Aldous Huxley – Today’s Brave New World

Saturday Night – Film Night

Here’s an extraordinary find!

A 1958 interview with Brave New World author Aldous Huxley

It’s well worth listening to because of the themes he explores

And because he’s bang on with what he said would happen!

Risultati immagini per mystic meg

might as well have put away her crystal ball

Risultati immagini per mystic meg

as this visionary writer looked into our future.

You’ll be shocked and surprised at what you hear.

NB – disregard the first few seconds. I’m told they were usually messy like that at the dawn of TV broadcasting


Aldous Huxley (1894-1963)

Much of his work deals with the conflict between the interests of the individual and society, often focusing on the problem of self-realization within the context of social responsibility.

Brave New World, published in 1932,  imagined a fictional future in which free will and individuality were sacrificed  to achieve complete social stability.

Brave New World  depicted a dystopian (anti-utopian) world in which a totalitarian government controlled society by the use of science and technology.

Today’s  Brave New World

Here’s an interesting article speculating  how experts, computer algorithms, datasets and money helped sway the vote towards Brexit in the UK and towards  Mr Trump in the US  Presidential race to power

We will never more  be sure that what drives our vote is our own personal convictions


PS Anyone around today to tell us exactly what society will be like in 2077?

The Dirty War – 1

I’ve been doing a bit of reading this week which is why I haven’t been posting much. This news also got me thinking

Permission has been granted for a judicial review into a series of murders linked to a loyalist gang based in south Armagh in the 1970s“.

What have you been reading and studying?

dirty war
– Agents and Ambushes: Britain’s “Dirty War” in Northern Ireland by Martyn Frampton

– Before the dawn by Gerry Adams

informers boyd
– The Informers – a chilling account of the supergrasses in Northern Ireland by Andrew Boyd

So what do you think?
In the “dirty war” agents of the State seriously violated human rights, up to and including murder.

What was “the dirty war”?
The alternative to the “colonial-type”approach of the early 1970s.

What was the “colonial approach?
Treat NI like an insurgent colony. Easiest to explain it by examples:
* the “Falls Curfew” (July 1970);

gerry adams

Gerry Adams wrote “General Freeland sealed off an area of about 50 small streetso of tightly packed terrace houses in the lower falls. From helicopters hovering over the rooftops, loudspeakers broadcast a message of war, declaring a curfew which confined the local people to their homes for an indefinite period while thousands of  troops went on the rampage”

*Internment (August 1971);
* Bloody Sunday” ( January 1972).

Comment: Reform, internment, torture (the hooded men)

 Maudling’s delclaration of war and the massacre in Derry had no effect. Far from calming the province, and crushing the IRA, these events strengthened the IRA and exacerbated the conflict.

Why didn’t “the colonial approach” work?
* UK subjects were being treated like “natives”

Comment: what could happen in a ” real colonial ” situation was not acceptable on the streets of the United Kingdom

* Events were taking place under the watchful eye of the media, which subjected the actions of the British Army to scrutiny.

Comment: what might have been ignored when it occurred “out of sight, out of mind,” could not so easily be dismissed when it was seen live on people’s television sets.


Colonel Michael Dewar recorded: “outdated riot-control techniques used in far-flung corners of the Empire were tried initially, but found to be inadequate and unsuitable.”

Why was the “colonial-type” struggle abandoned?
It  strengthened the IRA and was associated with  large-scale violations of human rights,
Comment: We’ve already looked at massacres in  Ballymurphy,


and the  New Lodge

So what came next?
The security services attempted to maneuver between the requirements of effectiveness and legality to deprive the IRA of legitimacy and reduce its allure within the Catholic community.
There were several approaches.  Today we’ll look at one.

1) “supergrasses” in the early 1980s

Individuals involved with terrorist organizations gave testimony against their former comrades, in return for immunity from prosecution. This testimony was then accepted by the “Diplock” court judges

as reliable evidence that could be used as the basis for a conviction. From November 1981 – 1983, testimony from 7 Loyalist and 18 Republican “supergrasses” led to 590 people being charged with paramilitary-related activities in Northern Ireland, many of whom were convicted.

But many of the convictions were subsequently reversed on appeal and by 1986, over 50 % of those convicted had had their sentences quashed

What were the aims?
The testimony and confession of these informers would lead to the imprisonment of alleged paramilitaries, frighten and intimidate members of rebellious organisations and deter others from joining .

Comment: Ultimately, “supergrasses” failed because of  doubts about the legality of the process.

andrew boyd

Andrew Boyd wrote “Informers are universally despied, even by those who pay them and make use of their services, and if they live at all long after their acts of betrayal, they live precarious and miserable lives

                                                                                                                                                         (to be continued)

Democracies at War Against Terrorism, Editor:Samy Cohen, Publisher Palgrave Macmillan, 2008,  ISBN 0230604560, 9780230604568 Secret Agents and Ambushes: Britain’s “Dirty War” in Northern Ireland Martyn Frampton ( chap 4, pp.86-110)

Andrew Boyd – The Informers – a chilling account of the supergrasses in Northern Ireland (Mercier Press, 1984 ISBN 0-85342-725-9)

Gerry Adams – Before the Dawn – Brandon Press ISBN 0863222897

From IRA man to Lawyer


kieran conway

This is the story of a law student, turned rough tough Provie, who turned away from the movement, came back and  turned away again to resume his   law studies

Is it a work of fiction?

No, an autobiography


Kieran Conway grew up in  Killiney, Dublin and was   educated at Blackrock College and UCD. He was  headed for a career in the law and a  comfortable life.

In 1970, he decided that he wanted to join the IRA, any IRA because  the North of Ireland was exploding in resistance to the Orange State.

Conway had two spells in the IRA, from 1970 to 1975 and from 1981 to 1993. His career in the Provos took him to the IRA’s GHQ Staff as Director of Intelligence via a spell on active service in Derry at a time when Martin McGuinness was a rising military star, and some jail time in Long Kesh, imprisoned on an arms charge.

What happened to him in the end?

He  now works as  a solicitor in Dublin.

What does he say about being in the IRA?

Listen to  how he describes  his life on active service in the IRA…8251%3A0%3A

and   some other personal facts and convictions  in a little more depth

How does Mr Conway sum up his experience?

The conflict“, he  says, “was a waste of life“.

We fought for Irish unity and what they (the Provisional IRA) settled for was partition and that’s not what I fought for,” he said.

“It was a complete waste and not what IRA volunteers fought and died for.

But he says he is opposed to new dissident terror groups.

What they are doing is utterly futile. If the Provisional IRA didn’t achieve a united Ireland, then they certainly won’t. They are only causing needless heartache to their victims and to the communities and families from where they come.

kieran conway

The story of his life as an IRA activist is told in  ‘Southside Provisional – From Freedom Fighter to the Four Courts’ ( Nov 19th by Orpen Press).

It’s sure to be an interesting read

Authors/Editors Kieran Conway
ISBN 9781909895553
Publication Date November 2014

The Orange Order’s “Graduated Response” and Julie Duggan. Julie Who?

A couple of days ago  DUP leader Peter Robinson, UUP leader Mike Nesbitt, TUV leader Jim Allister, PUP leader Billy Hutchinson and Ian McLaughlin of the Ulster Political Research Group issued a statement:.

There will be a graduated unionist response involving the Orange Institution, the PUL (Protestant Unionist Loyalist) community and political unionism.


The Orange Order and its concerns are now front and centre in unionist politics.

All Unionist/Loyalist parties   paid court to self-styled “Grand master” Stevenson and his brethren at the Order’s new headquarters


and left it to the Order to craft a statement summing up proceedings and setting out demands, saying   the ‘graduated response’ would “become more obvious as the days and weeks roll out”. There was no indication what form the pan-unionist action would take.No one seems to have any idea what it’s all about.




grandmaster stevenson

Self-styled ” Grandmaster Stevenson” decided the  Orange Order  is holding an emergency meeting of all self-styled “county” and “district grand masters”  to decide on potential protest action.

In the meantime  just to get the ball rolling

get the ball rolling

 DUP, David Simpson MP  for Upper Bann complained about  a republican memorial event planned for  Tuesday in Portadown.

david simpson 2

Who is David Simpson?

Member of the Orange Order,  Deputy Master of Loughgall District,  a proponent of creationism,

What’s the Republican event?


julie dougan


Who was Julie Duggan?

26 year old Cumann na mBan Volunteer Julie Duggan died in a car accident while on active service in 1972.  She was the first female IRA member to be killed in action.

jen mccann mla

West Belfast MLA Jennifer McCann, “Julie Duggan was the embodiment of the founders of Irish republicanism. She was involved in her community, was an active union member, abhorred sectarianism and her greatest desire was to see all the people of Ireland working together to build a unified, egalitarian society”.

Comment: That’s why the Orange Order objects to any commemoration!

What’s Cumann na mBan?


teresa's book

This book is based on  interviews with women activists. It explores how and why women became active in the IRA and examines  their roles within it

In the 1970s women joined Cumann na mBan

I was given political lectures, learned about guns and explosives and how to conceal things about my person”

Armed struggle or political violence, whatever you want to call it, is not a normal thing for women

Women are usually considered victims or peace-makers. Women were the mothers, wives and sisters of Blanketmen, the prison visitors, the carers of children and the home.They  experienced sexual harassment on countless occasions – when their homes were raided, on the streets, when they were arrested and during weekly prison visits to Armagh, Long Kesh/the Maze and Crumlin Road jail

The new Provisional IRA agreed to give women military training,Dolours Price was reported to be the first woman sworn in.

Women filled the spaces left by the men as the jails filled up with internees.

ira women


The first organised women’s action was breaking the Falls Curfew

Female volunteers were always much fewer than male and childless female volunteers greatly outnumbered those with children

ira women3

How did women join the IRA?

Family involvement usually

Why did women  join the IRA?

Experience of state violence and the Republican Armed Struggle as the only means left to resist oppression.

They can’t kill my friends and neighbours and I’m not going to have children to be brought up in this and be treated like this

At one stage out of a family of 8, there were 2 of us left in the house. The rest of the family was in jail or on the run and that was including my mother as well”
In Belfast you had to get involved to survive

Sometimes Republicanism was a political conviction and the  decision to join was made with the conscious realization that the atrocities perpetrated against individuals and families within the community were systemic.

I’m not a Republican because some RUC man dragged me off the street by the hair of my head and bashed me.It’s a belief that it’s the only way to make this country better”

Involvement was often triggered by a key event – 1969, the prison struggle, the hunger strikes, death of Bobby sands,

life couldn’t have went any other way


Internment 1971: women were left to provide for the family when breadwinners were interned and cope with supporting internees
My childhood memory is of Internment morning –sitting on my mother’s bed when the Brits were smashing our front door open and hearing glass breaking and crying”

internment 1971
I had a brother who was arrested and my mother and my sister followed the trail of blood down the street to try and find him because the Brits would never tell you where they were taking anyone



house raids


House raids: 1971 -1988:  the British Army raided and searched almost 300.000 homes

One of the British soldiers actually urinated all over the carpet on the stairs in front of us . . .”
In another house the soldiers had urinated on the beds



first communion

Interrogations: 10-15 years after this picture was taken  these were the type of girls who were interrogated.

Interrogation commonly involves rape, threat of rape and technical rape (with objects. fingers etc)”.

Women have been handcuffed while interrogators repeatedly probed their vaginas and anuses”
During one of the interrogations it was very bad I actually feared I was going to be fucking raped

strip search


1982: Strip searches had the impact of sexual assault

a debasing and revolting practice”, 

They are designed to exert power and control.This is why scanners will never be introduced into NI prisonsthe people who perform the procedure are degraded and humiliated – not those who are forced to undergo it.

One woman was strip searched 250 times.

ira women prisoners

NB: In 2.000 strip searches carried out on 24 women in Armagh jail in the mid-80s, tobacco was the only prohibited object to be found.
Maureen O Neill was on remand for “terrorist offences”
I went through 82 strip searches and in the end I was acquitted of all charges”
2 March 1991: Maghaberry prison – 21 women were forcibly subjected to strip searches”

“What happened over the 10 hours can only be described as sexual, psychological and physical torture. Up to 16 screws entered the cell and removed the woman’s clothes until she was totally naked. Every other woman in the gaol could hear each attack as it took place. In actual fact women spent the whole day listening to their comrades being sexually abused before and after her own turn came”


teresa's book


Theresa O_Keefe-Feminist Identity Development and Activism in Revolutionary Movements-Palgrave Macmillan (2013)

SBN: 978-0-230-23612-7, ISBN10: 0-230-23612-X

The Risen People


Ireland in 1913 was a country in turmoil, divided by the issue of Home Rule – self-government for the country. Against this backdrop, a violent industrial conflict took centre stage: The Dublin Lockout


William Martin Murphy and other Dublin employers locked the workers out of their premises from August 1913 until January 1914. WM Murphy was a nationalist politician, Ireland’s first “press baron” and the leading promoter of tram development. From the 1890s onwards Murphy resisted repeated demands for a 9 hour working day from the tramway workers, who earned 25% less than their Belfast and Glasgow counterparts. He mobilised the Protestant and Catholic business elite of the City and repelled the pressures of Larkin his worker and the Irish Transport and General Workers’ Union (ITGWU).

Born on January 21, 1876, in Liverpool, England, James Larkin established the ITGWU which became the region’s biggest union. The goal of the union was to combine all Irish industrial workers, skilled and unskilled, into one organization.
The great appear great because we are on our knees. Let us rise! ― James Larkin
Larkin later formed the Irish Labour Party and was responsible for leading a series of strikes, with the most significant being the 1913 Dublin Lockout where more than 100,000 workers went on strike for nearly eight months, eventually winning the right to fair employment.


Set in the shadow of the Lockout, Plunkett’s best-selling novel Strumpet City is the epic story of this struggle and solidarity

The Risen People is a play told through the familiar characters of Annie, Fitz, Rashers and Hennessy.

Unfortunately the last show is tonight (1st Feb) but do try and catch it if it is repeated or goes on tour.

Here’s the last Noble Call by Panti

If you miss it, a must to see is the Dublin Lockout exhibition at the National Library, 2 Kildare Street, ( admission free, August 2013 to Autumn 2014) which examines the background, events and aftermath of the struggle. Visitors can share the experiences of those who lived through the Lockout, gaining a greater understanding of the issues facing the people of Dublin in 1913, and hear the opinions of present day commentators through short films and interactive touch screens.

risen people 2

1983 Great Escape from the Maze/Long Kesh

Just in case you missed this account of the biggest prison break-out in Europe since the Second World War.

Belfast republican Larry Marley was one of the key planners of the escape, although not part of the actual break-out. He was shot dead by the UVF at his home in 1987.

You might also want to read Gerry Kelly’s own story “The Escape”

gerry kelly book
which he wrote to mark the 30th anniversary. He described his book as “a good yarn”, saying it “contains new previously unpublished detail, personal stories and revelations.

The escape could not have happened without the hunger strike, After the loss of ten comrades and friends, republicans did what we have always done and looked at the situation to see who we could move forward,” he explained

Mr Kelly said the escape was a major propaganda coup for the republican movement. “It was great to get out but it was for a purpose. It was part of the wider Smash H-Block campaign,” he said.
When re-captured and back in the jail, 4 escapees were mercilessly beaten by the prison officers for half an hour before a prison governor began to re-establish control.
The Prison Officers’ Association were not happy with the book
ni prison officer
I don’t think it’s something he should be proud of – that he shot a prison officer in the head in an attempt to escape. I’ll not be buying his book, put it like that.”Finlay Spratt, chairman,who joined the Prison Service in 1976
NB Mr Kelly was acquitted of the charge but that doesn’t count

The DUP/Orange Order were not happy.
DUP MLA Jonathan Craig,
member of the Apprentice Boys of Derry and a member of the Orange Order.
orange gloves
which he declares on his Register of Interests sits on the Policing Board with Mr Kelly. He said the book “undermined” his role on the board.

And his membership of the Orange Order doesn’t?