Revisiting 1969: Internment

The use of internment by the Unionist government is often associated with the 9th August 1971 when mass arrests took place across the north. However, internment had been used on a frequent basis by the Unionist government since 1922. Whilst hundreds of men and women were interned in 1938-1945 and 1957-1962, there were a number of other episodes in which smaller numbers were interned in 1925, 1935, 1950-1 and indeed, 1969. The use of internment in 1969 is another overlooked aspect of how the events of that year unfolded.

Following the deployment of British troops in the face of a UVF bombing campaign in April 1969, the unfolding crisis saw a recurring discussion in the Unionist government over ending the British Army’s role. Early proposals to withdraw the British Army in early June had been pushed out until after the Twelfth of July when a slower withdrawal was envisaged. During July, the British soldiers continued to be used in guarding key installations while B Specials, officially armed with batons, provided support to the RUC during street disturbances.

By the 3rd August, the British Labour government was being advised by the Unionists that further military assistance was likely to be needed and suggested that a Company of British soldiers be placed on stand-by in Musgrave Street Barracks. On 6th August the Home Secretary (Jim Callaghan) had stated that direct rule from London would have to be imposed  “…in the event that progress on the reforms discussed at previous Downing Street meetings was not satisfactory” or if there was “continuing use of troops to control riot situations.” The Home Office went as far as to say that failure to meaningful engage in civil rights reforms could lead to a “…review of the constitutional arrangements.” As far as London was concerned, use of the British Army meant that it would be “…difficult to separate the function of law and order, which H.M.G. might wish to control, from other functions of the Northern Ireland government and, therefore, his personal view was that it was a case of taking over all Northern Ireland’s affairs or none.” This point was reinforced by the Home Office stating that the “…Westminster Parliament would have to assert its authority.

The views of the British Home Office on 6th August seemed to be a response to Unionists attempts to build up the RUC Reserve, continue to escalate the deployment of the B Specials and push for less restrictions on the use of CS gas. On 4th August the Unionists had proposed to increase the RUC Reserve by 50% by mixing it with B Specials. By 5th August, the Unionist cabinet agreed “It was the general view of Ministers that the maximum prudent use should be made of U.S.C. forces.

The Unionist representatives told the Home Office that direct rule or a change in constitutional arrangements (arising from either the use of British army or a failure to engage in civil rights reforms) would lead to significant violence. A record of discussions made on 7th August reported that they had told the Home Office that, if Callaghan and the Labour government didn’t agree to deploying the British Army they would put “armed Specials on the streets – with all the implications that that might carry for a deepening of the sectarian conflict”. They went on to state that “…the United Kingdom authorities should consider the situation that might well arise if in fact they did decide to exercise direct rule from Whitehall. There would first of all be a frightening reaction by the Protestant community which could make anything that had happened up to now seem like child’s play; a provisional Government might be set up with extreme elements at its head and it was highly probable that wholesale sectarian strife would break out not only in the streets but in the factories.

A Unionist cabinet meeting on 11th August was advised of the recent discussion with the British Home Office and that the continued use of British troops could necessitate the imposition of direct rule. Throughout July and August, the Apprentice Boys parade in Derry on 12th August loomed large as a likely focus for significant violence. So it was no surprise when the Battle of the Bogside then erupted in Derry on 12th August. The next day protests in Belfast over the actions of the RUC and B Specials in Derry led to further violence including a couple of armed clashes between the RUC and IRA over the night of 13th/14th August. That afternoon, 14th August the Unionists requested further military assistance in Derry and to intern suspected IRA ‘agitators’ under the provisions of the Civil Authorities (Special Powers) Act.

The RUC then carried out a series of raids and arrested and interned at least twenty-four men. Those interned included Frank Campbell, Denis Cassidy, Denis Casson, M. Darity, J.J. Davey, Frank Donnelly, P. Duffy, R. Fitzpatrick, Jimmie Hargey, L. Johnston, D. Loy, H. Mallon, Prionsias MacAirt, Joe McCann, P.J. McCusker, John McEldowney, F. McGlennon, John McGuigan, Malachy McGurran, Liam McIlvenna, Billy McMillan, L. Savage, M. Toal and F. White. Not all were from Belfast. An Appeals Tribunal was to be constituted, under a Q.C., Frank Patton, to hear appeals against being interned.

Military assistance was also needed in Belfast and was requested the next day (15th August). In a public statement the next day the Unionist Prime Minister Chichester-Clarke said that “Well-disciplined and ruthless men, working to an evident plan, attacked the police at a number of points in the city.” Perhaps mindful that the use of the British Army could now trigger direct rule, Chichester-Clarke then tried to make it difficult for the British government to do so by saying the violence had been “…a deliberate conspiracy to subvert a democratically-elected Government.” By this he was implying that direct rule would be seen to be achieving the aims of the IRA. He also made reference to the use of internment, stating that “A considerable number of persons suspected of subversive activities are being held by the police for interrogation.

The violence had largely been instigated by Unionists as opposition to civil rights reforms, just as Unionist officials had alluded to in talks with the British Home Office at the start of August. But Chichester-Clarke carefully framed the context of the current security crisis and violence, citing both the handful of armed clashes between the IRA and RUC and the need to detain IRA members. Thus, Chichester-Clarke painted a scenario in which the IRA were to blame so as to make it difficult for Westminster to either ‘review constitutional arrangements’ as a consequence of the violent resistance by Unionists of civil rights reform (that they had signalled to Westminster in the talks of 3rd-6th August) or impose direct rule due to the deployment of the British Army.

Meanwhile, many of the twenty-four internees were released within a few weeks. Three, Billy McMillan (the Belfast IRA O/C) and two other senior IRA figures, Prionsias MacAirt and Malachy McGurran continued to be interned. When McMillan got out late in September he found significant hostility among the Belfast IRA to the IRA’s leadership in Dublin over events in August. MacAirt and McGurran, though, were to be interned until the end of year.

Despite the deployment of the British Army on 14th-15th August 1969, it was to be March 1972 before Westminster finally imposed direct rule.

The Al Rawdah prison ship, 1940-41

I’ve not seen a detailed history of the Al Rawdah prison ship written down anywhere, so here is one. While it was in use only briefly (in 1940-41) the Al Rawdah falls within a longer history of the use of prison ships as internment camps in Ireland, including the Postlethwaite in 1798, prison ships transporting convicts overseas, the Argenta in 1922-24 and more recently the Maidstone in 1971-72.

Al Rawdah PS
Photograph of the Al Rawdah in use as a prison ship with appears to be the barbed wire enclosures on deck (from 1985 edition of Belfast Graves).
On 2nd September 1940, 140 internees were taken from Derry Gaol at 11 am and split into batches of fourteen. Each fourteen then were handcuffed in pairs and put onto a bus with soldiers and armed RUC men. The buses were driven in a convoy, accompanied by Lancia armoured cars, along roads which were heavily guarded. When the convoy passed through Belfast, the internees reportedly sang loudly. Their destination turned out to be 130 miles away from Derry, at Killyleagh in County Down. Some newspapers reported that as many as 157 internees were brought on the buses from Derry. The transport from Derry left another 80 internees in on-shore prisons, all in the Belfast Prison (Crumlin Road). When the Derry internees arrived in Killyleagh at 3 pm, the pier was cordoned off by the RUC. There was then a roll call of the first batch of men off the buses. They were dressed in everything from labourers clothes to sports jackets and flannels. The men were then transferred in small groups to two waiting boats. When about thirty internees and RUC men were in each boat a motor-boat towed them out to a ship, the Al Rawdah, which was to be used as a prison ship, anchored two miles off-shore. According to the Belfast Telegraph the internees sang the ‘Volga Boatman’s Song’ on the way out. In all it took until 5 pm to transfer all the internees from the buses to the Al Rawdah.

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A boat travelling between the shore and the Al Rawdah (the ship shown a couple of miles off-shore in the background). This is identical to the first view the internees got of the Al Rawdah in Killyleagh. This is a still from the 1943 film ‘We Dive at Dawn’ which featured the Al Rawdah.

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(Above and below) Close ups of the Al Rawdah from the film ‘We Dive at Dawn’ (1943) showing the gun turrets added with other refurbishments after use as a prison ship.bows.png

The Al Rawdah was a 3,930 ton vessel built in 1911 and requisitioned by the British Ministry of Shipping from the British-India Steam Company in 1940. The decision to bring a prison ship into service for internees had become public knowledge in late July 1940. By August it’s identity and destination in Strangford Lough were both well known with the Belfast Newsletter and Belfast Telegraph referring to it as the ‘Ulster Prison Ship’ and ominously noting that it’s intended capacity was 700-800 prisoners. Significant public criticism followed, noting the experience of the Argenta prison ship anchored off Larne in 1922-24 (early in August it was rumoured that the new prison ship would also be anchored off Larne). The cramped conditions, lack of exercise spaces and even difficulty in removing sick internees had all contributed to a significant number of Argenta internees developing tuberculosis and other diseases and a number being released early when they had become terminally ill. On top of that, several weeks previously some 800 German and Italian internees had been killed when the SS Arandora Star was sank en route to an internment camp in Canada. A number of local authorities and other bodies south of the border passed motions condemning the use of a prison ship.

Nationalist politicians protested that internment without trial on a ship was both against international law and presenting a serious danger given the current threat of attack from air or sea. The Unionist Minister of Home Affairs, Dawson Bates, dismissed the claims stating that “Anyone who attacked the Al Rawdah from above or from under the sea would get an unpleasant surprise.” Dawson Bates also repeatedly avoided answering questions about the cost of the Al Rawdah.

A couple of days later, on 10th September, 72 internees were taken from Crumlin Road prison in Belfast, split into batches of around fifteen and placed on five buses for a similar journey to the Al Rawdah via Killyleagh. The number transferred on 10th September varies in different newspaper reports but a statement in Stormont in mid-October confirms it as 72. This brought the number of internees on the boat to around 212. It was also noted that some internees had previously been interned without trial on the Argenta prison ship during 1922-1924. As far as I can make out Richard Ryan definitely spent time on both the Argenta and Al Rawdah. Jack Gaffney and Thomas O’Malley possibly were on the Argenta but certainly both of them and James Doyle had been imprisoned in 1920-24. Other names that feature on the list of internees on the Argenta and Al Rawdah are James Connolly, Mick Gallagher, John Kearney, Sean Keenan, P.J. O’Hare, Patrick Quinn and James Trainor. Other people may be able to shed more light on whether these are indeed the same individuals.

This immediately presented a problem to the families of internees since Killyleagh was difficult to access. At Stormont, Labour MPs asked whether the Unionist government was prepared to provide financial assistance to the families of internees. Dawson Bates refused stating that he was unaware of any anxiety on the part of the dependents of those interned. He did note that the authorities “…would not interfere in anyway with the disbursement of funds by any body provided it was within the law.” However, money collected by various groups for the dependents of internees was to be repeatedly seized by the Unionists.

By the 19th September the Al Rawdah was joined by a Catholic priest from St Paul’s Retreat at Mount Argus, Belfast-born Fr Enda Elliott, who was to become the chaplain. Four non-Catholic internees were to have their spiritual needs met by the Protestant clergy of Killyleagh. On that day the Unionist mounted a public relations offensive, with Dawson Bates and William Lowry bringing the American Consul in Belfast (John Randolph), the chaplain of Belfast Prison (Fr. McGouran), Nationalist MP Richard Byrne and Labour MP Jack Beattie and some Stormont officials out to the Al Rawdah for lunch and to inspect its newly equipped library, indoor games room and medical and dental equipment. While the press noted their meal did have some delicacies and wine added it claimed that, otherwise, it was the standard fare prepared for prisoners by the ships ‘coloured chefs’ (some of the crew were Indians). The non-unionist visitors to the prison ship declined to make any comment to the press, although the government officials advised reporters that if those visitors were to make any comment ‘it would be favourable’.

By October, there were repeated protests at the inability of families to visit internees on the Al Rawdah (notably media reports were by then using the figure of 180 for the number of internees). Internees were permitted one visit per week from two family members (the Ministry of Home Affairs only allowed visits from two out of a panel of six close relatives which had to be vetted in advance). The authorities only provided facilities and transfers to the Al Rawdah for a limited number of visits per week meaning that after six weeks some prisoners had yet to receive a visit. The remoteness was believed to be a deliberate ploy and it often proved impossible to get internees off the ship for compassionate reasons – when Patrick Doyle’s widower father James was ill in December, although he was an only son, it proved impossible to get home to Colligan Street in time to see him before he died.

Some internees families remembered the difficulty of getting out for visits including the frightening climb up steps to get to the deck of the Al Rawdah. Even before they got there they had to brave the hostility of the locals in Killyleagh who resented the nearby presence of the Al Rawdah and the on-shore presence of armoured cars and barbed wire in their village (Frank McGlade quoted in John McGuffin’s Internment). Turlach Ó hUid (in his 1985 memoir of internment, Faoi Ghlas) says that, at the quay side, Killyleagh resident shook their fists at families visiting internees as they board the boats to take them out the Al Rawdah, shouting “Scuttle the Fenian gets.

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Climbing the steps to board the Al Rawdah, from ‘We Dive at Dawn’ (1943).
Al Rawdah with subs
This photograph gives a sense of the height of the Al Rawdah (for those having to climb up steps from a boat at sea level), from when it was in service with surrendered German submarines at the end of the second world war (Wikipedia).

In mid-October it was already rumoured in the press that the Al Rawdah was costing £1 per internee per day (again citing a daily cost of £180). Despite the reputed cost, the food on board was described by internees as abominable. According to Frank McGlade even when braised gosling and dry biscuits were given as a supposed treat, they were so bad even the seagulls wouldn’t eat them. The seagulls did help some internees to occasionally relieve the boredom. Bobby Devlin recounts a story about internees on the Al Rawdah. According to Devlin (in his 1982 memoir An Interlude with Seagulls), “A ploy of some men on the ‘Al Rawdah’ was to tie bits of food scraps onto cord and fling it skywards into a frenzied mass of gulls. A poor gull would grab a mouthful triumphantly then it would have its head nearly jerked off by the rigorous pulling of the men on the ship.” Another story often told about the Al Rawdah was how internees trained a mouse to bring messages between cells (as it knew it would be rewarded with food).

There was quickly speculation (and clearly briefings from Unionist government figures) that the Al Rawdah was only a temporary facility, that the Ministry of Shipping wanted it put back into service and that the internees would be moved an internment camp with the former RUC depot at Newtownards being suggested as the likely location. It was also suggested that the internees could be relocated to Belfast Prison (Crumlin Road) for a short time while a new internment camp was established.

The question of whether the Ministry of Shipping knew in advance that the Al Rawdah was to be used for internees under the Civil Authorities (Special Powers) Act was the subject of a heated debate in Stormont on 15th October. It was claimed that the Ministry of Shipping had demanded the return of the Al Rawdah on discovering that it was to be used for internees (the Unionist government’s uses of the Special Powers Act had been the focus of significant criticism in Britain in the 1930s).

That debate was against the backdrop of internees in Crumlin Road and the Al Rawdah failing to get release after submitting an appeal and sureties to an Advisory Committee that had refused 37 of the 62 applications (applying to the Advisory Committee also caused significant tensions among internees as it was seen as giving in to the Unionist government). Twenty-five had been released. Some of the failed applicants had began a hunger strike by 15th October leading to the release of William Barrett from the Springfield Road in Belfast. He had been interned since May (1940) and his family believed it had seriously damaged his health. He and the other hunger strikers appear to have been in D wing in Crumlin Road rather than on the Al Rawdah.

During the Stormont debate William Lowry revealed that, on that date, there were 268 internees (with 193 of those on the Al Rawdah). Apparently there were roughly 70 in the Belfast Prison and the remainder on the Al Rawdah, it is implied that those in Belfast Prison were engaging with the Advisory Committee (it is possible some were also in the prison hospital there). It was also insisted that, far from being unaware of the intended use of the Al Rawdah, the British military had offered it specifically for that purpose. Not only that, it was claimed that, on hearing that they were to be moved from the Al Rawdah, William Lowry claimed the internees had unanimously petitioned to be allowed to stay. He also took the opportunity to dismiss criticisms of the use of internment, stating that “There are thankful parents in Belfast and all over the Six Counties tonight because steps were taken at the proper time and a lad was checked on a course that could only have ended in a long term of imprisonment or on the scaffold.” Many of those interned on the Al Rawdah had been arrested in December 1938 and did not get released until the summer of 1945.

On the 18th October, Nationalist Senator Thomas McLaughlin visited the ship and also declined to make any comment to the press. In Stormont a few days later he challenged the Unionist government to admit that pressure from Washington had forced London to demand the return of the ship. This was put down to a warning about the negative impact on American public opinion if the ship was attacked from the air or sea. The Unionist leader of the Senate, John Robb, instead claimed that the British authorities had asked for the ship to be evacuated once they realised they were being asked to carry the full cost themselves. The debate revealed that there had been disagreement among the Unionist government over whether to use the Al Rawdah. It transpired that the pretext for abandoning Derry Gaol had been instructions from the military to remove any internees from the prison population, meaning citizens of hostile powers (eg Germany and Italy) and prisoners of war. The Unionists had sought to use this directive to have the cost of internment transferred to the military authorities. The only cost to Stormont, as it emerged in October, were the salaries of the prison staff (one of whom, Thomas Walker, was shot dead by the IRA in February 1942 although he was mistaken for another warder).

McLaughlin also challenged Robb to read out the actual petition received from the internees on the Al Rawdah to show that they had never requested that they remain on board the ship (the internees were obviously irked by the suggestion that, as a body, they were giving in to the Unionist government). Robb first placed the petition on a table in the Senate but eventually had to read out the wording of the petition for the record: “We, the Republican internees, desire to renew our protests against the injustice of the being detained without charge or trial. We learn with resentment that, in addition to the injustice of our detention, we are to be removed from a place where at least we have the status of political prisoners to a civil prison, where there are no conveniences or amenities for political prisoners and where, we feel, the restrictions and regulations governing convicted prisoners might even, in part, apply to us.

In the Stormont Senate McLaughlin described the circumstances on board for the 183 internees. He said that it did not conform the image of a ‘luxury ship’ given by the likes of Lowry. The only available recreation space was a 160 foot walkway which could only be walked, with care, in single file as there was so much barbed wire sticking out on either side. On the 28th October, the Unionists again announced that arrangements would soon be made to transfer the internees from the Al Rawdah to an on-shore internment camp. However, it was noted that it was unlikely, with winter coming, that any new internment facility would be ready (implying they would likely be moved to a prison instead).

Despite raising the issues on the Al Rawdah, the internees were often suspicious of the motives of Nationalist politicians. The authorities regularly read the internees mail (and raided their homes to intercept any correspondence sent out illicitly). They intercepted one letter which was read out in Stormont in July 1942 to embarrass some of the Nationalists. It was written by a prominent republican, Joe McGurk, to his wife Sally when he was on the Al Rawdah and very blunt in it’s criticism of the likes of McLaughlin, Campbell and Byrne.

It read: “The common sense of the people outside would’ve told them, at any rate, that, irrespective of our Republican outlook and principle in the matter, it was very unlikely that we would petition this Northern Junta for anything after the persecution which we had to undergo several months ago, and also that we don’t give a damn where we go. We had Senator McLaughlin of Armagh on board on Friday and he was placed in a very embarrassing position, as we would not speak to him about conditions, or much more else for that matter, as he probably would have used his official position to perhaps do himself a lot of good. What takes me to the fair is the concern which T.J. Campbell and Dead-Head Byrne have for our welfare now. The ship is a Godsend for them, from a propaganda viewpoint, to ingratiate themselves with the people. It’s about time that Campbell and Byrne and that Ilk ceased to block the road of the young generation and die a natural death. They did not show much concern when we were interned in Belfast and removed to Derry. We would rather they kept away from us. as we look upon them with contempt.

The same day, some of the Indians in the crew of the Al Rawdah got into a fight that ended up in court at the Killyleagh Petty Sessions. It was claimed that Mohammed Essack had been drunk and hit Mohammed Esmail on the collar bone with an iron poker. Essack had been drunk and it had occurred during a special holy season (this isn’t specified). It was claimed that subsequently Essack had also produced a knife and told Esmail that “You kill me, or I will kill you.” Reportedly, Essack was fined £1. Court proceedings were translated into Hindi by one of the crew and some of those present were permitted to swear on the Qu’ran rather than the bible.

It was believed by the internees that the Indians were chosen to staff the ship to minimise communication between them and the internees. But contact was inevitable. Turlach Ó hUid (Faoi Ghlas 1985) records how the internees and Indian crew engaged in good natured banter, with internees typically telling the Hindus among the Indians that “Gandhi man no good. Moslem good.” and telling the Muslims among the crew that “Gandhi man good. Moslems no good.” Overall, despite the confined space, both sides got along well.

The Indians weren’t the only Al Rawdah crew members to face the courts. On the weekend of 9th-10th November, an Al Rawdah storeman, Sylvester Longstaffe, was arrested and charged with the theft of £3 worth of stores from the ship. It was claimed in court that he had just been dismissed from the ship. Evidence given during his arraignment stated that the financial arrangements under which the ship had been chartered it was still being managed by the British-India Steam Navigation Company. The Al Rawdah’s chief steward, Patrick John Connolly, was also charged with theft from the ship. As it was at an agreed rate per person, the cheaper it was run the more profit there was for the company. According to statements made by Longstaffe’s solicitor, there was a monetary incentive for the company to only provide starvation rations. However the case was never brought to court and the charges were dropped in March 1942.

Longstaffe was a married father of five from Liverpool who had been at Dunkirk. By 1943 he had been on boats that had been torpedoed three times. The charges over the Al Rawdah appear to have been dropped due to the difficulty in locating the defendants and witnesses. Longstaffe had taken on a post as a steward on ships to South Africa during 1941 and met and – bigamously – married another member of the crew in Durban for which he was prosecuted in 1943. His 4,000 mile dash to be by the bedside of his wife, Patricia, in hospital in 1947 made the newspapers. The newspapers then had to publish a clarification from his wife, Elizabeth, stating that it was not her in the photo. Neither was it Irene who he had married in South Africa. He was to feature in the press one more time, in 1958, when an Australian woman he met while working as a ship’s purser, Jean Cook, became pregnant and then tried to procure an abortion. The procedure led to kidney failure and she died a week later. Longstaffe was named as the father during the trial of two Harley Street doctors for carrying out the abortion. He gave a statement claiming he and Cook had ‘just been friends’.
Sylvester Longstaffe
Sylvester Longstaffe in the Liverpool Echo, 22nd September 1947 after his 4,000 mile dash to at the beside of Patricia.

On Monday 18th November, Jack Gaffney fell from his bunk and apparently injured his head. While the crew had a doctor, Dr John Moody, there was no doctor available for the internees. Moody examined Gaffney and he was left in his bed, then apparently brought to the ship’s hospital. He died the next day having received no treatment beyond a heart stimulant when his condition worsened. The official cause of death was described as a cerebral haemorrhage brought about by high blood pressure. In her book on the Argenta prison ship, Denise Kleinrichert lists the name ‘John Giffney’ as a prisoner on the Argenta, it is possible that this is actually Gaffney and that he spent some time on the Argenta (he was imprisoned from 1921 to 1923). Gaffney’s funeral was well attended in Belfast and included the Catholic Bishop of Down and Connor, Mageean.

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I’d not been able to track down a photo of him, but I think this him in a photo of the McKelveys gaelic football team dating to 1931-32 (courtesy of Donal McAnallen).

Neil Gillespie, O/C of the internees on the Al Rawdah, delivered an oration to the internees at the time of Gaffney’s funeral on 20th November. “One of our number has been released, released with honour, released unconditionally into the hands of God who made him. We mourn his passing with that natural sorrow which strikes to the heart of anyone when someone dear to him, someone with whom he ahs been closely associated is suddenly called away, but we’re proud of Jack Gaffney. He was faithful and true to the end. He died for the cause for which he stood, for which he worked, struggled, planned and fought throughout his life, just as truly as if he had fallen on the hillside. At this moment his remains are being brought to their last resting place in a Belfast Graveyard. We gather with those around the grave, we salute the passing of our comrade as a true soldier of Ireland and all humility we pray that God, in his mercy, may have mercy on his soul.” (Oration as quoted by Ray Quinn in A Rebel Voice, 1998).

A Sean Gaffney GAA club was later founded in Belfast in his memory. A 1920-22 IRA veteran, he was well known in GAA circles having played for Kevin Barrys and Morans before joining the Joe McKelvey GAA club in 1927. He played a prominent role in McKelveys’ on field football successes in the late 1920s and early 1930s. The club (which was specifically a club for IRA members) had been highly political in its sponsorship of motions at Antrim and Ulster GAA conventions. Similarly, Sean Gaffneys and other GAA clubs founded by ex-internees and ex-prisoners, like Tom Williams GAC and Seamus Burns GAC promoted political motions, such as in 1947, when they demanded that existing bans by the GAA on ‘foreign games’ and dances be strictly enforced. The years around 1947 were the peak years for Sean Gaffney GAC as it was playing senior football in Antrim. By 1949 the club had been relegated to the Intermediate League and was back playing junior football by 1950.

After Gaffney’s death republicans described the Al Rawdah as the ‘ship from hell’ mimicking British depictions of the German ship Altmark in contemporary propaganda. The Altmark was a German ship carrying three hundred British prisoners of war that was intercepted and the prisoners freed in February 1940. The hardships the Altmark prisoners endured were popularised during the relative lull in the war in early 1940 and were well known to the public and those on the Al Rawdah. According to Turlach Ó hUid (in Faoi Ghlas), Gaffney’s death was compared to the experience of those on the Altmark and that this, more than the threat of any German torpedo or dive-bomber sealed the fate of the Al Rawdah’s use as a prison ship.

At the end of December 1940 it was again announced that the internees would be taken off the Al Rawdah, although in this instance it was reported that the destinations would be Derry Gaol and the Belfast Prison (Crumlin Road). However this move still didn’t transpire and at the start of February (1941) there was an attempt to escape from the Al Rawdah. There are stories about internees on the Al Rawdah making keys out of nails when they were doing arts and crafts. However the escape attempt actually involved an escape onto another boat. Three internees managed to slide down a hawser in the dark and get on to the deck of a collier which had drawn alongside and was unloading coal on to the Al Rawdah (some versions state that it was five internees, such as in McGuffin’s Internment). One of the internees that tried to escape was James O’Hagan. They were discovered trying to lower a lifeboat and after first being mistaken for Germans, there was a scuffle and all but one managed to get back to their cells. The sole internee captured by warders was quickly released when the internees advised they would set the ship on fire if he wasn’t. As it was clear that the internees would be leaving soon, Jimmy Drumm (quoted by John McGuffin in Internment) said that the captain, Watt, told the internees would have had to go soon anyway as they nearly had the ship destroyed stripping it for souvenirs.

As it happened, just over a week later, on Tuesday 11th February 1941, 100 internees were finally transferred out of the Al Rawdah to Belfast and Derry. Motor launches were used to take the men from the ship and then they were escorted in six buses to Crumlin Road by heavily armed RUC men. The remaining 90 internees were transferred to Crumlin Road on the Thursday. Sally McCann, whose husband James was one of the internees, was arrested for waving a handkerchief at a bus transferring internees from the Al Rawdah as it passed on it’s way into Crumlin Road. She was charged with conduct likely to lead to a breach of the peace although it was thrown out of Belfast Custody Court the next day and her arrested was described as “… it savours of nothing if it does not savour of Gestapo methods“.

The physical toll of internment on the Al Rawdah was never really fully documented. Bobby Devlin’s An Interlude with Seagulls account of internment, like many other similar memoirs, clearly highlight a recurring concern among internees about their mental health. Much of this was a clear result of being interned without trial and without a defined period of incarceration, with no actual release date to look forward to. Many euphemisms were used for depression and apathy, like the big ‘D’, the ‘bonk’ and ‘Bangor Reserves’ as it rhymed with ‘nerves’, with ‘bad with their nerves’ being a typical Belfast term for mental health problems. Apart from psychological scars, the constant stench of stagnant sea water and fumes that rose up through the ship created what many on the Argenta, Al Rawdah and Maidstone recalled as an unhealthy atmosphere to even have to breathe in. Given that the internee population was males, mostly in their late teens, twenties and thirties, post-internment mortality was significantly high. Joseph Rooney died in May 1941, John (Seán) Dolan died on 25th October 1941. Dolan was well known in music and Irish language circles in Derry and had been the secretary of the Derry County Board of the GAA and a playing member of the Patrick Pearses club. When it was clear that he was terminally ill, he was released into a relative’s home in July 1941. Some were interned for several more years only to die from ill-health soon after release including Dickie Dunn, Richard Ryan (who had also been interned on the Argenta), Bernard Curran, James Doyle, Michael McErlean and Henry O’Kane.

The exact number of internees who spent time on the Al Rawdah isn’t clear but, based on the available names, is at least 207 and maybe at least 217. While only a subgroup of those who experienced internment between 1938 and 1945, the fact that ten internees died due to ill-health out of just over 200 on the Al Rawdah does seem inordinately high. This doesn’t account for non-fatal impacts on physical and mental health. A number of other internees and sentenced prisoners (including those imprisoned in England) are known to have died prematurely due to either tuberculosis of what would appear to be otherwise innocuous complaints after their release.

A list of recorded Al Rawdah internees is included on the Mapping the Belfast IRA page, in Belfast Lough (for convenience rather than off Killyleagh). As I don’t have addresses for most of them, I’ve not filtered them for Belfast/non-Belfast and so all internees are included. Anyone who knows of other internees not listed here could add the information in the comments section. Of the 217 names, 177 have assigned prisoner numbers. The highest available prisoner number is 207 (the numbers are sequential), this may mean some internees were to be transferred to the Al Rawdah but never made it that far – again some readers might be able to shed some light on this as they might recognise a name on the list as someone who was never on the Al Rawdah.

Thanks to Brendan Harper, Ciarán Ó Fearghail, Cliodhna Ní Baoghaill, Paul Tinnelly and Cathy Kelly for forwarding various bits of information about the Al Rawdah.

You can read more about the background to the Al Rawdah in Belfast Battalion.

…for fear of alienating the Unionist vote… #Brexit

A pivotal moment in the relationship of London and the European community, Unionist votes holding a precarious balance of power, Conservative government policy (including security policy in the north) subject to the need to keep the Unionist votes on side. While no-one seems to have drawn the parallel, we have been here before and the outcome is perhaps worth noting.

Over the course of 1971 and 1972 Edward Heath was trying to push his European Communities Bill through a reluctant House of Commons. The Bill was instrumental in the UK joining the European Economic Community (as the EU was then known). Following the 1970 General Election, Heath had come to power intent on legislating for UK membership of the EEC. With 330 MPs he had a slim majority of 14 and that included the 8 Unionist Party members returned in the north (along with Ian Paisley, Gerry Fitt, Bernadette Devlin and Frank McManus).

Over the summer of 1971, in the lead up to the early stages of the Bill, the press speculated on the extent to which Heath’s reliance on the Unionist votes was a factor in deciding security policy, including in the lead up to the widespread arrest and internment of Catholics in August 1971. At an early stage, in October 1971, most of the Unionist MPs (who were joined in a formal parliamentary grouping with Heath’s Conservatives) voted against the Bill. All of this provides a notable backdrop to the Heath’s perceived need to win Unionists support for his European project for the crucial votes that would happen later in 1971 and early in 1972. Notably, over this period, security policy continued to fall in line with Unionist demands. Political reform was largely ignored (you can see the types of proposals under consideration at the time). And formal scrutiny of recent events was heavily sanitised, such as the Compton report issued in November 1971. During critical events such as the McGurks Bar bombing in December 1971 and Bloody Sunday in January 1972, UK government policy remained favourably aligned on Unionist needs and wants despite significant international opprobrium.

On 17th February 1972, Heath finally got his European vote over the line with a bare majority of eight (the sum total of the Unionist MPs). His biographer, John Campbell, called it ‘Heath’s finest hour’. Within weeks, there was a shift in security policy as first Stormont was prorogued and then the British government began talks with the IRA that appeared to open up all sorts of political possibilities of British withdrawal to the IRA.

This isn’t to suggest that the guiding factor in Heath’s security policy in the north in 1971 and 1972 was predicated upon needing Unionist support to pass the European Communities Bill. But, whatever it’s significance, it was a factor. And once the need for those Unionist votes was passed, the shift in emphasis in political policy against the Unionists was relatively swift.

The following editorial captures all this under the headline “Heath’s Close Call”, it appeared in the Irish Independent on 18th February 1972.

To Irish people who are used to Dáil cliff hangers coming out in a majority of two or three for the Government, Mr. Heath’s majority of eight in Westminster last night on the crucial E.E.C. Bill will seem small beer. But in a Parliament with over 600 members this vote was proportionately as close as any we have seen in Leinster House in recent times.
Now that Mr. Heath has won his vote, however, it is fair to say that the crisis is over for him on this issue. He can expect a gradual improvement from last night’s lowest ebb. With luck the coal and power crises will be things of the past in a few months’ time; a “handout” budget can be expected in an effort to stimulate the economy and fight unemployment; and Rhodesia has already caused the Westminster Government its fill of embarrassment.
There remains Northern Ireland. Certainly Mr. Heath has personally taken political punishment as a result of his handling of the North. However, last night’s critical vote may now free his hand a bit to make some concessions to the minority viewpoint. Up to this, with this crucial vote pending, Mr. Heath has had to be careful what political initiatives he even hinted at for fear of alienating the Unionist vote for last night’s test. Six of the eight Unionist M.P.s had voted against the principle of the Common Market on October 28th; but last night’s vote had turned into a straight political fight, an issue larger that the E.E.C. question. Three of the six anti-Market Northern Unionists were thus free to support the Government on the basis, presumably, that the E.E.C. with Heath was preferable to Wilson with no E.E.C.
His failure to secure a bloc Unionist vote, however, on an issue which had turned into a vote of confidence in the Government means that Unionist opinion is not solidly behind him. One reason for this could be that some Northern Unionists feel that he is about to “do a deal” with the Northern minority. His hands certainly seem less tied after this vote than before it.

European Union flag

The Irish Press editorial, 11/8/1971: #BallymurphyMassacre

This is the editorial from The Irish Press two days after the mass internment of Catholics on 9th August 1971.

THE MESSAGE FROM BELFAST

Either the British Army has assumed the role of the B Specials or the orders given to the soldiers on the ground in the North do not specify their peacekeeping role. After the last two days, no other explanation is possible for their behaviour which has included easy fraternisation with armed loyalists and armed attacks on Catholic areas which have been defending themselves against loyalist attacks. In a day of trying to assess both the political situation and conditions on the ground, this is by far the most frightening aspect of the present conduct of the war that one can see. An inspection of Monday night’s and Tuesday morning’s battlefield which verified the consistent reports of eye-witnesses confirms that the British Army used wildly indiscriminate and heavy gunfire on the inhabitants in the Moyard Estate, after lorry loads of loyalists had been clearly seen spraying automatic fire from the Springmartin Estate overlooking Moyard, which is above Ballymurphy and New Barnsley. The only conclusion that any observer who has actually travelled round Belfast can come to is that the soldiers have either independently decided after the experience of the last 18 months, that the Catholic areas contain the “enemy”, or that their orders do not include the searching and arrest of all those suspected of or actually seen carrying weapons.

The only other judgment that can be made is that it is the intention of Stormont and Westminster to crush the Catholic areas into submission. Certainly the hitherto bitter split of Provisional and “Officials” has been healed so that both sides are now co-operating in the face of this threat.

The fact that the Stormont Cabinet is “stunned” by the violence of the last two days leaves open the consideration that they may have utterly underestimated the degree of alienation and the capacity for resistance in these areas. If it really is their intention to crush the minority, then they can succeed; because the embattled Catholics haven’t got the ammunition available to the Protestants nor do they have the ability to move what they have from one threatened area to another.

Nor can their food supplies hold out indefinitely. But the price of gaining submission will be a phenomenal death toll, economically unbearable damage, total alienation for at least a generation and a complete change in the nature of Anglo-Irish relations. The position of the Irish Government is also a source of great worry to the threatened community. The scant news from yesterday’s Cabinet meeting and the obscurity of Dr. Hillery’s purpose in visiting London, results in speculation varying from a possible breakthrough to the ultimate betrayal in the form of internment of Republicans in the South.

Journalists from Dublin papers are asked in Belfast what Mr. Lynch is going to do to help, and any suggestion about his sending medical aid as in 1969 are greeted with derision. The more hopeful and the more desperate try to believe that he will inform both London and Belfast that the Irish Army does not simply exist to comfort Irish refugees from a part of Ireland.

These are considerations of the most profound nature in Irish politics, but the crisis is now the most profound since at least 1916, if not before. Talks of reconciliation now, or restoring “normality” reveals utter ignorance of the situation; the political situation is being processed at legal and illegal gun points, and reconciliation cannot even begin until there is a political breakthrough.

The situation today is analogus to that when the British tried to introduce Conscription after 1916. They united all shades of Irish opinion against them. Internment is the modern equivalent of Conscription. The Croppies didn’t lie down then and they won’t lie down now.

The Stormont Government has now extended its options, and Westminster’s scope for initiative is now limited to something in the tripartite arena—assuming, and it might be quite an assumption that the straightforward suppression of the Northern minority is not going to be continued.

The solution which must be sought now, must be sought at least as publicly as the solution being processed in the streets of Belfast. Manoeuvres in the underworld of diplomacy, however well intentioned, or however ultimately successful, only give rise in the Northern situation at present to false hopes or false rumours, and these can be as murderous as any of the weaponry now so horribly visible. Stormont, as we know it, must go, Faulkner must be sacked, the internment decision rescinded and talks must be set in motion to end the whole rotten set-up. This is the minimum formula for a beginning to deal with the present crisis.

Internment, 9 August, 1971

On 9th August, 1971, the Unionist government used the Section 12 of the Special Powers Act to arrest and intern hundreds of men. The arrest policy concentrated almost uniquely on Catholics, targeting those believed to be republicans although it included some other individuals such as anarchist John McGuffin (you can read his book on Internment here on Irish Resistance Books).

Previously the Unionists had used the same powers, the Civil Authorities (Special Powers) Act to intern large groups of men on a number of occasions. This was done from 1922 to 1924, in 1925 (during the collapse of the Boundary Commission), from 1938 to 1945, in 1951, from 1956 to 1961 and in August 1969. Frequently, individuals or small groups of two or three men were interned. Given that arrest could mean being held in prison for up to four weeks before a formal internment order was served, a policy of administrative detentions was continually operated that meant that the Unionists and R.U.C. could imprison people for significant periods of time without ever formalising their internment, never mind bringing formal charges through the courts. This tactic was almost exclusively used against republicans although it was utilised against socialists and communists on occasions in the 1920s and 1930s. Notably campaigns to highlight the Unionists’ arrest and detention policies, treatment of prisoners and right to assemble (i.e. to protest about these issues) provided a greater contribution to the civil rights movement of the 1960s than many would like to acknowledge.
torture

One outcome of the phase of internments that started on 9th August 1971 was the experimentation in torture that was summarised in the report published by the Association for Legal Justice and Northern Aid in 1971. Entitled, Torture: The Record of British Brutality in Ireland. Torture details the experiences of those taken and physical and psychologically abused by British Army personnel and RUC personnel and is discussed in more detail here. The Irish government took a case against the British government in the European Court of Human Rights over the torture which is still not resolved.

The Northern Aid/Association for Legal Justice book can be viewed below. Anyone wishing to find out more could also read another of John McGuffin’s books, The Guinea Pigs, which can also be read on Irish Resistance Books.

And in case anyone needs a reminder of the catastrophic impact of the phase of internment that began on 9th August 1971, here is the front page of the next day’s Irish Independent.

IndoAug9.png

Map of IRA and Cumann na mBan suspects in Belfast

suspectsmap

Here is the RUC’s complete suspect list for the IRA and Cumann na mBan in Belfast in the late 1930s, including both the IRA A list and B list. The A list largely contains those who the RUC had previously arrested and held for various periods of time. Together, the combined lists contain five hundred and thirty-five names. Estimates of IRA membership in Belfast around the end of the 1930s suggest a figure of around eight hundred, with a further one hundred and twenty in Cumann na mBanThere is a good chance that some proportion of the names on the RUC list may be false names or addresses, although it is probably only a small number. Even then the RUC suspect list would still amount to half of the projected Belfast membership of the IRA and Cumann na mBan.

So, did the RUC have the IRA and Cumann na mBan completely infiltrated or under such close observation that it had details of over half the membership in Belfast? Without some sort of corresponding membership lists from the IRA or Cumann na mBan, it isn’t possible to make a direct comparison to test either the accuracy of the RUC or identify the actual proportion known to the RUC. However, it is possible to carry out some tests on the quality of RUC intelligence gathering and, to some extent, get an insight into its capacity to deliver counter-insurgency measures against the (very) low intensity campaigns operated by the IRA between 1922 and 1969.

There are known occasions on which detailed lists of IRA membership fell into the RUCs hands. This occurred when the RUC managed to intercept large bodies of IRA members at training camps, such as near Carnlough in 1932, at meetings in Pearse Hall in King Street, and elsewhere. The Belfast Battalion volunteers arrested at Gyles Quay in Louth in 1935 also had their details passed to the northern government. Where lists of these names were published in newspapers, around two thirds appear to have made it as far as the RUC suspects lists.

Ironically, the RUC even had one simple method of collecting the names of IRA volunteers. The playing staff of the McKelvey GAA club was solely made up of IRA volunteers – joining the IRA was even a prerequisite of membership, a fact that was known to the RUC. Reports on club games, including team sheets, were regularly printed in the likes of The Irish News. Yet, again, comparison of the names of players lining out for McKelveys in the likes of 1935-36 and the suspect lists shows that the RUC did not systematically include those who were effectively advertising their IRA membership.

Similarly, the list includes individuals who were no longer involved with the IRA. Davy Matthews, the former Belfast O/C was expelled from the IRA for signing a bond to get released from prison in 1934 and his name is not included. Yet George Nash, who had signed out at the same time and left the IRA, is still included on the RUC list in the late 1930s.

The likes of Murt Morgan, James Pimley and the Carleton brothers had left to join Republican Congress in 1934, if not beforehand, but still are included on the list. Liam Tumilson, who also left to join Republican Congress, is not on the list (he was to die fighting with the International Brigades in Spain in February 1937). But Jim Straney, who had went to Spain to join the International Brigades (and was killed at Gandesa in August 1938) is on the list, as is Peter Fanning, who had went to Spain with O’Duffy to fight on the fascist side.

The overall impression of RUC intelligence gathering appears to suggest it was fairly unsystematic and the lists were erratically maintained. The period during which the lists were considered valid isn’t completely apparent although it included annotations for individuals into the 1940s. Given that a primary tool deployed by the northern government was the detention/internment instruments of the Special Powers Act, this lack of attention to detail in intelligence gathering typically led to wide trawls in which large numbers were arrested, processed and detained for a period of time. The periodic mass arrests deployed by the northern government were intended to cast a net very widely rather than be targeted. Hence its initial round of internments in 1938 largely failed to capture the Belfast IRA’s current leadership. Instead, the RUC seemed to favour the use of informers, as was seen at Campbell College and Crown Entry. This was only effective in intercepting a small proportion of IRA operations.

The map below is interactive and includes all those on the list with an address (only one, a Christopher Lee, has no assigned address). Generally, individuals are located to streets rather than trying to place them where their actual house was (most of the terraces, and often streets, in which they lived now bear no resemblance to the streetscape of the 1930s and 1940s). If you click on any individual you can see their recorded address and, if they were considered by the RUC as ‘staff officers’ on the suspect list there is an ‘x’ beside ‘staff’ in the window with the details.

The full lists are also reproduced in text below the map.

Here is the list of Belfast IRA and Cumann na mBan suspects kept by the RUC in the late 1930s/1940s, organised by surname (alphabetically), and then by street (alphabetically). Except for some well known figures, names and addresses are written as recorded by the RUC.

Dominic Adams, 15 Abercorn Street

Patrick Adams, 15 Abercorn Street

R Anderson, 14 Roumania Street

Lawrence Bannon, 135 New Lodge Road

William Barret, 65 Whiterock Gardens

William Barrett, 51 Mary Street

Joe Boles, 80 Seaforde Street

Joseph Bowman, 40 Boundary Street

Charles P Boyle, 4 Lancaster Street

Leo Boyle, 133 New Lodge Road

Margaret Boyle, 54 Raglan Street

Patrick Boyle, 54 Raglan Street

John Bradley, 33 Arnon Street

William Bradley, 33 Arnon Street

J Brady, 1 Jude Street

Jack Brady, 71 Ladbrook Drive

Mary Brady, 45 Raglan Street

Phillip Brammold, 51 Whiterock Gardens

Mary Brennan, 47 Brookfield Street

Frank Broderick, 63 Durham Street

George Broderick, 250 Falls Road

John Brown, 17 Baker Street

Joseph Brown, 40 Upton Street

Sarah Brunton, 63 Vere Street

John Bunting, 37 Theodore Street

Liam Burke, 38 Locan Street

Brian Burns, 19 Linden Street

Dan Burns, 1 Highbury Gardens

Pete Burns, 19 Linden Street

Thomas Burns, 42 New Lodge Road

? Burrows, Lady Street

David Butler, 68 Raglan Street

Kathleen Cairns, 36 Clondara Street

Bella Campbell, 14 Upton Street

Francis Campbell, 38 Chemical Street

James Campbell, 2 Galway Street

Mary Campbell, 9 Rockmount Street

Peter Campbell, 1 Milan Street

Saida Campbell, 17 Malcolmson Street

Thomas Carabine, 135 Cavendish Street

Daniel Carberry, 9 Lower Clonard Street

Bernadetta Carbery, 61 Dunmore Street

Brendan Carey, 43 Dunmore Street

Patrick Carey, 8 Linden Street

Thomas Carey, 9 Carntall Street

Paul Carleton, 61 Whiterock Road

Peter Carleton, 10 Brittons Drive

Vincent Carley, 24 Lady Street

James Carlin, 15 Sevastopol Street

John Carmichael, 12 Mary Street

Charles Casey, 14 Brighton Street

Michael Casey, 14 Brighton Street

Martin Clarke, 20 Heathfield Street

Patrick Clarke, 98 Locan Street

Patrick Clarke, 4 Springfield Avenue

Sean Clarke, 4 Ross Place

Annie Collins, 16 St James Crescent

Joan Collins, 16 St James Crescent

Charles Connolly, 13 Joy Street

Patrick Connolly, 20 Leoville Street

William Connolly, 16 Panton Street

Francis Connor, 19 Jamaica Street

John Connor, 25 John Street

Mary Cooke, 8 Iveagh Parade

Gerry Cooper, 48 Nansen Street

Joseph Cooper, 48 Nansen Street

Arthur Corr, 76 Vere Street

Pearse Corry, 16 Hawthorne Street

Norah Costello, 65 Alexander Street West

James Crawford, 25 Getty Street

Nellie Crawford, 80 North Queen Street

Gerald Cullen, 8 Chief Street

Joe Cullen, 51 Rockmore Road

Gerald Curran, 205 Mountpottinger Road

Kevin Curran, 205 Mountpottinger Road

Patrick Daly, 3 Dunmore Street

Joseph Davey, 4 Concord Street

Gerard Deans, 124 Ardilea Street

Alice Deeds, 71 Brookfield Street

James Delaghan, 12 Upton Street

Peter Delaney, 13 Currie Street

Con Deveney, 903 Crumlin Road

Charles Devine, 9 Brae Fort Cottages

Felix Devlin, 13 Lowry Street

James Devlin, 26 Oranmore Street

John Devlin, 13 Lowry Street

John Devlin, 26 Springview Street

Sarah Devlin, 26 Springview Street

Teresa Devlin, 26 Springview Street

Teresa Devlin, 26 Springview Street

Joe Dickey, 20 Glenview Street

Patrick Dignan, 30 Anderson Street

Dan Doherty, 47 Sheriff Street

Michael Doherty, 67 Theodore Street

P Doherty, 17 Herbert Street

Terence Doherty, 37 Dunmore Street

Bridget Dolan, 22 Durham Street

Christina Dolan, 22 Durham Street

Margaret Dolan, 22 Durham Street

Robert Donald, 80 Sultan Street

Terence Donegan, 30 Milan Street

Bernard Donnelly, 702 Shore Road

John Donnelly, 10 Brighton Street

Lily Donnelly, 571 Donegall Road

Mary Donnelly, 26 Unity Street

Owen Donnelly, 702 Shore Road

Patrick Donnelly, 702 Shore Road

Robert Downey, 17 Clonard Gardens

Sarah Doyle, 10 Brittons Drive

Joseph Drummond, 36 Kent Street

E Duffy, 1 Milton Street

Francis Duffy, 127 Jamaica Street

John Duffy, 248 Grosvenor Road

M Duffy, 1 Pinkerton Street

Stephen Duffy, 10 Thompson Street

Dickie Dunne, 26 Valentine Street

Robert Dunne, 15 Whiterock Crescent

Hugh Edmond, 24 Rockville street

Peter Fanning, 41 Fallswater Street

James Farrell, 99 McDonnell Street

James Farrelly, 31 Vulcan Street

John Farrelly, 55 Vulcan Street

Bernard Fee, 65 Sheriff Street

John Fegan, 16 Panton Street

James Ferran, 19 Beechmount Street

John Ferran, 19 Locan Street

Thomas Ferran, 82 Beechmount Street

Robert Finnegan, Englishtown Hannahstown

Daniel Fitzpatrick O’Reilly, 13 Ardmore Avenue

J. Fitzsimons, 122 Divis Street

Desmond Flanagan, 496 Doengall Road

Thomas Flanagan, 14 McQuillan Street

Hugh Flavell, 32 Alexander Street West

Angelo Forte, 176 Tates Avenue

Jack Gaffney, 9 St James Place

James Gallery, 13 Herbert Street

John Gettings, 70 Beechfield Street

Joe Gilhooley, 10 Cyprus Street

Arthur Gillen, 10 College Court

J. Gillen, 27 Andersonstown Road

Patrick Gillen, 10 College Court

William Gillen, 10 College Court

Desmond Gillespie, 17 Wandsworth Road

Alexander Gilmore, 5 Teresa Street

John Girvan, 7 McMullan’s Place

Jean Goodfellow, 45 Crumlin Street

George Goodman, 75 Stanfield Street

Joseph Gorman, 20 Balaclava Street

Margaret Gough, 58 Clowney Street

Kathleen Graham, 71 Upton Street

Liam Graham, 62 Beechmount Avenue

Charles Gray, 33 Rockmore Street

Gerard Greenan, 18 Saul Street

Patrick Grimley, 75 Ardilea Street

John Hall, 5 College Place North

J.M. Halligan, 24 Plevna Street

Annie Hamill, 12 Shiels Street

James Hamill, 12 Shiels Street

Sean Hamill, 12 Shiels Street

Jim Hamilton, 5 Dimsdale Street

Jim Harvey, 34 Kilmood Street

Jimmy Hasty, 63 Stanfield Street

Patrick Hayes, 22 McQuillan Street

William Headley, 25 Leoville Street

Jim Heaney, 2 Edward Street

Richard Heaney, 23 Havana Street

Nora Hegarty, 32 Clowney Street

Joe Henderson, 109 Balkan Street

Catherine Hendron, 18 Altcar Street

William Henry, 33 Columbus Street

Joseph Hewitt, 18 Boomer Street

Patrick Hickey, 5 Upton Street

Bob Hicks, 132 Glenard Gardens

Patsy Hicks, 5 Alma Street

Sean Hicks, 5 Alma Street

Doris Hill, 8 Beechmount Avenue

? Hillen, 10 Garnet Street

Thomas Hodgkinson, 9 Brighton Street

Mrs R Hope, 59 Andersonstown Park

James Hughes, 81 Hawthorne Street

John Hughes, 4 Masseren e Street

Joseph Hughes, 48 Butler Street

Joseph Hughes, 23 Plevna Street

Patrick Hughes, 8 Gortfin Street

Mollie Hurson, 2 St Paul’s Terrace

Anthony Irvine, 42 Alton Street

George Irvine, 4 Gracehill Street

Samuel Irvine, 23 Majorca Street

John Jackson, 32 Rockmore Street

Mary Jordan, 89 Albert Street

Jim Kane, 28 Milan Street

Robert Kavanagh, 100 Divis Street

Frank Kearney, 14 Odessa Street

James Kearney, 14 Odessa Street

Hugh Keenan, 32 Short Strand

Joe Keenan, 33 Falls Road

John Keenan, 43 Short Strand

Malachy Keenan, 33 Falls Road

Michael Keenan, 43 Short Strand

Sean Keenan, 28 California Street

Agustine Kelly, 168 Oldpark Road

Billy Kelly, 18 Frere Street

Dominic Kelly, 39 Upton Street

Frank Kelly, 11 Little Patrick Street

James Kelly, 18 Campbell’s Row

John Kelly, 10 Iris Drive

Kathleen Kelly, 57 Brookfield Street

Rose Kelly, 57 Brookfield Street

Susan Kelly, 18 Beechmount Parade

Francis Kennedy, 18 Jude Street

Gerry Kerr, 67 Vere Street

James Kerr, 58 Ardilea Street

James Kerr, 17 Oakfield Street

John Kerr, 27 Whiterock Drive

Patrick Kerr, 54 Durham Street

William Killen, 11 Brook Street

James Kinnaird, 12 Lemon Street

James Kinney, 11 Colinpark Street

Willie Largey, 36 California Street

Hannah Lavery, 5 Whiterock Drive

Paddy Lavery, 22 Lincoln Street

Tony Lavery, 39 Balkan Street

James Lecky, 45 Mary Street

Charles Leddy, Mooreland Park

Christopher Lee, no address

Thomas Locke, 10 Elizabeth Street

J. Logan, 34 Steam Mill Lane

Terence Loughlin, 53 Mary Street

Dan Loughran, 42 Garmoyle Street

Thomas Loughrey, 19 Sidney Street

Patrick Lowe, 10 Ward Street

Matthew Lundy, 35 Forfar Street

Marcus Lynn, 10 Milan Street

Jackie Mackin, 36 Ton Street

James Magee, 48 Leeson Street

Patrick Magee, 52 Dunmore Street

Rosaleen Magee, 52 Dunmore Street

Hannah Magennis, The Cottages Glen Road

Joe Maguiness, 24 Milner Street

Thomas Maguinness, 137 New Lodge Road

Annie Maguire, 33 Abercorn Street North

J. Maguire, 55 Theodore Street

Lily Maguire, 25 Crocus Street

Charles Mahony, 52 Glenview Street

John Mallon, 9 Garnet Street

Michael Malone, 10 Thomas Street

Mrs Manning, 4 Forfar Street

John Markey, 24 Steam Mill Lane

Thomas Marley, 63 Bombay Street

Hugh Martin, 20 Glenpark Street

Leo Martin, 27 Rockville Street

Hugh Matthews, 11 Albert Street

James Matthews, 53 Masserene Street

Joe Matthews, 32 Regent Street

James McAleese, 16 Milan Street

Dan McAllister, 81 Lincoln Street

Joe McAllister, 10 Islandbawn Street

Patrick McArdle, 44 Bow Street

Sean McArdle, 39 Beechmount Street

Hugh McAreavey, 74 Raglan Street

Hugh McAreavey, 74 Raglan Street

Alex McAtamney, 56 Fleet Street

John McAvoy, 25 Sheriff Street

Joe McBrine, 13 Colin Street

Patrick McBrine, 13 Colin Street

John McCabe, 55 Springview Street

Chris McCann, 24 Garnet Street

Dan McCann, 71 Albert Street

Ed McCann, 8 Jude Street

Edward McCann, 24 Garnet Street

Kathleen McCann, 10 Norfolk Street

Patrick McCann, 57 Locan Street

? McCartney, 2 Oranmore Street

Sean McCaughey, 15 Heathfield Road

Thomas McClarnon, 128 Cavendish Street

Gerry McClinton, 41 Madrid Street

Hugh McCloskey, 8 Islandbawn Street

Hugh McCloskey, 8 Islandbawn Street

Jack McCloskey, 47 Beechmount Crescent

John McCloskey, 50 Elizabeth Street

Edward McCluskey, 90 Raglan Street

Hugh McConnell, 20 Pound Street

W.J. McCorry, 81 Sultan Street

Pat McCotter, 6 Sevastopol Street

Matthew McCrory, 44 Balkan Street

Charles McCrystal, 28 Willowfield Gardens

J McCullough, 48 Amcomri Street

J. McCullough, 12 Frere Street

Lily McCullough, 43 Brookfield Street

Norah McCullough, 26 Iveagh Parade

Patrick McCullough, 131 North Queen Street

Ellen McCurry, 81 Sultan Street

John McCurry, 81 Sultan Street

Willie McCurry, 53 St James Road

Frank McCusker, 40 Servia Street

Jim McDermot, 49 Lady Street

Richard McDermott, 49 Kilmood Street

James McDonnell, 81 Locan Street

Jim McDonnell, 61 Vere Street

Peter McDonnell, 28 Parkview Street

William McDonnell, 80 Sultan Street

Margaret McFadden, 21 Waterville Street

Charles McGahey, 1a Herbert Street

Vincent McGarhavan, 53 Rockville Street

Liam McGarrity, 14 Artillery Street

Thomas McGarrity, 13 Fallswater Street

Thomas McGeown, 4 Inkerman Street

Francis McGibbon, Beech Cottage

James McGinley, 28 Rodney Parade

Bridget McGinn, 10 Parkview Street

John McGinty, 32 North Queen Street

Charles McGlade, 126 Ardilea Street

Frank McGlade, 126 Ardilea Street

John McGoldrick, 51 Cawnpore Street

Sam McGoldrick, 51 Cawnpore Street

James McGovern, 35 Winetavern Street

James McGowan, 24 Parkview Street

Peter McGowan, 38 Dunmore Street

Violet McGowan, 25 Parkview Street

Charles McGrath, 33 Rodney Drive

Hugh McGrath, 27 Dunmore Street

Lucy McGrath, 20 College Square North

Norah McGrath, 20 College Square North

John McGrillen, 34 McAuley Street

Frank McGrogan, 72 North Queen Street

Thomas McGrogan, 36 Rockdale Street

R McGuckian, 13 St James Drive

Mary McGuigan, 86 Clowney Street

John McGuinness, 31 Hamill Street

Joe McGurk, 115 Durham Street

Sarah McGurk, 115 Durham Street

Charles McHugh, 15 Garnet Street

Murty McIlduff, 17 Gamble Street

Chris McKay, 34 Milan Street

Frank McKearney, 14 Odessa Street

James McKearney, 14 Odessa Street

Bernadette McKee, 40 Sevastopol Street

Teresa McKee, 9 Springview Street

John McKeever, 6 Beechmount Parade

Ambrose McKenna, 11 Beechmount Drive

Elizabeth McKenna, 10 Iris Drive

Francis McKenna, 240 Falls Road

Jean McKenna, 50 Forest Street

John McKenna, 10 Iris Drive

Mary McKenna, 37 Fort Street

Patrick McKenna, 10 Foundry Street

Patrick McKenna, 10 Iris Drive

Rose McKenna, 10 Iris Drive

William McKenna, 10 Foundry Street

P McKeown, 17 Beechfield Street

Robert McKnight, 32 McAuley Street

Brian McLaughlin, Longwood Terrace Whitehouse

Patrick McLaughlin, 36 Library Street

Mary McLaughln, 10 Galway Street

Alex McLoughlin, 15 McQuillan Street

Chris McLoughlin, 54 Vere Street

Mary McLoughlin, 4 McCleery Street

Frank McMahon, 12 Dimsdale Street

Peggy McMahon, 46 Lincoln Street

Jock McManus, 458 Donegall Road

Matilda McMillen, 13 Cavendish Street

Richard McMillen, 20 Moira Street

John McMullan, 5 Abercorn Street North

J. McMurray, 35 Balkan Street

Sandy McNabb, Elmwood Avenue

Jack McNally, 21 Ardliea Street

Denis McNamee, 23 John Street

Henry McNamee, 23 John Street

Hubert McNearney, 77 Herbert Street

Billy McNeill, 34 Bond Street

Henry McNeilly, 65 Thompson Street

Francis McNellis, 10 Scotland Street South

Thomas McNulty, 7 Dunsdale Street

Martin McParland, 57 Lincoln Street

James McPartland, 2 Frere Street

Patrick McPhillips, 45 Ross Street

John McQuillan, 46 Lepper Street

Andrew McRoberts, 6 Conway Street

? McShane, 60 Balkan Street

Liam McStravick, 16 Little Donegall Street

Eileen McTaggart, 86 Eskdale Gardens

Phil McTaggart, 134 Ardilea Street

Joe McVarnock, 40 Stanhope Street

Mary Meleady, 203 Falls Road

Nellie Meleady, 203 Falls Road

Richard Menagh, 23 Springfield Road

James Mennan, 16 Crumlin Street

Frank Milne, 58 Chatham Street

Henry Mohan, 67 New Lodge Road

James Monaghan, 26 Colligan Street

Marie Moone, 8 McQuillan Street

William Mooney, 4 O’Neill Street

James Morgan, 22 Lancaster Street

Murtagh Morgan, 27 Quadrant Street

Thomas Morris, 184 Ardglen Park

Patrick Morrison, 25 Violet Street

Annie Morrissey, 9 Tyrone Street

Joe Morrow, 7 Woodstock Road

Francis Moyna, 31 Bombay Street

Josephine Moyna, 41 Bombay Street

James Mulholland, 50 Chemical Street

Liam Mulholland, 83 Gracehill Street

Joe Mullen, 12 Upton Street

James Mulligan, 81 Forfar Street

John Mulligan, 5 Madrid Street

John Mulligan, 219 Mountpottinger Road

Patrick Mulligan, 58 Madrid Street

Thomas Murphy, 27 Sydney Street

Gerry Murray, 101 Joy Street

Gerry Murray, 67 Mountpottinger Road

Joe Murray, 67 Mountpottinger Road

Thomas Murray, 5 Sorella Street

William Murray, 66 Chemical Street

George Nash, 52 Gibson Street

Mary Nash, 4 Abercorn Street

Gerry Neeson, Hannahstown

John Noad, 56 Clyde Street

Kevin Nolan, 1 Ton Street

Margaret Nolan, 93 McDonnell Street

Seamus Nolan, 17 McCleery Street

Gerry Nugent, 84 Balkan Street

Bridget O’Boyle, 18 Colinpark Street

Bridie O’Boyle, 129 Brompton Park

Dan O’Boyle, 13 Regent Street

Thomas O’Boyle, 76 Ardilea Street

John O’Brien, 26 Eliza Street

Sarah O’Brien, 9 Kildare Street

Frank O’Connor, 19 Jamaica Street

Gerry O’Connor, 182 Nelson Street

John O’Connor, 182 Nelson Street

Mary O’Donnell, 29 Whiterock Crescent

Mary O’Farrell, 10 Albert Street

Hugh O’Hagan, 18 Rockville Street

James O’Hanlon, 43 New Dock Street

William O’Hanlon, 13 Woodstock Street

Cassie O’Hara, 135 Castle Street

Charles O’Hara, 15 Thomas Street

Con O’Hara, 15 Thomas Street

Mary O’Hara, 40 Amcomri Street

John O’Hare, 1 Jamaica Street

Hugh O’Kane, 27 Rosevale Street

Michael O’Kane, 40 Abercorn Street North

Thomas O’Malley, 14 Norfolk Street

Charles O’Neill, 6 Parkview Street

Chris O’Neill, 17 Milan Street

Dominic O’Neill, 16 Norfolk Parade

Frank O’Neill, 6 Parkview Street

Joe O’Neill, 52 Marine Street

Patrick O’Neill, 30 Kilmood Street

Patrick O’Neill, 37 Lincoln Street

John O’Rawe, 35 Oakman Street

Richard O’Rawe, 51 Oakman Street

Ambrose O’Reilly, 2 Oranmore Street

John O’Reilly, 38 Beechmount Street

Albert Owens, 8 Brighton Street

Frank Pimley, 10 Divis Drive

Isaac Pimley, 10 Divis Drive

James Pimley, 14 College Street West

Joe Pimley, 10 Divis Drive

Albert Price, 122 Percy Street

? Privilege, Garden Square Greencastle

Edward Quinn, 12 Arnon Street

James Quinn, 57 Grove Street

Kathleen Quinn, 57 Grove Street

Matthew Quinn, 21 Rodney Drive

Patrick Quinn, 118 Glenard Drive

Thomas Quinn, 19 Upton Street

John Quinnn, 57 Grove Street

Bernard Rafferty, 93 Butler Street

Peggy Rafferty, 2 Rockville Street

Sean Rafferty, 2 Rockville Street

John Rainey, 33 Cape Street

Thomas Ratican, 17 North Queen Street

Joe Reid, 19 Milan Street

Patrick Reid, 19 Milan Street

Thomas Reid, 61 Fredrick Street

? Reilly, 31 New Dock Street

Ed Reilly, 51 Clonard Gardens

Gerry Rice, 11 Balkan Street

Joe Rice, 5 Herbert Street

Liam Rice, 36 Merrion Street

J. Roberts, 49 New Lodge Road

Bernard Rooney, 71 Thompson Street

D Rooney, 101 Cyprus Street

Patrick Rooney, 45 Thompson Street

William Rooney, 23 Leoville Street

? Russell, 39 Raglan Street

Hugh Russell, 32 Plevna Street

James Ryder, 31 Rodney Drive

Mary Sands, 25 Servia Street

Michael Sands, 25 Servia Street

James Savage, 2 Burke Street

John Scullion, 76 Harcourt Drive

Susan Shannon, 25 Falls Road

James Sharpe, 9 Alton Street

John Sherry, 30 Servia Street

Joe Sloan, 41 Grosvenor Place

William Sloan, 28 Rodney Parade

J. Smith, 67 Forfar Street

Mules Smith, 29 Sheriff Street

William Smith, 8 Malcolmson Street

Jimmy Steele, 70 North Queen Street

James Stewart, 12 Rockdale Street

Jim Straney, 57 Thompson Street

Jim Sullivan, 89 Sussex Street

Henry Taylor, 46 Chatham Street

Peggy Taylor, 22 Servia Street

John Teague, 45 Springview Street

Mary Teague, 57 Mary Street

James Thompson, 13 Andersonstown Park

Patrick Thompson, 8 Arran Street

Margaret Thornbury, 22 Clondara Street

Michael Tohill, 19 Hardinge Street

Denis Toner,  14 Malcolmson Street

Joe Toner, 89 Ardliea Street

Dan Trainor, 32 Nelson Street

James Trainor, 66 Rockmore Road

John Trainor, 66 Rockmore Road

Michael Trainor, 66 Rockmore Road

William Tully, 4 Quadrant Street

Liam Tumelty, 11 Little York Street

Ellen Tumulty, 11 Little York Street

Eileen Walker, 42 Bombay Street

Joe Walker, 42 Bombay Street

John Walsh, 38 Glenpark Street

Michael Walsh, 30 Chemical Street

Liam Watson, 8 Malcolmson Street

Denis Whelan, 97 Bridge End

Thomas Whinery, 24 Chemical Street

Harry White, 72 Andersonstown Park

Liam Wiggins, 22 Torrens Road

Isabella Wilkens, 1 Strathroy Park

John Wilson, 57 Norfolk Street

Eugene Wright, 28 Hasting Street

Malachy Wylie, Graham’s Cottage Ligoniel

Rocky Burns, 1921-44

Rocky Burns was the 23 year old O/C of the Belfast IRA who was shot dead in February  1944.
Jim Burns, also known as Seamus and, more commonly, Rocky, had first been imprisoned as a seventeen year old Fianna member in April 1938, for possession of a banned publication.
Released that September he joined the IRA, only to get picked up in the September 1939 internment sweep that coincided with the outbreak of World War 2. He was brought to Springfield Road barracks along with Liam Burke and 32 others. There Rocky confronted the B Specials rather than be pushed around, as he was well able to look after himself, but Liam Burke records that while there was some bad language from the Specials and RUC, there were no serious physical assaults.
Burns, Burke and the others were first interned in Crumlin Road, then moved to Derry Jail just before Christmas 1939. The internees in Derry mutinied on Christmas Day, seizing a wing. When the B Specials, RUC and fire brigade were trying to break into the wing, they used a battering ram on the barricaded steel door, accompanied by Rocky singing ‘Who’s That Knocking At My Door?’ Like the rest, Rocky was subject to indiscriminate beatings by the Specials, RUC and British soldiers when the internees lost control of the wing again.
Rocky was then sent back to Crumlin Road. Eamon Ó Cianáin was to describe him as the sort of person everyone needed to help them do their time, particularly when it was open-ended like internment. According to Ó Cianáin, Rocky almost made internment bearable. Tarlach Ó hUid also recounts stories of Burns’ antics in Crumlin Road (in Faoi Ghlas), describing his comic routines and practical jokes. A fad at the time was to refer to people as ‘Bores’ based on their interests. To Rocky and Seamus McKearney, Ó Cianáin was the Singing Bore, others were Gaelic Bores, Chess Bores, Physical Culture Bores, Football Bores, Music Bores etc. To Ó Cianáin and others, Burns was the Messing Bore. He also had a more serious side and, despite his youth, was considered a proficient Gaelic speaker and teacher. He also acted in a number of plays put on by the internees.
In October 1942, Rocky had again been moved back to Derry prison due to the overcrowding in Crumlin Road (September 1942, after Tom William’s execution, had saw a big upsurge in arrests and internment). He arrived in time to take part in the escape bid in March 1943. To be part of the official escape team you had to be willing to report back for duty immediately on release. Harry White (in his biography Harry) recounts stories of Rocky in Derry Jail, where he was in the cell next to Joe McGurk. McGurk had experienced prison at various times in the 1920s and 1930s (and was to again in the 1950s) and had learnt how to cope with imprisonment. Howeverm he hadn’t previously had to cope with having the Messing Bore, Rocky, as a neighbour.
Rocky would put on a female voice and call through his cell window: “I say, is that you Mrs Donaghy, did you hear that poor man McGurk was lifted again?
He would then provide the response too, “Oh dear, oh dear.
He also had another routine where he pretended a B Special was battering on his cell door, shouting “Get down, get down from that winda ya bastard.
Burns would then respond in his own voice, “Oh is it me? Mind ye wouldn’t talk like that to Joe McGurk.
Like most of the other escapers he got picked up and ended up in the Curragh, although, like Jimmy Drumm and others, he had intended to go back to Belfast. Pat Hannon, who was in the Curragh with Rocky also remembered him as full of fun. Under instructions from Harry White, he resigned from the IRA, signed out from the Curragh, then rejoined the IRA and returned to Belfast in May where he became O/C of the Belfast Battalion after Jimmy Steele was arrested in Amcomri Street.
When his sister Madge was a prisoner in Armagh Gaol, the warders were nervous that Rocky was on the loose and might try and break her out. They were so apprehensive that one night, they were convinced Rocky was coming down the chimney. She was to be refused parole to attend Rocky’s funeral.
He had several narrow shaves once he was back in Belfast. On one occasion, he was sat on a trolley bus when an RUC man told him there was a problem with his identity card. As Rocky gripped his revolver he asked the RUC what he thought he should do with it. The RUC man advised him to get it changed. In early February 1944, Burns was using safe houses in Ballymacarrett and Ardoyne. He left Albert Price in Ardoyne on the morning of the 10th February en route to meeting Billy Perry, Harry O’Rawe and Harry White in a bar on Francis Street that evening. But that afternoon, about 5.50 pm Rocky was picked up as suspicious by two RUC detectives leaving the Continental Café on Castle Street, although initially it didn’t appear that they knew who they were detaining. As they were walking along Chapel Lane on the way to Queen Street barracks, Rocky broke away from the two detectives accompanying him and, drawing a revolver, tried to make good his escape, not realising a third policeman was behind them. He received four bullet wounds to his stomach and chest and died on the Saturday.
Burns was such a larger than life figure that his death was keenly felt. Jimmy Steele was to write new words to the tune of The West’s Awake and titled it ‘Seamus Burns‘:
His youthful years for thee he spent
Within the prisons of the foe,
Until their prison bars he rent
To serve you still in weal and woe ;
They tracked him with their might and power,
These human blood hounds crossed his way ;
Dear Ireland this was but the hour
You asked of him death’s price to pay.

Rocky Burns is buried in the Harbinson plot in Milltown cemetery.

Notes
1
There is a brief biography of Rocky by Jimmy Steele in Antrim’s Patriot Dead and MacEoin’s Harry p142-43.s
2
MacEoin 1997, 443.
3
Quinn 1998, 104 and see McNally 1989, 111.
4
MacEoin 1997, 603.
5
Resigning, signing out and re-joining was how IRA volunteers justified signing out, as they didn’t then sign out as members of the IRA.