No Credibility to ‘Witch Hunt’ Claims

Collusion is not an illusion.

This letter was written in The Irish News today Monday 24th April – How come our very well paid (by us) politations did not open their eyes to This?

British Army veterans triumphantly celebrated the release of one of their former colleagues for a cold-hearted murder.

CLAIMS of a legal ‘witch hut’ against former British soldiers who served during the Trouble’s have been made during a rally of British army veterans in Belfast (April 15th).
The former soldiers claim there is a prosecutorial bias against former British soldiers over murders during the Trouble’s. Secretary of State James Brokenshire also claims investigations into killings during the Trouble’s are disproportionately focusing on members of the police and army. This claim is without a shred of evidence or credibility. Available evidence suggests that the British government shelving of the in-depth investigations and report by John Stalker and Colin Sampson on British shoot-to-kill policy and the Stevens Report on British security forces collusion with loyalists which resulted in countless killings, in fact shielded British soldiers and police from prosecution. Further evidence of protecting British security forces from prosecution is the continuing withholding of files pertaining to the Dublin and Monaghan bombings. Does Mr Brokenshire need reminding that British soldiers and police were and are acting on behalf of the British State and are a constitutional arm of ‘the UK government and recognised so internationally in law’?

With many thanks to: Tom Cooper Chairperson, Irish National Congress, Dublin 7.

Gino Gallagher 1963-1996

Gino Gallagher was callously murdered by a hired assassin over 15 years ago on January 30th, 1996. Born Gino Majella Gallagher in 1963 to Irish Republican parents, his mother Theresa was a member of the first Ard-Chomhairle of the Irish Republican Socialist Party (IRSP) and his father, Patrick, had been on hunger and thirst strike in a Dutch prison protesting against extradition to Britain in the 1970’s.

Gino Gallagher 1963-1996

Contemporary IRSP activists and especially younger Irish Republican Socialists, who may not have known him owe much to Gino Gallagher, not least being that he is credited with refurbishing Costello House, the IRSPs national headquarters on Belfast’s Falls Road. At his insistence, Costello House was transformed from being a run-down, semi-derelict building into something resembling the working party offices that exist there today. Gino Gallagher, in his then role as IRSP POW spokesperson was responsible for obtaining the re-patriation of INLA prisoners from English gaols. He also was instrumental in forcing the NIO to agree to negotiating rights for the Irish Republican Socialist Party in relation to the INLA prisoners in Long Kesh.

Politician and Soldier, Soldier and Politician
Although a feared military operator, who at the time of his death was Chief of Staff of the Irish National Liberation Army (INLA) he was also a highly politicized Republican Socialist activist who embodied Ta Power’s doctrine of ‘every soldier a politician, every politician a soldier’. Gino Gallagher was instrumental in promoting the central tenets of Ta Power’s analysis and vision for the Republican Socialist Movement which stressed the primacy of politics. Gino Gallagher described Ta Power as, ‘the biggest influence in my life’ . Tragically, both men were to meet similar cruel ends, cut down by the Judas bullets of counter-revolutionaries.

Gino Gallagher was made INLA Chief of Staff following the arrest and subsequent expulsion of Hugh Torney and his associates when they declared an unauthorised INLA ceasefire from the dock of a Dublin courtroom in 1995, in return for a successful bail application after their arrest in Ballbriggan. By all accounts, Torney had been an a one-dimensional militarist, at best, and his tenure as INLA Chief of Staff was marked by his concerted attempts at running down the political wing, the IRSP. Torney would have resented Gino Gallagher’s reversal of the IRSP’s political fortunes and his drive to make the party the significant player it had once been.

Feared In Life and Death
Gino Gallagher was cruelly shot dead as he waited to sign-on at the Falls Road offices of the Social Security Agency, on the anniversary of Bloody Sunday, 1996. The assassin who the Torney cabal hired to murder one of the IRSM’s most able leaders was Kevin McAlorum, the career criminal son of an infamous North Belfast drugs dealer. Both Torney and McAlorum met violent ends, the former only 8 months later on 3 September 1996 and the hired assassin 8 years later on June 4th, 2004, by grim irony only the day after Gino Gallagher’s father’s funeral.

Even in death the forces of reaction feared and hated Gino Gallagher, heavily armed RUC and British army stormtroopers invaded the family home, disrupted the funeral procession and beat mourners. Gino Gallagher was buried in Milltown cemetery on 2 February, 1996, with the funeral oration delivered by IRSP Ard Chomhairle member, Michael McCormick, who paid tribute to his political activism and revolutionary zeal. The oration praised Gino Gallagher’s promotion of ‘open democratic discussion’ , his struggle against ‘elitist, militaristic and non-political attitudes in the movement’ and how he, through determined activism ‘along with others, revitalised the Republican Socialist Movement.’ Gino Gallagher’s funeral oration ended with the sentence:

“Finally, as we lay this Volunteer and Comrade ino the soft green soil
of his native land, remember him each time you gaze into the stars
and see there etched across the sky, the Plough and the Stars!”

Today, his cowardly killer and those who hired him have been dispatched to the dustbin of history but Gino Gallagher’s image is immortalised in murals and commemorative plaques in his native west Belfast. Though times have changed greatly since 1996, Gino Gallagher’s legacy lives on in a revitalised IRSP that has fully endorsed the primacy of politics and continues to represent the interests of working-class people.

Information Taken From: http://www.theworkersrepublic.com/irsm-leader-gino-gallagher-remembered.html

With many thanks to: Stephen Codd.

RSF supports Gabriel Mackle in his defence of his Republican identity.

Statement by the President of Republican Sinn Féin Des Dalton
28ú Márta/March

Republican Sinn Féin salutes Gabriel Mackle on his courageous defence of his distinct identity and autonomy as an Irish Republican POW within the Maghaberry prison. Irish Republican POWs have historically had to run the gauntlet of British and 26-County state attempts to criminalise them and deny them their identity, shamefully on this occasion this latest injustice comes at the hands of those purporting to be fellow Irish Republicans. To compound the injustice is the fact that it was the CABHAIR supported prisoners who won the right of Republican prisoners to have their separate identity accepted by the prison regime. The CABHAIR supported prisoners led the dirty protests which resulted in the August 2010 Agreement.
This attempt to deny Gabriel Mackle his own political identity and autonomy brings only shame to those who have a hand in it. By cloaking their actions in the name of Republicanism they sully that noble banner. A statement issued under the name of “Republican Prisoners, Roe 4” in Maghaberry prison by the group styling itself Saoradh is quite simply a tissue of lies and calculated smear, designed to hide what is really happening here.

In an attempt to smear Gabriel Mackle the statement cites his previous membership of the British Army’s Royal Irish Regiment. This is a matter of public record. Irish Republican history is littered with instances of Irish patriots who having served in the British Army subsequently gave honourable and heroic service to the cause of Irish freedom, James Connolly, Michael Mallin and Tom Barry are notable examples.

This statement cannot disguise the reality of what is going on in Maghaberry. Gabriel Mackle’s right, a right inherent to all Republican POWs, to maintain his own political identity is being attacked. Historically this right has always been respected by Republican prisoners regardless of organisation. However, this latest move to deny Gabriel Mackle this right echoes the actions of the Provisionals who in 1986 forced Republican prisoners who refused to renounce their Republican principles and abandon their allegiance to the All-Ireland Republic off prison landings.

Today it seems similar tactics are being employed by a grouping that it seems will not tolerate any alternative views. When these people speak of unity we now can see what they really mean. They are simply Provo – lite, aping the tactics and mindset of the Provisionals. They will be no more successful in their attempts to intimidate faithful Irish Republicans than the reformist Provos were before them.
We will not be intimidated or deflected from our work. Over the decades we have seen many such groupings styling themselves as Republican come and go. Republican Sinn Féin and the Republican Movement long predate them and will long outlast them. This year we mark 100 years since the historic 1917 Ard Fheis at which Sinn Féin adopted a Republican constitution. We are proud of our history of unbroken continuity of principle and organisation. Over the course of that century faithful Irish Republicans have defended that constitution from those who have attempted to subvert it, in 1921, 1926, 1946, 1969/70 and 1986. We will remain steadfast in our allegiance to the All-Ireland Republic of Easter and determined in our pursuit of our Republican goals. Once more we salute Gabriel Mackle and pledge him our continued solidarity and support. Maith thú Gabriel.

Críoch/Ends.

With many thanks to: Des Dalton, President Republican Sinn Féin.

Máire Drumm murdered in her hospital bed.

On 28th October 1976, 28 years ago, Sinn Féin Vice President Máire Drumm was shot dead in her hospital bed.

Máire Drumm (née McAteer), was born in the townland of Killeen, South Armagh, on 22 October 1919 to a staunchly republican family. Máire’s mother had been active in the Tan War and the Civil War.

In 1940, Máire joined Sinn Féin in Dublin. In 1942, she moved to Belfast, which became her adopted city and she continued her republican activities. Every weekend, Máire would carry food parcels to the republican prisoners in Crumlin Road Jail and it was here that she met Jimmy Drumm, who she married in 1946.

When the IRA renewed the armed struggle in the late 1950s, Jimmy was again interned without trial from ’57 to ’61.

Máire became actively involved in the Civil Rights Movements of the 1960s. She worked tirelessly to rehouse the thousands of nationalists forced from their homes by unionist/loyalist pogroms.

During her work as a Civil Rights activist, Máire emerged as one of the Republican Movement’s most gifted leaders and organisers. Máire was the first to warn that the British troops sent in as “peace keepers” were a force of occupation. Máire was a dynamic and inspirational speaker. Once, when addressing a rally in Derry after the shooting of two men from the city, Máire said:

“The people of Derry are up off their bended knees. For Christ sake stay up. People should not shout up the IRA, they should join the IRA.”

In 1972, Máire became Vice President of Sinn Féin. Due to their dedication to the republican struggle, Máire’s family was continuously harassed by the RUC, British Army and by loyalist intimidation. The British Army even constructed an observation post facing their home in Andersonstown. At one point, her husband and son were interned at the same time. Her husband, Jimmy became known as the most jailed republican in the Six Counties. Máire was also jailed twice for ‘seditious’ speeches, once along with her daughter.

In 1976, her eyesight began to fail and she was admitted for a cataract operation to the Mater Hospital, Belfast. On 28 October 1976, as Máire lay in her hospital bed, loyalist killers wearing doctors white coats walked into her room and shot her dead.

Máire Drumm, freedom fighter and voice of the people, was buried in Milltown Cemetery. One of her most famous quotes was:

 

“We must take no steps backward, our steps must be onward, for if we don’t, the martyrs that died for you, for me, for this country will haunt us forever.”

https://polldaddy.com/js/rating/rating.jsAbout maire drumm https://eurofree3.wordpress.com/2016/07/09/maire-drumm-1919-1976/

 

With many thanks to: Easter Rising War of Independence and Irish Civil War History.

44th anniversary of 11-year-old Francis Rowntree murdered by the British Army.

Francis Rowntree 11-years-old

11-year-old Francis Rowntree suffered extensive skull fractures and lacerations of the brain. After he was shot at point blank range by the British Army with a rubber bullet and died in hospital on April 22nd 1972.

Today marks his 44th anniversary.

The already lethal bullet had been doctored to make it even more deadly, with a battery inserted inside to cause maximum damge to innocent victims.

This was a common tactic used by the cowardly British Army across occupied Ireland.

Rest in Peace little man. – feeling heartbroken.

With many thanks to: Pat Gillan, Chaírde ar an Arm Náisiúnta Fuascailte na hÉireann.

 

Francis Hughes – A determined and totally fearless soldier

THE SECOND republican to join the H-Block hunger-strike for political status – a fortnight after Bobby Sands.

Was twenty-five-year-old Francis Hughes, from Bellaghy in South Derry: a determined, committed and totally fearless IRA Volunteer who organised a spectacularly successful series of military operations before his capture, and was once described by the RUC as their ‘most wanted man’ in the North.
Eluding for several years the relentless efforts of the British army, UDR and RUC to track him down, Francis operated boldly throughout parts of Tyrone and north and south Antrim, but particularly in his native South Derry, with a combination of brilliant organisation and extreme daring – until his capture after a shoot-out with the SAS – which earned him widespread popular renown, and won general support for the republican cause, as well as giving him an undisputed reputation as a natural-born soldier and leader.

ROOTED

Francis Hughes was born on February 28th, 1956, the youngest son amongst ten children, into a staunchly republican family which has been solidly rooted, for most of this century, in the townland of Tamlaghtduff, or Scribe Road, as it is otherwise called.

His parents who married in 1939, are Patrick Joseph Hughes, aged 72, a retired small cattle farmer born in the neighbouring town land of Ballymacpeake, and Margaret, aged 68, whose maiden name is McElwee, and who was born in Tamlaghtduff.

A quarter-of-a-mile away from the Hughes’ bungalow, on the other side of the Scribe Road is the home of Thomas and Benedict McElwee – first cousins of Francis. Benedict is currently serving a sentence in the H-Blocks. Thomas – the eldest – embarked on hunger strike on June 8th, and died sixty-two days later on August 8th.

In Tamlaghtduff, as throughout the rest of Bellaghy, sympathy as well as active support for the republican cause runs at a very high level, a fact testified to by the approximately twenty prisoners-of-war from around Bellaghy alone.

Francis was an extremely popular person, both to his family and to his republican colleagues and supporters.

His father recalls that as a boy he was always whistling, joking and singing: a trait which he carried over into his arduous and perilous days as a republican, when he was able to transmit his enthusiasm and optimism both to Volunteers under his command and to Sympathisers who offered them – at great personal risk, food and shelter

It was qualities like these, of uncomplaining tirelessness, of consideration for the morale of those around him, and his ruling wish to lead by example, that have made Francis Hughes one of the most outstanding Irish revolutionary soldiers this war has produced and a man who was enormously respected in his native countryside.

BOY

As a boy, Francis went first to St. Mary’s primary school in Bellaghy, and from there to Clady intermediate school three miles away.

He enjoyed school and was a fairly good student whose favourite subjects were history and woodwork. He was not particularly interested in sport, but was very much a lively, outdoor person, who enjoyed messing around on bikes, and later on, in cars.

He enjoyed dancing and regularly went to ceilidh as a young man, even while ‘on the run’, although after ‘wanted’ posters of him appeared his opportunities became less frequent.

His parents recall that Francis was always extremely helpful around the house, and that he was a “good tractor man”.

DECORATOR

Leaving school at sixteen, Francis got a job with his sister Vera’s husband, as an apprentice painter and decorator, completing his apprenticeship shortly before ‘going on the run’.

In later days, Francis would often do a spot of decorating for the people whose house he was staying in

On one occasion, shortly after the ‘wanted’ posters of him had been posted up all over South Derry, Francis was painting window frames at the front of the house he was staying in when two jeep-loads of British soldiers drove past. While the other occupants of the house froze in apprehension, Francis waved and smiled at the curious Brits as they passed by, and continued painting.

It was such utter fearlessness, and the ability to brazen his way through, that saved him time and time again during his relatively long career as an active service Volunteer.

On one such occasion, when stopped along with two other Volunteers as they crossed a field, Francis told a Brit patrol that they didn’t feel safe walking the roads, as the IRA were so active in the area. The Brits allowed the trio to walk on, but after a few yards Francis ran back to the enemy patrol to scrounge a cigarette and a match from one of the British soldiers.

A turning point for Francis, in terms of his personal involvement in the struggle, occurred at the age of seventeen, when he and a friend were stopped by British soldiers at Ardboe, in County Tyrone, as they returned from a dance one night.

The pair were taken out of their car and so badly kicked that Francis was bed-ridden for several days. Rejecting advice to make a complaint to the RUC, Francis said it would be a waste of time, but pledged instead to get even with those who had done it, “or with their friends.”

Notwithstanding such a bitter personal experience of British thuggery, and the mental and physical scars it left, Francis’ subsequent involvement in the Irish Republican Army was not based on a motive of revenge but on a clear and abiding belief in his country’s right to national freedom.

INVOLVEMENT

During the early part of ‘the troubles’, the ‘Officials’ were relatively strong in the South Derry area and Francis’ first involvement was with them.

However, disillusioned, as were many others, with the ‘Sticks’ unilateral ceasefire in 1972, he left to set up and command an ‘independent’ military unit in the Bellaghy area. About the end of 1973 the entire unit – including Francis – was formally recruited into the IRA.

Francis’ involvement brought him increasingly to the attention of the British army and RUC and he was regularly held for a few hours in Magherafelt barracks and stopped on the road by British patrols; and on one occasion he was held for two days at Ballykelly camp.

As the 1975 IRA/British army truce came to an end Francis, fearing his imminent arrest, went ‘on the run’. From that time on, he led a life perpetually on the move, often moving on foot up to twenty miles during one night then sleeping during the day – either in fields and ditches or in safe houses; a soldierly sight in his black beret and combat uniform, and openly carrying his rifle, a handgun and several grenades as well as food rations.

The enemy reacted with up to fifty early morning raids on Francis’ home, and raids on the homes of those suspected of harbouring him. Often, houses would be staked out for days on end in the hope of capturing Francis. Often, it was only his sheer nerve and courage which saved him. One night, Francis was followed to a ‘safe house’ and looked out to see the Brits surrounding the place and closing in. Without hesitating, the uniformed Francis stepped outside the door, clutching his rifle, and in the darkness crept gradually through their lines, occasionally mumbling a few short words to British soldiers he passed, who, on seeing the shadowy uniformed figure, mistook him for one of themselves.

On numerous occasions, Francis and his comrades were stopped at checkpoints along the country roads while moving weapons from one locality to another but always calmly talked their way through. Once, a UDR soldier actually recognised Francis and his fellow Volunteers in a car but, fully aware that Francis would not be taken without a shoot-out, he waved their car on.

ACTIVE

The years before Francis’ capture were extremely active ones in the South Derry and surrounding areas with the commercial centres of towns and villages like Bellaghy, Maghera, Toome, Magherafelt and Castledawson being blitzed by car bombs on several occasions, and numerous shooting attacks being carried out as well.

Among the Volunteers under his command Francis had a reputation of being a strict disciplinarian and perfectionist who could not tolerate people taking their republican duties less seriously, and selflessly, than was necessary. He also, however, inspired fellow Volunteers by his example and by always being in the thick of things, and he thrived on pressure.

During one night-time operation, a weapon was missing and Francis gave away his own weapon to another Volunteer, taking only a torch himself which he used to its maximum effect by shining it at an oncoming enemy vehicle, which had its headlights off, to enable the other Volunteers to direct their fire.

Francis’ good-humoured audacity also showed itself in his republican activity. At the height of his ‘notoriety’ he would set up road-blocks, hoping to lure the Brits into an ambush (which by hard experience they learned to avoid), or he would ring up the Brits and give them his whereabouts!

Such joking, however, did not extend only to the enemy. One day, lying out in the fields, he spied one of his uncles cycling down a country road. Taking careful aim with his rifle he shot away the bike’s rear wheel. His uncle ran alarmed, into a nearby house shouting that loyalists had just tried to assassinate him!

BATTLE

The determination of the British army and RUC to capture Francis Hughes came to a head in April 1977. In that month, on Good Friday, a car containing three IRA Volunteers was overtaken and flagged down on the Moneymore Road at Dunronan, in County Derry, by a carload of RUC men.

The Volunteers attempted to make a U-turn but their car got stuck in a ditch as the armed RUC men approached. Jumping from the car, the Volunteers opened fire, killing two RUC men and injuring another before driving off. A hundred yards further up the road a second gun battle ensued but the Volunteers escaped safely.

Subsequently, the RUC issued a ‘wanted’ poster of Francis Hughes and two fellow republicans, Dominic McGlinchey and Ian Milne, in which Francis was named as the ‘most wanted man’ in the North.

When his eventual capture came, it was just as he had always said it would be: “I’ll get a few of them before they get me.”

STAKE-OUT

At 8.00 p.m. on March 16th, 1978, two SAS soldiers took up a stake-out position opposite a farm, on the south side of the Ronaghan road, about two miles west of Maghera, in the townland of Ballyknock.

At 9.15 p.m. they saw two men in military uniform and carrying rifles, walking in single file along the hedgeline of the field towards them. Using their ‘night sights’ in the darkness, the SAS men observed the military behaviour of the two on-comers and having challenged them, heard the men mumble a few words to each other in Irish accents and assumed that the pair were UDR soldiers.

One of the pair, in fact, was Francis Hughes, the other a fellow Volunteer, and with only a second’s hesitation both Volunteers cocked their rifles and opened fire. One SAS man fell fatally wounded but the other – though shot in the stomach – managed to fire a long burst from his sterling sub-machine gun at the retreating figures, and to make radio contact with his base.

Within three minutes, nearby Brit patrols were on the scene and the area was entirely sealed off. The following morning hundreds of Brits took part in a massive search operation.

Fifteen hours after the shooting, at around 12.15 p.m. the next day, they found Francis Hughes sitting in the middle of a gorse bush in a field three hundred yards away, bleeding profusely from a bullet wound which had shattered his left thigh. As he was taken away on a stretcher he yelled defiantly, through his considerable pain: “Up the Provies”.

His comrade, though also wounded, slightly, managed to evade the dragnet and to escape.

SURVIVED

How he survived the night of the shooting, possibly the coldest night of that year, bears eloquent testimony to Francis’ grim determination to evade capture. After being shot, he dragged himself – unable to walk – across the Ronaghan road and across two fields without a sound, before burying himself in a thick clump of gorse bushes.

At one point, en-route, Francis fell down a sharp drop between fields, and his left leg – the muscle and bone completely disintegrated – came up over his shoulder; but Francis worked it carefully down before continuing to crawl on his way. In his hiding place, he lay through the night, motionless and soundless, till his capture.

When he was found, unable to move through the cold, pain and stiffness, Francis, knowing that both Brits and RUC were on instructions to shoot him on sight, gave his name as Eamonn Laverty and his address as Letterkenny, County Donegal.

Francis was taken to Magherafelt hospital and from there to Musgrave Park military hospital in Belfast, and it was only then that his true identity was revealed. He spent ten months in Musgrave Park where his leg was operated on, reducing his thigh bone by an inch-and-a-half and leaving him dependent on a crutch to walk.

CASTLEREAGH

On Wednesday, January 24th, 1979, Francis was taken from Musgrave Park hospital to Castlereagh interrogation centre where he spent six days before being charged on January 29th. For more than four days Francis refused food and drink, fearing that it might have been drugged to make him talk.

His behaviour in Castlereagh was typical of the fiercely determined and courageous republican Volunteer that he was. His frustrated interrogators later described him as “totally uncooperative”.

Nevertheless, at his trial in Belfast in February 1980, after a year on remand in Crumlin Road jail, Francis was found ‘guilty’ on all charges.

He received a life sentence for killing the SAS soldier, and fourteen years for attempting to kill the other SAS man. He also received fifty-five years on three other charges.

H-BLOCK

In the H-Blocks, Francis immediately went on the protest for political status and, despite the severe disability of his wounded leg, displayed the same courage and determination that had been his hallmark before his capture.

And, just as always wanting to be in the thick of things and wanting to shoulder responsibility for other political prisoners as he had earlier looked after the morale of fellow Volunteers, Francis was one of those to volunteer for the hunger strike which began on October 27th, 1980. He was not one of the first seven hunger strikers selected but was among the thirty men who joined the hunger strike in its closing stages as Sean McKenna’s condition became critical.

That utter selflessness and courage came to its tragic conclusion on Tuesday, May 12th, when Francis died at 5.43 p.m. after fifty-nine days on Hunger Strike.

With many thanks to: Sean Larkin – South Derry.

Zionist mural attacked in Belfast

 Graffiti treated as ‘hate crime’

Mural daubed with graffitiThe mural has been attacked before

Police are treating as a hate crime the defacement of a Belfast memorial to an Irish Zionist who fought in World War One.

The words “scum” and “Nazis” were daubed on the mural at the junction of Beverley Street and Northumberland Street.

It honours the life of Lieutenant Colonel John Henry Patterson.

He served in the British Army and commanded a volunteer force known as the Jewish Legion.

Police said the incident happened some time between Thursday evening and Friday morning and have appealed for information about the incident.

DUP MLA William Humphrey said those responsible for the graffiti were not reflective of Belfast and offered his full support to the city’s Jewish community.

“I’m appalled that sick, evil people have sprayed grossly offensive anti-Semitic graffiti on a pro-Israel mural,” he said.

“The Jewish community has and continues to make an important contribution to the religious, cultural, commercial and business life of Belfast.”