ends time stamp ~ 55:47 )
Martin Galvin (MG) interviews Independent Councillor Padraig McShane (PM) via telephone from Co. Antrim about the gates of the GAA and the altercations that occurred at the recent Ballycastle Orange Order parade. (begins time stamp ~ 10:49)
MG: We now have Padraig McShane. Padraig, welcome to Radio Free Éireann. I believe this is your first time with us.
PM: Thank you very much. I’m very honoured to be here.
MG: Padraig, I see in the Irish News a picture of two gates – McAllister McVeigh Memorial Park – background to the park is that it was named that in 1947 – that’s even before I was born, they had that name, they had those gates and it’s there to honour two men who died in 1922 – that’s nearly a century ago. Why is it that those two names, McAllister McVeigh Memorial Park, why is it that they are causing such a controversy when money was voted to that community, to that park, that there is pressure to take those names, those gates down – those names off it and to put them where – to hide those names so they would no longer be in an honoured place in the park?
PM: Yeah, first of all I’ll explain the background to you: The allocation of funding would be based on need, there had been needs analysis done and where there’s an identified need funding would go to that area – support them communities and help them to bring projects which support communities, support sport and support health and well-being. Obviously, the games was an area of neglect for years in the Nationalist community in The Glens of Antrim and it was neglected for years by local councils. When the opportunity arose with the new council it was immediately flashing red lights – these projects were bringing up red lights in this area here saying that money had to be spent and communities had to be supported in our area. The Council themselves had no grounds, no facilities whatsoever, so the GAA club offered to step in and facilitate a community group in the area and the community group applied for funding after leasing part of the grounds from the GAA club, the local GAA club in Glenariffe.
Whenever they had obtained the funding there was a caveat put on it and the caveat was by the DUP (Democratic Unionist Party) who called for the removal of the gates to two IRA Volunteers who were shot in 1922 during the Tan War.
MG: Alright. That was Charlie McAllister and Pat McVeigh. And you’re saying the Democratic Unionist Party, the party headed by Arlene Foster, founded by Ian Paisley, previously headed by Peter Robinson, then they objected to funding this park that had been named in the 1940’s. What was their reason for doing that?
PM: The reason for doing it was fairly simple: If I look at any funding that has went to Nationalist communities in the new Causeway Coast and Glens Council area, there would have been no gates, there would have been no IRA members here but what we’re seeing we’re seeing a pattern of blockage of community infrastructure funding the maintain area to support communities, to help with like chances, to help get them facilities. Now we would have seen them blocked in the past. I can think of one example in Dungiven where a major funding project was to go ahead and the Council themselves obtained eighty percent funding and had to submit twenty percent support funding to obtain a two point three million pound project. They refused. And they refused on the basis of nothing more than Dungiven would be seen as a strong Nationalist and strong Republican part of south Doire.
MG: So do you feel that it was really because of the gates or do you feel that it was more just because they didn’t want to fund a Nationalist area like this and this just gave them an excuse for doing so?
PM: The gates were one hundred percent were an excuse. Now obviously, the Democratic Unionist Party wouldn’t be renown for supporting Republicans and certainly Republican martyrs and the gates were to give them and their supporters an ideal opportunity to attack Republicans and Nationalists in the Causeway Coast and Glens area. That said, the Council took legal opinion and that legal opinion came back to suggest that there was actually nothing that could be done to block the funding. As I said before we had done quite a number of surveys and done needs analysis in that area and the money was needed in that area. The GAA did step up to the plate in Glenariffe and for that we were very thankful because the Causeway Coast and Glens never invested in the area. They do not have lands in the area when they should have lands and they should have public facilities in the area but they did not have that – the Friends of Glenariffe, which is a group set up to deliver support networks in The Glens ward obtained lands from the GAA. Subsequent to that the demand to removed the gates with the two Volunteers names on it stirred up a hornet’s nest as you could imagine and left a very bitter taste in the mouth of a lot of Republicans and Nationalists within the Glens community.
MG: Well, these are not just patriots who were killed almost a hundred years ago, May of 1922. They, Charlie McAllister and Pat McVeigh, they were actually from the local area and have families in the local area. Is that correct?
PM: They have families in the local area to this day. They would actually have family members part and parcel supporting the club itself so you can imagine it’s very small rural community but at its epicentre is the GAA and the epicentre of the GAA is obviously the sports grounds and the field itself named after these two Volunteers.
MG: Alright. Where does the funding stand? There was a meeting – I believe it was passed by a very small – by a vote of one vote. Is the club going to get this funding? Will they have to remove the gates in order to get it?
PM: The club will get the funding. The club will not have to remove the gates. If it’s the choice of the club to remove the gates to avail of a far bigger and more substantial entrance into a far bigger complex they will do that but trust me, the gates, or similar, will go back up in the memory of the two Volunteers. The Glenariffe area and The Glens area in general are very, very proud of the two Volunteers and their sacrifice and while we’re not where we want to be specifically today we are in a position where we can obtain funding from the likes of local governments that would have been unthinkable at the time the two Volunteers were shot.
MG: Alright, we’re talking to Padraig McShane; he’s a independent councillor from that area. Padraig, we want to just move on to something else: You are a councillor in that area. There was a parade last month, an Orange parade, on July Twelfth. You were out on the street trying to monitor that. You and some other councillors had applied to protest that parade and it turns out that you, other councillors, Gary Donnelly, who’s been on this programme from Doire and some other councillors are now being told you’re being summoned, or arrested, as a result of just simply being on the streets watching the Orange Order. Can you tell us what happened?
PM: Yeah, I’ll be more specific – there was an application put in to protest – and that application is an eleven bar three form which is usually submitted to the Parades Commission and it was actually young people in the area that submitted that form and not ourselves. I, as an elected representative, I would be agreeing to go and monitor parades and make sure that anything that was happening at them parades, they are an unsavoury occasion for a place like Ballycastle. We have an Orange march in an eighty-five to ninety percent Nationalist and Republican community so these parades would be most unwelcomed to the local community. We monitor them parades as is our right as elected representatives. Others chose to protest which is their right as well. And I think there’s at least four individuals who have been notified of prosecutions coming out of what has been deemed an illegal protest. And…
MG: …Well, I’ve actually seen some YouTube of you just standing on the street. Somebody spits – one of the members of the parade appears to spit at you it – you complain about this – obscene gestures by band members, they obviously recognised you and played music loud – they keep going by and then you got arrested as well as Gary Donnelly and others who just simply standing on the street watching this Orange parade in your town.
PM: That’s correct. The Orange band was Dervock who support a proscribed organisation – they have on their own website support for a proscribed organisation. The idea that an organisation like that can march is – it’s unfathomable to me but it’s a regular occurrence in The North. What happened that day was: Yes. The band had passed. I had complained about a Union flag flying in a Catholic chapel at the edge of the village and the chapel itself would be under siege by Loyalists in the Dervock Village. I had indicated that the flag was unacceptable and should be removed. I indicated that in 2013. Subsequent to that there were attacks from Unionist representatives, Unionist Councillors, Loyalists – quite sustained attacks – so they would know me well and they’ve indicated their displeasure at my complaining about the Union flag in the Catholic chapel. And on the day itself I was spat on. I objected and complained to the police. The police then moved in and instead of facing off at the band they immediately faced off at me wrestled me to the ground and arrested me. And that was pretty much the story of that day but as far as the media was concerned a councillor had been arrested. But the real story of the day was that a town, an eighty-five percent Nationalist town, was held under siege by heavily armed police and Loyalist (inaudible) and the Orange Order.
MG: …Just to break in: When you say a ‘proscribed organisation’ you mean an illegal organisation – are you referring to like the UVF (Ulster Volunteer Force) or the Ulster Defence Association (UDA)?
PM: Ulster Defence Association. The band explicitly offers support to the UDA on their website – on the band website.
MG: Alright. And you had mentioned, in 2013 this band, or members of the UDA with whom they’re affiliated, had put a British flag onto the church grounds of a Catholic church and you had protested against that. And a number things have happened to you, your home since then. What has happened since then?
PM: Well since 2013 I would have been appearing in derogatory comments, would have been appearing graffiti throughout the area, also I would have been appearing on bonfires, election posters, messages scrawled on blankets, etc and placed on bonfires also then in 2014, October 2014, my house was firebombed and the messages of hate, etc continued. And it has continued right up until the Twelfth of July 2016 after the aforementioned parade took place.
MG: And that ends up with you protesting about this band, protesting about being spit on by an Orange band in a Nationalist area and then you being the ones arrested by the British Constabulary, the PSNI. Alright, Padraig, we’re going to follow that story…
MG: …We’re going to follow that story – we have to have to move on now. We’re going to follow that story – what happened to you, what happened to Gary Donnelly, who’s also been summoned, for simply protesting, monitoring a parade, an Orange bigoted parade like this – a sectarian, triumphal parade in your area having to face bonfires, your name put up on bonfires and burned in effigy in your own area and when you’re spit on, when you monitor a parade like this, you end up being the one who’s arrested by the British Constabulary, the PSNI. Alright. Thank you for being with us – bringing this out and we’re going to follow this and hopefully – this is your first but not last appearance with Radio Free Éireann.
PM: Thank you. An absolute pleasure to talk you you and good luck. (ends time stamp ~ 24:19)
RADIO FREE EIREANN will broadcast this Saturday August 27 – Noon-1-pm New York time or 5pm-6pm Irish time on WBAI 99.5 FM or WBAI.ORG or anytime after the program concludes on WBAI.ORG/ARCHIVES
Kate Nash, whose brother was one of the Bloody Sunday murder victims in Derry,will discuss the announcement that a four year constabulary investigation has ended and what it means to the families in their decades long fight to bring British troopers to justice.
Independent Councillor Padraig McShane will give us the latest developments on the funding controversy surrounding the Gaelic Athletic field at McAllister-McVeigh Memorial Park where Unionists witheld funding because the park is named for Irish patriots killed almost a century ago.He will also discuss the recent Orange parade in Ballycastle.
We will also feature a discussion of a new documentary film on the groundbreaking Irish band ‘BLACK 47’.
Go to RADIO FREE EIREANN’S new web site, RFE123.ORG where you can read written transcripts of last week’s headline making interviews with Belfast Republican Dee Fennell on a public debate challenge with Gerry Adams TD and author and political commentator Anthony McIntyre’s discussion of the continuing fallout from the “Brysongate” scandal.
Martin Galvin (MG) interviews Dee Fennell (DF) via telephone from Belfast about a leaflet that may lead to a debate with Gerry Adams. (begins time stamp ~ 12:22)
MG: We’re now over in Belfast and we’re talking with Dee Fennell. Dee, you’re somebody who has a lot of titles: One is with the Anti-Internment League (AIL) – and Francie McGuigan told us about that demonstration that attempted to go to the city centre in Belfast last week. You are with the GARC, the Greater Ardoyne Residents’ Collective which is fighting a demonstration, an Orange demonstration, in Ardoyne, that staunchly Republican Nationalist area but you’re also with the Irish Republican Prisoners Welfare Association (IRPWA). And last week your organisation put out a leaflet criticising the re-named Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC), the PSNI, Police Service of Northern Ireland, and once that was pretty much accepted that people would do that in West Belfast, but the leaflet that you put out last week caused a controversy and now there’s talk of you having a public debate, if not private dialogue, with Gerry Adams of Sinn Féin. Could you tell us what was in that leaflet and why it caused so much controversy?
DF : Well, Hello! Martin. First of all: It’s nice to speak to you again. The leaflet was put out by the Irish Republican Prisoners Welfare Association which is a national organisation that works to fund raise and provide for the dependents of Republican prisoners as well as Republican prisoners themselves. And obviously, many of those Republican prisoners are in jail due to the injustices of the PSNI within the Six Counties. What we try to do is highlight a number of continuing human rights abuses that the PSNI perpetrate here in the Six Counties such as invasive home searches, the draconian use of stop and search legislation introduced by the British government, the use of the so-called ‘terrorism act’, the continued denial of information – the inquests and investigations – and the shoot-to-kill and murders involving state collusion by the PSNI. And while highlighting this we also highlight the fact that in recent years Féile An Phobail, which was initially set up as a community festival that was there to counter a British criminalisation strategy against the people of West Belfast in the aftermath of the killings of the two corporals in 1988 has, in recent years this festival has, instead of supporting members of the community that are victims of human rights abuse by the PSNI has instead been promoting the PSNI as a normal police force when nothing could be further from the truth. The PSNI remain armed, they remain complicit in the occupation of Ireland and in addition to that they perpetrate human rights abuses on a daily basis. A number of events in Féile this year, Féile An Phobail this year, were designed as nothing more than PR exercises. We had a Teddy Bears Picnic where young children could attend and be put through demonstrations of how the PSNI uses their equipment. Now the PSNI’s equipment includes: taser guns, it includes Glock hand guns, it includes Heckler and Koch rifles, it includes plastic bullets – but something tells me they weren’t going to be demonstrating that day it was going to be – those items that day – it was going to be just purely a PR exercise. In addition last year we had the Chief Constable of the PSNI, George Hamilton, being welcomed to West Belfast by Féile An Phobail where he took part in a debate along with a British micro-minister, Martin McGuinness and others, in St. Mary’s College which is a Catholic teachers’ training college on the Falls Road. And we also have had even the PSNI going as far as taking a full page advertisement in the Féile An Phobail programme and all this is totally unacceptable. For a community festival to be doing so at a time when this force is up to its neck in harassing, intimidating, threatening and imprisoning members of the West Belfast community (crosstalk) (inaudible) and across the Six Counties.
MG: Alright, Dee… at one point that would have been fairly well accepted – that in a Nationalist area, in West Belfast, people would have handed out flyers, literature, highlighting these abuses by the PSNI, by the British Constabulary in the North of Ireland. Why was handing out a flyer, just a simple flyer just highlighting abuses by that force, why has that caused so much controversy where you’re being asked for dialogue and making a challenge about a public debate with Gerry Adams?
DF: Well first of all the leaflet was accepted well by people in West Belfast. There was no negative reaction to it except from within the ranks of Sinn Féin and those people within the community that are lucky enough to have paid community jobs that are supported, phantom community groups that are supported by Sinn Féin. I mean when we were handing them out across West Belfast we got no negative reaction on the doorsteps whatsoever. Why Sinn Féin found it controversial, in their own explanation, is that the people who are on the Féile management committee and the people who worked for Féile were named on the leaflet. Their names were already in the public domain in Feile’s programme, on Feile’s website. Féile staff and Féile management committee personnel often appear in the local media; they appear in the regional media here in the Six Counties. And the inference was drawn by Sinn Féin that there was some sort of threat within this leaflet. Despite that, the Director of Féile, Kevin Gamble, stated in numerous media interviews that he could see no threat in the leaflet; he stated that himself.
MG: Alright now, we should explain to our audience: You’re talking about the West Belfast festival – that’s an Irish word meaning festival – that that’s what you’re talking about – and so you handed out a leaflet, you explained some of the injustices, human rights abuses by this constabulary and which clearly had no threat against any individual but yet there seemed to be an outcry and you received an invitation of sorts from Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams. What was that?
DF: Well, it wasn’t really an invitation of sorts. What Gerry Adams has attempted to do is, he’s attempted to run with the fox and hunt the hounds somewhat with his comments. He began his rant by criminalising Republicans, by claiming that Republicans were involved in bonfires that resulted in anti-social behaviour, that Republicans are involved in all sorts of criminality and then added the caveat at the end that these people need to go away and that Sinn Féin are willing to enter into dialogue with them. I was then contacted by a journalist for a response as someone who’s involved in a number of community and political projects here in Belfast and I stated quite clearly: My personal opinion is that I will have a public debate with Gerry Adams at a time and place of his choosing in front of the public in order to: 1) Debunk this nonsense that he keeps coming out with criminalising Republicans – ironically he engaged in a criminalisation agenda two days after marching through West Belfast in order to commemorate ten men who died in 1981 to oppose the criminalisation agenda. To debunk that first of all and secondly: We continually hear from prominent Sinn Féin members, including Gerry Adams himself, that Republicans have no alternative to his party’s strategy.
Gerry Adams and Sinn Féin will be challenged, and I will be publicly challenging him, to demonstrate what is their strategy for the re-unification of our country? If anyone and if any of your listeners care to go on any of Sinn Féin’s websites, on any of their Facebook pages, on any of their party members, their elected representatives, their councillors, MLAs, Leinster House members or even their Twitter accounts, their Facebooks, you will not find any reference to any policy paper or strategy for Irish unity coming from Sinn Féin. Not one!
MG: Dee, I know just in the past, years ago, John Hume and the SDLP (Social Democratic and Labour Party) used to do the same thing: They would challenge Sinn Féin(IRA-Hume Talks) to have dialogue and then they would make allegations and we used to always say, Republicans, Sinn Féin, used to always say: If you want legitimate dialogue you don’t do it publicly and you don’t engage in a lot of name-calling when you’re calling for dialogue. You do it privately within the community because people can’t respond if you say: We want to have dialogue about when you’re going to stop being a criminal – obviously nobody could have dialogue on those terms. But you’ve taken that challenge up and we’re hoping to be hearing more. One thing we want to just ask you about before we leave to go to our next guest: There have been stories about Ardoyne that there’s new dialogue or a new plan to have a march, a Unionist Orange march past Ardoyne – they’ve been trying to do that both ways – not just down from past Ardoyne shops in the morning to the city centre but they want to do one back and we keep hearing that there is a solution very near. Is GARC involved or do you see any possibility of any kind of solution and why do these stories still keep floating?
DF: Well GARC are quite clear on what our solution is and it’s a win-win solution for everyone. Just for any of your listeners who don’t know: Ardoyne, The Dales and Mountainview are three small Catholic communities that are surrounded on all sides by large Loyalist areas such as Ballysillan, Woodvale and The Shankill. For generations now there’s been unwanted sectarian parades through our community. They normally leave in the morning and then return at night and it’s only since GARC mobilised thousands of people in opposition on the 12th of July in 2011 and 2012 subsequently the Parades Commission, which adjudicates on parades here in the Six Counties, ‘sensitive’, as they deem them, parades here in the Six Counties. From 2013 onward the return parade on the Twelfth of July evening has been banned. This then resulted in a three year hate camp right on the interface between Woodvale, The Shankill and Ardoyne where Loyalists have marched every night with sectarian tunes, Orange Order regalia, flags – all that. And also the camp was manned twenty-four hours a day leading to a breakdown, a further breakdown, in community relations within the area. In recent months the camp has been fizzling out. The evening parades, for all intents and purposes, are now finished. GARC and the proud people of Ardoyne (inaudible) of the evening parade and we were looking to re-focus all our energies now on stopping the morning parades and the accompanying militarisation that comes with the PSNI and the British Army. And out of nowhere the community discovered that Sinn Féin and the UVF (Ulster Volunteer Force) had been negotiating (the UVF is a Loyalist killer gang here in the Six Counties) the UVF and Sinn Féin had been negotiating directly. The intermediaries were Jim Roddy from Doire and the Reverend Harold Good, who witnessed Provisional IRA decommissioning, and they facilitated a process which would see the Loyal Orange Lodges having their return parade in the morning time rather than an evening parade. This was totally unacceptable to the community. Not only is it unacceptable to reward years of bigotry and years of hate but it was also unacceptable because the community was not informed or consulted. There is an alternative route which is Harmony Lane and we believe that’s a win-win solution for everyone. There’s three lodges that want to come back – two are affiliated with the UVF and one’s affiliated with the UDA (Ulster Defence Association). The UDA lodge has publicly said that they will not accept a return parade in the morning; they want to return in the evening. And what this deal really amounts to is: Sinn Féin are saying that if the parade goes up in the morning time they will not oppose any future morning parades and that residents will not protest in future. This cannot be guaranteed and will not be guaranteed because we are residents, we live there and we will continue to protest regardless of any shady deals the UVF and Sinn Féin do.
MG: Dee, we wish we had more time – you have so many organisations, so many responsibilities we could talk about what was happening or what’s happening now with new efforts to challenge and get back into so that Republicans can march into the city centre against internment just like everybody else does but we’ll leave that for another week. And good luck with your challenge to Gerry Adams for a debate. Thank you, Dee Fennell…
DF: …No worries…
MG: … from the Irish Republican Prisoners Welfare Association for being with us on Radio Free Éireann. (ends time stamp ~ 25:31)
Martin Galvin (MG) interviews author and political analyst Anthony McIntyre (AM) via telephone from Ireland about the breaking National Asset Management Agency ‘coaching scandal’ which mainly involves now former Sinn Féin MLA Daithí McKay and Loyalist blogger Jamie Bryson.
(begins time stamp ~ 38:00)
MG: With us on the line we have Dr. Anthony McIntyre. He is the author of Good Friday: The Death of Irish Republicanism, one of the best books on Irish Republicanism that there is. He’s also the person, the moderator, of The Pensive Quill. It is the website and we want to thank you for putting up a lot of our interviews that have been transcribed from WBAI Radio Free Éireann. They get widely read. That is one of the best sites that you see – there’s a lot of different groups putting material on – will comment, read material. If you want to have a debate in terms of the North of Ireland that website, The Pensive Quill, is the place to go. Anthony, welcome back to Radio Free Éireann.
AM: Thank you very much, Martin.
MG: Anthony, I quoted Alex Kane before – somebody I wouldn’t usually. He’s a Unionist commentator and writer for papers like the Belfast Telegraph, he sometimes writes for the Irish News or sometimes for The News Letter, the paper which had so much to say against Gerry McGeough last week but he made a comment. He said: Just when you think Irish politics in The North cannot get any stranger – where you think nothing else can surprise you there’s always a group of people who will prove you wrong.
And he was talking about the fact that there was a Stormont committee hearing – people in the United States would be familiar with a few years ago, 2008-2009 it was a tremendous – mortgages went bad, banks threatened to fall – the government in the United States had to bail out banks. And in Ireland, particularly in the Twenty-Six Counties, the Irish government, they held a tremendous portfolio. They had to sell off property. They established the National Asset Management Association (NAMA) and they sold more than a billion pounds, and that’s English pounds I believe, of property in the Six Counties and then it turned out a few years ago that there were a number of notable politicians, a number of notable attorneys, a number of notable what we’d call ‘fixers’ who may have or were accused of getting payoffs, back enders, huge commissions as part of this sale which seemed to be corrupt. And one of the names in a committee hearing was Peter Robinson, who was then the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) head. And he was named by an individual named Jamie Bryson and it turned out within the past week that he been coached in that testimony by a member of Sinn Féin, Daithí McKay. Could you tell us who Jamie Bryson is and Daithí McKay and why the fact that one of them would be coaching the other against Peter Robinson – why that has caused so much controversy and headlines in the North of Ireland?
AM: Well firstly, Alex Kane is one of the most incisive and insightful political commentators around. I read his piece today and I thought it was on the money. Secondly, Jamie Bryson is a Loyalist who had political ambitions as far back as 2012 -2011 – he ran for Council elections but was resoundingly rejected by the electorate – I think he got a hundred and sixty-odd votes. And he then was thrust into the public spotlight as a result of his central role in the flags campaign which was a Loyalist campaign, often violent and disruptive, against the decisions pertaining to the flags that were agreed in Belfast City Council. And he has become a blogger and a member of the National Union of Journalists (NUJ). He’s very articulate and engages with a wide number of groups. I think people are probably surprised that Jamie Bryson, given his earlier days and his discourse, is able to converse quite intelligently with a wide spectrum of political opinion. And Daithí McKay is a Sinn Féin, was a Sinn Féin MLA. He was a very young Councillor in North Antrim – well-regarded – has been a solid community representative. He has also been sort of one of the voices in Sinn Féin that has tackled corruption in the political system. Back in 2007 he was heavily involved in criticising Seymour Sweeney, who was a DUP member and was awarded a contract by Arlene Foster, who was the DUP Finance Minister. So, I mean, the two of them have form and Jamie Bryson will be probably better known given that he is involved probably in more controversy.
Why was he supporting, why was Daithí McKay coaching…
MG: …Anthony – if I could break in just to explain to Americans: Jamie Bryson was best known for leading what were called the ‘flag protests’ – meaning that when there was a vote in Belfast City Council not to fly the Union Jack, the British flag, except on designated days – there was a compromise made. And that was so shocking to him that he and others protested every day, they wanted to march through the city centre, he was actually charged with that, he hid out for a while, he was brought in before a court and he would be viewed as somebody who would be shocked or angry – described himself as a hardline Unionist, viewed as somebody who was angry if you couldn’t fly the British flag every day, and of course you can never fly the Irish flag over Belfast City Hall or any public buildings in The North. And then he, it appears, is coached. There is correspondence now that’s been leaked. And he was given help in an appearance before that committee that Daithí McKay would lead and how did these two people with such different backgrounds get involved together? How would Daithí McKay feel confident – Jamie Bryson feel confident – having correspondence – Twitter through each other – and why would Daithí McKay be using Jamie Bryson as an ally to attack Peter Robinson?
AM: Well the notion that people of what seemingly, on the surface, are diametrically opposed political perspectives don’t sort of tick tack and don’t have back-channels is really far removed from the political reality in The North. I don’t know the specifics or the mechanics of how Daithí McKay came in touch with Jamie Bryson but it would be no hard matter to do. But back in 2015 when Jamie Bryson was giving his evidence around that time in this inquiry Sinn Féin were in the middle – there had been a sort of serious tension between Sinn Féin and the DUP – and Alex Kane actually once described the two parties as being: even though they’re in government they actually hated each other and I think that was a fairly sort of accurate description. And Sinn Féin felt that Peter Robinson was causing a lot of friction and was putting them under pressure and simply making it hard for Sinn Féin to deal with. So they had an interest in curbing Robinson and even bringing him down and seeing him replaced. And we have seen him replaced. (And incidentally, he was replaced. He stood down eight weeks after Jamie Bryson made the allegations.)
But Jamie Bryson himself would have been acting, in my view, on information provided to him not by Daithí McKay – Daithí McKay coached him as to how to best present his information so that as much of it as possible could be brought before the committee investigating this matter rather than Bryson sort of making a mistake, a procedural mistake, which would have allowed the DUP to effectively silence him and halt the proceedings. So Daithí McKay was advising him how best to present the evidence that he had. But crucially, the evidence that he did have did not come from Sinn Féin – it came from senior DUP politicians who had some sort of animosity towards Peter Robinson and they wanted to give him the heave-ho. And I would feel now that Jamie Bryson has fired a shot over their bows and they must be very, very nervous as to what he might leak next because they spoke to him and he now has them by the short and curlies, to borrow a phrase. Sinn Féin are probably under a lot of pressure, too, because while they have said that Daithí has went on a solo run and that Daithí sort of has accepted that he made a bad mistake I don’t believe that’s the way things happen within Sinn Féin. It was never my experience and I notice that the former (Sinn Féin) MLA, Davy Hyland, has said that Sinn Féin don’t do solo runs. Now there seems to be universal political agreement outside of Sinn Féin that this was not a solo run and that people in their senior leadership had knowledge of this – which people they’re talking about we don’t know – Martin McGuinness has denied it. Those denials Martin McGuinness was saying will be hard to get across the line because in all the controversies and scandals that have beset Sinn Féin over the years Martin has denied virtually everything and later it’s come back to bite him on the rear end.
And I am of the view, without having any evidence, I am of the view that the person most likely, at senior level in Sinn Féin, to be in danger from this bruhaha would be Máirtín Ó Muilleoir, the Finance Minister, because Máirtín’s name was actually mentioned in all the correspondence between Daithí McKay, who was using Thomas O’Hara’s Twitter account, but most people feel that Daithí was actually using that account to convey the message to Bryson. And Jamie Bryson himself has said that he was never in touch with Thomas O’Hara – he was always in touch with Daithí McKay. Now the problem here is that because Máirtín Ó Muilleoir has been mentioned we have Mike Nesbitt of the Ulster Unionists and Colum Eastwood of the SDLP now calling for Máirtín to explain himself or to stand down until such time as a full investigation has taken place. Máirtín Ó Muilleoir may well be very innocent in all of this but it seems that Sinn Féin are frightened and are circling the wagons around him to borrow a phrase from Suzanne Breen’s excellent article in the Belfast Telegraph on the matter and the other people, the critics of Sinn Féin, the likes of the competitors of Sinn Féin, certainly the SDLP and the Ulster Unionists, are going for the jugular on this matter.
MG: Well there has been calls for a police investigation is that… as well as political calls for some sort of public inquiry, that sort of thing. Is there any possibility…
AM: …Maurice Morrow of the DUP has called – he has put in a complaint to some sort of adjudicator who investigates these complaints within the Assembly. Now others are calling, the DUP as well, are calling for a full-scale police investigation. That could cause a lot of problems for Sinn Féin because what would happen then is the police would have power of discovery and they would go after email trails and any sort of correspondence that leaves a paper trail and that could start to flush out other Sinn Féin figures who may have been involved in this thing and also it would be an embarrassment to the DUP because the DUP, key figures within the DUP, in my view, have been responsible, at least that’s my understanding, have been responsible for providing Jamie Bryson with this information.
MG: Well you also have – there’ll be cross-community support for this. The SDLP, Colum Eastwood, has written a very strong piece in the Irish News, an Op-Ed, condemning what happened – he is the head of the SDLP. You’ll have Mike Nesbitt doing the same thing. Sinn Féin would be in a very difficult position to block anything they’ve said; it won’t go any further, they expect to be vindicated. How would they prevent some sort of inquiry going on through Stormont to see how far up the chain this may have gone – whether it was Daithí McKay’s idea or whether it went much further as Davy Hyland and others have suggested?
AM: Well Sinn Féin would obviously like to block a full-scale inquiry if they have anything to hide. If they’ve nothing to hide they won’t worry too much about the inquiry. But few people believe that they have nothing to hide. The problem is that for an inquiry to take place the person, the adjudicator, the commissioner with whom a complaint has been registered through Maurice Morrow. He would have to carry out an investigation. Now Alex Kane again suggests that what’s going to happen here is that a blind eye will be turned – that the political project, the Assembly – it’s too big to fail so they’ll find some way of glossing over it and diffusing it and Daithí McKay, I mean who, as Suzanne Breen rightly said isn’t the biggest political rogue in all of this, and it’s amasing that it’s headed for this road as the result of widespread corruption. I think Suzanne’s right – that it’s not over yet and there’s more to come on this issue and you know a lot of the cards are in Jamie Bryson’s hands at the moment. Particularly in relation to the DUP, see. But Bryson has also alluded to what he says is a fact that the people higher up than Daithí, to use Jamie’s phrase, were actually involved in this and knew about the communication between himself – Jamie Bryson and Daithí McKay.
MG: Alright Anthony, our producer is signaling me that we’re just about out of time. This is a story that’s going to continue. We’re waiting to see what people like Arlene Foster, who is the present head of the DUP, says about this effort, this cooperative effort, to try and go after her predecessor with the DUP, Peter Robinson. We want to thank you for making some sense of that for our audience today and this, as you say, is a story that’s going to continue to go. (ends time stamp ~ 54:20)
Radio Free Éireann will return to regular programming – Noon-1-pm New York time this Saturday 20 August 2016.
Belfast Republican Dee Fennell will discuss how an Irish Republican Prisoners Welfare Association leaflet criticizing the PSNI Constabulary has generated a public challenge for a Republican community debate with Sinn Fein President Gerry Adams.
Newly elected Ancient Order of Hibernian National Director Dan Dennehy will discuss the AOH’s new initiatives on Irish immigration including special issues relating to former Republican prisoners and the importance of the appointment of an Immigration Senator in the Irish Senate.
Author and political analyst Anthony McIntyre will discuss startling revelations that a Unionist flag protester, Jamie Bryson, who named DUP chief Peter Robinson in a Stormont hearing on corruption, was coached by Sinn Féin MLA Daithi McKay.
Go to Radio Free Éireann’s new web site rfe123.org where you can read written transcripts of last week’s headline-making interviews with Belfast Republican Francie McGuigan on the Anti-Internment Rally and Derry journalist Eamon Sweeney’s discussion of the death of Bloody Sunday hero Bishop Edward Daly.
Martin Galvin (MG) interviews journalist Eamon Sweeney (ES) of the Derry Journal via telephone from Doire about the passing of Bishop Edward Daly. (May he rest in peace) (begins time stamp ~ 9:21)
MG: We are going to try and go to Doire. We’re going to talk to Eamon Sweeney. Eamon, who has been on the programme before, is a journalist with the Derry Journal. During the past week Bishop Edward Daly, who was a very well-known and respected, beloved figure in Ireland – he had been the Bishop of Doire for almost twenty years. He happened to be a priest assigned to Doire at the time of Bloody Sunday and he – one of the iconic images of Bloody Sunday is of then Father Edward Daly – a handkerchief – holding it up in one hand – his other hand holding it up. And this happened only a few months after another priest, Father Mullan, was killed in Belfast during what was called the Ballymurphy Massacre – shot down for trying to prevent people from being arrested, unjustly and falsely interned – what Francie McGuigan had just talked about.
And Bishop Edward Daly passed away and one of the things we’re going to talk about is that – the impact on the community. And the reaction where Unionist officials wouldn’t attend and where a Bloody Sunday Trooper has accused Bishop Daly of literally having a gun up his sleeve. Eamon, welcome back to WBAI Radio Free Éireann!
ES: Thank you, Martin.
MG: Eamon, this past week I got an urgent email from Kate Nash. Kate Nash of course was the sister of one of the young men killed on Bloody Sunday and the last time she contacted me urgently was to tell me about Sandy Boyer, who used to be the host of this show, passing away. And this week she emailed me about the death of Bishop Edward Daly – how much of an impact that had on all of the Bloody Sunday families, all of the people of Doire. There are a lot of clergymen that wouldn’t be thought of and remembered so fondly by people like Kate Nash, by the Bloody Sunday families and others but Bishop Daly certainly stood out. Could you tell us why that was?
ES: Well plainly and simply and by Bishop Daly’s own admission the reason why he became Bishop of Doire in 1974 was because of his actions on the 30th of January 1972. The pictures are well known to all your listeners, they’re known around the world, of him showing immense physical courage in leading a group of men carrying the dead body of Jackie Duddy, a seventeen year old teenager who was gunned down by the Parachute Regiment that afternoon. That was the culmination of ten years of service that he’d already spent in and around the Bogside as a priest in Doire. He came to the city in 1962, was basically given charge of the local parish hall, which is Saint Columb’s, as you know well, Martin, at the centre of Doire and told to revitalise it. He then launched a career of basically organising huge and very, very popular quality entertainment nights at Saint Columb’s Hall, raising money for it – keeping it going. But also mainly giving the people in the area an outlet, somewhere to go. So there was much, much more to Father Edward Daly, then Bishop Edward Daly, than just the actions that he is known worldwide for on Bloody Sunday.
He is first and foremost a priest of the people. And secondly he then, because of the position he found himself in, became an advocate for peace in the country. But you know the very fact that he is a priest and many other priests on that afternoon in 1972 chose to be on the ground with the people who were marching against internment in Doire City shows the calibre of those men as human beings. It shows that they actually cared for the flock that they had as a congregation in the city, you know? Bishop Edward Daly is, in my estimation, there will never be another one who will shine out like that. I don’t think anybody would ever pretend that in the years to come that they could ever live up to the quality of the man that he actually was – basically he’s been christened here as ‘the people’s Bishop’ and that’s what he was. Many other church figures have been criticised for their standoffishness during the decades. He certainly wasn’t like that.
MG: Alright. Eamon, there are two things that I just want to go over about that famous, iconic photograph that people have seen, or painting. A few months before, in August of 1971, the same Parachute Regiment that was there in Doire on Bloody Sunday had opened fire in Ballymurphy during the process of internment. And a number of people had been killed including a Father Mullan. So the fact that Bishop Daly was there with a handkerchief, was there with his hand up, that did not guarantee that he would not meet the same fate as Father Mullan – and he of course led Jackie Duddy to an ambulance at that time.
ES: Absolutely not. I mean a dog collar, or a clerical collar, was no guarantee of immunity from being shot dead by the British Army in Northern Ireland. Father Hugh Mullan in Ballymurphy, which was again another instance of abject terror inflicted upon people and lasted for over three days. Father Mullan went out, identified himself as a priest and crawled on the waste ground to try and help another man that had been shot down by the Parachute Regiment in Ballymurphy and the response to that was to shoot him dead as well – on open ground where he had clearly nothing in his hands in terms of weaponry or anything else – he was clearly seen, identified as a priest, but they chose to shoot him dead. So Father Daly was under no illusion that once the Parachute Regiment opened fire on the streets of Doire all those years ago that he was, because he was wearing a dog collar, he was safe from any sort of injury – he simply wasn’t.
So that very fact that he chose to step out in front of the group of men carrying the body of Jackie Duddy and try and use his position as a priest or a clergyman and wave a white hankie of truce to let this body get through and hopefully be treated was an immensely brave thing to do because he had known all along about the stories from Ballymurphy. Priests were regularly abused by the British Army in and around Doire. There was no immunity or respect from the British Army for clerical collars – not at the ground level anyway.
MG: Considering – one of the articles that I was sent – it’s somewhat shocking – usually you say nothing but good about the dead but I’m reading an article by a British Paratrooper, a fellow named Allan Woods, where he is claiming that Bishop Daly literally, had a gun – he said he was concealing a weapon in the sleeve of his left arm and he called him a number of things which I wouldn’t repeat because there’s a list of words which we’re not allowed to say on the airwaves in the United States but there is a list of things that he called Bishop Daly and said he was associated with the IRA and questioned the legitimacy of his parents at the time that Bishop Daly was born – that sort of thing. What do you attribute this – I mean this is so many years later and these British troops are still attacking the man like that?
ES: Well first and foremostly: Is this guy for real? Number Two: Can he prove his bona fides of his presence in Doire on the 30th of January 1972? If he was there he was extremely young. On top of that he claims by the information that he’s making on those Facebook posts that were picked up by the press that he was at the spot, at the corner of Chamberlain Street and High Street, where the footage of Bishop Daly and Jackie Duddy and the other men carrying the body were – so there are clearly soldiers visible in that footage – was he one of them? I don’t believe it for a second!
(Ed. Note: 15 Aug 2016 Update on Allan Woods)
I would actually question whether or not this guy was in the British Parachute Regiment and if he was I don’t think he was in Doire at the time simply because any of those guys who were involved at the time – why would he take the chance of ruining his own anonymity after they fought so hard to preserve it during the Saville Inquiry? His comments are lamentable – being kind about it – lamentable. At the other end of it they are an absolute disgrace, you know? And if he thinks he’s going to sully the name or the memory of Bishop Daly by calling him an associate of the IRA or whether he was carrying a gun or not up the sleeve of his coat while the hankie was in his other hand is an absolute drivel and nonsense! So to give this guy any more credence than we just have is completely unnecessary. I think he should just crawl back under the rock from where he came.
MG: Well he wasn’t the only person who seemed to have some kind of disagreement or some kind of negative reaction to Bishop Daly’s death. The mayor of Doire – and Doire of course is an overwhelming Nationalist city but they move back and forth between the parties as a matter of courtesy – the mayor of Doire I believe is in the DUP (Democratic Unionist Party) at this time but at any event, the Mayor said she could not attend or did not attend the services for Bishop Daly and I don’t know if anybody from her party attended the services for Bishop Daly in Doire. Is that correct?
ES: Well, she didn’t and for whatever reason, and that reason hasn’t come to light – she maintained that she had a prior engagement – if that’s the case then and that’s the way she wanted to tackle the funeral of Bishop Daly and that’s entirely up to the mayor of Doire. It’s sad that somebody from the civic representation side in this city didn’t choose perhaps to attend. She is a member of the Democratic Unionist Party. Perhaps the lady has her own religious beliefs. That’s absolutely fine as well. The Democratic Unionist Party did however – she did open a Book of Condolence for Bishop Daly – she did sit and get pictured and signed you know a good message in that book. And another local guy, who’s now an MLA within the Democratic Unionist Party, Gary Middleton, also took the time and trouble to come and send his sympathies and sign the Book of Condolence. And Gregory Campbell, believe it or not, actually sent out a message lamenting the passing of Bishop Daly. So I think there is a sadness about the fact that perhaps the reason why the mayor didn’t attend was on religious grounds in this day and age but that’s where we are but if that’s her belief then she’s entitled to it.
All the churches in Doire of all denominations, Catholic, Church of Ireland, Methodist, Presbyterian – all had representatives in that chapel for the funeral on Tuesday. First and foremost amongst them was another elderly former bishop called Bishop James Mahaffey with whom Bishop Daly, in the ’70’s and ’80’s – from the ’80’s rather, when he arrived in Doire, Bishop Mahaffey struck up a great relationship and did more in those years quietly and behind the scenes to promote community relations between Catholics and Protestants in our city and beyond than a thousand politicians have done in a lifetime of trying. That’s says it all so never mind about the absence of the mayor of Doire. There were a lot stronger tributes to be paid and they were paid in full.
MG: Alright. I want to, just in terms of Bishop Daly and Bloody Sunday – one of the reasons why he is thought of so fondly and remembered so fondly, particularly by the Bloody Sunday families: It was not just the courageous help that he gave or just his leading the way so that young Duddy could be brought to an ambulance, although Duddy passed away, but in the months that followed that there was a complete attempt to whitewash and deny what had happened by the British government and Bishop Daly was a leading figure through that. The first thing that happened of course was the Widgery Tribunal. And just could you explain to our audience what that was and what Bishop Daly did during that tribunal?
ES: Well obviously in the aftermath of the killing of thirteen people in one afternoon by a British Army Regiment there has to be some sort of rationale by themselves to explain exactly what actions their troops had taken. Therefore, they set up a tribunal, a hastily arranged tribunal, which was actually held well outside the city in Coleraine in County Doire. It was chaired by Lord Widgery, one of the then leading Law Lords in England and he was brought on board to do so by then Prime Minister Edward Heath. There’s documentation now which has emerged down the years of conversations between Heath and Widgery in advance of the tribunal that he set up basically asking Widgery to look favourably, more than favourably, upon the actions of the British Army and pinning the blame for the deaths of fourteen innocent civilians and many more wounded on the IRA and make it plain that the IRA caused the problem (and the IRA weren’t even at the scene at the time). Of course, the Official IRA did fire one shot on Bloody Sunday which has now been well-documented it wasn’t the opening shot and it didn’t cause the deaths of the thirteen people on that afternoon.
But anyway, this hastily convened tribunal was you know set up in the flash of media hype. Pictures are still out there of the soldiers being helicoptered into the building in Coleraine with sunglasses to protect them from being identified and so on. They basically got to go through the motions of saying X, Y, and Z about what actually happened on the day – that they only shot at identified targeted gunmen – absolute lies from start to finish. A couple of months later the Widgery Report contends that it was the fault of the IRA, that the British Army responded and took appropriate action on Bloody Sunday. And this became a report which was on statute as an official piece of documentation and lodged at Westminster for thirty-eight years until the Saville Inquiry made mincemeat of Widgery’s conclusions.
However, whilst the people in Doire, and especially the relatives, knew that Widgery’s actions were based entirely upon falsehoods and lies, the rest of the world, if they wanted to find out about Bloody Sunday, had only got the Widgery Report to refer to in official terms – that was the record, that was the truth – as far as the British state were concerned. So that caused almost four decades of unimaginable pain and hurt to not only the relatives of course of those killed and wounded on that day but put an entire black cloud over the city of Doire for almost four decades. You know, having been there on the day that the Saville Report was launched, as a journalist, covering it as a journalist six years ago now, was there’s some aspects of it, of the Saville Report, which are regarded as thoroughly unsatisfactory by some people and I can understand those reasons.
There was collective weight lifted off this town on that afternoon six years ago and it was a damned shame that it took the British government forty years to admit that they simply slaughtered fourteen innocent people for no other reason than they wanted to control them and control the way they thought – and didn’t want them to answer back and simply because they were taking people out of their houses and putting them in jail without trial, without any recourse for justice back in 1971 and that’s what the Bloody Sunday march was about – it was a march against the completely undemocratic actions of the British government in Northern Ireland and for that their response was to shoot fourteen people dead… (crosstalk) (inaudible)
MG: …Right. I can remember here for example in New York the headlines of the New York Times and others talking about how the British were vindicated or exonerated on Bloody Sunday by Lord Widgery as if this was some kind of independent inquiry instead of just a whitewash with a predetermined result. What’s the status – but still – now we have troopers, so many years later after the Saville Inquiry – Cameron, the British Prime Minister, said it was unjustified and unjustifiable murder – to me as a solicitor that is manslaughter or murder if you say a killing is unjustified or unjustifiable. We’ve had Saville saying it was basically perjury…
ES: …Cameron never used the word murder.
MG: Sorry, ‘unjustified or unjustifiable killings’ which would be the same as murder. Saville basically said that they – well he used terms which would be the equivalent of perjury in terms of if you applied them to the legal definitions of perjury. Yet no British trooper has ever been charged for Bloody Sunday. Do we ever expect that to get any more than just another stage of investigation year after year after year as the people like The Nashes continue to march?
ES: They has been movement on that in recent months – over the past twelve – fourteen months in particular where it was put out there in the end that these guys could be charged with murder and brought into court and be identified and held accountable for their actions on that day. Now, this went round and round in circles until people like Kate and Linda (Nash) and various other members of the Bloody Sunday Trust and the families and so on and so forth kept pressing at the PSNI (Police Service of Northern Ireland) to go ahead and arrest these guys. What happened in that instance was that one soldier, identified as ‘Lance Corporal J’, who was responsible we understand for the killing of William Nash and the wounding of his father, Alexander Nash, and the shooting also of Mr. Young on Bloody Sunday was taken and questioned about his actions at the police station in Antrim because we understand he is a soldier from Northern Ireland who was part of the Parachute Regiment on that day. After that the other eight or nine soldiers, who are identified only by ciphers such as A,B,C,D until this very day lodged an objection at the High Court in England, in London, saying that they do not wish – they would fear for their lives if they came to Northern Ireland basically for questioning and therefore a ruling was handed down by the English High Court saying that they would have to present themselves voluntarily at police stations of their choosing in England. We now know that the raft of interviews with these guys and other soldiers who were there at the time – it wasn’t just the Parachute Regiment who were in Doire on Bloody Sunday but – have now been completed so what the relatives are now waiting on is basically word from the Public Prosecution Service as to whether or not these soldiers will be ever brought into a court of law. And the process ended some six weeks ago perhaps but there still has been no word whether the files have been passed onto the Public Prosecution Service nor indeed any determination whether that service will actually bring these guys before a court. So, yeah – it hasn’t completely stalled but we wait with bated breath to see if they ever will appear in a court room. This all ties in very much as well with the wider handling of institutions dealing with the past in Northern Ireland – a deal of some sort is expected to be announced very soon on that as well.
MG: Alright. Eamon, before you leave there’s another story that I want to talk about that relates to Doire: We’ve just had a guest before you who was talking about the process of what was called internment by licence and he mentioned someone from Doire, Tony Taylor. Can you explain what is happening with Tony Taylor and why he’s in jail if there are no charges against him at this time?
ES: Well Tony Taylor is a Republican. Of that there is no doubt. He served sentences on previous occasions for Republican activity but there is a licence mechanism in Northern Ireland where prisoners are sent out when they’re released on the understanding that if they re-offend or they are deemed to re-offend at the whim of the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland they can be taken and locked up without even being told what they are suspected of having been done. So it’s internment by basically another use of the term. He was taken a couple of – well it must be at least five months now since Tony Taylor was re-arrested – and put inside. He doesn’t know what charges have been made against him, what the previous Secretary of State, Theresa Villiers, was told by someone in order to deem it necessary for her to issue an arrest warrant and revoke this man’s licence.
So you have a situation in the twenty-first century in a western democratic country where people, if they are suspected of something by a minister of the British government, can be taken from their home, not told why and basically stuck in a prison cell until such time as it’s deemed to be fit to be released again without being told why they are there. Now this is the same sort of mechanism that took place from the 9th of August 1971 when the British government re-introduced internment in Northern Ireland. It wasn’t the first time they’ve done this; they’ve done this periodically through their lifetime here since partition but that’s the very reason for example why people were marching on Bloody Sunday to stop this type of injustice happening and there’s a dedicated campaign going on that’s being widespreadly supported in all factions of Nationalism. And I’m glad to see there was a big rally in Doire last Saturday afternoon which was heavily attended by people who have signed petitions, mounted protests but it doesn’t seem to be taking any effect. It’s just simply being ignored by the new company at Hillsborough Castle and James Brokenshire, the new Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. It will have to come to a conclusion but how long that will take is as good as anybody knows. If they have, and I said this the last time I was on with you, if they have any evidence to suggest that Tony Taylor for example committed any crime, deemed to be political or otherwise, then bring him into a court of law and let’s hear the evidence against him. That’s the only fair mechanism that people here have recourse to and they’re denying him even that.
MG: Eamon, just one of the things that I always get asked about is: You have Sinn Féin, you have a Deputy First Minister from Doire who has made a statement about Tony Taylor, saying he should be released. You have Sinn Féin in government, you have them on policing boards, you have them in other positions. The SDLP (Social Democratic and Labour Party) is opposed to what’s happened to Tony Taylor. Why is it that this seems to have absolutely no effect in the sense that Tony Taylor is still in jail, doesn’t know when he’s getting out or why he’s there as you’ve just explained?
ES: Because when it comes to the tier above the Deputy First Minister and the First Minister, Arlene Foster and Martin McGuinness, it’s quite plain and obvious that the British government, in the form of the Northern Ireland Secretary of State and successively down the decades, have no power whatsoever to effect any change of that nature. That the British government still, in terms of policing and justice, rule the roost. And it’s as simple as that. Whilst the PSNI are a lot more accountable than the RUC (Royal Ulster Constabulary) ever were there’s still a lot of mechanisms that they can get by with. I mean to take a man from his home, in the instance of Tony Taylor – and it’s happened to plenty of other people as well – and basically put him back in jail without telling him why I mean that’s – you know psychologically for an individual that must be a hell of a damning thing to have to try and deal with – never mind his family and his relatives on the outside. But what’s said is clear: What is said by the Northern Ireland Secretary of State still goes and that’s the final word – and that’s that! So what recourse or what change in that direction in terms of being able to appeal to the upper echelons of British rule in Northern Ireland who still has very limited capacity as far as we can see and it’s proven by simply locking up a man for no reason at all apparently you know, so – that facet of British rule in Northern Ireland hasn’t changed at all.
MG: Alright. Eamon, we want to thank you for being with us. We’ve been talking to Eamon Sweeney, a journalist with the Derry Journal, who’s been talking about the death of Bishop Edward Daly. Bishop Daly, what he did in terms of Bloody Sunday, the heroic conduct that he had in terms of young Duddy as well as what he did in leading and fighting for the families in the battle for truth and justice since then. Thank you, Eamon.
John McDonagh (JM) and Martin Galvin (MG) talk with Francie McGuigan, (FM) one of the ‘hooded men’, via telephone from Belfast about internment, the recent Internment Day rally in Belfast, the torture he endured and the status of the legal case. (begins time stamp ~ 33:50)
MG: We have our guest on the line. Francie – we’re talking to Francie McGuigan – Francie, I’m sorry we’re a few minutes late coming to you. How are you today in Belfast?
FM: I’m grand, thank God.
MG: Francie, you’ve had more than most experience in terms with Internment Day rallies. Last week there was an Internment Day rally in Belfast and I saw your picture in the Irish News. You were asked to be a supporter, or sponsor, of that rally as a veteran Irish Republican, you, Ivor Bell – I saw some other photographs I that recognised in the Irish News – how do that come about that you were asked to be a supporter or formal supporter of that rally?
FM: Because I myself had been interned and not only that six members of my family have been interned – in fact, my father was interned on three separate occasions so I am very much against internment and always have been. I suffered it as a child with my father being arrested and interned. So I had no hesitation whatsoever. I’ve attended all the anti-internment marches that’ve been in Belfast for the past four years – for the last two years now we’ve been blocked from entering into the centre of Belfast – it seems it’s okay for the Orange Order and that to enter in to the centre of Belfast but not for Republicans. It’s still – this talk about a ‘shared future’ still has yet to arrive.
MG: Francie – we’re talking to Francie McGuigan who is one of the original ‘hooded men’ from Belfast. Francie, some people would ask: Why an Internment Day rally? They say that internment no – well, you were interned in 1971 and we’ll get to that in a bit – no longer exists in that form. But internment, correct me if I’m wrong, the Internment Day rallies have always gone to the heart. Internment was such an injustice under British rule and not only internment but what happened to you that it seemed to summarise all of the injustices of British rule and that was the thing that was used as an occasion, the Sunday closest to August the 9th, to highlight injustice, to go back to the streets of Belfast. Tell us what injustices that you were highlighting last week as you and others attempted to march from the city centre?
FM: Well I’ll give you a few examples: For instance, in the North of Ireland today we don’t have the RUC (Royal Ulster Constabulary) we have the PSNI (Police Service of Northern Ireland). Name change. Long Kesh, when were in it – we went to sleep one night in Long Kesh – were told the following morning it’s no longer Long Kesh – it’s Her Majesty Prison The Maze. We were told we’re no longer ‘internees’ you’re now ‘detainees’. They change the name. And today the practice is: is ‘remandees’. They take you in. They put you on a charge. They hold you in prison for a year or two years. They then offer you extreme bail conditions: Don’t live within forty miles of your own home, don’t visit this one , don’t speak to such and such a person, you’re not allowed to attend parades or commemorations – so it’s another form of internment. And the same as they’ve done all along – they’ve change the names – they adjust the thing just so that the Brits get their own way in Ireland and still have the heavy hand down on Irish Republicans.
MG: And Francie – we’re talking to Francis McGuigan – I can remember years ago being at a demonstration against what was called ‘internment by remand’. And the person who was interned at that stage was Gerry Adams and I believe he was in for about eight or nine months before they announced that there was no real evidence against him and he was released. But now, the people who have been interned by remand in that fashion, simply deny them bail, they’re presumed innocent but yet they said: We can’t give them bail because they may re-offend – commit a second offence – although they’re presumed innocent of any offence – they can be in jail, in prison for much longer. What sort of periods are we talking about for internment by remand?
FM: You’re talking two – three years! You know and then after three years – there’s been six or seven cases now where somebody’s been remanded in custody on a charge, when the charge actually appears in court, the day it appears in court the charge is withdrawn and the person is released. But they just spent three years in prison – always claiming not guilty to any charge but still refused bail.
In fact this week MI5 has come out and recommended to judges that they don’t grant, to what they classify ‘dissident Republicans, don’t grant them bail. This is MI5 interfering in the judicial system here in Ireland – they’ve always done that.
MG: And another form of internment that I’ve heard used, or another phrase, is ‘internment by licence’ where someone, and there’s an example, I think there was a demonstration in Doire and he was one of the people who I believe that was highlighted in your march named Tony Taylor.
FM: Yeah, that’s right.
MG: Could explain what happened to him?
FM: Tony had been released under licence and was re-arrested and put up on a charge – was acquitted of the charge but was returned back to Maghaberry Prison again under licence. So he’s in there now. He’s appeared in court, the charges were withdrawn but he’s returned to prison under licence. They have not put any charge against him. They have not given him a release date so he’s just… They can call it whatever they like – they call it a licence if they want but as far as I’m concerned it’s internment. It’s imprisonment without trial. You know and this is from the country that, this is from the country that’s supposed to have given us the Magna Carta, the great principles of freedom and all that? They have just – for eight hundred years they have sat on top of the Irish people.
Go back to internment – going back to when Strongbow first came to Ireland. The first notable case of internment, from my recollection now, was back in 1803 – Anne Devlin, who was an associate of Robert Emmet. She was imprisoned for three and a half years in a cell three feet wide, fourteen feet long and straw on the floor. Not only was she imprisoned but her entire family were imprisoned – she had a fourteen year old brother who died in prison. I know I’m going back over the years but this practice still goes on in my country today by a foreign government.
MG: Alright. What happened last Sunday, you wanted to highlight those injustices. I know the committee had applied for all the permits that they would need to march. I believe the place that they marched from was actually the place where John Downes was killed at the Internment Rally in 1984 by the RUC and that’s the place where they really attacked a rally simply because I was introduced by Gerry Adams as one of the speakers. Is that correct?
FM: John Downes was murdered there. They shot him – he was three feet from the police – an RUC police officer who fired and hit him in the chest with a rubber bullet. He was murdered. You know and they still… Our march was into the centre of Belfast. We’d applied – we gave all the reasons we were going in, we told them exactly how we were doing it, how many people would be involved, how many bands would be playing, we gave them all that information and they told us: ‘No, you can’t’. One of their reason, by the way, in their definition is the fact that the Anti-Internment League does not support the Good Friday Agreement. As far as I know the Orange Order does not support the Good Friday Agreement, the DUP did not support the Good Friday Agreement but yet with all they can freely march in – in fact, the previous Saturday the Loyalist flag protesters went into the centre of Belfast and stood outside the City Hall opposing a gay pride parade. You know? So they have freedom through the whole city of Belfast but yet all Republicans are confined within their own ghetto areas. We were allowed down the Falls Road – they stopped us at the bottom of Divis Street and Barrack Street and told us we could go no further. So we held our commemoration there and peacefully dispersed.
The previous year they stopped us in the Oldpark Road. The reason they stopped us they said we were going to go into Belfast at a busy shopping time – which was on a Sunday at one o’clock – and we were going to go in and it would upset trade in the centre of Belfast so they blocked us in the Oldpark Road. And again we held our commemoration and dispersed again. They just will not permit Republicans into the centre of Belfast. They brand us all as ‘dissident Republicans’. I’m a Republican. I’m also a dissident because I dissent from British rule in Ireland – that makes me a ‘dissident’ you know so (inaudible) about a shared future does not exist.
MG: We keep hearing all the influence that Sinn Féin has in the new administration and Nationalists have in the new administration. Why is it that this influence can’t be used to at least give members of their own community the right to march into the centre of Belfast and highlight injustices that are being used by the administration which they represent against fellow Nationalists and Republicans?
FM: They pay some lip service to it in the fact that one of their elected representatives said they should be allowed into the centre of Belfast. Not one member of Sinn Féin has ever turned up at any anti-internment march. They have got to the situation now with their cosy jobs – they have it all nice and handy – they’re on good wages now and good salaries, great expenses, and they have lost the ideal of Republicanism and they have lost the aim of Republicanism. They can no longer follow the path of Republicanism. They’ve stepped out. They’re part of the system now. They are employed by a British government to administer rule here in the Occupied Six Counties.
JM: (station identification) We’re speaking with Francie McGuigan talking about an internment march that sort of happened last Saturday. Francie, I want to talk about the strategy of the British and they’ve learned well over the years during The Troubles that: You could have done time in Long Kesh and support the peace process and get a visa to come to New York. If you did time in Long Kesh and you didn’t support it you can’t get that.
Part of bail restrictions right now are that you cannot do any interviews while you’re out on bail and you have to watch who you’re associating with. And I feel like I’m a member of the RUC or PSNI – I have to give you a warning: Really watch what you’re saying here because after what happened last week with Gerry McGeough – that you speaking to an audience three thousand miles away – you could be brought up on charges in the Six Counties which is now getting so bizarre that not only do they not want you speaking in the Six Counties without being brought up on charges – but you cannot speak anywhere else in the world, via television or the phone.
FM: No. They prefer we just all go away now but unfortunately we are not going anywhere – as somebody once said: ‘We ain’t going away!’ We’re still here today. We’re Republicans. I’ve been a Republican all my life. I’ve been a Republican activist all my life and I say: I dissident from Britain’s rule in Ireland. Unfortunately, Sinn Féin and their associates have now accepted that position. They accept the status quo that Britain has a right in Ireland.
MG: Francie, we want to just talk a little bit, we want to explain to our audience a little bit about what happened – why internment is such an emotional day. Internment always meant you could be picked up and be held for as long as the British wanted to hold you. But there was a lot more than that. You were arrested at the beginning, in August 9th of 1971 and you became what was called one of the ‘hooded men’. Could you tell us what happened?
FM: Well I was arrested on the 9th of August in the internment round-up and was held for the first forty-eight hours in Girdwood Barracks – went through the usual: In and out for interrogation, back, threatened, punched, battered, they took boys out, put them into the helicopter, lifted the helicopter up, spun it round a few times and then threw the boys out backwards but the helicopter was only two-three feet off of the ground. Now this went on constantly for the first forty-eight hours.
When the forty-eight hours were up they were starting to transfer the men into Crumlin Road Prison to bring them in for internment. In my case, they came to me, they by-passed me and took the lads at the end of the line along with me – they emptied the hall and left two people sitting in the hall, myself and a lad called Joe Clarke. I was then dragged out by a military policeman. When I was arrested and taken out of the house I’d only had a pair of trousers on – I didn’t get no underwear, vest, shoes, socks – so I was actually stripped naked by him and he had himself photographed holding me by the hair.
I was then taken up and brought into a room, kept there for about an hour with military police and RUC and I actually, at that stage, could hear the bombing and shooting going on outside. I was then gripped, taken up, handcuffed behind my back and a hood placed over my head and dragged out and placed into a helicopter handcuffed to three other lads that were there with us. The helicopter then flew, we don’t know, we think somewhere in the region of forty to fifty minutes. I was then – the doors opened in the helicopter. I was handcuffed to Kevin Hannaway. The handcuffs were taken off, I was handcuffed behind my back and then thrown out of the helicopter. Again, at this stage, I did not know how far off the ground I was because in the other case it only lasted three or four minutes. On this occasion we’d had been in the air so I thought this was the end. As you hit the ground, picked up, dragged in, the hood was pulled off my head and there standing in front of me was a man with a white coat on and a stethoscope round his neck. I got the impression he was a doctor. He gave me a thirty minute medical examination and then nodded.
MG: And that meant you were fit for more torture?
FM: This was the start of it. The hood was then replaced. I was stripped of the trousers and given a boiler suit that was four or five sizes too big. Thankfully in my case it was too big – some of the boys got suits that was four or five sizes too small. I was then taken, dragged into a room, placed against a wall, fingertips and toes – legs wide apart and this high piercing noise was there. I attempted to come off the wall and received such an awful battering and kicking, placed back against the wall, and this proceeded for the first half hour where I then refused to stand against the wall – got battered – physically dragged up against the wall and this went on indefinitely for I don’t – we can’t put a period of time on it.
But the next thing I remember was being dragged along a corridor, brought into an interrogation room and this was old-style film stuff -bright lights shining in my face and the hood was taken off, my hands were handcuffed behind my back and I was accused of everything that ever happened in the North of Ireland. They then wanted to know: Who’s in the IRA? Who do you know that’s in the IRA? Who does your father talk to? Who calls to see your mother? Did you ever see guns? They went over all this and again I refused to answer questions for them. I kept asking why this was going on and told them I wanted to use the toilet and they told me ‘No’.
So for the next seven days this boiler suit that I had on became my day clothes, my night clothes and my toilet. And there was fourteen of us that went through this – you were then dragged back out, put up against the wall again and this piercing noise coming through constantly – it seemed to go in through your hair and your head, down through your body out through your toes and it seem to touch every nerve and sinew in the body. And each time you tried to come off that wall you were battered so you’d just roll up into a ball and get an unmerciful kicking.
I then came to handcuffed to a cast iron radiator with a hood on lying on a concrete floor. In this room there was no noise but the cold in this room was unbelievable. You’re lying on a concrete floor. The next thing the door burst open and I was kicked and thumped and told: You were told not to sleep! You were told not to sleep! And that was just it for seven days – you were either up against the wall with the noise, in the room lying on the concrete floor handcuffed to a cast iron radiator or else you were in for interrogation.
Now the interrogation, as I said, consisted of this physical abuse – somebody behind was swinging the handcuffs – he’d slap his two hands against your ears simultaneously and at times would grip you by the back of the hair and smash your head against a table. And they then on one occasion I remember they asked me – they’d start off each interrogation having your name and address. So I gave them my name, my address. They asked me to spell my name. I could spell the ‘Francie’ part alright but couldn’t spell ‘McGuigan’. I kept making a mistake. Didn’t know what the mistake was but I knew it was wrong. And I kept trying to do it which they found very humourous and had a great laugh at this and then told me: It was alright – they knew how to spell it – but just to be on the safe side for yourself – try counting up to ten, Francie.’ And I wouldn’t attempt to count to ten in case I couldn’t make it. At this stage I thought I was losing my mind. I was actually convinced that my mind had cracked when I couldn’t spell my own name.
On another occasion when I told them I lived in Jamaica Street they said: ‘Oh! Jamaica Street – Jamaica Street – yes. We believe there was a massive bomb explosion in Jamaica Street and there was seventy-odd people killed in it. We hope your family’s all safe.’ You know, this was the sort of thing that went on…
MG: Right. And that was not true – nothing like that had ever happened. Francie, how long was it before you were transferred from this type of treatment – and again – all this – there are no charges against you – you were never charged with anything – they just picked you up at random. How long was it before you were transferred to Crumlin Road or another prison?
FM: Nine days in total. During that period I lost twenty-one pound in weight – and I was no heavy weight going in – I think I was eleven stone and come out just something over nine stone. So that whole thing – and that went on to the fourteen of us. We were then as you said, transferred back to Crumlin Road Prison and then to Long Kesh. Now some of the boys spent as long as four and a half years in there. Two of the hooded men spent four and a half years. A couple of hooded men were released but re-arrested and re-interned maybe a month later, you know? In actual fact they say that there’s no psychological damage to what they put us through. But yet with this all, four of the victims of this torture were released from Long Kesh only to be brought in to psychiatric hospital – released from the prison into a psychiatric hospital.
MG: Now, Francie, you and the other hooded men – we’re talking with Francie McGuigan who is talking about the Internment Day rally which was halted and stopped from going into the Belfast city centre last week and is also talking as one of the hooded men who was interned in 1971 – You brought a court case, you and the other hooded men, to the European Court. Originally the European Commission found that Britain was guilty of torture and inhuman treatment and I remember the European Court modified that finding and said it was only inhuman treatment. And there were headlines in American papers and British papers: ‘Britain Not Guilty of Torture’ – even though they were found guilty. But you’re appealing that now. Where is that court case and what’s the next thing that’s going to happen with it?
FM: We have – in the intervening years – this was forty-five years ago – we’ve never let go of it. We’ve been fighting for justice for the forty-five years. In the interim we discovered British government documents that they release every thirty-forty years where actually in some of the documents they actually – this was discussed at Cabinet – and the word torture was used and accepted and this was sanctioned by the British government at the highest level. We have also evidence that not only did they withhold information from the European Court but they actually lied to the European Court – the doctors lied and some of the officers lied and we now are firmly, firmly convinced that when the case goes back to Europe on this occasion Britain will be found guilty of torture.
I think on the first occasion they didn’t want the stigma of torture applied to the British government who was one of the founders of the European Court of Human Rights. You know, to have one of the founders of it get the stigma of torture – you know so, we’re going back there – we are fairly confident that we’ll get the true result this time.
MG: Alright, Francie – we’ve been talking to Francie McGuigan – it’s near one o’clock – six o’clock your time, Francie, we want to thank you. Yeah – like they say you know, if someone is willing to use torture they’re probably willing to lie about it and cover up and withhold documents – but we’re hopeful. I want to thank you just for talking about what happened last Sunday at the anti-internment rally and also what’s happening with the hooded men. Thank you, Francie. (ends time stamp ~ 56:33)
John McDonagh (JM) and Martin Galvin (MG) discuss the reaction in the North of Ireland to Gerry McGeough’s interview on last week’s show. (begins time stamp ~ 0:00)
Song: Henry Joy McCracken is performed by Joe Banjo Burke.
JM: (show introduction and announcement) Now if anybody was reading the newspapers there was a few stories about our guest from last week, Gerry McGeough, a lifelong Irish Republican who spent time in jails in Germany, in this country and he was a guest twenty years ago when he was out on bail before he went to jail. And some of the papers were writing about the interview we did with Gerry McGeough and here are some of the headlines:
McGeough’s Language Vile
Former Assembly Candidate Gerry McGeough Calls Catholic Judges ‘Traitors’
Radio Host Clarifies McGeough’s ‘Collaborator’ Threat to the Judiciary
Republican Claims Catholic Judiciary ‘Will Be Dealt With’
McGeough’s Disturbing Threats
McGeough’s Threat to Judges To Be Deplored
Hussey Condemns Disgraceful Comments
And I just got this in – now those are from the Irish Times, The News Letter in Belfast and the Belfast Telegraph and this just came in from the Irish Post, which would be considered the Irish Echo of London and England: (John reads from the Irish Post) Republican Gerry McGeough calls out ‘pathetic old Shinners’ in explosive US radio interview.Prominent Tyrone Republican Gerry McGeough is known for his strong views and when he was interviewed on WBAI New York’s Radio Free Éireann last week he didn’t hold back. (reading ends) And they have clips to the transcript of last week’s show. We’re talking about the effect Gerry’s free speech on New York radio could be affecting his life very shortly. Charges are being filed against Gerry McGeough. There’s talk about revoking his licence. Gerry was charged and sentenced to two years under the Good Friday Agreement for being a member of the IRA in 1976. Gerry Adams will never have to worry about that charge being against him because Gerry Adams claims he was never in the IRA.
So based on an interview that Gerry McGeough gave in New York he is being brought up on charges and Martin, you were brought onto BBC Ulster. You did a radio show to talk about the interview but what exactly is happening for Gerry McGeough and how serious now are the charges that are being brought against him based on an interview he did here in New York?
MG: John, first of all: Charges are not being filed, should not be filed and hopefully will not be filed. What happened is that a number of people, particularly – that song we played at the beginning about Henry Joy McCracken – that goes out to The Belfast News Letter. The Belfast News Letter is one of the daily newspapers in the North of Ireland, particularly in Belfast. It would be considered a hardline, unionist, Orange paper as compared with the much more moderate unionist paper – which is still fairly hardline to some of our viewpoints – the Belfast Telegraph. And of course there’s a Nationalist paper, the Irish News. The founding family of that paper, The News Letter, was the Joy Family and if you listened to that song, Henry Joy McCracken – Henry Joy McCracken was a member of that family – the famous Joy Family – and his family was involved with founding the newspaper and Henry Joy McCracken was a great Irish patriot. That connection, that political affiliation, has changed very greatly down the years. So now we have the paper, The News Letter, which is very hardline in terms of Orange sentiments which would probably not complain if sentiments of a similar nature were introduced or put forward by Orange spokesmen at bonfires or marches such as that happening in Doire today at the Apprentice Boys.
Alright. They picked up Gerry McGeough’s interview. They took one line out of that interview and used that to try and say that he was threatening Catholic members, Nationalist members of the judiciary or of lawyers. And that was completely nonsense, completely untrue, completely inaccurate. Listeners will have heard Gerry McGeough’s interview last week. If you didn’t hear it it’s up on rfe123.org – that’s rfe123.org. And I want to congratulate our transcriber. That transcriber, I can’t say he or she because that person is completely anonymous, has done a tremendous job. You not only can listen to and read that transcript in writing but you can play a radio interview that I got stuck doing for BBC Talkback last week about Gerry McGeough. And what they did is: Gerry McGeough, during a twenty minute interview, he was talking about Brexit, the British attempting to withdraw from the European Community, and the devastating effects that that would have on Ireland. He was talking about Tyrone, his own county – the fact that six of the nine counties of Ulster are cut off and they’re denied their rightful place, as set forth in 1916 and elsewhere, to be part of a free and independent thirty-two county Irish nation that governs Ireland and Irish interests rather than British interests from London at Westminster – and he talked about that. He talked about praise for new movements, in effect, a new wave that was shown with the vote on Brexit – that was shown in terms of ‘a stirring’, a yearning, for national freedom. He talked about the example in Scotland. He said if Scotland moves towards independence that would be a further inspiration for political change and getting back to a united Ireland. He talked about all those things and in it he talked about his own political case. Now Gerry McGeough was charged in 1981 – sorry – for an incident that happened in 1981. He was arrested in 2007 after a political campaign in which he had expressed opposition to support for the re-named Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) – the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI). He expressed opposition to a situation in which Diplock courts were going to be used and which people would give credibility – from Nationalists who would give credibility – to these courts and not consider – try to use them for justice – to really abolish Diplock courts – the non-jury courts.
And he talked about the attitudes of some people who get positions within those courts – and when Gerry McGeough was on trial for something that happened in 1981 when he was brought to trial just a few years ago – so many years later – he said there was an attitude that people who opposed British rule were somehow of ‘bad character’ – they were looked down upon, that they were somehow of ‘bad character’ that’s the phrase they used. And meanwhile, there is an administration which people involved, as we mentioned in that BBC Talkback radio programme, were involved in the same campaign – had leading roles in that campaign – people who, Gerry and I, we would agree and say that that campaigned, which ended so long ago before the Good Friday Agreement, was a legitimate campaign, a legitimate fight for freedom but the conditions that would make conflict legitimate today no longer exist – haven’t existed for some time. And Gerry simply said that they are serving English interests, that he differentiated between what was happening – Unionists, living in the North of Ireland – and English interests at Westminster – a government that serves English interests at Westminster. That was completely taken out of context. Those words were deliberately misconstrued by people who never wanted to see Gerry get out of jail in the first place – who were against him getting any sort of justice or free speech or views or running for election or anything like that. People like Nelson McCausland who would be associated – you know we heard Seamus Delaney talk about the type of bigotry – and when he’s around the Orange bonfires or demonstrations on July the Twelfth or hearing today – at the Apprentice Boys in Doire. Nelson McCausland is a member of the DUP (Democratic Unionist Party) – Ian Paisley’s – the party that he founded which would be very much associated with The Belfast News Letter, very much associated with that sort of ideology – and they pulled that and tried to say that Gerry McGeough was somehow involved with threatening people and that is not true. And that is definitely wrong. And we hope that there will be no charges – no lifting of his licence because it was totally unjust, untrue, inaccurate.
JM: But was something filed? I mean in the lawyer’s statement there – in the very beginning…
MG: …Oh, what has happened is: There is an existing appeal against Gerry’s old conviction. And what his solicitor Aiden Carlin says is that:
Our client stood for election in 2007 on a manifesto for freedom, justice and peace. The interviews he gave to a United States radio station should be listened to in its entirety. They cover a plurality of subjects including Irish and Scottish history, poetry, prison memories, the Ancient Order of Hibernians, 9/11 and Brexit. Our client has always maintained his innocence and is working closely with his lawyers to assist.
So they’re trying to appeal that and then all of a sudden, all of a sudden, these articles, hysterical articles, appear in The Belfast News Letter. Now, I don’t know too many articles in The Belfast News Letter which would be worried about Nationalist members of the judiciary or Nationalist lawyers – and these articles were brought up just to have an improper, unfair manipulation, misconstruction of Gerry McGeough’s words and try and bring charges against him and take away his licence. He’s out on licence for that earlier case and they could do that very easily and do it without any real justice.
JM: But Martin, this is all part of the British strategy that they’ve brought in: If you’re against the peace process and did time in Long Kesh – you do not get a visa. If you support Gerry Adams – no matter how much time you did in jail – you get a visa. Now bail restrictions on Republicans getting out of jail – they can’t do interviews or associate with other Republicans and speech is taken very seriously in the Six Counties. And Martin, you were a victim of that. You gave a speech, I believe, in County Tyrone and Margaret Thatcher banned you from going to that part of Ireland.
MG: Well actually I gave the speech for somebody else – one of Henry Joy McCracken’s fellow Republican leaders in 1798 – they were unveiling a memorial to Roddy McCorley and I happened to be driving through the area with Danny Morrison – and we were there, we came over and they asked us to say a few words so I gave a speech. And it was the night after attending a funeral for somebody, a Republican killed in Doire, a member of the English Family – two young members of that family were killed in separate incidents. And I know the father, I met him, and I went to pay my respects at the funeral. And coming back we were asked to give a short speech. So that was fine, that was at one point – I believe it was in April because I was over for an Easter commemoration in Tyrone. Months later when I was intending to lead a tour back to the North of Ireland in August of 1984 all of a sudden Peter Robinson and the DUP said I should be banned because of the speech I gave months before. And of course I was banned at that time and when I was invited by Republicans to attend a rally in Belfast in 1984 – and John, you were at that rally. The rally was attacked; we just were involved in civil disobedience. One young man, John Downes, was killed. The RUC drove into that rally, fired plastic bullets, attacked people, drove in with Land Rovers, killed John Downes. And this year when they’re having the Internment Day rally it actually started from the spot where John Downes was killed but that’s how serious they take it. We’re concerned – Gerry McGeough – his real problem is that he stood up, he said basically that the Stormont deal, in terms of a united Ireland which we were promised, is not working. Even the other day, Unionist politicians who would not attend the funeral of Bishop Daly who was a man of peace – very highly respected – and again, there’s epithets, there are sorry initiatives, there are apologies, working together in Stormont to do away with the injustices – all of those things – the outreach, the reconciliation, that is supposed to, or was supposed to, get Unionists to support a united Ireland or feel at home in a united Ireland – none of that has happened and what Gerry McGeough was saying it’s getting more Nationalists comfortable or saying that British rule is not so bad for me.
JM: (station identification) and good thing…
MG: …But – that’s not to say that they should be, in any way, under threat expect politically – we want to work towards a united Ireland.
JM: And why do you have to clarify that? There’s nobody listening to ‘BAI. Ooh noo…there’s nobody out there listening….
MG: John, I was asked on that BBC Radio – you know I got asked a number of questions: Could you explain what happened and how Gerry got into that? And about two lines into the explanation of that twenty minute interview it’s: Let’s get to the point! Let’s just get to these words! And over and over again. And I was asked – you know somebody said: I’m an Ulsterman. Don’t I have a right to be here? And I said: Yeah, and how about the people in Donegal or Cavan or Monaghan? Don’t they have a right, as Ulstermen, a say about the future of their country? Or people from the Twenty-six Counties? Why should you get a veto on having One Ireland One Vote? Things like that? They shock people! And then I said: Yeah – if Gerry McGeough knew how badly his words would be misconstrued and taken out of context – and Gerry McGeough’s words wouldn’t have ‘gotten’ to anybody who was a Nationalist or the audience, if they were afraid about threatening members of the judiciary with a political movement to a united Ireland, except it was carried in The News Letter over and over again except it’s been carried in papers since.
What I said was: If he knew how badly his words would be deliberately misconstrued, deliberately misused and used to claim that he was saying something about some kind of threat when all he was talking about was working politically for a united Ireland, certainly something he had every right to do, he would have changed those words and not given them the opportunity.
JM: So there we are trying to clarify what happened last weekend. You wouldn’t believe the amount of coverage over in Ireland this got – from Dublin to Belfast and now over to London. And it just shows you the value of this station. (ends time stamp ~ 18:54)
Mark Carruthers (MC) hosts Martin Galvin (MG) and Ulster Unionist Party MLA Doug Beattie (DB) to discuss the comments made by prominent Irish Republican Gerry McGeough on the American radio programme, Radio Free Éireann.
MC: Comments made by a high profile Republican on a New York radio station have caused controversy this week. Speaking on Radio Free Éireann on WBAI radio in New York Gerry McGeough criticised Catholic judges and prosecutors calling them ‘traitors’ in effect who are administering British rule here. Here is what he had to say: (audio clip played) So that’s what Gerry McGeough had to say on that radio station earlier. Well, the comments have been criticised by a number of Unionist politicians including the Ulster Unionist MLA Doug Beattie who said they border on an incitement to commit an unlawful act against members of the judiciary in Northern Ireland. Doug Beattie joins me now from Stormont I think. Martin Galvin, the former Publicity Director of course of NORAID, Irish Northern Aid, is the radio presenter who carried out that interview with Gerry McGeough, and he joins me now from New York. Gentlemen, welcome to you both. Thanks very much indeed for being with us on the programme today.
First of all Martin Galvin, we’ve tried to get hold of Gerry McGeough and at the moment – and I know you tried on our behalf as well to track him down. We’re not quite sure where he is. He’s not answering our calls. We can’t get hold of him. We’re very keen to talk to him. So if he happens to be listening or anybody close to him is listening we’d be very keen to take a call from him. But in the meantime, you were there. You conducted the interview…
MG: …Mark, I have spoke – I got a message back from him. First of all he asked me to thank BBC Talkback for trying to reach him. He’s actually in the middle – he’s about halfway – he was on the road with most of his family – his oldest daughter was at home, and he happened to call home, got my message – he’s on the road, could not do the interview, obviously – we just found out about this just a little less than a hour ago. But he’s very appreciative that at least BBC Talkback tried to make the effort to contact him and get his real views as opposed to some of the things that he’s read. He asked me to do the interview and he will be back at the weekend and happy to comment and speak for himself. He wanted – he appreciate again your efforts to at least try to give him a chance to speak instead of just taking one sentence out of a twenty minute interview and putting it in a totally different context.
MC: Okay. Well, certainly there’s been some coverage in the newspapers. We’re very keen to get as rounded a picture of precisely what was said and what Mr. McGeough meant by what he said and I guess the best way of finding that out is to talk to him. So it’s a pity he’s not available. But look, we did our best and you were there, you were part of that conversation so we’ve lifted the clip that’s causing all of the controversy in the media. Can you just tell us how those comments came about first of all, Mr. Galvin, and what you make of what he had to say?
MG Well if you listen to the interview – and anybody – I would encourage listeners just to go to the internet, type in, as an address, rfe (for Radio Free Éireann) 123.org, that’s rfe123.org. There’s an entire written transcript of his full interview as well as a link so you can hear his entire interview.
This was a twenty minute interview. He talked about, for example, 1916 – the fact that Tyrone is left out of – one of the counties that there is a feasible right to national freedom – but they are left behind. There was a vote in 1918 – the One Ireland One Vote – they were left behind. Partition was supposed to be temporary. Arlene Foster’s in a position where she says a region in a country can’t veto what happened in terms of Brexit no matter how disastrous that decision is for Ireland – how much it ignored Ireland as a whole, all thirty-two counties, and yet she First Ministers a region which is based on the principle that six counties had the right to veto a One Ireland One Vote election and always have a veto.
MC: …Sure, well okay, well look, we know that. We’ve heard that before…
MG: …the context was has happened…
MC: ….I understand and that’s a fairly traditional…
MG: I’m trying to get you the context…
MC: And I understand that context and it’s something that many of our listeners would be familiar with – the Republican world view.
MG: He talked about Brexit.
MG: He talked about how British rule – and what he was talking about is the difference between English rule suiting English policies in Brexit in the way that Theresa Villiers put in austerity, other policies that suited Westminster – all of that and how that doesn’t really reflect or take into account what fully serves Irish interests. He even talked about Scotland and how that was administered. Then he talked about a situation like himself – he was imprisoned for something that happened in 1981 – it was during the hunger strike of 1981 – he was a part of a campaign that both he and I would defend and say was a legitimate campaign against British rule but it’s a campaign which ended long ago and we’re in a new era of peace – which he would be the first to say.
MC: Well, that’s the interesting part, Martin. Let’s just pick up on that point. That campaign happened. You still support it – other people think it wasn’t a bad idea. We don’t need to re-rehearse that. The point is that in the new scenario that you have just described Mr. McGeough still said, and let me lift that line** again because we’ve got it highlighted here and you can see it in the transcript:
under the cover you have Catholic Nationalist, people from Republican families, who are now sitting as Diplock court judges and prosecutors and all the other stuff of the day that you can’t possibly imagine and they are arrogantly passing judgment on patriots.
** (Ed Note: This was not one continuous quote as read by the BBC Talkback presenter here. The words in the block quote below this note did not immediately follow the words in the block quote above this note in the transcript of Gerry McGeough’s Radio Free Éireann interview.)
you have Irish Catholics, traitors in effect, administering British rule here in the Six Counties.
That doesn’t seem to fit with where Northern Ireland, the North of Ireland, the Six Counties – whatever you want to call it – is in 2016. That’s the point.
MG: Well what he was talking about is that, for example, we could, historically – I think The Newsletter was the first paper where all of these stories appeared. That was actually the Joy Family, Henry Joy McCracken was one of the people…
MC: …No, I know. Listen – we don’t need to go back to the origins of The Newsletter. Seriously.
MG: …(crosstalk) (inaudible) he was a patriot because he wanted a united Ireland – he wanted an end to British rule. Some people may say, historically, that he was a traitor – that he worked against Unionist interests…
MC: …I know, I honestly…
MG: We can have a debate about that…
MC: …Well we can but not now if you don’t mind. We haven’t got time to talk about the rights or wrongs of Henry Joy McCracken, fascinating though I agree it is…
MG: …But (crosstalk) (inaudible) we can talk about people who played that role – who served different interests – the interests of another country. He was talking about that philosophically. It certainly was not, somebody who believes we are at peace, not talking about going out and attacking anybody or doing anything other than politically working for a united Ireland and having, recognising the people who are working against a united Ireland from communities (crosstalk) (inaudible)
MC: …But it’s not helpful. But the point is it’s not, it’s not…okay, yeah. But the kind of language, and it’s the language that he’s used that many people have picked up on here – to refer to Irish Catholics as….
MG: …But again…
MC: …now let me ask the question, Martin, I mean we’ll not get anywhere if we both talk at the same time. He talks about Irish Catholics – traitors, in effect, administering British rule here in the Six Counties. That is a pretty unreconstructed world view and we have moved on and that’s the point. We have a statement just here, which you might be interested in from the Chairman of the Bar Council who represents lawyers in Northern Ireland, who says he wants to take issue…he wants to take this opportunity to utterly condemn the threats made by Gerry McGeough over the past weekend as reported in The Newsletter on Monday the eighth of August in which he stated Catholic servants serving as judges and prosecutors in the Northern Ireland legal system are traitors who will be dealt with as collaborators once the English are removed. You can see that it is colourful, controversial language employed by Gerry McGeough which some people, people involved in this regard as, frankly, incitement.
MG: Okay. I can see that it is colourful, controversial language. I’m telling you: Knowing him. Speaking (with) him, being there for the entire interview that there was no threat intended against anybody. He was speaking in effect as somebody who believes in a united Ireland, who thinks that the present British strategy in The North is there to keep and copper-fasten British rule – not give Irish-Nationalists self-determination for all thirty-two counties – that his county, Tyrone, and five others have been victimised by this system. But he was talking about politically moving towards a united Ireland. That’s (crosstalk) (inaudible)
MC: …Did he go too far? There’s the question: Did he over egg the pudding? Did he use the kind of language that perhaps, with the benefit of hindsight, he might now regret? Should he have toned it down a little bit?
MG: Did he use a term explaining on New York radio explaining in the course of a twenty minute interview which has been deliberately over-hyped and taken out of context to imply something entirely different by others? Yes. He did use a term which others have totally misrepresented. I’m trying to correct that impression about the world view and what Mr. McGeough was saying during that interview which was not to threaten anybody except in terms of a political threat (crosstalk) (inaudible)
MC: …What did he mean then? I understand that, Martin. But when he said:
Catholics serving as judges and prosecutors in the Northern Ireland legal system are – quote – traitors who will be dealt with as – quote – collaborators once the English are removed. (Ed. Note: This statement, attributed to Mr. McGeough, does not appear in the transcript of Gerry McGeough’s interview on Radio Free Éireann.)
What did he mean by that? If that’s not threatening what is it?
MG: He’s not threatening anybody or didn’t intend to threaten anybody. What he was trying to say is that those who are working – for example, right now Diplock courts were abolished in 2007 but they’re used in each and every case where they would have been used before they were abolished. When he was arrested for charges that happened in 1981 and sent to Maghaberry by an administration which included…
MC: …You’re not answering my question. What did he mean by the use of the word ‘traitor’ and collaborator’? Just answer that question! Don’t give me another history lesson. Just tell me what did he meant by the use of the word ‘traitor’ and ‘collaborator’?
MG: In the same way people can debate and say that Henry Joy McCracken: Was he a patriot or a traitor? and you can argue about that – it doesn’t mean that he’s threatening them. He regards people who are working against a united Ireland as wrong, as his political opponents. He believes that many of them should be working harder for a united Ireland. But it’s not to say: Let’s go after them in a threat. Let’s go after them in any way other than trying to get a political solution… (crosstalk) (inaudible)
MC: …Okay. Well let me bring in…I want to bring, I want to bring in…hang on a second. I want to bring Doug Beattie in in a second. But here’s the point, here’s the point: We have a Catholic Attorney General. We have a Catholic Director of Public Prosecutions. We have a Catholic Lord Chief Justice. We have several high profile high court judges who are Roman Catholics in Northern Ireland. Those people know that they live under the threat of security from dissident Republicans who have targeted them in the past and who, apparently, would wish to target them in future. And I’m not saying, I’m not saying for a second – just to be clear – that Gerry McGeough is one of those – but in that climate the use of language like ‘traitor’ and ‘collaborator’ is unhelpful and those individuals and the professionals who represent them see that as extremely dangerous and very foolish. Do you not agree?
MG: If you’re asking me about how they might see something? I am telling you that what Gerry McGeough intended – he used a word which seemed to be taken out of context to mean something that he did not intend. He’s somebody who wants to see a united Ireland – wants to see it peacefully – and if you look at the whole interview there was no mention of any armed group, any armed action, anything like that – he was talking about stirrings throughout the country, a yearning for a united Ireland and getting that, achieving it, by peaceful, political means and finding a strategy which can achieve that because he doesn’t think that the current Good Friday Agreement is going to work towards that end. He wants to see a united Ireland. That’s what he was talking about.
MC: Okay. Alright. Let me bring Doug Beattie. Doug Beattie – Martin Galvin’s making the position here that Gerry McGeough has been misquoted and taken out of context. How do you respond to that?
DB: I think Martin Galvin is trying to defend the undefensible. I would be the first one to say that Republicanism, if peaceful, striving towards a united Ireland – I have no issue with that in the same way Unionism striving to remain part of the United Kingdom – if it remains peaceful -then that’s right and that’s proper. But when you use terms like ‘Irish Catholic traitors’, you use terms like ‘collaborators’ when you’re talking about the judiciary – a judiciary that was in the ’70’s and ’80’s and early ’90’s murdered on a frequent basis. When you talk about getting the English out of Northern Ireland what he’s really talking about is getting Unionists…
MG: …Not so!
DB: …and Unionism and anybody who’s linked to it – the Scots-Irish – out of the North of Ireland. Because I don’t see these big swathes of Englishmen who are living in the North of Ireland whatsoever. And I think you have to look at this and you have to say that these are archaic references that he’s using to – he’s throwing us back to a bygone era and I hope there’s people out there – decent people, decent people who are striving for a united Ireland who are decent, good, law-abiding people can look at this and disown these comments and realise that we have really moved on from this. And we don’t need that. And I think Martin needs to be really honest here and he needs to get the views of the people of Northern Ireland and the vast majority of the people of Northern Ireland want to remain part of the United Kingdom.
I am an Irishman. I am an Ulsterman. I’m a Northern Irishman. And I am British. And I deserve to live in this part of the country as much as anybody else and anybody else who have been here for the last five or six hundred years. And I take exception to anybody telling me that I don’t belong here or my views don’t belong here and I think Martin is absolutely barking up the wrong tree and he needs to speak to a wider audience than the people he’s speaking to now.
MC: How do you respond to that, Martin Galvin?
MG: Yes, I’m glad Mr. Beattie brought these points up. First of all, Gerry McGeough, during the interview drew an exact, a clear distinction between Unionists, which includes Mr. Beattie, and the English administration – serving English interests in policies like Brexit, like other policies that Theresa Villiers was responsible (for) before her unlamented replacement so he made that clear in the interview; he’s not saying everybody should leave.
Number two: Certainly Mr. Beattie is right to say that he is an Irishman and an Ulsterman and he should be allowed to remain in Ireland and have his own views. What Gerry McGeough believes is that people in Donegal, people throughout The North in the rest of the three counties in Ulster, which are excluded from any vote, that people of (the) Twenty-Six Counties, that they are also Irishmen. That they should also have an equal say about what happens in Ireland and that we should not carve out an area where six counties are able to veto the wishes of (crosstalk) (inaudible)….
MC: …Yeah, but look, we’ve made done with that. You know you’ve heard of the Good Friday Agreement in 1998…
MG: …Yes, I have.
MC: … – you’ve heard of the St. Andrews Agreement…
MG: And I….
MC: …Hang on! You know that the Irish government supports the current arrangements in Northern Ireland and you know that Sinn Féin, which is by far the largest Republican party in Northern Ireland which commands twenty-five percent of the popular vote and whose leader in Northern Ireland is the Deputy First Minister has absolutely bought into the arrangements for political governance in this part of the world. So you are harking back to something which is frankly decades out of date – that’s the point.
MG: The Good Friday Agreement gives people like Gerry McGeough the right to have a legitimate aspiration – as if we needed some sort of agreement to have a legitimate aspiration to national freedom – to have something – a thirty-two county Ireland – to have the same right to freedom as people in other parts of Ireland…
MC: …So exactly. So that’s there. And he has that legitimate right. Nobody’s arguing about that. Doug Beattie’s not arguing about that.
MG: That’s what Gerry McGeough was doing. He was arguing for it. He was saying the current arrangements don’t work. Sinn Féin sold those to the people on the basis that it was going to lead to a united Ireland. We were told first in 2003 by Joe Cahill… (crosstalk) (inaudible)
MC: …but the problem is – look – the problem is that – and I’m sorry to keep harking back to it – and by the way we did contact Sinn Féin. Sinn Féin didn’t want to take part in the conversation today; didn’t want to have anything to do with it which is perfectly reasonable from that party’s point of view. If it doesn’t want to take part that’s fine but the invitation was extended.
The difficulty that people have, and there have been several pieces in the newspaper which you will have seen and Doug Beattie has made his comments today and I’ve quoted the Bar Council. The difficulty is that what Gerry McGeough is, in the view of those people who are critical of his comments, is that he goes too far goes to far, goes way beyond the line, beyond saying: I have a right, under the 1998 agreement, to have this view. He actually explicitly threatens Catholics in Northern Ireland by calling them traitors and says they should be dealt with as collaborators once the English are removed. And once you say something like that you generate a whole different climate and a whole different context that you seem either not to understand or not to want to understand.
MG: What I’m saying is: He wanted to clarify – I’m trying to clarify those remarks – that there was no threat intended. He was not encouraging any threat against anybody. He is against them politically. He believes that they’re doing an historic role under British rule serving an administration which he would disagree with and wants to overcome to get to a united Ireland. But he’s saying, and I thought this was part of what Mr. Beattie and you would want said – that he’s not threatening anybody – he’s not recommending a threat against anybody – he’s not recommending any kind of threat other than a political threat to work peacefully towards a legitimate aspiration of a united Ireland.
MC: And what’s your response, then, to the Chair…Okay, so I’m going to bring some callers in – but your response to the Chair, Gerry McAlinden QC, the Chairman of the Bar Council, who says in that statement, his final paragraph is this: any attempt, and these are his words, any attempt to intimidate members of the judiciary or members of the legal profession engaged in prosecution work is to be deplored by all right-thinking members of society. These sinister messages were a frequent part of our troubled past. They were wrong then and are wrong now. What do you say to Mr. McAlinden ?
MG: I’m saying as somebody who would be represented by a Bar Council here in New York Gerry McGeough did not intend any threat against anybody other a political threat to achieve a situation where there was a united Ireland. And he would express political opposition to some of the attitudes people have…
MC: …Right. But how do you deal with collaborators politically? How do you deal with traitors and collaborators politically?
MG: In a united Ireland…
DB: …But Martin, Martin…
MC: …Hang on, Doug. Just let Martin Galvin answer that. How to you deal with traitors and collaborators politically?
MG: I’m talking about – well, look – you’re using a statement that was taken out of context I’m saying – and I thought that that statement would be welcomed – that I know Mr. McGeough has tried to emphasise in the interview and through me that he’s not trying or did not intend to make any threat, other than a political threat, of achieving a united Ireland, against anybody. I thought that would be welcomed, that it would calm the situation – that what was interpreted was perhaps it was improperly put or perhaps taken out of context but it’s not what Mr. McGeough intended and that’s not Mr. McGeough’s position. It’s certainly wasn’t a position that I would advocate.
MC: …Okay, no – I absolutely understand that and listen I…
MG: (crosstalk)(inaudible) criticise me.
MC: I’m not criticising you. I’m simply trying to get at the bottom of what precisely what he meant. Now you’re explaining what he meant and I’m now suggesting to you that perhaps, with the benefit of hindsight, his use of language was somewhat careless. And he needs to rethink and reconsider and take on board the criticisms that have been leveled at the language he used because he was, at best, careless in what he said in the interview with you. Now, if you accept that I think that’s a bit of progress. If you don’t accept that it’s hard to see quite where you’re coming from. Do you think he said nothing wrong and none of these criticisms are at all valid in any way?
MG: No, I would accept that the language, the exact language, in that twenty minute interview that that particular line – and there was just so much that he covered in the interview that…
MC: …Well stick with this one sentence if you would!
MG: Okay. I’m sure that he would re-phrase that if given the opportunity.
MC: Ah! Right. So there’s an interesting point. You think he would re-phrase it if he got an opportunity.
MG: Well, I can’t guarantee. (crosstalk) (inaudible)
MC: So twenty-nine minutes past twelve you can see maybe his language wasn’t as carefully chosen as it might have been?
MC: Right. That’s interesting because that’s the first time you said that.
MG: And it was not intended to threaten anybody which again, I would think that that would be welcomed by you and Mr. Beattie…
MC: …Well, let’s see: Doug Beattie, do you welcome that?
DB: Well what I was going to try and say to Martin, and I’m trying to be really rational here about this, Martin. We live in an environment in Northern Ireland where we have a fragile peace where dissident Republicans and others are still murdering people on a weekly basis or shooting people on a weekly basis and murdering people as well.
I’m a member of the Assembly. I’m an an ex-soldier. I check under my car every single day and every time I get into that car. That is because of what happened in the past. These words incite us to go back to that again. I think they were poorly chosen words. I think they’re words that incited violence. And it doesn’t matter what you say. You don’t live here. I live here. I lived through it and you need to understand that.
MC: But do you also accept, Doug Beattie, that Martin Galvin has faced up today to our request to take part in the programme. He has spoken to Gerry McGeough. He has endeavoured, as best he can, to put in context the comments that were made and to clarify that and he’s just done it a moment ago that, with the benefit of hindsight, perhaps Gerry McGeough might have expressed that view slightly differently. So do you accept a degree of progress has been made throughout this conversation so far?
DB: Well, absolutely. I have no ax to grind with Martin Galvin whatsoever here. I have the ax to grind with the words that were used. Now if Martin if they were choice words that maybe he shouldn’t have been using then that is progress. The problem is: Those words are out there and there’s people out there who will be influenced by words like this from a person like Gerry. So I think we need to be really, really mindful and I think Martin needs to be mindful. And I think Martin would really do well to speak to people from the Unionist community, from ex-soldiers like me who fought for thirty-four years along side his countrymen in Iraq and Afghanistan who are marginalised because they are too busy peddling a single message and I think that needs to be taken on board as well.
MC: Well, maybe that’s your next interview on your radio programme, Martin Galvin. Maybe you should have Doug Beattie on to get the other side of things and hear a different perspective one that maybe one that you and your listeners are not just so familiar with?
MG: Well again, I know at every Unionist party convention there is a speaker on a united Ireland to put that forward so I’m sure it will be as balanced – well I’m being facetious, obviously. Mr. Beattie, we used to have actually a relative of one of the McGimpseys used to appear on the show quite regularly. We have tried to put that view forward. One of the things that I’d like to ask Mr. Beattie about is that Gerry McGeough, during that interview, talked about civilians who were killed with the support of members of the British Crown forces in collusion by some of the Loyalists who killed somebody during the past week. I’m surprised that nobody hit out at that – nobody was concerned about that allegation. He talked about Roseann Mallon or members of the Fox Family or members of the McKearney Family…
MC: …Well let’s let Doug…Doug.
MG: … British law and order forces (crosstalk) (inaudible)
MC: Doug, Doug, do you want to clarify your position on that for the benefit of Martin Galvin before I bring some callers in?
DB: Martin, it’s really quite simple: If anybody committed a murder, be they in the British military, be they a police officer, be they civilian or anybody else if they committed a murder – and it was wrong – if there’s evidence they should be brought to court. I condemn anybody who conducts a murder so don’t try and drag me down a road here where I’m trying to defend anybody who committed an unlawful act. I’m absolutely against that so you’ll not get me on that one.
MG: …(crosstalk) (inaudible)
MC: …Okay, let’s bring in some callers.
MG: (crosstalk) (inaudible)
MC: Hang on a second, Martin because I want to bring in John here. He’s gotten in touch with the programme at lunch time and we do try to bring callers in and were a bit tardy in doing so today because we’ve had to cover a lot of ground with both of you. So John, you’ve got in touch so let’s hear what you have to say at this lunch time.
John: Hello, Martin?
MC: Yes, yes. Martin Galvin can hear you. Yep, John. Go ahead if you want to make a point – quickly.
John: Martin, we have had people over here in Northern Ireland people on the Unionist side who yelled and squealed about things that young Unionists went out and did crimes because of what they heard and they’re in jail today. And their parents and their brothers and their sisters are visiting them every day. We have had young Nationalists who are in the same – who are not just as balanced – who are listening youse are commenting on there today. Now what about Judge Trainor, a Christian lovely man with his family in church on the Lord’s Day, not knowing that he was going to be come out and murdered on the steps of where he worships God. Now those people listening to that, on balance, feel they can go out and murder Catholics because they’re doing their duty. Martin, listen carefully: If there was a vote for a united Ireland and it went against us – and I’m one for an Irish – I am married but I’m part of the United Kingdom – and if we ever voted to go with the united Ireland would you like us to go out and murder and kill people? Now Martin, please be careful on the way you’re getting on. You don’t live here. We are living here in peace, ninety-nine point nine percent of us.
MC: Okay. Alright, John, thanks very much. Martin, do you want a quick response to that and then I want to bring in Sam.
MG: Quickly, first of all, Gerry McGeough was not talking about any kind of armed action or any kind of threat against anybody. If the caller believes that there should be or can be a legitimate vote for a united Ireland, and I believe it should take in all thirty-two counties, I would agree with him on that. And certainly, I’m trying to clarify and say as carefully as I can that Mr. McGeough was not advocating any kind of armed threat or any kind of threat against anybody and not intending to encourage anybody to do that.
MC: Okay. Alright. Thanks very much, indeed. Sam, you got in touch with us this lunch time. What are your thoughts?
Sam: Yeah, hi there. I just think that Mr. McGeough should be looked at in a different light: That yes, he is a Republican who’s been convicted of a terror act but this shouldn’t be the reason why the media is looking into him because according to the Irish News he was re-elected earlier in the year as the president of County Tyrone AOH, Ancient Order of Hibernians, which is a Roman Catholic fraternal organisation. Now if, for instance another Co. Tyrone man, Edward Stevenson, who is the Grand Master of the Orange Institution in Ireland and he made a similar repugnant comment would the media be presenting him as a County Tyrone Unionist farmer or would they be presenting him as the Grand Master of the Orange Institution in Ireland?
MC: Well I suppose it depends, it depends in which capacity an individual speaks. And just to be clear on that (and thank you for raising the point about the Ancient Order of Hibernians) – Hang on a second – I want to actually just – and this might help you understand where we’re coming from – we did contact the Ancient Order of Hibernians today and Gerry McGeough is indeed the president of the AOH in County Tyrone and a spokesman for the Ancient Order of Hibernians told this programme Gerry McGeough isn’t a member of the national board of that organisation and he was not speaking on its behalf and there would be no further comment.
Sam: Okay. Well if, but in a similar situation, if a County Grand Master of the Orange Institution in future months makes a similar repugnant comment I hope that the Orange will not be dragged into this if they haven’t been speaking in that capacity because I do feel…
MC: …Well, I’m sure that’s exactly the case – we would do exactly what we’ve done now. Well, the BBC would – I can’t speak for other media outlets.
Sam: Just one other point: On the issue that I’m bringing about Catholic collaborators I think that is truly awful to try and say that somebody, because of their faith, that their political aspirations are moulded because of their faith – that is totally wrong that he should have brought people, being Roman Catholic, that they can’t have different aspirations…
MC: …So you see his comments, you see Mr. McGeough’s comments as having a threatening dimension to them, do you, when you hear them?
Sam: I do believe so. I’m personally not a Roman Catholic but I do feel it’s entirely wrong, that if you’re a member of the judiciary that your faith or your political aspirations, which should be left at the door whenever you’re making judgments, that he should have brought that in at all and I think that is a serous point to say that Irish Nationalists being part of, rather he said they were Catholic, and that should mean that they shouldn’t be part of the judiciary I think that’s is truly wrong.
MC: Okay, well look thanks very much, indeed, Sam, for you thoughts. (station call-in announcement) Let’s hear from Thomas who has indeed got in touch with us this lunch time. Thomas, what are your thoughts?
Thomas: Yeah, Martin, they can’t be taken in any other way other way other than a threat. I think Gerry used his words so that he wouldn’t sound sectarian. He picked out the Catholic judges as if they were only going to be dealt with. If Martin Galvin, I’m a Loyalist, if I said to Martin Galvin on your radio show if the English pull out of Ireland, Martin, you’re going to be dealt with. I mean it wouldn’t be taken in any other way than a direct threat to him. The waffling that he came off within the last thirty minutes just how deluded some of them Americans are, especially him, with raising money over the years to help the IRA murder people here. Whether he likes it or not our joint First Minister here (and I know there’s a wee of a messing about between Unionists on OFM and DFM) but they’re joint first ministers. And the joint First Minister of the country that we live in is an Irish Republican, is a former IRA Commander and he was voted in there and quite rightly so. And is Martin Galvin saying that all them IRA men, and all them IRA Volunteers, who are now running our country along with Unionists are all traitors and collaborators the same as them judges?
MC: Well, I don’t know that they’re all IRA men and all IRA Volunteers. Some of them may have been involved in….
Thomas: …No, not all but some are specific IRA men.
MC: Sure. Okay. Well I mean, you can speak directly to Martin Galvin because he’s still in the line. So Mr. Galvin, how do you respond to the question posed there by Thomas?
MG: I don’t want to make any comment on what Martin McGuinness’ role was…
Thomas: …Why not, Martin? That’s the question I asked you.
MG: (crosstalk) (inaudible) I certainly don’t to comment on that. I’ve been asked about it many times and certainly am not going to comment…
MC: …Well why not? Why not? He’s the Deputy First Minister. Why would you not comment on that?
MG: Because it maybe incite – or it might be felon setting if I said that he was involved – Gerry McGeough, for example, one of the charges against him that for he was jailed – was that he was a member of the IRA in 1981 – and he was jailed by the administration, which as this speaker I believe him to be correct – members of that same struggle, participants in that same struggle would have been part of the administration which jailed Gerry McGeough in Maghaberry…
MC: …Yeah but hang on – just to be absolutely clear – we’re pretty aware of the detail on this one. Martin McGuinness himself he is a former IRA leader. Martin McGuinness went to the Bloody Sunday Inquiry in Doire and said he was the second in command on the 30th of January 1972 so there’s no secret about the fact that Martin McGuinness has a past within the IRA. Now the point that he makes is that he left it a long time ago, he’s no longer involved and he doesn’t regret his involvement then but he’s moved on politically so I don’t think you’re going to get you in hot water with Martin McGuinness. (crosstalk)
MG: Well, if I said…
Thomas: another question…(crosstalk) (inaudible)
MC: …Hang on, hang on. Just let Martin Galvin respond to that point.
MG: If I were to say that he had a role within the Republican movement, within the IRA, after that that might be grounds of felon setting. (crosstalk) (inaudible)
MC: Well, he would disagree with you. Look, I’ve put that question to him many times before and he simply says that that’s not right.
MC: And you know, you pays your money you takes you choice. Gerry Adams says he was never in the IRA. A lot of people don’t believe him.
MG: I’m not commenting on that either.
Thomas: Martin, do you still raise money for Irish Republicans in Northern Ireland and do you support the peace process here?
MG: First of all, there’s no – well, I don’t raise money for Irish political prisoners or for the lobbying efforts in this country to advocate against British rule except through the Ancient Hibernians in New York for the Freedom for All Ireland Committee. And I never raised money directly for the IRA that was always something that was put forward by British information services because they wanted to distract (from) the reason that there was a conflict in Ireland which is the injustices under British rule in Ireland.
MC: Well it’s interesting you say you never raised money directly for the IRA. Did you raise money indirectly for the IRA?
MG: Well I raised money for Republican prisoners so they would get money on a weekly basis in accordance with need. I would raise money, for example, during the hunger strike – there was a film – one of the things that was most powerful during that time thousands upon thousands of people we were able to put on the streets in New York and across the United States – which Richard O’Rawe on the same radio programme that Gerry McGeough spoke on – said was the thing that really, was the thing that really won for the hunger strikers and showed the world that they were not criminals that they were political prisoners and patriots.
MC: Alright, Martin Galvin, thank you for now. Just stay with us. Thomas, thanks very much indeed for getting in touch and for making that point. I’m going to take a final caller on this: Ken Wilkinson, who’s the Progressive Unionist Party’s spokesperson for prisoners, has got in touch with us and wants to I think take issue with what Gerry McGeough said. Afternoon to you, Mr. Wilkinson, what are your thoughts?
Ken: Good Afternoon. Well you know, we had Martin on there saying maybe Gerry McGeough would change his statement. Gerry McGeough made the statement and as you were saying earlier I would like to hear Gerry McGeough on talking about this himself because more or less what he said was ‘Brits out.’ And I’m a Brit. And I’m not going anywhere. He was part of a campaign who tried to put the Brits out. We’re still here and we intend to remain.
MC: Well does it help you, Ken Wilkinson, that Gerry McGeough spoke to Martin Galvin, was happy – was unable to do the interview himself, he says – but was happy for Martin Galvin to come on and explain his position and Martin Galvin has clarified that position, has tried to put it into the wider context and did concede, just before half past twelve, that maybe with the benefit of hindsight Gerry McGeough might have chosen slightly different language?
MC: …Well that’s what he said. That’s what he said.
Ken: Maybe. Just maybe. But no, I would like to hear him. But the thing is, if the gentleman was here and talking and if a member of the Apprentice Boys, the Black Preceptory, the Orange or even my party leader had of said and come out with that statement about collaborators – the IRA dealt with collaborators in one way: they shot them in the back of the head – that was the way they dealt with collaborators. And this gentleman here doesn’t even belong in this country and he’s coming here and making statements…
MC: …Well, he’s not coming here. He’s on the line from New York and he’s entitled to an opinion. He’s a radio presenter in New York. He did an interview. He’s now taking about the interview. That’s reasonable is it not?
Ken: (crosstalk) the point is that I take great offence – Gerry McGeough’s statement was, more or less, ‘Brits Out’. What has Martin got to say about that?
MC: Okay, what have you got to say about that, Mr Galvin, in conclusion. That’s how it’s being viewed by someone who’s a member of the Progressive Unionist Party
MG: Well again, Gerry McGeough’s would be very different from the Progressive Unionist Party.
MC: Of course it would.
MG: In the interview, distinguish between what he called the English administration at Westminster and the Unionist population in The North. It’s there if you want to read it so he wasn’t making the connection that Mr. Wilkinson was. Certainly Gerry McGeough supports a united Ireland. I support a united Ireland very strongly. I believe that as a matter of justice there should be one Ireland that serves the interests of the Irish people as a whole and that that is the way forward and that is eventual position that we’ll get to if…
Ken: …It will never happen, Martin, it will never happen.
MG: Okay, then we have a political disagreement.
Ken: You ought to put your own country in order first before you try and interfere in this one.
MC: That’s a whole other discussion – I’ll tell you that, Ken.
MG: If we look into Donald Trump’s statements that he would change we could be on for the rest of the week.
MC: Sure. Well look – we were on for forty-five minutes on the programme this time yesterday talking about Donald Trump.
MG: You didn’t touch the surface.
MC: No, we didn’t. You’re absolutely right. Okay, Ken, thank you very much indeed for getting in touch. Martin Galvin thank you very much indeed for taking our call. We very much appreciate you making yourself available. If you get a chance to speak to Gerry McGeough I suspect that there are colleagues in the BBC who’d be very keen to have him on the airwaves just to clarify precisely what his position is in all of this.
Doug Beattie, a final comment to you: I’m just looking at your statement here and I see you’re saying that you’re calling on the PSNI (Police Service of Northern Ireland) to investigate Gerry McGeough’s words to see if an offence has been committed. After the conversation of the last forty-five minutes is that still your view?
DB: Absolutely. I don’t think it’s changed in any shape or form. I mean, what he said, whether he meant it or whether he did not, is an incitement to commit an offence. And I have to finish off by saying Gerry McGeough’s view of a pure Irish-Gael country which excludes people like myself and people of Ulster-Scots background, is something that hardens my resolve to make sure that Northern Ireland, as a country, is a success. (Ed. Note: This view, attributed to Mr. McGeough, does not appear in the transcript of Gerry McGeough’s interview on Radio Free Éireann.) So I think he’s gone in the wrong direction here.
MC: Okay. Alright. Gentlemen, thank you both very much indeed for joining us. Doug Beattie there, the Ulster Unionist MLA with his position – he still thinks that the PSNI should be investigating those comments from Gerry McGeough and Martin Galvin, former NORAID Publicity Director, radio presenter in New York was joining us there, he did the interview with Gerry McGeough. Thank you to both of them. Thank you to everyone else who called in.
RADIO FREE ÉIREANN will present a SPECIAL TWO HOUR PROGRAM – Noon – 2 pm this Saturday 13 August 2016
Last week’s interview with Gerry McGeough (read on rfe123.org) which was misrepresented by Unionists made headline news in the north throughout the week. This week’s program will begin with an answer and rebuttal.
We will then interview Belfast Republican Francie McGuigan, one of the 1971 internees and “Hooded Men” about why last Sunday’s Internment Day March was blocked from the Belfast City Centre, and why nationalists are still marching against Internment in the six counties.
“Derry Journal” reporter Eamon Sweeney, will talk about the life of Bishop Edward Daly, especially his support for justice for the Bloody Sunday families and the bitter reaction of British paratroopers to Bishop Daly’s passing.
RFÉ will continue its own pledge drive program offering a special DVD to supporters ,” A CELEBRATION OF THE LIFE OF ÓGLACH LIAM RYAN”. Liam Ryan a Tyrone native emigrated to the Bronx , worked for Con Ed became an American citizen, and was murdered by pro-British loyalists. The DVD includes moving footage and interviews with family and friends from the Bronx and Tyrone and the Independent Republican 25th anniversary Commemoration.
Go to RADIO FREE ÉIREANN’S new web site rfe123.org where you can read written transcripts of last week’s headline making interviews with Tyrone Republican Gerry McGeough and Richard O’Rawe’s discussion of the movie on Bobby Sands.
Maurice Morrow is lending a whole new dimension to the term “Silly Season”, a reference to media stories during the slow news days of the summer months.
Anyone who bothers to listen to the American radio show in which our President gave an interview will acknowledge that it bears no correlation whatsoever to Morrow’s accusations. He needs to get his facts right. His statement is not only off the wall, but we feel should also be investigated for its slanderous hate-filled content.
We suspect that Morrow’s real gripe is with the up-coming “Hibernian Day” parade in Kinturk, Co Tyrone on September 11th in which the Ancient Order of Hibernians will honour the 400th anniversary of the death in exile of the great Gaelic Irish leader Hugh O’Neill. Our pride in recalling the events of that time is leaving the likes of Morrow deeply uncomfortable. END.
STATEMENT FROM LAWYERS OF GERRY MCGEOUGH
Lawyers for high-profile Republican Gerry McGeough have confirmed that an application to the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) has been accepted and is under active investigation.
Solicitor Aiden Carlin explained: “If successful this case will be referred back to the Court of Appeal in Belfast. To that end we are instructed to make a plea for responsible and accurate media reporting. In recent days there have been a number of misleading articles which contain significant inaccuracies about a United States radio interview our client gave last weekend.”
Aiden Carlin Solicitor continued: “Contrary to press standards, no journalist contacted Gerry McGeough requesting his comments on the interview before reporting on it. Instead, articles have been published in newspapers and online which are not based on the facts. By way of example, Maurice Morrow MLA stated in a press release ‘it should be noted at no time he had the courage to take the stand himself.’ The truth is Gerry McGeough and the late William Plum Smith both give evidence during his Crown Court trial in support of an abuse of process application by the defence. Questions remain unanswered as to why none of the six Judges here who heard evidence and made rulings on various aspects of our client’s case received the ‘On The Runs’ material made public through John Downey’s case. Instead calls for full disclosure by Gerry McGeough’s defence were met with silence from the NIO, PPS, PSNI and Sinn Fein.”
Solicitor Aiden Carlin concluded: “Our client stood for election in 2007 on a manifesto for freedom, justice and peace. He instructs that the interview he gave to a United States radio station should be listened to in its entirety. The interview covers a plurality of subjects including Irish and Scottish history, poetry and prison memories, the Ancient Order of Hibernians, 9/11and Brexit. Our client has always maintained his innocence and is working closely with his lawyers to assist the CCRC’s investigation.”
–>Radio Free Éireann<–
WBAI 99.5 FM Pacifica Radio
New York City
listen on the internet: wbai.org Saturdays Noon EST
Martin Galvin (MG) talks to Gerry McGeough (GM) via telephone from Co. Tyrone about Óglach Liam Ryan. (begins time stamp ~ 48:20 in first hour)
–>Radio Free Éireann<– This heading title line is usually hyperlinked to the entire show on the WBAI archive page. As this week’s show was a two hour fund raising special and Gerry McGeough’s interview began in the first hour and ended in the second hour there are two ‘entire show’ links. The first hour is here. The second hour is here. Gerry’s interview is on the player below. Enjoy!
MG: We have Gerry – we’ve never introduced him as a poet before but after that poem was read by Una McGeough we have to introduce Gerry as a poet. Gerry, how was that poem that we just heard so eloquently read by Una, your daughter, how did you happen to compose that poem about Liam Ryan?
GM: Yeah, well…first of all: Hello! Martin and John and everyone there. I didn’t actually hear the poem being read out but I heard it earlier on the DVD and so forth. Yeah, that particular time that Liam was assassinated by the British forces I find myself in high isolation in a prison in Germany, it was then West Germany, in 1989. And I remember a news piece had come across, whether it was on German radio I can’t remember, but it just said someone had been assassinated, two people killed in the location of East Tyrone and so on and so forth. They didn’t give any names. And yet, I instinctively knew that, and don’t ask me how I knew this but I did know, I sensed in any case that this was Liam, and I immediately wrote a little piece, a condolence piece if you like, for the An Phoblacht/Republican News. At that time the Republican Movement was one sort of big, happy family before it’s now fragmented into absolutely nothing worth talking about but then it had a sense of mission, a sense of purpose and a great sense of solidarity and of course, like all of us, I was a member of the Republican Movement. And I wrote and mentioned Liam’s name without any facts to back it up but as it transpired it was him and the letter eventually made its way to Dublin and it was published in a subsequent edition of the Republican News/An Phoblacht. And I suppose in the course of the next few weeks and whatnot and being as I was in isolation, I had no outside stimulus, no one to talk to or anything of that nature, I started thinking about the past quite a bit and this poem germinated in that sense and it just came out so it was a reference to all the men, the Volunteers of Tyrone and so on, and it really was a heartfelt piece of poetry I suppose – so that’s, essentially, how it came about. And you know it’s remarkable when you stop and think of it and if you read the list of honour, the roll of honour and so on – the heroism of men and women, not just in Tyrone and not just across the Six Counties, but right across from the island of Ireland and the Irish people in general who gave their lives – some of them obviously in the central theater of the war, which was in The North, but others overseas, like in Gibraltar and elsewhere and England and whatnot who died, who were killed in action, fighting for an independent Ireland.
And I feel such a terrible sense of betrayal now that after all that sacrifice, after all that endurance and all that death what have we ended up with? You know? I mean it just beggers belief and I don’t think…there are more and more Republicans here in The North, particularly here in East Tyrone, who have come round to our way of thinking that we have basically been sold a pup and the Sinn Féin leadership stands indicted for their betrayal of the sacrifice and the struggle. An they use most of their energy, when they’re not sucking up to the English or the Unionists, most of their energy denigrating old comrades and all of us here on this radio station speaking right now have been through the mill in that regard and it would fit them better if they just moved over and let other politicians and other politically active people take the helm I think at this point in time.
MG: Gerry, before we heard your daughter, Una, recite that poem we had a clip from Brian Arthurs on the DVD. And in it he talked about, well first of all he talked about how when Liam was assassinated the British Army, members of the locally recruited Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR), the Royal Irish Regiment (RIR) has scouted the area, sealed it off, sealed the lakes, sealed the roadway and monitored and committed the assassination. But he said that when they couldn’t get at Volunteers they would do the same thing and assassinate family members and he mentions specifically Roseann Mallon, he mentions specifically members of The McKearney Family, he mentions specifically members of the Fox Family – now those are all people, families, who are in the same area of Tyrone that you are and they all lost family members, older family members, who were simply assassinated – that’s the case that Brian Arthurs made. How common was that that the British would not only try to attack and monitor and use their position as forces of so-called ‘law and order’ to assassinate Republican Volunteers but that they would ‘make do’ with family members in your area?
GM: Well it was very common. And of course, we have subsequently found out from archive material and from open statements by Loyalists and so on that East Tyrone and particular areas where there was a strong resistance to British rule were targeted, specifically targeted, and I suppose the assassination of the likes of Roseann Mallon, whom I knew and I know the family very well and others that you mentioned and a pregnant woman up north of Carrickmore in mid-Tyrone, what this did was it instilled a sense of terror on the one hand; it was very much a psychological operation and it was used to just to grind down the resistance of the people in a particular area. And it was very effective but there was a sense of helplessness as well because people knew that the British state was behind it – I mean anybody with an iota of sense would have seen that and as you quite rightly point out they would seal areas off – a dog couldn’t have move on the roads then all of a sudden there wasn’t a soldier or a member of the Crown forces to be found when assassination teams from Loyalist areas would move in and probably working in tandem with undercover British so yeah – that’s what happened.
And one of the interesting outcomes of that was that when the ceasefires came about and so on and so forth Adams was giving, Gerry Adams, was giving an interview to a journalist from The South of Ireland, Maol Muire Tynan, back in the 1990’s, and in the course of the interview he said nobody wants Billy Wright here – of course, the chief assassin for the UVF (Ulster Volunteer Force) – knocking at their back door again. He reminded people that if there was any return to conflict if you’d like that this would happen. So it was a kind of a psychological effort because people were actually were for a long, long time, years afterwards, really I suppose terrified is the best word you could use of that particular campaign – now that obviously had gone back way to the early ’70’s and so on and so forth but it had become extraordinarily intense in the last few years, certainly months, of the actual armed struggle and it was used, quite obviously, to target individual people, either active Republicans or failing that, as you mentioned, their families, to instill a sense of terror and a willingness to I suppose surrender, for want of a better term, albeit it’s called the peace process and so on and so forth.
So yeah, that was what went on and it was very common. Of course there was a de facto genocide in many respects. It was an attempt to ethnically cleanse parts of Tyrone here of Catholic Nationalists and it has happened in the past. For example, now we’re having the four hundredth anniversary of the death in exile of Hugh O’Neill very shortly and at that time, and if you read the archives you can see the British boasted, the English rather, boasted of having ‘put to the sword’ thousands of people, men, women and children from Lough Neagh to Dungannon, which is effectively East Tyrone, again as part of this terror campaign to break the Irish resistance – at that time of the Gaelic lords so really plus ça change as they say – nothing much has changed.
MG: Gerry, one of the things about this DVD, about the commemoration was how you had so many people from a very small area who had been so courageous in opposing British rule. You had, for example, Pete Ryan, Liam’s cousin, who was one of the best known Irish Republican Army soldiers who lost his life. He was killed along with Lawrence McNally who was somebody else who I met around Review Place, 238th Street in the Bronx, visiting Liam – again, from that same area, was in the car with Pete. You had Liam who was, of course, assassinated. You had so many others from an area, a small area like that, family connections, friends, who were able, over so many years, to mount a such a spirited resistance and opposition to British rule in Ireland.
GM: Yes, well that’s true and that’s one of the things that the British have targeted and they saw to it that they would break that resistance – it was a long, hard grind as I said towards the end with those types of assassinations and whatnot – and that’s precisely what they have done. And now you have, you know it’s been a very psychological type of warfare this past twenty years and whatnot since the ceasefires and a whole new generation has grown up who really only rely on information that’s anecdotal as regards The Troubles and they are being so anglicised it’s quite frightening; you know, they talk about ‘here in the UK’ and ‘Londonderry’ and nonsense like that, these are, some of them, the children of Republicans. So it’s a constant struggle. The chief culprits here are the Sinn Féin people, especially their elected representatives, who have encouraged people to inform as much as possible, to even join the British forces here in The North and all the rest of it so it’s a very ambiguous programme, it creates a lot of confusion among people. And then of course anyone who speaks out finds, as I did when I stood back in 2007 on a staunch Republican ticket, they find that they are corralled off and put in prison and basically marginalised and isolated and so on and so forth. So the English rule the Nationalist population of Ireland through Sinn Féin that’s the black-and-white bottom line at this point in time.
And I was speaking to you before, I was drawing the analogy with The Highlands of Scotland – they could never control the Catholic clans up in The Highlands except through The Campbells, which were another Gaelic clan albeit a Protestant one, and they used them to keep law and order, or English law and order, in The Highlands of Scotland. They use Sinn Féin now to do the same. And under the cover you have Catholic Nationalist, people from Republican families, who are now sitting as Diplock court judges and prosecutors and all the other stuff of the day that you can’t possibly imagine and they are arrogantly passing judgment on patriots. I remember when I was on the trial, and the trial was an absolute farce – no research done whatsoever on anything – they just threw out whatever they wanted – but they used to talk about ‘bad character’ – anyone who had shown any resistance to the British was deemed to have had ‘bad character’ and everything was to be criminalised. So again you have Irish Catholics, traitors in effect, administering British rule here in the Six Counties. But I’m happy to say that things are – I do detect a stirring, I do detect a stirring and it’s very important that we focus on this because the Brexit vote, which I’m sure you’re all familiar with which is where Britain withdrew itself from, voted to leave the European Union, is starting to stir things up a little bit here.
Now I voted to get out for the simple reason is we wanted to see that the – to create the chaos that is now coming about as any good Irish Nationalist would want to do – and all the Irish Republicans that I know, except for the Sinn Féin people, all Irish Republicans voted to get out – not because they give a damn about England or Britain but because they wanted to break up the United Kingdom in order to bring about a united Ireland. The only way we’re going to get a united Ireland is to break up the United Kingdom, so-called.
And now what we’re seeing is people are starting to openly talk about border polls and all the rest of it. Why do we need a border poll? Why do we have to vote to prove anything? They just need to get the hell out of our country. They don’t belong here. They’ve no right to be here. Their presence here has been at the cost of the blood of the Irish so it’s time for them now to get out. I’m quite hopeful that this will come about but we have to see to it that mass movements get up and running here over the next say few years so that by, I would like to think January of 1919 (2019), the English would be out of our country.
And we need a united Ireland – not for The North but for the sake of The South. The South urgently needs us Northerners to take control of things because they have just gone so wishy-washy it’s beyond belief – they’ve no spark of patriotism, they’ve turned their back on their faith, everything you could possibly imagine – they’ve really no sense of Irishness worth talking about so we have to re-instill all that in them. And I would hope that we will have this debate developing something more substantial whereby there will be an outcry and a demand that we get our country back. Because in here in Tyrone, I know the English have been in Ireland since 1169 and all of the rest of it but they haven’t been in The North only since the 1600’s so in historic terms it’s relatively fresh and we want them out. We’ve had enough of them. They’ve been on our backs for too long. And then we’ll deal with all these other issues that I’ve been referring to, the collaborators and all the rest of it, but in the meantime we need to get our country re-united and we need to get the English out of here – they’ve no right to be here. So hopefully we may see Scotland making some attempt to seek independence and that really is our cue.
MG: Alright. Gerry, we’re – are you still with us?
GM: Yes, of course.
MG: Gerry, sorry – Jim Sullivan’s going to ask you a question.
Jim: Alright Gerry, I just want to say: I’ll be over in a little more than a month to see you and Maria and the kids.
GM: Well, we look forward to it!
MG: (quips) See, Jim wanted to save the phone call expense.
Jim: Yeah – this is cheaper for me. As you know, they don’t make pockets in kilts.
GM: And the Ancient Order of Hibernains in Tyrone have something special (crosstalk)(inaudible) the Hugh O’Neill Medallion, one of which is being reserved for the Hibernians, members of the AOH who died as firemen in the line of duty on 9/11, fifteen years ago. So we look forward to presenting that to you, Jim, when you do get here which you can bring back to the United States as a mark of our respect for our fellow AOH members who died on that fateful day fifteen years ago.
Jim: Alright. Thank you, Gerry.
MG: Gerry, we’re pitching today. We’re asking people to show support for us so that we can show this programme has support in the Irish community. We’re asking that people will call (provides phone number). I have to use you as an example. I know when we were working on the Gerry McGeough Family Defence Fund – when you were arrested in 2007 and ultimately you went to prison in Maghaberry – we were able to use WBAI to support you. I know you have been on, both before you were imprisoned and afterwards, to talk about that. You were when, going back, you were around on different issues…
GM: …I can say, Martin, absolutely I fully and wholly, totally endorse Radio Free Éireann and WBAI. And I would encourage everyone to dig deep and help keep this station on air because it is vital, absolutely vital that we have access to what is effectively, thanks to social media now as a global mechanism, whereby we can get the voice of true Irishness, true Irish Republicanism, out and about and across the world and of course right back here to The North because there’s no really other outlet to say what we have to say. And yes, absolutely! We must keep this station on air so I would absolutely encourage everyone to do everything in their power, to be as generous as possible on this fund raising occasion and do help out. Keep Radio Free Éireann, keep WBAI on air. And I know all you guys, all the voluntary work that you do, deserves credit and we acknowledge that and I ask people to do their bit. It’s really part of a wider effort now because, as I said, we’re moving into a new stage whereby there is a strong possibility now that we can see political movement – if it’s properly harnessed and the right energy goes into it and the right thinking goes into it – and we get rid of these pathetic old Shinners who are just so sad it’s not funny and let’s get patriots back in the saddle again and we need WBAI to be part of the voice of that new Ireland that is coming up.
MG: Alright. We’ve been talking with Gerry McGeough. Gerry, we want to thank you. (ends time stamp ~ 6:16 in the second hour)
John McDonagh (JM) and Martin Galvin (MG) talk to former blanketman Richard O’Rawe, (RO) the PRO during the 1981 hunger strike, via telephone from Belfast about the film, Bobby Sands:66 Days. (begins time stamp ~ 20:57)
MG: And we’re going to be going now, just in a minute, to get Richard O’Rawe. Richard was the PRO (Public Relations Officer) during hunger strike. And he had to, within the cell – and these were cells that were filled with human excrement because the prisoners were beaten if they left their cells to try to use toilets – the cells became filled with human excrement. They would have to smuggle out press statements. They would get that to the outside world. Richard O’Rawe, as the PRO during the hunger strike, would be the person to compose those press statements, that strategy, get it out. And somehow, this group – inside a prison, inside those conditions, with no access whatsoever to the outside world – were able to beat back everything that Margaret Thatcher and the British government had, all the resources they had in terms of…
JM: …And Martin, those messages that came out from him made its way to you that you were able to do press conferences here and state what was going on in Long Kesh because they would have had a tough time in Ireland getting the word out with Section 31 in the Twenty-Six Counties and the BBC just banning anybody from the Republican Movement. So a lot of that was geared to get it out to New York.
MG: Well what happened was press statements would be sent, they would get them to the Republican Press Centre in Belfast, they would put them out but the first place that they went were New York and we, in the Irish Northern Aid office or Irish People office – it was my job as the head of the National Publicity Director of Irish Northern Aid to get those messages around the country, to get the materials through the Irish People, through other sources around the country – and it became so effective, it became so emotional that thousands of people, each and every day, from five to seven o’clock on weekdays after work and from three to five on the weekends, would demonstrate – day after day after day – month after month – and when Prince Charles came to New York, as you remember, John, thirty thousand people were out there at Lincoln Center. Police officers from New York City who guarded him came to a demonstration afterwards apologising and said that they had to guard world criminals, they mentioned Idi Amin and some others, but they had never been so ashamed as when they had to guard Prince Charles and Lady Diana and gave interviews, put on IRA buttons at that time – that shows you exactly where the feelings were.
JM: Yeah, and with us on the line is Richard O’Rawe who was issuing those statements. Richard, when you were issuing those statements during the hunger strike did you know that they were ending up in New York and that Martin Galvin was holding press conferences about them?
RO: Actually John, I only found out the other day about how important that end of it was. You see where we were in Long Kesh – I was in the wing with Bobby and it was sort of a leadership wing – and it was actually a factory for churning out messages of sympathy around the world but seventy percent of the messages – we had been writing maybe two or three different comms a day and they were going out to the Press Centre and as you said, they were then going over to New York. We had been writing in to all the universities in America. America was always, in terms of the blanketmen and in terms of the message that we needed to get across, America was the number one priority. And we wrote to all the unions. We wrote to all the universities. We wrote to all the politicians. We were getting a list of people of influence who were from America and we literally just worked down the list and there was about maybe ten of us in our wing and that’s what we did. We had little cigarette papers, you know – that you’d roll a cigarette in – and the writing was minuscule and we wrote our message out – we’d have wrote our comm, we would have appealed for support and we’d have smuggled it out of Long Kesh, usually up our nose or in other more ‘intimate places’ but we smuggled them out and then they’d have went to the Press Centre and then they would have taken it on from there. And as Martin said they ended up on his desk in New York. So that was the process but it was crucial – you now, we were told at the time that it was crucial, that these comms were having a real effect – these little messages appealing for support so we were aware that it was an important aspect of the whole protest.
MG: Well Richard, you had gotten to the point from – I know when I was first asked to take over as National Publicity Director at Irish Northern Aid – at that time, of course, Brendan Hughes was in charge. He had made a special appeal. They wanted to go on hunger strike at that time. There was an initiative by Cardinal Ó Fiaich which broke down. And then they said: Look, give us time. Build up something in the United States and elsewhere – see if we can show enough support for the protest that we could win it without going on a hunger strike. And by 1980, the first hunger strike that was led by Brendan Hughes, and 1981, the feelings were so strong – it wasn’t just in New York with thousands of people every day. They would be there in Philadelphia. They would be there in Boston. They would be there in San Francisco, was a key area, they would be there across the United States. There were places where there were no British Embassies and people would be in front of places that sold British products demonstrating each and every day behind you. That was the feelings that Americans had. People were arguing – if you didn’t have your county banner there in front of the Consulate every day you would be embarrassed; somebody would shame you. That is the type of support which you and the men in Long Kesh, in the H Blocks and the hunger strikers particularly were able to inspire. And it just amases me that you, the other prisoners, in that small prison, locked away – Margaret Thatcher must have said you can’t ever do anything. She wanted to make everybody wear a criminal uniform and say that we now have no more political struggle or war or conflict or fight for freedom in Ireland. These are all criminals dressed up in criminal uniforms that we paraded before Diplock courts and been found guilty. And how was it that you and the other prisoners were able to beat all that, inspire such support in the United States and elsewhere and able to beat Margaret Thatcher on that?
RO: Well it all boils down to you, as an individual, and the collective. We were Republicans. We were Republican prisoners. We were fighting a war that was actually the second part of the War of Independence. The War of Independence was in 1919 to 1921 and it was a very bad settlement in terms of the people of The North. So this was the War of Independence Mark 2. We were political prisoners. We were never, ever going to wear the prison uniform. If we had got into that prison uniform the next day there wouldn’t have been no jail because we’d have destroyed everything in it. It would have been a tactic but we were never going to wear the prison uniform. We were Republicans. We were committed to the idea of a thirty-two county socialist republic. And when you have that sort of commitment you will die for it. And that is exactly what happened – ten men did die for it – and not just those ten men – hundreds and hundreds of other Republicans.
JM: Well Richard, what we’re waiting for now is the review and coming from your point of view. And I read Dixie Elliott from Doire and he said the two of you were going into like the lion’s den – and this is with other Nationalists to go see it! You weren’t on the Shankill going to see this movie! But you being so personally involved in this part of Irish history – what did you take away from the movie? How do you think it was done?
RO: Well John, I mean I think that Brendan Byrne did a very noble attempt to try and give a balanced account of what happened here. Over here Unionists, as you would expect, are saying that it was a pro-Republican movie. It actually wasn’t. I mean how could it be pro-Republican? You had the arch-Tory Charles Moore, Norman Tebbit, Thatcher’s best friend, you had Dessie Waterworth, a prison officer, you had people like that there so it was a very cross-party sort of narrative. However, from my point of view, and I have to say this – it was very moving. Bobby’s words were spoken by a helluva good actor – he’s actually from the Falls Road, Martin McCann. And Martin was, I don’t know, he didn’t actually…Bobby had a raspy voice but he wasn’t too far away. And it sounded to me almost as if Bob was speaking when he was saying the words and you know – I found it quite moving. And emotional. Yeah, certainly emotional. I mean it was actually – I was on the radio the other day in Dublin today for FM Today and they reminded me that this is history. This thing happened, this hunger strike happened thirty-five years ago and he says half the people in Ireland weren’t even born at the time. And from that point of view it is timely that this movie is out and I have to say…I don’t know..I always talk about my own, I don’t let anyone influence me – I think Brendan Byrne did a very, very noble job and I’m quite happy with it to be honest.
MG: Yes, how did he cover – one of the key areas was in the United States. We were always told the hunger strike would be won or lost in the United States – American pressure…
RO: …That was the way of it, yeah.
MG: And the amount of support, the people who came out here – it was unbelievable at that time – as I said Prince Charles comes out there’s thirty thousand people and police officers are ending up on the detail and coming over. How was that covered in the film, if it all?
RO: That was poorly covered I have to say. That wasn’t done. I mean, they brought on Father Seán McManus and there was a clip of the Four Horsemen, Tip O’Neill and those guys and Ted Kennedy and there was a sort of a clip of people marching along a street in New York and there was also a clip of people outside the British Embassy, etc. But I mean that could have been done far better in my view – that was a criticism I had of the movie. I don’t think that it adequately…I actually think, Martin, if you want to be honest, that that is a whole separate movie.
I think the American response to this is a totally separate entity and somebody really does need to sit down and put it together because people in Ireland don’t really know the extent of the effort that went on in America and the support that the hunger strikers had. I mean, it was America that broke Thatcher. Be under no illusions. It wasn’t Russia! It wasn’t Europe! It was America that broke Thatcher! It was America that forced Thatcher to come to us before Joe McDonnell died with an offer! Nothing else. The British couldn’t move in America and that was the reason why Thatcher was broke!
MG: Richard, I was asked to do an interview. I agreed to do one. They kept me for about an hour and the reason I wanted to do the interview for the programme – they were going to show film, they were going to show clips, they said they were going to show me being interviewed at that time as the Publicity Director for Irish Northern Aid, the person who was directly in touch – if somebody died in Ireland, a hunger striker, I would get a call at five o’clock in the morning and be expected to go in and get the statements. And what bothered me – it’s not that I was cut out but that all of the people that worked, came out, day after day. I mean when somebody died there would be around the clock guards of honour around British facilities around the United States – twenty-four hours a day – stand at attention by coffins that they had made. The thirty thousand people who came out at Lincoln Center. The people who came out day after day. And even when the hunger strike in Ireland ended, I announced that the picket was now over, the daily pickets, and there was a complaint made. The women on the Long Green Line called Michael Flannery and said: We want to keep going. We want to keep supporting the prisoners. The British are still in Ireland. And they did keep going for years afterwards. And I was just concerned they edited that out and I’m told it’s because my political views now – that I wouldn’t be associated with Sinn Féin. Father McManus had nothing to do with those demonstrations. I don’t think he was ever at them. And more than that, Mario Biaggi and the other members of Congress who fought for us, who fought for the blanketmen, who fought throughout the hunger strike, they were the people who were involved and the Four Horsemen that you just mentioned – they were actually against us. I wrote editorials at that time, they’re there in the Irish People, that were done contemporaneously with the hunger strike saying that if they had spoken out, if they had done anything at that time – the Four Horseman – Kennedy, Moynihan and O’Neill (ed note- and Carey) – the hunger strike would have been ended – the British would have caved into that pressure.
And the Sands Family did not participate in the film and they said that some of Bobby’s comrades are genuine – their efforts to tell their story – however they believe that part of it was that people wanted to perpetuate a myth that had been crafted to undermine Bobby and what he had died for. And they said that the cutting room can edit, manipulate, the facts to weave a myth that serves others who have ulterior motives and that they were mindful – they sent that to Brendan Byrne before the film was done to say they wouldn’t participate. And when I heard that all of that great material that I gave that would show some film but that they didn’t have anybody speaking on behalf of all of the people who had demonstrated across the United States – as crucial as those were. They went to somebody who didn’t have anything to do with those demonstrations and mentioned politicians who were actually against it at that time. I had the feeling that somehow I was on the cutting room floor just because I just take a political stand that’s a little bit different from Sinn Féin’s now and unfortunately a great part of that story, a great part of the support behind that campaign, the ordinary people, like the Long Green Line, who came out day after day in America, they were being put on the cutting room floor through me and I was just very disappointed in that and I just want to get your feelings on it.
RO: Well I mean, I do think…I mean, see on the blanket…there were names that we were hearing regularly – one of them was Mario Biaggi, right? Obviously. Another one was Teddy Gleason. He was a name that was cropping up fairly regular. See, we used to get some sort of briefs from outside about how things was going – they were never big, elaborate things but we used to get briefings. And the other big one was yourself; those were the three names. And the other one was the Longshoremen – somebody told me they were dockers.
MG: That’s Teddy Gleason – he was the head of the Longshoremen and they had actually called a one day strike that they wouldn’t unload any British ships to support the blanketmen – that was before the hunger strike began – which had a tremendous impact on the British worldwide. That was Teddy Gleason. That was the Longshoremen. They said that no British ships would be unloaded. And I’ll tell you during the hunger strike you couldn’t find a British flag except one that was being burned in front of the embassies in New York. You couldn’t find people advertising British products because the feelings behind you – it was like: These are world criminals. We’re not going to support them – that’s what was going on and I’m just sad that that had to be put on the cutting room floor.
RO: Well I have to agree. I have to agree. I think that was an absolutely crucial part of the hunger strike history. As I said, Martin, we always viewed America as the cutting edge in terms of our fight against the British. It was never going to be won in Ireland. It was always going to be America – the United States and United States pressure – if the British were going to break they were going to be broke by America. And I just feel so sad that your contribution did not end up in the movie. I think it would have been a very valuable insight and I’m not saying that because I’m just talking to you – I really believe this. I think it would have revealed a very, very valuable insight as to what was really going on on the ground in America and how America was able to influence Thatcher ie through the Longshoremen, through the pickets, etc and that’s a pity – I’m really sorry and sad – it’s a pity that you weren’t in this programme because I think you would have been great for it.
JM: Yeah Richard, all these years later now and you’re looking back at it, do you think it was it worth it? I mean now the way the manipulation of Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness – I mean, I read something in the Belfast Telegraph – they’re almost saying that Bobby Sands went on strike so we could get involved with elections and things like that. But now looking back all these years later do you think it was worth it to have ten men die and to end up with the border copper-fastened the way it is and the way that Sinn Féin has become this political machine?
RO: John, Bobby Sands wouldn’t have done two minutes in jail for what we have now. No Republican would! So it wasn’t worth it. None of it was worth it. It would have been worth it if we’d had been living in a united Ireland. You could say: Well, we achieved our objectives – and we have finally united our country. And in all struggles people suffer – but it didn’t happen. And we’re now in the situation where the border is more entrenched than it ever was and no one in their right mind could turn round and say that it was worth it because it wasn’t. It certainly wasn’t. And I’m so sad – it’s so sad to see the way it all turned out.
MG: Richard, just even more that that – the hunger strike was about criminalisation. It was about the British saying that you, the other political prisoners, the other Republicans like Bobby Sands and the others who fought against British rule – you’re just a bunch of criminals, you should dress up in a criminal uniform – and it was there for propaganda purposes. One of the things that really saddens me: Today you have Sinn Féin in government, you have them on policing boards, you have people like Barra McGrory, who is the Director of Public Prosecutions, and when they put somebody like Gerry McGeough, that we heard from a few minutes ago, on trial for fighting against British rule in 1981, when they put somebody like Seamus Kearney on trial and put him in jail as they did Gerry McGeough, in Maghaberry, for fighting against British rule in 1980 as an IRA Volunteer and when they charge somebody like Ivor Bell, who is now facing charges for things that happened in 1972, it just seems to me as if Sinn Féin and some Republicans are being part of a system which is going to criminalise people who were part of that struggle, part of the same struggle that you were a part of, part of the same struggle that Bobby Sands was a part of and saying today: Now go to jail as a criminal and we’re standing with the administration that’s putting you there. What do you think about that?
RO: That’s self-evident. I mean that’s self-evident. Sinn Féin is the government. Sinn Féin and the DUP (Democratic Unionist Party) are the government. They’re the guys who’s running Northern Ireland. And the bottom line is: Everything, in terms of the law, in terms of the police, in terms of the structures of state – the only thing that they haven’t got total control over is the security services, MI5 etc, but everything else they have control over. And they have, they have…I’m not saying they have real powers but Sinn Féin have been very, very timid in relation to Republicans going into prison for historical charges. I mean, 1972 – this was forty years ago! And this guy, Ivor Bell, is being charged with a murder that happened in 1972 which he didn’t do – the man’s totally innocent – but Sinn Féin are right up there. They’re very, very quiet. The Sinn Féin of old, Martin, would have had their people on the streets, hundreds, thousands of people…
MG: …And as many in front of New York Consulate as well.
MG: There would have been that many in front of the Consulates around New York and around the country as well. They would have had everybody out there picketing and saying: Show them we can do this all across the United States and other countries around the world. They would have been protesting about Ivor Bell.
RO: Well absolutely. But they’re not doing that, straight? They’re not doing that and it’s disgraceful that they’re not doing it! Ivor Bell was one of their comrades whether they like it or not and so was Gerry McGeough. They were great guys when they were in the movement and they were doing their best to remove the British. But now that they’re not in the movement, now that they’re not on board they’re throwaways! It’s disgraceful! The Sinn Féin of old, the party of faith – of a wee bit of pluck – is gone! All they want now is Stormont and money. It’s all about money!
JM: But Richard, you’re not going to get your pay raise like Sinn Féin just voted in that you can’t live on an industrial wage as a Republican – you need the full whack as a TD and an MP and a somebody up on the hill – I mean, come on! How are you going to get pay raises if you’re talking like you’re talking?
RO: Well, I don’t want no pay raises, John. I don’t work for them and never will and I’m quite happy with that but the point of the matter is: It’s all about money and it’s about career politicians. The very thing, the very thing that we always detested! We accused the SDLP (Social Democratic and Labour Party) – and it was one of our sort of a punch to hit them with: Youse are career politicians. Youse are in it for the money. And now, as you say, they’ve done away with their industrial wage, whatever that ever meant, and their politicians are getting the full whack and it’s disgraceful! In the meantime, Ivor Bell, Gerry McGeough and guys like that that are getting persecuted and they’re not saying a dicky bird about it!
MG: Richard, just, we’re almost coming to the end but just on that theme: I heard that there was mention of Brendan Hughes in the film, a treatment. Now Brendan was one of the first people who pointed out that people were getting too involved with positions and power within British administrations and money and prestige and ‘jobs for the boys’ type of thing and losing sight of the struggle. How was he treated in terms of the film?
RO: Well he was treated very badly if you must know. Laurence McKeown, an ex-hunger striker – he didn’t have much of a contribution to the movie – I think he was only on it once – but he was asked about Bobby and he said he wasn’t too sure if Bobby had the strength to be OC (Officer Commanding) – this was after the first hunger strike ended. And then he heard that Bobby told The Dark, told Brendan Hughes, that he had messed up – and I’m saying ‘messed up’- he used a stronger word than that – that he had messed up the hunger strike and then Laurence McKeown said he was happy with that. I mean, that’s a slur on Brendan Hughes. It’s a cheap shot at a man who can’t defend himself because he’s dead. The fact of the matter was Brendan Hughes had given his word to Seán McKenna that he wouldn’t let him die. And I had this conversation with Brendan before he died – actually getting a way down to it because I knew he was feeling it and me and him went through this in quite – I mean, a couple of hours we were talking about it – and I told him that had he let Seán McKenna die after giving Seán McKenna his word that he would not let him die – and Seán McKenna making it clear that he didn’t want to die, then in my view – and Brendan agreed with this – Dark agreed with this – he would have been committing murder. So Brendan Hughes did the right thing. He took a man off hunger strike who didn’t want to die. And not only did Seán McKenna not want to die there were others on that first hunger strike who didn’t want to die, either. He was in an impossible position. So he didn’t mess up. He done the only thing he could do. And it’s disgraceful – that the likes of Laurence McKeown is having cheap shots at him!
MG: And it was just brought in gratuitously. It didn’t have to be part of the film. I don’t know what it was like for Brendan – I spoke to him about it just briefly – he was still pained in his voice when he talked about it years later – about being on hunger strike himself, being in jail, being in the H Block, being on protest – these people saying he didn’t want to die and having to make that decision. And hopefully…
RO: …What was he going to do? What was he going to do, Martin? Say: ‘To hell with you. I’m going to let you die whether you want to or not!’? I mean – that’s murder!
MG: Look, the man was a hero during that campaign. If he hadn’t worked so hard and set up or helped set up the mechanism which you would be allowed to take advantage of Thatcher would have never been beaten and I think it’s just because Brendan’s politics now – I ended up on the cutting floor and he did not – he got a gratuitous shot.
Alright, Richard. And by the way, Richard’s book, the definitive work on the H Block protest, Blanketmen, I think it was just re-issued. Go to amazon.com you can get it. That’s amazon.com. Also, if you want to read about what was really happening in Ireland and in the United States during the hunger strike go to rfe123.org. Get the link to the Irish People newspaper. Go to the issues in 1980-1981 – read what was written about at that time. Alright, Richard, we want to thank you for coming on, doing this great interview…
RO: …Martin, can I just say just before I go – can I just pay homage to Sandy Boyer? He was a lovely man. He interviewed me, the only one…Radio Free Éireann was the only people from America that came to me when Blanketmen came out and I was fighting my corner against dozens, well not dozens, but numerous guys who were coming at me from everywhere. Sandy Boyer and John were the only guys that stood in and said: Come on – we’ll give you a hearing. And can I pay my respects to Sandy Boyer? He was a lovely man and he was a great friend and he was a great co-conspirator of Gerry Conlon who was my best friend and I’d just like to say that.
MG: (fund raising announcements) And Richard, we want to thank you for coming on and we look forward to reading the re-release of Blanketmen and hearing from you in future.
RO: Guys, it’s my pleasure. Thank you so much. (ends time stamp ~ 49:37)
TWO HOUR SPECIAL PROGRAM SATURDAY AUGUST 6th 12PM-2PM
RADIO FREE ÉIREANN will be back with a two hour Special Pledge Drive Program this Saturday August 6 noon-2pm New York time or 5pm-7pm Irish time.
Guests this week will include Tyrone Republican Gerry McGeough, speaking about a special DVD for contributors ,” A CELEBRATION OF THE LIFE OF ÓGLACH LIAM RYAN”. Liam Ryan a Tyrone native emigrated to the Bronx , worked for Con Ed became an American citizen, and was murdered by pro-British loyalists. The DVD includes moving footage and interviews with family and friends from the Bronx and Tyrone and the Independent Republican 25th anniversary Commemoration.
Belfast author and former PRO for the 1981 Hunger Strike Richard O’Rawe will discuss the Belfast premiere of the new film “66 DAYS” about Bobby Sands’ Hunger Strike, including some obvious omissions of coverage of the events in New York and across the United States.
Malachy McCourt will discuss and make available for donors original copies of the 20 year old first edition of his brother’s classic Angela’s Ashes.
Go to RADIO FREE ÉIREANN’S new web site, RFE123.ORG where you can read written transcripts of recent interviews with Belfast lawyer Seamus Delaney on the impact of July 12th Orange marches and bonfires for nationalists and journalist and author Ed Moloney’s discussion on what Ireland can expect from the new British Prime Minister Theresa May.
Britain’s exit from the European Union threatens untold economic consequences for Ireland north and south. Beyond harmful trade and travel restrictions approved by the EU and Tories, are potential losses of EU funding and recourse to the European Court of Human Rights. The EU may be more sympathetic to the north than austerity-minded Tories.
Victims of torture, collusion murders or wrongful imprisonment could hope for justice by putting Britain in the European dock. Theresa May wants withdrawal from the European Court and Convention on Human Rights alongside Brexit.
Ireland as a whole was given little say and less thought in the referendum. Millions in the 26 counties had no vote. Enda Kenny was reduced to appeals to the Irish residing in Britain and the north. The six counties, like Scotland, rejected Brexit. These majorities were dismissed.
Arlene Foster lectured that no region within a country can veto the wishes of the majority of the whole country. Foster first ministers a region whose founding principle is that a unionist majority in six counties within Ireland vetoed the all-Ireland vote of 1918 and can forever veto an all-Ireland majority.
Brexit resulted from a Tory party election gambit. David Cameron placated disgruntled party members by promising a referendum. He expected re-election in coalition, and his coalition partners would have provided his excuse to ditch the promise. Cameron’s bigger than expected victory backfired into Brexit defeat and downfall.
Cameron’s unwanted referendum was carried by English voters worried about immigrants, European regulations and the loss of England as imagined through their fog of nostalgia. It was England setting policies to serve English interests, no matter about Ireland.
Much the same attitude was exhibited by the unlamented Theresa Villiers. Google her name and find her web site ‘Working for Chipping Barnet’. Her wealthy English district was her priority as she worked to bring invidious Brexit and austerity cuts.
Villiers’ appointment was her chance to audition for a more prized post. She decided to take on the role of Lady Macbeth. Instead of wandering the palace rubbing her hands to wipe out bloody murder, Villiers wandered the north with self-righteous platitudes, a national security cover-up on incriminating documents and by withholding inquest funding.
Mounting proof of British complicity in murders was dismissed as a fictional “pernicious counter-narrative”. British forces who provided loyalists with weapons, targets and protection were blameless according to Villiers, because their paid agents pulled the triggers at places like Loughinisland.
Perhaps such nonsense will work for Chipping Barnet.