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.

Woman of Aran who lived to age 109

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BRIDGET DIRRANE: Bridget Dirrane, who died aged 109 in 2003 was Ireland’s second oldest woman.

In a life that spanned three centuries, the Cumann na mBan veteran met Padraig Pearse, went on hunger-strike in Mountjoy, worked in John F. Kennedy’s election campaigns, and was the oldest recipient of an honorary university degree.
The latter distinction earned her a place in The Guinness Book of Records. Her memoir, A Woman of Aran, published in 1998, was a best-seller.
On the occasion of her 105th birthday, when asked if she had expected to live so long, Bridget Dirrane replied, “not really, but my sister Julia did live to be a 100”. She attributed her longevity to a strong religious faith, a good upbringing and a healthy diet. Last February she was highly amused to hear her death reported on Today with Pat Kenny and promptly despatched a correction.
Éamon de Valera was the Irish political leader she admired above all others.
To the end, she maintained a keen interest in current affairs and was an enthusiastic supporter of the peace process, and she earnestly wished for a permanent peace. Of today’s IRA, she said: “They don’t know what they’re fighting for. I wouldn’t approve of all they do, but it’s up to them. They’ll have to answer for their misdeeds.”
Bridget Dirrane was born Bridget Gillan, the youngest of the eight children of Joseph Gillan and his wife, Margaret (née Walsh), at Oatquarter, Inis Mór. Her father was a weaver and wove the cloth for the clothes worn by the young Liam O Flaherty.
She encountered tragedy early in life. Her brother, Patrick, died shortly after she began attending school and her father died when she was eight. On the whole, however, her childhood was happy and she shared the family love of music and dancing.
From an early age, she wanted to be a nurse. “I had the knack of it. I knew the cures, as my mother had.” She left school at 14 and worked intermittently as a childminder.
Among the visitors to Inis Mór whom she met were Padraig Pearse, Thomas Ashe, Eamonn Ceannt, and Joseph Mary Plunkett.
Bridget Dirrane left Inis Mór to work as a childminder in Tuam, Co Galway, and later moved to Knockavilla, Co Tipperary, where she became housekeeper to Father Matt Ryan, a Land League veteran and republican supporter. There she joined Cumann na mBan.
In 1919 she began training as a nurse at St Ultan’s Children’s Hospital, Ballsbridge, Dublin. Part of her duties entailed nursing patients in their homes. On one such occasion, the house was raided by the Black and Tans, and Bridget Dirrane was arrested. Taken to the Bridewell, she infuriated her captors by dancing and singing in Irish. On her transfer to Mountjoy Prison, she embarked on a hunger strike. After nine days she was released without charge.
One of her most abiding memories of the War of Independence was the execution of Kevin Barry. She took part in a Cumann na mBan vigil outside Mountjoy on the morning that he was hanged. “We heard the death bell and then there was silence.”
Dirrane opposed the Treaty, and the Civil War caused her great anguish. Nevertheless, she later took a job caring for the family of Gen Richard Mulcahy, the bête noire of anti-Treatyites.
She retained fond memories of the family to the end of her days, particularly of Risteárd who became one of Ireland’s leading heart specialists.
In 1927, at the age of 33, she emigrated to the US and found work nursing in Boston. Shortly after her arrival, she met Edward (Ned) Dirrane, an island neighbour; they married in 1932. During the Depression, the Dirranes worked long and hard to make ends meet. Roosevelt’s New Deal brought some relief, but before the couple could enjoy the benefits of economic recovery, Ned Dirrane died suddenly in 1940.
When the US entered the second World War, Dirrane worked for two years as plant nurse in a munitions factory and later tended soldiers at the Biloxi military base in Mississippi. On her return to south Boston, she became an active Democratic supporter, canvassing for John F. Kennedy in many elections.
In 1966, after 39 years in the US and now retired, she decided that it was time to return to Aran. She moved in with her brother-in-law, Patrick Dirrane, a widower whose three sons were then living abroad. To show good example, the couple married.
At the age of 73, Dirrane oversaw the renovation of her new home, Cliff Edge Cottage, mixing cement and helping to slate the roof. She also planted the flowers and trees around the cottage. Her greatest joy was to help in the rearing of the children of her step-son Coleman and his wife, Margaret.
Dirrane was quick to embrace change and flew on Aer Aran’s inaugural flight to the islands. She welcomed the growth of tourism and the employment it generated. But she bemoaned the stress of modern life. “Today, unfortunately, people don’t have the time to bid each other the time of day. Everybody seems to be rushing to the graveyard!”
Among the visitors to her home were Senator Edward Kennedy and the former US ambassador Ms Jean Kennedy-Smith. When Ms Hillary Rodham Clinton became the first Freewoman of the City of Galway in 1999, Bridget Dirrane was on hand to meet her. By then, she was a resident in a Galway nursing home, her husband having died in 1990. She had been awarded the Master of Arts honoris causa by NUI Galway in 1998 in recognition of her rich and varied life and her service to others.
Bridget Dirrane was a devout Catholic and, to mark her 100th birthday, she purchased a stone statue of Our Lady which was erected at the Well of The Four Beauties, Inis Mór. In her memoir, she intimated that she would leave no fortune behind her. “What I will leave is the sunshine to the flowers, honey to the bees, the moon above in the heavens for all those in love and my beloved Aran Islands to the seas.”
Bridget Dirrane is survived by her step-sons, Stephen, John, and Coleman. Bridget Dirrane: born 1894; died December 31st, 2003.

https://amp.theguardian.com/news/2004/jan/02/guardianobituaries

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

CALLS FOR BANDSMEN TO BE PROSECUTED FOR BREACHES

‘There is growing public opinion that those who march in these bands and breach determinations have a level of impunity – Caral Ni Chuilin.

THERE have been calls for prosecutions against bandsmen who repeatedly flout Parades Commission determinations outside St Patrick‘s Church on Belfast’s Donegal Street.

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In the latest incident on Saturday, a band taking part in a Royal Black Institution parade played The Sash while Mass was being celebrated inside. The Parades Commission had ruled that the return parade be completed ahead of Mass on Saturday evening. The latest breach by loyalist bandsmen outside St Patrick’s comes on the back of a number of breaches so far this year. On July 12 last year, the Young Conway Volunteers band drew widespread criticism after its members were videoed marching in circles outside the church while playing the sectarian ‘Famine Song‘. Dozens of loyalist bandsmen are facing prosecution over the incident, which prompted subsequent restrictions from the parades body. Fr Sheehan said it was regrettable that the PSNI had allowed the parade to pass the church during Mass.

North Belfast politicians urged the authorities to get tough with those flouting parades rulings. Carpal Ni Chuilin, the Stormont culture minister, said there was a growing concern that those who breached the parades body’s rulings were escaping prosecution. “There have been consistent breaches this year by bands of conditions laid down by the Parades Commissions determinations,” said the Sinn Fein MLA. “There is growing public opinion that these bands and breach determinations have a level of impunity.” North Belfast assembly member Albany Maginness called for “decisive action” from the police and Public Prosecution Service (PPS) to target those responsible for the breaches. The SDLP representative said Massgoers consistently complained to him about the lack of prosecutions.

“I have no complaints about the policing, which was fair and reasonable, but these repeated violations of Parades Commission determinations need to be addressed and I see no evidence of that from the PSNI or PPS,” he said. A spokesman for the Parades Commission said the body would review its own monitor reports on Saturday’s parade as well as information from the PSNI. “Any breach of a determination is a matter for the police to investigate and those involved could be liable to prosecution.”

With many thanks to : John Manley (Political Reporter), The Irish News.

LOYALIST BAND PLAY THE SASH OUTSIDE CATHOLIC MASS

Loyal order ‘flouted’ restrictions

THE conduct of loyalist marchers (Orange Disorder) at the Last Saturday parade was “beyond comprehension the parish priest of St Patrick‘s Church in Belfast has said. Fr Michael Sheehan was reacting to the Royal Black parade on Saturday when loyalists played The Sash while Mass was being celebrated inside the church.

RE-ROUTE THE FLUTE! BAN SECTARIAN MARCHES

Fr Sheehan, said: “it was disappointing and disheartening that the Royal Black Preceptory consider that the playing the Sash as they march past residents of Carrick Hill and through this community of St PPatrick’s was respectful.”The playing of loud music as they pass in frount of St Patrick’s Church during devine worship is definitely not respectful, It is not conductive to the building of respect, trust and confidence between the communities of this city. It doesn’t win the respect or trust of the congregation of this church. This particular breach of codes of practice is beyound comprehension,” he said. “It is difficult not to interpret such actions on the part of the loyal orders as a failure at any real attempt to resolve the issues around the contentious parades as they pass St Patrick’s Church and it’s community.”

The last Saturday parade which passed St Patrick’s Church on Belfast’s Donegall Street “flouted every legal restriction placed on it,” according to the culture minister Caral Ni Chuilin, a Sinn Fein MLA for the area said “total disrespect” shown to the nationalist community living in the area. The Parades Commission had determined that only a single drum beat be played as bands passed Carrick Hill while the return leg was supposed to be finished ahead of Mass. However, nationalist politicians claimed the Royal Black Institution (a supposedly religious orgainasition) was delayed by participants so that it coincided with Ssturday evening Mass. While music was played passing the church. Ms Ni Chuilin also claimed a member of the order had spat on a protester. Parish priest Fr Michael Sheehan said: “Tensions had been inflamed by “disrespect for the rule of law and good civic relations between citizens, organisation and communities”.

Ms Ni Chuilin said: “I am fed up hearing about loyal orders being religious oeganisations celebrating culture when in reality what was on show today was an exercise in sectarian coa trailing through a nationalist area.970645_693636490662862_35749967_n “A member of the Royal Black Institution spat upon a protester and on the way home they waited until Mass had started before returning past St Patrick’s Church. “Every aspect of the determination in relation to the parade was broken today and it is my opinion it was an effort to goad nationalist residents into some type of retaliatory reaction.” SDLP assembly member Alban Maginness said he believed marchers acted “quite deliberately” to delay the parade to coincide with Mass.”The Black men (bastards) were supposed to have finished their parade by 6.15. They didn’t commence their parade until around 7.10 so they passed the church after Mass had started,” he said. He said the manner which music was played when passing the church as “not fitting for prayer or worship” and described the behaviour of marchers as “aggressive and provocative”. In June this year the Orange Order, in conjunction with the Royal Black Institution, issued a “template” it said would help ease tensions in the area. The template suggested they would facilitate weddings, funerals and regular church services. Violence erupted outside Donegall Street church during a similar parade last yesr when nationalists and loyalists clashed. A spokesman for the Royal Black Institution said: “Around Northern Ireland on Saturday, approximately 18,000 members of the Royal Black Institution took part in their annual Last Saturday demonstrations. “Many thousands of turned out to enjoy the spectable which is an important part of our culture, (are they having a fucking laugh). “Although there will always be people opposed to our parades, we are pleased that our day passed off without any incident and we beleive this is a step forward.”

With many thanks to : Simon Cunningham, The Irish News.

BANDSMEN TO FACE COURT A YEAR AFTER St PATRICK’S FURORE

‘The decision has been taken to prosecute 15 individuals in relation to an incident at St Patrick‘s Church on July 12 2012 – PPS spokeswoman.

FIFTEEN members of a loyalist band filmed playing sectarian music while marching in circles outside a Catholic church are set to be prosecuted. Controversy erupted after members of Young Conway Volunteers were recorded playing the ‘Famine Song‘ at St Patrick’s Church in Belfast city centre on the Twelfth of July last year.

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The song contains anti-Catholic and anti-Irish lyrics and is sung by Glasgow Rangers supporters and loyalists. The episode, which made international headlines, was blamed for making the St Patrick’s area a new parading flashpoint and stoking wider tensions across the north of the city. More than a year after the footage emerged, it is understood band members are to be prosecuted for the offence of “doing a provocative act”. Since last years parade – part of the main Twelfth procession through Belfast city centre – parishioners at St Patrick’s and local residents have objected to loyal order marches passing the church and the nearby nationalist district of Carrick Hill. Based on the Shan kill Road, the Young Conway Volunteers band was formed in 2007 for the “preservation and promotion” of the memory of Thomas Skinner – a member of the UVF youth wing, the Young Citizen Volunteers, who died in 2003.

The band caused more controversy last August when it defied a Parades Commission ruling not to take part in a Royal Black Institution parade past St Patrick’s. Violence flared when a large number of bands also broke a commission determination by playing music as they passed the church. Members of Young Conway Volunteers took part in this year’s Twelfth parade past St Patrick’s with a band called Young Citizens Volunteers. To date only one person has been convicted of offences a raising out of the July 2012 incident outside St Patrick’s. In March this year William Bell (48), known as Billy, admitted assaulting north Belfast man JJ Magee. Bell waved a club-shaped stick at the Sinn Fein member as he was filming the YCV band outside the church. It is understood members of the band will appear in court later this month.

A spokeswoman for the Public Prosecution Service confirmed: “The decision has been taken to pprosecute 15 individuals in relation to an incident at St Patrick’s Church on July 12 2012.” Meanwhile, security is set to be tight around St Patrick’s this weekend when the Apprentice Boys parade takes place past the church on Saturday involving one band and up to 55 people. The band taking part has been ordered to play only hymns from the junction of Clifton Street and West Link and Donegal Street and Union Street. Nationalists residents have also been given permission to hold a protest during the parade.

With many thanks to : Connla Young, The Irish News.

‘ATTEMPTS TO MAKE ME A POLICE INFORMER LOST ME MY JOB’

‘They can lose me as many jobs as they want buy I am never going to work for [them] – Matt Johnston, pictured

A BELFAST man has claimed he lost his job after attempts were made to recruit him as a police informer. Matt Johnston, from the republican New Lodge area, said police seized his car outside an east Belfast warehouse where he worked last month.

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According to the father-of-two who has previous convictions, officers demanded to search his car at Castlereagh PSNI station after earlier raiding the house in north Belfast where his children live and visiting a recruitment agency in search of him. He says that while later walking to the station to pick up his car he was approached by two men as he walked along Dill Street, close to the former RUC interrogation centre.The 32-year-old says the men asked him to supply information about two Belfast-based republicans and refereed to his former membership of a residents group set up to support people in Carrick Hill opposed to loyalist parades past St Patrick‘s Church.

Johnston says that during the encounter the men told him they could arrange for him to lose his job. In June 2012 he was sentenced to four years in prison after pleading guilty to taking part in a tiger kidnap robbery in 2008. He served nine months in Maghaberry and was released last March due to time already served on remand. “Is this their new tactic, if you don’t work for us we will starve you into it?” he asked. “554902_127331307455451_502011840_n-1They wanted to rattle my cage and ttest the water with me to see what I was made of. They can lose me as many jobs as they want but I am never going to work for [them].” Politicians have routinely defended the use of informers to combat dissident Republican attacks. UUP justice minister Tom Elliot recently said that while everyone has the right to question security force tactics “they also have a right to prevent any acts of criminality and I support their right to do that”. A spokeswoman for the PSNI said: “We do not comment on intelligence matters and no inference should be drawn from this.”

With many thanks to : Connla Young, The Irish News.

NEW GROUP SUPPORTS RESIDENTS OPPOSED TO LOYAL ORDER PARADES

‘The way to find a resolution to this issue is for the loyal orders to sit down with the Carrick Hill residents group in face-to-face dialogue – Kate Clarke.

A NEW group set up to “support” residents opposed to loyal order parades past St Patrick‘s Church in Belfast. The group was formed after a public meeting in the New Lodge area on Wednesday night.

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Around 150 people packed into a hall to discuss parades past St Patrick’s and nearby Carrick Hill area. The Carrick Hill and New Lodge districts are both in the St Patrick’s parish and the Carrick Hill Concerned Residents group held regular protests during contentious parades. Residents from New Lodge and nearby North Queen Street held a separate protests along the parade route at Clifton Street during the disputed Tour of the North last Friday. Tensions in the area have been high since the Shankill Road-based Young Conway Volunteers were filmed playing the sectarian Famine Song on July 12 last year.

During this week’s meeting, which was descibed as being tense at times, several people attending voiced their view that there was no need for a new residents group in the area.A nine-person committee was eventually nominated and the decision taken to establish it as a “support” group as opposed to a separate residents body. Chairwoman Kate Clarke said dialogue was the only way to find a solution to the parades crisis. “We will be taking our lead from the Carrick Hill residents group and as fellow parishioners will do whatever we can to assist them as they seek respect for their community and our church from loyal order paparades,” she said. “The way to find a rresolution to this issue is for the loyal orders to sit down with the Carrick Hill residents group in face-to-face dialogue.”

Meanwhile, the Parades Commission has placed restrictions on a ‘counter-protest’ during a contentious Orange Order parade on the Springfield Road. Supporters of the Orange Order had wanted to hold a protest at the flashpoint “in support of equal access to perceived contested space”. A major security operation took place for the annual parade. While it has been peaceful in recent years, in the past it has sparked violent clashes. After receiving submissions on Friday, Parades Commission chiefs limited the ‘counter-protest’ to 10 people and restricted those taking part to an area close to the gates of Springfield Road Primary School. Springfield Residents Action Group, which is linked to Sinn Fein, has been given permission to hold an anti-parade protest involving up to 200 people between the junction of Pollard Street and Springfield Road and the entrance of Millennium Outreach Centre. Strict conditions have been placed on those taking part in the parade itself, with only 50 office bearers and members of Whiterock Temperance lodge allowed to pass through Workman Avenue and along the disputed part of Springfield Road. Up to 16 bands and remaining 900 participants must make their way through the site of the former Mackies factory before rejoining Springfield Road.

With many thanks to : Connla Young, The Irish News.

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