A Couple of Essay by Niall Meehan

Here’s a post from Niall Meehan with links to a couple of essays, The Embers of Revisions (by Niall) and The Wind That Shakes The Barley (by Brian Murphy):

For those interested in politics and history in Ireland from a left-wing perspective, please find attached a recently published pamphlet on Irish history and politics with two essays (see here).

The first is a critique of Irish revisionist historiography that begins by reviewing the turn to the right of Irish politician/thinker Conor Cruise O’Brien in the early 1970s. He had been an anti-Vietnam War and anti-racist academic and political activist in the US in the mid to late 1960s (based in NYU).

The turn began in concert with an emerging negative reaction to the increasingly violent civil rights revolt in northern Ireland.

This first essay critiques the tendency, inherited from O’Brien, to portray Irish republicanism as an irrational ‘Catholic-nationalist’ formation.

It then looks at countervailing aspects of southern Irish society (the Republic of Ireland) that were not quite as ‘Catholic’ as is often complacently portrayed, and the application of O’Brien’s ‘revisionist’ methodology to the 1919-21 Irish War of Independence.

O’Brien used insights gleaned from those impressions to justify censorship of Irish broadcasting, over which he had ministerial responsibility from 1973-77. The essay details the effect of censorship on the careers of two individuals who, starting from a left or republican position, eventually became champions of O’Brien’s methods and ideas.

The essay surveys revisionist attempts to generate liberal sympathy for anti-(Irish) republican views by, for example, insinuating anti-semitism on the part of republican leaders (such as Michael Collins). The essay points out a reliance by the same authors, for instance former left (now right) leaning political scientist Paul (‘Lord’) Bew, on pro-British anti-semites during the 1919-23 period.

It then explains the consequential celebration of a history of the War of Independence in Cork by the late Professor Peter Hart, as a logical outcome of the history originally foretold by Conor Cruise O’Brien.

The second essay critiques attempts by historians such as Roy Foster to undermine Ken Loach’s 2006 film The Wind that Shakes the Barley. It demonstrates that Loach’s film contained a more accurate history of the period than Foster’s essay based historical scenario.

(This is a second edition, produced for a Conor Cruise O’Brien symposium in Trinity College. First edition cover and back page – the only difference – at http://www.academia.edu/34075119/.)

Also attached, a subsequently published one page article on the O’Brien symposium.

You can also read about press coverage of O’Brien’s sacking of the (London) Observer’s Mary Holland in 1979, while he was Ed in Chief, at http://www.academia.edu/35030894/.


Belfast Battalion now available…

As of today, you can buy your copy of Belfast Battalion at the following locations:




Connolly Books,

Essex Street East, Temple Bar



Sinn Féin Book Shop,

55 Falls Road, Belfast





Calton Books,

159 London Road, Glasgow*





*It should be available by Monday or Tuesday next week.


You can order the book direct to your front door online here.

There are also a couple of copies in the library of the Museum in Conway Mill if you just want to browse a copy.

And you can download it for Kindle/ebook here (and preview it below).


Pre-order ‘Belfast Battalion’

You can now pre-order Belfast Battalion for delivery in the week or so following 1st November 2018.

To do so just click the following link: https://thelitterpress.wordpress.com/shop-siopa/

You can also access the eBook/Kindle edition at the same link.

There will be a launch in Belfast on 8th December 2018, details to follow.

Belfast Battalion available as ebook from today…

You can now read the newly published book on the Belfast IRA (1922-1969).

Ahead of schedule, I know, but the ebook/Kindle edition of Belfast Battalion has already gone live on Amazon at the link below (where you can also get a preview).

Anyone who doesn’t use Kindle or ebooks can read a sample chapter below. The plan is to have the printed book available by 1st November (you can still add your email to get updates here). By the way – if you’re kind enough to get the ebook version – don’t forget to give it some stars or a review.

book teaser…

Coming very soon, Belfast Battalion: a history of the Belfast I.R.A. 1922-69. Likely see ebook launched in October, print copies will be available for delivery/distribution in November.

Watch this space…

You can add your email below for updates on when the book is available.

Torture, 1971

This report on Torture: The Record of British Brutality in Ireland details the experiences of those tortured by British Army personnel and RUC personnel and was published in 1971. The report was published by Northern Aid in co-operation with The Association for Legal Justice. Northern Aid was an organisation founded to raise funds for the relief of distress in the north. It’s board included Frank MacManus MP and Paddy Kennedy MP and Frank Gogarty from the NICRA. The Association for Legal Justice had been launched on 25th April 1971 in Belfast including the likes of Christopher Napier, Rita Mullan, Sean McCann and Frances Murray. Within a week of the mass arrests on 9th August 1971, the Association for Legal Justice had already raised allegations about the brutal ill-treatment of the detainées by the security forces.

Over the next few days, both the Association for Legal Justice and the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association publicised accounts of the torture, with up to thirty separate instances being documented by the 17th August. Within a few days, the British government announced that an inquiry would take place. The inquiry produced the Compton Report (named after the chair, Sir Edmund Compton, G.C.B., K.B.E.). The inquiry report was published on 16th November 1971 and was widely derided as an exercise in semantics and a whitewash amid calls for an independent international inquiry. On 30th November, in Dublin, the government announced it would take a case against the British government in the European Court of Human Rights (the case is still not closed).

Following its publication, the statements that had been assembled by the Association for Legal Justice were brought together and published as Torture: The Record of British Brutality in Ireland. It was printed by The Record Press Limited in Bray and launched at a press conference in Dublin on 14th December 1971. To put the publication in context, this was only ten days after the bombing of McGurks Bar in Belfast and six weeks before Bloody Sunday.


Those whose experiences are recounted are James Magilton, Thomas Largey, James Lynch, Liam Rogers, Liam Shannon, Sean Drumm, Edward Campbell, Brendan Harrison, James Auld, Kevin Hannaway, Thomas Sinclair, TJ Conlon, Brian Turley, Sean McKenna, Gerrard McKerr, Henry Bennett, MJ Donnelly, Michael Harvey, Joe Clarke, Patrick Shivers, Elisha Anderson and Anthony Maxwell. It also gives account from those thrown from helicopters (including some of the above and Frank McGuigan, Michael Montgomery and Patrick McNally). There are also accounts of the ill-treatment of prisoners in Long Kesh, including Bill Denvir, J. McMahon, Tex Duggan, Laurence McCay, F. Maynes, J.J. Davey, P.R. Mallon, Pat Mulvenna, Liam Mulholland, Pat O’Hagan, Benny Doonan, Frank McGlade and Phil McCullough.

The report also reprinted photos of the Maguire sisters which proved that official claims that they had been dressed as men when shot dead were untrue. The sisters (Maura Meehan and Dorothy Maguire) had been shot dead by British soldiers in a car on Cape Street on 23rd October 1971. Both IRA volunteers, they were unarmed when shot. The photographs had been printed in some newspapers in the days after they had been killed.

Finally, it should be noted that this report merely documents examples of torture up to November 1971. This is merely a prelude to the subsequent development and application of a variety of torture techniques by the security forces over the next decades.