Category Archives: Ireland

Ballymurphy Massacre 1971

Ballymurphy 11 Relatives and supporters will be on Radio 5 Live during the Victoria Derbyshire show on the Conservative Party Conference. Obviously the show will cover all aspects of Tory Policy, but please try and get in on the Ballymurphy debate
Phone: 0500 909 693
Text: 85058 (charged at your standard message rate)
Lobby Tory Party Conference
Ballymurphy Massacre Vigil
5pm Mon 8th October
Meet at Hall of Memory Centenary Square Broad Street B1 2EP
THE Ballymurphy 11 were murdered during the first three days of internment (Aug 71) in Belfast by the 2nd Battalion of the British Army’s Parachute Regiment. This same regiment went on, 5 months later, to murder 14 demonstrators on Bloody Sunday in Derry.
The horrific catalogue of events in Ballymurphy between 9th and 11th August 1971 have remained hidden from public knowledge and focus for almost 40 years.
The families demand
· A full Independent International Investigation
· A British Government statement that the victims were innocent
· A full apology from the British Government
See more information at:
Troops Out Movement
Campaigning for British Withdrawal from Ireland
TOM 123 Birmingham B11 4PS Tel: 0121 773 8683 Mob: 0797 017 4167

Frances-Mary Blake 1939 – 2009

Friends and acquaintances of Frances-Mary Blake will be saddened to hear of death, aged 70, in December. In the mid-1970s she sorted and catalogued one of the largest collections of historical documents of the civil war period for the archives department of University College Dublin. Following her work on the papers of Republican officer Ernie O’Malley, she edited his best-selling book on the civil war, The Singing Flame. Frances also worked on and wrote the introduction for Raids and Rallies, another book extracted from O’Malley’s papers about the war for independence. Later she wrote The Irish Civil War – and what it still means for the Irish people, which outlined her own views of that period
Frances-Mary Blake was born and lived in Rickmansworth, on the north-west outskirts of London, later moving to nearby Chorleywood. She had a varied selection of jobs; working in a library, in broadcasting, as a purser on the Cunard lines, as an editor for the publishers W. H. Allen and then with the British Waterways Board. Her mother, Mollie, was Irish and Frances inherited from her a love of Ireland. She often spoke about the happy family holidays in Donegal and later Kerry.
Frances was an active member of the Troops Out Movement and we remember her as a passionate campaigner for human rights and against injustice. As an ardent defender of the Republican Movement she deployed her gifts as a letter writer to challenge its critics such as politicians and public commentators in sharply worded, clearly argued letters. She also wrote a great many letters of support to Republican prisoners, some of whom she visited during their incarceration. Many prisoners and their relatives became lifelong friends. All her works were well received and often inspirational to many who shared her ideals. But Frances will be best remembered as a writer, especially for her contributions to the Ernie O’Malley books.
Frances-Mary Blake was born on 29th March 1939. Last November she was admitted to hospital after a period of illness. She died on 5th December. After a Catholic service she was buried in Woodcock Hill Cemetery, Rickmansworth, on 14th December.
Frances was devoted to the cause of Irish independence and gave much of her time and talents in campaigning to achieve that end. We remember her with deep affection as a dear comrade and we know that there will be many people in Britain and Ireland who will wish to pay tribute to her unique contribution.

Troops Out Movement

3rd January 2010

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Plastic bullets. Still in use. Still killing.

The following was sent by the Troops Out Movement relating to the continuing availability and use of the plastic bullet with its legacy of killing and maiming civilians by police. The officer in charge justified their use. His view that innocent bystanders, including children and young people is disputed by commentators, some whom were present.
Letter from Jim McCabe husband of Nora, who was murdered by the RUC with a Plastic Bullet
For over 30 years, in the north of Ireland, we watched while our children, wives, and husbands were slaughtered and maimed with plastic bullets fired by the British Army and RUC (police).
The families campaigned relentlesslythroughout the world to have these lethal weapons banned.
Every major Human Rights group in Europe and the USA supported our call.
We were promised a new beginning with a reformed police service with emphasis put on respect for human rights and new policing methods.
In 2004, Jane Kennedy, the then security minister promised the phasing out of plastic bullets by Christmas 2005. What she did’nt say was that they would be replaced by another type of plastic bullet.
In January 2007 Chief Constable Hugh Orde expressed his regret at the loss of life by plastic bullets and reaffirmed the innocence of those killed especially the children. He also stated he did not intend to use them as a method of public order or crowd control. and said they would not be used in riot situations again.
On 13 July we atched in horror as the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) fired 17 plastic bullets in Ardoyne. They were again used on rioters in the Short Strand on Monday 31 August.
What happened to Hugh Ordes statement and his determination not to ever use plastic bullets again even in riot situations?
The firing of plastic bulets, even in difficult policing situations, is a recipe for disaster. It is only a matter of time before some one is killed and it will most probably be a child.
Recently in London there was very serious rioting between rival football fans and the police at the Westham versus Millwall match in which many people were hurt including some being stabbed. The police managed to restore law and order and not a plastic bullet was used or even contemplated.
The plastic bullet legacy has left 17 people dead, hundreds more injured maimed and disfigured many for life.
They have left a catalogue of carnage, grief and sectarian oppression.
The continued use of these weapons is an obstacle on the Road to Peace.
How can we ask young Nationalists to join a policing service when they may be ordered to fire these weapons given the alienation, bitterness, and mistrust they caused throughout Nationalist communities.
Good policing methods, especially dialogue at flash point areas before events escalate is a priority. The alternative to simply cope with riot by simply firing plastic bullets will set us back years.
These weapons have to be removed once and for all from our society.
Jim Mc Cabe

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Ballymurphy Massacre Families to Meet TDs and Senators

From Troops Out Movement:
Ballymurphy Massacre Families to Meet TDs and Senators
TOM News 29/04/08
Families affected by the actions of the British army’s Parachute Regiment in Belfast in August 1971 will be meeting with representatives of all of the twenty-six county political parties in Dáil Éireann tomorrow. In the Ballymurphy area of West Belfast the Parachute Regiment killed eleven people over a three day period, 9-11 August 1971.
Official accounts labelled all the victims gunmen and gunwomen, including a mother of eight and the parish priest. None of those killed had any connection to any armed group. They were innocent civilians. The barbarity of the killings was lost in the wider reporting of internment and became a forgotten massacre.
The British soldiers responsible for the killings went on to Derry the following January and were directly responsible for Bloody Sunday with fourteen more civilians being murdered. Now as adults, the children and the surviving siblings of those killed have been working to have the names of their loved ones cleared.
Following the Bloody Sunday Inquiry, and with separate investigative findings, the relatives are confident that they can link members of the Parachute Regiment responsible for Bloody Sunday to the killings of their loved ones in Ballymurphy in 1971.
As a direct consequence of the killings in Ballymurphy forty-six children were left without a parent. Many of those children were evacuated to the twenty-six counties – mostly to Irish army camps as refugees. Some of the children watched the funerals of their parents on news footage broadcast by RTÉ. Others were too young to comprehend the enormity of what occurred. Their lives were irrevocably changed.
Theirs is a story of great importance and significance in terms of healing, recovery, truth and justice; a story which must be heard and addressed as part of the outworkings and benefits of the wider peace process. Essentially, the legacy issues of this terrible atrocity must be addressed in the context of personal and societal healing and reconciliation as part of transitional justice.
The families are seeking political support for a number of key aims, which include an independent investigative process that will secure a statement of innocence regarding all of those killed and an apology from both the British Parachute Regiment and the British government. Importantly, this is a process that has an emphasis on truth seeking, acknowledgement and recognition.

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Jalandhar, capital of a free Ireland

The following was published in an Indian journal, The Tribune written by Varinder Singh:
When Irish govt-in-exile was formed
Varinder Singh
Tribune News Service
Despite having kept one of the biggest and sensational historical facts under wraps for over 80 years, hardly anyone knows today that Jalandhar Cantonment was once declared a seat of the “Free Irish government-in-exile” and was a place where a rebellion, by 1000-odd unsung Irish soldiers-turned-freedom fighters, who were inspired by the ongoing Indian freedom struggle, turned out to be one of two mutinies” after the famous naval mutiny” faced by the British armed forces.
What created yet another leaf of history after a long gap of time was the fact that perhaps no Irish envoy or Irish representative had visited the place after 1950 till a curious Mr Phillip McDonagh, the Irish Ambassador to India, paid a visit recently to the barracks, where the ‘mutineers” had enacted the high-tension drama to attain freedom for their brethren back home and where one of world’s unparalleled and unheard-of peace efforts was made by one Jim Daley, leader of a group of Irish soldiers, who was shot dead by a British firing squad in November, 1920, after the Britishers cornered the “mutineers” after making them starve for a few months.
A landmark in history and yet the lesser known incident took place in the summer of 1920 when the winds of freedom, sweeping across India as well as Ireland, were fuelled after news of cruelty being inflicted upon the Irish by the British, particularly that of a brother of a soldier having been hanged in Ireland, creeped into Jalandhar Cantonment, where about 1000 Irish soldiers were deployed as part of the British armed forces.

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Please read the small print

The following is an e-mail from the Troops Out Movement
Over the last few days the media has been blazoned with reports that British military operations in the north of Ireland have ended ….. but read the small print! Please also read article below from the North Belfast News
1) There are still to be 5000 British Troops in the 6 counties – “as a peacetime garrison as in other parts of Britain”. (There are 5500 British troops in Iraq)
2) When did the Brit government admit it was wartime in NI !!??
3) NI has the same population as Birmingham – we don’t have 5000 troops as a peace time garrison!!
4) This is from BBC News 25th June o7
The security service, MI5, is moving to a new base in County Down. The move to Palace Barracks, Holywood is in preparation for an expanded role in NI intelligence gathering. MI5 is due to take over the lead role in intelligence involving national security by the end of 2007. Until now, the PSNI Special Branch has had overall responsibility. Chief Constable Sir Hugh Orde called the plan “a healthy split”. In future, while police handlers will continue to work with individual agents they will, in some cases, report back to MI5.
NB: Holywood is an Army Barracks. Ccould this have something to do with SF joining the police board?? Why do they still need “Agents”?
I don’t think we’ll be giving up yet !!
Mary Pearson – Secretary
Troops Out Movement ~ Campaigning for British Withdrawal from Ireland
PO Box 1032 Birmingham B12 8BZ Tel: 0121 773 8683 0r 0797 017 4167

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The Marching Season

The Marching Season is beginning in Northern Ireland bringing with it the old provocations and threats that we thought might go away with the new spirit of unity when the new Assembly took power. The following is from the Irish Times:
Residents to protest over alleged parade breaches
Irish News 04/06/07
“Nationalist residents are to complain to the Parades Commission after what they said was threatening and provocative behaviour by supporters of a loyalist band parade in the small Suffolk estate in west Belfast on Saturday.
Senior Ulster Defence Association figures, including south Belfast loyalist Jackie McDonald, as well as Ulster Political Research Group spokesman Frankie Gallagher, attended the Black’s Road march that saw upwards of 40 bands and several thousand supporters bussed into Suffolk through surrounding nationalist areas.
Paramilitary flags were carried by several bands in contravention of a Parades Commission determination. Breaches of commission rulings at the parade on previous occasions had led to calls for it to be banned. However, an agreement was reached between nationalist residents and members of the Upper Falls Protestant Boys flute band, which organises the march, after mediation.
Community representatives said that while they kept to their part of the agreement by ensuring there was no trouble at the interface, some supporters at Saturday’s parade behaved in a menacing manner. Observers from the Parades Commission monitored the march.
Stephen Magennis of the area’s Safer Neighbourhood Project said he was relieved there had been no major violence but that some issues needed to be dealt with. “While nationalist residents abided by their part of the agreement there were some sections of loyalist supporters who did not,” he said. “Residents were verbally abused by some band members who made threatening gestures as they were arriving. Paramilitary flags were also on view and that has caused anger among residents who see such displays as blatantly provocative. We have no control over the fact that this parade takes place each year. What we can do is work to try and make sure it passes off without incident.”
Mr Magennis said assurances had been given by organisers in Suffolk that they would take steps to prevent trouble. He said the majority of bands were well-behaved on the day.
“However, there were a few who seemed intent on causing trouble,” he said. “The interface at Suffolk is on the whole peaceful and both sides have built up a network of communication that has helped keep it that way. It would be unfortunate for that relationship to now suffer because of the parade. It is in the best interests of both communities to keep tensions at the Suffolk interface at a minimum.”
No parade organiser was available for comment.”

For Further information
Troops Out Movement ~ Campaigning for British Withdrawal from Ireland
PO Box 1032 Birmingham B12 8BZ

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Policing in Northern Ireland

All that has been said about policing in Northern Ireland and collusion between police and far right politicians is being verified by evidence. Not surprisingly the debate about working with the police and judicial services in giving a lot of heartache to Sinn Fein and the matter is now being put to a ballot. This is at a time of the Anniversary of Bloody Sunday in Derry.
The current news from the Troops Out Movement gives some views currently held in the debate. There are many links to historical aspects of the struggle for equality and freedom in a united Ireland.
During my visit to Belfast a few years back I went to Portadown, the site of Drumcree and Loyalist marches. This was the place where Robert Hamill had met his death at the hands of Loyalist thugs, incredibly watched by police from their armoured car. I understand the feeling.

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Rainbow over Derry

Jerry, son of my cousin Jack, and brother of Chris, died of cancer a few years ago. He was active in Derry, working with the Quaker Peace Initiative. I went to his funeral, which was extremely well attended by the Catholics and Protestants who valued Jerry and the Project.
The occasion was a truly Irish affair, with Jerry’s huge frame on view in the front room of the family home. Jo, his wife, and children Sophie and Jack welcomed me, although I had not had contact with them for a long time. I had spoken to Jerry on the phone when I visited West Belfast a year or so earlier, before Jerry had known about his illness. He was then back in England with his father helping him to move from Isleworth to Aylesbury to be near to Chris and Margaret.
Jerry Tyrrell photo gallery
All the male relatives carried the coffin and Jerry was taken first to the College where a Quaker meeting remembered his life and work. I recounted the occasion when my friend and business partner in Vital Link, John Cockcroft, had phoned me to tell me that Jerry’s airline ticket to Belfast had been found at the Euston Road Meeting House. Did I know where he could be found? A call to his Father, Jack found him. No, he had not realised his ticket was missing, and yes, he would be picking it up.
Jerry’s book on Peer Group Mediation appeared posthumously. I left a copy with the Holy Land Trust in Bethlehem. This group organised a trip to Palestine/Israel this January (2004) when we found a deserted Bethlehem and a family in the Refugee Camp whose house had been demolished as a reprisal for a bombing incident in Jerusalem earlier the same day. More about that later.
rainbow over derry
The picture is a scene at Jerry’s burial at the cemetery above Derry looking down into the valley. The rainbow appeared just as Chris had read “I am in the wind”. It is a symbol of hope for Ireland and for Palestine/Israel.
The following links tell you more about The Quaker Peace Initiative and Jerry’s work with information about availability of his book.