Submission to the Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights, Nils Muižniks, concerning the shooting dead of sisters Dorothy Maguire & Maura Meehan by British Soldiers, October 23rd 1971, West Belfast.

A follow-up to a previous story concerning the murder of Maura Meehan and her sister who were murdered by the British Army: 

With many thanks to: Geard Meehan, Meehan and Maguire family’s, https://www.facebook.com/groups/174928556038780/.

Under an oppressive regime, rebellion is a God given right, under British law its pan absolute duty

​Under an oppressive regime, rebellion is a God given right, under British law its an absolute  

Photo credits to: Marcas Mac Giolla Aindreis.
Photo credit: Marcas Mac Giolla Aindreis

With many thanks to: Marcas Mac Giolla Aindreis – Chaírde ar an Arm Náisiúnta Fuascailte Na hÉireann. 

Remembering John Joe Carroll.

Kevin Barry’s comrade, John Joe Carroll, who had been on the Monks Bakery raid, is recorded as having said about the IRA and any rescue attempt to free Kevin from prison:
“Unfortunately no serious attempt was ever made. True, the Big Shots made a bit of a demonstration – they had men from the Dublin Brigade waiting around the vicinity of the prison on several occasions but no-one received any instructions and the whole business fizzled out…

The rank and file were ready and prepared to play their part in any attempt but the ‘Brass Hats’ were only play-acting and had no intention of risking their skins in any serious attempt at rescue.

Writing forty years later, Carroll bitterly concludes: ‘The political boys behind the scenes had the last word. Kevin Barry was more valuable dead than alive.”

With many thanks to: Belvedere Boy – Kevin Barry, Irish Patriot. 

‘The Che Guevara of the IRA’

 The Legend of ‘Big Joe’ McCann 
2 November 1947 – 15 April 1972
If, before the death of Bobby Sands in 1981, there was a name most likely to survive in the popular memory of ‘the Troubles’—to join the ranks of Kevin Barry and Seán South—it was ‘Big Joe’ McCann. There were a number of reasons. First, the local legend that flourished after he was gunned down on the streets of Belfast grew out of the reputation he achieved in life. McCann, who joined the Republican movement as a teenager in 1963, was known both for his physical bravado and for his quick intelligence. Stories circulated of his exploits during the set-piece Official IRA gun-battles during the Falls Road curfew in July 1970 and at Inglis’s bakery in the Markets district of south Belfast in August the following year. Staff captain of the 2nd Battalion of the Belfast Brigade and ‘on the run’, the 24-year-old McCann was reputedly the most wanted man in the North when he was killed by British Paratroopers on 15 April 1972. The tributes paid to him by his comrades at the time—‘a born leader’ according to The United Irishman—were to be expected. More revealing are the recollections, decades later, of two Dublin journalists of the deep impression that ‘Big Joe’ made upon each of them. Kevin Myers writes of his good looks, charisma, innate wisdom, gravitas and ‘curiously ironic and knowing sense of humour’. Pádraig Yeates remembers ‘an incredible character, the only genuine hero I ever met out of the Northern troubles’.
Then there is the manner of his killing. As he ran away from a foot patrol after being fingered by a Special Branch officer, pursuing Paratroopers opened fire. Initial reports claimed that McCann was shot repeatedly while lying wounded on the pavement. The shooting was followed by three days and nights of widespread rioting in which three British soldiers were killed—one in Belfast, two in Derry. Armed and uniformed Official IRA men patrolled the Turf Lodge housing estate. From prison the UVF leader, Gusty Spence, wrote a letter of condolence to McCann’s widow: ‘He was a soldier of the Republic and I a Volunteer of Ulster and we made no apology for what we are . . . Joe once did a good turn indirectly and I never forgot him for his humanity’.
The full-scale military-style funeral was the largest seen in Belfast to that date. Led by a lone piper and McCann’s Irish wolfhound, over 200 women carried wreaths and over 2,000 men marched behind. Up to 20,000 people lined the route. Well-known politicians such as Paddy Devlin, Paddy O’Hanlon and Bernadette Devlin attended. Official IRA chief-of-staff Cathal Goulding delivered the graveside oration. The British prime minister, Edward Heath, wanted to know why arrests had not been made, while the secretary of state for Northern Ireland, William Whitelaw, conceded that killing McCann had made ‘a martyr of him’. Time magazine thought so too, and speculated that the shooting and the consequent street violence had scuppered all hope of Catholics accommodating themselves to the new direct rule, Stormont-less, regime.
But there had been (and would be) numerous republicans shot by the security forces in controversial circumstances. Plenty of others have, like McCann, been commemorated in ballads. And since the 1790s large, stage-managed funerals-as-political-demonstrations have been a staple of republican mobilisation. The crucial reason for McCann’s posthumous local fame is a photograph (in fact two photographs shot in rapid succession by Ciaran Donnelly). In the early hours of 9 August 1971, British troops swept through nationalist areas of the North rounding up republican suspects for internment without trial, and touching off some of the worst violence of the Troubles. On 10 August a group of six Official IRA volunteers, led by McCann, took over Inglis’s Eliza Street bakery in the Official stronghold of the Markets, and in a fierce firefight pinned down a large contingent of British soldiers. During the exchange a photographer captured the profile of McCann in silhouette, hunkered down, an M1 carbine resting on his knee, a Starry Plough flag fluttering above him and a truck-barricade blazing before him.
It is an image so dramatic and so visually striking that it seems almost composed. The print media snapped it up. It first appeared in the Daily Mirror and later received much wider, transatlantic, circulation in a photo-spread in Life Magazine (it did not, however, as has been claimed, feature on the cover). Life’s commentary certainly burnished the legend:
‘At right, crouched beneath the Irish Republican tricolor, a professional IRA terrorist who goes by the name of Joe awaits a counterattack by British infantry during the battle of Eliza Street. “Joe was a tall, thin man who moved only in leaps and crouches”, reports Life correspondent Jordan Bonfante, who with photographer Terence Spencer covered the fighting last week. “He was an absolute hero to his men, mostly neighborhood irregulars, and as he directed them with grunts and waves of the American semi-automatic carbine he carried in one hand he looked as though all Ireland were at stake on Eliza Street.” For twelve hours before being surrounded and broken up, Joe and his men had effective control of the whole downtown market area in east Belfast.’
The September issue of The United Irishman displayed the picture on its front page, headlined ‘Army of the People’. The Provisionals’ An Phoblacht also ran it. Weeks after his death The United Irishman referred to ‘the now world-famous picture of Joe McCann’, which ‘far more than words epitomised the courage of the man’. A poster based on the picture proclaimed ‘Joe McCann, Soldier of the People’.

With many thanks to: James Connolly.

Daughter of woman murdered (Cumann na mBan) the female wing of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) shot dead with her sister to sue Ministry of Defence (MoD).

Maura Meehan (31) and her sister Dorothy Maguire murdered by the British Army in 1971 to sue MoD.

Daughter of shot IRA woman to sue British Army
Margaret Kennedy (Maura’s daughter) holds photographs of her mother Maura Meehan and aunt Dorothy Maguire who were shot dead at a British soldiers in west Belfast in 1971. Picture by Mal McCann
 THE daughter of an IRA woman killed along with her sister more than 45 years ago by the British Army is set to sue the Ministry of Defence. Mother-of-four Maura Meehan (31) was killed along with her sister Dorothy Maguire when soldiers open fire on a car ( pictured below) in which they were passengers in West Belfast in 1971. Both women were members of Cumann na mBan, the female wing of the IRA.
Picture’s of the car Maura and Dorothy were traveling in showing the extent of damage done in the double murder committed by the British Army.

Original examinations also found that swabs taken from Ms Maguire showed the presence of lead on one hand. However a recent ballistic forensic report commissioned by solicitors acting for the family has cast doubt on the origional findings saying they did not “provide any salient evidence to conclude that Mrs Meehan had fired a gun”.

The review added that the origional report failed to consider other sources of lead “an explanation for the presence of lead on the swabs taken from her hands”. Mr Meehan’s daughter, Margaret Kennedy (pictured above), last night welcomed the new findings.”It’s what we have said all along basically,” she said. Mrs Kennedy, who was aged nine when her mother was mudered by British Army, accused authorities of “stalling” on the case but said they would continue with their campaign until they get answers.

“All we are looking for is the truth to be told,” she said. The Ministy of Defence (MoD) did not respond to requests for a comment.

With many thanks to: The Irish News, Mal McCann (for the picture) and for the origional story.

Óglach Thomas Murphy, aged 22, F Company, 6th Battalion, Dublin Brigade, Irish Republican Army (IRA).

Óglach Thomas Murphy, aged 22.

Murdered in his bed by Black and Tans at ‘The Hotel’, Foxrock Village, on this day 1921.

At the time of his death, Thomas or ‘Tommy’ Murphy, a popular young uilleann-piper, was one of a number of young men active with the local IRA company, a unit made up of men from the Deansgrange, Cornelscourt, Cabinteely and Foxrock districts. By the summer of 1921, several of it’s members had been forced ‘on the run’ and began operating as a full-time ‘flying column’, sleeping rough in stables and sheds and harassing crown forces at any opportunity that presented itself.

Attacks on the local RIC barracks at Cabinteely were numerous. In the dead of night, Volunteers, acting under cover of darkness, would make their way to the village, where they would creep along the empty streets, taking up positions before subjecting the barracks to a sustained attack using rifles and home-made bombs. Just weeks before his death, Thomas Murphy, dressed in a chauffeur’s uniform in order to give the appearance of a British officer, had driven a car at top speed past the barracks while the car’s other two occupants lobbed bombs at the Black and Tan sentries posted outside.

On May 13th, local Volunteer Charles ‘Rodney’ Murphy (no relation) of Deansgrange, scaled a tree in the Brennanstown Road area, using his elevated position overlooking the barracks to snipe at two Black and Tans tending to the gardens in the yard out back. Constable Albert Edward Skeats, a Black and Tan recruit from London, was hit behind the ear and rushed to a hospital in the city, where he lay critically ill. He eventually succumbed to his injuries on May 28th. The night after his death, a party of Tans and RIC returning to their barracks were ambushed at Monaloe cross-roads by Volunteers Jackie Nolan, John Merriman and Billy Fitzgibbon. During a brisk gunfight, one constable was wounded before the Volunteers made their escape across fields.

With one of their number dead and another now seriously injured, tensions inside Cabinteely barracks had reached boiling point. Just before three o’clock in the morning, a party of five Tans, faces blackened with shoe polish, made their way along Brennanstown Road to Foxrock, where they stopped at ‘The Hotel’, a large tenement building that once stood in the centre of the village. It was here that Volunteer Thomas Murphy resided along with his widowed mother and four sisters. As the building was home to several families, the front door was left open, enabling the Tans to make their way inside unnoticed. They then quietly made their way to Thomas’ room before bursting through his bedroom door, waking the startled man from his sleep. One of the intruders asked if he was Thomas Murphy, and when he replied that he was, a shot was fired, hitting the young man through his head, the bullet passing through the wall into the adjacent room. As the intruders left, Thomas’ mother and sisters rushed into the room to find their son in a collapsed state. Despite the best efforts of a local doctor, Thomas died where he lay several hours later.

On June 1st, Thomas’ remains were buried at Deansgrange Cemetery following a military enquiry. In a large funeral cortege, members of the Dublin and South Eastern Railway Company, where Thomas worked as a porter, marched in a body after the hearse. Numerous wreaths were placed over the coffin, which was wrapped in a tricolour flag. Thomas’ IRA comrades supplied a guard of honour and firing party. Three volleys of shots were fired as the coffin was lowered into the grave, before men and arms managed to get safely out of the cemetery through a cordon of British military.

With many thanks to: Sean Larkin, South Derry.

Remembering Óglach Larry Marley, 3rd Battalion, Belfast Brigade, Irish Republican Army (IRA) who was shot dead by a pro British death squad at his home in Ardoyne, on April 2nd 1987.

His funeral was delayed for three days due to attacks from the RUC.

There was a massive demonstration of popular resistance to British injustice on Wednesday when thousands upon thousands of people took to the streets of Belfast for the funeral of IRA Volunteer Larry Marley.

Two previous attempts to bury Volunteer Marley, who had been murdered by loyalist assassins at his Ardoyne home almost a week earlier, were frustrated by the heavy-handed actions of the RUC who did everything in their power to prevent a dignified funeral taking place.

Far from intimidating the Marley family, the actions of the RUC merely strengthened their resolve to ensure that their husband and father was buried with proper respect. For two days and nights, the eyes of Belfast, the rest of Ireland and beyond turned towards Ardoyne and to the bravery of the Marley family in the midst of their grief. That bravery inspired others. The number of mourners outside the Marley home grew and, at short notice, major demonstrations against the activities of the RUC and in support of the family were held in Andersonstown and Ardoyne itself.

Yet it was not until the actual funeral that the full measure of popular feeling could be properly gauged. Ignoring the vast array of plastic-bullet guns, helmets, armoured cars and rifles which are part and parcel of the machinery of repression seen at every republican funeral in recent years, the people came out in a spontaneous and moving gesture of solidarity and defiance.

Efforts by the RUC to impose its sectarian control over the funeral were frustrated by the sheer number of people, young and old, who turned out to join the procession or to line the route.

With many thanks to: Clan na Gael.