Stephenson, founder of the Provisional IRA, was English. Nothing
strange about that.
The Green? Second Generation Irish and the Cause of Ireland
by Brian Dooley
(Belfast: Beyond The Pale Publications, 2004) 192pp.
ISBN 1-900960-26-5 Price £8.99
are millions of people of Irish descent all over the world, and
quite a number of them have been involved in Republican politics.
Though they left a major imprint on history, second generation Irish
Republicans have largely been neglected by historians. Brian Dooleys
book is a modest attempt to help fill some of the gaps
in knowledge about the contribution of second/third generation Irish
people to the fight for Irish independence, and how some people
responded to growing up second generation Irish in Britain during
reader can feel the authors genuine enthusiasm for his subject.
More anecdotal than analytical, the book almost exclusively concentrates
on Irish Republicans born and raised in Britain from 1916 onwards,
and their political activities during the last thirty years in particular.
The author does not cover the 18th or 19th centuries English
born Fenians for example- or the contributions of people of Irish
descent from countries other than Britain to the cause of Republicanism.
of the most active Republicans were born outside Ireland. For example,
Tom Clarke was born in the Isle of Wight and spent his childhood
in South Africa where his father was a British soldier. James Connolly
spent the first part of his life in Edinburgh, as Jim Larkin did
in Liverpool. Eamon de Valera was born in Manhattan from a Spanish
father (bizarrely Dooley mentions an FBI document written by Edgar
Hoover describing him as a Portuguese Jew), and Liam
Mellows in Lancashire. Mary MacSwiney was born and educated in London
and Cambridge. Erskine Childers and Countess Markiewicz were born
in England where they had an upper class upbringing. Sean MacBride,
the IRA chief of staff and future founder of Amnesty International,
was born in France where he was brought up speaking French. It is
thus hardly surprising that during the treaty debates, Collins could
insult de Valera and Markievicz, calling them Foreigners-Americans-English
while Griffith said to Erskine Childers I will not reply
to any damned Englishman in this assembly. The book explores
the background of many of these second generation Irish Republicans.
are two chapters on Sean MacStiofain, one of the founders of the
Provisional IRA and the organisations first Chief of Staff.
Born John Stephenson in London, his father was an English Tory,
and spoke with a Cockney accent all his life. Interestingly, MacStiofain
had been in the IRA for well over a year until he visited Ireland
for the first time in his life! Surprisingly, he was no exception.
As Dooley shows, volunteers from London, Liverpool and Glasgow fought
during the 1916 Rising, and this was the first time many of them
had actually been to Ireland. There were also reports of individuals
from Poland, Finland and Sweden fighting alongside the insurgents
during the Easter Rising. During the Black and Tan War, IRA units
in England carried out many operations. Over one thousand men were
enrolled in the IRA units in Britain, and at its height, there were
two incidents a day, mainly in London, Newcastle and Manchester.
of the most interesting chapters in the book is about second generation
Irish people from Britain who became active in the IRA. A typical
example is Diarmuid O Neill, who lived his whole life in England
until he was killed in controversial circumstances in London in
1996. His background and his accent were very much London and didnt
identify him as Irish. When he talked with Irish born people about
the conflict in the North, they would make disparaging comments
like how would you know anything about it? Youre
Dooley, There is no one simple explanation of why second
generation Irish people chose to join the IRA. For some it was a
predominantly socialist motivation, for others it may have been
an effort to establish a Super Irish identity, and for
others still because of a highly developed sense of ideological
Republicanism. Unsurprisingly, the motivation seems to have been
rooted in a series of factors rather than one specific belief or
instance, one of the key operators during the bombing campaign in
England in the mid-1970s was Liam Quinn. Born in San Francisco from
a Mexican mother and a third generation Irish American father, he
once said: I guess that nice American boy wasnt happy
with the television culture and the Disneyland world. I guess he
was looking for a new identity and better sense of values and just
happened to find a worthy cause to be devoted to.
people not of Irish descent also became involved in Republican politics
through socialism. At least three members of the English group Red
Action were convicted of IRA and INLA activity during the 1990s.
And as far back as 1920, Scottish communists John McLean and Willie
Gallagher were involved in gunrunning for the IRA. Dooley could
also have mentioned Rudolf Raab and Hans Joachim Stemler, two Germans
who were actively involved in the INLA.
some people of Irish descent joined the IRA, others joined the British
Army. A soldier quoted in the book declares: My grandfather
came from Letterkenny, and many of the people I stopped and questioned
in Derry had the same surname as me I began to wonder if I
was interrogating distant cousins.
book shows that as informers, police officers, prison warders and
British soldiers, second generation Irish people in Britain played
significant roles in the war against the IRA.
author also describes how second generation Irish people were sometimes
among the victims of IRA operations in England. For example, among
those killed in the 1974 Birmingham bombs, three were of Irish descent,
as were 35 of the 200 injured. IRA bombs left Irish people open
to suspicion and hostility.
of second generation Irish people were detained under the 1974 Prevention
of Terrorism Act. A study released in 1996 showed that until then
about 6500 people in England, Scotland and Wales had been arrested
under the PTA, with many thousands more questioned and detained.
Of those arrested under the PTA, 97 percent were Irish. Despite
the arrests, less than three percent were finally charged. And some
of those charged, like the Maguire seven, the Birmingham six or
the Guildford four were wrongfully convicted. The possibility
of being questioned, detained, arrested and convicted for something
you had not done was a constant threat to thousands of second generation
Irish people in Britain during the Troubles.
remains unexplored in the book are the tensions between the Republicanism
adopted only by a minority of second and third generation Irish
people, and the moderate nationalism or indifference
expressed by a majority. After all, only a minority ever ended up
choosing the green.
r e v i e w
Harry: On Victims and Scapegoats In 2002, Harry McCartan, aged twenty-three,
was apprehended in the hardline loyalist Seymour Hill area of Dunmurry.
Harry came from the nationalist Poleglass estate, and was a notorious
joyrider. One report claims that he had stolen more than two-hundred
cars, and for his trouble he spent time in jail.
by Patrick Grant
Kinky Forbears Lascivious Bodies investigates all
sorts of sex, in all sorts of places, with all sorts of people,
sometime during the long eighteenth century, between 1680 and 1830.
The range of sexual activities proffered to the reader is extensive:
prostitution; adultery; sodomy; bestiality; masturbation; lesbianism;
cross-dressing (both male and female); necrophilia; paedophilia;
foot fetishism; flagellation and strangulation all feature as the
result of Peakmans exhaustive drive to document the sexual
proclivities of her chosen age. And her attitude to the ever-increasing
commercialisation of sex and the body during this period is straightforward:
people had sex more often, in more diverse ways than before, and
were liberated by experimentation. "The book celebrates those
"lascivious bodies" which continued to "have their
way" in the face of -- often terrifying -- social control."
by Sinead Morrissey
Stephenson, founder of the Provisional IRA, was English. Nothing
Strange About That. There are millions of people of Irish descent
all over the world, and quite a number of them have been involved
in Republican politics. Though they left a major imprint on history,
second generation Irish Republicans have largely been neglected
by historians. Brian Dooleys book is a modest attempt
to help fill some of the gaps in knowledge about the contribution
of second/third generation Irish people to the fight for Irish independence,
and how some people responded to growing up second generation Irish
in Britain during the Troubles.
by Liam O Ruairc
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