by Mick Healy
A very interesting talk on Ireland’s Basque refugees during the Spanish Civil War was given by political activist Stewart Reddin at Ubh café in Newbridge, Co. Kildare on Saturday, June 16 as part of June Fest. The cafe was packed out for the talk, with part of the audience having to stand on the stairs.
Stewart told the extraordinary story of Ireland’s Basque refugees and one man in particular, Iker Gallastegi. Iker survived two dictatorships, was taken to Mexico as a child refugee just months after being born. He returned home at five years of age only to be forced to flee again as a ten-year-old following the fascist bombing of Gernika.
Living in Ireland as a refugee from 1937 to the 1950s, Iker attended school in the Meath Gaeltacht and became a Gaelic speaker. He studied in UCD and turned down an offer to play for Bohemians football club before returning home to fight in the Basque struggle against Franco’s fascist regime.
He returned again to Ireland to train with IRA members including Seamus Costello and Frank Keane in the early 1960s. on February 12 this year, Iker passed away peacefully at his home in Algorta aged 91.
After the talk local folk singer Sive, who recently shared a stage with Christy Moore in Dublin, entertained the large crowd with a few songs like “Hoverfly” and “I Don’t Know”.
by Eamon Heffernan
Wicklow Republicans gathered on Sunday, May 27 to commemorate Commandant Neil Plunkett O’Boyle at Knocknadruce, Valleymount, County Wicklow.* Cmdt O’Boyle was murdered there by the Free Staters on May 8 1923, as the civil war was coming to a close.
O’Boyle was a Donegal man and was brought up on a small farm near Burtonport. As a teenager he had a keen interest in Irish Republicanism and in the Irish language but initially could not get involved in politics as he helped his mother in looking after his father who was in poor health.
O’Boyle was 19 when his father died and he then needed to work to support his family. For a short time he worked on the railway but his open support for the republican cause led to harassment by the Royal Irish Constabulary and he was forced to leave Ireland at the age of 21. He went for Scotland where he worked as a miner.
While in Scotland he joined the IRA and began procuring weapons to be sent back to Ireland. However, he was caught by the Scottish police and in December 1920 sentenced to five years hard labour at Peterhead prison. He spent long periods there in solitary confinement.
When the ‘treaty of surrender, aka the 1921 Anglo-Irish Treaty, was signed O’Boyle qualified for release. He was freed in February 1922. Nevertheless he opposed the Treaty as a betrayal of what had been fought for in the war for independence.
He returned to Read the rest of this entry
One of the interesting post-referendum developments is the ructions in Fianna Fail. For folks not familiar with Irish politics, Fianna Fail was the dominant party in southern irish politics from 1932-2011 and was actually in power a majority of that time. Although when it was founded in the mid-1920s it was attacked by the Catholic hierarchy as ‘communistic’, its dominant figure for almost 50 years was the socially reactionary Catholic nationalist Eamon de Valera, who served many years as prime minister and many years subsequently as president. In power in the 1930s, de Valera quickly made peace with the Catholic hierarchy and opposed Catholic moral teaching through the state.
In the 1980s, FF was closely aligned with the Catholic right in support of the 8th amendment and in preventing divorce being legislated for.
In the referendum a majority of FF members of parliament and the senate opposed repeal of the 8th amendment, however the party leader, Micheal Martin, supported a Yes vote. Some Fianna Fail parliamentarians announced their intentions to try to frustrate Read the rest of this entry