You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘Ireland’ tag.

10 Jan 2014

See also: In Flanders Fields

Northern Ireland’s first and deputy first ministers have joined the Irish deputy prime minister in launching Irish World War One records online.

Peter Robinson and Martin McGuinness met Eamon Gilmore in Dublin to mark the launch.

It means records are available to a worldwide audience.

Digital records of individual Irish soldiers are now available online, following collaboration between Google and the In Flanders Fields museum.

“As we enter an important decade of commemorations in both our countries, it is my hope that what has been established here today will keep alive the history and the stories of those who did not return from war,” Mr Robinson said.

“This work will allow the stories of the fallen to be recorded for the benefit of future generations and will allow us to express our thanks and acknowledge the sacrifice of men who died helping to preserve our freedom.”

Mr McGuinness said: “Over 200,000 Irishmen fought in the war and over 49,000 were killed, which shows the human impact of the war on the island of Ireland. It is important all their personal stories are told and this innovative project ensures the memory of those Irish soldiers killed will continue.”

In July 2012, the Irish ambassador to Belgium, Eamonn MacAodha, launched a project with Google to make records available to all and absolutely free.

The collaboration with Google ensured that the work could be financed and technically supported.

Log on to In Flanders Fields, type in a name and see the place of birth, rank, regiment, service number, date of death and place of burial / commemoration of each individual soldier with that name, where the information is available.

Ridgeway: An Historical Romance of the Fenian Invasion of Canada by Scian Dubh – Free Ebook from

“In the dark, English crucible of seven hundred years of famine, fire and sword, the children of Ireland have been tested to an intensity unknown to the annals of any other people. From the days of the second Henry down to those of the last of the Georges, every device that human ingenuity could encompass or the most diabolical spirit entertain, was brought to bear upon them, not only with a view to insuring their speedy degradation, but with the further design of accomplishing ultimately the utter extinction of their race. Yet notwithstanding that confiscation, exile and death, have been their bitter portion for ages—notwithstanding that their altars, their literature and their flag have been trampled in the dust, beneath the iron heel of the invader, the pure, crimson ore of their nationality and patriotism still flashes and scintillates before the world; while the fierce heart of “Brien of the Cow Tax,” bounding in each and every of them as of yore, yearns for yet another Clontarf, when hoarse with the pent-up vengeance of centuries, they shall burst like unlaired tigers upon their ancient, and implacable enemy, and, with one, long, wild cry, hurl her bloody and broken from their shores forever…”

Grandson and other clan members to travel to Wexford to commemorate event

Noel Whelan
Irish Times
15 June 2013
**Video and text of speech below

John F Kennedy poses with relatives in Dunganstown, Co Wexford, on his visit to Ireland in 1963.

Mary Robinson once said that the smell of fresh paint would be one of the abiding memories of her presidency. Local communities always seemed to have redecorated whatever centre or school she was visiting just before the presidential party arrived.

The smell of fresh paint, the dust of freshly laid pavements and the colours of newly planted flower beds were prominent in New Ross this week as the local authorities and shop owners busily readied the quayside for the arrival of American political royalty next weekend. The Kennedy clan are coming to town.

Four miles out the road at Dunganstown the scene was also one of dust and fresh paint as the Office of Public Works put the finishing touches to the new visitor centre at the Kennedy Homestead. Curator and Kennedy cousin Patrick Grennan and heritage interpretive designer Jack Harrison have assembled a fascinating exhibition of photographs, observations and memorabilia capturing the extraordinary journey that is the Kennedy story.

The visitor centre will be officially opened by Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Caroline Kennedy next Saturday afternoon. Later that evening they will also light an eternal flame to emigrants beside the Dunbrody famine ship at New Ross. It’s all part of a series of Kennedy homecoming events as three dozen American-based Kennedys join with their local cousins, the townspeople and thousands of expected visitors to mark the 50th anniversary of John F Kennedy’s visit as president in 1963.

Dramatic works

Among the dramatic works which the town council has undertaken at the quayside in New Ross has been the erection of a statute in bronze by Ann Meldon Hugh replicating a US presidential podium at the spot where John F Kennedy spoke. Having checked the online footage of the speech and even the minutes of the relevant town council meeting from 1963 the town manager, Eamonn Hore, was able to pinpoint to within a metre the precise spot as appropriate location for the podium statute. The bronze podium has already become an attraction in its own right. On recent bright summer evenings one could see people standing behind it and having their presidential speech-making pose captured on smartphone cameras.

The full text of John F Kennedy’s speech in 1963 has been engraved on the podium top. The most striking thing about the speech is how short it was: it runs to just over 300 words. It lasted just three minutes. A press copy of the New Ross remarks preserved in the Kennedy Library in Boston shows four closely typed paragraphs which take up about two-thirds of a single A4 page. Footage of the speech in the library, and widely available online, suggests that the president’s jokes on the day were ad-libbed, but of course they were included in the advance text published to the press.


Video: John F. Kennedy in New Ross and Wexford, Ireland, June 27th 1963.


In these 300 words Kennedy managed to acknowledge and introduce the significant members of his travelling party, including his sisters Eunice and Jean. He joked about how if his great-grandfather had not left he might have been working in the local Albatros factory across the river or in John V Kelly’s local pub across the road.

Return journey

He also however made, in a subtle way, some significant points about the consequences and opportunity flowing from the Irish history of emigration. Speaking at the spot where his great-grandfather Patrick Kennedy had boarded the famine ship, the Dunbrody, in 1848 to begin his journey to America, Kennedy spoke of how it had taken 115 years and 6,000 miles for him to make the return journey. The point obvious to his audience of course was that while Patrick Kennedy in 1848 left as a peasant farmer John F Kennedy had come back in 1963 as president.

Notwithstanding the fact that the speech was short, Kennedy’s carefully chosen words and the manner of the delivery meant none of those who waited for hours to hear him felt they had been short-changed. On the contrary, several in New Ross this week described the moment as the highlight of their childhood. It is an eloquent illustration of how something memorable yet effective can be better said in a short rather than a long speech. That which is concise is more likely to be profound.

Over the course of next Thursday in Dublin and next Friday and Saturday in New Ross and in Dunganstown there will be many words spoken as national and local personalities and politicians seek to capture the relevance of John F Kennedy’s visit to Ireland in 1963. Those of us involved in putting some of the events together will be hoping to impose something approaching a 300-word limit on the speakers, at least as a general rule.

We will of course be happy to grant some leeway to members of the Kennedy family, who all seem to have inherited the gift of memorable speech-making.

On New Ross quayside next Saturday JFK’s grandson will speak from almost the same spot as Kennedy spoke from in 1963 to honour his great-grandfather. In many ways these are likely to be among the most poignant remarks of the weekend. In terms of memorable Kennedy speeches, in New Ross at least, the torch will pass on once more to another generation.


1963 Press Release
For immediate release
Office of The White House Press Secretary
(Dublin, Ireland)
June 27, 1963

The White House

Remarks of The President

At New Ross Quay

New Ross, Ireland

Mr. Mayor, I first of all would like to introduce two members of my family who came here with us: My sister Eunice Shriver, and to introduce another of my sisters, Jean Smith. I would like to have you meet American Ambassador McClosky, who is with us, and I would like to have you meet the head of the American labor movement, whose mother and father were born in Ireland, George Meany, who is travelling with us. And then I would like to have you meet the only man with us who doesn’t have a drop of Irish blood, but who is dying to, the head of the protocol of the United States, Angier Biddle Duke.

See, Angie, how nice it is, just to be Irish?

I am glad to be here. It took 115 years to make this trip and 6’000 miles, and three generations. But I am proud to be here and I appreciate the warm welcome you have given to all of us. When my great grandfather left here to become a cooper in East Boston, he carried nothing with him except two things: a strong religious faith and a strong desire for liberty. I am glad to say that all of his great granchildren have valued that inheritance.

If he hadn’t left, I would be working over at the Albatross Company, or perhaps for John V. Kelly. In any case, we are happy to be back here.

About 50 years ago, an Irishman from New Ross traveled down to Washington with his family, and in order to tell his neighbors how well he was doing, he had his picture taken in front of the White House and said, “This is our summer home. Come and see us.” Well, it is our home also in the Winter, and I hope you will come and see us.

Thank you.

Silicon Republic
7 August 2012

A crowd outside the Mansion House, Dublin, in the days before the truce was signed in the Irish War of Independence, July 1921. Image from the National Library of Ireland, via Wikimedia Commons

The Bureau of Military History was established in 1947 to gather information on Ireland’s fight for independence from 1913 to 1921. In March 2003, the statements, documents and photographs assembled by the bureau were opened to the public, and today they will reach a wider audience online.

The bureau spent 11 years compiling the history of the events that led to Ireland’s independence, speaking to members of the Irish Volunteers (later the Irish Republican Army), Fianna Éireann, the Irish Republican Brotherhood, Clann na Gael, Cumann na mBan, Sinn Féin, the Irish Citizen Army, and relatives of the deceased. But, when the task was completed in 1957, the archive contents were considered highly sensitive and were boxed up and locked away in the Department of An Taoiseach until 11 March 2003 when the collection was formally made available to the public at the National Archives of Ireland.

In all, the collection contains 1,773 witness statements, 334 sets of contemporary documents (such as pamphlets, publications, letters, drawings and posters), 42 photograph collections, 210 photographs of actions sites taken by the Air Corps, 12 voice recordings and a selection of press cuttings.

The historic archive recounts events such as the Howth gun-running in 1914, the Easter Rising in 1916, and the outbreak of the War of Independence in 1919.

Today, this archive will be made available online at Archivists have spent years preparing the archive for online viewing, digitising the documents and making every word searchable.

The initiative comes from Military Archives, a site launched in conjunction with the National Archives of Ireland.

Richard Waghorne
Daily Mail
1 June 2012

Ireland’s ratification of the EU fiscal pact can only be described as abject.

There comes a point when a country has surrendered so much of its sovereignty that its claim to be a self-governing polity expires. Ireland has passed the point at which it can honestly be deemed an independent country. The Republic is in abeyance.

In approving Friday’s referendum, Ireland has voted to hand away its freedom to set its budget according to its own wishes. This absolutely basic task of government was already compromised under the terms of the country’s bail-out. This has already led to the dismaying spectacle of Irish budget details being considered in Berlin before being submitted to parliament in Dublin. Now Ireland has formally voted away its fiscal independence by submitting to Brussels’ superintendence of its future budgets.

The surrender of monetary policy occurred when Ireland resolved to join the Euro, despite Britain, its most important trading partner, wisely resolving to opt out. Ireland is now a country without independent control over its currency, its taxation policies, or its spending. Added to scant control over its borders and its air, land and sea, can it truthfully any longer be called an independent country?

The effects of this stripping away of self-government are silent but pernicious.

This week’s referendum was a case in point. The campaign was desultory on both sides, distinguished most of all by a thorough-going cynicism and fatalism. Few in Ireland seriously doubted that rejection of the fiscal compact would inevitably be followed by a second referendum. The Nice Treaty was ran a second time in Ireland, as was the Lisbon Treaty, after both were initially rejected. It is now near impossible to get a believable verdict from the Irish electorate on a European treaty.

If turnout figures are a reliable indication, many voters who would ordinarily vote against EU treaties no longer both to travel to the ballot box, knowing that their wishes will simply by overturned or bypassed. This is an electorate bruised by the abuse of referendums by the Eurofederalist Irish elite and cowed by the thought that disobedience to the wishes of Brussels would see the country pauperised with the ruthlessness with which Greece is being ground into the dust to appease the debts of German holders of Greek bonds.
Result: In approving the referendum, Ireland has voted to hand away its freedom to set its budget according to its own wishes

Then there is the effect of infantilising national politics. Now that the serious decisions concerning Ireland’s future are taken in Europe rather than in Dublin, Irish politics has taken on a puerile aspect, as the only issues within the remit of her politicians are the trivial. Recent months have been consumed by an irrelevant but ferocious controversy over the introduction of a new charge on homeowners. The sums involved are utterly derisory compared with the sums at stake in Ireland’s punitive bail-out. This is the politics of the playground. It is the politics of a country deprived of freedom of choice over the crucial questions concerning its own destiny.

This is seen also in the increasing tendency of the Irish electorate to behave as craven supplicants rather than as citizens of a Republic. The appetite for national independence is nowhere to be seen. The indignity of being a subject province of the emerging Brussels imperium is rarely discussed let alone decried.

So what was it all for, all the long decades of miserable attempts at demonstrating Irish independence? What was the bloody separation from Britain for, if national independence is so lightly esteemed that it is cast away for the improved prospects of a hand-out from another imperial hegemon? What was the point of Ireland’s preening neutrality during the Second World War, to the cost of countless Allied seamen? To what end has the murderous mythology of Irish republican irredentism been tolerated and nurtured well into living memory, if the status of province rather than republic is the willing choice of the Irish elite?

A sober-minded observer of Irish history is unable to watch Ireland’s elective slouch into Euro-mediocrity without profound dismay. Ireland’s ‘Yes’ to the fiscal compact is its ‘No’ to the more strenuous but more honourable path of recovering the responsibilities of self-government.

By Mark Hilliard
March 30 2012

IRELAND remains an overwhelmingly Catholic country — despite a surge in those who claim to have no religion.

Census results reveal that the number of people who disassociate themselves from any creed has risen by 45pc, with the majority being from the Irish community. The overall figure grew by 83,500 to 269,800.

A report noted: “The majority of this group were Irish nationals, accounting for 176,180 of the total and increasing by 64.4pc since 2006.”

The figure will be seen by many as a confirmation of the church’s declining influence, which has been reflected on the ground through dwindling Mass attendance numbers.

The trend among those who did not put a faith to their name peaked in the 25 to 29 years age group, of whom some 13pc selected ‘no religion’.

In the Dun Laoghaire/Rathdown area of south Dublin, the Census found the highest level of people without a religious faith, at 23pc of the overall population.

Conversely, the fastest-growing religions by percentage were Orthodox, Apostolic or Pentecostal, and Islam. However, at 3.861 million people, Catholicism continues to be the dominant religious force.

“Eighty-four per cent of people reported themselves as Catholic but other religions have shown strong increases,” said senior statistician Deirdre Cullen.

She described Islam as being “the most important non-Christian religion in Ireland today”.

However, the Census also notes that while the number of Catholics increased by nearly 179,889 over the last five years, “much of this increase came from the non-Irish (mostly European) national community”.

The Church of Ireland had the second highest membership with 129,000, followed by the Islamic faith (49,200), Christian (41,200) and Presbyterian (24,600).

The Orthodox and Apostolic or Pentecostal religions recorded numbers of 45,200 and 14,000 respectively but enjoyed significant percentage increases of 117pc and 73pc.

NY Times
March 19, 2012

DUBLIN — Throughout the European financial crisis, Ireland has won plaudits for the way it has handled austerity. But growth has stalled here once again, and an incipient tax revolt is being taken as a sign that even this most stoic of nations is becoming fed up.

Urged on by promoters of a tax boycott, fully 85 percent of Irish homeowners have yet to pay a $130 property tax that is due March 31. The latest official figures show that just 225,000 property owners out of 1.6 million have paid a total of $29 million — well short of the more than $200 million the government was planning to raise to help support public services.

The government has so far dismissed talk that the boycott is gathering strength, saying the Irish are notorious procrastinators on money matters.

“The Irish people are law-abiding citizens and will pay the charge before March 31,” a government spokesman said. “We are ready to cope with a late surge — Irish people always tend to leave it to the last minute to pay their bills.”

The boycott’s organizers see it differently.

“The reality is people are not paying for a reason — they are consciously using this to strike back,” Cian Prendiville, a prominent organizer in the Campaign Against Household and Water Taxes, said in an interview. “This is mass civil disobedience in the finest boycott tradition.”

This protest, initiated by nine left-wing opposition members of Parliament in December, has found resonance among “Middle Ireland” — an older, settled demographic made up of hard-pressed homeowners, many of whom would have voted for the mainstream government parties at the last general election just over a year ago.

Among them are Gerry McKeever, 56, and his wife, Annie, who moved to the Dublin satellite town of Kildare during the decade-long boom that began in the mid-1990s known as the Celtic Tiger era, and who say their home is now worth less than half of the purchase price. They have two young children, high mortgage payments, child care costs and increasing fuel bills for the 70-mile round-trip commute to work in the capital.

Home to many soldiers at the nearby Curragh army base, Kildare is considered a conservative town. Mr. McKeever says he has been surprised not just by the number of people attracted to protest meetings, but by their generally advanced ages — not the sort of people, he said, who are likely to take to the streets, Athens style.

“Many people are sitting tight rather than actively going out protesting,” he said. “This is sullen, peasant discontent in the finest Irish tradition. This is the revolt of the graybeards.”

The boycott organizers say resentment about austerity measures has been building for some time, and there is no shortage of reasons people are refusing to pay the new tax: a flat domestic economy, seemingly endless budget cuts, declining house prices and underwater mortgages, rising personal debt, higher charges for fewer services, the introduction of numerous other direct and indirect taxes, charges for rural septic tank inspections, an unemployment rate of 14 percent and emigration running at an average of 100 people a day.

Perhaps most significant is the coincidence that on the same day the household tax is due, Irish taxpayers will have to pay $4 billion to make good on some of the monumental debts run up by the failed Anglo Irish Bank. The household tax is also the prelude to a much bigger property tax that is being demanded next year by the so-called troika of lenders — the European Union, the International Monetary Fund and the European Central Bank — under the terms of Ireland’s bailout deal.

The government has been increasing the pressure in recent weeks, promising that any “tax dodgers” will be tracked down through the use of utility bills. The government spokesman acknowledged that there “is no Plan B,” and it remains unclear what the government will do if the boycott succeeds.

The antitax movement seems to be gaining strength by the day, if the number of protest meetings around the country is any indication.

Boycott organizers say attendance at rallies now transcends class, the urban-rural divide and political party affiliation.

Daniel Doorhy, 36, a warehouse worker, said he had never been a member of a political party but had helped to organize meetings against the tax.

“Like a lot of people, I would have voted for whoever would do me a favor at the time. I don’t agree with this way of doing things, but I’m as guilty of it as the next man,” he said. “I am fearful of what is coming down the line in terms of a bigger property tax that I just won’t be able to pay and I will lose my house over it.”

Like many other Irish, he is well versed in the economic jargon that has become a part of everyday conversation here.

“I had never heard of bondholders or speculators or billions of euros in debts, but I know all about them now,” he said. “I also believe the government is lying to me when it says it will be used for local services, and that’s one thing everyone I’ve met agrees on, whether they’ve paid this or not.”

Like Mr. McKeever, Mr. Doorhy has also been surprised by the older profile of the would-be protesters.

“I would say the average age is 40-plus. These are people who have been through all this before when they faced down the property taxes and water charges during the 1970s and 1990s,” he said. “I think the government is hoping and praying there will be a huge surge at the last minute — I know people are afraid of being fined or worse, but what choice do we have?”

Mr. Prendiville, the campaign organizer, says that despite their efforts to play down the boycott, government officials are deeply concerned.

“It will be a real nightmare scenario for the government because it doesn’t have the resources to enforce payment,” he said. “They can intimidate and browbeat all they like, but they don’t have the wherewithal to collect what people are not prepared or cannot afford to give them.”

OPINION: Lay voices who make a living defending the church should see sense on embassy issue, writes PATSY McGARRY

By Patsy McGarry
Irish Times
24 Feb 2012

PROTAGONISTS IN the row over the closure of Ireland’s embassy to the Holy See have included some Fine Gael backbenchers not heard from before. Certainly they were silent following the Cloyne report last July, when no one produced a rosary beads at a parliamentary party meeting either.

Recently they’ve had to deal with voters angered at Fine Gael Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan’s stand on septic tanks and household charges. It was a help to have a Labour Minister’s decision to seize on.

The row would not be complete without Fianna Fáil input. On Valentine’s Day Senator Terry Leyden was accused by Fine Gael’s Paul Coghlan of jumping up and down like a jackass on the issue. Leyden is no jackass but would recognise a chance to embarrass political opponents before drawing his first breath of a day, even on Valentine’s Day.

Then there are the usual suspects, lay voices who make a living from defending the institutional church when it is safe to do so, when outrage is settling after the Cloyne report.

It was the same after the Ferns, Ryan and Murphy reports. Their immediate reaction is practised horror. Then, with time, they’re back to their slithering ways, diluting truth, minimising the wreckage, playing it all down.

A particular focus for this Fine Gael/Fianna Fáil/usual suspects “alliance” is Eamon Gilmore, who announced the closure of the embassy in November. He has even been described as “an arrogant atheist”.

Gilmore has said he is an agnostic. He attended Garbally College, Ballinasloe, junior seminary of the Catholic Diocese of Clonfert. In his 2010 book Leading Lights he described a teacher there, Fr Joe Cassidy, later archbishop of Tuam, as one of 12 people who inspired him most in life. This hardly fits the image of “an arrogant atheist”.

But some will note that one of the great 20th century atheists and tyrants Joseph Stalin also attended a seminary. (Irish seminaries produced their share of tyrants, albeit arrogant believers to a man.) Yet even his detractors would acknowledge that Gilmore is no Joe Stalin.

None of this nonsense has anything to do with religion. The central issue over Ireland and the Vatican has been Rome’s lack of co-operation with two inquiries set up by this State to investigate criminality – the systematic enabling and cover-up by Catholic Church authorities of the rape of Irish children over decades.

Their determination to hide the truth, through lies and mental reservation, rested on what was understood to be required in Rome. Then in May 2001 the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger (now Pope) contacted every Catholic bishop in the world, including then archbishop of Dublin Desmond Connell and then bishop of Cloyne John Magee.

He directed them to send all clerical child sex abuse allegations “with a semblance of truth” to him. On foot of this and prior Vatican decisions the Murphy commission, which investigated abuse in Dublin, wrote to the congregation in September 2006 seeking co-operation. It got none.

Instead the Vatican complained to Dublin that the commission had not used proper channels, ie it had not gone through the Department of Foreign Affairs. As should have been known in Rome the Murphy commission could not use the Irish State’s “proper channels” as it was also investigating this State’s handling of allegations.

So, in February 2007 the commission wrote to the papal nuncio in Dublin asking for relevant documents. There was no reply. In early 2009 it again wrote to the nuncio, enclosing a draft of its report for comment. There was no reply.

During its later investigations into Cloyne diocese it also wrote to the nuncio. This time he responded to say he was “unable to assist”. That was how the Holy See treated two inquiries set up by our government to investigate the gravest of abuses of thousands of Irish children by priests. It ignored them. This had nothing to do with Catholicism but centrally involved inter-state relations. Because of it, and whatever may happen in the future, the decision to close the Irish embassy to the Holy See was appropriate and proportionate, regardless of the costs argument.

Nor did it amount to breaking off diplomatic relations, as could be inferred from surprising interventions by former Irish diplomats Seán Donlon and Michael Lillis.

It should be noted too that the most Catholic country, Malta, is represented in the Holy See from its capital Valletta, and others from Bern in Switzerland.

It is time common sense entered this row.

By Bruce Arnold
Monday January 23 2012

Public recognition that a national debate is needed on Ireland’s future in Europe is growing despite attempts to throttle or pre-empt it. Last Friday, in the Dail, at a meeting of former Oireachtas members attending a seminar on Ireland and Europe, there were references to the growing dissatisfaction felt about bad leadership or no leadership or secretive leadership. A tide of public reaction is building.

Notable contributors included Alan Dukes, who heads what was once Anglo Irish Bank, and Geraldine Kennedy, former editor of the ‘Irish Times’. Alan Dukes made a statement about us being ‘led by the nose’, notably by Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy, referring to the former as “a very substantial lady who knows what she is doing”.

Apart from the word “substantial”, this is complete nonsense. Ms Merkel has led Europe throughout the euro crisis and has repeatedly failed to find a workable solution. She clearly does not know what she is doing for Europe, only Germany. If she does, it is not enough to get us out of the mess. As Wolfgang Munchau said last Monday in the ‘Financial Times’: “Now that she has got everything she wanted, the system continues to unravel.”

Lucinda Creighton, Minister of State for European Affairs, claimed: “We need the big member states to show leadership.” That is more nonsense. They are telling us what to do, in their own interest. That is not European leadership.

More interesting was Ms Kennedy’s line that there was a political and moral imperative for the Government to put before the people the question of whether we should support the new European fiscal treaty. She saw the referendum prevarication by the Government as immoral and lacking fundamental democracy involving “faith in the good sense of the electorate to recognise our long-term economic interest with Europe and with the euro”, and remain part of Europe as 10 other states are doing. By the same token, she means the democratic right to make other choices.

Ms Kennedy was ‘Irish Times’ editor during the two referendums on the Lisbon Treaty, steering the paper’s readers towards a ‘Yes’ vote both in 2008 and 2009. She lost on the first and only won on the second after a campaign based on dubious persuasions and even more dubious threats that instilled a degree of national fear that led to the biased outcome. The ‘Irish Times’ contributed to that one-sided approach as did RTE.

I suspect Ms Kennedy is revising views once held, despite faith in the electorate’s ‘good sense’, favouring the euro. What is not in doubt is her belief that there should be debate. She added a very strong statement about the massive effect on the Irish psyche of our loss of sovereignty together with rapidly growing debt. This weighs in favour of an open debate.

One government member agrees. Brian Hayes, in an article in the Irish Independent, took David McWilliams and myself to task for our views on the euro, characterising them as ‘car-crash economics’. He misrepresented our positions. He seriously misrepresented the eurozone when he said it was our most important trading area. It is not. We do the greater part of our trade outside it. But he made important points, raising questions about the banks, unfair debt, our competitiveness and possible future relationship with the sterling area.

The mantra: how good Europe has been for us and how good it can be, overshadowed his article.

I was encouraged to read the next day in Stephen Collins’s column in the ‘Irish Times’, approving references to Brian Hayes. Mr Collins commented on “the shallow level of so much of the debate on the EU-IMF bailout and our membership of the eurozone”.

But instead of helping that debate forward, he hindered it mightily by concealing the names of the two journalists Mr Hayes had quite specifically, and by name, taken to task. He substituted for Mr McWilliams and myself the description of us as “a coterie of prominent media figures who have argued consistently that the solution to Ireland’s problems is to leave the euro and establish our own currency”. His use of the word ‘coterie’ was pejorative. The OED definition of a coterie is “a select association of people with exclusive interests”. This is hardly an appropriate description of two working journalists who rarely see each other or discuss what they write.

By not naming us, he made debate more difficult. At the same time he criticised members of the Government for not coming out “with a clear and consistent message on the core problems facing the country”. So where does he stand? (My letter to the ‘Irish Times’, pointing out all this confusion and reinforced by one sent to the paper’s editor, did not appear.)

IN conclusion, I will turn to another dismal area of misrepresentation concerning Sean Lemass. Ronan Fanning suggests (Irish Independent, January 19) that my arguments about Sean Lemass are unsupported by evidence. He must know, as a historian, that evidence of negatives is very hard to find or manufacture.

It is much easier to say, as he does, that “Lemass … was an original thinker” and to interpolate from this his “support for the membership of the European Union, as it would become”. (My italics.) It did not become anything for us until after Mr Lemass’s death. And the EU has changed radically since then. What it has now become would horrify Mr Lemass. As to Europe becoming “a central tenet” of party policy, this was Jack Lynch’s doing between the commencement of his leadership in 1966 and our EEC entry in 1973. I forgive Professor Fanning his snide reference to my hero worship of Mr Lynch and his misrepresentation of the book’s title. If he ever read it, he would know that ‘Jack Lynch: Hero in Crisis’ referred to Mr Lynch’s proper demolition of Charles Haughey for his treachery over Northern Ireland. This was the crisis in which he played the title role.

Brendan Halligan’s essay on Mr Lemass (‘Irish Times’, January 18) is important for raising the unattractive status of Ireland as a potential member of the EEC in 1961. But he omits reference to OECD misgivings, at the time, over educational shortcomings, including the lamentable neglect of the education of children in the so-called ‘care’ of the Irish industrial school system. We were seen in the early 1960s as a benighted country, dominated by the church, making us an unattractive EEC candidate with poor levels of democracy. Mr Lemass knew about that and did nothing; his tour of capitals was a weak response to our exclusion.

However, we were not isolated. Relations with Britain were energetically sustained by Mr Lemass. Always the pragmatist, he saw the continuing and still relevant reality of the UK as a market for Irish goods. Mr Halligan completely ignores this aspect of Mr Lemass. He should read Bryce Evans’s new biography of Mr Lemass. The book washes all the other ones into the sea.

By John Waite
BBC Radio 4, Face the Facts
BBC News
27 Dec 2011

Five thousand Irish soldiers who swapped uniforms to fight for the British against Hitler went on to suffer years of persecution.

One of them, 92-year-old Phil Farrington, took part in the D-Day landings and helped liberate the German death camp at Bergen-Belsen – but he wears his medals in secret.

Even to this day, he has nightmares that he will be arrested by the authorities and imprisoned for his wartime service.

“They would come and get me, yes they would,” he said in a frail voice at his home in the docks area of Dublin.

And his 25-year-old grandson, Patrick, confirmed: “I see the fear in him even today, even after 65 years.”

Mr Farrington’s fears are not groundless.

He was one of about 5,000 Irish soldiers who deserted their own neutral army to join the war against fascism and who were brutally punished on their return home as a result.

They were formally dismissed from the Irish army, stripped of all pay and pension rights, and prevented from finding work by being banned for seven years from any employment paid for by state or government funds.

A special “list” was drawn up containing their names and addresses, and circulated to every government department, town hall and railway station – anywhere the men might look for a job.

Find out more

• John Waite presents Face the Facts: Deserters Deserted
• The programme will be on BBC Radio 4 at 12:30 GMT on Wednesday 4 January 2012 and can be heard afterwards on BBC iPlayer
Read more about the programme

It was referred to in the Irish parliament – the Dail – at the time as a “starvation order”, and for many of their families the phrase became painfully close to the truth.

Treated as outcasts

Paddy Reid – whose father and uncle both fought the Japanese at the battle of Kohima Ridge – recalls a post-war childhood in Dublin spent “moving from one slum to another”.

Maybe one slice of bread a day and that would be it – no proper clothing, no proper heating.

“My father was blacklisted and away all the time, picking turnips or whatever work he could get. It’s still painful to remember. We were treated as outcasts.”

John Stout served with the Irish Guards armoured division which raced to Arnhem to capture a key bridge.

John Stout: “I feel very betrayed about how we were treated, it was wrong”

He also fought in the Battle of the Bulge, ending the war as a commando.

On his return home to Cork, however, he was treated as a pariah. “What they did to us was wrong. I know that in my heart. They cold-shouldered you. They didn’t speak to you.

“They didn’t understand why we did what we did. A lot of Irish people wanted Germany to win the war – they were dead up against the British.”

It was only 20 years since Ireland had won its independence after many centuries of rule from London, and the Irish list of grievances against Britain was long – as Gerald Morgan, long-time professor of history at Trinity College, Dublin, explains.

“The uprisings, the civil war, all sorts of reneged promises – I’d estimate that 60% of the population expected or indeed hoped the Germans would win.

“To prevent civil unrest, Eamon de Valera had to do something. Hence the starvation order and the list.”

Ireland adopted a policy of strict neutrality which may have been necessary politically or even popular, but a significant minority strongly backed Britain, including tens of thousands of Irish civilians who signed up to fight alongside the 5,000 Irish servicemen who switched uniforms.

Confidential list

Until I showed him the list – the size of a slim phone directory and marked “confidential” – John Stout had not realised his name was included.

But after the war it quickly became apparent that he could not get work and was not welcome in Ireland – so he returned to Britain.

“I feel very betrayed about how we were treated, it was wrong and even today they should say sorry for the problems we had to endure. We never even got to put our case or argue why it was unjust,” said Mr Stout.

And the list itself is far from accurate, according to Robert Widders, who has written a book about the deserters’ treatment called Spitting on a Soldier’s Grave.

“It contains the names of men who were to be punished but who’d already been killed in action, but not the names of men who deserted the Irish army to spend their war years as burglars or thieves,” he said.

“What happened to them was vindictive and not only a stain on their honour but on the honour of Ireland.” –Gerald Nash Member of the Irish Parliament

In recent months, a number of Irish parliamentarians have begun pressing their government to issue a pardon to the few deserters who remain alive.

“What happened to them was vindictive and not only a stain on their honour but on the honour of Ireland,” TD Gerald Nash said.

But for those nonagenarians who helped win the war but lost so much by doing so, time is of the essence, and it is running out fast.

Face the Facts – Deserters Deserted will be on BBC Radio 4 at 12.30GMT on Wednesday 4 January 2012 and will be available to listen to afterwards online.

25 Dec 2011

>>Watch the video

Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip visited Ireland in May

Queen Elizabeth II has recalled her historic visit to Ireland in her annual Christmas Day broadcast.

She also emphasised the importance of family and the formation of friendships during times of adversity and crisis.

In her speech, the Queen said the spirit of friendship evident during her visit to Ireland last May provided hope for the future.

She said: “This past year has also seen some memorable and historic visits – to Ireland and from America. The spirit of friendship so evident in both these nations can fill us all with hope.

“Relationships that years ago were once so strained have through sorrow and forgiveness blossomed into long- term friendship. It is through this lens of history that we should view the conflicts of today, and so give us hope for tomorrow.”

In her speech she also said her family had been inspired by the courage and hope shown by people, particularly those affected by natural disasters such as floods in Australia and earthquakes in New Zealand.

Queen Elizabeth II, together with her husband Prince Philip, undertook a four-day state visit to Ireland in May.

By Nick Bramhill
Sunday Independent
18 December 2011

JUST a year ago, it would have been impossible to imagine tens of thousands of Irish households tuning into the broadcast of the Queen’s Speech on Christmas Day.

But that now looks more likely than ever, after well-placed sources confirmed Queen Elizabeth’s annual address will be dominated by her first public reflections of her successful State visit to Ireland.

It’s already well-documented that the monarch, who was accompanied by her husband Prince Philip on the historic four-day trip in May, was thrilled with the warm reception she received here on a gruelling schedule that included visits to Dublin, Kildare, Tipperary and Cork.

In a letter to the Lord Mayor of Cork, she described her visit to the city, where she broke with royal protocol and shook hands with the public after receiving an unexpectedly rousing reception, as “deeply moving”.

And according to other reports, she has even privately described the visit — the first by a British monarch in 100 years — as one of the highlights of her long reign.

But she will finally get to put into her own words what the significance of the visit meant to her in what will be her 59th Christmas address.

A Buckingham Palace spokeswoman said the content of the pre-recorded speech, which is being broadcast on Sky News for the first time, is being kept under wraps until a short trailer is aired on Christmas Eve.

But another well-placed Palace source said the Queen always played a central role in picking the broadcast’s themes and that viewers could expect the most upbeat speech in decades, in which she would fondly look back at her visit here.

“It’s been the best year in living memory for the royal family, with two royal weddings, Prince Philip’s 90th birthday and not least, the historic visit to Ireland.

“It’s no secret that the visit to Ireland meant a huge deal to her and she wants to use the speech to reflect on it publicly.”

Sky News is expected to include footage originally broadcast on its channel of the main landmarks the royal couple visited.

The prime time exposure will give a welcome boost to the Irish tourism industry, which has already enjoyed a significant rise in visitor numbers at the sites visited by the royal couple.

News Letter
2 December 2011

THE Secretary of State says he will ask the Republic of Ireland government to open its archives to satisfy unionist concerns about Dublin’s historic relationship with the Provisional IRA.

Owen Paterson made the commitment yesterday at the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee at Westminster in response to requests by Upper Bann DUP MP David Simpson.

The news comes after a major review of allegations of Dublin-PIRA collusion in the News Letter last week. It highlighted unionist anger at what is perceived as an ongoing revision of history to portray them as the main villains of the Troubles.

In the reports, University of Ulster Professor of Politics Henry Patterson called on Dublin to open its archives for the Arms Trial of 1970 in which Dublin ministers were accused of buying arms for the IRA.

Yesterday Mr Paterson said he would raise the issue of collusion with Dublin, adding: “Obviously there will be some key material in the Republic of Ireland.”

David Simpson said the matter was key to “healing” for Northern Ireland.

However, SDLP leader Alasdair McDonnell strongly denied that Dublin had trained the IRA.

Mr Simpson opened the discussion on the topic of “successive Irish governments’ alleged failure to prevent terrorism along the border” and pressed Mr Paterson to ask the Irish government to make information on such historical matters available to unionists.

Secretary of State Mr Paterson said: “I think it is perfectly public knowledge that I am very interested in opening up archives and establishing opportunities for oral testimony and getting an oral archive. If there is to be a full history [of the Troubles] I think obviously we will have to discuss this with the Republic of Ireland to see how they would be making information available.”

Mr Simpson noted that the UK Prime Minister had previously come to the dispatch box and apologised for British state involvement in killing Catholics in Northern Ireland.

“Murder is murder and it is wrong but we have never had an opportunity where the Republic of Ireland has apologised for any wrongdoing or failure to prevent [terrorism],” he said.

After committing murders in Northern Ireland, the IRA often used the Republic of Ireland “as a safe haven, and used it to train the IRA”, he said.

The opening of state archives by Dublin “would go a long way if we are talking about healing in Northern Ireland and moving forward in Northern Ireland”.

He has been in touch with the Irish foreign minister on these issues and hopes to meet him soon, but he asked Mr Paterson to write in support of this meeting.

Mr Paterson said there was some interest among local parties and victims’ groups in just such a project but consensus on a way forward from local parties was key.

“If I am going to go down the archive route and the historian route obviously there will be some key material in the Republic of Ireland,” he said.

“Historians will want to have access so that will be something I will need to talk to the Republic of Ireland about.”

SDLP leader Mr McDonnell responded that “the Irish government did not train the Provisional IRA nor were they responsible for them and the record has to be corrected on that. Beyond that I welcome opening discussions on the past and any access that can be given.”

Bobby Sands mural photo
Ní neart go cur le chéile


April 2019
« Aug    

A note about Archives

For March-Sept. 2007 click here:

March - Sept 2007

All other months and years are below.

'So venceremos, beidh bua againn eigin lá eigin. Sealadaigh abú.' --Bobby Sands