Patrick Reynolds was one of the founders of IBRG and played a key role in its history. He is now writing up that history and putting it into the context of radical history in Britain and Ireland in the C20th.
On New Year’s Day IBRG held a public protest in Kilburn Square to draw attention to the British imposed border in Ireland at a time when borders were coming down all over Europe. The event was run to coincide with similar events in Ireland run by the Irish National Congress.
The IBRG statement read ‘IBRG calls for the dismantling of the British war machine in Ireland, which was protecting a sectarian statelet maintained by wholesale discrimination, violence, censorship, propaganda, and wholesale abuse of Human Rights and Civil Liberties. The responsibility for the war in Ireland should be placed at the door of the British government, and not on the Irish people. Britain’s purpose in continuing control in N. Ireland is the subverting of the whole island to follow British policy. Thus, we see campaigns in Ireland to drop Article 2 and 3 of the Irish constitution, massive censorship and the subverting of the Dublin government to jump at every British command like some junior colonial province’ and ‘the IBRG calls for peace talks without preconditions, and believe Nelson Mandela was right in calling for talks.’
On 16th January 1993 the IBRG Ard Choiste met at the Working-Class Movement Library in Salford Manchester. Five delegates attended including Bernadette Hyland, Linda Ryan, Joe Mullarkey, Neil Doolin and Pat Reynolds.
Apologies from Kevin Hayes, Maurice Moore, Diarmuid Breatnach, Virginia Moyles and Majella Crehan.
The meeting discussed An Pobal Eirithe, Nalgo Irish Workers Group, the Ard Fheis, Travellers, Review of IBRG, CRE, PTA, Bloody Sunday march, Prisoners, Initiative ’92, and the Irish General Election. An Pobal Eirithe had not been published for over two years now. The Ard Fheis would be at the Roger Casement Irish Centre in Islington North London on 27th March.
Pat Reynolds PRO had put in a detailed submission on the Department Of Enviroment’s consultation exercise on Travellers urging the government to retain the 1968 Caravan Sites Act. Pat had also completed a Review of 1992 and had sent it out to the branches and to the Press. IBRG would be attending a CRE meeting in Derby on 23rd January, Virginia Moyles of Hackney IBRG would be chairing this year’s Bloody Sunday rally with Ken Livingstone as the main speaker. Frank Johnson’s case has been featured in the Guardian. Virginia Moyles had drafted a leaflet on anti-Irish racism.
On 21st January Pat Reynolds PRO attended a meeting at the CRE on Health and the Irish community.
On 21st January John Major stated that ‘those who were killed on Bloody Sunday should be regarded as innocent of any allegation that they were shot whilst handling firearms or explosives.
On 23rd January over 150 Irish women, including many IBRG women, attended an Irish Women’s conference organised by the Southwark Irish Forum and Southwark Council. Cllr Jodie Clark and an IBRG member was one of the key speakers.
The Kate Magee Campaign had a meeting in Derby on 23rd January.
On 25th January Pat Reynolds was speaking at a public meeting at Carlton Vale School in Brent on the issue of the Brent Irish Centre. There were huge concerns over the Brent Irish centre which had run into financial trouble which had reached the High Court.
Bloody Sunday Marches – London and Derry
IBRG branches with their banners attended the Bloody Sunday March from Hyde Park London to Kilburn with Virginia Moyles chairing the Rally. The march was held up for two hours because Combat 18 had mobilised to attack the march and the police arrested over 300 of them in a mapping exercise. It was one of the biggest mobilisation of fascists on the street for some time.
In March 1992 John Mayor British Prime Minister stated that his Government ‘does not think it would be right to review or reopen the Widgery Tribunal’ into the Bloody Sunday massacre”. The Bloody Sunday March Committee wanted the Government to acknowledge the innocence of those killed and injured on Bloody Sunday, to apologise to the people of Derry for the events of that day, to renounce the sham Widgery inquiry which followed it, and to bring those responsible for Bloody Sunday to justice.
The army officer in charge on Bloody Sunday Colonel Derek Wilford conceded that the Bloody Sunday victims were innocent and stated ‘I think we need to make a positive decision about ending the war in Ireland… British withdrawal would be a victory for common sense’. Shamefully the New Consensus had a tiny protest in Kilburn, strange that they should join Combat 18 in their objection to a march for Justice for the victims of Bloody Sunday.
Ken Livingstone called Bloody Sunday killings a slaughter and that there would be no peace in Ireland until Britain left. He said John Major’s recent announcement that the civil rights marchers were innocent, exposed the lies and whitewash of the Widgery inquiry. Gerry Duddy whose brother was the first shot on Bloody Sunday stated that the Widgery Tribunal set the precedent of judicial corruption that led directly to Birmingham Six, the Guildford Four the Maguire seven, Judith Ward, the Tottenham and Cardiff three, and Patrick McLoughlin.
In Derry on their Bloody Sunday March Paddy Joe Hill (Birmingham 6) was speaking and stated that the only way to send British troops back was in boxes, while another of the Six, Johnny Walker ,stated that Michael Mates the N. Ireland Minister should resign for his comments that ‘there would have been no murder of anybody if there had not been a bloody riot organised by those very Nationalists’.
In January IBRG made a submission to Initiative ’92 a commission of Inquiry into N Ireland. The IBRG submission called for British withdrawal, Irish reunification, disbandment of the RUC, financial compensation from the British for war and starvation damage caused to Ireland, and voting rights for the Irish abroad. Over 500 submissions were received and over 90 chosen to give further verbal evidence under Professor Opsahl from Norway a human rights lawyer. The report which came out later was called the Opsahl report. The Irish Post covered it with Submission by IBRG on North.
Response of Nalgo NEC to motions on Ireland
NALGO National Executive Council reported back on three motions remitted from conference in 1992.
Motion 82 on the transfer of Irish prisoners and a call for the release of innocent prisoners.
They turned down a motion on Irish prisoners, despite the fact that Judith Ward, Dessie Ellis, and the Kilburn defence people had been acquitted and released, and the British Government had agreed on the transfer of Irish prisoners. Nalgo talked of crimes yet was silent over 800 years of criminality by Britain against the Irish people.
Motion 116 on the Irish community
NALGO refused to recognise the disadvantage suffered by the Irish community in Britain where even the Metropolitan police had done so in their recent policy document. NALGO had refused to recognise the NALGO Irish workers group or the right of Irish workers to organise within the union. They would prepare a report before the next conference on the issue.
Motion 117 Irish language
They promised a report on the Irish language in due course, and would produce a report on whether they would recognise Irish workers with NALGO.
It was revealing that NALGO were on these Irish issues more right wing than the Metropolitan Police, more right wing than the British government, and more right wing than the British courts on their opposition to these three motions. It showed how much the Trade Unions in Britain’s were extremely right-wing and racist when it came to the Irish community in Britain.
IBRG took up the case of Patrick Murphy. He had been charged with bombing Downing St and was innocent he had been at an AA meeting the night of the bombing. Patrick, was later released without charge, and became famous for his innocent replies to M15 who came to interview him. When they asked him had he been seen by the intelligence people, meaning the Special Branch, Patrick replied in all honesty “No no they had no fucking intelligence at all, if they had any I would not be here”. His solicitor Gareth Pierce did her best to keep a straight legal face.
Conradh na Gaeilge was 100 years old and IBRG branches were asked to mark the occasion this year.
IBRG took up a case in Manchester where an Irishman was refused a government job because of his Irish background. The IBRG story was taken up by the Irish Post, the Irish World, the Cork Examiner, and GLR Irish hour.
Conor Hartnet was prevented from applying for a GCHQ job because his parents were Irish. In a statement on 31st January IBRG condemned the institutional discrimination practised by the British government, in refusing entry to a wide range of government jobs to people of Irish origin. These cases raised alarming concerns about equal rights for Irish people in Britain in that only Protestant British people from N. Ireland could get jobs in these occupations within a European single market. It was a clear racist policy which created the concept of suspicious community, and where public sectors led the private sector followed.
IBRG called on the British Government to take down its colonial No Irish need apply from its state corridors. It was evidence at the heart of the British government of racist practises, and an institutional unwillingness to accept that Irish people as having equal rights in Britain to employment.
Petition on lack of Irish access to Media.
Sean Sexton from the Irish Media Group and IBRG had a Petition accepted by the European Parliament on the issue of the lack of Irish access to the media.
The Petition 569/92 letter stated ‘I would like to inform you that the Committee on Petitions considered your petition at its meeting of 1st and 2nd of December 1992, and having decided the issues which you raise fall within the sphere of activities of the European Commission, declared it admissible. The Committee began its examination of your petition and decided to ask the Commission of the European communities to state its views on the various aspects of the problem. The committee will continue its examination of your petition as soon as it is receipt of the necessary information. Moreover, in order to enable your comments to be taken into consideration in any future deliberation of the European parliament on this matter, they committee decided to forward your petition for information to the Committee on Culture, Youth, education and the media’.
This was the only IBRG Petition ever to be put to the EU, and it was surprising that the IBRG never visited the European Parliament, or put in further Petitions on different issues affecting the Irish community in Britain.
IBRG did get Christine Crawley MEP to raise a question on having the Irish language included in the National Curriculum in Britain and got a huge supportive reply on the duty of European nations to address cultural issues affecting minority communities from other European states. All the more surprising that this avenue was not explored more as in the PTA debate in 1985 the European Parliament voted for an inquiry into the workings of the PTA, and the European Court had condemned the 7-day detention under the PTA as a violation of Human Rights.
On 23rd January Bernadette Hyland had a letter in the Irish Post headed War in the Last Colony which stated ‘the IBRG has never felt the need to apologise for the results of British colonial policy in the Six Counties. Our policy is quite clear. Instead of dealing with the politics of the last atrocity, we have always called for a British withdrawal and a negotiated settlement leading to a United Ireland. The continuing violence in Nt Ireland is a direct result of the refusal of the British government to resolve the war in Britain’s first and hopefully last colony. History teaches us that in previous colonial wars, such as Palestine, Cyprus, Aden Kenya, and Zimbabwe, the British government has eventually recognised the political reality of negotiating and withdrawal’.
On 24th February Patrick Murphy was released after being held for over a month and all changes of bombing Downing St dropped. The IBRG who took up his case stated that it was better to prevent people getting framed up than trying to get them released after trial.
First Irish victory under the new Press Commission.
On 27th February the IBRG won a Press Commission decision against the Evening Standard who had to publish the judgment. IBRG had previously won a Press Council victory over the News of the World when they claimed that the IRA had killed over 3,000 in N. Ireland. The Sunday Press on its front page, the Irish News in Belfast along with Irish weeklies covered the IBRG story The IBRG had also been involved in the Press Council victory over John Juror’s pig’s comment.
On 4th March the London Evening Standard carried the story Complaint against Standard upheld. The Standard article was originally headed ‘How World extremists set up havens in London’. The Standard were forced to include the Press Council judgment in their report that the Press Commission considered that the inclusion of IBRG in an article on organisations labelled extremist were not justified given the evidence provided by the newspaper. The Irish Post covered it with Rebuke for Standard over IBRG and the Irish World covered it with IBRG wins Press complaint.
The IBRG also challenged a racist piece in the Guardian on 18th February by Frank Keating who had four paragraphs of bigoted anti-Irish racism pieces like ‘that pale jug-eared leprechaun John Tracy’. John Tracy was World Champion cross country runner. Keating in the mid 1980’s had been challenged by IBRG when he came out with ‘their hale and purply faces, their big Kerrymans ears and feet’ talking about Irish rugby supporters.
Liverpool IBRG took up a case of a young Irish couple arrested under the PTA in Liverpool amid banner headlines in the media.
On 28th February IBRG members sponsored and attended a Kurdish and Miners benefit in Hackney at the Halkevi Community Centre. Diarmuid Breatnach (Lewisham IBRG) sang and the group Jacket Potatoes were also playing in an evening of International Solidarity with the Miners.
In February Harrow IBRG had five photos in the Irish Post from their Ceili in Harrow.
GMB research into Irish Unemployment in Britain
In February the GMB union released research which showed Irish unemployment in Britain with a 57% differential in the West Midlands, 46% in the East Midlands, 32% in Yorkshire and Humberside, 32% in the South West, 30% in London, 29% in Britain as whole, 22% in East Anglia, 19% in the South East, 17% in the North West, and 15% in Wales. However, in Scotland (7%) and the Northern (6%) the Irish were more likely to be employed than the natives.
This was the first time a British Trade Union had undertaken research into the Irish community and into discrimination suffered by the community. This showed that trade unions had power and money including the TUC to tackle issues affecting Irish workers in Britain.
Labour Party and PTA
In February the IBRG condemned Kevin McNamara for trying to barter with the Tories over the PTA. The rights of the Irish community were non-negotiable the IBRG said. Some 10 years earlier in 1983 Kevin McNamara in opposing the PTA in the House of Commons debate stated ‘Ordinary decent coppers using ordinary decent police methods apprehended those responsible for the Birmingham outrage.’ A shocking statement by McNamara who showed his ignorance of the Birmingham Six and seemed to condone torture, forgery and perjury as decent police methods used in Britain.
In an IBRG statement on 28th February we stated The Irish community in Britain must not be punished for Britain’s war in Ireland. Our demands are for travel without harassment, free speech without censorship, and the right to exercise our political and civil rights in Britain. The PTA is a vehicle for railroading innocent Irish people into false imprisonment. It can never be justified. There can be no consensus between the Tory and Labour party at the expense of our community based on racist legislation and the suppression of our rights in Britain. The Irish Post covered it with IBRG slams betrayal and the Irish World with Labour’s love of Irish called into question.
On 10th March the British Labour Party voted against the PTA while in the run up to the General Election in 1992 they abstained. This year they tried to do a deal with the Tories but the Tories refused them a deal.
IBRG officers met at the Roger Casement Centre in North London on 13th February to finalise plans for the Ard Fheis in March.
Nalgo and motions on Ireland
Both Greenwich and Lambeth Nalgo had passed motions on Irish self-determination and recognition for Irish workers but Metropolitan NALGO turned down the motion on recognition believing wrongly that it had been debated at last year’s conference.
Lambeth Irish Forum
On 19th February IBRG and NALGO Irish workers attended a Lambeth Irish Forum meeting at Lambeth Town Hall. The Irish Post had a photo of the Mayor of Lambeth Joe Callinan along with Gearoid McGearailt of IBRG speaking at the meeting. Over 80 people attended. Gearoid had a long letter in the Irish Post on 20th February setting out the long battle for recognition in Lambeth, who had refused to recognise the Irish. Linda Bellos a Black Councillor had always supported the Irish but the Council refused to recognise the Irish because they were a white minority community. The meeting decided to set up an Irish Forum to represent the interests of the Irish in Lambeth.
18th February IBRG condemned the London Evening Standard for an article on entitled Donkey Riddle with its usual anti Irish slant. The IBRG response was covered by the Cork Examiner, Irish Post and Irish World.
Pat Reynolds had a letter in the Irish World which read ‘The IBRG notes the Editorial of the London Evening Standard entitled ‘Donkey Riddle’. This referred to the missing racing donkey from Antrim which stated ‘There’s concern that the chestnut coloured star will end up in Dublin home of the Irish Parliament. Obviously, identification might then be tricky’ The Editorial is par for the course from the Standard who are obviously experts in donkey recognition. Given the English media’s habit of claiming Irish winners, we are surprised that the Standard didn’t recommend the said donkey for the House of Lords, or call for extradition proceedings against the cross-border escapee. To paraphrase an old Irish saying. It takes one donkey to know another, and the Standard stories and editorials these days have about the same value as a donkey derby. Another piece from the Standard last June was referred to the CRE when the writer talking about two visiting peregrine falcons to Dublin, diving for food stated,’ No doubt the odd fey Irishman disappears in this way too, and no great a loss there.
The Standard lost over one million pounds in the early 1980’s when the Greater London Council and a number of London Boroughs banned advertising with them, over their racist JAK cartoons. Even donkeys know the difference between carrot and a stick, but some take longer to learn the difference.
On 2nd March Patrick Mayhew N. Ireland Secretary stated the position of N. Ireland within the United Kingdom would only be changed by the will of a majority of the people after stating in December 1992 that Britain was neutral on N. Ireland.
Warrington bomb and major British propaganda exercise.
On 20th March an IRA bomb in Warrington killed a three year plus 12-year-old Tim Parry who died later on 25th from his injuries. The same day the UFF murdered four Catholics in Co Derry injuring four more, while in Belfast the UFF murdered a Catholic teenager.
Warrington began a major British propaganda exercise where Tim Parry became a household name yet no one in Britain can remember the name of a single one of the dozens of Irish children killed in N. Ireland by plastic bullets and others ways.
A screening of the Ken Loach film Hidden Agenda was cancelled by Channel Four over the Warrington bombing on 21st March. There were over 100 protests to the station and Channel Four had a Right of Reply on the issue. The Irish World ran the IBRG press release of 22nd March as a letter in their paper. The IBRG questioned as to when any British bishop or media had taken up the death on any Irish child in the Troubles, or the death of Iraqi children in the war.
On 26th March Pat Reynolds PRO was one of the key speakers on a Central TV programme in Birmingham, on the Warrington Bombing with Tim Pat Coogan who stated there would be a blood bath if the troops were pulled out, Harry Barnes the anti-republican, and Annie Maguire’s son Michael who defended British interests in Ireland. Pat was able to hold his own in the debate and put across the neglect of Irish child victims of the Troubles, with a plea to remember all the children of the conflict, where over 120 children had been killed, and called for all-party talks and a political settlement to end the war.
The 12th IBRG Ard Fheis took place on Saturday 27th March at the Roger Casement Irish Centre in Islington, North London. Nine branches were represented including Lewisham, Bolton, Merseyside, Haringey, Manchester, Camden/Hackney, Harrow, Coventry and Birmingham. 16 delegates attended.
Among those attending were Dermot Sadlier, Padraigin Ni Nuallain, Jack Jordan, Diarmuid Breatnach, Paddy Prescot, John Patterson, Maire Kennedy, Terry O Coirbin, Siobhan O Dwyer, Pat Reynolds, Bernadette Hyland, Neil Doolin, Virginia Moyles, Val Deegan, Maurice Moore and Kevin Hayes. Reports were taken from the Chair, Runia, PRO, Editor, Membership secretary, Prisoners Officer, and the Cisteoir.
The meeting heard reports from members on the opening of the new Irish Centre in Lewisham, Irish Festivals in Bolton and Blackburn, a film Festival in Manchester, the Bloody Sunday march, submission to Initiative 92 and to the DOE on Travellers, tackling anti Irish racism in the media including a victory over the London Evening Standard, work on the PTA arrest and on campaigns for prisoner including Kate Magee and Frank Johnson, organising seminars and public meetings, Irish language and dance class along with cultural evenings and socials.
Other work included addressing public meetings on a range of issues affecting the Irish community, putting the position of the Irish community across to the British and Irish media, and working with other Irish organisation across the community. It was noted that the Irish In Britain News had folded up during the years which left the Irish Post and the Irish World. The Irish News in Belfast and the Cork Examiner covered a lot of IBRG material as did the Andersonstown News along with An Phoblacht and the Irish language papers.
The following officers were elected;
Chair Virginia Moyles Hackney.
Runai Neil Doolin Liverpool
Cisteoir Maurice Moore Coventry,
Membership Bernadette Hyland Manchester
PRO Pat Reynolds Haringey
Prisoners Siobhan O’Dwyer Haringey
Editor An Pobal Eirithe Diarmuid Breatnach.
There were two nominations for the position of Chair with both Virginia Moyles and Diarmuid Breatnach receiving equal number of votes, in the circumstances Diarmuid withdrew his nomination and Virginia was duly elected Chair.
The following motions were passed;
That the Irish version of IBRG be adopted Cumann Ionadaiochta na nGael sa Bheatain
A motion defending Article Two and Three of the Irish constitution
A motion supporting the PTA telephone tree
A motion supporting Kate Magee.
On 27th March Bernadette Hyland was profiled in the Manchester Evening News, it was an in-depth article about her Manchester Irish upbringing, about Irish history, culture and politics, which set out the urgent need for an informed debate on Ireland and the Irish community in Britain. Bernadette spoke of the need for recognition for both Irish cultural and welfare needs and the important of tackling anti Irish racism including racist jokes.
On 31 March Pat Reynolds gave a talk on anti-Irish racism at the University of N. London.
Politics of Warrington leaflet
On 4th April IBRG gave out leaflets at the so-called Peace Rally which was in reality an Anti-Republican Rally with no interest in peace in Ireland which only drew 2,000 people. Cardinal Hume turned up, and many wondered why if he was interested in peace, why he never turned up for any Bloody Sunday March to protect at the murder of 13 innocent Civil rights marchers. Young Kevin Reynolds gave Cardinal Hume a copy of They Shoot children on the deaths of children in N. Ireland by Plastic bullets. Over 120 children had been killed by Britain’s war in Ireland, yet Tim Parry was being presented as the first child death of the war, because the death of Irish children did not matter to these people.
The IBRG PRO produced a leaflet entitled the Politics of Warrington for distribution to branches and in the community. Virginia Moyles of IBRG wrote to the Irish Post putting the whole matter in perspective. Her long letter headed Selective in Sympathy exposed the very selective manner of media reporting in Britain and Ireland, with its political agenda to demonise the Irish struggle. Siobhan Dwyer had a letter alongside Virginia’s from the Irish Freedom Movement putting the blame back onto the British government for events in Britain and Ireland, and drawing attention to Loyalist deaths squads operating with British support in Ireland. The Irish media and its politicians went on the angle ‘we are ashamed to be Irish’.
On 4th April the IBRG put out a statement saying that the peace this media campaign wanted was a Pax Britannia and was not a genuine peace movement like the peace movement in America to bring the troops home from Vietnam. This was a media attempt to shift the blame for N. Ireland onto the Nationalist community, and shift blame away from the British state and their loyalist’s followers, which in over 25 years had not produced one single job for the Catholic community.
The Politics of Warrington was based on British state propaganda with its message that Irish lives did not matter, and that English lives were everything. In Ireland 91% of killings by Loyalists were of innocent Catholics with no link to any group, 55% of all deaths by the British forces of occupation were civilians while the IRA civilian deaths were at 37%. There was as usual a complete lack of any analysis by the British media including the BBC which carried on a propaganda campaign. Mary Robinson Irish President attended the memorial service in Warrington, yet never attended the funeral of a single child victim in N. Ireland. Why did Mary Robinson miss the deaths of over 120 children in N. Ireland as did the 20,000-peace crowd who turned out in Dublin on the issue. Another speaker at the rally in London was Liam McNally Chair of the Federation of Irish Societies, so called non-political, who never once attended a Bloody Sunday Commemoration, or again spoke out on the death of any Irish child in the troubles.
On 11th April Lewisham IBRG held their 1916 event with Diarmuid Breathnach as the main speaker, Lewisham also organised an Irish children’s day themed around Irish myths and legends and an arts project, with a photo of the children in the Irish Post. In March Diarmuid Breatnach had a long letter in the Irish Post on the lessons to be learned from the from the attendance of 400-500 fascist to attack the Bloody Sunday March, and the failure of the British Left and the anti-fascist and anti-racist movement to mobilise against the known threat.
In the past the Irish community had stood shoulder to shoulder with communities under threat from Cable St to Bermondsey to Red Lion Square, where the young Kevin Gately a second-generation Irish student lost his life in the 1970’s, to action across the board.
Diarmuid called for solidarity from the left and and increased mobilisation from the Irish community so that any community did not have to rely on the police to keep the peace on the streets.
On 2nd April IBRG members attended the launch of Paddy Hillyard’s book Suspect Community on the PTA which exposed the workings of the PTA and its effect on the Irish community at the Camden Irish centre. Gareth Pierce also spoke at the launch detailing the experiences of Irish people arrested under the Act.
On 24th April an IRA bomb at the Nat West Tower caused 1 Billion of damage.
On 25th April IBRG members took part in the anti-fascist demo at Victoria.
In Liverpool IBRG were demanding recognition and resources to meet the needs of the Irish community. Neil Doolin had written to the Leader of Liverpool City Council with a submission on the Irish community asking for a Consultative Conference with the Irish community.
The Irish Post on 3rd April covered it with Liverpool pressure builds up detailing the battle in Liverpool to have the Irish recognised. Liverpool IBRG sent Liverpool City Council a copy of the Haringey document Agenda for Change which set out proposals for change, in recognising the Irish and addressing the needs of the community.
Department of Health refuses to recognise Irish as ethnic minority
The IBRG had received a letter from Virginia Bottomley who stated that the Department of Health would not recognise the Irish community despite the contribution the Irish had made to the NHS from building the hospitals to nurses. Merseyside IBRG had written to every Regional Health Authority in England asking them to recognise the Irish. The Irish Post covered this on 17th April with Losing out in health monitoring. The Department of Health told the Irish Post ‘We don’t consider the Irish as an ethnic community’.
IBRG took up the case of Mary Druhan, a Co Clare woman, who had been wrongly convicted of a double murder in a London squat. The IBRG were also involved in the Kate Magee campaign, the Casement Accused and the Frank Johnson Campaign.
On 4th May a Black Barrister and journalist Rudy Narayan had an article in the Caribbean Times which stated there will be no peace until you leave the Irish alone. He stated the IRA will never be terrorists as the Mau Mau in Kenya and EOKA in Cyprus never were. The IRA is comprised of Irish men and women who would give their lives and sometimes do for the liberation of their country. The second lesson that should be committed to memory is that the freedom fighters walk long that glorious trail of freedom and liberation that Gandhi, Martin Luther King and the Irish Martyrs died for, and this has to be recognised publicly by the Army of Occupation, guns and tanks will never subjugate the Irish and there will never be peace in Britain while the occupation of Britain’s last colony continues’.
On 5th May the IBRG along with AGIY met with the Department of Health about recognition for the Irish community.
The Ard Choiste met at the Roger Casement Irish centre in Islington North London on 8th May with nine delegates including Neil Doolin, Maire Kennedy, Val Deegan, Diarmuid Breatnach, Siobhan O’Dwyer, Kevin Hayes, Bernadette Hyland, Virginia Moyles and Pat Reynolds.
The meeting agreed a motion from Haringey IBRG condemning the racist killing of Black teenager Stephen Lawrence and offering IBRG condolences to his family and community. The Stephen Lawrence case was later to become a catalyst for change in race relations in Britain. The meeting passed another motion from Haringey calling on the British government to recognise the Irish community within the NHS. The meeting heard that John Matthews had been changed with a taxi bombing. The IBRG believed him to be innocent and had taken up his case with the Irish government. Kevin Hayes had recently spoken at a meeting in Kirby on the PTA. The Ard Choiste agreed to take up the case of Mary Druhan as wrongly convicted Irish prisoner. A motion from Lewisham IBRG called on the IBRG to be represented on the James Connolly March in Edinburgh on 5th June with a banner. Pat Reynolds ran a media workshop on how to deal with the media in Britain.
Southwark Council and employment targets for Irish
In Southwark the Council at its Central Services Committee on 11th May had agreed an employment target figure for the Irish of 10% being the first local authority in Britain to do so. Pat Reynolds was interviewed as Irish Policy Officer by BBC Radio Belfast and Radio Foyle in Derry on the issue.
There was an estimated 22,000 Irish living in Southwark with 9,792 of them born in Ireland. The last head count of staff in Southwark showed that 348 Irish staff worked with the council, or 4.9% of the total staff. Irish staff were twice as likely to work at manual type jobs as other council staff. Only one of the 32 senior staff at the Council was Irish. The unemployment rate for the Irish in Southwark was 20% compared with 13% for local English people. Source (1991 Census).
The Irish Staff group and the Southwark Irish Forum welcomed the move by the Council while the Irish staff group were to meet with the Director of Social Services in Southwark, to look at ways of improving services for the Irish community in areas such as recruiting Irish foster carers, Irish elders, mental health and other issues.
On 9th May IBRG members attended the Sands /Connolly Commemoration at Conway Hall in London.
On 12th May the IBRG put out a statement in response the Daily Star not only attacking An Phoblacht on 10th May but also naming its outlets in Britain thus putting community bookshops at risk of right-wing attack. The IBRG stated that the paper represented the view of Sinn Fein who had the support of 40% of the Nationalist community in N. Ireland and that the Star attack was one of free speech, and trying to supress any alternative view on the British occupation of N. Ireland.
On 18th May Virginia Moyles was speaking with Fred Holroyd a former British agent at the University of North London.
IBRG picket at National over Manning show
On 19th May IBRG members in London picketed a Bernard Manning appearance at the National in Kilburn. The Irish Post refused to cover the picket yet took advertising for the event. The IBRG condemned Irish venues for booking anti Irish racist comedians. The picket was organised by IBRG and the Irish Campaign against Racism in the Media. Members were able to verbally challenge Manning before he entered the National about his racism, while it was noted his audience was 100 % white and 99% male and mainly young males between 17-25. The picket got a lot of support from passing members of the Black and Irish communities who lived locally, and from women.
IBRG condemned the National for putting on racist comedians, when they were such a rich diversity of Irish and other artists around, and spoke out about the harm done to Irish children by this racial abuse of their heritage and culture. Manning represents the dregs of the British Empire in his views on Black and Irish people and pandered to white supremacy, and had no place in a multi-racial society. At a time of racial murders in Britain, it was offensive and wrong. The Irish World covered it with Protest as racist Comedians play Irish venues.
On 19th May three former detectives are cleared of the charge of conspiracy to pervert the cause of justice by manufacturing the interviews notes of one of the Guildford Four.
On 21st May Pat Reynolds chaired an Irish Evening for Justice meeting at the Camden Irish Centre at which Judith Ward, Kenneth Griffiths, and George Silcott spoke along with Laura Sullivan on the Casement Accused campaign and Siobhan O Dwyer on Kate Magee campaign and Frank O Neill on the Danny McNamee campaign. Over 100 people attended the meeting.
On 23rd May Pat Reynolds was speaking in Woolwich in South East London at a packed public meeting to protest at four racist killings including Stephen Lawrence in the Greenwich area. Gareth Pierce was also speaking on Irish cases at the meeting. The meeting was held under the banner of Racism, Law and Miscarriages of Justice Enough is enough Four Racist murders in Greenwich.
On 25th May the IBRG and other Irish groups met with the Commission for Racial Equality to put pressure on them to have the Irish included within NHS ethnic monitoring. The CRE was more positive which was due the IBRG believed to the new Chair Herman Ouseley former head of the GLC Ethnic Minorities unit.
In Liverpool the City Council said they recognised the Irish. The Chinese and the Irish were the two largest minority communities in Liverpool. On 29th May the Irish Post ran an article Liverpool’s commitment not enough. The Council had affirmed its recognition of the Irish but the IBRG wanted a consultative conference with the community to address issues affecting the community rather than a token recognition which did nothing to change things. In practise the recognition meant nothing without the Council spelling out how they would address Irish needs in the city.
On 27th May Mary Robinson President of All Ireland met the Queen of England the first Irish leader to meet the English Queen since the great Grainne O Malley who met the First Elisabeth In Greenwich in 1593 and refused to bow to her.
IBRG submission to Home Office Inquiry into Racially Motivated attacks.
In June the IBRG put in a very detailed submission to the Home Office Inquiry into Racially Motivated attacks and harassment which later appeared in a House of Commons Hansard report. Action Group for Irish Youth put in a bigger report using IBRG material and published their booklet on it which got large media and academic attention.
The Irish World on 18th June covered it with Better recognition for Irish Plea to Home Office.
The IBRG submission was later published along with other submissions by the Home Office and put before Parliament. The six-page submission called for tougher anti-racist laws and for racial harassment to be made specific offense, the tightening of press laws to prevent the racial abuse of minority communities in the media, and for more positive action in the media on addressing Irish issues. The British Press had been part and parcel of the frame up of Irish innocent people and went along with the state cover up of these frame ups. The IBRG also called for the repeal of the racist PTA laws which targeted the Irish community, the official recognition of the Irish community, the inclusion of the Irish language history and culture into the national curriculum to provide British and Irish children, with a better awareness of British involvement in Ireland and of their own colonial history. The IBRG quoted the Metropolitan Police document fair treatment for all which stated ‘Irish people have often been the recipients of racist behaviour based on ignorance and prejudice breeding false stereotypes.
IBRG also pointed out that the British Government were themselves the main discriminators against the Irish community with its racist PTA laws and racist deportations to internal exile, by failing to recognise the Irish within the National Health Service, despite the huge contribution Irish nurses had made to Britain and Irish builders had made to building hospitals in Britain. Those who contributed the most were the most discriminated against in housing and in health by the Government and Local Authorities. The only recognition the Irish got in Britain was police surveillance and racist jokes and stereotyping.
On 9th June the Opsahl Report on N. Ireland was published. The Report came out of Initiative ’92 to which the IBRG had made a submission.
On 10th June the IBRG had a meeting for Kate Magee at the Roger Casement Irish Centre in N. London.
On 16th June IBRG members went to Brighton for a NALGO Conference Fringe meeting on Irish issues with a social afterwards with the group Jacket Potatoes. Pat Reynolds spoken on the Frank Johnson campaign, Siobhan O’Dwyer on Kate Magee, Patricia Campbell on the Irish Women’s defence campaign and Steve Sexton for the NALGO Irish workers Group. The event was to highlight motions going to Conference on Irish self-determination.
On 17th June Manchester IBRG organised the launch of Paddy Hillyard’s book Suspect Community People’s experiences of the Prevention of Terrorism Act in Britain on the PTA.
Arrest of McNulty Family in Tyneside.
Following explosions on 28 April and 8 and 9 June 1993 in the north east of England, which were later claimed by the I.R.A. there was a series of arrests amongst both the Irish community and their many friends and relatives amongst the local English community in the North East. Between 24 and 26 June seven members of the McNulty family were detained under the Prevention of Terrorism Act. Immediately the West Midlands P.T.A. Research and Welfare Association contacted the family and a support group was set up to ensure that the McNulty family did not join the long and sorry list of “miscarriages of justice”. See leaflet below.
In June the CRE claimed that too few Irish people were complaining to them about discrimination. This was the fault of the CRE because few in the Irish community knew about the CRE or its work which generally excluded the Irish.
On 1st July the IBRG issues a statement deploring recent PTA attacks on the Irish community with raids in Tyneside. Unknown numbers of Irish people disappeared for up to seven days without anyone knowing what was happening to them, or they being allowed any access to legal aid and to contact their Embassy. It was a police state rather than a democratic one where Irish people arrested under the PTA had no legal or judicial rights. Section 18 of the PTA ,so called withholding of information, was now being use to intimidate Irish people being held and to threaten them, tell us everything you know or we will charge you, and then using this information to charge them. Yet the BBC, who the Attorney General in the House of Commons stated had breached s18 at Carrickmore, were not prosecuted as they were the Panorama team. The PTA had become a legalised system for the political and racial abuse of the Irish community in transit to and from Ireland, and had led to the creation of a community with second class legal rights under the policing and judicial system in Britain, with no redress for the abuse of Irish citizens only because of their racial origins.
On 3rd July Manchester IBRG held a Conference entitled ‘We are a River Flowing’ at St Brendan’s Irish Centre with speakers; Michael Herbert on Origins of the Irish community 1780-1880, Steve Fielding on researching the History of the Irish, Pat Reynolds on the Irish in the Post war era, Virginia Moyles on Second generation Irish women, Ann Rossiter on the Irish and the Feminist movement and Mary Nellis on Women in the Six Counties.
The Conference was reported with some details in the Irish Post with a photo of Ann Rossiter, Pat Reynolds, Virginia Moyles, Mary Nellis and Eileen Carroll. (see below) And previews with IBRG hosts day of Irish History and A proud Irish heritage and Question Time IBRG stage a day of Discussion and debate with the IBRG logo and Manchester celebration.
On 4th July Gerry Adams stated that Republicans might be prepared to accept joint authority as part of the process towards an end of partition.
On 6th July John Mathews was released without charges, the IBRG had earlier made representation to Dick Spring Irish Tánaiste on the case.
On 8th July AGIY launched their reports on Racial attacks and Harassment of Irish People and a leaflet Racial discrimination and Irish people and how to make a complaint against racial discrimination. The launch at the Camden Irish centre included speakers Marc Wadsworth secretary of the Anti Racist Alliance, Chris Boothman Director Legal Division CRE and Alison Stanley Director Racial Discrimination Legal Defence Fund.
On 15th July the UVF statement admitted responsibility for the bombings in Dublin and Monaghan in May 1974 in which 34 people died.
On 17th July the Ard Choiste was held at the Four Provinces Club in Coventry. Neil Doolin, Pat Reynolds and Maurice Moore attended.
The meeting heard that Initiative ’92 was one sided as expected, given the makeup of the inquiry body. Neil Doolin had written to all Regional Health Authorities in Britain to get them to recognise the Irish. Three regional Health Authorities in London had agreed to recognise the Irish, while the Mersey region stated they would include those from the Irish republic. Pat Reynolds reported on meetings with the CRE who were going to carry out research into discrimination and the Irish community and spend £34k on its research.
It was reported that the McNulty family had been arrested on Tyneside under the PTA with the women being held in Durham prison. Pat Reynolds PRO had made a submission on behalf of IBRG to the Home Office Inquiry into Racially Motivated attacks and Harassment. AGIY had produced a booklet on their submission and the IBRG had supplied them with many of the media case histories. Neil Doolin was working on a Merseyside Irish Festival for 1994.
In July John Mayor British prime Minister did a deal with the Unionists giving them a N. Ireland Commons Select Committee to get them to support him on the Maastricht vote, while Gerry Adams stated that Sinn Fein might accept ‘joint authority’ as a step to Irish Unity.
In July the IBRG had stalls at the London Fleadh in Finsbury Park on 12th June, at the Southwark Irish Festival on 9th July and at the Irish Youth Festival in Kilburn on 18th July. Members attended the London Irish Festival on 4th July where Green Ink, the cultural wing of IBRG, had a stall selling books music and videos, and getting the political message across to the community along with promoting Irish literature history music song and dance.
Coventry IBRG along with Coventry Socialist Alliance put on a public meeting on 25th August in Coventry at which Maurice Moore spoke on the work of the West Midlands PTA campaign, Pat Reynolds spoke on the effect of the PTA on the Irish community, and Laura Sullivan spoke on the Kate Magee campaign. Over 30 people attended.
In early August the Dublin Sunday Tribune gave Frank Johnson’s case the front page which was a breakthrough while the Sunday Press covered the Mary Druhan’s case with a full-page story.
Irish Language Project in London
The Anglo-Irish Intergovernmental Conference announced that the Irish government were to fund a two-year Irish language project in three schools in South East London, two in Southwark and one in Lambeth.
Pat Reynolds who, along with Cllr Jodie Clark , had been involved with the Irish Embassy and Southwark education on the issue welcomed the new project. Pat Reynolds had an interview with BBC Belfast and Waterford radio on the matter. The Irish Press ran the story Irish to be taught in London schools, and quoted Pat Reynolds, Irish Policy Officer in Southwark, who welcomed the development on the 100 anniversary of the founding of Conrad na Gaeilge, and the fact that the Irish Literary Society had ben founded in Southwark over a 100 years ago, which had given rise to the Irish revival in Ireland. The Irish Post had Irish language pilot scheme. 36% of the pupils at Notre Dame were Irish, while at St Michaels 28% were Irish, while at Bishop Thomas Grant school the Chair of governors Canon Devane’s own father had been a Timire /organiser with Conradh na Gaeilge in Co Kerry.
In August the South London Press covered a Southwark Irish Staff Group statement over finding Irish foster parents for Irish children, where Southwark Council had advertised in the Black Press for foster carers for Irish children and yet did not advertise in the Irish Post. In Southwark the council did not have a single Irish foster family’s out of 368 approved foster carers in the borough, yet Irish children in need of foster placement made up about 10% of these children.
In August the IBRG welcomes the awards of £18,000 to three Irish people arrested assaulted strip searched, and detained for 15 hours under the racist PTA laws. The Metropolitan Police paid out before the case reached court. The IBRG attacked the PTA and called for the release of four members of the McNulty family.The IBRG put out a statement on 18th August to welcome the award paid out to innocent Irish people who were strip searched, assaulted, and detained for over 15 hours simply for being Irish. There were another seven thousand innocent Irish people who were similarly arrested for being Irish under these racist pass laws, where you were stopped and had to prove your innocence every time.
Political opposition to Britain’s role in Ireland was a perfectly legitimate activity but the British state again and again tried to criminalise the Irish community as a suspect community. The Irish government had totally colluded with the oppression of its citizens, and acted like junior provincial management team acting on behalf of the British government, and had a most shameful record of silence over the Irish political hostages all 18 of them taken into captivity in Britain in 1974, to silence the Irish community about Britain’s was in Ireland. It was to keep the Irish in their place and was a relic of Britain’s colonial history and should be confined to the dustbin of history.
The IBRG welcomed the Trades Union Councils AGM motion condemning the abuse of human rights in N. Ireland.
The motion stated ‘In the same manner that Trade Unionists have long condemned human rights abuse in South Africa, Palestine, China and El Salvador, we condemn the same denial of basic human rights by Britain in the six counties of the North of Ireland. Britain has been found guilty of more violations of the European Convention on Human Rights than any other remember state, and other measures such as the PTA have been found to violate Human Rights by the European Court, condemned by Amnesty and by the United Nations Committee against Torture, do not accept that such violations are done with the consent of the British people. We call on the TUC to publicly expose Britain record on human rights particularly on the issue of strip searching, plastic bullets, the PTA an the Diplock Courts’.
The motion came from Lancashire and was carried by 108 votes for with only two against at the 68th annual conference of Trade Union Councils in Birmingham. An Phoblacht covered the story with the IBRG logo
15th August the IBRG issued a statement “welcoming the actions of the Trade Union Councils’ in supporting the motion and in setting the standard for other trade union bodies, who were starting their conference season in September.
It was noted that many Trade councils in Britain had supported Dr Maire O’Shea, the Birmingham Six and other Irish and Black framed prisoners’ cases. The policy motion indicated that 98% of or British Trade Union Councils did not support the British government position and the Labour Party and the big Trade union positions on Ireland. It was a mandate for other trade unions to take up the fight in Britain, and support the Irish community in its fight against the PTA. The figure against of less than two per cent reflects that the Unionist population make up only 2% of the population of the UK. There were now Unison Irish worker groups in Lambeth, Southwark, Lewisham, Brent. Hackney, Birmingham, Bolton, and Hammersmith with trade union contacts in 20 other areas of Britain.
On the 14th August the Irish Post had Busy Irish calendar in Bolton where Margaret Mullarkey along with IBRG and Ceoltas had organised a wide range of summer events and that Stockton’s Wing would be playing at the Bolton Festival on 29th August.
In August IBRG got Mary Druhan’s case onto the front page of the Irish Sunday World a popular Irish Sunday paper, linking it with the Taylor sisters, who had been released from jail calling for Mary’s release. The paper quoted Pat Reynolds as welcoming the campaign by the Taylor sister’s for Mary’s release. The two sisters were themselves wrongly convicted of killing an Irish woman in London. Mary’s case had been referred back to the British home secretary for a referral back to the Court of Appeal.
The Ard Choiste was held at the Irish Centre in Liverpool on 11th September. Nine delegates attended including Virginia Moyles, Neil Doolin, Maire Kennedy, Maurice Moore, Bernadette Hyland, Pat Reynolds, Joe Mullarkey, Diarmuid Breatnach and Kevin Hayes.
Neil Doolin reported back on replies he had received from regional NHS authorities. Bernadette Hyland reported back on the McNulty family who wanted a campaign. Gareth Pierce had become their solicitor. The Meeting gave £25 towards the campaign. Pat Reynolds reported that the Sunday World front page, the Sunday Tribune, and the Irish World had covered Mary Druhan’s story for the IBRG. The Irish Post refused to carry her story. The Mayor of Clonmel Seamus Healy was now supporting Frank Johnson. The meeting gave £100 towards the 1994 Bloody Sunday march.
Pat Daly, ex Bristol IBRG, had now been exposed as an M15 agent in the McGonagle and Heffernan case. Pat Daly had been involved in the Peter Jordan/Billy Grimes case along with the Dr Maire O’Shea case back in 1985.
IBRG took up the case of a young Irish student son of a Donegal TD McDaid who was jailed for three months over a bomb hoax while an English man who caused a gun hoax on an Irish family got away free, evidence of a two-tier racist judicial system.
On 9th September IBRG issued a statement calling into question the arrest, detention and conviction of McDaid, his remand for three weeks and his three month sentence. It contrasted that with an Englishman who made a similar hoax call on the same day in the same area of Southwark by dialling 999, and falsely claiming that his Irish neighbour had a gun as part of an ongoing racial harassment campaign. Car loads of police surrounded the Irish house with at least 12 officer presents. The police did not even arrest the English man who was known to the police.
The emotional damage done to that Irish family was enormous. McDaid, an Irish student on his 19th birthday while intoxicated, made a hoax call from a phone box and is given the full force of the two-tier racist justice system. The recent published report Crime Policing and the Irish community raised serious questions about Irish confidence in the police force. The chair of the Tory Party advocated the bombing of Dublin in public and no action was taken. The Irish Press covered the story with London Irish groups angry over racist hoax call. The Irish World covered the story with Dial R for Racist fury among London Groups. The Southwark Irish Forum had taken up the case, and had made representations to Southwark Council and the Police Consultative Committee on the issue.
IBRG welcomed the extension of Section 11 funding to the Irish community.
The Tory Government, by amending the 1966 Local Government Act, had extended the funding to include the Irish community, but it remained to be seen how far local authorities would prioritise Irish bids and how the Home Office would look at them. The Irish community paid income tax, council tax and business rates and were entitled to have community needs met, where they existed in the same way as any other community. The research was now there to show Irish disadvantage across all area of British life from employment housing health to welfare.
On 10th September the IBRG issued a statement welcomed the proposal but with no great hopes that it would achieve much given the resistance to Irish need at local and national level.
Diarmuid Breatnach had a letter in the Irish Post in September outlining the work IBRG had done on the Irish language. The Irish Post had covered the Irish Government scheme to put the Irish language into Southwark schools but did not even mention IBRG in the article nor the Irish Policy Officer at Southwark, Pat Reynolds. Diarmuid listed the amount of work IBRG had carried out on the Irish language from putting on local classes to campaigning to have Irish as part of the language’s curriculum in Britain. Increasingly the Irish Post, which had moved to the right, were excluding IBRG even where the story was around IBRG work.
On 25th September IBRG members attended the Unison Irish Workers Group (NALGO, NUPE, and COHSE had become one Union) in July 1993 AGM at the Roger Casement Irish centre in Islington. The group changed their name from NALGO Irish workers Group to UNISON Irish Workers Group. Siobhan O’Dwyer was elected women’s officer and Pat Reynolds PRO for the group. The meeting decided to push for the McBride Principles this year at branch meetings in Southwark and Lambeth.
On 30th September some 20 Irish groups including Pat Reynolds of IBRG met with Herman Ouseley Head of the CRE. Herman agreed to take the case for full recognition of the Irish community to the Commissioners and that himself would be supporting recognition of the Irish. The tender for the Irish research would be decided in October.
On 1st October Pat Reynolds PRO joined a smaller number of Irish groups at a meeting with the Irish Embassy with Brendan O’ Caollain and Melanie Pine to get their support for ethnic recognition of the Irish. The Embassy line was that they could not be seen to be interfering in the domestic arrangement of other countries, but Pat Reynolds pointed out to them that the matter under discussion was not any proposed change, since the British government already recognised the Irish as a racial grouping under the terms of The Race Relations Act, and you could almost see the penny dropping at the Embassy. The Embassy would in effect be supporting the British government position and not in any way interfering.
On 3rd October Pat Reynolds PRO was the speaker on Ireland at the Kashmiri Freedom Day in Birmingham where the cause of Ireland got a standing ovation from the packed audience of several hundred.
On 7th October the trail of three former policemen accused of perjury and conspiracy to pervert the cause of justice in the case of the Birmingham Six is terminated, because of what the judge describes as the saturation publicity surrounding the trail. Again, another clear example of the two-tier racist justice available in Britain, when time and again Irish arrested were tried in advance by the British media, the judges stayed silent.
On 16th October Neil Doolin of IBRG had a letter in the Irish Post on the health needs of the Irish community, and stated that from April 1994 the NHS would introduce ethnic monitoring in all their services but excluded the Irish community. Thus, the Department Of Health marginalised the Irish community in Britain and their health needs. Neil urged all Irish community organisations and individuals to write to the DOH on the matter and to raise the issue with their MPs.
Trevor O’ Farrell had a letter in the same issue followed on from Diarmuid Breatnack letter re censoring IBRG. Trevor drew attention to an article on health and the Irish community, where the paper claimed the first conference on Irish mental health in Britain was last year, which was clearly wrong as the IBRG held the first Irish mental health conference back in in 1987 when over 200 people attended the conference in Camden. Trevor again detailed the main findings of that conference which had been forgotten by the Irish Post.
On 23rd October an IRA bomb exploded in a fish shop on the Shankill Road killing ten people including the IRA volunteer bringing in the bomb.
On 29th October the IBRG received a reply from Labour’s Anne Taylor Shadow Secretary of State for Education who stated that ‘the government’s failure to recognise the importance of the Irish language was discriminatory’. Her letter indicated that a Labour Government would not exclude the Irish language.
The IBRG Comhcomhairle was held at the Working-Class Movement Library in Salford on 30th October with ten delegates attending from seven branches namely Manchester, Birmingham, NE Lancs, Haringey, Bolton, Coventry and Merseyside.
There was a policy discussion on the N. Ireland document. Those present included Bernadette Hyland, Kevin Hayes, Lisa O’Brien, Sean Kirkley, Michael O Cnaimshi, Pat Reynolds, Joe Mullarkey, Maurice Moore, Maire Kennedy, and Neil Doolin.
Apologies Kevin Bean and Virginia Moyles, also Diarmuid Breatnach who was on a student placement at Limerick University for three months.
On 24th October IBRG members attended a Sinn Fein meeting at the Roger Casement Irish centre in Islington London where Sinn Fein Councillors Mitchell McLoughlin, Francie Molloy and Una Gillespie discussed the Adams/ Hume talks and proposals for peace.
John Hume and Gerry Adams had sent their peace proposals to the Irish government. Dick Spring responded in October with his six democratic principles for peace while Albert Reynolds later exchanged these with John Mayor. The IBRG took issue with the principles which were a betrayal of Article Two and Three of the Irish Constitution without Britain having to withdraw their territorial claim on Ireland.
27 people were killed in October in the troubles in N. Ireland the worst month since October 1976, the British push for peace by Kitson style squeezing the catholic population had started by supporting Loyalist murder gangs.
Heavy censorship by the Irish Post of IBRG activities had become concern to the organisation.
Mary Hickman and Bronwen Walters had won the contract from the CRE to carry out research into discrimination and the Irish community in Britain.
On 30th October the IBRG issued a statement on Albert Reynolds/Dick Spring Six Principles and rejected them. The IBRG noted that the Irish government had signed the 1985 Anglo Irish Agreement which promised much for Nationalist but delivered nothing. After 70 years of British rule and 20 years of Direct Rule Catholics were still twice as likely to be unemployed as Protestants. The statelet was an apartheid statelet with 93% of the police force being Protestant. In America the British government had spent millions trying to block the McBride Principles to bring equality in employment to N. Ireland. Here we had 2% of the population of the UK dictating both the British and Irish people what to do based on Britain’s colonial position on Ireland and the supremacy of one group over another.
On 7th November IBRG members in Southwark joined the celebrations to open the new Traveller’s site in Southwark a second official site in the borough the other two sites in the borough were given temporary status. However, in Islington Margaret Hodge Leader of Islington Council was writing to the Home Secretary Douglas Hurd back in 1987 to urge ‘a strengthening of the law to make it easier to move on Travellers’ which she put out in a Press release. Yet Hodge portrays herself as an anti-racist yet was prepared to urge stronger racist laws against Irish Travellers. (Source |Policing the Irish Community LSPU).
In November IBRG took Frank Carson to task over his anti-Irish great Starvation jibe. In an IBRG statement of 15th November the IBRG condemned Carson for his racist offensive remarks on Carlton TV London To-night as sheer gutter buffoonery. Would he have been allowed to say similar things about the Holocaust or the Famine in Africa. To Carson the forced starvation of millions of Irish people was funny and his British audience would also find it very funny to laugh at the death over a million people, when the land was overflowing with food and ships were leaving Ireland daily loaded with food. It was in extreme poor taste coming up to the 150 anniversaries of the Great Starvation of the Irish people. Carson reflects the dregs of the British Empire who now want to conveniently forget their role in the forced starvation of the Irish when within years they could spend millions fighting a war in Crimea.
On 15th November John Major stated ‘if the IRA end violence for good then and after a sufficient interval to ensure the permanence of their intent, Sinn Fein can enter the political arena as a democratic party and join the dialogue on the way ahead’.
Later in November the Sun newspaper cartoon Striker of 24/25th November engaged with racist stereotypes of the Irish, perhaps it was the fact that England had failed to qualify for the World Cup while Ireland had qualified that led to these sour grapes and stale stereotypes.
On 27th November the IBRG with their banner led a march of over 100 young Irish from the Cock Tavern in Holloway road to Hornsey Road police station in protest over the police storming the pub after an Ireland football match.
The Irish Post covered the march with a photo showing Laura Sullivan and Pat Reynolds leading the march with the Haringey IBRG banner followed by the banner of the University of North London Students. Placards on the march read Stop Police harassment of the Irish community.
On 28th November Patrick Mayhew stated that the British had received message from the IRA on 22nd February 1993 stating ‘the conflict is over but we need your advice on how to bring it to a close. We wish to have an unannounced ceasefire in order to hold dialogue leading to peace’. Gerry Adams denied this but the British Government published a track of ongoing messages between the IRA and the British over several months. Martin McGuinness stated that the message of 22nd February was a fake, and the Brits were counterfeiting their own documenst to meet their current demands, and Mayhew admitted that there were 22 inaccuracies in the British version of the contacts between the IRA and the Brits.
On 29th November Pat Reynolds PRO was a key note figure on the Kilroy Television programme and managed to get the Rev Willie McCrae MP to lose his temper over employment discrimination in N. Ireland. The Irish World covered the story with a picture of Pat Reynolds who challenged McCrea as to why the Unionist community had never afforded democratic rights to their Catholic neighbours but had discriminated against them in employment and in housing. McCrea lost his temper and exploded ‘I don’t know about your accent but you are not from the streets of N. Ireland.
On 1st November in a reply to Dennis Skinner MP John Mayor sated that it ‘would turn my stomach’ to talk to Sinn Fein.
At the end of November, it was leaked that the British government the IRA had been having secret talks through a go between for some time.
The Ard Choiste took place on 4th December at the Roger Casement Irish centre in Islington. Four delegates attended including Bernadette Hyland, Val Deegan, Tomas O Conlan and Pat Reynolds.
Apologies from Maurice Moore, Kevin Hayes, Siobhan ODwyer, and Neil Doolin.
The meeting discussed prisoners including the McNulty family, Kate Magee, Frank Johnson, and the transfer of Irish prisoners, the Peace talks, the PTA and the CRE research. The Kate Magee trial had been postponed until the new year, there had been a House of Commons meeting on Frank Johnson and a benefit at the Red Rose club which the IBRG had helped organise. There was a picket of the Home Office over the transfer of Irish prisoners to N. Ireland and a meeting at the House of Commons on Strip searching which Tony Benn had spoken at. The issue of the Peace talks was discussed with the Irish government putting article 2 and 3 of the Irish constitution on the table without any acknowledge of the British Government of Ireland Act 1920, which divided Ireland against the will of the majority of its people.
The IBRG led protest over the Camden Irish Centre booking of Bernard Manning for their Christmas show on 22nd December which resulted in the show being cancelled.
On 4th December the IBRG issued a statement entitled Camden Irish centre promotes anti Irish racism the final Insult when the Camden Irish centre now run by Saxon Inns were put on anti-Irish comedians Bernard Manning and Jimmy Jones. Both of whom make use of anti-Irish material to ridicule the Irish people and its culture.
Fr McNamara the founder of the Irish centre would turn in his grave if he saw what the centre was now being used for to mock their own people. Other halls in the centre were called after President Kennedy and Douglas Hyde whose lives reflected on the Irish at home and abroad. The Irish centre was funded by the Irish government and Camden Council both of whom are committed to the promotion of the welfare of Irish people in Camden. Manning was both racist and sexist and had no place there with is exclusive audience of white British males.
The English critic Victor Lewis Smith wrote in the Evening Standard after such comedians appeared on the Royal Variety Show ‘after two and a half hours of frilly shirted comedians saying ‘there was an Englishman and an Irishman and a Scotsman..,the Dominion seemed to be not so much as a theatre but as an zoo, a last refuse which for species which you though had long ago become extinct, and which clearly could no longer survive in the wild. The London Zoo on the far side of Camden could do with a few new acts, but the welfare of the animals might prohibit it.
In December Bernadette Hyland spoke at TOM meeting in Manchester with Tony Doherty from the Patrick Finucane Centre in Derry.See below.
On 1st December Pat Reynolds organised an Irish Education Conference in Southwark.
On 3rd December the Hackney Irish workers Group organised an Irish cultural evening in Hackney which drew over 400 people.
On 9th December Pat Reynolds was guest speaker at Southwark Unison AGM at a packed meeting where later he proposed a motion on the McBride Principles which was passed to go to on to annual conference.
In December the IBRG condemned the acquittal, of two British soldiers from the Royal Marines, over the murder of Fergal Caraher in Cullyhanna,
On 15th December the IBRG issued a statement over the verdict on the killing of Fergal Caraher. The verdict had raided fundamental questions about Britain’s shoot to kill policy in Ireland. Without justice there can be no peace. Despite the Reynolds /Mayor Downing St Declaration the real message of the British government remained the same. Within 24 hours of John Mayor’s talk of the gauntlet of peace the British colonial administration in occupied Ireland had delivered its own chilling gauntlet to the nationalist community. The acquittal of British soldiers involved in killing Irish civilians was nothing new. Compare this with savage sentences handed down to Martin McGonagle and Liam Heffernan, at the Old Bailey last week in London where they were enticed over from Ireland by M15 agent Pat Daly for a state commissioned crime for which Daly was handsomely rewarded with a new life.
IBRG notes that the Book Shoot to Kill had detailed that British forces of occupation had killed by 1985 over 155 innocent Irish civilians in the occupied territory. The present shoot to kill policy in N. Ireland appears to be sanctioned at the highest level of the British government, where those who carry out these killings can do so without fear of prosecution.
On 17th December IBRG issued a statement condemning the conviction of Martin Mc Monagle and Liam Heffernan who were enticed over from Ireland by M15 agent Pat Daly in a state-controlled exercise. IBRG called on the Irish government to take action against Britain for sending its spies into a friendly nation to entrap its citizens into fake actions abroad. Daly had previously been involved in the Liverpool Five where Peter Jordan got 14 years in prison and where Daly instructed by his pay masters tried to discredit IBRG and Dr Maire OShea. The IBRG had warned the Irish community of future frame up after Daly was named as Romeo in the Sunday Observer his role questioned in the case.
On 16th December Pat Reynolds, Virginia Moyles and Siobhan O’Dwyer took part in the Kilroy show over the Reynolds/Mayor Peace declaration. David Trimble was a guest. Pat Reynolds was able to contribute to the show.
Joint Declaration on N.Ireland
On 15th December in London Albert Reynolds and John Mayor issued a joint Declaration on N. Ireland which was largely based on the Hume/Adams talks. For the first time the Irish government publicly accepted the Unionist veto ‘the democratic right of the Irish people to self-determination as a whole must be achieved and exercised subject to the agreement and consent of the majority of people in N. Ireland’, thus breaking from the 1918 vote by the Irish people for a republic.
IBRG rejected the Declaration as forming the basis for a long-term solution to the British presence in Ireland. Dick Spring led the demand for guns to be given up even though there was no mention of guns in the declaration. He failed to mention the need to take British guns out of Ireland.
In the new Agreement Ireland would be subject to the Unionist veto, and the British would agree to a United Ireland only if the Unionist majority in N. Ireland wanted it. The British government stated it has no selfish strategic or economic interest in Nt Ireland. Its primary interest is to see peace, stability and reconciliation established by agreement among all the people of Ireland and they will work together with the Irish government to achieve such an agreement and will embrace the totality of relationships. The British Government agreed that it is for the people of Ireland alone by agreement between the two parts to exercise their right of self-determination, on the basic of consent freely and concurrently given, north and South to bring about a United Ireland, if that is their wish.
The Irish Government agreed that the democratic right of self-determination by the people of Ireland as a whole must be achieved and exercised with and subject to the agreement and consent of the majority of people in N. Ireland.
1993 thus marked the beginning of the road to peace in N. Ireland starting with the Downing St Declaration.
On 28th December over 400 republicans met in Tyrone, no one present supported the Downing St Declaration.
The IBRG never accepted the Hume/Adams agreement because we never saw them to debate them. It is clear that some of the Hume/Adams agreement were taken on board by the Irish government and amended to become part of the Downing St Declaration.
Des Wilson and action against stopping of funding to community projects in N.Ireland.
During the year Fr Des Wilson from the Springhill Community Centre in Belfast wrote to Pat Reynolds for advice on the possibility of standing against Douglas Hurd in the General Election who was the Minister responsible for stopping the funding to community projects in N. Ireland. The idea was to force Hurd to face up to what he had done to ordinary working people in Ireland.
Des Wilson expressed his thanks to IBRG for taking up human rights issues in Ireland and supporting the communities there as well as defending Irish rights in Britain. Hurd, according to journalist John Pilger, had condoned the arming of the Kymer Rouge, and yet could accuse innocent community groups in N. Ireland of being fronts for the armed struggle. Hurd was really attacking Irish culture and the Irish heart of the community in targeting these projects such as Glor na nGael. The idea was not followed up due to the difficulties in the voting system in England and first past the post. The Civil Rights Party stood in Irish community seats in the 1970’s against Labour and only got a few hundred votes.
There was at this time solid links between the IBRG and various community groups in Ireland like the Bloody Sunday March in Derry where the London march was often linked in with in terms of publicity, but also Glor na nGael and various campaigns like Plastic bullets, strip searching, Irish National Congress, ICPO in Dublin, Initiative ’92 Trade unions links.
IBRG materials were covered in An Phoblacht and the Andersonstown News plus the Irish language paper La, as well as IBRG getting interviews on BBC Radio Belfast and Radio Foyle. Employment discrimination was another huge link up where useful information was shared and action taken in Britain. The Birmingham Six and the Guildford Four cases had many links with N. Ireland, while the PTA was used in both Britain and N. Ireland and affected both communities when in transit. The IBRG marched in the anti-internment march in Belfast for several years and IBRG made two delegation visits to Nt Ireland during the 1980’s.
On 28th December Pat Reynolds was interviewed by RTE TV re Irish emigration and on 29th December by BBC Radio Belfast on the same issue.
Listen to my talk about the IBRG in the northwest in the Irish Collection at the WCML here
An excellent history of 200 years of Irish political activity in Manchester – including Manchester IBRG read “The Wearing of the Green” by Michael Herbert. Buy it here
Read previous posts on IBRG history here