The Story of Ireland in stained Glass.

The Story of Ireland in stained Glass.

This book, by Frank Rogers, will be launched in the Ballycastle Golf Clubhouse on April 16th at 14:00. The book covers all aspects of Irish Mythology, early Irish Christianity and Irish History from the very earliest times to the present.

The book features Dalaradias very own stained glass window which was first unveiled by President Michael D. Higgins on 27th October 2016 and also exhibited at the opening of the Irish Secretariat, Linenhall Street, Belfast in Spring 2017. The creation of the window enabled our group to explore aspects of our identity, respect, heritage and culture using language, poetry, and the visual arts and crafts.

More information on it can be viewed here –

The book is lavishly illustrated and annotated. Launch Price: £20.00

Refreshments will be provided – Entertainment by Mike Spalding and Chloe McVitty.

Republic of Ireland played integral role in supporting IRA, says historian

Sinn Fein vice-president Martin McGuinness pictured with masked IRA men at the funeral of Brendan Burns, 1988
Sinn Fein vice-president Martin McGuinness pictured with masked IRA men at the funeral of Brendan Burns, 1988

Philip Bradfield

An Irish historian says his new book aims to shine a light for the first time on the role of people from all levels of Irish society in supporting the Provisional IRA from its inception in 1969 to 1980.

Gearóid Ó Faoleán spent his Phd at the University of Limerick gathering evidence of active support for the IRA from all southern political parties, members of the Gardai, Irish Defence Forces, civil service, judiciary and GAA.

Gearoid O Faolean  did his Phd on support in the Republic of Ireland for the Provisional IRA. His new book 'A Broad Church' is based on much of his thesis.
Gearoid O Faolean did his Phd on support in the Republic of Ireland for the Provisional IRA. His new book ‘A Broad Church’ is based on much of his thesis.

And now after living in London for three years he has added to that the British dimension of the story, after plundering the Public Records Office at Kew.

Surprised by the breadth of support for the IRA in the Republic that he uncovered, his new book is named ‘A broad church’.

He intends his book to bring academic balance to current discussions focusing on the role of the British state in the Troubles, and to open a window that is rarely looked at.

This is something that the book aims to do, is to put the Troubles in context. It wasn’t an isolated thing that happened in Northern Ireland and it wasn’t because of people on both sides in Northern Ireland who were fuelling this. It was certainly being fuelled by people in the Republic of Ireland, as well as other countries.

Gearóid Ó Faoleán

“This is something that the book aims to do, is to put the Troubles in context,” he told the News Letter. “It wasn’t an isolated thing that happened in Northern Ireland and it wasn’t because of people on both sides in Northern Ireland who were fuelling this. It was certainly being fuelled by people in the Republic of Ireland, as well as other countries.”

The IRA could not have survived so long – claiming almost 1,800 lives – without persisting support from the Republic, he says.

“I think this will shine a light particularly when people look at the longevity of the IRA’s campaign. It will shine a light in showing that the south, willingly or unwillingly, was an engine for the IRA; logistically in terms of arms coming in, training, the acquisition and production of explosives and in terms of financing – the south was all of that.”

Successive Irish governments struggled to maintain a balance of cooperation with the UK whilst appeasing nationalist sentiment among the population – and their own parties, he said.

Gearoid O Faolean says his groundbreaking book A Broad Church is the first to detail just how integral the Republic of Ireland was to the Provisional IRA�s campaign at every level. Published by Merrion Press.
Gearoid O Faolean says his groundbreaking book A Broad Church is the first to detail just how integral the Republic of Ireland was to the Provisional IRA�s campaign at every level. Published by Merrion Press.

Originally from Shannon in Co Clare, he had his eyes opened to IRA support in the Republic during his undergraduate history degree, when he investigated the high number of people from Northern Ireland living in his area.

The most surprising aspect of his Phd was his finding that – contrary to common perception – the IRA was not mainly funded from the US, but actually from the Republic.

“This idea that America and Noraid were funding the campaign is not true. Maybe 12% of IRA funding came from North America. The majority came from the south and mostly from bank robberies.”

The location of where the device was discovered; inset: a close-up image of the device. (Photos: P.S.N.I.)

In 1978 there was almost one bank robbery every second day in the south, and in the early seventies, there was widespread public sympathy for the raids.

“In the early years there was a Robin Hood element among a large part of the public,” he said, but as the robbers became more violent, public support later drained away.

Another factor that surprised him was that hundreds of IRA volunteers were trained in secret camps across every province often overseen by a former member of the Irish Defence Forces.

The introduction of juryless courts in the 1970s was not because juries were being intimidated by the IRA, he discovered; they had been “acquitting republicans” and openly celebrating in court.

“The only way we can really deal with the Troubles is to talk about it and if it is not even being taught in schools, if people are not really aware of it… in the Republic, if it is not really on the curriculum, how are people ever going to be able to engage with it?”

He adds: “Officially there is a denial, it sounds like a cliche, but among the Dublin media, that it is not talked about. But what was really interesting during my Phd was that anytime I mentioned what I was studying people were very interested. But that interest, it seems, is never reflected in the news or documentaries… successive [Irish] governments have certainly not wanted to address it.”

The demographic who are open to discussing it, he says, are people in their 30s or 40s. “They seem to be the people who really want to know because they felt that they missed out on the way government and the media was not willing to shine a spotlight on it.”

Those who actively supported the IRA were eager to get their story on record as censorship kept Sinn Fein off the Republic airwaves in the south during the Troubles.

Those he interviewed, which included Sinn Fein TDs, spanned people who were unapologetic to those who felt their contribution was not worth it in light of the fact that Sinn Fein had “sold out”.

But nobody he spoke to regretted getting involved. “A lot of them cited that it was because of Bloody Sunday or internment that they got involved… they felt it was the right thing to do at the time in response to events.”

From the political establishment, to the civil service, the security forces – even the GAA – publisher Merrion Press says the new book offers “startling revelations” on just how integral the Republic was to the Provisional IRA’s campaign;-

Government action – Successive Dublin governments struggled to maintain cooperation with British counterparts whilst appeasing nationalist sentiment. Taoiseach Jack Lynch told a British ambassador that certain named Irish judges were being “bad” or “weak” on the IRA.

The introduction of juryless courts was largely driven by the fact that republicans were being acquitted by local judges and juries.

In a number of cases juries cheered the acquittal of republicans and shook their hands after the trial. Among cases dismissed in one form or another in 1971 were;- Peter Donnelly, who was charged in Clones with having a Thompson sub-machine gun; an extradition application in Monaghan for three Dungannon men on bail from NI on explosives charges; and four men who fired at the British Army across the Louth/Armagh border.

Support – Members of all major political parties in the Republic provided active IRA support in the 1970s. The illegal 1973 IRA booklet, Freedom Struggle, was published in Drogheda by somebody referred to by the government as ‘a prominent Fianna Fáil member’. Four Irish soldier were convicted of stealing explosives from McGee Barracks in 1974; a Garda passed police documents to republicans after Bloody Sunday and a civil servant was charged with passing files to the IRA in 1975.

Training – From 1971, hundreds of IRA volunteers passed through training camps but less than twenty were ever prosecuted. Once inn rural Munster, IRA volunteers reportedly went down to the local village for cigarettes armed and in full uniform without fear of Garda.

Training ranged from basic small arms and explosives manufacturing to heavy machine guns, overseen by a former member of the Irish Defence Forces.

Arming – Shannon Airport and Cork and Cobh harbours were used extensively by the IRA for arms importation during the early 1970s aided by sympathetic workers on-site.

Gelignite stolen from quarries, farms and construction sites in the Republic was behind the 48,000lbs of explosives detonated in NI in the first six months of 1973 alone.

One IRA arms factory near the Stannaway Road, Dublin, was producing six firearms a day in 1973. A Garda report on another, discovered in the County Dublin village of Donabate in 1975 stated: ‘it was a centre for the manufacture of grenades, rockets and mortars. The Provisionals were careful to work “nine to five” hours in order not to attract suspicion.’

The GAA – the 1974 annual congress unanimously voted to campaign for the reinstatement of civil servant Donal Whelan who was sacked after being convicted of attempting to smuggle five tons of weaponry.

Ulster Unionist Party Justice Spokesman Doug Beattie says the new book will help ‘redress the balance’ in how the story of the Troubles is currently being recounted.

“A Broad Church’ will help redress the imbalance in how the story of the Troubles has been told, and in particular the extent to which the IRA was able to make use of the territory of the Republic of Ireland to support its murderous activities north of the border,” he said.

“This book will help address the selective amnesia at play in the Republic regarding its role during the Troubles. For decades the IRA was able to mount cross border raids almost at will, and murder hundreds of people as part of an ethnic cleansing campaign of border protestants. The Republic was also the source of numerous arms dumps and training camps. It is also a fact that the 30 year IRA campaign could not have been sustained had there not been support – both overt and tacit – from a significant section of the population there.

“The most uncomfortable aspect of the past for the Dublin Authorities is the extent to which the IRA received support and assistance from the political class, elements of the judiciary and sections of the police. The media and Dublin Government are quick to rush to judgement regarding claims of collusion between the British State and loyalist gangs, but are nowhere to be seen when it comes to an honest appraisal of the role played by the Dublin Government, its state actors and some of citizens in facilitating the activities of the IRA.”

If the book shines a light on facts which Dublin would rather not be reminded of, he said, then it will be “a very useful addition indeed”.

• ‘A broad church’, the Provisional IRA in the Republic of Ireland 1969-1980’ by Gearóid Ó Faoleán (Merrion Press) £17.99 from Waterstones Belfast or online booksellers.

A great gesture

Members of the Wm Strain Wm Lightbody Memorial Flute Band, Newtownards presentating a football autographed by the Rangers FC team to young Adam at the REACH UK offices, Newtownards Road, Belfast.

As told in previous articles, Adam is an enthusiastic Rangers supporter and is confined to a wheel chair because of his degenerative muscle wasting disorder.

A brilliant gesture by the band.

Dr John Kyle

R Williamson, Coordinator, Reach UK, 240 Newtownards, Road, Belfast, BT4 IHE

“On Wednesday March 27th, members of the community in East Belfast came together in the Reach UK office on the Newtownards Road to mark the retirement of one of its local heroes, Dr John Kyle.

Dr Kyle has served the East Belfast community as a General Practiconer after graduating from Queens University Belfast and since 1993 he has been based at Holywood Arches Medical Centre. He is also a local councillor, involved with the Oasis Centre, East Belfast Community Health Information Project and the East Belfast Partnership. John is a family man with 5 children and a strong Christian commitment to serving his community

As an individual of the community, Roy Stewart presented a framed artefact from the Somme to Dr Kyle to open the proceedings and after some short speeches, Jim Wilson, Chair of Reach UK, then presented a cut glass award engraved with the title “Community Champion “ from the Reach UK Project, community development group.

The event was attended by around 60 people from all sections of the local community who came together to pay tribute to a lifetimes service by Dr Kyle, on this the occasion of his retirement.”

Reach UK

All welcome

Rangers match ‘turned on another light in our Adam’

An East Belfast dad has told how a surprise trip to see Rangers funded by the community ‘turned on a light’ in his ill son.

Adam Stevenson, 14, has Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy.

The Belvoir estate lad is wheelchair-bound due to the muscle-wasting condition that has limited his life expectancy to his mid-20s.

The community in East Belfast raised money to take Adam and his family to see Rangers V Kilmarnock at the weekend.

Adam was joined by dad Gary, mum Beverley and brother Jake as they got a behind-the-scenes look at the training ground with Rangers legend Mark Hateley.

Gary and Adam

Gary, 53, told Belfast Live: “We’ve been on holiday before to Spain and we’ve been to Florida but this Rangers trip has just turned another light on for Adam. There’s just another level in his life that’s that’s just lit up that we didn’t think was there.

“There was something missing and whatever happened last weekend it switched another level of his life on.”

Donations towards the trip came from R.E.A.C.H, East Belfast Action for Community Transformation (ACT), Rangers supporters clubs from HW Welders, East Belfast Constitutional Club and Lagan Village along with the Union Jack Shop and East Belfast Protestant Boys Flute Band.

The game finished 1-1 but it was a trip the family won’t forget.

Gary said: “We were a good hour and a half at the training ground, watching the players train.

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“We met up with Morales which was incredible, we met all the staff and the two boys were just gobsmacked.

“Mark Hateley bent over backwards for us, he was like a family member and everything we wanted to see he showed us.

The family with footballer Alfredo Morelos

“The game itself was poor but at the same time just being there for Adam and Jake and seeing the crowds was outstanding.

“They couldn’t take it in. They’re still gob smacked, they couldn’t believe the size of the crowds.

“I don’t know what it was – they must have read the article on Belfast Live – because they were coming up and saying: “You’re the family from Belfast”. Everyone had the thumbs up – we were totally taken aback.

Adam all smiles

“And then people who did know us were saying how great it was to have us over.

“We had red carpet treatment the whole way through.”

  • Friends of the family are hosting an event at East Belfast Working Men’s Club on Friday night from 8pm to raise money for Adam. Entry is £3.

Can you help?

Can you help? Do you know anyone who fits the criteria below?

“I am currently Working as a Production Trainee with Double Band Films based in Belfast. We are doing some work on a proposal for BBC NI the details of which I have included bellow. Any help you or your members could offer would be greatly appreciated and any further questions or suggestions you may have can be answered by replying to this e-mail or contacting me at the number bellow or via my mobile 07849961686.

Kindest Regards,

Yers Aye,

Andy Mattison

(028)90 243331″

DoubleBand Films – migration project

DoubleBand Films are a Belfast-based documentary production company who make factual programmes for BBCNI, BBC4, and C4. Some of our recent productions include Dan Cruickshank’s Monuments to Remembrance (BBC4); Britain’s Ancient Tracks with Tony Robinson (C4), and Road, the story of the Dunlop road racing family (BBCNI).

The company are also a key producer of Ulster-Scots programmes for BBCNI, and have made successful and popular series such as Brave New World, with William Crawley, and The Band, a current series exploring the world of marching bands.

We are presently developing a new programme on the subject of migration between Ulster and Scotland, that would involve a teenage girl (over 18) from Northern Ireland embarking on a journey where she would explore her Scottish ancestry, in the company of a fellow young migrant living in Scotland.

In the course of the programme, our young contributor would discover the experience of her ancestors, who made the perilous journey from Scotland to Ulster in the late 1600s, and exploring the reasons why they left. In following in her ancestors footsteps, she’ll also find out what the Ulster landscape would have been like at that time, and discover how Scots migrants created settlements, and made new lives for themselves.

In experiencing and recreating life in late 17th Century, the programme would also see our young contributor, along with her Scottish counterpart, try their hands at activities that her ancestor would have relied on, and with the help of heritage experts they will work with animals, and create typical meals made by the settlers.

We are looking for a girl in her late teens (over 18), from an Ulster-Scots family in Northern Ireland, who would be interested in taking part in this unique project for BBCNI. They or their family do not need to be in the full knowledge of their family history, as we will be engaging with the Ulster Historical Foundation, who will assist us in the genealogical research.

Rangers tickets surprise for East Belfast lad with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy
The family together

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As one of just 65 people in Northern Ireland with a rare, life-limiting condition, Adam Stevenson’s parents know that his life will be short.

But the East Belfast family is determined to make his days memorable.

This weekend he will visit his heroes at Rangers FC after the community came together to raise the money.

The 14-year-old from the Belvoir estate has Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, a muscle-wasting condition that limits his life expectancy to his mid-20s.

Dad Gary, 53, told Belfast Live: “We found out he had it back in 2009. Adam kept falling over. So we took him to the hospital, they ran a lot of tests and they came back with long faces. They told us he’d Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. We said, ‘OK, well how do we deal with that?’.ADVERTISING

“They told us there was no cure for it, his life expectancy is in his mid-20s. We just fell apart, we couldn’t understand. The life-expectancy just took us apart.”

Adam, who is wheelchair-bound, lives with his younger brother Jake, 12, mum Beverley, 48, and dad Gary, 53.

He is especially close with Jake.

Gary added: “They’re right close to each other. If Adam drops anything he would go in and lift it for him.

“They love each other – and fight like normal brothers.

“Jake knows that it’s got worse – but he said, ‘Dad, I’ll do everything I can to help’.”

Adam’s condition continues to get worse and his family is determined to fulfill a number of his dreams.

Adam, left, and brother Jake

Gary said: “It’s getting worse every day. All his muscles are dying. His heart is dying. There is no cure and there is nothing we can do – we’re just at our wit’s end.

“We know the next 10 years aren’t going to be nice.

“He has some dreams for his life. He wanted to go see Rangers, he wanted to go see Chelsea and he wanted to have a cruise.”

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The family was approached by Jim Wilson from R.E.A.C.H and the wheels were put in motion for a dream trip to see Rangers v Kilmarnock on Saturday.

Gary added: “Up to two weeks ago, we knew nothing. A family member was approached by Jim Wilson who asked if there was anything he could do.

“Jim got all the community involved and he has made one of his dreams come true.

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“The clubs throughout East Belfast that have helped are brilliant – it’s come as such a big surprise.

“To get to see Rangers, to meet the players – it’s like Christmas Eve. We can’t thank enough those who have been involved in making this happen.

“His excitement is beyond words, he’s overwhelmed and we’re so happy that we have this opportunity.

Click to play

“This is the best thing that has ever helped Adam, he’s just on cloud nine.”

Donations towards the trip came from R.E.A.C.H, East Belfast Action for Community Transformation (ACT), Rangers supporters clubs from HW Welders, East Belfast Constitutional Club and Lagan Village along with the Union Jack Shop and East Belfast Protestant Boys Flute Band.

R.E.A.C.H Chairman Jim Wilson said: “I’d like to personally thank the groups who came together to raise over £1000 to make this possible along with the staff at Stena Line.

“There is a strong community ethos in East Belfast and we are delighted to send the family across to make special memories with Adam and his brother Jake.”

Last word

Matthew Bannister on our friend and patron Ian Adamson OBE.

Last Word spoke to Wesley Hutchinson, Professor Emeritus of Irish Studies at Sorbonne Nouvelle, and Helen Brooker, director of Pretani Associates.

The show also includes Seychelles President Albert Rene, mathematician Simon Norton, campaigner Belle Tutaev, historian and singer Keith Flint.