Category Archives: Repression and resistance in 1970s, 1980s and 1990s
Political activist and radical photographer Séamus O’Riain,1937-2014
by Mick Healy
“There are those of us who try to follow the path once taken by Casement, Pearse, Connie Green and O’Hanlon. We seek to put through the charter that was bought with blood of our glorious dead in 1916, which the Free State Regime failed to do, a charter that would make an All-Ireland Workers Republic.” – Séamus O’Riain, HM Prison Brixton, September 1967.
Séamus (Ryan) O’Riain was born into poverty on September 2, 1937 to Katherine Ryan in Dublin. When Katherine married a Tom Ryan, Séamus was fostered out to a family called Corbally; unfortunately he was to end up in Drainages children’s detention centre in County Offaly. What’s more, he remained there for about three years before he was reunited with Katherine and step-father Tom at 51 Viking Road, Arbour Hill, Dublin. (Drainages treated the children more like slaves than children, stated a commission in 2009 that inquired into child abuse at the detention centre.)
O’Riain became an accomplished photographer; his employment for a number of years was with Jerome Photography Studio at 4 Henry Street, Dublin. He created hundreds of remarkable images which are a vital history of Republican and left-wing activity. Moreover, the photographs with his Phoenix Company in London featured Brendan Behan, The Dubliners and Tom Barry, the former Commander of the IRA’s Third West Cork Flying Column during the Irish War of Independence. Tom Barry praised him in a letter dated 24, August 1977, “A hundred note of thanks for your splendid set of photos. They are the finest I have ever seen and I have, unfortunately, had hundreds taken.”
Seamus’ association with radicalism went back to his youth when he joined the IRA along with his comrade Liam Sutcliffe, during Operation Harvest (the IRA 1950s border campaign). Like others of his generation, O’Riain Read the rest of this entry
The blinding of Emma Groves – front cover of ‘Socialist Woman’, March-April 1972
I met Emma Groves back in the early 1990s, or possibly very end of the 1980s, as she came to Dublin to help support the campaign against extradition. The story of her blinding by a British soldier, who deliberately shot her in the face at point-blank range with a rubber bullet, shocked people in Dublin and elsewhere in the south. Many southerners were simply unaware of the harsh realities of daily life as experienced by northern nationalist working class people.
This morning I was looking at a copy of a British left-wing women’s liberation journal from the early 1970s, Socialist Woman, and saw it had a short item on Mrs Groves’ blinding on the front cover of its March-April 1972 issue. Here is the item:
Emma Groves, of Anderstonstown, Belfast lost the sight of both her eyes when a paratrooper fired a rubber bullet into her face at point-blank range.
The incident occurred on the morning of 4th November (1971 – PF) when yet another military search was taking place in her area. One group of soldiers had completed their work and left, and then the paras moved in.
Mrs Groves opened her window. She was told by a para to Read the rest of this entry
Máirín Keegan commemoration, 1997
Commemoration in 1997, marking the 25th anniversary of the death of Irish revolutionary fighter Máirín Keegan. Frank Keane is the main speaker.
Photos of Vol Bobby Sands, Vol Jimmy Roe
John McAnulty on lessons of People’s Democracy & 50+ years of revolutionary struggle in Ireland
Some time back I suggested to my friend Mick that John McAnulty was someone he should interview for his series of videos. I have a bit to do with John from time to time as I have immense admiration and respect for the original People’s Democracy group. I finally met John in Belfast in 2013 and spent several hours talking to him. Mick also got John down to speak in Dublin a couple of years ago to speak on political developments involving anarchism and Marxism (with anarchist Alan MacSimeon) in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Alan, sadly, has since died.