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10 May 2007 Edition

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The Resistance Campaign 50 years on

Dan Gleeson with Gerry Adams at the 1989 Ard Fheis

Dan Gleeson with Gerry Adams at the 1989 Ard Fheis

This week Mícheál MacDonncha continues a monthly series marking the 50th anniversary of the IRA’s Resistance Campaign – more widely known as the Border Campaign – which commenced in December 1956. The series will be based on the monthly republican newspaper of the time An tÉireannach Aontaithe/The United Irishman.

Repressive machinery up and running

In May 1957 the IRA’s Resistance campaign in the Six Counties was in its sixth month and the full machinery of repression was up and running. Internment without trial had already been imposed by the Unionist regime at Stormont and there were 133 political prisoners interned in Belfast Prison, Crumlin Road.
Growing numbers of republicans were also being sentenced in the courts, North and South. At one trial in Belfast, Lord Justice Black took just 35 minutes to sentence 13 men to a total of 94 years imprisonment. Seven men arrested near Warrenpoint, Co. Down the previous January were given eight-year sentences. Three Cork youths, Tony Cooney, William Gough and James Linehan were given terms of 12 and ten years each respectively. They were arrested on 12 December 1956, the night the Resistance campaign began. They were captured after a gun battle near the RAF radar installation at Torr Head, Co. Antrim.
The United Irishman (June 1957) reported that some of the men then recently released after serving short sentences under the Offences Against the State Act for IRA membership and other offences, were being victimised and fired from their jobs. Six Limerick men who had served three-month sentences in Mountjoy were given a welcome home reception by Limerick Sinn Féin. There were bonfires in Nenagh, Co. Tipperary, to welcome home veteran republican Dan Gleeson, who had fought in the Tan War and the Civil War, and who was released after serving four months. Thirty three republicans were still serving sentences in Mountjoy.
The President of Sinn Féin, Patrick McLogan and three other members of the Ard Chomhairle were arrested by the Garda Special Branch in Monaghan on 5 May. All were released without charge.
The main story in The United Irishman was the denial by the IRA that it was responsible for the explosion which wrecked the lock gates of the Newry Canal on 12 May. The statement said it was carried out “by anti-National elements with the connivance of the Stormont government”. The explosion stopped work at the port in the mainly nationalist town.
The number of people unemployed in the Six Counties reached 40,000 in April 1957. This was a major increase on the previous year. “Emigration continues to drain Ireland of her youth and neither the 26-County or Six-County administrations seem capable of doing anything about it”, stated the paper. It pointed out that more than 40,000 people were leaving the 26 Counties annually, and concluded:
“The fight for a free Ireland is also the fight of our people for their right to the ownership of their country, for their right to live in it and build their lives here free from want, free from unemployment and free from emigration.”

An Phoblacht Magazine


  • The first edition of this new magazine will feature a 10 page special on the life and legacy of our leader Martin McGuinness to mark the first anniversary of his untimely passing.
  • It will include a personal reminiscence by Gerry Adams and contributions from the McGuinness family.
  • There will also be an exclusive interview with our new Uachtarán Mary Lou McDonald.

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