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Monday, May 5, 2014

BOBBY SANDS OF TIME




THE BEARNA BAOGHAIL-- Terence McSweeney

IrishToirdhealbhach Mac Suibhne; 28 March 1879 – 25 October 1920 was like Bobby Sands MP elected, in his case as Lord Mayor of Cork during the Irish War of Independence in 1920. He died in Brixton prison in England. His death in October 1920 after 74 days on hunger strike also brought him and the Irish struggle to international attention.



But when principles have been proved and objections answered, there are
still some last words to say for some who stand apart--the men who held
the breach. For, they do stand apart, not in error but in constancy; not
in doubt of the truth but its incarnation; not average men of the
multitude for whom human laws are made, who must have moral certainty of
success, who must have the immediate allegiance of the people. For it is
the distinguishing glory of our prophets and our soldiers of the forlorn
hope, that the defeats of common men were for them but incentives to
further battle; and when they held out against the prejudices of their
time, they were not standing in some new conceit, but most often by
prophetic insight fighting for a forgotten truth of yesterday, catching
in their souls to light them forward, the hidden glory of to-morrow.
They knew to be theirs by anticipation the general allegiance without
which lesser men cannot proceed. They knew they stood for the Truth,
against which nothing can prevail, and if they had to endure struggle,
suffering and pain, they had the finer knowledge born of these things, a
knowledge to which the best of men ever win--that if it is a good thing
to live, it is a good thing also to die. Not that they despised life or
lightly threw it away; for none better than they knew its grandeur, none
more than they gloried in its beauty, none were so happily full as they
of its music; but they knew, too, the value of this deep truth, with the
final loss of which Earth must perish: the man who is afraid to die is
not fit to live. And the knowledge for them stamped out Earth's oldest
fear, winning for life its highest ecstasy. Yes, and when one or more of
them had to stand in the darkest generation and endure all penalties to
the extreme penalty, they knew for all that they had had the best of
life and did not count it a terrible thing if called by a little to
anticipate death. They had still the finest appreciation of the finer
attributes of comradeship and love; but it is part of the mystery of
their happiness and success, that they were ready to go on to the end,
not looking for the suffrage of the living nor the monuments of the
dead. Yes, and when finally the re-awakened people by their better
instincts, their discipline, patriotism and fervour, will have massed
into armies, and marched to freedom, they will know in the greatest hour
of triumph that the success of their conquering arms was made possible
by those who held the breach.


II


When, happily, we can fall back on the eloquence of the world's greatest
orator, we turn with gratitude to the greatest tribute ever spoken to
the memory of those men to whom the world owes most. Demosthenes, in the
finest height of his finest oration, vindicates the men of every age and
nation who fight the forlorn hope. He was arraigned by his rival,
AEschines, for having counselled the Athenians to pursue a course that
ended in defeat, and he replies thus: "If, then, the results had been
foreknown to all--not even then should the Commonwealth have abandoned
her design, if she had any regard for glory, or ancestry, or futurity.
As it is, she appears to have failed in her enterprise, a thing to which
all mankind are liable, if the Deity so wills it." And he asks the
Athenians: "Why, had we resigned without a struggle that which our
ancestors encountered every danger to win, who would not have spit upon
you?" And he asks them further to consider strangers, visiting their
City, sunk in such degradation, "especially when in former times our
country had never preferred an ignominious security to the battle for
honour." And he rises from the thought to this proud boast: "None could
at any period of time persuade the Commonwealth to attach herself in
secure subjection to the powerful and unjust; through every age has she
persevered in a perilous struggle for precedency and honour and glory."
And he tells them, appealing to the memory of Themistocles, how they
honoured most their ancestors who acted in such a spirit: "Yes; the
Athenians of that day looked not for an orator or a general, who might
help them to a pleasant servitude: they scorned to live if it could not
be with freedom." And he pays them, his listeners, a tribute: "What I
declare is, that such principles are your own; I show that before my
time such was the spirit of the Commonwealth." From one eloquent height
to another he proceeds, till, challenging AEschines for arraigning him,
thus counselling the people, he rises to this great level: "But, never,
never can you have done wrong, O Athenians, in undertaking the battle
for the freedom and safety of all: I swear it by your forefathers--those
that met the peril at Marathon, those that took the field at Plataea,
those in the sea-fight at Salamis, and those at Artimesium, and many
other brave men who repose in the public monuments, all of whom alike,
as being worthy of the same honour, the country buried, AEschines, not
only the successful and victorious." We did not need this fine eloquence
to assure us of the greatness of our O'Neills and our Tones, our
O'Donnells and our Mitchels, but it so quickens the spirit and warms the
blood to read it, it so touches--by the admiration won from ancient and
modern times--an enduring principle of the human heart--the capacity to
appreciate a great deed and rise over every physical defeat--that we
know in the persistence of the spirit we shall come to a veritable
triumph. Yes; and in such light we turn to read what Ruskin called the
greatest inscription ever written, that which Herodotus tells us was
raised over the Spartans, who fell at Thermopylae, and which Mitchel's
biographer quotes as most fitting to epitomise Mitchel's life:
"Stranger, tell thou the Lacedemonians that we are lying here, having
obeyed their words." And the biographer of Mitchel is right in holding
that he who reads into the significance of these brave lines, reads a
message not of defeat but of victory.


III


Yes; and in paying a fitting tribute to those great men who are our
exemplars, it would be fitting also, in conclusion, to remember
ourselves as the inheritors of a great tradition; and it would well
become us not only to show the splendour of the banner that is handed on
to us, but to show that this banner _we_, too, are worthy to bear. For,
how often it shall be victorious and how high it shall be planted, will
depend on the conception we have of its supreme greatness, the
knowledge that it can be fought for in all times and places, the
conviction that we may, when least we expect, be challenged to deny it;
and that by our bearing we may bring it new credit and glory or drag it
low in repute. We do well, I say, to remember these things. For in our
time it has grown the fashion to praise the men of former times but to
deny their ideal of Independence; and we who live in that ideal, and in
it breathe the old spirit, and preach it and fight for it and prophesy
for it an ultimate and complete victory--we are young men, foolish and
unpractical. And what should be our reply? A reply in keeping with the
flag, its history and its destiny. Let them, who deride or pity us, see
we despise or pity their standards, and let them know by our works--lest
by our election they misunderstand--that we are not without ability in a
freer time to contest with them the highest places--avoiding the boast,
not for an affected sense of modesty but for a saving sense of humour.
For in all the vanities of this time that make Life and Literature choke
with absurdities, pretensions and humbug, let us have no new folly. Let
us with the old high confidence blend the old high courtesy of the
Gaedheal. Let us grow big with our cause. Shall we honour the flag we
bear by a mean, apologetic front? No! Wherever it is down, lift it;
wherever it is challenged, wave it; wherever it is high, salute it;
wherever it is victorious, glorify and exult in it. At all times and
forever be for it proud, passionate, persistent, jubilant, defiant;
stirring hidden memories, kindling old fires, wakening the finer
instincts of men, till all are one in the old spirit, the spirit that
will not admit defeat, that has been voiced by thousands, that is
noblest in Emmet's one line, setting the time for his epitaph: "_When_
my country"--not _if_--but "_when_ my country takes her place among the
nations of the earth." It is no hypothesis; it is a certainty. There
have been in every generation, and are in our own, men dull of
apprehension and cold of heart, who could not believe this, but we
believe it, we live in it: _we know it_. Yes, we know it, as Emmet knew
it, and as it shall be seen to-morrow; and when the historian of
to-morrow, seeing it accomplished, will write its history, he will not
note the end with surprise. Rather will he marvel at the soul in
constancy, rivalling the best traditions of undegenerate Greece and
Rome, holding through disasters, persecutions, suffering, and not less
through the seductions of milder but meaner times, seeing through all
shining clearly the goal: he will record it all, and, still marvelling,
come to the issue that dauntless spirit has reached, proud and happy;
but he will write of that issue--_Liberty; Inevitable_: in two words to
epitomise the history of a people that is without a parallel in the
Annals of the World.

Gerry Adams freed without charge after questioning over McConville case

Sinn Féin president says his party 'remains wedded' to new policing dispensation after release from police station
Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness
Gerry Adams with Martin McGuinness at the Balmoral Hotel, west Belfast, after his release on Sunday night. Photograph: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images
Sinn Féin's president, Gerry Adams, has been released without charge after spending four days in custody being questioned about one of the most notorious murders of the Northern Ireland Troubles – the kidnapping, killing and secret burial of Jean McConville in 1972.
The prospect of charges has not gone away as a file on the McConville case has been sent to the region's Public Prosecution Service (PPS).
But at a press conference on Sunday night, Adams reiterated that he had nothing to do with McConville's disappearance and murder, declaring: "I am innocent of any conspiracy."
He stressed that he still supported the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) despite his arrest and detention for almost five days. He said his party "remains wedded" to the new policing dispensation in Northern Ireland.
His remarks indicate that there is no short-term prospect of Sinn Féin withdrawing support for the police – a move that could have triggered the collapse of the power-sharing executive at Stormont.
He singled out journalist Ed Moloney and Boston College researcher Anthony McIntyre – a former IRA prisoner – for pointed criticism. Adams alleged that some of those anonymous IRA members who gave interviews "said we should be shot" for the Good Friday Agreement and policing.
"I reject all the allegations in these tapes", the former West Belfast MP told the press conference at a Belfast hotel.
Repeating his denial of having any involvement in the McConville murder, Adams said: "I extend sympathy once again to the McConville family and all those who have suffered at the hands of Republicans."
The Sinn Féin president and member of the Irish parliament said he had never disassociated himself from the IRA and never would.
Addressing the McConville family, particularly the oldest son, Adams said: "My message to Michael McConville ... we cannot bring Mrs McConville back." He said the murder of their mother "was a grave injustice...I regret very much what happened".
He criticised the food provided to him during his incarceration which he described as "un-eatable." Adams said: "I didn't eat for the first couple of days because the food couldn't be digested."
The McConville family have repeated their promise that regardless of any criminal prosecution they will take a civil legal action to sue Adams and take him to court.
"I am gutted he is out but this is far from over, either for him or me", said Helen McKendry, the eldest surviving daughter of the murdered West Belfast woman, reacting to Adams's release.
"Even if nothing comes from the file being to sent to the Public Prosecution Service, there is going to be a case against Adams. We have received backing from an anonymous donor to take our legal action against him," she said.
McKendry added: "I noted that Gerry Kelly [Sinn Féin minister and ex-IRA bomber] kept referring to my mother's murder outside the police station as a 42-year-old killing. I found that disgusting because it implied that her death, that that crime, wasn't important any more.
"Bloody Sunday was 42 years ago and it still matters and those people in Derry deserve justice, too. So we won't give up on pursuing Adams no matter what happens now. We haven't gone away you know."
At a press conference, her brother Michael McConville said: "The McConville family is going to stay to the bitter end until we get justice."
A spokesperson for the PSNI confirmed that a 65-year-old-man questioned by detectives investigating Jean McConville's murder had been released "pending a report to the PPS".
The PPS will have to decide if it is in the public interest to charge Adams in connection with the McConville murder scandal. The director of the PPS, Barra McGrory, will play no part in that decision because he used to be Adams' solicitor.
Although officially free, Adams remained inside the police station until about 7pm on Sunday night. A small but vocal group of hostile Ulster loyalist demonstrators were standing outside, blocking the station's heavily fortified gates, preparing to hurl abuse when he emerged.
A convoy of armoured trucks was confronted with a phalanx of protesters, some of whom sat in the road, blocking the exit.
However, it then transpired that the security operation was a decoy to divert the loyalists away from the back of the station. Adams and his entourage left by car via the back entrance.
The Adams arrest and Sinn Féin's warnings since Friday that the party would reconsider their support for the PSNI have poisoned the political atmosphere within the power-sharing devolved government in Belfast.
Earlier on Sunday, first minister Peter Robinson described Sinn Féin's behaviour as "bully boy tactics".
The Democratic Unionist party leader said: "The protest action taken by Sinn Féin is unacceptable in any democratic country operating under the rule of law.
"The publicly conveyed threat to the PSNI delivered by the highest levels of Sinn Féin that they will reassess their attitude to policing if Gerry Adams is charged is a despicable, thuggish attempt to blackmail the PSNI.
"The threat now means that ordinary decent citizens will conclude that the PSNI and the PPS have succumbed to a crude and overt political threat if Adams is not charged."
The first minister's remarks were a measure of the bitter acrimony over Adams' detention between the two main parties in the regional devolved government, the DUP and Sinn Féin.
Shaun Woodward, Labour's last Northern Ireland secretary, warned that the detention of Adams for four days had created a "massive test of confidence" in policing and the justice system in Northern Ireland.
Woodward said: "I remain hopeful we can come through this; but a very steady hand is now required to maintain confidence in all the institutions. The release of Gerry Adams has not lessened the tension; tonight it sits in a different place and runs the risk of remaining in such a precarious position for as long as it takes to make a decision. And then we will go into a new phase again."
Ivan Lewis, the shadow Northern Ireland secretary, said: "Wise and cool heads are needed amongst leaders on all sides who should tone down the rhetoric and reassure people that they remain committed to reconciliation and a shared future. Once the current elections are over, they must seek an urgent agreement on new mechanisms to deal with the past and parades. The UK government working with the Irish government must now take a proactive role in facilitating such an agreement."
Gerry Kelly, the Sinn Féin junior minister and former IRA Old Bailey bomber, was allowed into Antrim police station to visit Adams on Sunday afternoon.
Kelly said Adams believed his detention was politically motivated and was "worried about the damage that it may be doing to the image of policing as well. This is quite a serious situation".
He said that the Sinn Féin president told him that the police also questioned Adams about books he wrote over the past 40 years and showed him photographs from the Troubles.
The minister's visit was highly unusual because normally only a doctor or lawyer can visit a suspect in a police station anywhere in Northern Ireland.
As well as questions over the killing and secret burial of McConville – one of 16 people whom republicans murdered and then 'disappeared', their bodies not found for decades – Adams was asked about being a member of the IRA.
He was arrested under the Terrorism Act and was held for almost five days in the PSNI's serious crimes suite in Antrim police station.
Adams was the seventh person to be arrested and questioned over the McConville murder. The victim was dragged at gunpoint from her children in west Belfast just before Christmas in 1972. She was driven across the Irish border, shot in the head several days after being interrogated by the IRA and her body buried at a secret location on a Co Louth beach.
The IRA only admitted they had murdered her in 1999 after a long campaign by her daughter Helen and son-in-law Seamus McKendry to highlight her disappearance and murder. Her body was discovered in 2003 by a man walking his dog on Shillington Beach in the Irish Republic.
Adams has always denied having played a role in her murder or have ever being a member of the IRA. However, his former republican comrade Brendan Hughes sparked a major controversy in 2010 when the ex-IRA hunger striker alleged in a posthumous taped interview that Adams gave the order for McConville to be killed for being an alleged informer and then have her "disappeared" or buried in secret.
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