Robert White RFÉ 22 July 2017

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John McDonagh and Martin Galvin speak to Professor Robert White via telephone about his new book, Out of the Ashes An Oral History of the Provisional Irish Republican Movement. (begins time stamp ~ 20:16)

Martin:   Professor White, welcome back to Radio Free Éireann and congratulations on the book.

Robert:  Well thank you very much, Martin. And hello, John, I hope all’s going well.

John:  Hello, Robert. Yep.

Martin:  And this is a book – John said it’s a ‘coffee table book’ – it’s four hundred and eighty-eight pages. It goes through everything and I should ask you first: How long have you been working on this book ’cause I know I met you, I don’t know, it was somewhere around 1990, the early ’90’s…

Robert:  …Yes…

Martin:  …you were going in…

Robert:  …It would have been…

Martin:  …Yeah…

Robert:   …It would have been ’96, I think, is when we met – up in Monaghan and…

Martin:  …That’s correct. You were going in to interview Brian McDonald who was the former Sinn Féin head of publicity. You were doing a first party interview with him, an original research with him, and I don’t know if – we can talk about it in a bit about you had been there in 1984 on the Falls Road, along with John and I, when that was attacked but how long have you been working on this book and how long have you been doing the research that led up to these four hundred and eighty-eight pages?

Robert:  Well the research started formally, in terms of interviews, in 1984 when I first arrived in Ireland that January and went to the Sinn Féin head office in Dublin and met a few people. Joe Cahill was very supportive, went up to Belfast, met a few people and pretty much it was from that point on – the journey has not ended. I’ve gone back goodness knows how many times – had a sabbatical leave there, spent extended – I think it was the summer of ’95 – much of that over there, etc…

Martin:  …And now…

Robert:  …And so, in a sense, since 1984 but to more formally answer the question, I suppose, like in ’96 when we met I would have been doing follow-up re-interviews from the ’84 and that led to a paper that was ultimately published. I did the Ó Brádaigh biography that you’re familiar with; that came out 2006. And then I did a documentary. I got interested in video things and on the Irish Republican Movement Collection there’s the video, Unfinished Business: The Politics of ‘Dissident’ (in quotations) Irish Republicans and that’s open access. And it was around 2012 that I’d realised I had just all this information from all these different perspectives, RSF, (Republican Sinn Féin) 32 County Sovereignty Movement, people who had left plus people who’d stayed with the Provisionals so really I started writing, roughly, 2012 but the research has been going on for a long time as you mentioned.

Martin:  Okay, now the book title is Out of the Ashes An Oral History of the Provisional Irish Republican Movement. And of course there’s a famous expression: Out of the ashes of ’69 arose the Provisionals – an area in Belfast was attacked, many homes burned down by Loyalists. The British, the RUC (Royal Ulster Constabulary) did not intervene to protect them and there was a feeling that the IRA had not been there to defend the area and that’s what led to the Provisionals – that’s the title. But when we spoke that it’s actually – the story of how the Provisionals started is much broader than that.

Robert:  Yeah, in some way ‘out of the ashes’ is sort of the myth of the Provisionals – now that might not be the right word – but there were Provisionals, people like Joe Cahill who I mentioned, Billy McKee, who I think you mentioned earlier, Ruairí Ó Brádaigh – people like that – they were around long before August of 1969. So what happens in August of 1969 is a major confrontation, major rioting, that leads to a split in the movement and you get the Provisionals vs the Officials but the reality is that the people who created the Provisionals were there for a long time and the younger people, as far as I know, the younger people weren’t in the room, or the rooms shall we say, when let’s say when the Provisional IRA was founded – it was a bunch of middle-aged men.

Martin:  Okay. You have a struggle, you talked about it – Seán Mac Stíofain, who was one of the first Chiefs of Staff, left a good job, as you describe it in the book, with the Gaelic language – he had a good job. McKee actually was working – came back to the movement. Other people came forward. What was it – you had a struggle from 1969 to 1998. You had people joining this movement, fighting the British on a massive scale, despite internment, despite being put in jail, despite seeing civil rights marches shot down, despite shoot-to-kill policy, despite – gave up economics, certain jobs and stuff – what is it that sustained that struggle?


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Well you had people like Seán Mac Stíofain, as you mentioned, Joe Cahill, Billy McKee, who returned – and some of them – Mac Stíofain was there the whole way through. I would argue that there was going to be a split in the movement whether or not August of 1969 happened. The Officials, led by Goulding, Cathal Goulding, Tomás Mac Giolla, were going to go their direction and Ruíari Ó Brádaigh, Seán Mac Stíofain, that group, were going to go their direction. And as Ruíari told me once in the middle of that disagreement, political disagreement, The North just, The North blew up and changed everything. And what happened was with August of ’69 – then you get the Falls Road Curfew, the attack at St. Matthew’s – I think the same summer, 1970, then internment in ’71 and especially internment followed by Bloody Sunday – that just sends people to the Provisionals in flocks of them, droves, however you want to say it. And my argument would be that the Provisionals, shall we say, they would have gotten off the ground but they wouldn’t have gone very far without internment and without Bloody Sunday. And what those two events did was they legitimised, or validated, what people like Seán Mac Stíofain and Billy McKee and Ruairí Ó Brádaigh and others were saying which was that: We’re not going to get justice from the British. We’re not going to get justice in Northern Ireland. We’re gonna have, you know, we’re gonna face oppression and lo and behold! what happens with internment was they started arresting people and locking them up and throwing away the key, not charging them and it validates the perspective of the senior people. And as I understand it, I mean, after Bloody Sunday the Provisionals were literally signing people up on clipboards.

Martin:  Now you are a sociologist. You write about the differences between social movements versus terrorism and you show a lot of statistics, you do a lot of research to say that the Provisionals – that this was a social movement, it’s very different, not terrorism – that label just doesn’t apply. Why is that?

Robert:  Well my view would be that if you’re going to call people terrorists then you pretty much need call everybody who engages in that kind of behaviour a terrorist. And as I mention in the first chapter of the book in I suppose it was 1940 Churchill, the Prime Minister Churchill, in response to, I think it was the bombing of Coventry, he, they had come up with a war plan where they’re going to bomb German cities and they want German cities with narrow streets so that would, the rubble would hinder firefighters from putting out fires and you’d cause more damage, kill more civilians, etc. Well is that terrorism? Okay? If you look at what President George W. Bush did with the Shock and Awe treatment of Baghdad – they knew there was civilians there and they dropped all kinds of bombs on them in 2003. So what’s terrorism then? And my issue would be, my issue with many of the terrorism experts or ‘terrorologists’, however you want to describe them, would be that they focus on groups like the PLO (Palestine Liberation Organisation), Hezbollah, Hamas, the IRA, etc and they don’t focus on state terrorism. And by doing that they miss the fact that state oppression, state repression, state violence, really, is a key factor for getting people to engage in what I call ‘small group political violence’. And instead of the use – instead of the term ‘terrorism’ – I would much prefer ‘political violence’ which can be done by pretty much all kinds of groups – from the United States to Israel to Iran to the Provisional Irish Republican Army. It’s all violence. And I think we do a great disservice to understanding why people engage in violence if we throw in that word ‘terrorism’. It’s, to me, a useless concept or pretty much close to a useless concept.

John:   And Professor White, I mean you were talking about the ‘splits’ and about the definition of terrorism – depends on I guess on who’s broadcasting it – but a lot of stuff we do here at Radio Free Éireann is just trying to correct some of the re-writing of Irish Republican history going on particularly now with Gerry Adams – he’s taking a court case that he never really tried to escape from prison – whereas people like Brendan Hughes used to brag and they’re making movies about escapes. How did you find Gerry Adams psychologically? And how was he able, at one stage of his life, be in the IRA and say:  We have to bring down the state. We have to smash Stormont to evolving to say: No, in order to get a united Ireland we have to bring back Stormont and not only that I have to administer British rule in Ireland. How was he able to do that psychologically and bring the majority of the movement along with him? I mean you’ve interviewed him and you’ve seen the process and how it’s evolved. How did it all happen? ‘Cause that’s why we’re sitting here – how did it all happen?

Robert:  Well I’ve met Gerry Adams and, in fact, and I’ve seen him in action in the sense that one of my most revealing situations watching him was when he introduced you in 1984 at the anti-internment march. I’ve met him a couple of times, etc, seen him in action, shall we say, but I have to point out that I never interviewed him formally. Now, having said that…

Martin:  …Just – Professor White, this is Martin Galvin – You do have, for example, quotes from Martin McGuinness let’s say…

Robert:  …Sure! Oh yeah, I…

Martin:  ….And you start out: ‘I’m a member of the Derry Brigade of the IRA. I’m very proud of it.’  Then: ‘Our position is clear. It’ll never, never changed. The war against British rule must continue until freedom is achieved.’ And then he ends up talking about multi-national companies and the New York Stock Exchange and it’s about jobs and contacts etc which is pretty much the same thing.

Robert:   Sure! Martin McGuinness, I would say, changed, okay? In my, from my perspective, having seen him at the 1984 Ard Fheis, seen him do a meet and greet with secondary school students, they looked like, in the Great Hall at Stormont to following him on the presidential campaign trail in, I guess it was 2011. In my opinion the man changed. Going back to Gerry Adams – that’s a really interesting question because if Adams changed – when did he change? And given part, some of what you asked, obviously the guy is just a brilliant strategist and the question really is: At what point did McGuinness and Adams decide that they could get more by disavowing political violence? And arguably it was in the 1990’s but if you look back in the letters, like Alex Reid’s famous letter I think it was 1987, I mean this stuff started much earlier and it may go back all the way to the hunger strike and it’s a really good question. And the issue is: Did Adams change or is he just a very strategic, very political thinker who pretty much everything is on the table all the time? And that’s a hard one to answer.

Martin:  Alright. One of the things – Professor White, this is Martin Galvin, again – we had a question from John – one of things that interested me, in your book, in the preface, you actually said that when doing your research you were referred to Denis Donaldson and…

Robert:  …Yeah…

Martin:  …and your contact information was given to him. And then you later found that, you didn’t contact him at that time, but Denis Donaldson was, of course, sent out here – you later found that you were investigated by the Feds, you found that out through a Freedom of Information Act request that you were investigated by the Feds because he had apparently given your information, your name and information, to him. Now he was somebody – came out here, turned out that that he was a spy and a traitor and had given your information to the federal government and as somebody – I originally just thought he was bad for, just wrongheaded about what he was doing but through a couple of things – what happened after Hugh Feeney was arrested at the Irish People office and one night with him drinking and federal FBI agents coming into The Phoenix – I had actually begun to call Ireland about him and say that I thought he was an agent. But what was your experience with him?

Robert:   Well I met him the one time, it was actually in Belfast when I met him, and I think it would have been the mid-90’s and as I said in the preface he just had this sort of wry, snarky, however you want to describe it, grin on his face and at the time, you know, it didn’t click but I did the Freedom of Information request – I got stopped, we missed an airplane and because of it flying into Newark they wouldn’t – customs held us up – and it turned out I had been flagged for and so I started asking questions and sent letters to everybody under the cousins saying: What’s the deal here? And finally (it takes forever as I’m sure you know) you get this information – and I’d been investigated and cleared evidently. But and then when it comes out that Donaldson was an agent it all starts to fit together. I don’t know for sure if he passed my name on but my guess would be that he did because that sort of was – that’s what his job was, right? And I found the whole thing very curious and you start putting two and two together and you wonder if maybe you got four. And clearly, I mean in retrospect and in speaking to you and others about him, there were all kinds of signals being sent and the people in the Belfast leadership apparently knew of those signals, right?  You mentioned it, I quote you in the book, you were making phone calls. And nothing was done about it.

Martin:  Well, they told me he had impeccable credentials. Okay, why did…

John:  …He certainly did.

Martin:  That’s what they said. He had impeccable credentials and it must be – you have to work with this guy. Alright. Why do you think this whole peace process began? Why, how did the Provisionals turn out they way they did? The last thing you do in your book is talk about decommissioning.

Robert:  Yeah well I think what happened was by 1990 and especially the early – I think there was an election in ’92, a Westminster election, which went very poorly but by 1990 – I have a quotation from Mitchel McLaughlin who’s talking about how much more open minded they were – and I think by that point they were starting to realise they weren’t going win. You’d had disasters like Enniskillen, you had the arms shipment captured from France and they realised, my guess is, that they could go on forever with this small scale war but it wasn’t gonna go anywhere and, in the meantime, their families were suffering. And at the ’86 Ard Fheis John Joe McGirl makes this comments about not wanting to turn the struggle over to yet another generation and that’s what was happening. And I have a quote from a woman who ended up getting arrested and she had like two, single mother – two children – and you know her life is now seriously – is facing serious difficulties and this would have been, I suppose, the third generation if you think Joe Cahill’s group being the first and then Adams and McGuinness and company being the second so it’s being passed again and there were all kinds of things and so there was no single thing but at some point they started checking into, you know: What kind of deal can we get?…

Martin:  …Okay, and…

Robert:  …and it leads, well it leads to the first ceasefire and I thought, personally, that the British played that very poorly so then you get Canary Wharf and then there’s another couple of elections and you bring in Tony Blair, who’s much more serious, and then then Fianna Fáil comes back and you get the second ceasefire and to me, ultimately, decommissioning. Once you do have the Good Friday Agreement and you have somebody like David Trimble who was willing to…

Martin:  …Right. You say in the book David Trimble won the Good Friday Agreement – that’s almost a quote – I took it out. And I’m just coming near the end but why do you think that David Trimble, who was an Official Unionist Party – his party actually went down in terms of the Unionist vote and they’ve now been surpassed by the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) led today by Arlene Foster – but why do you think that David Trimble and the Unionists, you know, in the end, won the Good Friday Agreement?

Robert:   Well I think he’s the winner of the peace process in the sense that by the time he leaves the stage the stage has been set for Sinn Féin to make some major compromises and fully, become fully constitutional – no army, accepting policing, etc – and it’s because he kept dangling, if you will, or I don’t know how else – there are other ways to phrase it – but he was not going to go into Parliament as long as they had guns and then of course he makes compromises and then you get the – I guess it’s February of ’99 – when it turns out the IRA hadn’t even bothered to consult with the International Arms Commission etc but by doing that dance of ‘no guns no government’ – and then well, maybe a little bit and then no again – he brings them further and further into constitutional politics and the presence of the Provisional IRA becomes more and more of a liability and eventually it became very clear that, you know, the IRA had to go and politics was the future and I would say much of that is because of David Trimble. Because he was willing – if he had just said ‘no’ then nothing probably would have happened, okay?  The fact that he was willing to try opens the door to all kinds of political outcomes that would not have been available. And he also, and as a by-product of that, the DUP also gets involved and they also go into Stormont of the Northern Ireland Assembly and so on. So to me, David Trimble is sort of the key person who allows all of this to happen, sets the framework and then, ironically, he gets pushed aside by Paisley and the DUP.

Martin:  Right, but his goal of preserving British rule – that’s seems secure and certainly…

Robert:  …Exactly!…

Martin:  …the goal of Republicans of getting a united Ireland – it doesn’t seem to be any way – we’ve had ten years, for example, in coalition, didn’t unlock Unionism, they’re feeling as strongly as ever so certainly David Trimble’s goal of not having a united Ireland, of continued British rule seems secure. He won in that sense…

Robert:  …Oh, yeah…

Martin:  …I know that from a Republican perspective. Okay – We’re going to have it quickly: How can people – if you don’t pledge the hundred dollars (Martin provides telephone number for donations). – if you don’t do that how can you get copies of the book?

Robert:  Well in the US it’s available at amazon dot com – twenty-six dollars and thirty eight cents apparently and seven ninety-nine as an eBook. If you’re in Ireland apparently it’s available at bookstores all over the place…

John:  …Oh! Just walk into Eason’s on O’Connell Street. It’s on the front table, walking in.

Robert:  Well that’s very nice to know. I plan to be over later next week and I will definitely do that. If you want to buy it online Irish Academic Press has it for twenty-four ninety-nine euros and amazon dot co dot uk has it for nineteen ninety-nine sterling or six seventy-one Kindle. There are all kinds of ways to get it and you know I very much appreciate the time and I hope everybody enjoys the book.

John:  Well, alright. Thank you. (ends time stamp ~ 41:28)

Robert White RFÉ 18 April 2015

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Martin Galvin (MG) interviews via telephone Professor Robert White (RW) of Indiana University about the digital Irish Studies collection at Indiana University Purdue University, Indianapolis. (IUPUI)  (begins time stamp ~ 40:05)

MG: And we now have with us Professor Robert White of Professor of Indiana University at Purdue. Now he’s the author of the definitive biography on Ruairí Ó Brádaigh. He also keeps or is responsible for a great Irish collection that has a number of Irish publications – Irish articles. Boston College, they talked about being a history department that was going to come to prominence and look what they did with the oral history project – let everybody down by giving those tapes up to the PSNI (Police Service of Northern Ireland). Indiana University is clearly the one – the university that’s going to be known as the one with the top Irish collection. And you now are in the process of adding a very special collection – part of what can be gotten through the internet at Indiana University. And could you tell us what that is?

RW: We’re working at the moment – we’re digitising and putting up the  Irish People which is a wonderful source for an Irish-American perspective on what was happening in Ireland from the early 1970’s up through the early 2000’s. And it’s a contemporary account in the sense that it’s: If something happened in Ireland, within a week or so there was a newspaper account of it. And it’s being digitised and scanned etc and placed up on the web. You can find it if you do a Google on: ‘Irish Republican Movement Collection’ – it should pop up. The other thing to do is to say: ‘Irish Republican Movement Collection at IUPUI’.  My formal employer is: Indiana University – Purdue University, Indianapolis or IUPUI.

But it’s part of a broader collection that includes: Fourthwrite, The Blanket, there’s a documentary that I produced called Unfinished Business – The Politics of Dissident Irish Republicans that includes interviews with Ruairí Ó Brádaigh, Michael Flannery is in there, Tom McGuire, a press conference with Gerry Adams and so on.

What we’re trying to do is build a collection for scholars, students, interested parties. It all started – the Dean of our university library is a man named David Lewis who, in many ways, – he is a visionary – and he’s heavy into digitisation and he’s also into open access. This is free – available to anybody. And he and I were having a conversation about it and I mentioned: You know, I’ve got a whole bunch of newspapers – Saoirse is what it is – this Irish political party – and would you be interested in putting those up? And he said: Sure! So those go up to about 2010, I think, and we’ll add to it over time.

And then we put up the Sovereign Nation and then it kind of blossomed from there and we continued to add things. And then a man named Joe Flaherty got in touch with me and said: Hey! I have a whole bunch of issues of the Irish People. Would you be interested? Of course we’d be interested because it broadens the collection and gives us another perspective. Much of it, Fourthwrite, etc The Pensive Quill that’s coming out of Ireland and this is now Irish-America. And we’re having a blast putting it up. It’s taking much longer than we had hoped but at the same time it gives us the sense of the value of having a newspaper like that online.

MG: Professor, I was the editor, as you know, for fifteen years of the Irish People newspaper. John McDonagh was the editor for two years – he’s spoken about it a lot. Bernie O’Boyle, Brian Mór O’Boyle, he was the guest artist and he used to be a columnist – and he used to almost get me fired every year at St. Patrick’s Day ’cause he’d change the cartoons and I would have to explain to Michael Flannery and others why some of Brian’s work was up there – but Sandy Boyer was also a columnist – and I think it’s important to point out what happened.

For example, sometimes you would read in Irish newspapers or American newspapers about the day that then-candidate Bill Clinton walked into an Irish forum and answered questions – by coincidence from me on a visa for Gerry Adams or from Ray O’Hanlon or from Patrick Farley – there were three of us who had been chosen by John Deerie, the person who put on that event. And you’d sometimes think that this is something that just Clinton had nothing to do one day and he walked into a hotel and happened to take these questions and answer them and history was changed and people took credit for it afterwards.

If you read the Irish People you would be able – the following Wednesday that paper came out – you’ll see pictures of Clinton. You’ll see the pictures of people at that forum. You’ll see an account of exactly what was asked of him. Exactly what he said. More than that you’ll see editorials about the importance of that event at that time. More than that you can go back for a few months you’ll see how much work was put in – John Deerie in particular who was then was a New York state Assemblyman – he and his staff did a tremendous job begging, pleading, urging people to come out to attend those forums – to organise them – to force candidates to come out and address those forums and you’ll see all the work that led up to that. If you were involved in Irish activities – if you picketed – or marched during the hunger strike for Irish political prisoners – if you supported – and again somebody else I was talking to during the week – I expect to see him at O’Lunney’s – Pat Doherty, who was the key man – he works with the State Comptroller’s Office now – was a key man behind the McBride Principles from Harrison Goldin or through Alan Hevesi or through Liz Holtzman or through the State Comptroller, DiNapoli now, or through others that I’m sure I’ve missed.

And we were talking about how that slowly progressed – people like Sal Albanese or Harrison Goldin and John Deerie on the state level – were heavily involved. You’ll see photographs, articles – urging people to come to the various forums. You’ll see the contributions and quotes from the speeches that were made by Irish-Americans which led to the McBride Principles being adopted in state after state which led getting them to the national agenda where they would be addressed by candidates. So if you really want to understand this period – if you really want to understand the American contribution – and you’ll also, as the Professor mentioned – you’ll have interviews from Gerry Adams that he gave to An Phoblacht. You’ll have quotes from Gerry Adams – other leading Republicans.

At the time of events – there were attacks in Ireland or there were armed incidents in Ireland – you’ll have contemporary – that week – what the Irish in Ireland said about it. You’ll have contemporary – what Sinn Féin was saying at various points in time about the hunger strike or about the armed struggle or about other events through that period. If you want to really understand Irish History this is a place to go!

So Professor, I really welcome what you’re doing at Indiana University. There’s a couple of people I want to thank: Joe Flaherty is the person who – I made a mistake – I said donated the collection to you on the phone. He lent you the collection which is being digitised. I know NYU is also going to give you a chance to see some of the copies that they have. I think Jack O’Brien donated some copies to them – they’ll add to collection so you can put it up on the website. I know there’s people with the the Irish-American Appeal who want to spend money to publicise this, who think it’s a really important collection to see. And I again, want to commend you, Indiana University and Purdue.

If you did anything during that period, look there – there’s a number of years which are up right now. There’s a number of years which you can go forward if you want to study that period – look at it – go to it. You can see if something happened on Sunday or Monday you can see an article on Wednesday – you’ll see an editorial explaining why that’s important. Okay, so what else is up in the collection, Professor White, that people are going to now see?

RW: Like I mentioned, there’s Unfinished Business, which is a documentary that I produced. It came out in 2012. It’s available online – open access – and it has interviews with Ruarí Ó Brádaigh, Des Dalton is in there, Josephine Hayden, Gerry Adams’ press conference that was in July of ’95 just not quite a year into the peace process and he’s talking about the meetings they were having with the Secretary of State, for example, about decommissioning so it’s an interesting interview in of itself given the context: 1995 – when at that point the Provos were saying they would never decommission.

The Blanket – we just added an index to The Blanket. The people who contributed to that, I mean: Anthony McIntyre, Tommy Gorman, Brendan Hughes, Carrie Twomey – it’s a very interesting perspective, critique if you will, of the peace process. Fourthwrite, which was edited by Tommy McKearney, and included several others – the Irish People we’ve mentioned. There’s a link to The Pensive Quill, Saoirse, the Sovereign Nation and there are other things I hope to, over time, we will add to the collection. The goal at the moment is to get a complete run of the Irish People which hopefully we can do. You mentioned the conversations we started to have with others. What I have in my office – some of it’s been loaned by Joe Flaherty – others are hard copies that were donated and sent to me – Jack O’Brien. We want to end up with the full run.

I think you’re right – if you want to chart the course of Irish Republicanism in the United States or Irish-American perspectives on Irish Republicans things or just Ireland – Irish politics in general – this is going to be a really neat resource for people in Irish Studies programmes, students, scholars or just interested people. You know, what happened in Ireland from an Irish-American perspective in 1990 or 1980? You talked about the hunger strikes which had transformed Irish politics and influenced people throughout the world but certainly Irish-America as well.

MG: I happened just to look at the issue in 1980 just to see how many issues were on. And one of the things that struck me: People talk about the role of Ted Kennedy, for example. There’s an editorial and it was written right after the end of the first hunger strike which we hoped had settled everything. And unfortunately, the British acted in the fashion that they did and it became necessary for Bobby Sands and nine others to die – all of their names are worthy of mention – they’re great Irish patriots – on hunger strike the following year. But one of the things there is how Kennedy and some of the other Irish-American politicians, then known as The Four Horsemen, went to Mass on Saint Patrick’s Day for the hunger strikers after the first hunger strike ended. And there is an editorial about how if only they had come out during the hunger strike it might have been enough to end it without any more suffering – without the suffering that was happening.

And again, that was an editorial written right at the end of the first hunger strike. It was something that was written before anyone realised that Bobby Sands and Francis Hughes and Ray McCreesh and Patsy O’Hara and the others would be beginning a hunger strike the next year and would die on hunger strike. So it’s a particularly poignant presentation of Irish-American history, of events. And it’s contemporary! It’s not something which anybody wrote afterwards or looked at hindsight and wrote afterwards.

There’s also lessons on Irish History there. There’s Irish lessons. There are actually columns: ‘Write to the Prisoners’ – some of which led to some of the deportee cases because people wrote to the prisoners, ended up getting married – coming to the United States. If you want to study Irish History or – there are people who have mentioned to me – a close friend of mine – I’m not going to mention his name – mentioned that his family didn’t appreciate all that he did and he was looking for a particular video – this is something you can look – about people going on trial – about people being prisoners – about people participating in protests.

If you want your family to know what you did or see your picture or how you looked at that time and see a contemporary record – this is something – if you have access to the internet and everybody does – you can hit it up – go to the particular issues – through Professor White – through Indiana University and you’ll be able to see – if it happened – if it was related to the Irish struggle and Irish-American activity during these years – you’ll be able to see it. It was covered in the Irish People, the voice of Irish Republicanism in America, and you’ll be able to read about it and see what was said – not from the coloured vantage point of years later but from the vantage point – the contemporary vantage point – the unvarnished vantage point – of that week. If it happened on Sunday or Monday it would be written about on Monday and it would be in the Irish People on Wednesday.

RW: I’ll tell you – what you’re describing – I very much appreciate all that you all did to put the paper together and it’s informed some of my own scholarship. For example, if you recall when Owen Carron and Danny Morrison were arrested trying to enter the United States which, in part, stems from when Owen Carron was denied a visa after he was just elected. And I was writing something about that period and I went and looked at the Irish People and indeed there’s this picture/photograph of Owen Carron on the front page: ‘Owen Carron Denied Visa’ and an accompanying article – and it’s really helpful to be able to do something like that.

MG: And you’d have the fact that Paisley and a delegation were coming out at the same time – Ian Paisley was stopped – the others were all let in. I actually went to Washington – got signatures about Owen Carron and Danny Morrison – they were arrested – the people in Buffalo did a great job supporting them and defending them. And actually, funny enough, I happened to sit on a plane – Peter Robinson was on it – he was there with a number of other Unionists. I got on the plane coming back to New York and I heard them talking about the hotel that they were going to go to. And at that stage we were able to call ahead – get a protest for that night – get a permit for that night and when they arrived at their hotel in New York City and came out they found that there were hundreds of people across the street protesting them and they couldn’t understand how Irish-Americans could do that protest and rally.

So if you want to see that event – if you want to see all those events – you want to read about what you did for the Irish struggle – have family members read about it – if you want to study what really happened – not from people claiming credit for things that they never did – but what was happening at that time – written about at that time – unvarnished at that time. Go to Professor White’s collection – just tell us the website again where you can find it.

RW: Well, if you just do a Google on: ‘Irish Republican Movement Collection’ it should pop up. Or you can add: ‘Irish Republican Movement Collection IUPUI’ and it will pop up. It’s part of the digital collection of Indiana University-Purdue University – our university library. We have a centre for digital scholarship; it’s part of that as well. And if I can get my own plug in: Our university library is outstanding and we’re doing cutting edge stuff. And this all stems from people there who are very committed to open access and very committed to digitisation and they’re just very easy to work with and I appreciate them. And we’re talking about: Jenny Johnson, Kristi Palmer and Dean David Lewis.

MG: Alright. We’re going to be promoting this. We want this collection to be known and studied. That everybody can have the advantage of going there – seeing exactly – you know people who thought that there were just collections at pubs in New York and you know, they’ll see photographs of testimonial dinners where many of the people who are donors now were donors back then and/or might have attended a collection by Brendan Hughes or other collections that went on. They’ll see exactly how much political action, how much fund raising for prisoners, how much work went on in the United States at that time those people who need to read the Irish People to see that. So I want to thank you, Professor White. We’ll be working with you to promote that. I think this is a valuable collection and people should know about it and see it. (ends time stamp ~ 57:18)