Gary Donnelly RFÉ 24 June 2017

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John McDonagh and Martin Galvin speak to Doire Councillor, Gary Donnelly, via telephone from Doire, about the counter-democratic means the British government is using once again to intern another Irish Republican, this time Tony Taylor, and about the call for Irish-America to once again join the campaign against Britain’s use of internment in Ireland. (begins time stamp ~ 41:09)

Martin:   Gary, are you with us?

Gary:  I am indeed, yes.

Martin:    Gary, sorry, we had a little bit of difficulty getting to you. Alright. Who is Tony Taylor? Why is he in prison without any real charge or without even any trial and without a hearing that his solicitor or his family member, his wife, or his local Councillor, you, are able to attend and see what the real allegations against him are?


Councillor Gary Donnelly

Yeah, that’s correct. Unfortunately, the negativity of partition, which continues to foster division, reinforcing illegal borders and denying basic justice to those who would seek its removal and British ministers who would have no democratic mandate in Ireland have bestowed upon themselves the power to arbitrarily imprison Irish people in Ireland, you know, particularly those who would want to see that British border removed. Unfortunately, Tony Taylor comes under that category. Tony Taylor was a former political prisoner and he’s a Republican activist. And Tony had found himself arrested one day and put back in prison because of his licence without any evidence whatsoever being presented to him or being able to challenge.

Martin:  Yes, and when – alright, he gets put in on licence he then, they say that this is based on some kind of ‘secret evidence‘ or some kind of ‘special intelligence’ that the British have. How do you contest and fight that evidence? How was he able to have his solicitor, Aiden Carlin, his family there, at a public hearing – how is he able to challenge that evidence if he’s not told what the accusations are?

Gary:  It’s impossible.

Now what happened: Tony had a hearing, a so-called hearing, at which there was two people – they weren’t judges but they were like parole people. Tony was appointed a solicitor by the state who would be present when this guy, this faceless British intelligence operator who was behind a screen – Tony was removed from the proceedings. Tony’s solicitor was removed. The state-appointed solicitor was allowed to remain and people were put outside the court while this person gave so-called ‘evidence’ for two days and it was unable to be challenged, even heard, you know, so it’s impossible to counteract that.

Martin:   Gary, I’ve used this example in the past just as somebody, as somebody, who works in criminal law: If, let’s say for example, you or I would be accused of being at some kind of illegal meeting or illegal activity in, let’s say, in Belfast right now. You would be able, normally you would tell your, you would find out – you were accused of doing ‘something’ on a particular date and time. You then could say: Well wait! I was actually on a radio programme. There would be tapes of that programme. John McDonagh and Martin Galvin could say that it was a live programme – they did the programme live. You’d be able to show phone records to show that you were not in Belfast, that you were in Doire. You would have an overwhelming alibi evidence and defence to those charges. If they don’t tell you what you’re being accused of doing, where the activity that you’re accused of having took place – what date it is – and they tell some solicitor – that is not allowed to speak to you about it, which you don’t pick and you’re not allowed to converse about it because you don’t know the details – how can you possibly present any kind of real defence even though you may have an overwhelming defence like that? How is that possible?

Gary:   It’s not possible.

The Taylor Family
Tony, his wife, Lorraine, and their three children.

The reality is that Tony Taylor is the victim of British injustice. Tony Taylor has been interned and they’ve attempted to dress it up. But you can’t dress it up. You know, you can’t challenge something that’s put against you if they won’t tell you what it is. You know you have some guy – even in this so-called ‘open session’ of the court – this guy was sitting behind a curtain where you couldn’t see his face, you couldn’t tell his expressions and it’s impossible to work within those parameters. Then people were excluded from the court and he had two days of giving whatever –you know, it’s not evidence – because if it was evidence it would be put before a court – even the court system here in this part of Ireland run by the British you know, they still have Diplock courts, which are non-jury, single courts. They have special powers that are loaded in favour of The Establishment. You know, it’s not in the interest of fairness or justice. But it’s designed to protest British interest in Ireland. And even with all that apparatus they’re so-called ‘evidence’, whatever it is that they have, didn’t fit, didn’t pass the test, to even go within that system. So what they have done is that they have changed the goal post and brought in some guy who spent two days lambasting Tony, no doubt, from behind a screen and didn’t have to back it up by any evidence whatsoever.

John:   Gary, Martin and myself were just over there and very hard to explain to people here in New York and throughout the country what a sectarian statelet the Six Counties are with the election posters are in one area is a Loyalist – and there’s election posters in Nationalist areas – I mean it affects every part of society in the Six Counties. Now, there was a drawing that happened I think in Europe for football – Oh, great! There’s going to be a football! Glasgow Celtic drew Linfield. Now the articles that are coming out: Well we can’t have it on July 12th – which is the Glorious Twelfth – which is a national holiday in the Six Counties where they march about 1690, the Battle of the Boyne. Then they say: Well we’ll move it to The Eleventh: Well that’s when we have the bonfires. We can’t possibly have it there at eight o’clock – maybe two o’clock. Now they’re talking about they might have the game, because they think so much violence will be around this football game, with no one in the stadium! The sectarianism in the Six Counties affects every facet of life there. I mean, everyone that you know in Belfast or Doire they’re all heading to Bundoren or Donegal to get away for the week


Confederate battle flag raised again in the run-up to The Twelfth, this year in Lisburn.
Source: ITV-UTV News
Date: 21 June 2017

Yes. There’s traditionally a mass exodus around that time because really what it is – it’s a bigot-fest where triumphant coat-trailing exercises and people you know, the Orangemen and women, parade their bigotry in open display.

Now I think the significance of this is that Celtic were – you know even the football team, Celtic – Celtic were a team that were set up in Scotland for Irish immigrants after the famine and now when they play within a European fixture and they come back and they to try and play in Belfast there’s a situation where they can’t play on the designated day and now they’re not being allocated any tickets – they’re obviously, I believe that the team have been got to, have been put under pressure, not to take any tickets or so it’ll be effectively played – if it’s going to be played – that it will be played behind closed doors with one set of supporters. Now if that doesn’t signify that there’s something seriously, fundamentally wrong within this artificial state then nothing will.

Martin:   Yeah, they say it’s part of a British state, British rule, but you can’t travel from Scotland, which they say is part of the United Kingdom, people can’t go and simply watch a football match, or soccer match as we would call it here in America, in safety because of they’re perceived, just by virtue of their religion, as being enemies of British rule and could be attacked. Gary I – we’re talking to Gary Donnelly who’s an elected Councillor in Doire – I just want to ask you one or two more questions about the procedure: Tony Taylor’s in prison based on a decision by a British Secretary, formerly it was Theresa Villiers, it’s now James Brokenshire – these are people – they’re elected in England, they’re people who are ‘auditioning’ for better jobs at a location they want to be, they simply come, they’re appointed as secretaries to administer British rule in the North of Ireland by the Prime Minister – they work for a limited period of time, they have very little knowledge or interest in the North of Ireland and they can make decisions and, it turns out, the Irish government has spoken out that Tony Taylor should be released. Members of the clergy have said Tony Taylor should be released. Both Nationalist political parties, Sinn Féin and the SDLP (Social Democratic and Labour Party), as well as independent Republicans like yourself have said that Tony Taylor should be released. How is it that a British Secretary like this can just make this arbitrary decision and keep Tony Taylor in under these ridiculous circumstances that you’ve mentioned?

Gary:   Well they do it because they can do it and they can get away with it.

Internment Clock
As of 25 June 2017

As I said, these ministers – they bestow upon themselves the power to imprison Irish people in Ireland without even being able to face the allegations that’s against them. But you know, I think what you have to do is you have to look at: These are the actions of a failed state and a failed state that has to go to these extremes to prop itself up but it’s only the latest in extreme measure to secure partition. You know we’ve had plastic bullets, lead bullets, shoot-to-kill, state death forces, Loyalist paramilitaries who were funded, armed and controlled by the British state, paid perjurers, supergrasses, Diplock courts – this is just the latest in a long line of extreme measures that the British have to put in place in order to secure their presence in Ireland.

Martin:    And one of the things about the impact: It seems like the British always have a case like this going. They had one with Martin Corey for a long period of time who was jailed under the same procedures. Marian Price, of course, was in for a long period of time and that was a case that this was – Sandy Boyer and others at this station used to highlight every week. No, it’s Tony Taylor. And the problem is or the difficulty is, not only for his wife, his young family including one son who is physically challenged and needs Tony very badly – but it’s a message to everybody else on a licence, like Gerry McGeough, like so many others who have been released on licence, that if you start to work politically, if you start to raise your voice, if you start to speak out against the system too forcefully we can use these same type of procedures and you’ll be back in jail and it doesn’t matter if the Irish government, or both Nationalist political parties or the Church or anybody or human rights activists support you we’ll just simply hold you until we see fit to let you go.

Gary:   That’s exactly right. You know it does have implications, it has implications for ex-prisoners. You know it’s them saying: If you raise your head, if you get involved solely in political activity – because Tony, before he went to prison, was engaged solely in political activity – and this sending the message to ex-prisoners: You raise your head above the parapet – we’ll put you in prison. You know, and it’s shocking but it’s not shocking in a way you know because it’s all designed to send a message to anyone who would dare to seek the removal of the British order or the British presence in Ireland. You put your head up – we’ll cut it off.

Martin:   Okay, what – is there anything that can be done now from the United States – any sort of political pressure we could use to get Tony Taylor released?

Gary:   Yes well, Tony’s campaign in Ireland is gathering a bit of momentum at the minute because people thought that he would be released – that the British would have a red face, the spotlight has been shone on them – and that they would release him. There obviously isn’t enough pressure. I know here a number of councils, including Doire, Strabane, Newry, Donegal – the corporate positions – they have passed motions calling for his release. I know that there are other councils, currently at the minute including Dublin Council, where motions are about to be put forward. I think it’s the same in the US where trade unions, activists, clergy, politicians need to be speaking out. They need to be highlighting this case. And I think as this goes on – this injustice, this blatant injustice, this black-and-white issue – that more and more people will become involved and it will put pressure on the British government I think. It needs to go to Europe. You know the pressure just needs to be kept up because they need to be exposed for what they’re doing so that it ends and it doesn’t happen to any other Irish citizen.

Martin:  Gary, we’re coming to the end. I just want to ask you a very quick question, just a few seconds: What do you expect if the DUP (Democratic Unionist Party) make a deal, bring a lot of money back to The North, like they’re saying – what do you expect Doire to get out of it?

Gary:  Probably like what they’ve gotten out of each and every other successive British government or local puppet government: very, very little because since statistics became, you know, started – the people of Doire have topped all the wrong tables of economic poverty, of child deprivation, of unemployment – whatever government is put in place, whether it’s a SinnFéin/DUP government or whether it’s a Tory/DUP government we will be just drip-fed, enough piecemeal crumbs from the table so that we’re not dying on the streets. I don’t see anything changing.

Martin:   …Gary, we’re going to have to leave it at that. Thank you very much and again, we’ll continue to support Tony Taylor and his release.

Gary:   Thank you very much. (ends time stamp ~ 55:03)

Liam Sutcliffe RFÉ 24 June 2017

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John McDonagh and Martin Galvin speak to Liam Sutcliffe via telephone from Dublin about how, in 1966, the year of the 50th anniversary of the Easter Rising, Liam blew up Nelson’s Pillar, a dramatic symbol of British imperialism that was in the centre of Dublin. (begins time stamp ~ 21:50)

John:    And we head over to Dublin itself and speak with Liam Sutcliffe, the man who took Nelson’s Pillar down, even though it had been up there since October 29th of 1809 – it lasted until 2AM March 8th 1966. Liam, are you there with us?

Liam:    I sure am! I’m here, yeah. (both laugh)

John:    Well Liam, I had a great time hanging out with you in Dublin. But maybe quickly explain how you came up with the idea to do it. I mean the idea was always there from I guess the time it went up in 1809 but why did you think you could be the one that could take down that Nelson’s Pillar?

Liam:    Well many attempts were made to bring it down and we decided in early ’66…

John:    …Now when you say – no, no, Liam – when you say ‘we’ – who’s ‘we’?


Liam Sutcliffe with Donal Fallon at the launch of Donal’s book, ‘The Pillar: The Life and Afterlife of the Nelson Pillar’

Yeah well I along with other people went – I was asked to accompany some people to bring the mine at the top and we done the security on it and Dublin was not like New York – Dublin closed down at 11:30 then you see in ’66. So we decided that so we would go on this certain date. So we went up on the 28th of February and then the next morning we had no result – it was still up there – or it hadn’t gone off. So the next thing was I was asked to take it down. So I had to go along there and go back when it opened the next morning and entered the pillar, went up, and stripped it and took the lift down again.

John:  Now how did you get up on the pillar, Liam? How were you able to get up and down?

Liam:   Oh well, what I did was along with one other guy we bought these hold-all bags and then we went up and took it down.

Nelson’s Pillar ‘Before’
Image: Pól Ó Duibhir

When I got to the top on the morning of the 1st of March it hadn’t gone off. I looked at it – and it was ‘alive’ so I had to strip that down. And I stripped it all down and then took it off the pillar and the following week I re-designed – because I hadn’t designed the first one but I designed the second one – and I went up on the 7th of March and it went off on the 8th of March – it was a Tuesday, the following day.

John: Now when you say you went up on the pillar – if anyone looks at the picture – this is a huge pillar – what did you have? A ladder? How did you get on top of the pillar to place it by the statue?


Pillar Admission Sign 1960
Photo: Michael M. Wood

To enter the pillar by paying a sum of about, in Irish money, was six pennies.

John: Sixpence.

Liam: Yeah. And you went up – there was a stairs inside of the pillar which you were able to climb up and go up onto the platform.

John: Right. And then – yeah, go ahead.

Liam: So I left it there on the Monday, the 7th of March, and the next morning I got the news it was gone so…

John: …But were you ever afraid that it could have went off early and hurt just the civilians walking up and down?

Liam: No. Oh, no, no, no. We had that all sussed out before we went up and we watched it and there was nobody – hardly anybody in O’Connell Street – there was nobody in O’Connell Street…

John: …So you had the timer set for 2 AM on March 8th?

Liam:  I had indeed, yeah, but it went off at 1:32 and the reason why it went off I had put a fast speed on it so it picked up the minutes as it went along so I left it there. I left the pillar – I was the last man on the pillar at 3:10 – ten past three – on the 7th of March and that was the end of it and I –

Martin: …Liam, this…

Liam: …Sorry…

Martin:  …Liam, this is Martin Galvin. Did you have any idea how popular your blowing up Nelson’s Pillar would be where people would write songs, they’d put it on album covers, they would – you could pay to have your picture taken with it – did you have any idea when you did it how, what the reaction of people in Ireland would be – you know there’s some things like the helicopter escape or things like that – you’re blowing up Nelson’s Pillar – which something, it appeals to something deep down in the Irish persona you know about a great joke and a blow against the British and did you have any idea of the reaction?

Liam:  No, I didn’t. But I know Dublin people and Irish people and they always get a kick out of something like that. And they put their names on the thing so that’s why the next couple of days later on they had a song about it – Up went Nelson.

John:  And Liam, you didn’t speak about this for a long time. And you did an interview I think on RTÉ, which is the national broadcasting in Ireland…

Liam: …That’s right, I did…

John:   …You did. Now why did you…

Liam:  …that was after a long…

John:  …Yeah…

Liam:   …Sorry…

John:   Yeah, but why did you do the interview then?

Liam:  …that was after a long time.

John:  Yeah.

Liam:   It was a long time after that…

John:  …Now, why did you…

Liam:  …because everybody…

John:  …Yeah. Okay, why did you wait so long?

Liam:   Sorry. Well the reason why I remained from telling the story was that I wanted to give the satisfaction of it to the IRA at the time but they denied they had anything to do with it.

Nelson’s Pillar ‘After’
Image: Pól Ó Duibhir

Now there was other guys that were picked up for it but I was never picked up. But then different guys were picked up, one in particular, a guy was picked up and brought in for questioning and of course it proved it was likely that he hadn’t done it but he had some neighbours who were inclined to think like he had blown it and they were buying him drinks for a couple of years later, you know?

John:  Well you now, it inspired a playwright over here, she’s from Dublin, Honor Malloy, and she tells the story in the play about her father that morning picking up the sword of Lord Nelson and bringing it home and it became part of her family folklore. What ever happened to the sword and the head and some of the parts of the statue?


Nelson’s Head
Dublin City Library and Archive on Pearse Street, Dublin

Well the head is in Dublin and it’s parked on Pearse Street – Pearse Street, which is re-named after Padraig Pearse. And the sword – the last I heard of the sword was that one gentleman picked up the sword and took it to a car, to his wife. Now some other guy was watching him. So the first guy went back to get another piece of the pillar and while he did that this other guy came along to the wife and said the husband had told him to take the sword that they were searching all the cars and this – and she handed him the sword. And when the husband came back and realised she had given it away he went crazy. But in later years then, or a couple of years ago, one – a taxi man who was driving me home – told me that his mother had it, or his mother-in-law, had the sword but that’s all the information he would give me.

John:  Now Liam, you’ve been involved most of your life, well probably all your life, with the Irish Republican Movement.

Liam:  Yes.

John:  How do you think it’s all ended up? I mean the way now that you know former comrades are now administering British rule in Ireland – I mean, it’s certainly – you’d never realised it was going to end up the way it has ended up.

Liam:  Never, never ever envisioned that at all like you know? And I also was an agent in the British Army, you know.

John:  Right, but you joined the British Army on behalf of the IRA to infiltrate it and get trained.

Liam:   Yes, yes. I was an agent in there, yes.

John:   Right.

Liam:  Because we robbed a couple of barracks of theirs, you know?

John:   Right, and took the arms.

Liam:   We stole the ammunition out, yeah.

John:  Right, right – on behalf of the Republican Movement.

Liam:  And guns.

John:  But listen: We’ve had on Darkie Hughes on this show and a lot of other Irish Republicans that said that they would never have went out and did what they did if they’d known that the end result would be to go into Stormont and administer British rule.

Liam:  Well the amasing thing about – in all the deaths and everything else that happened, North and South, the Irish never, ever got an extra blade of grass – and all the death and all the hunger strikers paid with their lives – and we didn’t receive one extra blade of grass.

John:   Yeah, it’s sad the way the revolution ended up.

Liam:  Very, very, very sad.

John:  But – you know what, finally, Liam? Based on your construction now of O’Connell Street they replaced Nelson’s Pillar with this thing called the Millennial Spire – I mean it is hideous!

Anna Livia
Croppies Memorial Park

I mean I didn’t mind ‘the floozie in the jacuzzi’ when they had the statue there on O’Connell Street but what do you think of what they replaced your work with?

Liam:  (laughs) Well I don’t think much of it. And we also had Molly Malone on Grafton Street.

John: Right.


In Dublin’s fair city where the girls are so pretty…

And they called her the ‘tart with the cart’, you know? (both laugh)

John: Well listen Liam, I thank you for coming on. We going to head a little bit north but we’re going to go out the song that was probably the most popular. It was put out by, I think, by a Belfast group called Go Lucky 4 and it’s called Up Went Nelson. Do you have any preference between The Dubliners, Tommy Makem, Up Went Four – I mean they’re all pretty good songs about your work.

Liam:  They are, yes certainly! And the thing about it is I fancied The Dubliners.

John:  Right, right.

Liam:  I thought they done a great job, you know?

John:  Yeah, we just played that…

Liam:  ..well any song, sure. We always get a kick out of the songs.

John:  And do you get an extra pint now when you go into the pub based on your previous work of construction?

Liam:   Oh! Indeed I do! I do indeed! (all laugh)

John:  You know what? At least it’s not the other guy!

Liam:  Sorry?

John:  At least it’s not the other guy getting the free pint now.

Liam:  No! He’s buying me pints now – to pay me back! (all laugh)

John:  Oh, Liam! Thanks for coming on.

Liam:  Not at all.

John:   Alright. And that was Liam Sutcliffe who, in 1966, blew up Nelson’s Pillar in the heart of Dublin. When I tell you – the middle of Dublin – he blew it up! And he’s only been telling the story recently and he told it on RTÉ and I forgot to ask him – the Gards arrested him after he did the interview but they let him go.

Martin:  Right. That’s why he kept silent.

John:   Yes. Alright, we’re going to go to the song and when we come back we’re going to head to Doire. (ends time stamp ~ 34:35)