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Old February 27th, 2009, 11:28 AM   #1
pillarboxred
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Historian probes Liverpool's links to IRA

A subject I'm unfamiliar with. I can recall heated discussions in our house when the Troubles kicked off in the late 60s. My mum and dad's attempts to explain to my grandad that the IRA of then was a different animal to the IRA of the early 1920s proved futile for the first couple of years.
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Historian probes Liverpool's links to IRA

Runcorn And Widnes Weekly News

IAN McKeane, a recognised authority on Ireland and its troubled past, gave Runcorn Historical Society members an insight into The IRA and Liverpool at their February meeting.

A lecturer in Irish studies at Liverpool University, the speaker's specialist knowledge attracts post graduate students from all over the world, sometimes from as far away as Hawaii as well as Spanish and German students taking their MA.

It was Mr McKeane' second visit to the history society following his appearance more than 12 months ago when he dealt with the Irish Potato Famine.

He concentrated his latest talk on the growth of the IRA in Liverpool and the sequence of events between 1919 and 1923, including the rescue of De Valera from Lincoln Jail in February 1919 and the role of Michael Collins in Liverpool.

In 1920 there were plans to attack Liverpool Docks but these were thwarted, the plans being captured and published by the police.

The next year there were arson attacks on a Cheshire farm and also lodging house raids.

The same year, telephone lines were cut in Wirral and Liverpool, there were 13 farm attacks in Liverpool and Wirral districts and attacks on relatives of Black and Tans or police auxiliaries.

Thompson sub machine guns were discovered and in 1922 Lancashire coal mines were raided for explosives.

In one earlier incident, in 1920, some 19 warehouses were burned in Liverpool.
Liverpool's role in the IRA came to a close when the Irish civil war ended in 1923.

"But," the speaker concluded, "Liverpool's activity had been as high as that in London."
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Old February 27th, 2009, 11:58 AM   #2
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Brendan Behan was arrested in Liverpool back in the thirties for attempting to blow up mail deliveries in Liverpool docks. He was probably pissed at the time.
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Old February 27th, 2009, 09:23 PM   #3
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A very shameful link indeed. Not one I would like to boast about
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Old February 27th, 2009, 09:50 PM   #4
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It sounds like it is more to do with Liverpool's proximity to and transport links with Ireland enabling Irish Republicans easy entry into the city, where they'd (like Behan) seek to attack targets there. Rather that than there being a resident IRA-sympathising population assisting them.

It is interesting, however, that some of the late 80s and 90s IRA attacks on London were carried out by London-raised Provo's with accents that did not stand out as being Irish. An advantage in active service in England no doubt. Liverpool produced no one like that.

In fact the leader of the Provos during the PIRA's most violent period in the 70s was a Cockney from Lewisham called John Stevenson. He had an English father and (weird this) a London-raised Ulster Protestant mother. What the ****, as they say on the internet.

He reinvented himself as and Irishman called Sean MacStiofain and ended up as the leader of the IRA. What was it about Hitler being Austrian and Napolean from Corsica?

Sadly for Stevenson, he wasn't even the most famous Irishman from Lewisham. That was Spike Milligan. And he actually was Irish (or his dad was).

Spike once quipped on the subject of going to heaven: 'I'd like to go there. But if Jeffrey Archer is there, I want to go to Lewisham.'

Having lived in Lewisham I hope for Spike sake he didn't.
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Old February 27th, 2009, 10:09 PM   #5
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Proximity to Ireland and probably something to do with the city electing the only Irish Nationalist MP outside of Ireland,there's also a Sinn Fein monument in Ford Cemetry.As pillarbox pointed out,the old IRA were not the same as the Provisionals ,not a subject i'm going to go into any depth but Awayo stick to the facts.

Last edited by the golden vision; February 27th, 2009 at 10:15 PM.
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Old February 27th, 2009, 10:17 PM   #6
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Lets hope we have seen the back of hatred, sectarianism and terrorism.

http://www.foundation4peace.org/
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Old February 27th, 2009, 10:31 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by the golden vision View Post
Proximity to Ireland and probably something to do with the city electing the only Irish Nationalist MP outside of Ireland,there's also a Sinn Fein monument in Ford Cemetry.As pillarbox pointed out,the old IRA were not the same as the Provisionals ,not a subject i'm going to go into any depth but Awayo stick to the facts.
Of course. Irish Nationalist MPs and councillors well into the C20th. Quite what this meant though is an interesting question. By the C20th, the Irish Nats were a type of north-end working class Catholic party, hence their seamless absorption in Labour. They weren't agitating for Irish independence or funding "the cause" as far as I'm aware.

You're conflating different things. Where there Scousers on active service for the 'Ra? In Liverpool! Even in the War of Independence era? Liverpool and Ireland were a lot more intertwined than they are now but I wonder.
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Old February 27th, 2009, 10:53 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Awayo View Post
Of course. Irish Nationalist MPs and councillors well into the C20th. Quite what this meant though is an interesting question. By the C20th, the Irish Nats were a type of north-end working class Catholic party, hence their seamless absorption in Labour. They weren't agitating for Irish independence or funding "the cause" as far as I'm aware.

You're conflating different things. Where there Scousers on active service for the 'Ra? In Liverpool! Even in the War of Independence era? Liverpool and Ireland were a lot more intertwined than they are now but I wonder.
As i said,i'm not going into it any depth but suffice to say you know very little about this subject(remember you saying there was no history of sectarian murals in liverpool) Anyway.. end of.
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Old February 28th, 2009, 01:27 AM   #9
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I don't know the history but I do remember the family aguments about how the ira would never target liverpool becs of the Irish connections, whether that was true or false or some part of urban myth I don't knw, the fact they bombed manchester further fed into it all.
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Old February 28th, 2009, 01:48 AM   #10
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Woooooooooooops a daisy...too much Information...

Last edited by Ged; February 28th, 2009 at 02:05 AM.
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Old March 1st, 2009, 01:43 AM   #11
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Quote:
I do remember the family aguments about how the ira would never target liverpool becs of the Irish connections, whether that was true or false or some part of urban myth I don't knw, the fact they bombed manchester further fed into it all.
I was raised along pretty much the same lines, with the Warrington bomb being intended for Liverpool, with a last minute change of heart because of the Irish connections. I'd always felt 'safe' as a sprog with this knowledge. The Aintree hoax merely enforced this.
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Old March 1st, 2009, 09:01 AM   #12
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I believe there were some very strong connections with the Irish republican movement in Liverpool dating back to long before the 1916 uprising, which eventually led to the war of independence. There was even talk of local IRA/IRB recruits enlisting in territorial regiments such as the Liverpool Irish (8th battn Kings) pre-1914 in order to gain military training that could one day be used against Britain. I believe there is also documented evidence of fund raising, recruitment and training taking place in some of the Irish dominated areas of the city. With British intelligence agencies heavily concentrated around the city before, during and after WW1. At the same time when viewing these things it should be remembered that this was an era of great change and even revolutions around the world..... all with the backdrop of the impending first world conflict. The hundreds of thousands of Liverpool Irish huddled into their vastly over-populated ghettos will have felt a far greater affinity with their not so distant cousins than with their hosts who had not always been very welcoming, especially as their struggle unfolded across the Irish sea. It would appear that Scousers were quite a politically aware bunch back then too, and the Irish Nationalist and growing socialist movements made pretty good bed partners, so all the ingredients were in place for the right spark.
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Old March 1st, 2009, 01:46 PM   #13
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Adding on to Tom's post, this is an interesting read. More about sectariansm in Liverpool than links to the IRA, but a precursor for sure. The book appears to be out of print, but you can read portions of it online here
Sectarian Violence: The Liverpool Experience, 1819-1914 - An Aspect of Anglo-Irish History (1987) by Frank Neal

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Old March 1st, 2009, 03:53 PM   #14
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As a member of a very large extended Liverpool Irish Catholic family with all the usual associated Irish catholic friends/acquaintances/experiences I can say unequivoically there was never so much as a whiff of republican sensiblities or sympathies not that the extended family didn't have quite diverse political opinions.....far from it.

I think the point here is to be very careful not to start to unwittingly wish for something that for thousands and thousands families just didn't exist.....you know the form here.....something about Liverpool is suddenly conflated and scouseland is a heaving hotbed of republican sympathy because it would be, wouldn't it, with all those poor Irish catholics hanging around insanitary hovels.
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Old March 2nd, 2009, 12:38 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jets9 View Post
As a member of a very large extended Liverpool Irish Catholic family with all the usual associated Irish catholic friends/acquaintances/experiences I can say unequivoically there was never so much as a whiff of republican sensiblities or sympathies not that the extended family didn't have quite diverse political opinions.....far from it.

I think the point here is to be very careful not to start to unwittingly wish for something that for thousands and thousands families just didn't exist.....you know the form here.....something about Liverpool is suddenly conflated and scouseland is a heaving hotbed of republican sympathy because it would be, wouldn't it, with all those poor Irish catholics hanging around insanitary hovels.
I don't think it is wishing for anything to be honest. It's an historical fact that Liverpool had Irish Nationalist councillors and even an elected MP. This didn't occur anywhere else, not even Glasgow which is probably more often associated with sectarian divides etc nowadays. Whilst I'm not suggesting that the whole of Liverpool's North end was in open Irish revolt, or that there was unanimous support for the republican movement I think there was more than a little support for it and home rule in general (for decades before 1916 too), as verified by several thousand votes in their favour and various other political movements. You also have to remember that the actual uprising itself didn't receive instantaneous nor unanimous support in the South of Ireland let alone in Liverpool. As far as the more recent troubles in the North, these took place pretty much at the same time as Liverpool's sectarian problems were beginning to fade. The Orange marches and St Patricks day celebrations are a mere carricature of the former rivalries for most..... also the more modern notion of "Terrorism" evokes far different emotions in families several generations removed from Ireland and no longer constrained by the sectarian divides of yesteryear, as opposed to that of "freedom fighters/patriots" in the eyes of vast communities of 1st and second generation Irish in early 20th century Liverpool. The book mentioned previously is a good reference and I think a lot of people would be surprised by the depth of this type of activity in Liverpool for a very long period.
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Old March 2nd, 2009, 11:29 AM   #16
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Irish history is fascinating and reveals a lot about the realities of English 'fairplay'. The book posted by pbr is available in News from Nowhere on Bold Street.

I put down my ability to sing all the smaltzy Irish songs and IRA ones, too, to growing up in Liverpool. I'm not of Irish decent and I'm not Catholic. I can't think of any other explanation. I also detest the Orange Lodge on an emotional basis (I can see where they are coming from on an intellectual basis). There is clearly some kind of cultural osmosis occurring in the city akin to Dawkin's meme theory (discredited I know).
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Old March 2nd, 2009, 11:50 AM   #17
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Bridging the Connections for Unity

By Maia Vangen

The Liverpool Irish Mural, on the 'gable end' of The 'New' Picket, is the second to be commissioned from two of Belfast's most celebrated artists, Danny Devenney (a Republican) and Mark Ervine (a Loyalist) and is a bold reminder that unity can be achieved if only we talked to each other instead of fighting. Local artists helped them paint the mural which reflects the great ties between the Liverpool and Irish communities. What they have achieved is an inspiring imagery of social awareness, solidarity and unity and created something which will melt into and reflect the culture of the city. The whole length of The Picket is now adorned by this historical and colourful mural portraying Liverpool life, industry, heritage, celtic art along with some famous figures with Liverpool and Irish connections, both past and present including James Larkin, Elvis Costello and Kitty Wilkinson.

When the artists were asked what does a mural mean? Mark Ervine said "a mural is for who we are, where we came from... it is for the people...and it is to teach history." Danny Devenney said "to show that we are all different...we are all equal."

I hope that many people will be able to see the mural along with the first one they painted depicting John Lennon and The Beatles. You can't see the Irish mural from the main roads along the southern gateway to the city, so this means that you have to explore the Independent Arts Quarter and put even more positive energy back into an area which has been without the city's financial support for a little while too long.

The murals have been nominated for the Art08 award Inside, Outside and Online - celebrating where great art has found its way into people's lives in new and exciting ways.

Gregory Brennan and Peter Morrison of the Liverpool Mural Project initiated the whole scheme and more information can be found at theliverpoolmuralproject.blogspot.com

Source: Nerve Magazine
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Old March 2nd, 2009, 12:40 PM   #18
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I saw that last year when showing some friends around Flint Street. I didn't realise what it was (in terms of the above). With hindsight what I perceived as something that was gradually fading was clearly something that was nearing completion . A little information goes a long way - cheers, Howie.
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