26 November 1998 Edition

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A walk back into history.

A unique historical visit to Dublin was made recently when for the first time in 57 years veteran Belfast republican Liam Rice, now 84, accompanied by historian John Quinn, returned to Castlewood Park in Dublin, the location of one of the most controversial episodes of the 30s and 40s period. This was the arrest and court martial for treason in June 1941 of Stephen Hayes, acting IRA chief of staff, by officers of the Northern Command, one of whom was Liam

The episode led to the subsequent arrest by Free Staters of Sean McCaughey who later died on hunger strike in Portlaoise Prison. Public reaction to McCaughey's death helped to bring about the downfall of the de Valera regime in 1948.

Liam himself was shot and seriously wounded by the Broy Harriers (Garda Special Branch), spent seven years on the blanket, half in solitary, before being released in 1948.

The episode of Hayes arrest and the plight of the Portlaoise blanketmen is just part of a comprehensive study undertaken by Quinn, who told An Phoblacht that his forthcoming book ``contains much new information and many rare photos from the period''.

The book is due to go to print early in the new year.

An Phoblacht
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Dublin 1