Desmond Greaves Journal, Vol.22, 1970-71
1June 1970 – 31 July 1971
MAIN THEMES: Acting as General Secretary of the Connolly Association following the resignation of Sean Redmond from that position – Launching of campaign for a Bill of Rights to be legislated at Westminster as an alternative to leaving Stormont unreformed on the one hand and abolishing it altogether and imposing direct rule from London on the other – Growth of interest in the Irish question in British Labour and Communist circles in response to developments in Northern Ireland – National petition campaign for the Bill of Rights organised jointly by the Connolly Association, the Movement for Colonial Freedom, the United Ireland Association and the British support groups of the NICRA and the Campaign for Social Justice in Northern Ireland – Effects on Irish organisations in Britain of the 1970 Republican split between Provisionals and Officials in Ireland – Meeting with Bernadette Devlin MP and assessment of her – Visiting John Hume in Derry – Seeking to get the Bill of Rights adopted as policy by NICRA in Belfast and by British Labour organisations – Replacement of Harold Wilson’s Labour Government by Edward Heath’s Conservatives in June 1970, leading to a more hardline British military policy in the North – Greaves drafts a Bill of Rights in proper legal form and interacts with Lord Brockway, Lord Pakenham, Arthur Latham MP and Geoffrey Bing QC regarding its presentation in the Houses of Commons and Lords on 12 May 1971 – Reaction to the Heath Government’s White Paper on UK EEC entry – Publication of “Liam Mellows and the Irish Revolution” – Writing “The Irish Crisis”, his book on the Northern Ireland Troubles of which there were several foreign editions – Deterioration of the situation in Northern Ireland as the Provisional IRA launches its military campaign to end Partition – Criticism of the Republicans: “They never succeed in anything. They belong to the class that cannot win. And yet the glamour surrounds them. For all the talk of ‘socialism’, they are deeply opposed to it. They commit blunder after blunder.”(entry for 7 June 1970) – Criticism of the CPGB for failing to give more support to the Connolly Association and for not taking the Irish question more seriously during the previous years, when that might have succeeded in getting Labour to adopt the Bill of Rights policy while still in office, so possibly heading off the Northern “Troubles” of the following quarter-century: “The failure of the CP at district level (London is the supreme example) to back the Connolly Association is one of the great blunders of these past twenty-five years, if a thing that arises from total incomprehension can be called a blunder.” (entry for 23 August 1970)
EDITOR’S INTRODUCTION TO VOLUME 22: The historian and political activist C.Desmond Greaves (1913-1988) kept a Journal all his life. It is some two-million words in length and was originally written in longhand in thirty-eight volumes, of which this Volume 22 is one of the more interesting because of the importance of the political events it deals with: the attempt to sustain a political, civil rights approach at the commencement of the Northern “Troubles” which, if it had succeeded, might have prevented the near quarter-century of violence that followed. This story is set against the background of Britain’s entry negotiations to the then EEC, which had echoes in Brexit – the UK’s departure from the European Union – fifty years after Greaves made this record.
Desmond Greaves is important as a political theorist because he upheld the view that in the modern world of globalization and transnational business, the defence of the Nation State as the principal locus of political democracy – the most effective defender of the common good and the best mechanism that history has devised for restraining the “furies of private interest” – is the most important task for politically progressive people. This made him an early opponent of supranational European integration. His writings, political campaigning and historical biographies transmitted this view of the national question to a later generation.
Greaves is important in the politics of these islands because of the influence he had on the formation of the 1960s Northern Ireland Civil Rights Movement, which helped to end Unionist majority rule in that area. His Journal throws new light on aspects of Irish and British politics from the 1930s to the 1980s and contains much interesting material on people Greaves met with in the course of his researches for his biographies of James Connolly, Liam Mellows and Sean O’Casey. These included Eamon De Valera, Ernest Blythe, Sean MacEoin, Tom Johnson, Mrs Tom Clarke, Roddy Connolly, Peadar O’Donnell, and many lesser known figures from Ireland’s War of Independence and Civil War period.
Desmond Greaves was born and grew up in Birkenhead, Merseyside. His parents had Irish and Welsh connections and were of Methodist background. He was a remarkable man: political theorist, historian, poet, scientist, newspaper editor, campaign organiser, musician, orator, wit, excellent cook and dedicated gardener. He had great physical and nervous energy. He never married and seems to have taken a conscious decision when he took up full-time political work on a miniscule wage in the conditions of the 1950s that marriage was incompatible with the responsibilities of a wife and family. Perhaps because he lived on his own, he showed an exuberant geniality when in company, bringing zest to any occasion. He exuded a kind of life-enhancing vitality when with others, which made all the more potent the impact of his extraordinary intelligence and breadth of knowledge. To use a phrase that he himself used of Wolfe Tone: he had the gaiety of all dedicated men. Some of these qualities come through in his Journal, which is a record of much of his life and times. The Journal covers the period from 1933, when Greaves was a student of botany and chemistry at Liverpool University, until the year of his death in 1988, with some gap years.
The Connolly Association (CA), of which Desmond Greaves was a member from 1941, had been founded as the Connolly Club in London in 1938. Greaves became full-time editor of its monthly newspaper, the “Irish Democrat”, in 1951, giving up well-paid employment as a research chemist in private industry to do so. His modest wage as editor was his only regular source of income from then until his death nearly forty years later. Together with other members of the Connolly Association he regularly sold the paper for decades round the public houses and dance halls of the Irish districts of London and other British cities. Greaves influenced the Connolly Association to adopt its modern Constitution in 1955, under which it still operates. Its main constitutional objectives are to defend the interests of Irish people in Britain and to win the British Labour movement to a policy of supporting a united independent Ireland. These are democratic objectives rather than leftwing or socialist ones.
It was Greaves who conceived in the 1950s the idea of a campaign for civil rights in Northern Ireland as the way to overcome the discrimination against Nationalists and Catholics that widely existed there at the time, although he expressed the view that “democratic rights” would have been a more appropriate term than “civil rights”. He held that the peaceful way to end the partition of Ireland was to secure maximum equality between Nationalists and Unionists in Northern Ireland, thereby removing any rational basis for Unionism as an ideology that justified domination over Nationalists and creating conditions that could enable Unionists to rediscover in time the political implications of the common Irishness that they share with their Nationalist fellow countrymen and women. Over nearly four decades of campaigning through the Connolly Association he sought to win the British Labour Movement to supporting that position. Although Greaves was a member of the Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB) all his adult life, as he regarded that as the only British political party that was anti-imperialist and anti-Partition, he zealously defended the independence of the Connolly Association. Far from the CPGB pushing particular policy lines on Ireland through the Connolly Association, it is clear from the Journal that it was Greaves and his fellow activists in the Association who sought consistently to induce democrats, leftwingers, communists and the British Labour Movement generally to take the Irish question seriously and adopt the particular lines of policy they advocated.
This was often a thankless task and results were slow in coming. However, the work of the Association and the organisations it was affiliated to and influenced in the late 1950s and 1960s, in particular the National Council for Civil Liberties (NCCL) and the Movement for Colonial Freedom (MCF), ensured that when the dire situation in Northern Ireland came to British and international attention in 1969, there was a significant body of Labour, Trade Union and liberal opinion within Britain that was pressing Harold Wilson’s Labour Government for radical reforms in Belfast.
The interventions of that Government were, however, too little, too late. The failure to make the Bill of Rights concept, which Greaves and the Connolly Association had initiated in November 1968, into official Labour policy while the Harold Wilson Government was still in office was critical. Volumes 22 and 23 of the Journal deal with that campaign. The Bill of Rights would have entailed a legislative straitjacket being imposed by the Westminster Parliament on the subordinate Northern Ireland Parliament at Stormont, Belfast, which would at once outlaw discriminatory practices in Northern Ireland – thus guaranteeing civil rights and freedoms for the Nationalist population there – while at the same time permitting, and preferably encouraging, the devolved administration in Belfast to develop closer relations with the Republic.
Labour’s replacement by Edward Heath’s Conservatives in June 1970 led to a hard-line military policy in Northern Ireland that gave huge impetus to the recently formed Provisional IRA and set the North on course for the “Troubles” of the next quarter-century. This Volume 22 of the Greaves Journal covers this important year of change. It also covers the period when the Wilson and Heath Governments followed a bipartisan policy of reviving the UK’s application to join the European Economic Community (EEC), originally made in 1961, a step which Greaves and the Connolly Association were strongly opposed to on democratic and internationalist grounds.
In reading someone’s journal one needs to bear in mind that the judgements of a day are not necessarily the same as considered long-term ones. Thus Sean Redmond and Desmond Greaves were the two full-time workers in the Connolly Association office throughout the 1960s, Redmond as General Secretary and Greaves as editor of the “Irish Democrat”, while he was also researching and writing his biography of Mellows. They generally got on well, but when Redmond got a new job following his marriage, he sought to remain CA General Secretary on an unpaid basis while Greaves sought to take on that position for a period to help the Association respond to the growth of British interest in Irish affairs that followed the advent of the Northern Ireland civil rights movement and the events of 1969. This caused some tension between them which is reflected in this and the previous volume of the Journal. As “Irish Democrat” editor, Connolly Association General Secretary and its only full-time worker Greaves was under heavy demand at this time as a speaker on Irish affairs, receiving invitations especially from Labour movement bodies that had shown little or no interest in Ireland up to then. At the same time as he sought to establish new Connolly Association branches in different British cities, he looked for the assistance of local communist and trade union contacts in doing so, sometimes successfully, sometimes not.
In the manuscript Journal Greaves refers to most people by their initials. In this edition personal names are given in full except in the few instances where it cannot be established who they were. Where Christian names occur in the original, these are given as such here.
The Index at the end does not aim to include all references to the persons or organisations listed, but only the more important ones. The references give the month and day of the relevant Journal entries, with the month’s date given first. Thus “11.2” is November 2, “1.27” is January 27, “7.6” is July 6, and so on.
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June 1 Monday (London): I was in the office soon after 8 am. [The Connolly Association office was on the second floor of 283 Grays Inn Road, a street that runs from Holborn to King Cross in Central London. The office proper was the room overlooking the street. Behind it on the same floor was a book room and meeting room and off that a small store room]. The weather continues warm and dry and it was like an oven quite early. The most important event of the day was the evening at Hammersmith Town Hall. There were 52 present. Joe Deighan made an eloquent speech – his swan song as far as London is concerned [Joe Deighan, who had been Connolly Association President, was about to return to his native Belfast with his English wife Dorothy, having spent some twenty years in England]. I do not think he has the faintest inkling of the difficulties ahead, though of course in comparison with some of the young he is sobriety itself. There is no doubt that the imperialists are succeeding very well in the programme for reducing the South and the assininities of the Republicans and Trotskies [ie. the People’s Democracy in Northern Ireland] serve them well. [This is a reference to the Republic’s simultaneous application for membership of the EEC along with the UK. Harold Wilson’s Labour Government had revived Britain’s application to join the EEC, originally made in 1961, following French President Charles de Gaulle’s departure from office in 1969. Greaves and the Connolly Association had strongly opposed this step towards supranational integration from the time it was first mooted in 1961. The “Irish Democrat” was one of the first periodicals in Britain to oppose membership of the EEC, and possibly the first.] Ann Hope, of NICRA, was quite good, and Sean Redmond was a capable if not inspired chairman.
After the meeting I had a drink with Des Logan. Jim Kelly, Jane Tate, Vivien Morton, Toni Curran, Pat O’Donohue, Charlie Cunningham, Pat Hensey, Joe Deighan and Dorothy, and others were there [These were all Connolly Association activists, apart from Vivien Morton, who was a daughter of the leftwing historian TA Jackson, author of “Ireland Her Own”]. Des Logan had had his shortest ever spell of employment today. He was engaged for a good job and told to report today. With every regret he was handed a month’s salary and told that reorganisation had supervened. Chris Sullivan on the other hand is employed again.
When I came back to 33 Argyle Street [ie. his flat in London near King’s Cross Station] before the meeting, there was a crowd outside the door. Next door had been taken over as Lena Jeger’s Committee Rooms [Lena Jeger,1915-2007, Labour MP for Holborn and St Pancras], and on the doorstep disconsolately sat a young woman with a suitcase. She was the one I had seen at about midnight waiting outside the door of the Iraqis in the flat below. Of this gentleman the following: When Alan Morton [Pofessor Alan Geoffrey Morton, the botanist, Desmond Greaves’s oldest friend from his student days in Liverpool] was here and we were talking at 9.30 he banged on his ceiling. A few weeks later when I got back late he came up to complain that he could not sleep for my footsteps over his head; I opened the door and apologized; a few weeks later again a carrier bag handle broke and some water bottles spilled on the floor; he was up in a trice; this time I did not open the door or apologise; I abused him and called him a damn fool, said he made much more noise than I did, that his radio was like thunder, and to go down and not waste my time. Since then I have neither heard nor seen him.
I went in. The Cypriot woman on the ground floor was there. She wanted to tell the gossip. “She’s a horrible woman, the Irishman on the first floor told me. See – her boy friend’s gone away,” she began. Then the bell rang, and she opened the door to a tall “well-spoken” Englishman.
“Ah theh any labah suppawtahs heah?” he enquired.
“I no speaka much de English.”
“Well, will you put this poster in your window. The Prime Minister [ie. Harold Wilson] is coming here at 6.30.” She took it with alacrity and expressed extreme surprise when I did not wait to glimpse the great man. Only the Irishman was cynical.
“Plenty here,” he said meaningfully.
“Yes. Waiting for his highness.”
He laughed. There was enough said.
June 2 Tuesday: A letter came from Tony Coughlan [Anthony Coughlan, a lecturer in social policy at Trinity College, Dublin] containing a cutting from Hibernia telling the story of Fianna Fail’s negotiations with the IRA, and the subsequent decision to split it [Charles Haughey’s brother, Jock Haughey, met with some senior members of the Cathal Goulding-led IRA at this time, promising them arms in return for a change in their political stance]. The article says that they insisted on the retirement of Cathal Goulding, Roy Johnston and Costello and the other “not generally known to be in the IRA”, which I suspect may well be Tony Coughlan himself. I have long suspected it. And Tony says the article is substantially accurate. [Cathal Goulding, 1923-1998, was Chief of Staff of the IRA during most of the 1960s and sought to make Republicanism more relevant by taking up various political issues following the failed 1956-62 Border campaign. Seamus Costello, 1939-1977, was one of Goulding’s leading colleagues in the IRA and Sinn Fein. Anthony Coughlan was in neither the IRA nor Sinn Fein but was Secretary of the Dublin Wolfe Tone Society at this time. This was an independent Republican “think-tank” consisting of a couple of dozen members. Coughlan was politically independent, having no party affiliations or commitments, and did not discuss the details of his political activity with Greaves, who refers to him in an earlier Journal entry as being “notoriously secretive”. He acted as Dublin correspondent of the “Irish Democrat” from 1961 until that paper ceased publication in the early 2000s and he sent Greaves copy for each month’s issue.] He speaks of great political confusion in Ireland. He does not assign responsibility to the unprincipled intrigues the Republicans themselves resorted to. He also sent the “United Irishman” [ie. the monthly Republican paper]. It looks as if they are repeating 1948 á la Clann na Poblachta [when Sean MacBride led his recently founded Republican party, Clann na Poblachta, into a coalition government with Fine Gael and Labour in order to oust Fianna Fail from office}. Their entire direction is to discredit Fianna Fail.
I finished the Scottish section of the petition campaign. There are a dozen more, but two more (Northwest) are almost complete. [The petition called on the British Government to legislate for a Bill of Rights, which Greaves and the Connolly Association had conceived in 1968 as a progressive middle way between leaving Stormont unreformed and abolishing it altogether and imposing “direct rule” from London. Its provisions, which Greaves drafted and which were eventually introduced as a Private Member’s Bill by Arthur Latham MP in the House of Commons and by Fenner Brockway in the House of Lords on 12 May 1971, aimed to outlaw discriminatory practices in the North and introduce civil rights and electoral reforms there, while encouraging a reformed Stormont to develop closer relations with Dublin. It would thus reconcile the short-term and long-term objectives of the Irish national movement and had some parallels with the later Good Friday Agreement of 1998. However, the Conservatives under Edward Heath replaced Harold Wilson’s Labour Government in June 1970 and Labour lost the opportunity of making a progressive contribution to solving the Irish question while in office, so possibly heading off the quarter-century of violence that followed. The petition campaign was supported by the Movement for Colonial Freedom and a number of Irish organisations in Britain. The Connolly Association was the main driving force behind it.]
I was leaving the office when Pat Malin [A former CA member from Liverpool, generally regarded as an unstable character] came past with a large Trotsky. The Trotsky went on. Malin spoke to me. He had just finished a month in jail. He was suffering from police persecution. Of course it was political. If he was accused of political activity he might as well be at it. He would come to see me. I would “put him in his place and advise him how to work.” Of course he wants to join the Connolly Association and, as in the past, we won’t have him. He spoke of it “being said” that the CA had “broken up”. At present no political defections, though I expect them, if not immediately. I said I would be in tomorrow, though I was sorry afterwards. I should have pretended I would not be there – but then Bob Doyle [An old CA member and former International Brigader in Spain] wants to see me. Malin told me his epilepsy was cured. Certainly he looked better – none the worse for all the police beatings he told me he had suffered. More likely he is inside for petty larceny and the police have told him to join the Connolly Association and find out the names of the others in it. When he is turned down we will see who else appears.
I was busy in the office till 11 pm. And though Jim Kelly was there we had no drink.
June 3 Wednesday: I was in the office at 6.10 am. and by a great effort got out petitions to most of the country, though some areas are thin. The weather being warm and dry, this was tiring but not exhausting. Malin did not put in an appearance. Just as well. But Bob Doyle did. He is always in trouble. He has no sense. There is some kind of disciplinary court at SOGAT[Society of Graphical and Allied Trades] regarding amalgamation and he is attending it this evening. He may be politically or technically right. I do not know. But from past experience I know he will be practically wrong. This is the first time he spoke to me for years, as he took the side of the rat Prendergast and the snake O’Shea in the differences of the fifties.[This is a reference to the conflict over the appropriate policy for an organisation of Irish immigrants in Britain, which took place in the Connolly Association itself and among some of its members who were in the CPGB in London and had been members of the Irish Workers League in Dublin before emigrating. The persons mentioned contended that the Connolly Association should be seeking to convert Irish immigrants to socialism and act as a conveyor belt for them into British leftwing organisations such as the Communist Party or Labour Party. Greaves and his colleagues opposed this view and held that the Connolly Association should have democratic rather than socialist objectives. The issue was settled politically with the adoption of the Connolly Association’s current Constitution in 1955, although echoes of it lingered until 1958 when “leftist” members of the Association’s North London branch were expelled for flouting the organisation’s Constitution.]
In the evening there was a branch meeting. Two boys from Belfast arrived; one, Edmund Collins, had been in Na Fianna, and were sent by Republicans to Sean Redmond. The name of Art McMillen was mentioned [Art McMillen was a Belfast Republican and long-time correspondent with Greaves, sending him regular information on anti-Catholic discrimination in Northern Ireland; he was brother of the Republican leader Liam (Billy) McMillen]. Why did they not go to Clann na hEireann? [ie. The Republican support-group in Britain, which sought to raise money for the IRA and Sinn Fein in Ireland]. Jim Kelly and I chewed over this. The attendance was not too good – about 18. Pat O’Donohue made a maiden speech – historical. As Sean Redmond remarked on the phone before he went to Oxford, it is a mistake to ask new speakers to deal with historical subjects. Jane Tate got Pegeen O’Flaherty on the guarantor work [ie.seeking to raise regular guaranteed sums towards the wage of a second full-time worker in addition to Greaves himself, to replace retiring CA General Secretary Sean Redmond]. Joe Deighan, Pat Hensey, Charlie Cunningham and Peter Mulligan came along, and Peter arranged a place for next week’s “send off” to Joe Deighan. Pat Powell asked me to speak in Coventry that night and I agreed.
Peter Mulligan said that Columba Longmore had not left. He met him at lunchtime, looking very white and ill, with a filthy cold. He has given up his place and is living with his sister. Peter thinks he had made a mistake in planning this continental hitch-hike but cannot extricate himself from it. Charlie Cunningham says the best thing is to go quickly and get it out of his system.
Now a former member, Joe Crilly, came. He joined London NICRA [This was one of a number of “support-groups” in Britain for the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association. They sometimes called themselves “branches” of the latter body although there was no provision in NICRA’s Constitution for branches outside Northern Ireland]. He fought within it to make it support the petition. There was a change of policy and they ordered 200 forms which I sent to an address in Croydon. Crilly says they have sent none to his Hammersmith branch. Would I give him some? I offered him some with a Connolly Association stamp. He refused them. He wanted them unstamped. I told him that as he was a member of NICRA he must get them from NICRA; but as an individual he could have them from the CA with our stamp. He had been drinking and was not very clear. Nobody is more nuisance than the man who wants to ride two horses. Tony Coughlan and Roy Johnston are examples, Roy particularly [Roy Johnston was a physicist whom Greaves knew as a student at Trinity College in the late 1940s. He was a member of the Irish Workers League in Dublin. He worked in London from 1960 to 1963, during which time he was a member of the Connolly Association and the CPGB. Following his return to Dublin he was invited by left-leaning IRA leader Cathal Goulding to join that organisation in 1964, which he did without either Desmond Greaves or Anthony Coughlan being aware of it at the time. Greaves was critical of this involvement, as several entries in the Journal show. In due course Roy Johnston became IRA Education Officer. He was also active in Sinn Fein and sought to encourage the politicisation of the Republicans during the rest of the 1960s]. In the end I told him to come to the NICRA meeting there and ask for them in my presence. But he said he had not been a member of it. It was “only for chairmen”. So there is either a class or a military stratification [“military” in the sense of being under IRA control from Ireland] in that area. I bethought me to get a few of my own supporters along.
At about 4.30 I had the idea of trying to put the leaders of the two main parties on the spot. So after consulting Sean Redmond, who agreed, I sent telegrams to Wilson and Heath [ie.the Labour and Conservative Party leaders] asking them to guarantee the safety of Belfast Catholics this July [ie. during the impending Orange marching season in Northern Ireland].
June 4 Thursday: Last night a branch meeting took place, but without making arrangements for Hyde Park on Sunday [ie. for the regular Sunday afternoon Connolly Association open-air meeting at Speakers’ Corner, where many Irish people used to foregather in those years].However, as Cathal Goulding will be there, we decided to forego our meeting and advise everybody to go to Pat Bond’s concert [Pat Bond was the key activist in the CA’s South London branch. One of the Bonds of Castlebond, Co. Longford, he was comfortably off and donated generously to the Association when it got into periodic financial difficulties. He worked in a bank in the City. His English-born wife Stella was also active in the Association]. A deplorable feature of the branch meetings is the failure to raise the question of the petition.
Today a letter came from Ripley [ie. Ripley Printers in Derbyshire, which printed the monthly “Irish Democrat” for decades] saying he could not offer a date for printing the July issue until we paid our bills. Actually we posted him £220 last night, and I was wild with Toni Curran for her slackness in dealing with these bills [Mrs Antoinette Curran, “Irish Democrat” treasurer at the time]. Of course she says it is Gerry’s depression [Gerry Curran was Toni Curran’s husband at the time; he was a long-standing CA member who was Books’ Editor of the “Irish Democrat” and used edit occasional issues when Greaves went on holiday, usually in October]. Anyway I resolved that we would not be dependent any longer than we could help and prepared appeals to send to the USA and Australia.
Betty Harrison called in [1904-1979, National Organiser of the Tobacco Workers Union]. She told me she was in the ILP from 1920 [ie. the Independent Labour Party, whose foundation antedated that of the Labour Party], and knew Fenner Brockway well [Fenner Brockway, 1888-1988, had been in the ILP; was a leading anti-colonial campaigner and MP; Chairman of the Movement for Colonial Freedom (MCF), an important organisation at a time when Britain still had extensive colonies; later Lord Brockway]. She was a member of the Revolutionary Policy Committee who joined the CP in or around 1932 or 33. I remember meeting some of them when I came to London in 1935 on a visit. Perhaps her ILP origin explains a certain emotionalism in her approach. I am not surprised that she was in that. She used be Chairman of Bradford Trades Council.
June 5 Friday: I was in the office early and started on Sean Redmond’s unfinished letters and addresses which had been packed into a folder labelled “new developments” and another, “materials not yet filed”. There will be some days in this, and I decided not to go to Liverpool till Thursday morning. I made a complete analysis of sales this year, and found that only Jim Kelly, Pat O’Donohue, Chris Sullivan, Charlie Cunningham and Pat Hensey had sold more than once a week this year, and Sean Redmond and Joe Deighan were both credited with less than once. There has been a distinct slackening there. Incidentally, when I saw Joe Deighan on Wednesday, despite his fine performance on Monday, I thought his features had slimmed, and he feels his years. This inclines me again to think his return something of an escape [ie. Deighan’s return to his native Belfast following some twenty years in Britain]. He is already notorious for spending half of his night’s selling, sitting talking to people while his partner waits. And though I am away half the time my own figure is scarcely below that of the two of them. Sean Redmond has only once or twice given a Saturday this year, so we see the slow pressure of matrimonial affairs [Sean Redmond was in his first years of marriage and he and his wife Susan wished to start a family; he had got a job as a trade union official in London, having been full-time General Secretary of the Connolly Association from 1961; he represented the CA on the National Executives of the NCCL and the MCF throughout most of the 1960s].
I was up in the MCF getting paper [the Movement for Colonial Freedom, to which the Connolly Association was affiliated]. Barbara Haq was leaving for the Sudan, in place of the MPs who had been invited to the independence celebrations. Margot Parrish was there. The British-Biafra Society can no longer afford the office they had at Housemans. She will look after the MCF while Barbara Haq is away, and the man who used to be with the MCF, who now at last has moved into our office, turns out to be an Ibo [Greaves sympathized with the Biafra/Ibo cause in the Nigerian civil war]. Margot Parrish says that the condition of the Ibos in “Nigeria” is a disgrace, and I can credit it. To great powers in their self-righteous power-struggle self-determination is conditional on its suiting themselves. Toni Curran was to have come up to get another cheque to stall Ripley. She did not, but Gerry arrived, in reasonably good form. We shall have sent him close on £350, having raided the bank fund for £100, and the reserve for £150. Then Jim Kelly came and we went to Holloway. Two pubs had strip-tease shows in them.
June 6 Saturday: I did not go into the office till about 10.30 am., dealt with correspondence and made a few arrangements. Pat Hensey arrived, and Sean Redmond, Jim Kelly earlier than usual, but not Peter Mulligan who had indicated his intention of coming. He is not completely reliable. He is prepared to look after the book sales but must not be in sole charge. Sean Redmond had been to the Campaign for Democracy in Ulster dinner last night [The CDU was for Labour Party members only. Some Connolly Association members had been among its founders. Although the CA regretted its foundation as weakening the overall Irish solidarity movement in Britain, relations between the two bodies was amicable]. He met Patsy Byrne who said he was in favour of the CDU’s coming back into the petition campaign but would have to move slowly! [Patsy Byrne was a Labour Councillor and former CA member who was a leading official in the CDU.] He was speaking to a London NICRA man who thought that that body would not long survive, as the two Republican factions are warring to the knife within it. On Wednesday one got a sense of that from Crilly. Though Sean Redmond said two of the NICRA girls were to take up petitions at Wembley, the person who was to bring the petitions did not arrive. But some Connolly Association girls were there, so they helped them! Sean also remarked that Clann na hEireann have Cathal Goulding in Trafalgar Square tomorrow – tonight they have a social. “It shows how much they care,” said he, “when they spend the last night boozing.”
In the afternoon I went to see Fiona [Mrs Fiona Connolly Edwards, one of James Connolly’s daughters, who had agreed to type the text of Greaves’s biography of Liam Mellows, as she had previously typed the text of his Connolly biography]. The first typed draft of the MS is complete, and many of the early corrections done. She wants to get to Dublin soon as Cis O’Brien (Bill’s sister) [ie. William O’Brien, Connolly’s colleague in the early ITGWU] is dying and Nora is anxious for her to see her. She told me some stories of her work in the Republican Congress and the Citizen Army they had in the thirties. It used to drill out at Kimmage. She was living with her mother in Belgrave Square, her first husband, Len Wilson, with her, and Nora Connolly had the top flat with Seamus O’Brien. There was a police raid, and though they asked for Roddy, they only searched Fiona’s flat, she thinks in search of a list of Citizen Army names. Nora Connolly O’Brien and Seamus had guns and ammunition stored above. Apparently she had mislaid the list in an old wardrobe in the hall, and that is what saved it. The story threw an interesting light on what we often heard of as Nora’s “Trotskyism” in the thirties. It was just romantic nonsense.
Later Pat Bond came in and was naturally concerned at the mess Toni Curran had got us into by not making payment we authorized on April 27. He has just come back from a holiday in Sardinia. His concert is tomorrow. Then I went to meet Pat O’Donohue at Edgeware Road. He is an extremely intelligent young man and may go a long way. He is free from the sneering self-satisfaction that spoils Sean Redmond, though of course he may develop his own defects when he makes his mark and people start flattering him as I have no doubt they did the other.
I have only undertaken to act as General Secretary for three months, but as always happens, look like extending it, I thought to a maximum of five, to give me the chance of campaigning in the two late summer months when I may get Tony Coughlan over [Anthony Coughlan, who was Dublin correspondent of the “Irish Democrat”, used spend a month or so of his vacation from his work at Trinity College each year in the Connolly Association office in London], and a few holiday campaigns. I paid particular attention to the attitude of the Irish in the pubs. One boy said, “All those papers tell lies.” “Lies?” “Yes, the ‘United Irishman’ is the same. You all exaggerate things.” Another said the paper was Communist, but without antagonism. He would not buy. In another bar a man called Brian Kelly returned a completed petition form and everybody around him bought a paper, about ten in all. Pat O’Donohue and I discussed the need for a new sellers’ meeting to discuss the techniques of selling, now made necessary again. I think the split in the movement (product of Roy’s nonsense) has deeply demoralised the Irish here [Greaves had been highly critical of Roy Johnston’s involvement in the Republican Movement, as previous volumes show]. But I have organised a poster parade to Smith Square [Headquarters of the British Labour Party] on Tuesday and hope to get things pulled round given time and energy. But it will not be easy.
June 7 Sunday: Today was very warm and the temperature reached 77’F. So this looks like being the cyclical hot summer. Perhaps another good one next year, and then the worst weather of the century developing over the next few years. So I speculate.
I cycled to Smith Square in the morning to look at the field. Traffic was diverted for a (presumably royal) Garden Party. I passed 6 Cockpit Chambers [His former flat in Northington Street, Holborn]. It is still standing. But for the burglaries there need have been no hurry [ie. in leaving it and moving to another flat]. But most of the buildings around are boarded up. The rest of the day I was in the office. Charlie Cunningham came in the evening. He said Pat Bond’s concert seemed a success. At Trafalgar Square were Tom Gill [Sinn Fein President Tomás Mac Giolla, over from Dublin] and Sean McDermott (allegedly pro-Provisional). It is impossible to know who is what. Joe O’Connor was there [An ultra-left CA member]. He had not answered letters we sent him. He had been “busy”. And Davoren’s Trotskies were in force. The petit-bourgeois character of the whole movement [ie.the Republicans] is more apparent than ever. They never succeed in anything. They belong to the class that cannot win. And yet the glamour surrounds them. For all the talk of “socialism”, they are deeply opposed to it. They commit blunder after blunder. [Greaves subscribed to the classical Marxist view that the social base of physical-force Republicanism in Ireland, going back to the Fenians of the 1860s, was the small bourgeois class of the self-employed and small employers – typically small farmers, shopkeepers, tradesmen and workers in individualised occupations. This was the numerically largest social class in the Irish State until the 1930s, as it still is in much of Africa, South America and South Asia in the early twenty-first century. Some of its members aspire to become employers; others fear losing their independent status and being reduced to the rank of employees, although that is where economic development tends to push most of them. James Connolly had interpreted the exaltation of a means, physical force, into an end, and its adoption as the key criterion of political commitment by what he termed Ireland’s “physical force party”, as a way of avoiding commitment to economic and political goals that would divide the different elements of this class from one another. The typical political psychology of the small bourgeoisie tends to be individualistic rather than group-oriented, unlike that of the working class, whose basic organisational unit is the trade union. Hence the appeal for some members of this class of what Governments call “terrorism”, for example resort to assassinations by late nineteenth century anarchists or suicide bombings by their modern equivalent. Greaves comments in his “Table Talk” that the small bourgeoisie are simultaneously capable of heroic personal self-sacrifice and rank political opportunism. They can readily adopt radical left-sounding rhetoric and typically they want quick results while being averse to the long-term disciplined organisation that alone can deliver them.]
Apparently Gill was talking about a “National Liberation Front”. That is Roy Johnston’s invention. I am inclined to think the Irish Workers Party was foolish to change their name to the Communist Party of Ireland and have this non-organic amalgamation, or shall we say, incompletely organic [The Northern and Southern communist parties had come together to form the Communist Party of Ireland in March 1970; See Vol.21]. Clearly the masses are miles away from them. And though Cathal Goulding also doubted its wisdom, it is to cooperate with the Republicans (I suspect) they did it. Charlie Cunningham is very depressed at the outcome of the Rolls Royce lockout and is talking of going back to Ireland. Joe Deighan has set them thinking of it. I will say nothing for the moment.
[Editor’s Note: The following note, dated 10 January 2002, has been inserted at this point in the manuscript Journal at the request of Roy Johnston following his being permitted to read the original for purposes of his book “Century of Endeavour”, which is the biography of his father, Professor Joseph Johnston of Trinity College Dublin, and his own autobiography. The note refers to his work as a member of the pre-split IRA and Sinn Fein in the middle and later 1960s:-
“The NLF canard has assumed, to my mind, an undue importance in people’s minds. It was never intended as a slogan or a name of a confederating body, or a real movement involving any formal amalgamation. It was used by MacStíofáin and others to imply the existence of a ‘communist threat’. Insofar as I ever used it, it was to connote a process of expansion of the movement to soak up a broader range of progressive forces than Sinn Fein itself, and the embedded politicising IRA who were activating Sinn Fein. The ‘Freedom Manifesto’ as published in the February 1970 United Irishman is an outline of what we then had in mind for a broader movement.
“We were never very specific about this process, but the feeling I had was that the IWP-CPNI amalgamating into the CPI was politically a non-starter, and would be moribund due to the dead hand of Stalinism. People disillusioned with this might be able to think their way into joining an expanded, integrated and politicised republican movement which, as well as the primary objective of national unity through democratic reform in the North, had the core democratic Marxist objective of attaining democratic control over the capital investment process, and creating a friendly environment to co-operative enterprise. The ‘NLF’ was, for a time, a convenient in-house label for this concept, which we used during internal discussions. We never managed to think of a good name for the concept, although viewed retrospectively it was perfectly valid, taking on board as it did a recognition of the developing crisis in post-Stalinist Marxist orthodoxy, which came to a head subsequently in 1989.” … (RHW Johnston, 10-1-2002)
June 8 Monday: I was in the office at 7.45 am. and by midday had the London and Home Counties non-members’ petitions away. Betty Harrison gave me a list of women’s organisations, so then I started on that. Bob Doyle brought some in already filled up. He seems to have forgotten the old antagonism and spoke disparagingly of Prendergast [Jim Prendergast, Spanish civil war veteran, who had been a political opponent of Greaves’s in CA and CPGB circles in the early 1950s].
In the early evening I cycled down to Smith Square again and found what doors in the two offices were open. As I came back through Northington Street I realized what an oasis of quiet I had there.
June 9 Tuesday: In the morning a letter came from Heath. So one protest is not necessary. Then Bob Doyle appeared and said Harold Wilson had told the newspaper proprietors to improve their offer. But he still thought the threatened strike was going to take place [ie. a strike by building workers, many of them Irish, in protest at Government policy in Northern Ireland].
At about 6 pm. Sean Redmond and Peter Mulligan came. The letter that had come from Edward Heath promised to look after the safety of “persons and property” and admitted the responsibility of the British Government. So we would not picket both headquarters at Smith Square and Sean hastily changed all the posters. Then we took a taxi there. Soon the Press Association and the Irish Times were there taking photographs. Pat Hensey, Charlie Cunningham, Pat O’Donohue, Pegeen O’Flaherty and some from South London appeared. I went into the Conservative Office, the police inspector having told me he had notified them of the picket, and told them that we were only picketing Labour. They were most gracious.
I left them there and went to the Irish Club. I had not been told the time of the meeting by MacDermott, but when I got there found it was 8.30 and not 8 as I had supposed. Madge Davidson [Belfast NICRA activist and CPI member] was in the bar but I did not go there with them, following my rule never to touch drink before speaking. They asked me to be the first speaker. I was not too pleased but decided on a “key-note” speech which drew much applause. I was followed by Madge Davidson. She is not the girl Ann Hope is [Ann Hope, Belfast NICRA activist]. Incidentally, she told me that Ann Hope, who is a descendent of James Hope, was not as I supposed Protestant, but devoutly Catholic. “Somebody got the soup out”, said Madge. “In reverse,” I rejoined. She read her speech. Then Dermot Kelly – who read his speech and was woeful. He is the Vice President of London NICRA. There were about 60 people there, many of them typical Irish Club characters. I believe NICRA got the room free. Next came Dominic Donnelly of the United Irish Association. He had introduced himself to me at the start, and eyed me somewhat reprovingly, more in sorrow than in anger. But I had set the tone. He had to express agreement with points I had made. For I had offered a policy for every object that anybody present was likely to have. He praised McAteer [Eddie McAteer, the Northern Ireland Nationalist Party leader] and was interrupted. My success was complete. The show was stolen, and Pegeen O’Flaherty, Pat O’Donohue, Charlie Cunningham, Pat Hensey and others present were not needed. I was never so strongly impressed with the convincing quality of our policy if we can get it over. [At this time Greaves was pushing his conception of a Bill of Rights for Northern Ireland to be legislated at Westminster as an alternative to having an unreformed Stormont on the one hand and the call for “direct rule” from London on the other.]
Incidentally Peter Mulligan was not there. He had on Jane Tate’s advice checked on the availability of a book that all the members would sign and present to Joe Deighan and Dorothy on his departure. The cost was to be £2. Somewhat against Jane Tate’s advice and his own better judgement he rang Dorothy to see if they had it. She made herself quite unpleasant. She didn’t want a book. She wanted Waterford glass. So poor Peter had to fork out five guineas from the branch funds to satisfy the lady. To her it was a “present”, not a memorial of work done, and she had no interest in the signatures of the members because she regarded them with contempt. I am not sorry they are going. A pity they ever came to London.
Though Charlie Cunningham and Pat Hensey wanted to go to another bar I persuaded them to stay and mix with the company. Gerard Harrington was there taking pictures. I met McDermott’s wife who is from Kerry and received the Democrat from Mrs Rice when it was sent to her in Kerry years ago. Mrs Rice was her aunt. I mentioned Molly Downes and she had heard of her often. There was a young man in the audience I remarked as soberer than some in his hairstyle. He introduced himself as Roland Kennedy, spoke of “doing anything we wanted” but spoke of cooperating with Davoren and Lawless [leaders of different Trotskyist groups in London; Gery Lawless. 1936-2012]. I said we would not. McDermott then spoke of unity between the Connolly Association and the United Irish Association as the main organisations in England and that he regarded NICRA as the ”catalyst”.
As Brendan McGill [Leading figure in the Official IRA-oriented Clann na hEireann] flitted through the shadows I asked McDermott what wing of the Republicans he favoured. It was point blank and others present. He said he favoured the “Provisionals” but was “trying to bring the two sides together”. At that minute I judge McGill was saying frankly to Charlie Cunningham that he was trying to split London NICRA and that McDermott had (though he didn’t know it) already been “expelled out of Sinn Fein”[ie. Provisional Sinn Fein] for speaking with Tom Gill [ie.Tomás Mac Giolla of “Official” Sinn Fein] in Trafalgar Square on Sunday, where Davoren and Lawless were in evidence. A man from the Highbury branch of NICRA said they had been discussing whether NICRA should exist in London at all, and he was thinking of joining the Connolly Association.
June 10 Wednesday (Coventry): I was in the office at 7.15 am. When the post came a letter came from Sussex. I had seen on the table an address of George Whittenbury. I thought that Pat Bond had been in touch with him. So I had written to ask if he was the George Whittenbury who was at Manchester in 1934 and 1935. The letter said that he was. Strange, I was telling young Pat Devine about him and Anne Frankenberg a few weeks ago. He was a teacher until he reached the age of 60 and retired. Then because the CP could not afford an organiser, he has taken the job on a voluntary basis.
A woman from Berlin University called and told me that Engels (and Marx too) had considerable contact in Liverpool, and that Engels’s Irish connections were mostly in Liverpool, not Manchester, and that Marx’s councils to the International went from there. I had never heard this before. She wants articles on Ireland and is issuing a book on revolutionary poetry to be published by Lawrence and Wishart.
Then I went to Coventry. There were no newspapers to read, and the train went through Northampton. Though it was late, Pat Powell was waiting for me and I had tea at his house. At 7.30 Brendan Caulfield took me to the hall. There were about 50 present and Maurice Edelman [1911-1975, Coventry Labour MP] opened after the chairman (the secretary of the Trades Council) had introduced him. He was smooth, smiling, complacent, unctuous and empty. After him a lecturer in Economics spoke – Johnston. He was factual but uninspired. I spoke last and let them have it at full blast. John Hewitt [1907-1987, Northern Ireland poet] was in the audience shaking his head, appalled by the strong measures being advocated. But it brought the roof down. Pat Powell said afterwards there was a “sitting down standing ovation”, by which he meant that the applause was long and loud. So here is another indication of the opportunity. But where are the leaders?
June 11 Thursday (Liverpool): I left Coventry early and came to Liverpool. The peonies had failed, the lilac was brown, the laburnum falling. But the roses were dazzling, and the bed of chives was superb. I spent a good part of the day carrying water to the parched earth, which was as well as the promised resolutions did not arrive. It continued hot and dry [Desmond Greaves had a degree in Botany and was an enthusiastic gardener, seeking to grow as much of his own food as possible in the garden of his house at Prenton, Birkenhead].
I was thinking of what Pat Powell told me yesterday and this morning. He says that after my policy statement on the Blaney affair [ie. the trial in May 1970 of Irish Government Ministers Neil Blaney and Charles Haughey on charges of illegally importing arms for use by the IRA in Northern Ireland; they were acquitted] there was a big change on the attitude of the Social Justice branch who saw the connection between civil rights and partition [This was one of a number of British support groups for the Dungannon-based Campaign for Social Justice, led by Patricia and Conn McCluskey]. He thought they were moving towards the Connolly Association. In Birmingham this would be less so. McDowell was disinclined to theorise. Too many people were “breathing down his neck”, he told Pat. I conclude that to mean that his associations with priests, publicans, contractors, dance-hall proprietors and labour only residents has widened the scope of the movement but made it less independent. On the other hand he says most of the work is done by Henry and old MacNally. As for the people of Coventry, they are earning £40 and more a week, often several working in one family. But he surmises that not one of them has a penny put by. As soon as they can afford a new car they buy one. They change the furniture in their houses every year or two. Nothing they buy is durable. And every weekend the whole family goes out on a magnificent drinking expedition.
June 12 Friday (London): I returned to London. When I reached the office Sean Redmond was there and we surveyed the scene briefly after Joe Deighan’s departure. We agreed there will be no success in the branch till Pat Hensey is replaced as secretary. But who will do it? Peter Mulligan is erratic and we want him for the books. Charlie Cunningham is more responsible, but pessimistic. Pat O’Donohue has good qualities but is politically undeveloped. I suggested a joint session of the Standing Committee and the Books Committee to try to work out a plan. The good training of the youngest members would produce a generation free from Joe Deighan’s quirks and idiosyncrasies. That is, until they get some of their own!
I was out with Jane Tate [An English member of the Connolly Association, who remained involved in it for decades; she worked as a secretary in University College London]. There was a good response to my appeal to avail to the utmost of the newspaper strike. Several were out more than usual. Jane told me that Pat Hensey had explained that he has personal difficulties. He lives with his sister and brother-in-law. The sister’s marriage has broken up and a judicial separation has been obtained on grounds of persistent cruelty. A divorce is pending. Naturally Pat has not been able to give of his best. The question is will it or can it improve.
In reply to my appeal for funds to keep the Irish Democrat going, Tom Cox sent fifteen dollars from New York. He said the economic crisis in the USA had bit hard and many of our friends had felt it.
June 13 Saturday (Liverpool): I was in the office at about 9.15 am. and found a letter from his daughter to say that Ben Owens died on the 6th of a stroke, suddenly and painlessly [He had been one of the founders of the Connolly Club in 1938]. I was very sorry to hear it. He was eighty-one, but still, what of that? Fiona rang to say she has finished the work as far as I supplied. So there is a dual reason for a quick trip to Liverpool which I did not intend to make till Thursday, as my notes of Ben Owens’s life story are there. Unless I can “leave a spare” and post the manuscript.
Into the office came Pat Hensey, Charlie Cunningham, Jim Kelly, Jane Tate and Pat O’Donohue. There was no Sean Redmond and Jane Tate noted how under pressure from Susan and perhaps his trade union job he comes in less and less, does the work for Trafalgar Square at home, and could never have continued as General Secretary. But I saw Wednesday’s Irish Times. It was he (in his capacity as press and publicity officer) who interviewed the reporter. I am described as “Vice-President”of the CA, which I am not. He cannot bear to admit he is not secretary! Dorothy Deighan also came in and handed over the keys. Jane Tate, incidentally, felt as I did over Dorothy’s behaviour. But she “means well” and she is going. I was out with Pegeen O’Flaherty in the evening.
June 14 Sunday: I spent most of the day in the office. In the evening I was with Peter Mulligan in Holloway. There is a marked reduction in our sales. Partly it is the virtual disappearance of regular public transport; also partly the dispersal of the Irish. There are also now numerous competitors, mostly Trotsky, and I am not sure that the Civil Rights is not too tolerant of them. But I too have hesitated before taking a lump off them.
June 15 Monday (Liverpool): I had a telephone call from Fiona saying she had no more work to do, so made a flying trip to Liverpool to get the chapters I had left there. This was expensive, but she wants to get to Dublin.
June 16 Tuesday (London): I concluded some chapters, then took the 2.30 to London. The “Irish Democrat” meeting was in the evening – Peter Mulligan, Charlie Cunningham, Jim Kelly, Pat O’Donohue, Pat Bond, but no Toni Curran. The sales position is disastrous, and Toni takes so little interest that we have not been warned of the financial consequences. I proposed finally abandoning the idea that the paper can run without a subsidy and set to work raising the subsidy. In the discussion that followed Peter Mulligan and Pat O’Donohue were consistently positive, Pat Bond and Charle Cunningham willing to work hard but lacking the slightest element of vision, and Jim Kelly completely negative, even destructive. A girl Pat Bond was to have got to do the books for Peter Mulligan (who is going to take over the book department) did not put in an appearance. He has absolutely no judgement and trusts the most inconceivable bums, lends them money, and is let down time and again, the process teaching him nothing but a bewildered mental hesitation which is applied to nothing concrete but everything that involves thought. I told him that if she wouldn‘t come to her first meeting we should not touch her with a barge pole. I’m not going to have Peter Mulligan’s time wasted. Pat O’Donohue agreed to do the work till somebody was found.
June 17 Wednesday: I was in the office in the morning. There was a branch meeting in the evening which we converted halfway through into a “working meeting” and got two new members. This had been one of Peter Mulligan’s proposals a couple of years ago when he had a quarrel with Jim Kelly and took a scunder over Sean Redmond’s methods of leadership.
June 18 Thursday: I went to vote soon after 8 am. I went without enthusiasm. I had promised Lena Jeger to vote for her if she opposed the Common Market and she defied the whip. But in her manifesto she had inserted an escape clause. She was opposed to entering the EEC “in its present form”. I also reflected that helping that rat Wilson back to power was just permissible when the alternative was a load of skunks. At the same time, bad as he is, I prefer Heath personally to Wilson. He is not so vain. Anyway I voted for her, and then went to the office [This was UK General election day, in which Labour was defeated and Ian Paisley was elected to Westminster.]
June 19 Friday: I went out about 9 am. and found the Conservatives were winning. That is because other voters felt as I did about Labour but did not compel themselves to vote. So the egregious bag of vanity is toppled. The confidence trickster was tricked by the opinion polls. Never was an eclipse so deserved. And I am told it was a complete surprise to him. I worked on the paper. [Edward Heath’s Conservatives defeated Harold Wilson’s Labour Party in the June 1970 general election and replaced it in government. The change led to a harder military and policing line in Northern Ireland and the British Government becoming more sympathetic to Unionist political positions. It also meant that whatever chance there might have been of Labour adopting the Bill of Rights policy, a Conservative Government was much less likely to. Heath’s main political goal was that the UK should join the EEC.]
June 20 Saturday (Liverpool/Glasgow): Yesterday Gerry Curran rang up to say Toni Curran was coming to the office. She came and seemed a little more interested. I went to Liverpool. Today I found there was no sleeper to Glasgow and had to catch the evening train. Everything went wrong. I missed McGinley at Central and had to stay at Duncan’s Hotel.
June 21 Sunday (Glasgow/Liverpool): I went out to McGinley’s and later went to the meeting. None of the Clann na hEireann element were there. I think they boycotted it. But McGinley said it was sheer incompetence. Sometimes he would call a meeting and be the only one there. He is an extremely able intelligent man, but it was only now I grasped that he lacks political intuition. And this is also lack of imagination. There is no vision of what could be accomplished. And only its complete absence everywhere prevents its being done. As sleepers have been abolished except from and to London, I had to take the evening train to Liverpool.
June 22 Monday: I spoke to Sean Redmond on the phone. I am afraid he is not doing all that should be done for the July 12 meeting [ie. the annual Connolly Association rally in Trafalgar Square, usually held on a date close to “Wolfe Tone Sunday” at the end of June]. Presumably in response to Susan’s prompting he is taking things home, or rather keeping things at home. So it was merciful he has only a part of the work in his power. I represented that after the election a different approach was needed. I got Peter Mulligan to agree to speak and Sean said he would ask Jack Bennett [Bennett was a journalist on the “Belfast Telegraph” and an old friend of Greaves’s; he was writer of the “Claud Gordon” column in the weekly “Sunday Press”, which was influential in Northern Ireland nationalist circles in the 1960s, and a member of the Belfast Wolfe Tone Society]. I spoke to Bill Jones also who was very friendly but already engaged. And I failed to get Frank McManus [recently elected Independent Nationalist MP for Fermanagh-South Tyrone].
In the evening I spoke to a meeting of the Jewish Graduates Association. They meet sixty strong in the Great Northern Hotel [by King’s Cross/St. Pancras Station] – it seems to be quite a place for “respectable” meetings. There were quite a few questions and the atmosphere was friendly.
I had a conversation with Pat Powell over the telephone. There are several of the boys in Coventry who want to join the Connolly Association and they are putting up their Democrat sales to 50. He told me that at the Lenin Centenary meeting held by the Communist Party in Birmingham, both Henry and McNally were prominent, even taking the collection. I remarked, “That is Harry Bourne.”[Former Manchester CPGB organiser] “Oh no”, he said, “He’s in the East Midlands. The two organisers fell out [ie.as CPGB organisers], so he was sent there.” I remember John Peck complaining to me that Westacott was not cooperating with him and would only work in Mansfield. He had wanted to be District Secretary. Pat Powell on the other hand declined to sign Hosey’s nomination papers [ie. for standing as a CPGB candidate in the recent general election]. There was some disapproval, but not from Hosey himself. I thought of poor Brian Wilkinson with his few hundred votes! I would not be surprised if in Birmingham they ended with nothing. If ever we get starting a Connolly Association there I will hoist McNally with his own petard [Joe McNally was a rather erratic CA member in Birmingham who had several sons]. He has refused to support the CA as it was “looked upon as Communist”. I will object to him on the grounds that his joining it would confirm that impression. It would be poetic justice. But the real reason would be that he is utterly irresponsible and a fool.
June 23 Tuesday (Liverpool): I telephoned Ripley and he said he had the paper ready. When I got there he kept out of my way but as I left assured me that he would “have a look” at the papers before they were dispatched. Perhaps he regrets his ultimatum as we have put our Trafalgar Square printing to Columbia Press. Not that it was anybody’s fault but Toni Curran’s, who missed a month from sheer forgetfulness.
Then I came on to Liverpool. The train was late and when I arrived at the branch meeting Barney Morgan was sitting in the chair. The refreshing thing was that the “New Left” element was completely absent. But there was one new man whose address Brian Stowell did not obtain! So Clann na hEireann boycotted Glasgow, the Leftists Liverpool. No great matter. I think they conclude there is nothing for them in the CA. I trust not. Barney Morgan was less cynical.
June 24 Wednesday: I did work in the garden – badly needed – and revised one or two of Fiona’s typescript chapters. It is interesting that despite the rain over the weekend, the ground is dry below two inches of depth. Always the excess!
June 25 Thursday: I read up to the end of the tenth chapter, and decided to return to London tomorrow, and take the text to Fiona.
June 26 Friday (London): I arrived in London by about 5.30 but missed Sean Redmond who called in to the office. All he does now is to call in before the Wednesday meeting and before the Friday sale. Heaven knows how this demonstration will go, unless of course the time of year helps out. Of course I think he does some work at home. If Susan does not get him out of politics, I will be very surprised. If I had weakly let him remain General Secretary the position would have been impossible. I was out in the evening with Sean, whom I met later.
June 27 Saturday: I was in the office early. Then in the afternoon the usual people came in, Charlie Cunningham, Jim Kelly, Pat Hensey, Pat O’Donohue and others. They had a meeting to protest against the arrest of Bernadette Devlin in Kentish Town. Then four Civil Rights (the Social Justice people have so renamed themselves) came from Manchester, Frank Duffy (back in Manchester), Anne O’Doherty, and a new young man, Michael McAuley, who is the Secretary. Michael Brennan has resigned and came separately by train. So there is some rift in the lot. I wonder what we will hear. Then I was out with Pat Cronin and Tony Donaghey of Buncrana – a very intelligent young man of about 27, hampered by a slight lameness. There was a great atmosphere of excitement, especially when news of the shootings in Belfast came over the radio. The whole situation seems to be out of control. Crisis of Stormont is the word. But what next? Crown Colony Government? Needless to say we sold all our papers out. And also, needless to say, there was plenty of wild talk[On that weekend the Heath Government, anxious to sustain the Unionist Government in Belfast, permitted sectarian Orange parades through the Ardoyne and Ballymurphy areas of Belfast, where some of the worst violence had occurred in August 1969. Riots and gun battles followed, including in the Short Strand area, which the Republicans successfully defended. This hugely boosted the standing of the recently formed Provisional IRA].
June 28 Sunday: I was in the office early. The papers carried reports of the disturbances in Belfast. Sean Redmond rang between 11 am. and 12 and seemed somewhat re-animated by the news. He came down at about ten to one. Michael Crowe arrived from Sunderland, his hair flowing like a musician’s so that his head was lost in it, but sane and sober as usual, if still absent-minded on details. Soon afterwards Tom McDowell from Birmingham arrived with another (very sensible) man. And CN [Full name not known] from Coventry. There was no sign of any of the eight from Manchester, and we started the meeting without them. They arrived nearly half and hour later, John Clarke the Englishman – bullet-headed, competent, and without a doubt somebody’s agent, I thought – Brennan and a new bit of fluff presumably attached to Brennan, who was somewhat subdued. We learned from Tom McDowell that Brennan was notorious for joining one thing after another. He had been a fanatical Legion of Mary man [The Catholic Sodality] when he first came to Manchester from Kilkenny. Now he is up to the neck with the “International Socialists”.
We quite easily decided to postpone the presentation of the petition. I had drawn up a five-point statement. The last point moved towards ending partition. If they accepted it, well and good; if not the need for the Connolly Association was re-emphasized. And I did not press it one second but withdrew it at once when Clarke objected. The other five Manchesters had gone on one of the two demonstrations to leave Hyde Park this afternoon. One was the “Irish Civil Rights Solidarity Movement” the other the “James Stevens (sic) Republican Club”. Sean Redmond had secured a duplicated leaflet from Terry Reynolds [ie.of Ripley Printers].
Alf Ward from Oxford drove myself, Tom McDowell, CN, the other Birmingham man and Michael Crowe to Hyde Park. Pat Bond and Charlie Cunningham had been there, but Pat Hensey and Robbie Rossiter had joined them and Pat Devine was on the platform with Gloria alongside [Pat Devine was a CPGB veteran who wrote a monthly column on international affairs for the “Irish Democrat”. Gloria Devine was his wife]. There had been two marches and it was reported that there had been five arrests at the Ulster Office, whither the other Manchesters had repaired. [That weekend’s papers were full of news of the Belfast disturbances.] Apparently Davoren and Lawless could not agree as to where they should go[These were leading lights in different Trotskyist groups. Gery Lawless, 1936-2012, became a Trotskyist in 1957 while interned in the Curragh. He helped found the Irish Workers’ Group in London in the mid-1960s. Among its members were Eamon McCann, who was later active in his native Derry, and People’s Democracy leader Michael Farrell]. Robbie Rossiter told me that Pat Devine had been very upset that the Connolly Association had not marched off with them. His speech was fulsome in its praise for Bernadette Devlin, “this wonderful girl” and so on, as if this justified following the lead of those two hoodlums [Bernadette Devlin, born 1947, elected as a “unity” MP for mid-Ulster in a by-election in 1969 at the age of 21, the youngest person ever to be elected to the House of common up to that time; re-elected in the 1970 general election; lost her seat in 1974]. “The people who have followed them are not Trotskies,” said Devine. But Pat Bond would not budge, and there was a huge meeting. I said a few words myself at the end and Sean Redmond, who had duplicated the statement, brought it along. He looked after the literature sales, which were good.
I went to the office. At about 7.30 Anne Doherty appeared with McAuley, the colourless individual who is now secretary. They have changed the name to Irish Civil Rights Association to leave them free to deal with the 26 Counties – one can see the creeping Trotskyist influence [ie.through the desire to intervene in the Republic, something that could not practically be done by people living in another State]. She was in a most excited state. After the excitement of the march and the sit-down, they had gone to the back of Downing Street to get her car. McCluskey had picked up a stone and hurled it through the window of No.10. He was of course arrested, and what were they to do? I rang up Cannon Row and ascertained that he comes up at Bow Street tomorrow and secured the agreement of the officer in charge to allow them to see him. They went down and came back after seeing him. I read them a most severe lecture on indiscipline and stupidity, which I hope had some effect, though I very much doubt it. As for Frank Duffy and the others she was to drive to Manchester, they simply did not appear. It struck me that we should heed the complaint of Clarke about the long way it is to London, and hold the meetings [ie.of the Coordinating Committee for the Bill of Rights petition] in a safer place.
June 29 Monday (Liverpool): I debated in my mind whether to go to Bow Street or not and despite the fact that I wanted to go to Liverpool I decided to do so. The time given me was 9 am. I went into the office, for the mail, then got down there by about 8.55 am. I asked a policeman where was the magistrate’s court and he showed me. “But he’s not there yet. He hasn’t arrived,” he explained. At about 9.30 after walking round Covent Garden, I returned and found a Dublin man there. He had been in Hyde Park yesterday. People say he sells the United Irishman [ie. the monthly paper of the Goulding-led “Official” IRA/Sinn] at the GPO. He does not live here. He told me there had been 28 arrests yesterday. The thought crossed my mind that some spectacular event may be in preparation, and that the link between Goulding and the Trotiskies may come from the fact that Lawless and Davoren are mad enough for anything. I wondered what they would be up to next. I made an excuse to leave the man and went for coffee. About 9.50 I saw him again from a distance when I returned from coffee – but I did not advance to the courthouse door. The Dublin man was still there. Around the doors were groups of young men in pink jeans and similar garb. I did not want to be associated with them, so I went to 16 King Street [the CPGB Head Office, in Covent Garden, which was nearby].
There I found Jack Woddis was on holiday – a letter had arrived saying that I had been booked to speak to the International Affairs Committee on Friday July 10. I had told him I could not do this [Woddis was a leading CPGB authority on national and colonial questions]. And Joan Bellamy was away also. So there was a fine pickle. Tony McNally [Leading light in the Young Communist League (YCL), son of Joe McNally of Birmingham] was there, and another lad. This youngster thought we should call the Irish out on strike, such was their temper. I demurred. “If we won’t do it somebody else will,” he said. “And it will be a success.” I said that that aspect of it was worthy of consideration. McNally said the difficulty was that the English workers would be annoyed at losing time from an Irish stoppage. I was of the opinion, I told him, that we could think up some way – for example to take the last hour off work to go and lobby. And as I went back to Bow Street I formed the intention of calling a lobby for tomorrow week and getting people to leave work to go to it.
When I reached Bow Street, the oddities had disappeared – presumably into the Tundish [a public house] that faced the clock. Suddenly I saw Duffy coming towards me. He had been arrested. He had been carrying the flag – how he came to get it I did not ask – after all was over a policeman tried to pull it and, said Duffy, “I saw red and let him have it with the pole.” So he was charged with possession of an offensive weapon, the flagpole, and assaulting the police. But he was allowed bail. I told him to plead not guilty, reserve his defence and say nothing. He told me he had gone to surrender to bail and should really be locked up in the room opposite but that I had come in when the policeman had temporarily left the door and he had seized the moment to come out. I told him I would get a solicitor for defence.
I returned to the office and rang Seifert. He agreed to take on the case. Then I typed instructions for the two defendants and took them back to Bow Street. I found no sign of them – presumably they were back in the room. I spoke to a policeman who proved very friendly – he was Irish, I think. He agreed to take in the name of the solicitor. He told me McCloskey had been dealt with – two months suspended sentence and suggested I go into court to hear Duffy. Indeed, he cleared a space for me to sit. I did not go to the press benches as I did not want to stay. Duffy soon came up. He said he wished for a remand so as to be legally represented, and so he comes up again on the 27th of July.
I then brought him up to the office, made an appointment for him with Seifert, and was rather relieved when he went off to Manchester. At the court I momentarily saw McCluskey. I drew the conclusion that he was a stupid person, though it is very understandable that people who have no rights at all should behave as he did. “If it was six months and I served it, it would be worth it,” he said. So the oppressed are driven beyond rational opposition.
I rang Sean Redmond and we decided on an emergency conference on Sunday and a lobby on the Tuesday. But scarcely had we rung off when Bill Dunne came on the line [CPGB industrial organiser in London]. He had Jack Henry with him [a leading trade unionist in the building trade], and they were proposing a strike. I told them about the proposal for a lobby, with time taken off work, and they answered that they had a proposal they thought better. The Sedley’s site stewards would ask for a half day’s stoppage this Friday. I immediately agreed to this and helped Dunn to draft the demands they would make and gave him a list of possible speakers. I then wrote to Jack Henry offering to speak myself. Then Ann Doherty rang from Manchester and I told her about Duffy. Then at last I came to Liverpool on the 6.30 train!
June 30 Tuesday: I spent the whole day reading and corrected Fiona’s typescript. The weather seems to have broken here. There has been much rain and it is cool.
July 1 Wednesday (London): I finished all but one chapter and took the 2.30 to London and found Sean Redmond in the office in reasonable good form. I addressed the branch meeting and there were four new members. Among those present were Sean, Charlie Cunningham, Pat Hensey, Jim Kelly, Pat O’Donohue and a Protestant from Belfast of Unionist extraction named Brian Wheeler. There was a phone call from Bill Dunn, who thinks all is going well.
July 2 Thursday: Again Bill Dunne was on the line. The plans for the strike were going well. Jack Henry came in and I duplicated some leaflets for them. Henry is doing all the work and complains of the laziness of some of the others – Cassidy included [a leading trade unionist in the construction industry]. Cassidy has spent most of the day in the pub. Freda Morton rang up and asked if Alisoun could come and look for Irish language books [respectively wife and daughter of Greaves’s friend Alan Morton]. She came in, a somewhat demure Miss who speaks so quietly that you can’t hear what she says – especially when Jack Henry was on the phone, talking loudly and with colourful language.
It is interesting how history dictates what men do. Jack Henry had tackled one ultra-left shop-steward, “I’m as big a socialist as you”. “Yes, but are you stopping the fucking job?” In the end he said he would. Now because a strike was possible, somebody would call it. The only latitude given consciousness was that the first to realise this called it rather than somebody else [This strike of building and construction workers was proposed to protest at events in Belfast. Very many such workers were Irish].
In the evening Sean Redmond came to do work on the demonstration. It was only 8.30 when Susan Redmond was ringing asking when he would be home – I remember the same process operating on Eamon MacLoughlin by Barbara – who indeed turned up and did some work while constantly chattering. Sean Redmond was firm and stayed till 10 pm. But I doubt he will ever organise another big event. Pat O’Donohue came and a wee girl called Geraldine Curlew, also Pat O’Donovan. The result was that Sean got a substantial part of his clerical work done, which was very good. Toni Curran said she had enough to pay post, printer and myself, and leave nothing!
July 3 Friday: I was in the office soon after 8 am. There was difficulty in making contact with Cassidy. I discovered that his line – maintained by the management to facilitate his shop-steward activities – had been cut off! He was not going to be allowed to organise political strikes with it. Charlie Cunningham came in and he consented to act as manager and brought a man from the Sunley site to pick up our platform. [This was the weekend of the “Falls curfew” in Belfast, when the British army cordoned off the Falls Road area and initiated mass searches of houses, wrecking many and leading to gun battles between the Officials and Provisionals on one side and the British Army on the other.]
At the park were Pat Bond, Charlie Cunningham, Eamon MacLoughlin, Elsie O’Dowling and several other members. About a thousand men assembled and there were several Union banners. The speakers were Hugh Cassidy, Jack Henry, George Anthony of the AEU, Bob Doyle (the very same man!) of SOGAT [Society of Graphical and Allied Trades] and myself. There was great enthusiasm. After the meeting we all walked to Victoria and then Cassidy and five others, including myself, went to the Home Office and handed in a letter. A somewhat flustered junior official took it. He didn’t know how to talk to the workers. He began talking and bowing like a pendulum, sticking his backside in and out. “Who are we speaking to?” asked a shop-steward curtly. “Oh – I’m an official of the Ministry. My name is Langland.” He did a bit more bowing, but finally straightened up and finally told us he would see we got a reply. The rest of the boys had meanwhile gone to the Commons to lobby.
July 4 Saturday: I did not go into the office till about 8.45 am., looked at the mail, then went to Golders Green to the Pollitt Ten Year Commemoration meeting [Harry Pollitt,1890-1960, CPGB General Secretary for many years]. Marjorie was there, on a visit from Australia [Mrs Pollitt,1902-1991, founder member of the CPGB in 1920; married Harry Pollitt in 1925]. On the train I met Pat and Gloria Devine and Klugman [James Klugman, 1912-1977]. He told me he suffers severely from asthma and finds it hard to walk. Indeed, it was a gathering of septuagenarians. It was surprising to find how differently they had worn. Thus Kerrigan [Peter Kerrigan, 1899-1977] was as sprightly as a youngster. Jack Cohen [1906-1982] was hale and hearty. Palme Dutt [1896-1974] arrived at the end, his face bloated and brown, and the unmistakeable mark of death upon him. He was virtually crippled, though on his feet and using a stick. I had a few words with him. “First day out,” he mumbled cheerfully as if he was on his way to a rapid recovery. Idris Cox [1899-1989] was there, looking very well, and more cheerful since his retirement [These were all leading CPGB figures whom Greaves had got to know since he joined that party in 1934]. He writes articles, has just finished a book and pays more attention to his garden. Gollan [John Gollan, 1911-1977, CPGB General Secretary] and Kerrigan spoke, and the ceremony was pleasant enough. I was not sure all the praises lavished on Pollitt were unbalanceable by contrary observations, but this was not the time to do the balancing. For Pollitt’s besetting sin was vanity, and it seems to be the thing that gets all of them – not so much Gollan as he has had (through no fault of his own) less success.
I went into the office and found Sean Redmond, later to be joined by Michael Keane, Jim Kelly, Pat Hensey, Charlie Cunningham and others. They went to have a poster parade in Kilburn and I believe it was a success. There has been much favourable comment over yesterday’s strike. I rang Jack Bennett. He told me that British forces had gone through the Falls Road with a fine toothcomb and the people are now defenceless. “This is surely a set-back to the policy of the Provisionals,” I remarked. “Not a bit of it,” he said. “The stuff captured all belongs to Goulding’s men and the others will be pleased.” Tomorrow that ignorant demagogue Davoren [An independent Irish speaker in Hyde Park] leads a demonstration to demand “People’s War” – I wonder what he proposes to fight it with, if he has descended from the clouds to consider that point.
In the evening Sean Redmond and I went to Camden and Holloway and sold out by 10.15. There was a widespread feeling that we were in some kind of danger and donations and sympathetic comments were given us wherever we went. I found I had about 14/- in excess of the sales money, all in shillings and sixpences. Last night it was similar. After the cool day the weather improved. It came over very warm, though drizzly, in the evening. So I hope it is taking up.
July 5 Sunday: Another heavy day. I was in the office by 9 am. Largely in order to pre-empt a position I had invited representatives of Irish organisations to meet this morning. This was about Monday last when we did not know what would develop. It was as well that we did. Two lads from south London CA came, one from Clann na hEireann, Dermot Kelly from NICRA and CDU, Patrick Loftus and one or two more. The four main bodies being represented, we got out a joint statement which Sean Redmond duplicated and I spent the afternoon taking round the press, finally ending at Hyde Park.
As the bus went up Regent Street I saw a procession headed by an Irish flag. It was the Davoren Trotskies. I was very pleased to see the numbers were so modest, though they were making plenty of noise. I thought about 100, apart from English anarchist banners with two or three people behind each. We had a very large and attentive meeting at which Pat Hensey, Sean Redmond and myself spoke. The sales were good everywhere and Jim Kelly’s morale improved. Charlie Cunningham was there, Jane Tate back from holiday, and many of our regular supporters. There was much talk about the strike and general satisfaction. We have to some extent recovered the initiative but, as Sean Redmond says, the strength of the “International Socialist” Trotskies is too great. Sean thinks they are second in influence only to ourselves but adds that their following is largely English. In other words it is not the Irish but the “solidarity” movement that they are wrecking.
In the evening I wrote letters to Trade Unionists trying to get banners. I had the idea that we should prepare contingency plans for a really key strike, such as I had thought of after seeing the youngsters, and wrote to Jack Henry asking him to ring me on Thursday. Jane Tate told me that in Northumberland, where she has been, the farmers were prosperous, but the fishermen are being beggared by pollution. And around Argyle Square the greatest annual tide of tourist shit I ever saw brings a different kind of pollution.
July 6 Monday (Liverpool): I went into the office at about 7.0 am. and worked steadily through things till 5.30 pm. I circularized MPs asking signatures on a statement. I think I should get some. And realising that there will not be many papers left, I had the idea of finishing this issue in four weeks and bringing out a special to run too on “The Battle of Belfast”[The “Irish Democrat” monthly was normally eight pages. The occasional “special” edition ran to twelve.] Since the Buxton Rotary Club were paying my first-class fair to Manchester, I travelled to Liverpool on the Pullman. The rolling stock is very superior, completely quiet. But the service is starchy, except for the conductor, a Dublin man.
July 7 Tuesday: I did some work in the garden, badly needed. There is no sign of Mrs Phillips[a local lady who came occasionally to tidy the house at 124 Mount Road, whom Greaves had “inherited” from his sister’s time there]. And in the afternoon I went for a cycle ride to Brimstage. The destruction as a result of the motorway is not yet as bad as I expected.
July 8 Wednesday (London): I re-wrote part of chapter XVII [ie.of his biography of Liam Mellows], to incorporate information from Mrs Twomey and Madge Clifford, and posted it to Fiona [Mrs Fiona Connolly-Edwards, who was typing the MS]. Now the job is almost finished. Then I went to Manchester and Buxton. The “Palace Hotel” is a large residential, well-appointed hotel standing in its own grounds. The train was late, but I met Mr Huntley, programme secretary of the Rotary Club, who had invited me to speak. After coffee – I declined a drink – we went to dinner where the chairman was a local Doctor who had graduated at Liverpool around 1939-40. I had imagined on meeting him that he was older than I, but perhaps my eyes begin to deceive me. I remember Mary Greaves [a paternal aunt] when she was 80 referring to a woman of 70 as “that old woman”. Huntley is a local solicitor with a Manchester office, specialising in commercial law, and a member of the Labour Party. I did not ask who told him about the CA, but suspect it may have been Peter Jackson, who has just lost the seat to an extreme Conservative [Peter Jackson, 1928-2020, Labour MP for High Peake, Derbyshire]. Huntley is very much a local leader. He is the coroner, and his agitation saved the railway line against all expectations, so that he was made a freeman of the borough. He is very proud of Buxton, though I fancy he is a Londoner, educated under Laski at LSE, his political mentor having been John McMurray. He was extraordinarily attentive, got the hotel people to squash out oranges, and acted the perfect host. The gathering was composed mostly of local doctors and businessmen. The impression I had was that there was a very large area of agreement, and no great antipathy to the idea of a United Ireland, but some of them hankered after the restoration of the UK, others after federation with the EEC. Finally, I went to Manchester and got on the sleeper to London.
July 9 Thursday: I was in the office by 8.15 am. and noted that 20 applications for CA membership had arrived during my absence. But there were only about 80 “Democrats” left. Bill Dunn and Wayne Jenkins (Cardiff) had been telephoning, the latter about a meeting in Cardiff on Saturday. I phoned Bert Pearce and agreed to go [Bert Pearce, 1919-2002, was Welsh organiser for the CPGB and a supporter of devolution for Wales. He had earlier been organiser in Birmingham, as Dunn also had been]. It is called by a loose committee of the Irish Club, Plaid Cymru, Labour Party and CP. I told him this is better than Brian Wilkinson’s development based on an “Irish Socialist Party in Wales”, though Wilkinson means well. Wilkinson felt that the CA should push itself to the forefront but in his person, while he is so identified with the CP! As for Bill Dunn, he asked if the CP could join in Sunday’s demonstration bringing banners. I said yes and confirmed it with Sean Redmond who is in charge of the demonstration. Then one of his colleagues rang about issuing a statement. Obviously he was not at home in the subject and was bogged down over the troops. He wanted to argue till I was tempted to say if you don’t accept the purpose of the demonstration, don’t come on it. But later I rang Bill Dunn and he drafted a decent statement. He commented that the greater cooperation now found in London [ie. from CPGB circles] was due to changes of personnel and was interested when I spoke of Bert Pearce. It is interesting that all the years plugging away at Birmingham with Dunn and Pearce [previous CPGB organisers in Birmingham] should bear fruit in London and Cardiff.
In the afternoon one of the South London members came in, well oiled with whiskey, and speaking of mysterious shenanigans this coming weekend. He was of the opinion that a revolution was coming. The Evening Standard spoke of an impending “shadow demonstration” this Sunday but did not explain it. Thus a mood of tension is spreading from the North. Edwina Menzies rang and said they were often up till 4 am. answering the phone at the NICRA in Belfast [Edwina Stewart, wife of Jimmy Stewart of the CPI, was a leading member of the NICRA Executive Committee in Belfast]. And indeed I did not have one minute’s respite till I left for the South London meeting in the evening.
Jack Henry called in the afternoon, and we discussed making contingency plans for a national strike [ie. of construction workers]. Sunleys would take the initiative again.
July 10 Friday: I finally decided to bring out a special edition [ie. to cover the escalating violence in Belfast and British responses to it] as this is almost sold out, and we will have hardly any for Trafalgar Square. Of course the amount of work involved is savage and I am feeling a little tired. But with luck I could make £50. I sent out a circular looking for orders. I also sent out the press statement showing the MPs’ support. In the afternoon Sean Redmond came in for a couple of hours. Tony Smythe [Secretary of the National Council for Civil Liberties] had rung and Sean told me this had arisen because he went to see him on Wednesday. Smythe is going to Belfast with his legal expert. But we neither of us knew if the MPs are going. I rang Edwina Menzies [Mrs Stewart] and asked her to have a car ready for Smythe when he arrives, as he might have to go down country. I met Idris Cox at the bank and Nan Green in Gamages. She says Paul Rose’s book has now arrived from the printers [Paul Rose,1935-2015; elected MP for Manchester Blackley in 1964; chairman of the Campaign for Democracy in Ulster; his book was on the Manchester Martyrs.] In the evening I was in Holloway with Tony Donaghey, a bright young man from Donegal, a railway guard, and originally a protégé of Joe O’Connor’s. We sold out.
July 11 Saturday: I was in the office soon after 8 am., but I left on the 2 pm. for Cardiff, where Wyn Jenkins and Louis Dare, brother of Eilish McLeod, had organised a meeting and march. I wired Brian Wilkinson but he did not meet the train. I knew the parade started at Queen’s Street Station, so I went there. I saw a group of Irishmen and introduced myself to one of them and then met Culliton – in his late thirties, stocky, not much used to political action – chairman of the Irish Club. Then I found Wyn Jenkins, a young Welshman, perhaps 25, and I judged while a communist, somewhat affected by the influences of the New Left and the romance of Irish Republicanism. Louis Dare, about 20 or even younger, a quiet enthusiastic lad, from Donegal. The chairman of the Irish Club informed me that he disliked cooperating with Communists and was having nothing to do with any ad hoc committee. But Jenkins informed me that he believed his supporters would do. Then the Welsh Nationalists arrived and I spoke with some of them.
There was no previous discussion of the procedure. I heard my name being announced when we returned to Queen’s Street after a walk round the town led by a fiddler. Wyn Jenkins said I would “represent a national angle”.
There was immediate hubbub among Plaid Cymru. “National means English.” But he quietened. I began “Mr Cadeirydd, a parchus cynulleidfa…” [“Mr Chairman, respected gathering”], and there was instant attention from the Welsh and a look of utter bewilderment from the Irish! However, I quickly turned into English as my Welsh would not sustain me for long anyway, and all was peace. Indeed my observations were very well received, and young Louis undertook to distribute the Democrat in Cardiff, a big step forward. But I doubt if Wyn Jenkins has much understanding of tactics.
July 12 Sunday: I was in the office by about 8.30 am. and drafted a comprehensive resolution for the afternoon. Then people began to arrive, first Sean Redmond, then Ann Doherty from Manchester, the boys from Coventry, the Central London members, Pat Bond, Jack Henry with his van, until there was a hive of activity. The weather was hot and dry – as Sean Redmond remarked for the thirteenth time without a break! [ie.for the annual Connolly Association Trafalgar Square demonstrations]. Surely we will be drenched off the streets some time. Pat Powell rang and said he had an intestinal disturbance and could not come. I told him to eat no food, unless he ate an apple grated up skin and all, to drink a lot of water and take a chance. To this he added a medicine of his own, a stiff glass of brandy, and he appeared in due course, just in time to lift us to the Park.
When we got there we saw the provocateur Davoren (whether a public or a private one I cannot say) with a huge platform draped with vast coloured banners and himself holding forth in fine revolutionary style. The object was no doubt to make new arrivals think this was our rallying point. We suspected he might join on our rear and try to lead a diversion. I had already duplicated a warning against diversions, which I distributed amongst the crowd. Sean Redmond had a brainwave. He decided to march off ten minutes early, which we did, to the tune of about 1,500 people. The only misfortune was that the band did not turn up.
At Trafalgar Square Jack Henry and Pat Powell proposed and seconded the resolution [in support of the demand for a Bill of Rights]. As I read each point there were whoops of approval. They could not possibly have taken it in. Then MacDermott (London NICRA) spoke, and then Edwina Menzies [representing NICRA in Belfast]. She was fiery and very effective. Robbie Rossiter lifted a collection of £305 [Rossiter was renowned in CA circles for his money-raising eloquence at the annual Trafalgar Square meetings]. I thought this would mean a profit of about £180, and this at a time when we have managed to get the Association otherwise out of debt, though not the paper. Arthur Latham the MP [1930-2016, Labour MP for Paddington] followed, then Carmody [Paddy Carmody of the CPI in Dublin] and finally Sean Redmond. When I read the resolution again it was listened to in dead silence. This time they knew what it meant. Many young people filed applications to join the CA – there were 30 last week and surely another 20 today. The resolution was passed unanimously by several thousand people.
We went to Schmidts [A well-known restaurant in Charlotte Street, off the Tottenham Court Road], then to a social evening at the Roebuck. Ken Keable and his band were there. Charlie Cunningham and I took a taxi to the office and got two copies of Doheny’s “Felon’s Track”. We got everybody to sign one and presented it to Edwina. The other we got her to sign, raffled it, and thus paid for the band. Quite a few new people were there. I did not take much drink because of the heat and forgot to bring a bottle of wine (which Alf Kearney had made me a present of) from the office. Result – no sleep till dawn.
July 13 Monday (Liverpool): I did not get into the office until 9.30. Sean Redmond who was on the phone, said he also was kept awake by heat and excitement. After doing what was essential I came to Liverpool. But I was too tired to go on to Belfast and decided to have an early night and proceed tomorrow. It is cooler here. Kay Beauchamp rang up wanting a speaker for Friday, and Jack Woddis. I think he thinks I do not consult him enough, but after some events in the autumn I am not too pleased with him, nothing much, but not to tumble over to see him.
July 14 Tuesday: I did not get a great deal done. I called into the Free Church Centre for a moment on the way to the boat. Fr Duffy was there and quite a crowd of youngsters in the audience. “Who are they?” I asked Brian Stowell. “I expect they are ‘International Socialists,’” he replied. Pat McLaughlin and Barney Morgan were there. I did not stay and caught the Ulster Queen to Belfast.
July 15 Wednesday (Belfast): I disembarked at about 8.30 am. The terminal was full of soldiers with rifles and sub-machine guns [The British Army had taken over police duties in Belfast Nationalist areas following the sectarian violence of August 1969. They were initially welcomed by the local people, but this attitude changed following the more hardline policies adopted by the new Conservative administration that was elected on 18 June. This involved, inter alia, a curfew of the Falls Road area and was accompanied by the start of the Provisional IRA military campaign]. I went past the sandbagged gun-emplacement to Great Victoria Street where I rang Jack Bennett. It was his day off but he came into town on a newly acquired motor bicycle. He gave me mines of information of a background character. I thought I detected a slight mood of defeatism – not reflecting his own attitude but the state of the movement. Later I saw Betty Sinclair. She also was asking, “wasn’t it better to have the Twenty-six counties united with the Six in a federation with England, rather than have this go on.” After lunch I went to the NICRA rooms and found Madge Davison and Dalton Kelly [a Belfastman and Trinity College student who was active in the College Republican Club and was an advocate of the Bill of Rights approach] with a young Dublin boy. The last consented to be my guide around the ruins and he introduced himself as a Connolly Youth and CPI man. He told me the Connolly Youth were meeting the EC of the British YCL at the weekend. “Oh! My God!” I said to myself and asked what they proposed – to launch yet another independent campaign. He said Tony McNally [of the British Young Communist League (YCL)] was the best of them and was fighting the others for action over Northern Ireland. He thought the CPGB was “not doing enough” and that the Morning Star was inadequate. I endeavoured to enlighten him on some of the problems.
We walked round the streets as small armoured cars constantly patrolled them. At one point a group of young men were playing with rare assiduity. I never saw such keen footballers. An army jeep passed. They booed it. The soldier on top swivelled his gun in their direction but kept it in the air as much as to say, “look what I’ve got”. We wanted to find somebody to show us the houses worst damaged in the search for arms. Beside the footballers was a pub. We were told there was a meeting going on upstairs. Everybody in authority was there, but the boys were afraid to interrupt them. A CPI member in Sultan Street was found at home, cleaning up the debris. His family were in Kildare for the time being. He had been arrested but released. He went to the pub. Perhaps as a local they would listen to him. But no. It was whispered that Cathal Goulding was there. So I guess that Kevin McCorry was there too as he was not in the NICRA office. So I wondered what they were discussing. A post mortem, I imagine. “Don’t be deceived by the footballers,” said the CPI man.
We went back to the NICRA office. Edwina Menzies and Jimmy Stewart arrived and they ran me up to the Citizens Defence Committee Rooms. There are moves to transform it into a Catholic Defence Committee. The priests are coming in, and NICRA is being denounced as “communist”. I felt uneasy about the whole position. But Madge Davidson was more reasonable than the Dublin boy. I made the point forcibly that there was a campaign in progress and we didn’t need twenty. Jimmy Stewart said that John Gollan and Jack Woddis were coming for talks on Monday [ie.with the CPI in Belfast].
I then went up to see John McClelland, and he described the position in the Ardoyne. He is dubious about “banning” Orange processions because the local demand in Ardoyne was “re-route” them. But our demand must be to ban them. He and his father came down to the boat with me and I embarked once more on the Ulster Queen.
July 16 Thursday (London): I called in at 124 Mount Road [Greaves’s family home in Prenton, Birkenhead, which he had inherited from his sister Phyllis, who had died in 1966] for a few minutes, then got the 8.30 to London. I rang Woddis and he said he had been trying to find me. Would I go down there as he and John Gollan wanted to discuss their trip. I got down there about 4.30, and we spent about 30 minutes on it. Gollan had been getting enquiries about withdrawing the troops lock, stock and barrel [ie. withdrawing British troops from Northern Ireland. If that were done without an accompanying political settlement there would have been inter-communal civil war. This became the demand of the Trotskyist-backed Troops Out Movement]. I counselled against it, and urged a phased withdrawal, each phase accompanied by its appropriate political solution. But withdrawal from the Falls was a different matter. On the whole he agreed. But he was clearly worried. This is because of the nonsense of “unity of the left” being interpreted as cooperation with “International Socialists”, whom I regard as influenced by the policies of the CIA [ie. The US Central Intelligence Agency]. He also agreed with me that the Orangeman must be disarmed but warned it would mean trouble. Let it, said I. He assented.
Then Woddis mentioned the visit of the Connolly Youth to the YCL. Gollan did not appear to have heard of it and looked more worried than ever. “I can tell you,” he said to me impressively,“that our YCL would do anything, absolutely anything. They are influenced – well not exactly influenced, but they are under a great deal of pressure from the ‘International Socialists’.” I had that impression when I talked to them last week. I said they had caused the whole weakness. Just as the Indonesian debacle was the practical refutation of Maoism [ie.the mass slaughter of some half-million Indonesian communists under the Suharto regime in 1965-66], so the isolation of NICRA and the polarization of the Six Counties into two sectarian fronts was the refutation of “International Socialism” so called. Somewhat to my surprise both Gollan and Woddis nodded strong assent. I told them that if they handed over the Six Counties to Dublin, Dublin could not hold them. There would be civil war. Was that the “People’s War” of the Maos?
“Civil war?” he asked. “Yes I suppose it would be. It would be Irishmen fighting Irishmen. But do you think these people would not intervene?”
I confessed that I didn’t. And we left it at that. He had before him every statement from the CPI and was combing them for a demand for the withdrawal of the troops. For some reason he thought that if it was “an army of occupation” then that was enough to demand its immediate withdrawal. I pointed out that it had been an army of occupation for 50 years. I refrained from adding that I could name prominent members who had gone out of the way to prevent any such suggestion coming up at Trade Union Conferences [ie. various communist or left-wing trade union leaders supported by the CPGB who had resisted Connolly Association calls from the mid-1950s onward to intervene to redress grievances in Northern Ireland, often because of concern for the views of their members there]. I think the complexities are not clear to him.
As he left he said to Woddis, “Tell Desmond about Sean Redmond.” So I went with Woddis into his office. “Did you know Sean Redmond had left the Party?” I said I did not. When was it? “Before the General Election. He wrote a letter to Johnny [ie.to CPGB General Secretary John Gollan] saying that in his new Trade Union job he was compelled to follow Labour Party policy and thought he had best resign.” Would I speak to him? I said I would not. I told him that he was too enthusiastic a follower of their policy on Czechoslovakia, probably more enthusiastic than themselves – I had a few words with Joan Bellamy and I’m not sure they still feel quite the same – and that I was less so. Jack Woddis laughed. So he said he would “send somebody to see him”. But it will be a waste of time. The man is out for a career and has a non-political woman pushing him. I did not feel really sorry. I think because I felt he had already separated himself at the time of Czechoslovakia. He has not had a general political discussion with me since then.
I went back to the office. I told Jane Tate about Sean. We both wondered would the further political degeneration be rapid or slow. Peter Mulligan, Pat O’Donohue, the wee Belfast girl Noreen and others were there, doing a good job on the premises.
July 17 Friday: I was in the office at 7.15 and worked on the Special Issue of the paper all day. In the evening Jim Kelly came in to do some work on the accounts.
July 18 Saturday (Liverpool): Again I was in early and worked all day until I had completed the paper. Tony Coughlan telephoned. He will be over early in August. Pat Hensey was sending out his notice and said Sean Redmond had written to him saying the main thing was to double membership. There was to be a discussion in which everybody would contribute to the planning of work. I asked was there anybody to introduce it. Also, would the committee not meet first and what about the EC next Monday? He asked Gerry Curran to speak on the question of Civil Rights and National Independence, after he had telephoned Sean Redmond and found him out. Then Sean came through and loudly protested. He hates Gerry Curran. But Pat Hensey would not put him off. I think he probably would have introduced the discussion himself from the chair.
There was a social in the evening. Sean Redmond was not there. One can see the picture. Attempts to govern from the background. I quickly grasped the danger that he might try to use the Central Branch against myself. Care is required. The EC meeting is the immediate safeguard. I told Pat Bond about his resignation. I think he was surprised but not very surprised. Pegeen O’Flaherty remarked of Sean Redmond that “He’s not interested in the branch, only in the particular thing he is pushing at the time.” So the more acute see this. Jane Tate remarked that it was a “second Ben Smith” – I resolved not to be caught like Ainley! Ainley used to go to the Soviet Embassy. They asked him for a report on Ben Smith – for what reason heaven alone knows. Like a fool Ainley prepared it and left it in his briefcase in his office from where Ben Smith extracted it when going through his colleagues’ papers! He forced Ainley to resign his position as General Secretary [Ainley had formerly been a leading figure in the Waterproof Garment Workers’ Union and the Association of Scientific Workers]. Which reminds me there are some old International Committee papers in our office that Sean knows about but might be tempted to lay his hands on. Not that I think that ill of him – but it will be as well to take no chances. Among others present were Eamon McLoughlin, Gerry Curran, Charlie Cunningham, and Pat O’Donohue, who seems a little sweet on the wee girl Noreen, and no wonder, for she is a lovely girl. Peter Mulligan was there and Larry O’Dowd played the accordion. Quite a few of the new members were present and Bob Doyle was downstairs. I had sent him a notice. He is friendly these days. It was his head not his heart that was deficient. Then I took the train to Liverpool at midnight.
July 19 Sunday: I wrote to Sean Redmond making some points about Wednesday and I hope possibly avoiding the necessity of having an issue made. The last issue he made was organisational – the petition, which has proved a powerful success. So I imagine this is the field to watch for differences. The need seems to be to get initiatives going before he commits himself to something, thus enabling him to make common sense his own. Then perhaps with time he may find himself less interested and not wish to cut a figure. I did some work in the garden.
July 20 Monday: I had written to Anne Doherty asking whether the meeting in Manchester was still in contemplation. Today she rang to say it was. She had booked or would book a sleeper for me and John Clarke would meet the train from Derby.
July 21 Tuesday: I managed to get a number of small things cleared up and did some staking and tying in the garden.
July 22 Wednesday (London): I had left my cheque-book in London. I had therefore to wait till the post brought £5 from Jane Tate. The post was late so I could not catch the 9.22 but went on the 10.30. At Derby I waited 20 minutes for a bus from station to bus station, and since it was clear that I had missed the 1 pm. Chesterfield bus, I took a taxi. Anne Doherty had asked me to bring 100 papers to Manchester. I delayed for these and took another taxi. All this time I had had no food because of the rush. When I got to Manchester there was no John Clarke. I went to the sleeper reservations counter and was told no sleeper had been booked and reservations were closed. At 7.28 nobody had arrived and I did not know the venue of the meeting. The last train for London was purring before departure. I got on board and returned. I saw Sean Redmond and Susan at the bus stop. They had been at the meeting which Gerry Curran had addressed. Jane Tate was surprised to see Susan. “It’s because Sean is chairman,” said Jim Kelly. No harm, anyway. I thought too he was a little more relaxed. We will see if she comes again.
July 23 Thursday: Anne Doherty rang. “What had happened?” I told her. She indignantly complained of the lazy John Clarke who had not bothered to meet the train. Of course afterwards I thought I could have telephoned some of the Connolly Association people. But that might have involved getting stranded in Manchester as they might not be at the meeting! She said Frank Duffy was arriving on Friday. I made arrangements for Nottingham.
July 24 Friday: In the afternoon Charlie Cunningham came in and we went to Paddington. He had spent all week making a tool chest. Sean Redmond was in. There was much praise for the special extra edition. Jane Tate also was in. There are quite a number of new members and there is the problem of assimilating them. Michael Brennan rang to say Frank Nally was not coming till late on Saturday, and (believe it or not) asked me about witneses! What muddlers these people are!
July 25 Saturday: The usual people came in, Charlie Cunningham, Jim Kelly, Jane Tate, Pat O’Donohue, Peter Mulligan, and Jane was able to tell me that the CA is now completely out of debt and with a credit balance of about £150. Toni Curran has failed to turn in a report, as usual, but Jim Kelly and I worked out the total net indebtedness of the paper at £300, with about £100 in the book fund to set against it. The three months operations that conclude today have thus made an impressive difference in the finances, as good sums have been raised. I was with Sean Redmond and Pat Cronin in Hammersmith in the evening and we sold 155 papers. Frank Nally had not arrived. Michael Crowe, who is coming, rang complaining of lumbago or some such complaint.
July 26 Sunday: The Executive Committee met this morning and on the whole the situation was satisfactory. I proposed a series of activities culminating in the presentation of the petition in November, and this included a deputation of Trade Unionists to Northern Ireland, a conference of shop-stewards, a lobby of the TUC and a public meeting on the general question of Ireland. Those present were Sean Redmond, Charlie Cunningham, Pat Hensey, Michael Crowe, Robbie Rossister, Pat O’Donohue, Jim Kelly, Pat Bond and Jane Tate.
In the afternoon the NICRA (London) meeting was held in Trafalgar Square. Davoren split it by holding a meeting in the Park and was denounced by McGill. The weather was dampish, threatening rain, and only 200 walked. I went straight to the Square. I learned that Fitt, McManus and Ivan Cooper had failed to come. The barrel was scraped for speakers, the United Irish Association, Dermot Kelly, Melly of the CDU and a man called McGurk [Tom McGurk; in later years a well-known Irish journalist], one of Lawless’s associates who made an absurd speech about the CS gas poisoning the Government a great deal more! [referring to an incident when a canister of CS gas, which was being widely used. Y the British army in Belfast, was thrown at the Government benches in the House of Commons] I spoke last. If I had known McGurk was going to be there I would not have gone at all. But I corrected some of his nonsense and criticized McCabe’s defeatism. There was nothing like the crowd we had two weeks’ ago and I doubt if the collection amounted to £50. I think enthusiasm for Trafalgar Square will wane. Melly is anxious to put on Bernadette Devlin at the Albert Hall when she is released [Bernadette Devlin had been sentenced to six months imprisonment in December 1969 for incitement to riot, arising from her involvement in the Battle of the Bogside the previous August. She had been re-elected as MP for Mid-Ulster in the June 1970 general election]. “We would make a lot of money for all the organisations.” He made the amusing suggestion that what NICRA should do when they want a demonstration is to ask the Connolly Association to organise it and to pay a fee! In the evening I was out with Michael Crowe. I think over a thousand of the Special have been sold.
July 27 Monday (Nottingham): I spent the morning in the office. Then Charlie Cunningham, Michael Crowe and I set off for Nottingham. Charlie is giving up a week of his holiday for a campaign there, together with Michael. We called in to Castle Boulevard and found Edith Stoneyhurst, with whom I stayed once or twice in times past. She has given up her house and stays with her son. There have been many changes. The Trades Council no longer has offices and a full-time worker. Charlesworth is no longer secretary [ie. of the local CPGB]. Mrs Stoneyhurst could find no accommodation for the boys and they had to go to the Gresham Hotel where Sean Redmond, Michael O’Riordan and I stayed two years ago. I got a general impression of a movement that had sadly fallen off.
That impression was confirmed later. Joe Whelan [Miners’ leader from Hucknall, Derbyshire, and a CA member] came down in a huge car. He had two whiskeys before driving me to his house at the gate of Newstead Abbey, surrounded by Sherwood Forest and the villas of Company Directors. The house belongs to the NUM[National Union of Mineworkers] and he was publicly told by the council to move to it. It is completely detached, and in extensive grounds which include a fishpond large enough to make a swimming pool. It was well furnished, and on a trolley was every kind of drink that could be desired. Whelan was critical of the party stand on Czechoslovakia. But I thought I detected a slight tendency to excuse personal inactivity – this point must not be exaggerated, but he seems wholly taken up in the Union, though to be sure he spoke on Ireland in the City Square a few weeks ago. His wife is enjoying middle class comfort and while nominally a Communist is full of the prejudices of the middle class she has only just got into. Joe finds this trying, but what can be done. Two sons are married and Garry, a big strapping young fellow of 20, is a rowing enthusiast, but quite a nice lad.
According to Joe Whelan the split between Peck and Westacott [CPGB officials] was partly due to Peck’s anti-Russian attitude on the Czech invasion. He says the majority were for Westacott, who having the larger number of votes for the position of District Secretary, and it not being endorsed (I hope I have this right), grew embittered. Then the number of full-time workers had to be cut from three to two and Peck tried to retain his own supporter, Don Devine, a man who professes to hail from Surrey but speaks with an Irish accent. This was not done. So the two kept on quarrelling until Harry Bourne was sent, temporarily, to replace the two of them [Harry Bourne,1913-1974, East MIdlands CPGB secretary].
July 28 Tuesday (Liverpool): Joe Whelan drove me into Mansfield, from where I took a bus to Chesterfield hoping to get to Manchester. This procedure proved unsatisfactory. I had to go to Derby, and therefore went to Crewe and Liverpool. As I had bought a ticket to Manchester before learning that there was no train for a couple of hours, I had to pay the excess on arrival. The ticket collector was at a loss to compose a fare for so complicated a journey. So he tore the ticket up and I had a free ride for part of the way. I came to Liverpool largely to pick up one or two things to take to London. On the radio at 10 pm. I heard that Bowes Egan had been arrested and accused of complicity in the CS job in Parliament case [ie. when a CS gas canister had been lobbed from the visitors’ gallery at the Government benches]. He is of course a notorious Trotsky, and Sean Redmond remembers him at the NCCL conference some time back virtually defending the Unionists.
July 29 Wednesday (London): I returned to London and worked on the paper. Des Logan rang up, saying that Bowes Egan’s wife and children are being looked after by a party member and that the wife swears that he is innocent and never met Roche in his life. I rang Tony Smythe. He thinks Egan is too well-breeched to risk a jail sentence that might ruin his career. He is a “bright boy” and (says Smythe) “they want heads.” But Sean Redmond and I think that there is no smoke without a fire. I addressed the branch meeting. There were 36 people present, a record I think.
July 30 Thursday: Again I worked on the paper. Jack Henry came in. Apparently Smullen’s girlfriend has been pestering Cassidy to do something for the prisoners. A Clann na hEireann man in some way smuggled himself on to the Joint Sites Committee, nobody knows how, and made a similar appeal. But she says he is either not collecting money for Smullen’s appeal (due in October) or is sending it elsewhere. Cassidy told them he would touch no fund that was not run by the CA. So Jack Henry and I discussed starting one, and having himself, Sean Redmond and possibly somebody like Ralph Milner as trustees [Ralph Milner, leftwing QC]. Now Hostettler told me when I rang him that Milner after reaching the position of QC has abandoned his practice and is devoting himself to the study of Italian literature [John Hostettler, 1925-2018, legal historian and leftwing solicitor who had covered the Mallon and Talbot trial in Belfast as an observer on behalf of the Connolly Association in 1958].
July 31 Friday: There were constant phone calls today from people wanting strike action over the shooting of O’Hagan [A Catholic, Danny O’Hagan, had been shot by the security forces, following which two policemen were shot in Crossmaglen]. I was in touch with Bill Dunne, who thinks much along the same lines as myself. For the rest, I got on with the paper.
August 1 Saturday (Nottingham): I took the midday train back to Nottingham. Michael Crowe and Charlie Cunningham had been working hard and had made many contacts. In the evening I went to Derby and called on Eugene Connolly but he was out. Then we sat up talking in the Gresham. The impression of a movement in decay has been strengthened by what they heard. One wit said that the City Council should be called “Trottingham”. And indeed it was here that Coates [Ken Coates, founder of the Institute for Workers’ Control] and Jordan launched their operations in 1955 and spoiled Paidin Connolly, Chris Maguire and Terry Gallogley. Then they were gunning for Mick Jenkins and glorifying Peck [as local CPGB secretary or organiser]. It is always against the head man.
August 2 Sunday: We gave out leaflets at the Cathedral. I doubt if there were thirty people at Mass. A young priest told me that the Irish Club opposite was virtually defunct from lack of support. Charlie Cunningham found the same thing at another church, though a club he visited last night was well attended, mostly by people who came in motorcars. In the afternoon we sat on the grass in the Arboretum, the weather being hot and dry. Then in the evening Joe Whelan came, and we held a very successful meeting in the Square. But there was some English opposition, coming from a few old men and also from the young “backpackers” who lie about in the sun in various stages of nakedness. Some of their attacks used the language of Maoism, and for my part I detect an element akin to Fascism in some of its adherents, the “Red Book” [ie. of Mao Tse Tung’s “Thoughts”] taking the place of “Mein Kampf”. I have a shrewd suspicion that not half enough time is devoted to criticism of this rubbish. I glanced at a copy of the “Red Book” and found some quite elementary errors of theory in the “Chairman’s ‘Thoughts’”. Michael Crowe was of the opinion that in Newcastle Horace Green tacks behind the International Socialists. Everywhere there seems a lack of initiative.
August 3 Monday (Liverpool): I returned to Liverpool by the morning train, making no attempt to reach Manchester this time.
August 4 Tuesday: I pottered about house and garden. At 7 pm. Tony Coughlan telephoned from Exchange Station. I went to the Liverpool branch. He was speaking on Ireland and the Common Market. Stowell had gone off suddenly to the Isle of Man. There were only seven people there, but Barney Morgan (once more in the chair) was a little more positive than usual. It actually could be that the man is improving. Then Tony Coughlan came to stay the night at 124 Mount Road. He said he thought all the explosions in Belfast were the work of the “Provisionals” who were being encouraged by Blaney [ie. Irish Government Minister Neil Blaney]. I got the impression that he too had learned a little from recent experience.
August 5 Wednesday (London): Tony Coughlan and I came to London in time for the branch meeting. He gave the same talk. This time there were 37 present! He told me incidentally that Con Lehane had indicated that we are going to get our legacy after all and that he will soon be “paying out”.
August 6 Thursday: I spoke at a meeting of the Sunley’s Civil Rights branch. Jack Henry arranged it. I got a member for the CA.
August 7 Friday (Liverpool): I had decided to try and have a week’s holiday while Tony Coughlan was in the office. But Maurice Cornforth rang up. He had a number of questions on the manuscript, which however he described as “magnificent”. He is posting them to Liverpool where I will get them tomorrow. And I left by the 5 pm. train.
August 8 Saturday: I spent the day on Cornforth’s queries. And he had included the introduction written by Golman to “Marx on Ireland” [LI Golman, joint editor of the 500-page volume “Marx and Engels on Ireland”, published in Moscow and London in 1971, for the English edition of which Greaves wrote a Preface]. The first time I learned that I was to write a preface to this was when I saw it advertised on a leaflet! A letter came from Roy Johnston about Belgian factories(!).
August 9 Sunday: I finished the replies to Cornforth, but it was too late to go away. A damn nuisance. It seems to happen every time.
August 10 Monday: A damper spring on the piano broke. I telephoned Atherton who said he would come today. So that was another day gone. But I looked up a few references to Engels and the Burns sisters. There is obviously a very interesting story to be told here and I made some notes over lines of enquiry.
August 11 Tuesday (Salop): In the morning came a letter from Cornforth [Maurice Cornforth,1909-1980, of Greaves’s publishers, Messrs Lawrence and Wishart] saying the Germans had proposed that the life of Connolly should be re-named “Rebel in Three Lands” because nobody but Irish progressives had ever heard of him [This was for the German edition of the Connolly biography, which was later published by Seven Seas publishers in the German Democratic Republic]. Maurice replied that this was not acceptable. What, he asked, would they say if they were told that Rosa Luxemburg was only known to a few German “progressives”? He also raised the question of the preface to Golman’s book.
I took the train from Bromborough to Shrewsbury and cycled up to the cottage [This was the cottage in Shropshire, originally rented by his sister Phyllis, which he kept on following her death in 1966]. It was drier than I feared. I saw the Corbetts. They are uneasy about the new landlord, the alleged “millionaire” Fletcher of Shrewsbury. The grazing around the cottage has been let but only till November. The Corbetts had been told that the new landlord “does not like old buildings” and has instructed them to pull down their Dutch barn and remove another thing. He wants the house painted black and white, not green. Three men were viewing the district a few days ago. “You’ll not know the bog in five years’ time,” one of them said. “All the bushes will be levelled and planted with trees.” The banks are of lead and barytes waste, and the Corbetts swear that not even lichen will grow on them. Also the Fletchers will not allow tenants to do their own repairs, but insist on doing it themselves and raising the rent. But they face five empty properties the Council will not allow to be re-inhabited. So nobody knows what their policy will be.
August 12 Wednesday: I went down to Pontesbury – where there is a builder – the journey being over somewhat better roads than that to Bishops Castle, which is nevertheless nearer. On the way back I called to Rawson’s and met his wife. I am by no means easy about the state of the chimney stacks and am anxious to find out if he can d’o the job.
August 13 Thursday: I walked most of the afternoon. Then in the evening Rawson came. He apologized for not doing my repairs a year ago, and admitted that if the chimney stack was not repaired soon it would be down. He promised to do it by mid-October, or to get somebody else. He had suffered from a slipped disc and was only now fit for work. The Corbetts thought the delay very regrettable. I agreed.
August 14 Friday (Liverpool): I cycled to Shrewsbury and came back to Liverpool via Bromborough. There was a letter from Cathal MacLiam [Greaves’s friend in Dublin, who was a member of the CPI at that time]. He told me that Michael O’Riordan, who had objected to his raising money for the Irish Democrat at a private party, and the others who, he thinks, boycotted the party on that account, are feeling a little “ashamed of themselves”. But the main thing is that Roy Johnston intends to run for the Senate to take over Owen Sheehy Skeffington’s seat. He certainly wouldn’t be worse than that individualistic crank and mischief-maker. But Cathal says, “what about the Republican mantle” and hints that I should advise Roy against it “for his own sake”.
August 15 Saturday: I wrote to Cathal and said perhaps going into the Senate would be the best thing for Roy. He could take up issues of pollution, excessive tourist development and so on. It would be no use talking to him as he was incapable of following a consistent course of action, and he might get in, because surely both the IRA and the Government would be glad to have him kicked upstairs. Cathal is – of all things – going walking in Kilkenny this weekend with Kader Asmal – the most unathlethic man in Dublin! [Kader Asmal, 1934-2011, South African lecturer in law in Trinity College from 1964 to 1991; founder of the Irish Anti-Apartheid Movement; later Minister for Water and Forests and Minister for Education in South Africa’s first post-Apartheid Governments] Weather forecasts warned of severe rain and gales. A damned nuisance. I suppose I’ll soon be back in Salop [ie. Shropshire] to see if the chimney came down.
August 16 Sunday: It was not possible to do much in the garden because of the bad weather, but I spent the day on small jobs inside the house.
August 17 Monday (London): I left for London on the 10.30 train and went into the office. There were signs that Tony Coughlan had been there tidying up – he is not a man for organised chaos. In the evening Charlie Cunningham came in.
August 18 Tuesday: I spent the day working on the paper and getting rid of a few accumulated items of correspondence. I am not too happy about the course of events. The papers are taking up the “direct rule” issue, and as ever the Labour people are playing into the Tories’ hands. I saw some of the members in the evening.
August 19 Wednesday: Again I was busy on the paper, apart from calling down to Somerset House to look for the death entry of Lizzie Burns. I could not find it in the volume indicated by the date given in Meyer’s book. This I thought curious. I also called in to see Maurice Cornforth. He had sent “Mellows” to the printer, and I agreed to send the few “Connolly” corrections at once. We also discussed Golman’s compilation [ie. the book “Marx and Engels on Ireland”]. Golman, he says, is a decent fellow, very academic and anxious to express Marxism in approved phrases, but he lacks “feeling for the subject”. So the idea is that I should do a kind of preface. But though I have the list of his material I have not the text. Maurice is very pleased with “Mellows”.
August 20 Thursday: I continued work on the paper and did not attend the branch meeting. Toni Curran has left chaos. She has lost the No.2 account cheque-book and my insurance card. No invoices had been sent out for months. I ascertained these facts because both she and Jim Kelly are away. I asked Charlie Cunningham if he would undertake the sending out of the invoices. He said Jim Kelly has asked him and he had agreed, but he had not started. I looked for the recent records but could not find them. Lack of business management is three-quarters of the trouble. But it is infuriating to get out extra issues and send out urgent appeals only to see the results squandered by sheer carelessness. I resolved to try and get order into the chaos as soon as the two of them get back. I blame Toni. There are of course extenuating circumstances. But at least she can say she is not doing the job. Every excuse on earth is offered for not providing accounts. The only reason, lack of elementary attention, is never mentioned. We had a working party and got off 800 invitations.
August 21 Friday: Pat Bond is gone away for a holiday, and several others are going. He is short of money because of the Irish Bank strike and we have close on £100 of uncashed cheques [A strike of Irish bank officials in 1970 closed the Republic’s banks; it lasted six months]. I continued to work on the paper.
August 22 Saturday: The usual people came in in the early afternoon, Pat Hensey, Pat O’Donohoe and Jane Tate, who is doing powerful work, and others. I was out with her in the evening.
August 23 Sunday: I have finished the paper. In the afternoon I went to Southall to open discussion of the Irish Question at the West Middlesex District Committee of the CP. They knew next to nothing about the subject. They promised to do something about the petition. Regarding the Connolly Association, there was a complete lack of sympathy. They want all their Irish members to work among the English. That over years they have sacrificed all influence with the Irish, or indeed understanding of them by this prejudice, they do not see at all. The failure of the CP at district level (London is the supreme example) to back the Connolly Association is one of the great blunders of these past twenty-five years, if a thing that arises from total incomprehension can be called a blunder! [This is a significant entry, as it reflects Greaves’s judgement on a key factor that could have influenced the political momentum behind the Bill of Rights campaign, so possibly preventing this approach to the Northern Ireland problem being adopted while the Harold Wilson Labour Government was still in office; there was small prospect of it being adopted once the Conservatives had taken over.]
August 24 Monday (Nottingham): I went first to Derby and Ripley. Terry Reynolds was running the works as his father was on holidays playing golf at Bournemouth. I brought up the Welsh translation of the petition. Then I came back into Derby and by train to Nottingham. I went to the “People’s Hall” and found one or two people waiting for the meeting. They were English. Later Joe Whelan came – and more people, all seemingly Trotskies. Joe Whelan had been in Hucknall trying to bring Andy Tierney and others out of the public house. Seamus Connolly arrived and tried unsuccessfully to bring his own brothers out of another pub. Joe and I decided to await a more auspicious time for launching the petition. We had a “question and answer” meeting in which I was in the uncomfortable predicament of educating Trotskies, some of whom might use their newly-acquired knowledge against us. However, they were unusually well behaved even if all totally petit-bourgeois in every way, with only vague principles in place of policies. The thing that strikes you most about Trotskies is their remoteness from actualities.
When it was over we (that is Joe Whelan, Seamus Connolly and another man) went to a pub. We found the Trotskies there. One of them came over and she revealed that she was an Irish girl, born in Roscommon. She had moved to Dublin at the age of ten. She had been three years a secretary to a TD. Then she fell in with Lawless. Incidentally the same semi-psychopath had been in Nottingham with the other Trotsky, Bowes Egan. All these people get the fullest publicity in the newspapers and television for whatever they say. A word of sense can hardly be got in edgeways. She challenged Seamus over his political affiliations, and when he said he was communist she became less interested. The essential anti-communism of the Trotskies revealed itself when she walked back to her similarly be-jeaned companions (all in their early twenties) without even saying good night. Of course all this is Ken Coates’s work, and well do I remember him spreading his nonsense and confusing, first, Chris Maguire, then Terry Gallogly, till the latter young fellow turned to drugs and ended in a lunatic asylum. As we parted Joe Whelan commented, “I’m afraid we’ve not very good material to work with.”
August 25 Tuesday (Liverpool): I left Nottingham quite early and came to Liverpool, arriving by about midday. I could not get a sailing ticket for a night journey to Dublin or a berth to Belfast. So I decided to go on the day boat tomorrow.
August 26 Wednesday (Dublin): I came over to Dublin and found the city under a pall of fog that stretched quite a few miles out to sea. The sea was, of course, calm. I quickly got out to Cathal’s and heard something about the party he had held in support of the “Irish Democrat”. It was boycotted by the CPI and Michael O’Riordan was detailed to tell Cathal that he should have consulted him before holding it. Cathal said it was entirely private and that I had not requested it. This was true, and indeed I felt a certain uneasiness because it broke the principle of complete separation [namely, that political organisations should only organise in the country where their members were living and whose Government they could influence This was a view Greaves strongly held as regards political activity in Britain and Ireland].
The reasons were however revealing. He harked back to the days of 1958 when the Irish Workers League expatriates organised socials in London for the “Irish Workers Voice”. Cathal pointed out that first their activity was public, second it was their practice to masquerade as the Connolly Association and book the halls we customarily had to run a “Connolly Social”, sabotaging our paper sales by sending people round ahead of our sellers, and coming to our functions to create divisions and even disturbances. He said O’Riordan became very apologetic but said the decision to convey his representations was unanimous. Who started it, we wondered. I thought possibly Jeffares though I would not think he had the vindictiveness. “But,” says O’Riordan, with a curious lack of logic since I had not instigated the social, “There will be no breaking off of diplomatic relations.” I thought however I would not be in a hurry to see them on this trip. A few minutes just before I leave. Cathal said that the only CP Executive member present was Noel Harris, who was not aware of the boycott, and that even Tom Redmond did not attend though he promised he would. Thus their real thoughts have been exposed.
August 27 Thursday: I went to the National Library and though it should have been open, found it littered with decorators’ trestles and a few catalogues round the walls. It was useless to search for anything. I then went to the Custom House and found Sean Murray’s birth entry, had lunch with Tony Coughlan and rang Dr Geary [Dr Roy Geary of Ireland’s Central Statistics Office]. He told me that no research on prices in Ireland during the Union had been carried out. It was assumed they were the same as those in England. Transport entered very little in determining the cost of living. But what about the component of industrial costs? “Oh”, said he, “You’re proposing an entirely new major research.” So I decided to make a holiday of it.
In the evening there was a gathering of the clans, Tony Coughlan, Des Logan, Roy Johnston for a minute (as confident and as incorrigible as ever; no more talk of Senates) and Micheál O Loingsigh [Micheál O Loingsigh, a businessman who ran Drogheda Printers, had been in the Wolfe Tone Society and was now getting involved in the anti-EEC campaign through the Wolfe Tone Society’s off-shoot, the Common Market Study Group, which he chaired]. Later again Noel Harris explained that Sam Nolan was the driving force against Cathal’s party [Noel Harris was an official with the ASTMS trade union. He had been on the original committee of the NICRA when living in Belfast before he and his wife moved to Dublin]. He remarked that the CPI is now carried away by the Republican Alliance, and that people who were as good as Orangemen three years ago were now bright sea-green Republican incorruptibles. I think they have had so little to do with the Republicans that they cannot criticise them, only follow blindly. And I see Michael O’Riordan and Tom Redmond on this platform in O’Connell Street where they propose the setting up of Irish Exiles Councils in every English town. This is the return to the old story of the “Irish Socialist Party in England”, and I hope Cathal has not inadvertently given them an excuse.
August 28 Friday: The weather has distinctly improved. I saw Mairin Johnston for a few moments. Roy is now mainly in the basement [ie. of his house at 22 Belgrave Road, Rathmines, which by coincidence was just two doors from Cathal and Helga MacLiam’s at No.24, with whom Greaves was staying] and the situation is worse than ever [Mairin and Roy Johnston were estranged at the time and both later married others].
August 29 Saturday: Cathal was invited by Roy Johnston to go to Limerick to investigate the possibility of starting a Wolfe Tone Club there. So he took Conor. In the evening I was at Kader Asmal’s [on Barton Road East, Dundrum]. His wife’s parents are over from Birmingham.
August 30 Sunday: Though there were signs of a change in the weather, Tony Coughlan and I took the train to Drogheda and cycled to Clogher Head, Grange Bellew, Monsterboice and back to Drogheda. The weather held and we returned at about 9 pm. Cathal was back. He had seen Sean Kenny[a leading Official Republican in Dublin], who had criticized Pat Devine’s article in the Irish Democrat as presenting the “Moscow Line”. Of course the crudity of Devine’s stuff is a constant irritation. But I haven’t the heart to stop him! I must however edit more severely.
August 31 Monday: I went over to Finglas, taking Egon [the eldest of Cathal MacLiam’s two sons], and calling at Pearse Street on the way. There I found Sean Nolan very affable, and as I expected, nothing was said about Cathal’s party. I decided not to appear to know anything about it. I told Nolan about Sean Redmond’s defection. “A lame excuse”, he commented with regard to his obligations to the Union that employs him. He said that usually Sean comes in to see him and asks how things are going. This time he met him but avoided all political discussion. He thought that perhaps he was disheartened at the lack of progress. It struck me that perhaps he divested himself of a number of obligations that took him out in the evening, for he spoke to me of retiring from the International Affairs Committee.
At Finglas I found Cathal’s father (though 76 or more) had grown a short sharp white beard. “What do you think of it?” “It makes you a patriarch,” said I. He took an impression for another set of upper teeth [Cathal MacLiam’s father was a dentist by profession]. I want a standby. Egon was to have stayed and replaced Finula – now quite a young Miss. But when I get back to Rathmines I found Cathal had expected Egon back. Finula does not want to leave. I took the 6.25 train to Rosslare.
September 1 Tuesday (Newport): The day began badly. I had been to the British Rail office in London and had been informed that it was possible to sleep on board until just before the train went. At 4 am. everybody was awakened and as good as ordered ashore. I refused to go and made them bring policemen, who before I left were compelled to admit that I had a justified complaint. It would have meant waiting for hours on a station almost unlit, and without any amenities whatsoever. And there was no refreshment car on the train which went only to Swansea, arriving at 10 am.
At Swansea I caught an express to Cardiff and went to see Bert Pearce[CPGB secretary/organiser in South Wales], another whom I used to know in Birmingham. I was delighted with the reception. Apparently he has studied my articles in “Marxism Today” very carefully. He said that when he came back to Wales – I think he said eleven years ago, if so time does certainly fly! – he was pressing for every concession due to a separate nation, but it was being argued that the Welsh were not one. He had it borne in on him that this position was untenable. We spoke of North Wales and I mentioned the trip I did in 1938 and how I met Dai Williams Canada, as he was nicknamed in Blaenau Ffestiniog. “He’s still alive,” said Bert Pearce, “A great old fellow. Must be 85.” He gave me two issues of “Cyffro” [Welsh-English dictionary supplements] and the evidence he presented to the Local Government Commission. I suggested the immediate formation of the Connolly Association and the calling of a conference of the Labour Movement. He entirely agreed. Our minds were running in the same direction.
Accordingly I went to Newport where Brian Wilkinson had called a meeting. I went to his house and then to the pub where it was held. Louis Dare was there, and his sister Eilis McLeod (both of Bundoran). She is a very decent young woman. And Louis is not without brains. He has started a decorating business, but Eilis said he is getting payment before finishing the job and getting off doing politics. Wayne Jenkins was there. He and Louis were sharing a flat and Jenkins also works in the business, with the son of Louis’s eldest brother, not interested in politics.
As well as myself and Brian Wilkinson, Eilis McLeod, Louis Dare, Wayne Jenkins and the nephew, there were three from Plaid Cymru, and several others. About six agreed to join the Connolly Association and we established the South Wales Branch. Wayne Jenkins agreed to be secretary. Bert Pearce says he is a little romantic but he can learn.
September 2 Wednesday (London): I went on to London and spent the afternoon catching up with correspondence. Mick Leahy rang from Oxford. I had objected to the crazy scheme Ricky Ryan reported in the “Irish Post” (and in the “Irish Democrat”) of trying to run a campaign in Oxford to unite Catholics and Protestants in Belfast. Leahy, who has also left the CP recently, but who said he was “still the same”, explained that this was due to the talk of a very convincing Englishman called (I think) Payne, who knew nothing about Ireland and declined to learn. I told him how I thought they could get out of it, by playing for time and getting a meeting of the Connolly Association branch. The trouble is that they have involved the Trades Council in the nonsense. Now it seems the CA boys are now prepared to work with Leahy – or seemingly so. They are mostly Labour Party, so this may explain it. But I doubt if they will trust him with money.
Now in the evening Toni Curran came in. “I am most mortified,” she exclaimed. She had found at her house the box we have ripped the office open searching for, and the bills, insurance cards, a No.2 account cheque book, are all safe! The branch meeting was on, with Sean Redmond, Pat Hensey, Jim Kelly, Peter Mulligan, Jane Tate and the others. Charlie Cunningham and Pat O’Donohoe were away.
September 3 Thursday (Liverpool): I came up to Liverpool overnight leaving at 12.50. I was tired and spent the day shopping. I used the whole afternoon seeking a tin of caustic soda which I need to take paint splashes off some jeans I wore while painting the cottage. No shop kept it. Resolved – to take the jeans to London and clean them there.
September 4 Friday: I did quite a lot of work. I have gathered most of the onions, and all the shallots. I am not sure that allium cepa proliferum is not the best. I have a full harvest of seed bulbs and tried the root bulbs lately and found them very successful. I also gathered sage and put it up for drying, and cleared beds in the front garden, making it a little more presentable.
September 5 Saturday: I had intended to return to London today, but found a few things to do and rang up Pat Hensey. In the evening I heard on the radio a most interesting talk on Beethoven in 1803, which revived all my interest in that musician. The lecturer had compared letters and dates of musical compositions, and offered a scheme that related the Christus am Olberge (if I have it right) [ie. the oratorio “Christ on the Mount of Olives”], the Eroica Symphony and Fidelio to the conquest of advancing deafness.
September 6 Sunday (London): I went to Rock Ferry and just missed the now hourly train. I caught a bus to Hamilton Square and was in good time for the 2.10. But it was so crowded that I decided to wait for the 3.15 which would involve a change at Crewe. It did not run but divided and one half went to Manchester. So I got on the 4.15. I went into the office on arrival in London.
September 7 Monday: I was in the office when Dalton Kelly rang from Belfast. He arrived at about lunchtime, a quiet, slightly reserved young man, I imagine about 21 years old, quite mature for his years. He is studying Russian at TCD and is going on a “Progressive Tours” holiday. He went up to meet Sean Redmond.
Then Jack Woddis rang. He had been reading a gloomy article in the Financial Times which regarded the end of Stormont as inevitable. He made comparison with Rhodesia. The moderates could not hold on in face of the extremists of the Right. So he had been discussing with Belfast proposals for a committee or commission to replace Stormont, to be appointed by the Governor-General and to include representatives of all parties including the trade unions. I demurred at this. It was only a contingency plan. It was only logical to prepare for what would happen if Britain abolished Stormont. I said I thought the parallel with Rhodesia was mechanical and that there was an element of defeatism in the whole thing. So we agreed to talk it over next Tuesday.
Later Dalton Kelly came back, then he went to the Irish Club to see Patsy Byrne [of the Campaign for Democracy in Ulster].
September 8 Tuesday: Early in the morning we foregathered at 283 Greys Inn Road – Jim Kelly, Charlie Cunningham, Pegeen O’Flaherty and one or two others. We went to Brighton [for the annual conference of the Trades Union Congress]. The Sunley site boys were there already, only two of them however [The Sunley Construction company had a major building site on Horseferry Road that employed many Irish workers]. Hugh Cassidy had muddled up the departure times. He always gets arrangements wrong. Late we saw Jack Henry, and I met very many from Liverpool, Tony McClelland and others. Paul Smart asked me to telephone Rootes over the Smullen case [Eamon Smullen, a London-based veteran who had been in the IRA in Ireland, then joined the Communist Party on emigrating to Britain and then rejoined the Goulding Republican movement in 1969. He had been arrested in a police “sting” operation while trying to acquire arms for the Official IRA and was sentenced to eight years imprisonment]. He thinks Rootes is going to rush into foolishness thanks to the importunacies of the woman Tramski whose enthusiasm takes little account of legal niceties [These references are unclear; they presumably refer to actions or proposed actions by various friends of Smullen’s]. I said they should wait until the appeal is heard, and Rusca who was also there agreed [Rusca – Jack Rusca – was a prominent trade unionist in the Amalgamated Society of Woodworkers (ASM)]. We gave out many leaflets. But very few came to the meeting. At the same time I think it was worth the trouble.
Gordon McLennan was there walking round shakily [Gordon McLennan,1924-2011, became the second last General Secretary of the CPGB from 1975 to 1990]. I did not get a good impression of him, though I think he had a little drink, as was inevitable if you want to talk to these people. There is a humourless rigidity of mind, allied to a desire to lay down the law over things without having understood them. He was talking of a plan to bring together all strands of left discontent but was prepared to leave out the Common Market as divisive [The Heath Government’s negotiations for EEC membership had started in June and were ongoing at the time, continuing the policy of Harold Wilson’s Labour administration]. I was not happy about that, along with other things. Hugh D’Arcy was there, and he came to our meeting. (McLennan was of course not at our meeting) but Tony McClelland of Liverpool.
September 9 Wednesday: According to Michael Crowe who telephoned, his Chester-le-Street meeting has attracted the attention of all the Trotskies and Potskies in the North of England, as they call their district, and they are regarding it as the great rebel meeting. He is not too pleased. But he hopes to get in an evening with Lawrence Daly [Leftwing leader of the National Union of Mineworkers], unfortunately plus his non-political wife. Daly may come to the Sunderland conference too.
Sean Redmond has grown a beard and looks years older as it is greying. It is strange how throughout the ages men wish to change their appearance when they change their views. Growing a beard is one of the most typical. But strange to say, so has Peter Mulligan. According to Charlie Cunningham this is because he has decided to marry an American girl and go to America. Others doubt it. There was a Branch meeting in the evening at which Dalton Kelly spoke. He seems quite an able young man, a little reserved but with a sense of humour. The worst paper sales arrangements for some time were pronounced complacently by Sean Redmond to be “quite alright”, in a manner betokening the further process of political degeneration, and of course he is in one way in a key position. The process is I think like that of Eamon McLaughlin – advancing laziness – not policy difference. But I note he now bristles when I mention the Communist Party.
September 10 Thursday: I spent part of the day on the London conference, and part on the Welsh one.
September 11 Friday (Northampton): I spent the day on the Welsh conference and had all the invitations to sponsors out by evening. Then I went to Northampton with Dalton Kelly as I thought to address a meeting to start a branch. But partly owing to the confusing nature of Tom Mulcahy’s correspondence and his failure to ring and confirm the arrangement, and partly through my own error of judgement in thinking the meeting was tonight, though he met us, there was no meeting. I should have come last night. We met some of the Irish in Northampton. It is clear that Birmingham has made encroachment and several asked me if I had come from there. There was talk of differences in that city between Frank Short and some others. We decided on another attempt in October.
Dónall Mac Amhlaigh was there. I introduced him to Dalton Kelly as the “famous Gaelic writer”. “Leave out the famous,” he interjected, but by no means displeased.
“What do you do for a living then?” asked Dalton Kelly.
“I’m a builder’s labourer,” was the reply. Dalton was visibly shaken.
September 12 Saturday: I was in the office most of the day. Jane Tate, Pat Hensey, Peter Mulligan and Jim Kelly came in. Sean Redmond is in Manchester. It is something that he will do this [ie.that it is a mark in his favour that he will take on a task there]. In the evening I was in Camden Town with Gerry Curran. He seems to have got over some of his neurasthaenic troubles. Possibly he is taking the drug that Alan Morton had for a while. Toni Curran has been busy with local education campaigns but has now ceased. So perhaps we shall see just a little of her. In the Archway we met Alf Kearney, as usual, but this time he was alone.
September 13 Sunday: We had the Standing Committee in the morning, with Sean Redmond, Jane Tate, Jim Kelly, and Pat Hensey, whom I invited by mistake. He has no head for policy-making and made no contribution. We had a useful discussion. We decided to call a meeting on the subject of the prisoners [ie. those imprisoned in Northern Ireland stemming from the violence there, who were predominantly from the Nationalist/Catholic community] to work out lines of action. There was some discussion of the question of whom to invite. I finally won my point, to exclude the petit-bourgeoisie from the preliminary discussions. Sean Redmond said, “You can’t exclude the organisations the prisoners themselves belong to.” I replied that that is just what you can and should do. We should confine ourselves to a range of welfare questions, and not get involved in the political purposes of the prisoners. We also decided on a meeting to consider trade union resolutions.
The conference took place in the afternoon [ie.the Connolly Association Annual Conference]. At first we thought we were locked out of the hall, but the caretaker arrived at 2.15. There were about sixty present. It was a conference unlike any of its predecessors. The wisdom of keeping out the petite-bourgeoisie was demonstrated. Sobriety was the keynote. Betty Sinclair made a modest, quietly telling statement without histrionics or personalizing, and greatly increased my respect for her. Then one Trade Unionist after another got up and made some businesslike contributions. Wayne Jenkins came from Cardiff and Dorrington from Oxford. He said Mick Leahy was thrown out of the Communist Party. Had he gone Trotsky? No, religious, said Dorrington. “Oh, that’s all right,” I said. They have one Trotsky in the CA [ie. in its Oxford Branch]. “Keep the others out,” said I. “The trouble is we’re under pressure from these well-educated fellows.” “Call a meeting for Sean or me and invite them, and we’ll educate them a bit more.” But this he seemed reluctant to do. Perhaps he hasn’t confidence in our powers of scattering them. All the same, scattered they will have to be [ie. as regards the demand by the far-Left and the recently formed Provisional Movement for the abolition of Stormont and direct rule from London, a demand that was being taken up in British Labour circles at the time]. I had a drink with Charlie Cunningham and Peter Mulligan in the evening.
I also discussed some business of the prisoners with Hostettler. He is being pressed to undertake the defence of Bowes Egan. I told him to be careful. I thought these criminal cases should be spread more evenly around progressive solicitors. He said some fellow had given away vital information to the prosecution and that the IRA now would only trust him. That might be so, I said, but soon it would be said, “Look – they’re bound to be guilty. See who’s defending them.” Later I saw a picture of Bowes Egan, on bail, speaking at a meeting with John Palmer the Trotsky [in later years EU correspondent for “The Guardian” and director of the European Policy Centre, Brussels], Gery Lawless the lunatic, Eamon McCann the climber, and Tariq Ali the demagogue. I phoned this information to Hostettler, who said it was his partner who knew Bowes Egan and he wondered how.
An interesting thing about the conference was that Betty Sinclair did not mention constitutional commissions, though Charlie Cunningham attacked the idea, and she declared against “direct rule”, along the lines of her statement of 28 August that Dalton Kelly brought! So it is all very odd. But we got over that hurdle.
September 14 Monday: I was busy on the paper and was in the office till about 10.30 pm. Jane Tate came in during the evening.
September 15 Tuesday: I was in the office before 8 am. and at midday went to the Sunley site. “Look at the place,” said Jack Henry, “Swarming with the law! Look at them! Every one of them armed to the teeth.” He explained the building was above Churchill’s war headquarters and that thousands of rounds of ammunition had been put into it for storage at the end of the war. This was now being moved. The Sunley men threatened to strike if the men moving it were not given the conditions negotiated for the site. This came up at the meeting in the canteen – and there were many familiar faces. Afterwards one of them – Larry Fennel, I think – said that Cassidy was the key man. To have a Federation steward who was TGWU was a great safeguard, as his Union would back him. The craft unions would not.
Then I went to see Jack Woddis. He said nothing about “constitutional commissions”[which would have been an alternative to the Bill of Rights policy and entailed the abolition of an elected parliamentary assembly in Belfast] and I am hoping the idea has been dropped. It may have been Andy Barr’s notion. In the evening Jim Kelly and Toni Curran came in and some work on the accounts was done. Jane Tate tells me the CA has a credit balance of £200.
September 16 Wednesday: I worked on the paper all day, then addressed the branch meeting. There are signs of weakening leadership, the main trouble being Pat Hensey’s inability to organise anything, and Sean Redmond’s complacency. But he was not there; he has influenza.
September 17 Thursday: I had intended to go to Liverpool but had to finish the paper. There were quite a few interruptions too.
September 18 Friday (Chester-le-Street): I worked on a variety of things until midday. The Archbishop of Wales wrote saying that he thought that we should not “interfere” in the Six Counties. Somebody had offered him this advice, but he did not say who it was. I spoke to Bert Pearce and he agreed to duplicate the invitations for the Cardiff conference. He thought Wayne Jenkins was “unstable” and not a good secretary. I am inclined to agree.
I caught the 1 pm. train from King’s Cross to Durham, and Michael Crowe was waiting for me[Michael Crowe was a leading Connolly Association activist in those years. He was a university lecturer in French, who lived in Chester-le Street]. Then we went to a hotel where Lawrence Daly and his wife were there before us [Lawrence Daly, 1924-2009, General Secretary of the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) 1968-1984]. They had travelled from London by car. He was a sturdy small man with a bald dome flanked by grey curls, about fifty I imagine. He said he had met me 20 years ago but did not say where and I did not wish to admit I had forgotten. We had a meal in the hotel and then a friend of Daly’s, a Councillor Derek Bates, appeared. Michael Crowe and I proceeded in his car, and Daly’s (driven by Mrs Daly, which was interesting) came close behind as Bates led the way to Chester-le-Street. Here there was a meeting of over 60 people, which was very impressive as there was a bus strike.
September 19 Saturday: I stayed the night with Michael Crowe and Sean Healy came in. There was a fool present as well. Healy is a remarkable character, a vehement hot-headed shrewd Kerryman, a writer and reciter of verse. His criterion is effective reality and as a result there is a power in his work that led me to ask for copies to publish, despite the crudity that comes from lack of publication and criticism. We sat talking till 3 am. and I did not rise till 11 am. Soon after that Daly arrived but went to Healy’s to see the paintings of miners by a man called Marriott which were said to be very realistic. Healy had the loan of one of them.
Then Daly’s wife drove us to Sunderland. The meeting was at the Catholic club, but the management had declined to permit advertising. The Trades Council which officially sponsored the meeting was represented only by its president who took the chair, and only about 15 people attended. We said goodbye to Daly who was going on to Ashington, then to Warrington. A man we met in the street looking for an Indian restaurant we said was bound to be open but was closed, commented, “You kept that meeting very secret, didn’t you?” Then we had to go back to Sunderland by bus. Michael Crowe had arranged a social evening at the local public house. Paul Murphy, who had been at the meeting at midday, and had pressed some leftist points, was playing in a “folk-song” group and we had a few more interchanges in the interval. He is a fresh gleaming young Dublinman. He met a girl from Seaham harbour when working in Iceland of all places and, marrying her, settled in what Michael Crowe assures me is an extremely God-forsaken place. He has not joined the CA, but the band leader, Dunne, is a member. Another boy, Hodgson, says he is a relative of Michael Mallin’s family [Michael Mallin 1874-1916, one of the executed 1916 leaders]. I told him Cathal [ie. his friend Cathal MacLiam in Dublin] was taught by one of Mallin’s sons. Healy introduced me to the artist Marriott, a tall long-faced black and white character.
We went to Healy’s afterwards and I saw the painting. It reminded me of Leger. All the miners were sunk in dejection. But Healy pointed to the characterization. “Look at that man – a mean sneak. There’s another, he’ll always be causing trouble in the pub, saying this man can lift something another can’t. And look at that grand old man! And there’s another, utterly stupid.” All this was thrown off spontanously and with rapid vehemence. So it was more than Leger. But a miner’s daughter said she never saw miners go into the pit looking so sad. They would all be laughing and joking. Coming out was different. They would be exhausted.
September 20 Sunday (Chesterfield): Yesterday John North, a Tipperary man, had called and promised to take me in to Newcastle at 11.45. When he was not there at 11.55 we grew alarmed and were wondering about taxis, or going to Darlington. However, he appeared in a few moments and drove me up the road.
I said, “Will we get on to the main road this way?” “We would, of course,” he replied, but continued along a lane. We met Marriott walking. He shouted something in the nature of a greeting. I presume it was Marriott he was talking about. “A psychopath.” He gave me a long and involved account of how he had foolishly looked too approvingly at the man’s wife because she resembled a girl he knew in Tipperary. He had apologised. Then the man began borrowing money and taking his tools without leaving a note. And last night he had had a show-down. “I’ll take you to the place,” he said. “It won’t be much out of our way.” And he drove to a little caravan in the wild surrounded with flowers and a few vegetables in the hollow of the hills. “I’m there several years and I pay no rates.” Then he drove on towards Newcastle along more lanes.
Finally we hit a main road. There was a factory estate and on one factory a clock. “Jesus!” he said, “I’m ten minutes slow” and sped down the dual carriageway. So that was the explanation. I arrived at the station with about five minutes to spare. But the train was returned and delayed ten minutes. Yet despite that it reached Chesterfield on time, and there was no Westacott to meet me. As I was telephoning he appeared. “Sorry,” he said, “I thought it was bound to be late.” I had tea with him and then his wife brought me down to the meeting in the Market Hall. There were about 25 present.
After that I stayed with Basil Baker, who is a Chesterfield man. He moved to Sheffield, met George Allison who was then there, and became a full-time organiser [ie. for the CPGB]. He told me about Westacott and Peck, but blamed their disagreement on Peck’s insistence on the limelight. Yet he did not agree with Westacott on Czechoslovakia (that is assuming Joe Whelan’s account of Westacott’s views was correct), since he claims to know Czechoslovakia well and says that everybody he knows there condemns the Russians. How it will look to history of course is another matter. He explained that he is the AEU [Amalgamated Engineering Union] District President and they had wangled Westacott into an engineering factory.
He and his wife spoke of Rose Small. She retired and bought a house with a ten-year lease. She was then sixty. Then she decided to go and live with a son in Australia. The domestic arrangements were not a success. She decided to return to England and to visit China on the way. There she was offered a job as an English sub-editor. When she came to England on a visit she had become a convinced and determined Maoist. So there you are!
September 21 Monday (Liverpool): Having left my watch at Chester-le-street I wired Michael Crowe and asked him to send it to Liverpool. Then I took the bus to Ripley to read the proofs. Somebody had put “bank clerks” in upper and lower case. Ted (the shop steward) asked “What have the bank clerks done to get capitals?” I take it only printers are entitled to that. I then went on to Derby and reached Liverpool at about 8 pm. I found (when I went out for something to set the clock by) that Cowie’s clock had disappeared. I had to telephone. This puts me at inconvenience. Ever since I returned since Phyllis was ill I have looked through the window to check the time in the morning, and gone into the garden to check it at other times. There was a letter from a man in Canada asking about Connolly, and a set of false teeth from Cathal’s father. However, he has reversed the position of one of the brackets and I have been unable to fit them. I wonder why he has done that. He also included a bracket he said he would leave out.
September 22 Tuesday: I spent the morning buying things and did a bit in the garden. The weather continues hot and dry – the second good year. Will we have a third, I wonder? There is, I suppose, just a chance; then the deluge. I went into the chemist. A new man was there. “What has happened to your clock?” “Well, it was either the clock or the chemist. “How?” “Well it was only rented, it did not belong to the shop.” So Cowie, of the old school, rented the clock for forty years as a public service and paid all the time. The new man, no doubt having difficulty in raising the capital for the business, has cut his expenditure to the minimum. There must be no frills. But aha, that means high prices. If I want medicaments, which Heaven forbid, I will go elsewhere.
September 23 Wednesday: Another brilliant day. I spent a good part of it in the garden, but also wrote some letters. But I have a cold.
September 24 Thursday: I had thought of going to the cottage. But first I have still a cold and second a letter came from Cornforth. He wants the preface to the Russian collection at once, and he is also prepared to consider publishing the “Irish Question and the British People”, duly brought up to date. [“The Irish Question and the British People: a Plea for a New Approach” was the title of a pamphlet written by Greaves which the Connolly Association had published in 1963. He used the name to refer to the new book that he was writing, dealing with the post-1968 troubles in Northern Ireland, which was published in 1972 as “The Irish Crisis” and which in due time went into German, Italian, Russian and Hungarian editions.] So I remained but did little. I rang Michael Crowe who said he posted the watch yesterday by so-called first-class mail. It did not arrive. And then, to crown everything, didn’t the alarm clock which functions in the living room decide to break down at 10 pm., so that there is now not a timepiece in the house nor one visible outside. Somewhere I thought Phyllis had a traveller’s clock that folds. But I could not find it, and heaven knows how bad it is now.
September 25 Friday: I was across the road in the chemist buying some TCP and took occasion to ask what had happened to the clock. He is a small dark man about 35-40 years old. “It was either the clock or the chemist,” he replied. I asked what he meant. “It was only on weekly hire,” he said. So perhaps he has been charged some fantastic sum for the goodwill of the business, which was very thriving, and must economise at every point. Cowie, on the other hand, taking it on about 43 years ago as a youngster, built it up and was prepared to keep on the clock as a public service. However, I used sometimes to go and buy things like olive oil at Cowie’s because through his prices were not the lowest he was fair enough. I will hardly do so for this fellow.
I spent the whole day on the Marks/Engels preface and finished it [ie. the foreword to the book “Marx and Engels on Ireland”, published in London and Moscow in 1971], also proposals regarding the “Irish Question”, and posted them off to Cornforth.
September 26 Saturday (Salop): I cycled to Bromborough, then took the train to Shrewsbury and then cycled to the cottage. The weather was fine and warm, in keeping with this generally warm but surprisingly uncertain season. I distinguished serious deterioration of the outer wall of the cottage and abandoned my plan of pushing on to Nant Dernol so that I could see about repairs. I saw the Corbetts for a few minutes on arrival.
September 27 Sunday: There was thick mist in the morning and it drizzled, though remaining warm. Neverthless, I cycled down to Rowsons at Snailbeach and told him about the brickwork. He promised to come up on Friday to do emergency repairs and to tackle the whole job in the middle of October. I hope he does. I think he is likely to try to keep a promise but maybe attempts too much. I found them after they had had lunch and were preparing to go to the “Harvest Festival” at the “Chapel”, which they explained was Methodist. The wife was engaged in insinuating a lively young fellow of six or seven into a suit with tapered leg trousers and a “dickie bow” tie. So much for “children’s fashions” or what they waste their money on now.
I went to the Corbett’s in the evening. They told me that Fletcher, the builder, has still made no announcement upon the future of the Estate. “They were up here yesterday – shooting,” said Mrs Corbett. “Shooting what?” “Pooh,” said Corbett, “Anything that moves. I don’t think most of them are much behind a gun.” He remarked that when Fletcher bought the estate there were five tenancies that have now been ended. The destruction of the village is most spectacular and complete. There are only Mrs Corbett and two cottages on the main road, whose tenants bought the freehold from the estate. The closing of the school was of course the fatal blow. Corbett remarked that his grandson used to live up here and attended the school. He was a bright intelligent independent little lad who “would remember anything you’d tell him”. Now he is glued to the television set. No matter what he is doing he will come back at a set time. He must watch it or he will be outside all the conversation at the school tomorrow. Thus country children are suburbanized. “It is amazing how they all want to be the same,” said Corbett. “I am 57 today – yet hardly gave it a thought till now.”
September 28 Monday: I intended to go to Nant Dernol, for after the lifting of the morning mist it became intensely hot and sultry. The temperature must have been well up in the seventies. I cycled to Bishop’s Castle, then up Carn Erwn. But the forest road along Kerry Hills, which Roy Johnston and I tramped over twenty years ago, had disappeared. I could not get to the west and had to come down from the hills at Kerry. I therefore decided to return to the cottage through Church Stoke and Nwid [? placename unclear], which I did.
September 29 Tuesday (Liverpool): Another hot dry day, though not quite so hot. I collected brambles and timber, then cycled to Salop and took the train back to Liverpool. I had a brief word with the Corbetts before leaving. They will notify me if there is any serious deterioration of the cottage. But I hope to have a few weeks’ real holidays soon and will call to see if Rawson has done his job.
September 30 Wednesday: A day spent clearing and cleaning. I have cleared up some beds in the garden where caterpillars have attacked my good red cabbage. I dug some excellent potatoes. I replied to a man called Boyle who was asking questions about Connolly. He is at Mount Allison University in Canada.
October 1 Thursday (London): I left for London on the midday train. In the evening Jane Tate came into the office. There were no great developments reported. But Tony Coughlan was busy there.
October 2 Friday: Tony Coughlan told me that he had been enquiring about the genesis of the “contingency” plans for the abolition of Stormont which is being plugged in fine style at the Labour Party Conference. Every day brings a new convert. Now of all people Tony Coughlan learned about it from Roy Johnston, which means there were quite a few people involved in the discussions in Belfast. All those who considered themselves to be high contracting parties. Another amazing thing, showing the way that the romanticism of Republicanism has swept some of our erstwhile quasi-orange revolutionaries, is that some of them who shall be nameless have been taking interest in how fire-arms could be used under necessity [Jimmy Stewart of the CPI, Belfast and his wife Edwina of the NICRA were rumoured to have received arms training at this time from the Goulding-led “Official” Republicans]. And with the Republicans all you need is to approve of the gun.
October 3 Saturday: I was in the office in the morning. Those who came in were Pat O’Donohue, Peter Mulligan, Jane Tate, Pat Hensey and Jim Kelly. They seem to be working well enough. I was out with Sean Redmond in the evening. He said the United Irish Association are split between Boland-Blaney-Haughey and Lynch, with Manchester for Lynch, London for Haughey[ie. on the Blaney-Haughey arms trial in Dublin]. NICRA are split on the Republican issue. The CDU are split over the NILP! And Tom McDowell’s incursion into Bristol raised so many ultra-left banners that he grew frightened and called the whole thing off! I was out in Holloway with Sean Redmond. There was a sinister development. In the “Dublin Castle”, which had recently received a huge boost from the Irish Post, a tall well-dressed individual was selling copies. He had a huge bundle over his arm. Indeed everywhere we met competition, from Trotiskies, from Davoren’s lunatics and from others.
October 4 Sunday (Liverpool): Some of us went to Coventry for the meeting of the coordinating committee, namely Sean Redmond, Jane Tate, Charlie Cunningham, Barbara Haq and myself [ie. for the meeting of representatives of the Connolly Association, the Movement for Colonial Freedom, the United Ireland Association and various British support groups for NICRA and the Campaign for Social Justice, who were collecting signatures to the petition for the Bill of Rights]. Barbara told us of how Frank Pakenham had been up to his Privy Councillor’s tricks [Lord Pakenham,1905-2001; former Labour Minister]. He had got round Fenner Brockway to support him in introducing a PR [Proportional Representation] Bill in the Lords – leaving all other issues untouched. The aim is, as has been stated in the preliminary kite-flying by others, to make a “viable” opposition in the Six Counties. As for the direct rule business, it is being insidiously pushed. They have got that rat Andrew Boyd on it [Northern Ireland journalist and popular historian, author of “Holy War in Belfast”, 1969]. Fitt is wobbling like a jelly. I imagine they will work hard to get Bernadette Devlin on it. One doesn’t hear much of her for the moment. Presumably she is book-writing. Barbara Haq also says that that stiff ramrod of political principle, the same Lord Brockway, is now wavering in his opposition to the Common Market and saying, “We’re going in anyway. Let’s get the best terms.” She has been trying to strengthen his resolve. She suspects Bing of pushing both PR and direct rule [Geoffrey Bing QC, 1909-1977, former Labour MP and leader of the “Friends of Ireland” group in the House of Commons in the late 1940s; former Attorney General of Ghana]. Bing would like to get back into Parliament, and no doubt Pakenham would be able to help him [Frank Pakenham, Earl of Longford; former Labour Minister; author of “Peace by Ordeal” on the Anglo-Irish Treaty and “Eamon De Valera”, the official biography, with Prof.Tom O’Neill].
We met in a pub in Coventry. There was P.Turley, D.Turley, Pat Powell, and the Birminghams came, Tom McDowell and his colleague the secretary, a West Bromwich publican. The Manchesters were very late. The first thing they did after the doors were closed was to bring in cases of beer and Guinness. The “delegates” sat at a table without beer – largely because the Londoners set an example by declining it. But the “observers” who sat on seats round the periphery of the room, regaled themselves continually. This was an extraordinary type of meeting. Yet it seems to have become stereotyped and Coventry was not to be outdone in its hospitality! For there had to be a break for sandwiches.
McDowell was in the dumps. He produced a copy of the Morning Star in which the report of the London conference was contained. He thought the Connolly Association was getting too much publicity and the Social Justice too little. My letter in the Irish Times [drawing attention to the range of organisations involved in the petition campaign] had not soothed him – perhaps he only pretended that he saw it. And then Frank Conway, soon to return to London, and handing over to a little Dublin man, was charged with giving a statement to the Irish Post, which mixed up the meeting today with one which McManus is to address at the end of the month. McDowell, who knows more priests than Barbara Haq knows Members of Parliament, heard about it from McManus’s brother, who is a priest in Birmingham. He had telephoned MacManus who had disassociated himself from the whole thing. So Tom McDowell was anxious that Conway should issue a denial. He was depressed at the accusation that the petition was “left wing” and said that the help given by the Trade Unions and Communist Party was pitiful. That I well believe, for Bourne and Watters jumped into the thing quite opportunistically, scrambling on the bandwagon when it was well lit up, and then probably forgetting all about it. I didn’t even make a motion of defending them, and merely got it round to how the Trade Unionists could be won. When I suggested a conference in Birmingham, McDowell saw a possibility of himself being the centre of admiration (indeed I quite crudely fed this notion to him) and he cheered up considerably. So finally a quite reasonable press statement was got ready. The observers for the most part “observed”, though there was occasional laughter and applause. “Their discipline is remarkable,” Pat Powell, the most intelligent man there apart from the Londoners, commented to me. “After all they are only ordinary people.” So there is education in this strange form of meeting. Agreement was reached on the date of presentation, the calling of the national lobby, condemnation of direct rule – indeed everything we had roughly drafted out in the train.
Pat Powell drove me to the station. He has had a continuance of a colitis which interfered with his effectiveness in July. He is going to “Manor House Hospital” in London next week. He has been told that it is “definitely not cancer”. I didn’t like hearing the word mentioned [His sister Phyllis had died from it; see Volume 17]. A young man in his thirties doesn’t expect cancer. So why reassure him? Then they “wanted to cut a little sample of him away” – yes, for cytological examination. Well, we must hope it is not, as he is a good lad.
Finally I came on to Liverpool. The day was very warm.
October 5 Monday: I managed to do one book review but did not get through the work I had intended. It is a nuisance not having Mrs Phillips. She has been in hospital and talks of being “old”.
October 6 Tuesday (London): I returned to London on the midday train. The Standing Committee met in the evening and a number of quite important things were decided – to hold a lobby on 10th November [ie. of MPs in the House of Commons] to scare the MPs off Frank Pakenham’s little proposal for example, and to hold a conference with the object of getting a little more unanimity amongst Irish organisations. We drew the conclusion that they are looking for a lead from the Coventry situation. Among those present were Charlie Cunningham, Jim Kelly, Sean Redmond, Jane Tate, and Toni Curran came in.
October 7 Wednesday: In the afternoon Dalton Kelly came in, asking for news of Belfast, whither he returns tomorrow. He went up to see Sean Redmond. But I went up to Northampton. We met in the lounge bar (upstairs) of the Green Man. The landlord was present. They drank before and during the meeting. I would have got a branch from seven of them if an eighth had not posed prudential consideration. Policy could not be discussed, but let alone theory, when they were all drinking. Only something so simple and common sense that nobody could object. So I suggested a Bill of Rights petition committee, an ad hoc body that could dissolve after 16 March when we present the petition. I hope the long fellow who objected will drop out and leave us a clear field. It was quite interesting how much fear there was, fear of victimization, of being called Communist or IRA.
October 8 Thursday: I spent the whole day in the office, for the most part working on the paper. In the evening Jim Kelly and Charlie Cunningham came in.
October 9 Friday: I worked on the paper. But in the evening I was out with Jane Tate in Holloway.
October 10 Saturday: I prepared the first draft of a “Bill of Rights” which I called the “Northern Ireland (Removal of Grievances) Bill” and decided to publish it in the Irish Democrat to try to take the wind out of the sails of Frank Pakenham, Bing and company. Sean Redmond came in, and Jim Kelly, Pat O’Donohue, two former Queen’s students, whom I expect little of, and a few more. Pat O’Donohue has a good head and Jim Kelly is certainly beginning to blossom out a bit. Jimmy Claxton came in and bought all the works of Connolly to help prepare a lecture.
October 11 Sunday (Cardiff): I rose at 7 am. and despite fog caught the 9 am. from Paddington to Cardiff. The weather quickly cleared and it was sunny and hot until we emerged as if by magic from the Severn tunnel into drizzle that quickly turned into a downpour. Wayne Jenkins met me at the station. He told me of his troubles. The decorating business he and Louis Dare were running has folded up as Eilis forecast, and Jenkins had to take a job in the steel works. Louis was not coming to the conference because the Connolly Association (that is paying for it) has not called it under the name of Social Justice, thus incidentally driving McDowell out of Cardiff, for the time being at any rate. Wayne Jenkins had had his van stolen though he had recovered it. He had not therefore done much postal work for the conference.
He drove me up to Richard Spencer’s, and I had lunch there. He is a lecturer in French at the University and a very decent man altogether. Then Wayne Jenkins called again and drove me to the conference. About twenty turned up. Dai Francis [South Wales miners’ leader] was not able to come but his colleague Cristy Davis took the chair. He agreed after he had finished that the facts I mentioned were unknown to him. The National Organiser of Plaid Cymru announced that his party had decided officially to take up the petition. Tecwyn Evens was there, and two miners from Llanellni and one from Ogmore.
After the conference was over I had tea with a number of the delegates, mostly Welsh, and later Tecwyn, Wayne Jenkins and I went to the Irish club. Foxy Culleton was on the door. There was a deafening band, though nobody danced to it and the atmosphere was provincial and dull. I had an exchange of greetings with Culleton, but I knew he did not want us there very badly. He told Wayne Jenkins that he had not attended in the afternoon because he “was working”. He would be. But I did not communicate to Jenkins my estimate of the man. We then repaired to the “Carvery” where it was quiet enough to talk. “There’ll be some of them in to sing very soon,” said Tecwyn Evans. “What will they sing?” “Mostly hymns I think,” he replied. “That’s alright,” said I. “It won’t stop us from talking,” said he. So we talked about Celtic languages and Wayne Jenkins and a girl (possibly Jenkins’s girlfriend, though they were not desperately cordial) had to listen. But I think Wayne Jenkins is looking for romance and where could he better find it? The hymn-singers did not arrive and so later he drove me back to Richard Spencer’s.
October 12 Monday (Chester-le-Street): I called into Bert Pearce in the morning. He told me that Wayne Jenkins is not popular in party circles, since he has an erratic tendency, but that he did good work on Anti-Apartheid. He is one of those men who rush off to any revolutionary issue – to Israel labouring for example. He started a university course at Swansea but did not complete it. He is now aged 28 and should be sobering up. Nevertheless he does not despair of him.
Then I took the train to Newcastle, where Michael Crowe met me. We went to Chester-le-street where there was a “question-and-answer meeting” well attended.
October 13 Thursday (Glasgow): I went on from Newcastle to Edinburgh and Glasgow. In the afternoon I went into Gallacher House and discussed the Scottish Conference which they think should be held on a Saturday morning! At 5.30 Hawkins met me at Glasgow Central. There was a friend with him. He is possibly a little younger than I thought, 28 possibly 30. We went to Paisley where there were about 15 people. He told me that the Clann na hEireann, Connolly Association and CP had been holding “joint meetings” to demand the release of Bernadette Devlin, but when he rang McGinley, he was told McGinley knew nothing about it. I resolved to break it off completely from these twisty customers with a finger in every pie. I think I have got them all lapsed out of it and will not press them to re-enrol. I left for London on the midnight train.
October 14 Wednesday (London): I worked on the paper. Sean Redmond was not at the branch meeting as he had a cold.
October 15 Thursday: Again I worked on the paper.
October 16 Friday: I practically finished the paper, and went out in Holloway with Tony Donaghey, a very good lad. We had a drink with Conor and Mrs Finnegan.
October 17 Saturday: the usual people came into the office in the morning. Margot Parrish rang up. Barbara Haq had asked her (before she left for the Sudan) that we should contact Brockway, who is wavering over his complicity in Pakenham’s plot to sidetrack the Bill of Rights with a PR Bill [ie. introducing Proportional Representation in Northern Ireland elections]. I don’t think Brockway likes me. When a few years ago he declared for Federation at one of our meetings at Trafalgar Square I dissociated everyone from it from the chair. I noticed when I was speaking at the MCF Conference in Cardiff he was not sorry when I finished! So I rang Sean Redmond, who is still unwell, and he said he would try, on the pretext of taking him a copy of the Bill of Rights. Incidentally Ralph Milner was too busy to look over my draft, but Platts Mills [Queen’s Counsel; Labour MP 1945-50] gave me the whole of Wednesday afternoon and was very helpful. Then I got Enid Lakeman on the franchise sections [Enid Lakeman,1903-1995, Director of the Electoral Reform Society and advocate of the single-transferable-vote form of proportional representation in elections]. It was interesting how readily Platts-Mills put everything aside. He told me that he regretted that he was not more deeply “involved” in these political causes, and was always pleased to help. He was of course our landlord in Rosoman Street years ago [a former Connolly Association office], when he was hoping to get back into Parliament. It was years before he became a QC because of his left-wing opinions.
In the office Charlie Cunningham told me that the New Statesman has published a letter from Kevin McCorry against “direct rule”. This I had strongly urged Dalton Kelly to secure. But Sean Redmond sent one in as an insurance, though it was not published.
October 18 Sunday: I was busy in the office all day. Pat Hensey and Charlie Cunningham came in. They had a rather stormy meeting in Hyde Park. The Irish care deeply but are dreadfully confused. The English don’t care and are even worse confused, but don’t know it.
October 19 Monday: Didn’t the remainder of the proofs of Mellows arrive today! So there is a slice of my holiday gone. Really this is provoking. I was in the office.
October 20 Tuesday (Liverpool): I went to Ripley in the morning and read the proofs of the paper and then came on to Liverpool. I arrived reasonably early and started the proof reading – which I had begun on the train – as soon as I got back. But it will take several days.
October 21 Wednesday: I spent the whole day on the proofs, apart from going out to make purchases.
October 22 Thursday: I started inking in the corrections I had made in pencil. There are still however a number of things I should go to Dublin for. So I will have to lop the other end of the holiday.
October 23 Friday: I finished inking in and listed the things that must be got. I rang Nan Green who told me that there was not a furious hurry at this stage. So perhaps I will go away on Sunday. I must be tired out, as I don’t really feel like going. But as Phyllis used to say, “That is the very time you should.”
October 24 Saturday: I could have gone away today but yielded to the disinclination to stir. I went to town and bought some odd things. But little else. I telephoned the office at midday and spoke to Jim Kelly and Sean Redmond. Barbara Haq had left a special request that he should see Brockway and try to get him off Pakenham’s little intrigue, but I do not think he has gone. But doubtless he will send a copy of the paper. According to Pat Hensey it was well received last night. But I do not expect much attention. Every step has to be won as if it were climbing a vertical cliff.
October 25 Sunday: I had intended to go to the cottage but it rained and turned cold. I did almost nothing except read the papers and do a little on the “Irish Question”, which Lawrence and Wishart want by February 7th. I think I will write a new book. It is always interesting to read in the papers of people we knew years ago. Thus a few years ago I read that AHW was a doctor in Bristol and received a confession from a murderer in prison. How he must have been terrified. There was seldom a more timorous person. Then the bumptious Cunningham who started the “World Society of Peace and Arts”, which encompassed the whole of Prenton and imagined himself Lord Birkenhead from a general physical resemblance. Then I read a year or two ago that he had been arrested in South Africa and I think deported. Today I saw Francois Lafitte’s name for the first time for years. He is a professor in Birmingham and seems to have moved far from the political position he held when he was in Oxford! [There are references to some of these figures from Greaves’s secondary school days in Volumes 1 and 2 of the Journal.]
October 26 Monday: I did not go today, for it was still cold and showery. But the forecast was dry and cool tomorrow.
October 27 Tuesday: I got up early expecting a fine day. Instead of the West Northwest and occasional showers, there was a downpour from the South-East and it went on all day! A letter from Cathal told me that things were not too good, but for Tony Coughlan’s outstanding work against the EEC. But how far our last rearguard action is going to be successful, I wondered, when I heard of Britain’s capitulation on farm prices on the radio that evening [ie. the British Government’s acceptance of higher food prices arising from the EEC’s Common Agricultural Policy in the UK-EEC accession negotiations then going on].
October 28 Wednesday: The morning dawned dry and cold. All’s well I thought and started to pack. And then? A drizzle that turned into a downpour, which kept on all day. I decided to go to Ireland instead of Wales and went into the city despite the rain to book a ticket. This being found possible I hastily collected things and went on board.
October 29 Thursday (Belfast/Dublin): I had a good berth on “A” deck and the night was calm. Result – a decent sleep. I went to see Betty Sinclair as soon as she was in her office. They do not attend early in Belfast. Last night I had spoken to Tony Coughlan on the phone and he said NICRA were “running round in circles”. I had hoped to find out her reaction to our draft Bill, but she had not received it. I did not learn much of the NICRA situation and I doubt she is in touch with it.
I called to the Belfast Telegraph [where Jack Bennett worked as a journalist]. Jack Bennett said he would be out in ten minutes, so I left a message with the man on the back gate that I was at McGlades. I had scarcely ordered a lager when my attention was attracted to Andy Barr sitting down with Joe Deighan [Andy Barr,1913-2003, leading Northern Ireland trade unionist and CPI member]. Joe had recently written to “reopen the channels”. But I had not replied, not because I was unwilling to have them reopened, but partly because I doubt they would be of much value, and partly because I was displeased at his concealing his intention of leaving London at a time when I was at great inconvenience deciding to fill the gap Sean Redmond left rather than let things slide with Sean in nominal control. So I was a wee bit chilly. It was rather amusing. Several people had said they had not seen anything of Joe Deighan. He was now at pains to say that he had had difficulty getting a house, and now he was unemployed and wondered if he would get jobs as a “locum tenens” through the winter, and whether his religion was against him, and that Tony Coughlan had written asking him if he was in retirement! Now this was because he probably got wind of my opinion that he intends at any rate a partial retirement, a withdrawal from responsibility. Jack Bennett and Andy Barr left and I arranged to travel to Dublin with Barr in the afternoon. Joe Deighan told me that he is losing the ability to see “the wood” that he had when he was in London.
But an amusing thing related to Birmingham. I had nearly inserted a paragraph criticizing the Trotsky conference to “start a new Irish organisation”, which took place a week or two ago. Kevin McCorry went and Cathal Goulding was advertised but did not go. I thought it was a Republican attempt to get a clear field for themselves in England. But Joe Deighan says it was sheer ignorance sent him there, an experience that disillusioned him with the result.
After leaving Joe Deighan I went (circuitously and with lunch in between) to see Kevin McCorry. I learned Joe Deighan had been there in the meantime. My impression confirmed Tony Coughlan’s opinion. On the wall was a Connolly Youth collecting tin [The Connolly Youth was the youth wing of the CPI]. The phone went and I heard a conversation clearly relating to Republican activities. The general impression is one of amateurishness. He told me that he was a “fraternal delegate” at the Birmingham thing. He was not asked to speak until the end. Then he enquired why they had taken all their decisions before inviting the opinion of those concerned. There were two sides. Each had being trying to lobby him to back them. But when he supported neither, he found as he left that neither would even speak to him. I suggested he might ring us up first to find out whether a conference would be a waste of time! He did not bite. I think they confidently explore possible rival alliances to push us on one side, and usually burn their fingers. However he was cordial enough.
I caught the “Enterprise” at 5.30 and found Andy Barr already on board. To him I spelled out the two proposals I had adumbrated to Joe Deighan and which I had come to Belfast to sow the seed of. One was that the NICRA [ie.the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association, for which Kevin McCorry was now a full-time organiser] should take part in a broader grouping that would fight for the full realisation of the reforms promised and agitate for their improvement. For NICRA seems to have no immediate policy. This could bring in Protestants. On this Andy Barr was enthusiastic. He said, “You could even bring the Alliance Party into this.” Then I said the NICRA should sit down and list all the grievances shared by Protestant and Catholic, take them up and be seen to take them up. This might help to get them also out of the ghetto into which the Trotsky element [ie. the People’s Democracy, whose leading figures Michael Farrell and Kevin Boyle had been on the NICRA Executive for a period] have forced the movement before abandoning it. He agreed with this too. He was coming to Dublin to give a lecture to the CPI on Trade Unionism. Tony Coughlan met me at the station, and we went up to Cathal’s after a bite at Daly’s [a steak house on Eden Quay].
At Cathal’s[ie.Cathal and Helga MacLiam’s home at 24 Belgrave Road, Rathmines, where Greaves was staying] the main thing is the Common Market Study Group which has done great work, including the publication of Tony Coughlan’s pamphlet [titled “The Common Market: Why Ireland Should Not Join”], and Cathal has been enormously active [The Common Market Study Group was a spin-off of the Dublin Wolfe Tone Society and was formed to oppose EEC membership and prepare for Ireland’s Accession Treaty referendum, which was eventually held on 10 May 1972. The Common Market Study Group, which produced a number of pamphlets, had a range of well-known personalities as sponsors].
October 30 Friday: I went to the National Library and found some references that I required and had lunch with Tony Coughlan. Later on the way to Sean Nolan’s I met Michael O’Riordan and we had a brief talk in the shop. It was pouring rain and I had no top coat, so I did not go to the Connaught Rangers’ funeral with him. In the evening Micheál O Loingsigh came and discussed the demonstrations against Mansholt that are to take place at Tralee tomorrow [Sicco Mansholt, 1908-1995, EEC Agricultural Commissioner, later President of the EEC Commission in Brussels, author of the “Mansholt Plan” for raising productivity in agriculture by reducing the number of farmers]. He invited me down, but I felt too tired after the travelling and late nights. The difficulty is that there is no united effort. Fr Duffy is making a protest, the Provisional IRA have a picket and Cathal Goulding’s people also have one. So I fear this scoundrel is to be let off lightly. It is clear to me that a much greater effort must be made, and even then success will be difficult to achieve.
October 31 Saturday: The weather is damp but very warm for the time of year. I saw Tony Coughlan and we went into Bernardo’s [a long-established Italian restaurant in Lincoln Place, Dublin, at the back of Trinity College]. We had scarcely finished when Michael O’Leary [1936-2006, Labour TD and later Labour Party leader and Tanaiste, before he left the Labour Party to join Fine Gael] appeared in the company of John Feeney of The Week (an “Irish” weekly owned by News of the World). The Government had just withdrawn its proposals for an immediate wage-freeze. “A General Election, surely”, I remarked to Tony Coughlan as we went in. O’Leary had drawn the same conclusion, and others. He told us that notwithstanding all solemn pledges to the contrary, every Labour TD favoured a coalition with Fine Gael. “We’ve got to show that we are willing to take office.” What about the pledges not to enter the EEC, asked Tony. “Pooh – How can we keep out of the EEC.” So once again there is evidence of the utter demoralisation of these latter days – I think in one way or another the last days of a world we have known, because the existing forces of conservatism are compelled to change their own relationships. “You’ll be execrated in Irish history!” Tony Coughlan threw at him. “What did posterity ever do for Michael O’Leary?” I asked. For Irish history would no longer exist in the sense AC [ie. Anthony Coughlan] had in mind. For O’Leary replied that he was only thinking of his party like a good party member. Feeney only chattered and after about an hour we left them. O’Leary intimated however that whatever way things went his own seat was safe and that no TDs were more enthusiastic for coalition than the new intelligentsia, Justin Keating, Thornley and Conor Cruise O’Brien, the rubbish recruited by McInerney [Michael McInerney, political correspondent of the “Irish Times” was a strong Labour Party supporter and “pushed” the new Labour intake in that paper. He had been first editor of “Irish Freedom”, predecessor of the “Irish Democrat”, in London in 1939]. One gathers that the “British representative”, in Belfast, Burroughs (if that is how he spells his name) is holding champagne parties, press conferences and briefing sessions – a second Alfred Cope. It also seems that the Labour TDs were bought over during their recent trip to Brussels.
“I’m sure you had plenty champagne there,” said I to O’Leary.
“We did,” said he, “But it didn’t influence our views.” Perhaps there was no need.
Later in the evening Kader Asmal and his wife came in, Asmal dressed in immaculate evening clothes, his wife likewise. He thought a lawyer had drawn up the Bill of Rights and he seems pleased with it. He may make suggestions, though where will he get these? I said to Kader that the conversation with O’Leary had convinced me that the politicisation of the Trade Union movement in Ireland was a long overdue necessity. He replied that he could not understand what had prevented Michael O’Riordan and his colleagues undertaking it years ago.
November 1 Sunday: I had intended to go cycling but though it was still warm it grew cloudy and rained. We took the children [ie. the children of Cathal and Helga MacLiam, with whom Greaves was staying] to the Natural History Museum, where little Killian made whatever noises he judged the likely outcome of any stuffed animal he saw, and Bebhinn and Conor argued about whether bats were birds or mice. We heard Mansholt “sweetly reasonable” on the EEC. “Come into my parlour,” said the spider to the fly. And it looks as if the protests were not very effective. In any case today Cathal Goulding’s people were at Edentubber for no better reason than to show themselves as traditional as the traditionalists. Thus they fall between two stools.
November 2 Monday: I did little during the day – only a little shopping and walking. At the same time I am revolving the plan of the next book in my mind. In the evening the EEC Study Group met in the front room. It had not a good attendance. My opinion was confirmed that it wants substantial strengthening, and that unless it can get Trade Union support and pass to action the day is as good as lost. Roy Johnston was there – as ever putting forward speculative nonsense. We learned that a group of Provisionals in Dundalk had tried to shoot Cathal Goulding last night in a pub. “You want to be very careful,” said Micheál O Loingsigh to Roy Johnston and Tony Coughlan, “You’re the two most hated men.” I told Roy once again that I thought he had made a mess of the whole thing. He had taken it upon himself to transform the Republican Movement, and now we were reaping the reward in division, just at the time when we needed unity. Later Oliver Snoddy [ie. Pádraig O Snodaigh, Irish language writer and publisher; then working in the National Museum] came back. He expressed the view that the split would only be healed by forming a secret IRB to work within both wings and coordinate them. Thus a third. I said I thought Republicans had best stick to Republicanism, Socialists to Socialism. They cannot conceive of any development that is not under the control of their petit-bourgois organisation, so that they split their whole organisation rather than limit its objectives and allow the working class to look after itself – and they have learned nothing.
November 3 Tuesday: I did very little, read a little, went into town, and came back. The Wolfe Tone AGM took place. When it was over Maire Comerford came in, followed by Tony Coughlan and Micheál O Loingsigh. Tony Coughlan has retired from the secretaryship [to concentrate on the anti-EEC campaign through the Common Market Study Group and its offshoot in the 1972 referendum, the Common Market Defence Campaign] and Cathal is still chairman. There was an attack on Roy Johnston by some “Provisionals” which Roy was too flustered to repel properly. When O Loingsigh and Tony Coughlan had gone, Cathal came in with Con Lehane [1912-1983, Dublin solicitor, elected Clann na Poblachta TD in 1948, a strong nationalist]. The latter is selling a public house for a client, so they sat there drinking till 12.30 and arrived back here by about 1 am. – Con, who is credited with the regular consumption of a bottle of whiskey a day, somewhat under the weather, so that it was not possible to talk very seriously with him. But he complimented me on the draft “Bill of Rights”, reference to which has been negligible in the press. However, it may well be that some of the silent ones may be claiming the paternity before things are finished.
November 4 Wednesday: I went cycling – around Enniskerry and Bray. There were coots and herons descending over the river – and every kind of rubbish dumped by motorists all the way down the banks. What filthy muck the present generation of people are, a product well suited to the society they derived from. It began to rain about 4 pm. – not heavy – so I went to Maire Comerford’s – finding Cathal and Helga were there together with wee Killian – now aged two and a quarter and at his most uncontrollable. In Maire’s complicated establishment with its screens and labyrinthine distance, he was at his best, his little fingers into everything and his little feet clambering and climbing everywhere. Helga was collecting some of Maire’s harvest of apples. Her book has been accepted by the University Press but she can get no sense out of them regarding publication date. She remarked that Tim Pat Coogan’s book on the IRA was “not worth the money”. She had bought Frank Pakenham’s on De Valera and was dipping into it. It seems very much “official history”. She remarked that in her young days she was in Tom Johnson’s office as often as any other, as he and his wife had “the kind of enthusiasm which I responded to”[Thomas Johnson,1872-1963, Irish Labour Party leader from 1917 to 1927]. And I would say she was right. Tom Johnson was the only really able man after Connolly, but he did not understand the National Question, nor did he ever, even in his later years when I used to discuss things with him. I returned at about 10 pm.
November 5 Thursday: I went into Hodges Figgis’s and bought some books. With the prospect of economic crisis ahead, and no possibility of telling how far it will be inflationary and how far the traditional “slump”, I might as well buy what I want. Then I returned after having lunch with Tony Coughlan. He gave me the new edition of his pamphlet, considerably expanded. I told him I was by no means happy over our prospects of defeating the ruling class drive to “European Union”, as the fascists used to call it. I do not think the CPBG is sufficiently putting the issue to the fore, I think from unconscious “economism”, and I wonder how to press the need for a change in this respect. The Irish Times showed that Justin Keating is reverting to type. Like Brockway he now talks as if inclusion in the EEC were inevitable and it were merely a matter of time. This is in view of the possibility of a coalition with Fine Gael. Tony Coughlan did not pay much attention to this sign, but I urged him to treat it seriously and to try to get started a Trade Union EEC study group that would bring pressure to bear on Labour TDs. And later Cathal drove me to the “Ferryport” and I embarked for Liverpool.
November 6 Friday (Liverpool): I did very little on the whole – though I checked some references at the Birkenhead Public Library. I rang London but found Sean Redmond was on holiday.
November 7 Saturday: I got through to the office. Pat Hensey answered. We had arranged to ask Paul Rose to speak to the Central Branch. The MP replied that he would have no objection to making it a public meeting. So Pat Hensey set out without plan or conviction, and bumped into Des Logan who is now active in the Irish Club where there is an inexhaustible supply of wafflers like himself. What better, asked Des Logan, than to hold it at the Irish Club. Two committee members were speedily contacted and these proceeded to lay down terms – the meeting to be a joint one with the Club, the room to be free, but no collection to be taken. What did I think of this? I did not favour it. Nor seemingly had Charlie Cunningham, Pat O’Donohue or Jane Tate. “All the most intelligent members!” I commented. But what of Jim Kelly? “He was not present”– so that was that. I told him how to get out of it. The aim was to have Rose speak on his book [on the Manchester Martyrs], to promote its sale, but at the same time to try to bring him more under CA influence. I think we will have to replace Pat Hensey. He is the weak spot. As for Sean Redmond, he is on holiday so has not attended anything all week. It struck me that now Bob Fairley is retiring he might possibly come in on a part-time basis, and this would release somebody for the branch. But Jane Tate told me that paper sales were disastrous, owing to empty pubs and fierce competition from glossy periodicals mysteriously financed, whose publishers have “jumped on to the bandwagon”. If Lawrence & Wishart had kept “Connolly” in print, or hastened the reprint, we would be supplying the ideological food of the younger generation. But how would you tell even the best English people that their plans should be altered for the sake of the Irish?
November 8 Sunday: I had intended to go to the cottage. But once again the rain came down before the morning was out. And though it was mild the forecast was bad.
November 9 Monday (London): I finished the immediate work I had to do, and in view of the lobby tomorrow came to London. I found Sean Redmond and Charlie Cunningham in the office. Sean Redmond was favouring Pat Hensey’s arrangement with Des Logan on the grounds that “getting into the Irish Club” was desirable. I agreed that it was, but suggested an alternative. Charlie had been arguing the contrary. Eventually Sean came round.
November 10 Tuesday: I started work on the paper. Then the Irish Times rang asking about tonight’s lobby. He said something about a “Bill of Rights” being proposed in the Lords. I took it that this was Pakenham’s work and rang Barbara Haq. She told me that the meeting Brockway had called was taking place tomorrow night. Bing had drafted his Bill on Proportional Representation, but the MCF [ie. the Movement for Colonial Freedom] General Council had been strong for a Bill of Rights. As a result of this pressure Brockway had included the discussion of a Bill of Civil Rights in his circular. She read me Bing’s Bill from a photostatic copy she had. The main novelty was provision for the compulsory dissolution of the Northern Ireland Parliament on one occasion only and its re-election on the principle of PR. Local Government was not included. Barbara Haq said that she would press Brockway when she saw him this afternoon to invite me to the meeting. I suggested she should invite Sean Redmond as well. She said she would – I could conceive that Brockway might object to me for I opposed in public his pet scheme for Federation [ie. of Britain and Ireland in the context of the EEC and the commitment in the 9 May 1950 Schuman Declaration to the “federation of Europe”], his principal title to acceptance by the imperialist establishment and without which he would be nothing but a “red”.
I rang Jack Woddis and he confirmed that the MCF General Council had been very determined and that Brockway is doing this on his own. I had been told by Barbara Haq that several Lords and a number of MPs had been invited. I asked about Paul Rose, who had written me a long letter deploring attacks on “Direct Rule” in the Irish Democrat but abandoning it as a policy. “We’re not speaking to each other,” she replied. Why not? “The Middle East”. Then I rang Sean Redmond and he said he could manage it at 5.30 – half an hour after the meeting begins.
Later I went to the House of Commons and found there Charlie Cunningham, Jane Tate, and others came, for example Pat Hensey, Chris Sullivan and others. We saw Brockway meander through and later we saw Joan Hyman his secretary. She said that Bing considered the drafting of a Bill of Rights impossible. That is why he had drafted the PR Bill. She said that if we tried to extend the Race Relations Act so as to include religion we would be shipwrecked on the title of the bill. I was worried at this, as I would have thought Platts Mills would have spotted it. I discussed with Sean Redmond a disclaimer of technical perfection so that we could concentrate on the substance. Later it occurred to me that we could quote a number of authorities to the effect that “religion” was as much subsumed under “race” in Northern Ireland as “national origin” in England. And we would appeal to them to have another look at it. We saw Lena Jeger who gave me a list of lucky MPs who had drawn Bills.
As we were leaving and talking to Stallard [Jock Stallard, 1921-2008, Labour MP for St Pancras North] – who is not yet tamed and political and one might add corrupted – Brockway went past with Joan Hyman. He reeked of gin, looked very frail, and was unsteady on his feet “I’ve a meeting tomorrow,” he said, without looking at anybody, and certainly not recognizing the existence of myself. “Where?” asked Stallard. “Oh,” he answered vaguely, “In the Lords.” “What time is it?” “Oh yes, five o’clock.” “And we understand you’ve drafted a Bill of Rights.” “We’ve invited Sheehan.” We all looked puzzled. Who was Sheehan? “Oh – Redmond.” “Here’s Sean Redmond,” said Joan Hyman. Admittedly under the vast camouflage of a black beard he would be hard to recognize. “Ah Yes”, he said, and Joan Hyman helped him out.
Stallard described the CS gas incident. He had arranged to get a seat for a Canadian nun for “Prime Minister’s questions”. She was a teacher of history. He agreed to stand up when he was leaving the Chamber so that she could go out from the gallery and have tea. He was about to do this and was looking up towards her when he saw a man stand beside her, and after undoing something from a canister, lobbed one neatly at the government front bench, and another to the opposition. There was a hissing noise and the room was full of gas. Paul Rose, who also spotted the things coming then said, “I hope it’s not hand grenades.” Then the members fell over each other to get out. He saw the nun afterwards. She was delighted. “This never happened before,” she said. “And I’ve being watching history made. And I’m a teacher of history.” He thought that now things had wound down the perpetrator of the outrage, for whom he showed sympathy, would get off with two years. “But anybody could come in and do it again,” he said, “and I hope they send down nothing worse than CS gas.” On the effects of the gas he said there were none that were not put right by a pint of Guinness. He drinks in Camden Town and is a friend of Loftus. He says that there are so many Irish papers going round the Irish pubs that people are confused and will not buy any of them. This is part what we fear. He also commented on the glossy expensive paper of Davoren’s paper,
After it was over Charlie Cunningham, Chris Sullivan, Pat Hensey and I went to the Westminster Arms, that used to be the Irish House. Des Logan had telephoned and urged that if we did not hold the Rose meeting at the Irish Club we should write an explanatory letter. He said it was Pat Hensey’s fault as he has a head like a sieve! So a bee got lost in a sieve. However, I agreed.
One thing I omitted to notice. Barbara Haq told me that Austin Currie, John Hume, Gerry Fitt and Bernadette Devlin had been invited. I rang Kevin McCorry and told him what was happening, and he agreed to call round to Currie, Cooper and Hume in an effort to put some spunk into them. Tony Coughlan in a letter to Sean described the Stormont MPs as a “band of intelligent and well-meaning men”. But he castigates the Six County Republicans and the Stewarts who are taking after them. Kevin McCorry wrote asking me to suggest speakers for their nonsense at Enniskillen. I told him I would write on Thursday. Incidentally the Stewarts have been captivated by the romance of Republicanism and simply follow the Goulding element blindly.
November 11 Wednesday: I was in the office fairly early and of course the day was dominated by the meeting arranged for the evening. I learned from Barbara Haq that both I and Sean Redmond were invited. She thought that Patsy Byrne should be invited too, and I rang him for her. He couldn’t come. Rose had sent Brockway a very rude note about the “unilateral” action in calling the meeting. But Byrne thought Rose had gone too far. He gave me Rose’s home number and I telephoned him. At first he was very stand-offish indeed. When he realised that Brockway had acted without the consent and against the advice of the MCF executive he said, “I have completely misjudged the position.” Would he come? No. He had just been appointed to a “front bench” responsibility in opposing the Industrial Relations Bill. Barbara Castle was somewhat discredited [Barbara Castle, 1910-2002, had been Secretary of State for Employment in the Wilson Labour Government]. Indeed she had threatened to resign from the Labour Party. And they wanted somebody with legal knowledge. He would not be able to touch Irish affairs until Whitsun. “I was called into the headmaster’s study,” he said with a certain relish [ie. Prime Minister Harold Wilson’s office].
Then I asked if any of his members were coming. No. He had written to them and advised them not to. I mentioned the Stormont MPs. “Oh – They’ll not be there. I’ve written to them as well and told them this has nothing to do with CDU”[ie. the Labour-Party-oriented Campaign for Democracy in Ulster, of which Paul Rose MP was chairman]. Brockway had threatened to resign from the Presidency of CDU but Rose had urged him not to. He thought nothing could possibly come out of the meeting. “It’s just part of a scheme to get Bing back into Parliament. But it’s too late.” “You mean on account of age.” “Oh, not only that.” The whole thing would be forgotten about in two weeks and the way to kill it was to stay away.
I then rang Kevin McCorry and he said he would find out if the Stormont people were coming, but he thought their excuse would be that they were busy with an election.
At 4.40 I was in the Commons. Then I saw Bing and we went into the Lords’ committee room together, where Brockway greeted us. I handed Bing a copy of the Bill I had drafted. He had not seen it before and was completely nonplussed. Hardly anybody came – only Frank Pakenham, Lord Kilbracken, Lord Soper and a lady with a name I did not catch, Arthur Latham and Stan Orme. Soper left early and another MP came in. Rose had done his work well. The meeting proceeded on the basis of alternative proposals, and the presence of the Bill of Rights equalized matters. Moreover, ours was printed. Bing’s was not, and he had no copies with him. He had yielded to what Dooley always described as his fundamental weakness, lack of preparation. Also he had been drinking, I don’t know where.
Latham stood up for the Bill of Rights. Stan Orme – indecisive and confused – disclosed that he had been speaking at Cambridge with John Hume and that gentleman, while parading his support for a Bill of Rights before his constituents, had advised Orme to proceed with Bing’s Bill. Then Sean Redmond came in and made some telling points. Pakenham was visibly moved, and Bing then announced that the Bill of Rights was perfectly sound, though it would need some polishing up by a gentleman like himself, which of course we were quite ready to accept.
Kilbracken plumped for the Bill of Rights [John Godley, Lord Kilbracken,1920-2006, renounced his British citizenship and became an Irish citizen in 1972 in protest at British Government policy in Northern Ireland]. Orme went on wobbling. So did Brockway. It ended with a decision to proceed with one or the other, and that Brockway would consult Fitt and Bernadette Devlin. Sean Redmond and I saw Bing in the entrance. We waited for him and he said, “come for a drink.” So we went to the public house on Westminster Bridge where seemingly he drinks often enough. We were there until 10 pm. when we took a taxi to Kings Cross and sent him on. We told him he was on the imperial blacklist and he could not get off it by the soft-soap method. On the other hand, setting himself up as the leader of Civil Rights would do him good. He complains that even to draft a simple bill took nine days (Now I don’t believe he spent nine hours. He admits Frank Pakenham asked him to do it. I think he did the smallest piece of work compatible with producing something that would get him back into the House). And look at the expense. He had come back from Ghana without clothes almost and reached his chambers in time to see his name being painted out. Then he met Soskice by accident, and he helped a little [Frank Soskice, 1902-1979, lawyer and former Labour Home Secretary]. But he was willing to toy with the idea of a general Bill. I would guess he was wondering how to alter mine around to make it his. But let that be done. It doesn’t matter that much, as long as he “polishes” nothing out that we want in. The conversation became general and we spoke of Conor Cruise O’Brien, whom Bing appointed in Ghana [as Chancellor of the University there] and who ratted on him [Conor Cruise O’Brien, 1917-2008, Irish politician, writer and historian]. Sean Redmond went home – he had had enough whiskey – but I went to the Connolly Association pub and met Charlie Cunningham, Peter Mulligan, Pat Hensey, Jim Kelly and the rest.
November 12 Thursday: I rang Barbara Haq early and we worked out our plans. We will both write to Fitt and try to put some spunk into him. Then I rang Kevin McCorry and told him what had passed. He urged that Frank MacManus should be consulted as well as Fitt and Bernadette Devlin, as he was the best. He agreed to get pressure on Fitt and to see if he could get Devlin to write to Brockway. But it was like talking to running water and he would see if they could get somebody over here next Saturday. Then Alan Bush [1900-1995, the composer] telephoned and said he would try to call in to discuss Shields’s book tomorrow [a book of Irish political songs being put together by CA members Ted and Gwen Shields and which Greavews had been asked to help with].
Kevin McCorry rang back in the afternoon to say that he had written to Brockway. I then rang Pat Powell, whose health is better now, and asked him to get the Social Justice people to write to their MPs and to Fitt asking that the actual Bill we have drafted should be introduced into the Commons. Bing and Longford have no rights in this matter and their intervention has not been a happy one, though it seems possibly more innocent than I thought when I first heard of it. It is possible that Rose’s people might do something in the Commons to get even with Brockway in the Lords, though they are less likely than Brockway to take action as they have more channels of preferment open to them.
I spoke to Sean Redmond in the evening. He is taking CA documents home and this is making it very difficult. So I will have to put a check on that when the EC meet. Jane Tate came in during the evening. Pat Powell, by the way, told me that Tom McDowell is developing a very anti-Communist line in Birmingham. This is how Watters pays for not establishing the Connolly Association [Frank Watters had been a CP organiser in that city].
November 14 Saturday: It drenched down with rain all day. So our sales were washed out. At midday Pat O’Donohue, Jim Kelly, Pat Hensey, Charlie Cunningham, Jane Tate and others came. In the evening Gerry Curran, Charlie, Sean Redmond and others. Charlie Cunningham was at the Trade Union defence meeting. It was so crowded that extra halls had to be taken. Reg Birch arrived without credentials and was not allowed in [Reg Birch, 1914-1994, a leading engineering trade unionist, had been a communist who became a Maoist].
November 15 Sunday: I was in the office all day and managed to get quite a deal of the paper done. If I can get it completed by Tuesday I may take a quick trip to Liverpool. I was out in Holloway with Peter Mulligan in the evening and we met Stallard in the Hawley Arms.
November 16 Monday: I worked on the paper all day until it was half done. In the evening Charlie Cunningham called in for a few minutes, and later Jane Tate. I spoke to Pat Bond on the phone. He said he had seen on the Evening News that IRA men had started shooting each other [ie. shooting incidents that had started to occur between “Officials” and “Provisionals” in Belfast]. I hope not.
November 17 Tuesday: There was a denial that the shooting was IRA and the Irish Timesaccused the Ultra-Unionists. So that is one problem less, and less cause of division. I spent the day on the paper. In the evening Jim Kelly came in. There is little doubt that he is learning some politics though he is still very edgy. He had poliomyelitis or some such disease and complained when he was trying to learn to type that he had not full control over the fingers of his left hand, blushing with embarrassment as he said it. So this is the origin of the aggressiveness. Jane Tate also came in.
November 18 Wednesday: I finished the twelve-page paper and posted it off [The “Irish Democrat” was normally eight pages]. Then I went to Marx House and the Westminster Library for references. The branch meeting took place in the evening. Pat Hensey is beginning to wobble under Des Logan’s influence. Logan meets him every day at lunch time and waffles to him. Because of our refusal to transfer our meeting to the Irish Club, Des Logan has announced that he will not renew his subscription to the Connolly Association when it expires. I told them my withers are unwrung. The impertinence of the man! He says he has “no time” to come near us. But he has plenty of time for the snob environment of the Irish Club and then he threatens to resign because we won’t go to where he is [The Irish Club was situated for many years in Eaton Square, Belgravia, and was patronised by Irish Embassy staff]. His contribution is near enough to nil to be dispensed with without loss. But the influence he will have on Pat Hensey, who is a hopelessly incompetent secretary, is more serious.
I was talking to John Williamson about R.Palme Dutt. He has some circulatory disease so that if he stands his lower limbs tend to bleed, and not all the injections they could pump into him have the slightest effect. Yet he has had constructed some kind of cage or support that enables him to work, though with great discomfort and inconvenience. It is sad that he has this complaint plus the strong differences on the Czech thing. John Williamson thought Gollan unnecessarily rude to Palme Dutt at meetings where he “cut him short, or slaps him down.” So his life has an unhappy end, for it cannot go on much longer.
November 19 Thursday: There arrived an article from Con Lehane supporting my Bill of Rights. So I had to prepare an alternative page.
November 20 Friday: I continued with the alternative page. In the evening I was out with Jane Tate.
November 21 Saturday: In the afternoon there was an “Irish Democrat” conference, the object of which was really educational. There were five from Coventry, including Johnston the lecturer and Pat Powell, and Eamonn Oakes. The Birminghams sent an apology. Patsy Byrne and Hammie Donohoe came from the CDU, Kevin McCorry from Belfast and some of the Highgate NICRA. I thought on the whole it was useful.
The reason why Tom McDowell did not come was that NICRA are holding their parade in Enniskillen on Saturday. Tony Coughlan and John McClelland think it is foolish, but as there is no way of stopping it they will try to make it a success. It involves defying a ban on processions. Now Kevin MacManus was in Birmingham, and he has a brother a priest in Wolverhampton. He asked Tom McDowell to hold his picket of Downing Street simultaneously with the parade, and he agreed though he “invaded” our territory if the terms of the coordination agreement are to be regarded seriously [ie. an understanding between the organisations supporting the Bill of Rights petition]. But now Roland Kennedy of Highgate NICRA was distributing leaflets calling for a picket of the Ulster Office. After the conference we had a social at the Pindar of Wakefield, now given over to cabaret at weekends by the new manager. Kevin McCorry and the NICRAs remained apart all evening trying to decide which to support. This was Sean Redmond’s fault. He was in the chair and I suggested to him that he announce at the conference that if the two sides came into our office we could hammer out agreement and please Tom McDowell in Birmingham. Possibly because he wanted to go home, and didn’t want to leave anything carrying kudos to me, or possibly out of laziness, or that strange hesitation that clutches him at times, he muddled the statement. Then to make matters worse there were two coats stolen, Alf Kearney’s and Tony Becker’s.
One of the Coventries (I forget his name) was complaining about McDowell. He is an employee of a brewery and they think he wants to start an Irish Club and that he will be manager. They complain of his dictatorship. “God isn’t in heaven anymore; he is in Birmingham.” He is also displaying anti-communism increasingly. I want to persuade Pat Powell to enrol those people that he has in Coventry into the CA. If there is a debacle in the Social Justice in the Midlands there will be an alternative loyalty. Anne Doherty and Michael McAuley were there too. They say that Michael Brennan is now up to the neck in International Socialism. Johnston was complaining about them also. A “revenant” at the social was Paddy Clancy, looking very old and I would say with symptoms of mental degeneration, or at least stagnation [Clancy was a former Connolly Association General Secretary who had been active in the 1940s and early 1950s]. Among others there was Charlie Cunningham, Pat Hensey, Sean Redmond, Jim Kelly and Tadhg Egan. Elsie O’Dowling was there in the afternoon. She had lent a bust of Lenin to the BBC and they had lost it. They gave her £30 for it (it was worth about £5) so she gave the Democrat £15 of it. Michael Crowe was there too.
November 22 Sunday: We had the Executive Committee in the morning, and Sean Redmond, Pat Hensey, Charlie Cunningham, Jim Kelly, Jane Tate, Pat Bond, Pat O’Donohue and Michael Crowe were there. We discussed the Enniskillen disunity “at brave length” [an argument over whether civil rights activists there should defy a ban on marches in Northern Ireland that had been imposed from July 1970 until January 1971 under the Special Powers Act]. Of course it is nonsense. Early this week we learned that Belfast NICRA had on Edwina Stewart’s recommendation endorsed the MacRory report [ie. the “Review on Local Government in Northern Ireland”, 1970]. I wrote to Kevin McCorry and told them I was sorry for it. Apart from anything else it means no municipal elections for years. Local government is gone and does not reappear in democratic form. But Edwina, whom I spoke to on the phone, would have none of it. She thought reducing the number of petty councillors would effect a revolution and “get us the services”. Yet there they are in Enniskillen, protesting against the corruption of Fermanagh County Council and they have endorsed the Government’s plan, which is to leave it a few years, and the bureaucrats’ plan, which is to make it no better. As Pat O’Donohue said, “They’re protesting about nothing.” Jim Kelly, Charlie Cunningham, Michael Crowe and I went to the Celtic Art exhibition.
November 23 Monday (Liverpool): Yesterday Tony Coughlan phoned to Sean Redmond while we were out and said that both the Wolfe Tone Society and the Citizens for Civil Liberties [a civil liberties group in Dublin; predecessor of the Irish Council for Civil Liberties, which was established by Kader Asmal and others] had endorsed my draft Bill of Rights. But as I went to Ripley today I could not get the text into the paper. When I had finished the paper I came on to Liverpool.
November 24 Tuesday: I finished revising the galleys and sent them to Cornforth in London. Apart from that I managed to do little enough.
November 25 Wednesday: I did not immediately set to work on the new edition of the “Irish Question.” But I read Andy Boyd’s book, in which he collects quite useful information, for all the rat he is [“Holy War in Belfast”, which reviewed past violent events in Northern Ireland, had been published by coincidence in August 1969, the month in which contemporary violence erupted there]. Apparently he had it ready before the ructions began. He certainly was lucky. Not like me, five years too early. Though of course it might not have matured as fast without [This is a reference to his study,“The Irish Question and the British People: A Pleas for a New Approach”, which made the case for a campaign for civil rights in Northern Ireland as the way to advance the situation there and which had been published by Connolly Publications, the publishing arm of the Connolly Association, in 1963].
November 26 Thursday: I did very little. I had thought of going to the cottage, but though the weather is mild (and wet) I did not get started.
November 27 Friday: Again I did nothing, but all the time my mind was browsing over the way to handle the new edition [ie.of the pamphlet mentioned above, which became his book, “The Irish Crisis”, published 1972].
November 28 Saturday: I saw an advertisement of a meeting to be addressed by Douglas Jay and others [Douglas Jay,1907-1996, President of the Board of Trade in Harold Wilson’s Labour Government, and a leading Labour opponent of EEC membership] – among the others Justin Keating. I remember I broke off – or rather ceased to maintain – contact with him when he had the agricultural job and was supporting the Common Market [Justin Keating, 1930-2009, Irish Labour politician and broadcaster; had been active in the Connolly Association and was something of a protegé of Greaves’s when he was studying veterinary science in London as a young man in the early 1950s; later a member of the Irish Workers League in Dublin before joining the Labour Party in the early 1960s; was Labour’s leading spokesman against the EEC in the 1972 Accession Treaty referendum; Minister for Industry and Commerce in the 1973 Fine Gael-Labour Coalition Government and in his later years a supporter of further supranational integration]. Now he is acting as the Irish Labour Party spokesman against it, perhaps the only one who dares. And why does he dare? My guess would be that he wants to hobnob with important people in England and improve his chance of becoming a Minister.
November 29 Sunday: At last I got started on the first chapter of the “Irish Question”. This was the introduction, but I have largely re-written it.
November 30 Monday: A letter from Cornforth asked what title should be given it. I thought “England’s last colony” and wrote saying I did not mind whether he kept the old title or not but offered this as a possible alternative [It eventually became “The Irish Crisis”]. I got on pretty well and finished the new first chapter. Then I started with scissors and paste.
December 1 Tuesday: I was on the phone to Jane Tate in the evening and she told me that Tony Coughlan was coming to London to attend the EEC meeting. I wonder why he thinks it is so important. But he also wants to have a talk with Sean Redmond and me. He will arrive on the Saturday morning and return on Sunday evening. She seems reasonably optimistic. Apparently the sales of the 1/6d. paper were not too bad. And Jim Kelly has called a committee meeting to consider future policy.
December 2 Wednesday: I have now three chapters done. I rang Sean Redmond in the evening. He told me that Tony Coughlan was coming to speak at the meeting. Apparently Justin Keating has cried off. What a spineless creature he has become! Apparently the Labour Party is moving rapidly to coalition, and Sean Redmond says there may well be a split as Dublin is opposed to it. I heard with great pleasure of the defeat of “Central European Time” in Parliament. The spineless Labour MPs who daren’t speak out against the Common Market staged a demonstration when there was a free vote. So be it. It is better than nothing.
From Sean Redmond I heard about the conference called by the United Irish Association – or whatever they now call themselves. Apparently Fine Gael sent somebody, and Con Lehane spoke for the Republicans in the morning and was good and referred to the Bill of Rights. Things were dull in the afternoon, but when Rory Brugha was speaking for Fianna Fail, Davoren, Lawless, Quinlan of Clann na hEireann and others came in [Ruairí Brugha,1918-2006, Fianna Fail Senator, son of Cathal Brugha]. They created chaos, interrupting, asking questions and refusing to allow him to answer. They had not been invited, but unlike the Connolly Association, which refuses them entrance, the UIA allowed them in. The chairman called Sean Redmond in hopes of quietening things and soon after he had spoken closed the meeting early. Now the interesting thing is that Clann na hEireann is in the Davoren outfit, though they retain their independent organisation. The same old policy is being pursued – demonstrations and collections, no matter what the content of the politics.
December 3 Thursday: I remained at 124 all day, doing some more work on the book. I had hoped Mrs Phillips would come but she did not.
December 4 Friday (London): I left on the midday train to go to London, and was out with Pegeen O’Flaherty in Hammersmith. The sales were exceptionally poor and there was a cynicism and indifference as bad as when we first started twenty years ago. Indeed I doubt if I ever saw it so bad. And needless to say, the Davorens, the Maos, the Bow-Wows and the Trotskies were always one of them before us.
December 5 Saturday: The book sale opened. I think Peter Mulligan took about £15 – not enough to make much difference, but something. I learned of some of the recent events. Apparently the CDU meeting went off peacefully last Wednesday. Fitt had a quarrel with the Irish Post and lost his temper when the reporter asked what was he doing in England over the purely internal affair of Partition. And then Tom McDowell attacked somebody in Stormont – and I am not clear whom – and Devlin defended him. Otherwise there was nothing to it. I don’t know how they financed it. In the late evening Tony Coughlan arrived and we had a talk. He has now completely seen through the Republican ideology and has not talked with them (I don’t know exactly what is meant by “them”; it does not seem to include O‘Toole) for some months [Anthony Coughlan did not maintain any contact with the Goulding Republicans following the Official-Provisional split in January 1970; he was a long-time personal friend of Seamus O Tuathail, who was not himself a member of either the IRA or Sinn Fein although he had agreed to help them out by editing the “United Irishman” for some years]. The amateurishness, parochialism and arrogance displayed by the petit-bourgeosise is beginning to sicken him and he speaks strongly of the follies that follow on each others’ heels. He thinks that at Cork Labour will decide on coalition [ie. at its annual conference there] and that the only possible alternative is a resolution giving them the power they have already to back a minority Government without taking office themselves. This is the snags of coalition without the advantages. He thinks there will otherwise be a nation-wide split, and McCann and his Trotskies move in. He says that Trotskyism has made enormous headway in Ireland over the past two years. The CPI’s conference was postponed because of the death of Jimmy Stewart’s father.
There were a few of the members in during the day. Peter Mulligan, Jim Kelly, Charlie Cunningham, all in reasonably good form. But I hope Charlie is not cast down if Tuesday’s strike proves less successful than he had hoped. Sean Redmond is at his EC all weekend [ie. at the Executive Committee meeting of the staff trade union he was now working for]. An excuse for not coming out [ie. selling the monthly “Irish Democrat”].
December 6 Sunday: I was in the office all day. Peter Mulligan was there in the morning, then Jim Kelly and Chris Sullivan, Tony Coughlan came back from the anti-EEC conference well pleased. The No. 2 man had signed the petition. Bob Wright spoke and Schaffer. They put Tony Coughlan on first, as was comprehensible with the most distant country with which they did least business. He had lunch with Douglas Jay and told me that Jay didn’t even know of the Anglo-Irish Trade Treaty though he was president of the Board of Trade when it was signed. He had not the faintest notion of the Northern Ireland situation. He is inviting the Norwegian to Ireland [either sociologist Johan Galtung or politician Einer Forde, Norwegian opponents of EEC membership who spoke in Ireland at different meetings around this time]. Everywhere the people are against this crime, but the contemptible politicians who represent them are all in favour.
I was in Hammersmith with Pat Cronin. The sales were gruesome – about 29 in all. I resolved to take immediate action. There is a special Development Committee on Monday evening. Jim Kelly invited Sean Redmond but he is being hoity-toity about it – “all his big-headedness” says Jim Kelly justly. He “isn’t on the committee”. Well we’ll have a Standing Committee next Sunday and he can come to that.
December 7 Monday: I was in the office all day and in the evening we held the Irish Democratmeeting with Charlie, Jim Kelly, Gerry Curran, Peter Mulligan and Jane Tate. It was useful. We discussed the way in which our sales in public houses have retreated to the “regular supporters” but there is no evidence that the l/6d. (for a 12-page issue) is affecting them. We see the betrayal in Dublin, the Tory success here, and the stabilization of Unionism as the occasion for a mood of despondency among people who are only thrilled by immediate actions. We discussed financing a 12-page paper at l/6d. rising to 2/- – a bold initiative. On the whole the morale was good, though Jim Kelly revealed that he had had some words with Pat O’Donohue as well as Sean Redmond and that this might be why Pat was absent. Jim Kelly is not remarkable for tact. But Gerry Curran, I fear, is getting somewhat out of touch.
December 8 Tuesday: The great strike was on today and Chris Sullivan and Peter Mulligan took a day off work. Jane Tate went “to do her Christmas shopping”. But Peter gave no reason. But owing to the power failures very few people came in. And to make matters worse Peter Mulligan had left the cash box open on the table and told nobody of it, so that £6 was stolen. There is a very high standard of morality in “affluent” societies. We did not blame Peter, but he was upset.
December 9 Wednesday: Bob Fairley called in. I had understood he was retiring and I had asked him to put in two days a week in the office, but he has not retired but continues on a monthly basis. When I got back after tea Jane Tate was moving the books to make room for the meeting Paul Rose was to address. Peter Mulligan objected to the moving of his books, refused to help, and went off in a scunder. There was nothing to be done as it was pure petulance. Jim Kelly suggested maybe he has trouble at work or in his multifarious love-making activities. If he disappears again as he once disappeared for months after a similar dispute with Sean Redmond, I shall ask Pat O’Donohue to keep things going till he comes back. And Jim Kelly promised to help.
The meeting took place. Rose impressed the more Labourish element. Most thought him superficial, which he was. But isn’t that young man wrapped up in himself! The talk was twenty percent on the Manchester Martyrs and eighty percent on Paul Rose. And in both parts he managed to squeeze snide remarks against Karl Marx. We cannot get a Standing Committee next Sunday. But I typed some proposals for a meeting against the EEC in January, prisoners in February and cultural penetration in March.
December 10 Thursday: I was in the office all day. In the evening Peter Mulligan appeared, so he seems to have got over his scunder, which is to the good as he has matured that much. He and I went for a drink in the pub the AEF committee goes to.
December 11 Friday: Again a day in the office. A letter came from Roland Kennedy addressed “Dear Sir” and announcing on behalf of London NICRA that there was to be a “massive demonstration” in London next 11th July. I was angry and decided not to take it lying down. These people are parasites. They call themselves NICRA, though NICRA (Belfast) has no branches and its constitution does not provide for it. This enables them to parade in NICRA’s cloak. When we held a social at the Roebuck and got a young YCL to play, they followed up by booking the same place and music for the next week and looking for our supporters. We took the Pindar of Wakefield. Now I learn Clann na hEireann has it tomorrow. Incidentally Sean Redmond told me that Joe O’Connor appeared at the “Unity” Conference as representative of Hammersmith Clann na hEireann, though they are openly cooperating with the Trotskies. I am getting tired of the monkey-tricks of these people. The question is when to begin the offensive. For the moment I replied that the CA Executive had already decided on a meeting on that date and inviting them to support ours. I consulted Sean Redmond over this, but Charlie Cunningham, Peter Mulligan and Jim Kelly all approved. Jim took a day off work and was in the office.
December 12 Saturday: I was in the office early. It was some time before Peter Mulligan came, then Pat Hensey, Jim Kelly, Jane Tate, Charlie Cunningham and the rest. Sean Redmond is in Newcastle debating with a Unionist MP. I gave him this job because he likes the limelight and since he will do well in it, let him have it. I urged Michael Crowe to try to get radio coverage. We did some book business, which was all to the good. Pat Bond rang and said that he had made nothing on his concert but £70 on his ballot. He seemed cheerful enough. There was much talk of Rose and the other member identified him as an imperialist – pro-EEC, Zionist, and while willing to improve things in the Six Counties, not willing to give them up.
At the Irish Democrat committee we had considered two new posts. In the evening I was to go out with a young man called Maunsell, who is jocularly referred to as the “Maoist”. Apparently he had expressed pleasure at some extravagant utterance by the bum Gavigan who met them at Cricklewood where Jim Kelly and Chris Sullivan were selling. He has volunteered for two nights. He is well-bearded – something I do not usually trust, as there must be some reason to hide the features, youth, uncertainty, a weak chin, whatever it is. However when he spoke to me on Wednesday my impression was favourable. Twice he arrived at the office on time. I was agreeably impressed and I think he is a fine young man. He comes from Castlegregory. He is able to express an opinion, and able to dissent without coxcombery, has a definite social conscience and is sending the paper home to his family though they do not approve of it. He is interested in Mao, as he has the Red book, but opposed totally to the personality cult.
December 13 Sunday: Again I was in the office most of the day. Peter Mulligan came in. We calculated at the end of the afternoon to have made, or to be more precise taken, about £85 during the week of the book sale, which will enable us to pay outstanding debts and own a considerable stock. Peter has put in much work and I asked him if it had been too much for him. He said not, though I think he felt that way on Tuesday.
I heard from Michael Crowe that the debate was a walk-over. The motion was that “The Northern Ireland Government is a tyranny.” It was passed by 72 votes to 3. In the evening I was out with Charlie Cunningham.
December 14 Monday (Liverpool): I sent off two pages to the printer. On the telephone Sean Redmond told me that the ex-Unionist MP against whom he debated had held North Down with a 30,000 majority, until the Paisleyites organised against him. He stayed at the same hotel as Sean and was quite a decent man. He comes from Ballymena but has lived for years in Liverpool, contesting East Flint for the Tories on a number of occasions. He is very disillusioned with Unionism and probably felt unsure of his ground. There was some hostility shown to him, but the students were better behaved than they often are. I spoke to Tony Coughlan on the phone. He referred to the invitation addressed to me by NICRA to go to Belfast on January 3. He expressed the opinion that their organising abilities were of limited extent, and suggested a later date be chosen. I said by all means as long as they avoided the tenth. Then I came to Liverpool.
Late at night Sean Redmond telephoned. Roland Kennedy had had my letter and rang him up. He explained that they had circularised a number of Irish organisations about the “massive demonstration” next July 11th. What have they in mind, asked Sean, somewhat surprised that we should be informed only after the circularisation of others less concerned. Oh – That was an incidental – a massive demonstration, but not Trafalgar Square. Other organisations had agreed to come with them. “Without knowing what they were taking part in?” Apparently, yes. Sean said that for one thing he doubted if the whole thing was more than one of this young fellow’s “bright ideas”, but insofar as it had any sense in it, it was an attempt to pre-empt a date and force us to accept their leadership. We begged to decline the privilege.
December 15 Tuesday: There was a letter from Brief saying that the scoundrelly Inspector of Taxes had declined to allow my expenses as an author on the grounds that there was “insufficient evidence” that I was pursuing the profession “with a view to profit”[Brief was Greaves’s accountant]. I telephoned Jim Kelly who promised to send Brief the Lawrence and Wishart leaflet advertising four titles, and I sent Brief some correspondence. If I were writing books that took three weeks each, advocating drug-taking or promiscuity, I would be a public benefactor. The muck that rules this country is interested only in balance sheets, and I imagine (since the accounts have been passed every year up to now) that there has been some directive to the effect that authors must be made more “productive”. This falls in line with their policy of switching museums from students to tourists. This will wring more out of both of them. I wrote to Mabel Taylor, Bertha Taylor, Enid Greaves and Dorothy [His aunts and cousins, to whom he wrote coming up to Christmas].
December 16 Wednesday: I have got going better since I got back, and made good progress with the new book.
December 17 Thursday: I did not go out at all, and spent the whole day writing. I was quite pleased with the result.
December 18 Friday: Another day spent exclusively on the book. I have done three chapters out of twelve.
December 19 Saturday: I started on the fourth chapter, and with any kind of luck I should finish it tomorrow.
December 20 Sunday: This is the fourth day on the job, and I completed the fourth chapter. I have a little done on two more.
December 21 Monday: I spoke to Tony Coughlan on the phone and he said the NICRA meeting they invited me to had been postponed to January 10th. I was a little annoyed at not having been told, but when I spoke to Sean Redmond later he told me there was a letter from Kevin McCorry in the office. Also Tony Coughlan had sent his copy, Pat Devine and Betty Sinclair. Quite a number of people had agreed to sponsor the Scottish Conference.
December 22 Tuesday: I finished the fifth chapter of the book and was pleased to see that I am ahead of schedule, having completed about 42% of the work in 36% of the time I had allotted. I intend to go to London on Thursday and spend Xmas on the paper, and the three days after the holiday collecting the material for the Civil Rights chapter. We have most of it in the office.
December 23 Wednesday: There was frost last night and the Tropaeolums, which have survived longer than I remember since as far back as 1932, looked done for. Fortunately I lifted the beetroots yesterday. But there are still poppy seedlings up to 6 inches high, one with a large bud, and roses, pyrethrum and a geranium sanguineum with one flower in it. It must have been one of the mildest autumns that ever came. I did odd jobs so as to be ready to leave tomorrow.
December 24 Thursday (London): Though I was at Lime Street at 10 am. the train was full. It was then I reaped the benefit of good relations with the dining car staff. For I had a seat all the way. At the office I found Charlie Cunningham. We spent most of the day drinking, I am afraid – we took Betty Harrison out, then went for a meal, then went into the pub we usually patronise on Wednesdays. It is very frosty here with flurries of snow.
December 25 Friday: There was quite a deal of wet snow today, and from the look of the sky the promise of more. I spent the whole day in the office on the paper.
December 26 Saturday: Today the weather was worse, and indeed the roof began to leak, and I formed the opinion that a pipe had burst, but the water had not failed. Again I spent the whole day in the office on the paper.
December 27 Sunday: There was not much snow, and it thawed slightly at midday. I was in the office working on the paper until towards evening Charlie Cunningham came in.
December 28 Monday: I finished the paper and posted it off. Brian Crowley who runs the social committee called in. Charlie Cunningham is a bit uneasy about him. He is of Irish Labour Party background and very confused, and lacks that strip of steel that a good Republican has – though I say nothing about their brains. He was on about some alleged “friction” between South and Central branches arising as a result of a dispute at the last social as to who was to sing. They have another on Thursday which may not be a success and want to have one on the last Saturday of each month, something I want to prevent.
December 29 Tuesday: I got busy on the Scottish Conference. But there is traffic on the road and there are telephone calls again.
December 30 Wednesday: Brian Crowley came in again – still on about the last Saturday of each month. I rang Jim Kelly who has not been in and found him in an odd mood. Would he be coming down on Thursday. “If I feel like it.” It may be he is short of money. But how desirable it is to have contingency plans for the replacement of anybody. There are indeed few you can rely on.
December 31 Thursday: I was in the office all day and happened to mention to Peter Mulligan, who is full of enthusiasm, and I quite mistook him a short while ago when he yielded to pique, that he had made this rather childish remark [ie.the remark by Jim Kelly mentioned in the previous day’s entry]. “I don’t go along with that fellow,” said Peter. “He takes offence at anything I say and rears up and tries to make a quarrel. I simply give in to him all the time and save trouble.” He then told me of an event about a year ago. Apparently Joe Deighan angered him in some way and he went to fight Joe. “Sean was holding him back while Joe was taking his coat off.” Nobody reported this to me. It’s the devil to be at the head of something, however small; you need second sight. I imagine this would be one of the factors determining Joe Deighan’s departure, though I must say I have not been sorry that he has not been here. As Peter said, he was established in his little kingdom in Manchester and not being at the cynosure displeased him [Joe Deighan had been the leading figure in the Connolly Association in Manchester in the 1950s and early 1960s before he and his wife Dorothy moved to London].
People began to arrive for the social. Some of them we sent over. Peter Mulligan was going to do some duplicating for me. Sean Redmond arrived and chased him from the typewriter, so he went to the social. When Sean found I was depending on this technical work he did something I give him credit for, he started on it himself. I had got the two last copies of the Hall Report from Belfast, so I gave him one [ie.the Hall Report on “The Economic Position of Northern Ireland”, 1962]. Virtue is to be encouraged.
The social was poorly attended. There was no MC [Master of ceremonies] and no programme. The committee is very inexperienced and indeed I saw my opportunity in the upshot of it. The usual people were there, Pat Hensey, Peter Mulligan, Charlie Cunningham, Chris Sullivan, Sean Redmond. Towards the end a certain ill-feeling developed between Mabel Donovan’s daughter and Kearney. A friend of Kearney’s, Tony Becker, said that Delia, the daughter, was drunk. She started to sing and Kearney switched off the amplification, which was his, and went off in a scunder. So there, said I, is more trouble, and all because there is no direction, no control – still that is where I can slip in and say don’t have another till 17th March. Young Frank Maunsell came over and sat with me most of the evening – that is after 9.45 when I arrived, saying little and telling me he had drunk too much. He is talking of going home. He is extremely quiet, but he was declaring with strange vehemence seeming to well from the depths of frustration that “a nuclear war is inevitable and everything will be blown to hell.” He was listening when Joe O’Connor and I spoke. I gave Joe a piece of my mind and told him that I regarded him as a Republican before he was a Communist. He didn’t deny it, and I mentioned Clann na hEireann. “I think the Trotskies won control of it,” he said, “and I’m worried.” “It should never have been started,” said I. “I’m not a member of it.” “Then why did you act as their delegate?” “It was a ruse to get into the meeting.” “But why not go in as a CA delegate through the front door?” No answer. I told him he should have been in to see me. He took all of this in good part – I spoke bluntly but not offensively – and he said he would. Then we all sang Auld Lang Syne.
January 1 1971 (Liverpool): We left soon after twelve. I was in a hurry to get home. Suddenly Chris Sullivan came running after me. “This lad’s cut his arm badly. Will you bring him into the office and phone for the ambulance.” I said, “In heaven’s name the hospital is not five minutes walk away.” But then I saw it was Frank Maunsell. And he had a severe gash in the wrist and was covered with blood. He could not tell me what had happened, but he was terrified. Of course the blood spurted on to cardboard files that held good papers. Chris had a handkerchief he was using as a tourniquet. At first we tried the upper arm, then selected a point about half an inch above the wound, since Frank was obviously in pain. We managed to control the bleeding. But then the patient saw the blood and waved his arms frantically, “Let me die.” Hearing his own voice saying this he got more excited still. The tourniquet slipped and the blood spurted in fountains. “Get a priest! ‘Quick. Get a priest.” “There’s nothing at all the matter with you,” said I, “if you’ll only sit still.” So we got him under control again while I rang the ambulance the second time and it came. He is twenty-two and I had seen the first glimpse of what I thought was hidden by the huge growth of bread – the frustrated perplexed frightened boy. I decided to go with him, and wasn’t I glad I did.
We sat him down. He thought the male nurses were hurting him, shouted to the Doctor to “fuck off, you English bastards,” grabbed another of them by the coat. At one point they felt like throwing him out. But I managed to control him, in the only way it would be possible to control an Irishman, by turning his abuse into a joke, and I slipped round the offended staff and told them he was a good boy but had had a shock and was badly scared. I must say they cooperated very well as soon as they saw that I knew what I was talking about. We had him on an operating table. Even then he would not lie still. A nurse held the wound and pressure was applied to the arm to reduce the amount of blood entering it. “Why is nothing being done?” he would shout. We concocted a story that a really serious accident was being attended to. Why is there no anaesthetic?” “Because you’ve been drinking,” said the Sister, a nice little girl, enormously patient. One little item reconciled the Doctor. He was scared of losing blood. “Look”, I said, “You’ve six or seven pints and you haven’t lost half of one. People give a pint voluntarily and come to no harm.” “I know that. I’ve given blood myself.” The Doctor moved sharply.“Have you?” “I have.” And from then on this efficient sensible little Cockney treated him with a new kindliness. Finally, a surgeon came in. “An artery.” “Well – the thing to do is to find the artery.” This he speedily did after applying a local anaesthetic and while I distracted the young fellow’s attention. It was all over in five minutes. I slipped out to thank the surgeon. “You didn’t have to come specially?” “I’m afraid I did.” It was strange though, the surgeon secured a control over Frank at once – I’ve seen it before, it is due to the respect that is universally paid to practical skill. As the Sister bound up the wound she told him the surgeon had got up out of his bed, and that in the hospital they too like a drink on New Year’s Eve and that he had told the Doctor to “fuck off”. “Did I say that?” he asked. Now a minute later the Doctor came back. “Are you the man I said that to?” he asked weakly. “Yes” – the answer was friendly. “Well I’m sorry.” “Don’t worry. That’s all forgotten about. You were in pain and you were very frightened.”
But the adventures weren’t over. We had left his shirt and gansey in the office. He had only an overcoat, and of course his trousers were ruined. So after the Sister had rung for a minicab we decided to go and get the clothes. The Sister wanted us to wait for the cab, but I didn’t want any more sitting around – and anyway the walk showing he was still alive would help the patient, or it would me when I was young. Inaction causes the worst reaction. But we must be back in twenty-five minutes.
When we got to the office there were Chris Sullivan, Mabel Donovan and Deirdre sitting on the floor with the electric fires on drinking tea. Chris was in control of such situation as there was. Deirdre was still drunk, Mabel very ashamed. A more disconsolate trio never was seen. Deirdre was complaining. “That bloody man! Threw me out of the pub. I landed on my bottom. We must never go there again. And I wasn’t drunk. I only went in because I went to get this book.” They couldn’t get a taxi so had to stay there all night. I think Pat Hensey must have given Chris Sullivan his key. I agreed with everything she said, and tried to stop her holding Frank Maunsell in conversation, stopping him from getting his clothes on. I got him back to the Royal Free. But the nonsense in the office had delayed us. The minicab had come and gone. But by dint of great persuasiveness I got the Sister to ring and get the radio working to bring it back. I tipped the driver well and got out at 33 Argyle Square. I did not go back to the office but drank a glass of Chianti and got into bed.
Two conclusions. First, I’ve as much as I need to get the socials on to a different basis. Second, if this is the way 1971 begins, what way will it end? I must say I smell ructions in the air.
I got up at about 8.30. I had bought a useful set of card-index cabinets for £3 and intended to bring them to Liverpool. But having lost sleep – it was 4.30 am. when I turned in – I decided not to attempt to carry the weight. I set off for Ripley, and for once all the transport went well. I caught a bus at Derby because it was two minutes late starting, had no waiting to do on the way back, and caught a train from Crewe to Liverpool because it was 13 minutes late. So if the rest of the day went reasonably well, let’s hope that also is the other part of the augury. There were cards from the MacLiams and Rita Brady. But here it was not unmixed. In Birkenhead the streets were wet. But as soon as we got away from the river there was frost on the ground. And I left my glasses at Ripley! And there was another thing I forgot in the excitement of the young fellow. Vivien Morton was there, all cock-a-hoop that TA Jackson’s book was out in East Germany [ie. the history, “Ireland Her Own”, which Greaves had edited and for which he wrote an Epilogue bringing it up to date]. She had received a cheque for £5 which was a half of the royalties obtained on sales there, the other half to go to Stella [Vivien Morton and Stella Jackson were TA Jackson’s daughters]. But they seem to have overlooked the fact that I am supposed to get some royalties also. Now somewhere along the line there is a muddle. So I wondered whether to write or ask Nan Green about it next Friday. I am afraid I looked a bit displeased when I learned this. But I need the money.
January 2 Saturday: I rang the office in the morning but only Jim Kelly was there. Then Sean Redmond rang from home to ask about Frank Maunsell. I urged him to try to persuade somebody who lives near him to go and see him – for example Jim Kelly. Sean is seemingly not going in. Later Pat Hensey rang me. He told me that Brian Crowley had been over to the pub, presumably to collect amplification equipment. The manager had told him that the door whose glass panel was the cause of Maunsell’s injury would be “very expensive to repair”. “Well,” said I, “he’s insured.” “Oh I suppose he could be. Do you think we should offer to pay for it?” I growled “Pay for it! – he’ll collect his insurance and a fiver from you too.” “Well,” says Pat Hensey, “I suppose it was not wilful damage. But at the same time he was drunk.” “He was not drunk,” I retorted, “though I suppose we’d have to agree he had drink taken.” There is an important distinction. “But what about trying to maintain good relations?” “Good relations be damned. We’ll not have a member left who’ll go up to that place long enough. Did you see Mrs Donovan sitting on the floor and the daughter complaining she was thrown out on her backside? Do you think they will ever go there again?” Then I said there was nobody in charge, and the social was left to run itself. There must not be another till the committee was strengthened and they knew what they were doing and make a proper programme. “Ah – it was bad luck,” he replied. “Bad management, rather.” I told him they were softest men I ever saw. And they are. Good relations! With a public house licensee who looks like trying to swindle them!
It is milder here but cold enough and I got very little done. I rang Brian Stowell, who doesn’t hold forth much hopes of activity in Liverpool. But after July it may be better.
January 3 Sunday: The intense cold continues, though from the fact that everything in sight is glittering with hoar frost I surmise it may not long continue. I certainly did not succeed in getting much done.
January 4 Monday: It is still cold and frosty, and I had to clear an outflow pipe by pouring salt into the elbow and flushing in warm water. I realised moreover for the first time the significance of cracks in the brickwork both inside and outside the house. There is an expensive job ahead. Late at night I had the bright idea of consulting Geoffrey Bloor if he is still in Rock Park. The part affected is the annex built by CEG around 1940. I imagine there may have been war-time materials used, or the weight of the chimney stack combined with the vibration of the endless traffic may have loosened one wall. I have to decide whether to sacrifice the annex, which would be a pity, or do away with the chimney stack or to replace everything as it was. I think to do away with the stack is wisest, as this chimney always smokes and I use a gas fire.
January 5 Tuesday: Again it was cold, but with a falling barometer there was snow in the evening which melted on the road. Again I got nothing worth mentioning done. I spoke to Jim Kelly in the evening. He said nothing had come from Belfast. They are most slapdash. He said Brian Crowley had promised to go to see Frank Maunsell. Anyway, I intend to go to London tomorrow.
January 6 Wednesday (London): It was rainy and milder. I had intended to go and see O’Hara who is running the party office [ie.in Liverpool], but decided, in view of the slush everywhere and the fact that he is going away for a week, to leave it and rang him. Kevin McCorry telephoned from Belfast. After much “heart-searching, consideration, recommendations” etc. they had decided on January 24th for the meeting. “The last date”, said I. He laughed and did not seem too sure. He added also that John Hume was to be the third speaker. So I imagine there is behind the scenes a bit of a battle. Back in London, whither I came on the 2.30, I saw that Kevin McCorry and others had received summonses over the Enniskillen events. The others include Edwina. Also Bing’s articles have appeared in the Irish Times and he is pressing his line of limited reform. This is the old technique of putting the part in opposition to the whole. I thought to myself I would go over a few days early, collect information for the new book, and simultaneously discover what is happening behind the scenes.
The branch meeting which I addressed had only eighteen people at it. Jane Tate is ill. Peter Mulligan rang up to apologise. But on the whole all was well. Brian Crowley, the active but in my opinion not very sound ex- Irish Labour Party man, had called out to see Frank Maunsell and he had been to the hospital again. They told him the main artery had gone out of action, but other vessels would take the blood. Later Maunsell himself arrived. He was subdued but cheerful. He had been over to the Pindar [ie. the Pindar of Wakefield public house on Gray’s Inn Road] and promised to pay for the window. I mentioned insurance. “Ah, well. It will be a lesson to me.” I told him to learn the lesson with his head not his pocket. On the operating table he had been worried about losing his job. But he hadn’t. I then asked about the wrist. He confirmed the artery was not working. He had numbness in his hand from time to time. I told him to see his own doctor. Then I resolved to make some enquiries myself. He slipped off immediately the meeting was over but volunteered to sell twice. Yet the strange insensitivity of the boys. Pat O’Donohue suggested that he sell in Willesden on his own. I objected. Mabel O’Donovan was there and her daughter. But I have not a good impression of the daughter. She has certainly degenerated both mentally and physically, and she wears a pouting expression as of a person with a resentment that has no visible or logical object. And Alf Kearney was away. It seems Sean Redmond had a discussion with the “Social Committee”, and I am aware he was not pleased when I said I also had something to say and made the proposal he did without telling me – mind it was my own former proposal for avoiding Saturday nights. When it came up at the branch I proposed a more modest social than they had had of late, at Neary’s after the anti-EEC conference. So they all agreed. If we then move to Saint Patrick’s night there will be “automatic regulation” because I will get the supervision and control in virtue of the special nature of Saint Patrick’s night and the need to prepare for it. Then we can keep the machinery. Also I got them off having an extension of hours. So this may keep the drinking within bounds. Chris Sullivan was not there. He must still be unemployed. There was not a squeak from Glasgow, except from Hawkins who is obviously a solid man. The Trades Council is hopeless. Drifting in the dark, I imagine.
January 7 Thursday: I was in the office most of the day. The only person who came in was Peter Mulligan. In the afternoon Alan Morton telephoned and we had a meal together in the evening. He is in great spirits – a new man. Far from being afraid to take a drink he was all for four dry Martinis and a bottle of Berbera. He retires at the end of next year’s season and is talking of moving to Edinburgh, where Alisoun will probably remain since she is studying Scotch Gaelic. He is negotiating with Oxford University Press over a translation of some of the works of Lenau [Nikolaus Lenau, 1802-1850, Austrian poet], and hopes to be Associate Editor of the Journal of Mycology, or whatever it is called [ie.the study of fungi]. The Trotsky at the college who caused all the trouble is under suspension and the staff say if he remains they go. The Principal has repented of his rudeness and Alan is restored to all his rights and privileges, but is taking my advice to make them pay for their mistakes by drawing his salary and doing as little as possible. So that is more cheerful news. He thinks his depression was brought on by Alisoun’s sickness (now apparently over) on top of the strain of travelling, and also his mother’s death which, while natural enough at 92, was nonetheless a shock. He had to travel backwards and forwards to Liverpool during the last month. She was sick only two months.
January 8 Friday: I was in the office all day. Chris Sullivan came in. He has got work. In the evening I went to the International Affairs Committee. Idris Cox was there and R. Palme Dutt – immensely improved. I was both gratified and surprised. He looked finished last time I saw him. Jack Woddis – business-like as ever. Nan Green spoke on Latin America. I was amused in a way. Gerry Cohen and Max Egelnick were present. The latter, so voluble on executing a given policy, silent and adrift when it was a matter of formation of policy! Billy Strachan told me his son is personal secretary to Scarman, his first appointment after leaving Cambridge. The Commission are getting 100 guineas a day whether they sit or not [ie. the Tribunal of Inquiry into Violence and Civil Disturbances in Northern Ireland in 1969, chaired by the Hon. Mr Justice Scarman].Scarman himself only gets his judge’s pay and is furious. So all the way home in the plane to London he drinks double Scotches to get his expenses up. They stay in the best hotel with a vast retinue. He says the British Government is paying (I did not think this was so, but it may be kept quiet) and the cost is bound to be at least a million. Every solicitor in Northern Ireland is retained. It is the greatest legal bonanza of the century. He says young Strachan is drafting the report. He never thought such riches possible and never hesitates to lend his elder brother a fiver.
January 9 Saturday: I was in the office in the morning, after collecting a set of envelopes which Alex Murray had brought to King Street. Jane Tate is not well and did not come in. But Peter Mulligan was there, Pat Hensey, Pat O’Donohue, Jim Kelly and others, though not Charlie Cunningham. Frank Maunsell rang in quite a cheery mood. He went out with Chris Sullivan and Jim Kelly came to Camden Town. He is showing more assurance now.
January 10 Sunday: We had a Standing Committee in the morning, with Pat Bond, Jim Kelly, Sean Redmond and myself. Among other things we agreed upon was that Stella Bond [Mrs Stella Bond, Patrick Bond’s wife, an Englishwoman and a graduate in mathematics] should help in the office. Her children are growing up and she does not wish any longer to be merely the housewife. I suspected that the reason Jim Kelly did not come on New Year’s Eve and did not decide to come to Birmingham was that he had overspent at Christmas. I got Sean Redmond to offer to pay his fare and he readily agreed. So we had a strong deputation, Sean and myself as delegates, to be joined by Barbara Haq of the MCF, and Pat O’ Donohue, Pat Hensey, Jim Kelly and Mairin Colman [This was a meeting of the coordinating committee of the Bill of Rights petition campaign]. The train was late, having been diverted through Nuneaton. But when we arrived, with Pat Fairley whom we met at the station, there was only Tom McDowell, Anne Doherty and the Birmingham treasurer – no observers from Manchester or Birmingham or Coventry. Apparently Eamon Oakes had cleared off to Dublin without even telling them, and Pat Powell seemed to be away. We got most that we wanted. Barbara Haq said that Fenner Brockway was willing to introduce our Bill in the Lords, and Latham in the Commons. We arranged for the lobby. Tom McDowell knew that Rose had sabotaged Brockway’s meeting, thought it “in bad taste” and said he had done the same before. He kicked Farley under the table when he blurted out that Mrs McCluskey had written to say they had no legal right to use the title “Social Justice”[Mrs Patricia McCluskey and her husband Conn had established the Campaign for Social Justice in Dungannon in 1964]. But I ruled it irrelevant to the purpose of the committee. We learned from Anne Doherty that the Belfast NICRA had accepted the affiliation of the Manchester group and given them a place on the Executive. How they do love splitting the front and keeping it split. Also they have heard about the meeting on the 24th, though I have had nothing in writing. Of course in part it is incompetence, part fear of the unknown and above all unbelievable parochialism.
It was clear as we came back that our observers were highly delighted by the trip and had learned a great deal from it. I had tried to get a trip to Oxford, but Sean Redmond has been speaking on the phone, and has readily consented to the proposition that he should go out alone. We were talking with Barbara Haq. She says that Brockway has raised the old technicality of the title of the Race Relations Bill that Platts Mills did not seem to think much about, nor indeed did Bing mention it, but perhaps because he did not think of it. The trouble is that if they succeed in this there seem to be two alternatives, either to cut the Bill in two, which does away with the principle of comprehensiveness, or to reinsert separately the clauses of the Race Relations Act but make it specifically apply to Northern Ireland, and then of course appeal to the Race Relations Board has to be dealt with separately. It struck me however that we might get a better Act if we could use some of the clauses of Brockway’s first Bill. Jim Kelly came to the office for a few minutes before leaving for home. There was more of a fighting spirit in him, and I think this arose from the political experience and the discussion with Pat Hensey and Pat O’Donohue.
January 11 Monday (Liverpool): As Jane Tate is still ill, Toni Curran came in and took away the cash for banking. The Connolly Association has about £300 in hand – I think its wealthiest ever. But I thought it was well to be some people when Barbara Haq said that the MCF had spent £1500 sending Brockway on a tour of Biafra. She was worried because the Foreign Office said she owed them another £500. I got her to ask Brockway what he was worried about, but afterwards it became clear to me that my original aim of having the draft discussed in public was the right one, so I will try and get back on to that and force the hands of these tricksy politicians.
When I returned to Liverpool I found a note from Bloor saying he had inspected the crack in the brickwork and invited me to dinner tomorrow [Geoffrey Bloor had been a fellow student and political colleague of Greaves’s in the 1934-36 period; see Volumes 2-4].
All the way to Birmingham yesterday Barbara Haq was deploring the present intimations of Fascism. She seemed somewhat defeatist too. In the train there was a ship’s second engineer who claimed to be deeply religious and inter alia thought tarring and feathering a “good punishment”. He told me that many a time he had been drunk in the engine room and that the tanker disaster reported today was surely due to somebody drunk on the bridge. But what was interesting was that he kept saying what a good man Hitler was and advocating support for Enoch Powell. So there is something in Barbara’s point.
January 12 Tuesday: I did some work on the book, though I was not terribly pleased with it, and then in the evening went down to Rock Park to have dinner with Bloor. He had had a look at the house and advised merely filling up the crack and seeing if it settled any more. He lost his job with the Birkenhead builder and has now started work for Crewe Corporation and drives there in his car every day. He could have a council house in Crewe, but it would not be big enough as he still has some of his family at home. And though he does not want to part with it he has to sell his house in Rock Park. He said he had been in touch with Stephen George, a friend of FM Jones who is a lecturer at the School of Architecture still. George was City Architect at Leicester. He undertook some highly “advanced” construction scheme based on the work of the Building Research Centre and lost them millions of pounds. Then he had to resign but is doing very well in private practice in the same city. As for Lancaster, he saw his name in a list of metallurgists and thinks he lives in Hastings or some such place [John Lancaster, with whom Greaves had gone on a cycle tour of the South of Ireland on the eve of the war in 1939; see Volume 5]. He asked about Edge, but I do not know where he is [John Edge, a friend of Greaves’s in 1933-37, with whom he shared a flat in 1936 when he first moved to London; see Volume 4]. His elder son appeared with his wife – not I thought a very impressive youngster, pleasant enough, shy, but with little to him. He went for a time to Cardiff but did not take his degree.
January 13 Wednesday: A telephone call from Sean Redmond told me that the invitation to Belfast had come. But it contained some queer sentences. One was to the effect that John Hume had drafted a “Bill of Rights” and that this was to be presented as well. I told him I was not pleased at the prospect of going there to argue the toss with Hume on his own ground. We could not guess what the game might be. Perhaps Bing told Hume, “You must get something prepared as an alternative to the thing those Reds have prepared.” Anyway, he said he would send it on. There was with it a copy of the invitation sent to organisations. He did not know whether this was for the Connolly Association or for me. I tried to get hold of Tony Coughlan on the phone but was not successful. Of course every time I ask Tony Coughlan for an explanation he says that NICRA are in a muddle and don’t know what they are doing.
January 14 Thursday: I spent the day on the book and made a certain amount of progress. But I keep wanting to put extra things in.
January 15 Friday: The material came from Sean Redmond. The letter to me is very friendly but relies on this absurd circular. Apparently Kader Asmal is to talk about the Government of Ireland Act. I am to tackle a “more difficult job” – explaining my draft Bill and also the relationship between civil rights and ending the Border. Then Hume is to explain his Bill. In the circular it is stated that “in the last two months” two Bills have been drafted, but Hume’s is given precedence. I spoke to Sean Redmond on the phone. We both suspected dirty work. But who was responsible for it? I suggested he ring Kevin McCorry and try to get a copy of Hume’s Bill. Then he could ask if there was any invitation for the Connolly Association and we could decide if he should go to back me up, with perhaps Charlie Cunningham or Pat Bond as well. I did not want to ring myself as I had half a mind to “be ill” and not go.
January 16 Saturday: I spent the whole day on the book. Jim Kelly rang and said Jane Tate is still ill, but Toni Curran has paid all the money into the bank.
January 17 Sunday: Again I spent the day on the book. I am finding it a great strain having to rush it through like this. It will not be remotely comparable with “Mellows” or “Connolly”. But it does look as if interest will be maintained, judging by the ructions going on (unfortunately) in Belfast [The Provisional IRA Army Council formally sanctioned attacks on British soldiers from this month on and there were widespread arms searches by the military, with frequently accompanying rioting].
January 18 Monday: I got as far as I could with the book without getting the latest from Belfast. So I decided to go to London tomorrow. I tried to ring Tony Coughlan but got Kader [ie. Kader Asmal, Law lecturer in Trinity College]. He says there is no Hume Bill and that Kevin McCorry has no brains and has sent out a circular without giving any thought to it. This is the Tony Coughlan line – all nonsense. They don’t know what they are doing. Well, if this is the case it is a very serious position and something must be done about it.
In the evening Sean Redmond telephoned. He had tried to get Kevin McCorry but he was in Enniskillen where McManus has been given six months – a damnable result [Frank McManus, born 1942, elected as the “Unity” Independent Nationalist MP for Fermanagh-South Tyrone in the June 1970 general election; sentenced for participation in a civil rights march in Ennisklillen that was banned under the Special Powers Act]. I asked Sean to make a statement to the Morning Star. He said they had rung him and he had already done so. He had got hold of McGurran who did not know whether Hume had a Bill drafted or not![Malachy McGurran, Northern Ireland organiser for the Goulding-led Republicans, the “Officials”, who were committed to supporting the NICRA]. Bless us! What an organisation. He thought the Connolly Association should be represented as they were “the only organisation worth anything in Britain”. “That was something,” I said. “Hm,” said Sean, “It might just be soft soap.” Why did he think this? Then came the rest of the news. When we were in Birmingham Barbara Haq said she had received the invitation from London NICRA to take part in a “massive” demonstration next July 11th. I told her our reply and she promised to send a similar one. She rang up Sean Redmond today and said she had had a letter from Roland Kennedy to the effect that their effort on July 11th was being undertaken at the “express request” of Belfast NICRA. So this may be so, or it may be not. Meanwhile Sean Redmond takes NICRA compliments with the necessary reservations. I think things are going reasonably well. I wish I had this book finished.
January 19 Tuesday (London): In the morning Tony Coughlan telephoned and insisted that the NICRA thing about voting on rival “Bills of Rights” was merely nonsense. He did not think the event would be very successful anyway.
I did some work on the book and also some for next Sunday. Then I took the 6.30 to Euston. Jim Kelly and Charlie Cunningham were in the office. They were in good form, but said sales were poor.
January 20 Wednesday (Liverpool): I was in the office. The postal strike began and I had to leave two letters to the House of Commons. I also went to the Westminster Library. Jane Tate rang and said she was still ill. Betty Sinclair had been here on Tuesday and had been trying to ring me up – Tuesday 12th, I imagine – but said she was looking forward to seeing me on Sunday. So there will be somebody there! I saw Peter Mulligan before returning to Liverpool on the evening train.
January 21 Thursday: I spent the day clearing up and getting ready some work to do in Belfast. Then in the evening I took the boat, a small one from the Highlands.
January 22 Friday (Belfast): I left the ship at about 8 am. and with some difficulty found John McClelland’s place off Malone Road. He was out but Margaret was there, and the delightful little child Barry, about 3½ and highly intelligent, indeed very subtle for his years. Then I went to see Betty Sinclair. She had been at the conference of West European parties and had expected to see me there [This had been held in London]. Actually I was invited to the social on Wednesday but had to go to Liverpool. She gave me some of her impressions. The old camaraderie of pre-war years has gone. The Dutch sat glumly defiant and repeated, “We will not sign anything. We will not be committed to anything.” The Italians did not seem to care about anybody but themselves. She thought Gollan very patient as the Italians urged the British to join the EEC. I am glad he stood firm. Then she spoke of the Republicans and their nonsense. Apparently Frank McManus wanted not a march, but a meeting at Enniskillen [A meeting would have been legal; a march was not]. McGurran insisted on the march. When McManus tried to prevent it McGurran threatened to “break his legs”. He did not want Edwina Stewart to speak but gave in to pressure. Betty Sinclair thought this due to anti-communism [Edwina Stewart was a member of the CPI in Belfast]. Later Betty came up to John McClelland’s and later we took her home. She told me that whereas the Republicans for all their faults would be glad to have Joe Deighan and John McClelland on the Civil Rights Executive, the party (which means the Stewarts) has vetoed it. I was unable to get any closer to the problem of why the meeting. But all agreed I had to chance it.
January 23 Saturday (Derry/Belfast): I resolved to go to Derry and see Hume. John McClelland offered to drive me and he brought Margaret and little Barry, who stood or sat peering through the windscreen and telling us everything he saw. He was particularly impressed with the mountains and was talking about them when he got back. I did not know Hume’s address but I went into the Foyle Taxi Agency where I had been a year or two ago introduced by Melaugh, and asked to be driven to Hume’s, and I was. His little boy opened the door and said his father didn’t have visitors on Saturdays. “Ah, he’ll have me,” I said. And shortly out he came with Ivan Cooper, invited us in and had his wife make tea. Margaret and Barry this time were looking at the shops.
I came to the point. What was this conference really for? He said he was as much in the dark as I was but was delighted I had come. I said I had no intention of getting into a public dispute with him on the merits or demerits of our respective Bills, for he said he had one drafted. He agreed that no more did he. I asked him about developments in Derry. Cooper went off to Dungiven and Hume said, “Jump into the car. I’ll show you round the place.” He took us round the new housing estates, and to the Credit Union which he and three others started a few years ago with £5 each. He is most knowledgeable on Derry history and could answer every question. The Bogside used to be the “cow bog” in the nineteenth century. We returned to Belfast, stopping at Agnews on the way, at Maghera. Agnew is the chairman tomorrow [Kevin Agnew, Republican solicitor and a member of the NICRA Executive]. Unfortunately he was out. But his wife, a grand woman, made us tea. She has a gaggle of ’teen-age children, one an art student with long hair, the others quite normal. I was pleased by the obvious respect they all showed her. I learned something however. McDowell from Birmingham [of the Campaign for Social Justice support group there] had stayed there last night and had gone with Kevin Agnew to Enniskillen.
I thus returned to Belfast reasonably pleased with my diplomacy. I had prevented any possible misunderstanding with Hume and discovered McDowell’s presence. It was interesting that Hume had been told that the meeting was at 3 pm. He rang up Edwina Stewart there and then, saying I was with him, and learned it was at 1 pm. He said he had no copy of his Bill. But the curious thing was that John McClelland discovered a copy of what he was to present among some papers prepared for the meeting, and so I was able to look at it. It consisted of Hume’s evidence to the Crowther Commission, and was not a Bill at all.
January 24 Sunday (Belfast/Dublin): I had arranged to meet Kader Asmal at the Whitehall at 12 and sure enough he was there, with Cathal [MacLiam] and Sean Edwards [who was a Dublin member of Kader Asmal’s Anti-Apartheid Movement as well as of the CPI]. Tony Coughlan was coming on the train with Micheál O Loingsigh, and Noel Harris in his car. I was glad there were going to be some allies present, and the more who came from Dublin the better I would be pleased. Asmal was right in thinking that Hume had no “Bill”.
We went to the St Mary’s Hall. The first person to speak to me was Edwina Stewart, who apologised for not writing an article [ie. for the “Irish Democrat”]. Then Tom McDowell buttonholed me. He seemed worried and almost frightened. Something he didn’t mention – but which I assumed to be the appearance of myself with Hume today – had led his members to think that the Connolly Association was getting all the limelight. I was surprised. “They’re very disturbed. They wanted to put out a statement but I stopped them. They’re anti-communist; let’s face it.” “Whom do you mean?” I enquired. “Birmingham and Wolverhampton; and Manchester is worried too.” So I said I’d give them a mention in my speech.
Now there was the question of order. It was Kader first, then myself, then Hume. I made a political statement with a strong Republican bias. I had already formed the opinion that the cabal was of NILP [ie. the Northern Ireland Labour Party] or “orange-communist” making. And I had been asked by Kevin McCorry in a letter to relate Civil Rights to National Independence. Hume was somewhat nonplussed. At the start he asked me what I thought of his “Bill”, which I told him I had spent the morning on. Actually it was a good piece of work, something like a Charter of Rights. I told him it was not in legal form. Later Asmal told me he had consulted him and he confirmed. It was clear that Hume had jumped to the conclusion that I was a lawyer, which is the first time that ever happened to me. The discussion began and wandered all over the place. After Edwina Stewart had objected to protecting Republicanism by name, to the “cooperation with the South” clause, and demanded the extension of “Civil Rights” to economic questions, my suspicions were confirmed. They were at the old trick, to demand something and then reject it when they got it, to pose as great reformers before the Republicans, but by doing nothing decisive to hold the Orangemen, or the NILP. Hume had been brought in in an effort to confuse the issue. It was clear too that Her Ladyship fancied herself hobnobbing with the aristocracy, for she demanded a meeting in London where she could put the case to “the Lords”. She imagined that they would all troop along to Gray’s Inn Road to hear her. The “People’s Democracy” pups congratulated her. Joe Deighan spoke vehemently and said nothing. John McClelland was useful and Noel Harris delivered good sense against the People’s Democracy in stentorian tones. However, I knew where I was at last and begged them in my reply not to water the Bill down before it had started. She had no right to demand of the British people that they should not take steps to secure the evacuation of a country their rulers had occupied.
We all went up to John McClelland’s for a meal, that is myself, Tony Coughlan, Cathal MacLiam, Kader Asmal and Sean Edwards, and I decided to accept the offer of a lift to Dublin in Kader’s car. There was much talk. Very sarcastically Edwina Stewart asked Kader where were the 25 Trade Unionists who would come if the meeting was postponed. He replied that his motive was that I should be present. “If Desmond was not here it would be Hamlet without the Prince of Denmark.” She flushed angrily and turned her back on him without a word and walked off. I knew I had very few friends in that city and said so. “Yes, you got more applause than anybody else, but it was Republican applause.” However, I did not propose to be caught in the trap set for me, to trim my sails to save them embarrassment and then be blamed for hesitation regarding national independence. It seems all the Dublin people are much of a mind regarding the Northerners, or some of them at any rate. They said, and Betty Sinclair had hinted it, that there were discussions going on in the CPI to wind up NICRA and substitute something else, on the assumption that it had done its work. This again was reflected in the Edwina Stewart and People’s Democracy speeches. Tony Coughlan, who had waited for Noel Harris, was in Dublin before us, and we sat up late.
January 25 Monday (Dublin/Belfast): I did little in the day, though I met Joe Deasy and called in to see Sean Nolan [leading figure in the CPI in Dublin and manager of its bookshop at 16A Pearse Street]. Then I returned to Belfast, arriving about 8 pm. John McClelland was at a CPI branch. They were trying to press him into becoming the branch secretary, thus virtually cutting him off, for West Belfast is terra incognita for him. Foolishly, in my opinion, he accepted. I had a long talk with his wife, who told me that Joe Deighan is far from happy here. I am so quietly angry with him over his irresponsible behaviour at Manchester that I never want to see him again, and this without any particular personal resentment. John McClelland has a much better head and is more earnest. The other likes the limelight too much. Talking about limelight I got a little of it myself in the newspapers, especially in the Press [ie. the “Irish Press”, the Fianna Fail-oriented daily]. But when you have been consistently ignored, if not insulted, as I have, for a couple of decades, you take this with a grain of salt. Not that I sought it or avoided it. I said what I thought and let them print it or not. I was anxious to get the Bill of Rights known in Ireland.
January 26 Tuesday: I saw Jack Bennett at lunchtime, and he readily agreed, on the strength of the Press report, to give the Bill of Rights a further boost next Sunday [ie. in his regular “Claud Gordon” column in the Northern edition of the “Sunday Press”], and also to give Tom McDowell a good mention in hopes of sweetening him. He said he would do that. Then I saw Kevin McCorry who commented, “You got plenty of publicity.” “Yes,” said I, “but plenty of confusion with it.” They all say it was the best conducted conference they had ever held. Kevin told me he did not agree with Edwina Stewart in protecting Republicans. Her absurd demand for a law that would “give people the right to advocate a Buddhist monarchy” was only an excuse not to tackle the real issue. The Republicans wanted legality. He also said they had been confused by Hume who had told them he had drafted a “Bill”. It was clear to me even more so, who the villain was.
Now by good luck I ran into Hughie Moore [a full-time official with the CPI in Belfast] at the Telegraph office and we had an hour’s talk. I told him the full story of our difficult manoeuvrings at Westminster and of the danger of ill-considered action from Edwina Stewart – this was firmly but tactfully put. He agreed with me – he at least is friendly, if he does not understand our work and therefore underestimates its value. This underestimation may have its positive side however, for he is content to leave it to us. After a drink with John McClelland, I returned to the boat. It looks as if Belfast is patched up. Now I have to manage Birmingham. I did not ask NICRA if they had given instructions for the effort in London on July 11th, which is what Roland Kennedy claims. I think we will see how things develop and whose fingers get burned.
January 27 Wednesday (London): I called at 124 Mount Road and left some papers, then went on to London where I addressed the CA meeting. There is a distinct improvement of the morale. They are escaping from the deadening influence of Sean Redmond, whose cynical smile when he detects enthusiasm and anxiety to balance the work he does to the credit he gets for it, holds them back. Taking the group to Birmingham was the decisive turn. Jim Kelly is showing a new positiveness in his approach and seems to be completing his adolescence quickly. Roland Kennedy rang up to say that Highgate NICRA, Clann na hEireann and Lawless’s Trotskies were in the King’s Head and would we send a delegate to join them. They want to make demonstrations outside the courthouse when Roche is tried. The King’s Head is the place where we go after the meetings usually. It was very interesting. We announced the undesirability of going tonight. Not one person went.
January 28 Thursday: I worked on the paper all day. Of course thanks to the postal strike I am desperately short of copy and will have to take what I have myself to Ripley. And to make matters worse we have not been able to get a single application for credentials for the Scottish Conference.
January 29 Friday: Speaking to Tom McDowell on the phone I found him reasonable. Apparently the trouble, which Sean Redmond explained to me, was that the Irish Post mentioned only the Connolly Association in reporting the Birmingham meeting. Now it has done the same again, so it is as well I asked Jack Bennett to give McDowell a mention. In the evening I was in Holloway with Pat O’Donohue. I can see gradually a sense of enthusiasm gripping some of the younger members, and I think it is due to the change in the method of leadership when Sean Redmond retired.
January 30 Saturday: In the morning the usual people came in – Maire Colman, Pat O’Donohue, Jim Kelly, Charlie Cunningham, Pat Hensey, Peter Mulligan and Brian Crowley. I still worked on the paper, and in the evening was out with Charlie [ie. selling the “Irish Democrat”].
January 31 Sunday: We had a Standing Committee in the morning, with additions, namely Pat Bond, Sean Redmond, Jim Kelly and Pat O’Donohue, Jane Tate, Pat Hensey and Charlie Cunningham. It was a useful discussion, though I detected a trace of cynicism in Sean Redmond. He does very well, but always just under first rate. Then in the afternoon we had the conference on the EEC to which Tony Coughlan came. At the Standing Committee we broke precedent by sending Pat O’Donohue with Sean Redmond as an observer to the Belfast NICRA conference. It is expensive but I want the young people to get experience. This was denied them when Sean ordered things, for everything had to revolve round himself, and he would keep things secret so as to retain his power. The conference was very good. Amphlett-Micklewright was there [an eccentric former Church of England clergyman]. He had dropped everything, studied three years, and has now been called to the bar. Booth was the MP.
Before Tony Coughlan left he had a word with me. He understood that Michael O’Riordan and Cathal Goulding were busy discussing an “anti-imperialist conference” which might be called jointly by the Belfast and Dublin Trades Councils. They had brought in “People’s Democracy”, it was understood at the Republicans’ request, and had decided not to mention Civil Rights but to discuss only the EEC and economic matters. He thought the omission of Civil Rights was partly a sop to the People’s Democracy and partly in accordance with the “Orange Communists” that are in the North. He thinks it is all confusion, and that they have no general perspective except with regard to their own small groupings.
There was a social in the evening. Again there was a good level of “morale”, as Tony Coughlan calls it.
February 1st Monday (Liverpool): I left on the 9.5 train and took up the copy to Derby. Terry Reynolds met me at the station. I gathered they are very pleased to get our custom just now! Then I came on to Liverpool.
February 2 Tuesday: I spent the whole day on the book but did not get very far with it.
February 3 Wednesday: I got up before 7 am. and caught the early train to Crewe and Derby and reached Ripley at about 11.15. I completed the work and caught an early train. But unfortunately it was late and I missed the connection at Crewe. I arranged for Ripley Printers to take the papers to Derby tomorrow. Terry told me that they had lost the Birmingham order as the Trades Council would not distribute. I rang Jane Tate in the evening and told her the news. I have got on fairly well with the page proofs of “Mellows”. It reads very well, and I much prefer it to “Connolly”.
February 4 Thursday: I spent the day on the “Irish Question” and got a few pages done.
February 5 Friday: Another day spent on the book. The last part is slow going, and I doubt finishing it in time.
February 6 Saturday: Yet another day spent on the book. The weather is mild, indeed exceptionally so. Poppies from last year are still alive – about 6” high, late seedlings, and the snowdrops are out for two weeks and the crocuses bright yellow nearly open.
February 7 Sunday: Another dry mild day I spent entirely on the book from beginning to end.
February 8 Monday: I spent the day on the book. I decided it could not be finished by tomorrow, so I will have to take extra time. But for the postal strike’s delays I would have managed it. Bad news from Belfast [On 2 February the British Army cordoned off the Clonard area of West Belfast and began punitive house searches. This included streets where Catholic families had been burned out the previous August. The Provisional IRA launched gun and bomb attacks in North Belfast and on 6 February killed one British soldier in an ambush and wounded several others. This was the first of some 500 British Army fatalities during the next near-quarter-century of the “Troubles”].
February 9 Tuesday (London): I did a little on the book, then went to London and saw Jim Kelly in the office in the evening.
February 10 Wednesday (Liverpool): This morning Stella Bond made her first appearance. I asked her to work on circulation. But without postal services it is impossible. Toni Curran tells me we are desperately short of money and of course everything is at a standstill, including our useful book trade. I returned to Liverpool.
February 11 Thursday: I continued the work on the book – it looks as if several extra chapters will be required.
February 12 Friday: I spent the day writing, then I took the 12.30 to Crewe. I had booked a sleeper in London on Wednesday – the Liverpool-Glasgow night service was abolished last year, as part of the wrecking plans of the Tory-Labour Government, now replaced by a Tory-Tory one.
February 13 Saturday (Liverpool): It was mild when we left Crewe, but the steward came with a cup of tea when we were around Carstairs. “It’s white with snow and it’s snowing still.” However, it was raining when I reached Glasgow, and it became reasonably warm. I went to the Trade Union Club and found that they had not in fact booked the room. They said they “Thought they had had a letter cancelling it”. How could they, I asked. “Indeed, of course.” But it was of small moment as I expected nobody. However I did contact Donald MacLean who was to be chairman. Something of a “canny Scot” and of course not interested in the way McGahey would be [Michael McGahey, 1925-1999, Scottish miners’ leader and CPGB member]. Nevertheless one or two people came, including the Harveys, who wanted to join the Connolly Association, the young lad McGowan and an old ultra-Republican who used to sell the Irish Democrat on the Isle of Grain! Maclean went back to Edinburgh, leaving me to be chairman and everything. The confusion was quite unbelievable. The blame could be placed on the Scottish CP for not helping to establish a Connolly Association – but their confusion is such that they would not see it was likely to help! Apart from anything else I learned that Travers had been taken up for distributing IRA ballot tickets. So I decided I‘d call. McGowan’s brother was fined £100 for it – on a technicality.
I went up to Buccleuch Street. They had moved to the ground floor flat. The mother was in and the sister. She told me the details. Apparently he has got a defence solicitor. Then Eamon himself came in, the beard partially restored. He came down to the Station with me, but I did not conceal my opinion of all the absurd nonsense the Republicans have had them up to. The mother asked me a question and wanted a straight answer:
“Do you think all this shooting and killing is the way to get a United Ireland?”
I replied simply, “No.”
That is what she has been telling them. But I suppose she might as well talk to the wall, as they are all emotion. It is a pity they went to Glasgow. I want to get something established that is independent of the Clann na hEireann people. But it is not going to be easy. Hawkins was not there. But possibly like others he thought the whole thing was cancelled. From the financial point of view the postal strike is ruinous, as we can get in no subscriptions and postal book sales are at a standstill. I returned to Liverpool in the evening
February 14 Sunday (Liverpool): I spent the whole day working on the book.
February 15 Monday: Another day spent on the same thing. Tony Coughlan phoned. The NICRA was held privately over the weekend, but on a small scale because of the postal strike.
February 16 Tuesday: I spent another day on the book. I decided to put in a couple of chapters on NICRA and the present position. Stella Bond rang saying that Jackson’s book is due for publication on 4th March [ie. TA Jackson’s “Ireland Her Own”].
February 17 Wednesday: Another day on the same thing. I am getting towards the end now and wondering about typing.
February 18 Thursday: I learned that Barbara Haq is arranging a meeting in the House of Commons next Wednesday to discuss the Bill of Rights. I thought of asking Tom McDowell and had a word with Sean Redmond. I worked on the book.
February 19 Friday: I finished what can be done here. I think the last chapter will have to be re-written, but the material is in the Connolly Association office.
February 20 Saturday: I started work on the index to Mellows. There are more pages and more references per page than in Connolly, so this is going to be a big job.
[There is no Journal entry for February 21. Presumably he continued with the same work]
February 22 Monday: In the evening Sean Redmond rang and said that Cis Branney in Manchester has died, and that Belle, the daughter, is very upset. He says the funeral is at 9 am! The trouble is that I am speaking in Coventry the night before and should really stay overnight.
February 23 Tuesday: I spent the day on the typing of the MS of the “Irish Question”. The quickest way is to do it myself.
February 24 Wednesday (London): I caught the 12.30, went into the office, then met Tom McDowell at Euston and went to the House of Commons. Sean Redmond soon appeared, and later Jim Kelly and Pat O’Donohue. There was no sign of anybody else, and the policeman told us Arthur Latham had no room booked. Sean was phoning when he saw Bing go by, but he did not stop him. Bing must have been a half hour late. Sean sent in a green card and at 6.15 Latham came out. Apparently the meeting had been switched to the House of Lords, as he could not get a room, and Barbara Haq had thought the policeman would tell us. Brockway was there, and Bing. Bing was busy arguing for PR alone [ie. Proportional Representation in elections], mainly on the basis of what support could be won. He is a desperate liar, and too lazy to make up decent lies. Then he said the SDLP were all for PR and not the Bill of Rights, and he said the “Alliance Party” was for it too. He professed to be aware that our Bill contained “technical weaknesses” but did not specify them – when we had him in the pub he assured us there were none! And all unaware that I had copied the details out in Platts Mills’s chambers, and Platts Mills sitting there, he solemnly informed the company – which apart from ourselves was only Brockway and Latham – that we had copied the PR section out of his Bill that we had never seen! He got so tiresome that even Brockway interrupted him twice. Though he was more sober. So we arrived in the middle of it and were as good as told that there would be two Bills, one in the Commons, fully comprehensive, and two in the Lords, one without PR, the other with only PR. I tried first to confine it to one – but apparently Lord Beaumont wants to introduce the PR one and won’t touch the Bill of Rights, which Brockway will do. I tried to get PR into the Bill of Rights. That would kill the other. I tried to get the PR Bill postponed in hopes that we could kill it. They wouldn’t have that. But they agreed to present the two on the same day. But it is totally unsatisfactory, though the best we could do. Tom McDowell said he has strong evidence that Bing is being paid by the Embassy [ie.the Irish Embassy]. I think it very likely.
February 25 Thursday (Liverpool): I was in the office in the morning, but as the Coventry meeting was cancelled, I came back to Liverpool.
February 26 Friday: I got up early and went to Manchester, meeting Brian Stowell at Rock Ferry. He was on his way to London, as he cannot do business by post because of the strike. I attended Cis Branney’s funeral [in Manchester]. David Hillery, Pat Redmond’s husband, was there and drove me back with Jimmy McGill to his shop [These were all longstanding Connolly Association activists in Manchester; Jimmy McGill ran a bookshop; Pat Redmond was sister of Sean and Tom Redmond].
February 27 Saturday: I did some shopping and started the work of typing my own manuscript.
February 28 Sunday: I spent all day typing the MS of the “Irish Question” but succumbed to the temptation of re-working a chapter. I am not too pleased with Bing.
March 1 Monday: I spent the whole day on the typing. As was quite natural, I was led into a complete reappraisal of the more recent developments and added much fresh material as I was going over what was written already.
March 2 Tuesday: I finished another chapter today and did a little tidying up. Then I went out to get a bottle of Liebfraumilch – a good one.
March 3 Wednesday (London): I went to London. There was a phone call from Jack Woddis, who thought I had been in Ireland. He asked me what I thought of the position there and I replied that it was grave. Would I call in to him? I did so and found Gollan there. We had a long talk. I told them they need not get involved in the “Withdraw all troops and leave it to the IRA”, as long as they made quite clear that they were aiming at a more practical policy to end the border and withdraw altogether. They were thinking along similar lines themselves but needed strengthening. I did not hesitate to impress on them the seriousness of the whole thing. Gollan thought all that had been gained could be lost. But I told them that thanks even to the small reforms conceded social changes were beginning in Derry. This is what Hume had shown me. I worked on the paper.
March 4 Thursday: I spent the day working on the paper. But I took in the page proofs to Maurice Cornforth.
March 5 Friday: Another day on the paper. As the postal strike is still on, I arranged to take the copy to Ripley on Monday.
March 6 Saturday: I continued to work on the paper – despite continuous interruptions. The usual people came in.
March 7 Sunday: I finished the paper. Then in the evening Charlie Cunningham and I went out to Luton where we disposed of a good 60 papers.
March 8 Monday (Liverpool): I took the copy for Ripley and came on to Liverpool. Terry Reynolds met me at Derby Station.
March 9 Tuesday: The printer certainly did a quick job, for he had the proofs ready for me and I was able to read them and return to Liverpool today.
March 10 Wednesday: I started today on another laborious task, the compiling of the index. But I did not get far, as the book is not finished.
March 11 Thursday (London): I went to Luton. In the evening Charlie Cunningham, Pat Hensey and I with some others (Jane Tate was with us) went to the anti-EEC meeting at the Friends House. Among the speakers was Peter Shore who impressed me favourably [Peter Shore, 1924-2001, former Labour Cabinet Minister and leading Labour opponent of British EEC membership].He was looking my way till he caught my eye and then showed recognition, of which I simulated reciprocation. Where had he met me? I used to know an E.Shore at the University, but he would surely be in his middle fifties now. This man was about 45-50 and had retained some of the debonaireness of youth. After the meeting I confirmed that he came from Liverpool. Did I meet him at the university dons’ meeting when Phyllis was ill? Or is he the other Shore’s brother?
March 12 Friday: I was at the International Affairs Committee, which was well attended, and introduced a discussion on the Irish situation. When I suggested the next Congress [ie.of the CPGB] should devote a day to Ireland, Jack Woddis said this was already decided in principle. R. Page Arnot was there, Idris Cox and R. Palme Dutt, much improved in health. He is quite remarkable. Woddis rather brusquely stopped Palme Dutt in his tracks, but I intervened and we got a very sensible point. Pafkos was there, and Kay Beauchamp. It was very different from the olden days. So much have events improved them.
March 13 Saturday (Liverpool): I returned to Liverpool on the afternoon train and resumed working on the “Irish Question”.
March 14 Sunday: I spent the whole day on the “Irish Question”, 8.30 am. till 11.30 pm.
March 15 Monday: Another day on the “Irish Question”.
March 16 Tuesday: Another day on the “Irish Question”.
March 17 Wednesday: I am so much concentrating on the book that I hardly know the days as they passed. However, on a very suitable day the MS is now finally finished [This was St Patrick’s Day) and I can turn to the index for Mellows.
March 18 Thursday: I posted the MS of the new book to Maurice Cornforth this morning and that is well out of the way.
[There is a gap of four days here, as he seems to have been taken up with the Australian visitor, possibly a family relation or contact or a Queensland trade union leader, who is mentioned in the next entry. Two of Greaves’s maternal aunts had emigrated to Australia and one to New Zealand.]
March 23 Tuesday: I had got Sis Branney to call a meeting of the Manchester branch of the Connolly Association. Peter Mulligan, Michael Crowe and Tony Coughlan have agreed to attend over the Easter. There were a few there, Alice Beirne, Belle Lalor, still very shaken, and Peggy Redmond. We agreed in principle on the plan. I then returned to Liverpool. On the 19th Michael Healy from Australia came. We met at Lime Street.
March 24 Wednesday (London): I went to London and spoke at a crowded branch meeting, with Charlie Cunningham, Elsie O’Dowling, Pegeen O’Flaherty, Jane Tate, Pat Hensey, Sean Redmond, Jim Kelly – oh, everybody. There is a little slight hunch-back, Crowley, who is very negative, and comes from Irish Labour Party background. He will need to be watched. Jim Kelly, who seems politically the strongest (perhaps too sharp), distrusts him intensely. A new arrival was there too. Three parts of the way through the meeting a young man I took to be a student came in, very positive in his manner, with dark hair not in any way extravagantly cut. He asked a question and I replied that the subject had been dealt with before he arrived, but of course answered it. I got a very favourable impression. Then they told me he was a Cornish nationalist.
March 25 Thursday (Liverpool): I wrote to Tim Saunders, the lad who came last night, and invited him to write on Cornish affairs. Apparently he is a student at Oxford. Then I came back to Liverpool to get on with the index. The “Capuchin Annual” have asked for an article on Mellows [This was the organ of the Capuchin Franciscan Catholic religious order in Ireland, whose members were traditionally sympathetic to Irish nationalism].
March 26 Friday: I was busy typing the index. There are 1800 cards, and some carry 40 page numbers.
March 27 Saturday: I finished typing the index, perhaps on not so good a day as I am 57 ½ years old! I return to London tomorrow.
March 28 Sunday (Oxford): I did a little on the paper, but in the evening, having arrived in London, I went to Oxford. There was quite a useful meeting [ie. of the Oxford branch of the Connolly Association].
March 29 Monday: I have caught a filthy cold but must work on the paper whether or not.
March 30 Tuesday: Again I was busy on the paper. Jim Kelly and Jane Tate came in the evening and Alan Morton who is going to Scotland had a drink with us.
March 31 Wednesday: Another day on the paper, in between the sneezes. The discussion of last week was continued, Sean Redmond doing the talking. They did not call me in to the meeting, which was a pity. Pat Hensey has proved hopeless. He never sends out notices unless somebody does them for him. For two weeks running he will have no speaker. Crowley and Grimes have been going to Davoren’s and other meetings. It would not surprise me if this character were an undercover Trotsky. Tonight he suggested McCann [ie. the ultra-leftist Eamon McCann from Derry] should be invited to speak. Sean Redmond objected but wisely proposed that Crowley himself should do it. McCann has been writing nonsense in the Irish Times. Pat Hensey gave as his reason for not selling that he was having “heart trouble”. In the pub he described it as a “diplomatic excuse”. The pathological lying of the inferiority feeling! [Unfortunately, Pat Hensey did have heart trouble, which killed him not long afterwards.]
Tim Staunton came. I had a long talk and the favourable impression was increased. He agreed to work for me. He heard about the Connolly Association from the Oxford branch. But he has met that Trotsky Sean Gannon, now at Ruskin, who is trying to get out a paper for the Irish in Oxford [properly, Dublin trade unionist Jack Gannon]. He studies politics, but wants to go to Aberystwyth and take a degree in Welsh. He has just completed a year at Oxford. So I imagine he is about 20. But his knowledge is quite remarkable. He says he has been interested in Cornish nationalism since childhood. Also that the Celtic League man O’Conaire started Mebyon Kernow and that he had a Cornish grandparent. He speaks Cornish (Tim Staunton I mean) and some Welsh.
On the other hand Charlie Cunningham is in the dumps over slow progress in Ireland.
April 1 Thursday: There was an interesting thing last night I forgot to record. After the meeting I walked to the office with Jim Kelly. I had never spoken to him about religion but imagined he might be a believer if not a strong one. We mentioned the contraception issue, which Crowley gets indignant over. He was against changing the Constitution. “The country had 8½ million people little over a century ago. Now we’ve only four.” And he said, “And I’m not in the slightest influenced by the argument about religion, for I don’t believe in it, to be frank with you.” There is a young fellow who makes up his own mind. But he’s a young villain and wants always to bring down the chopper, cut people off who’ve not paid and generally wave the big stick!
I spent the day on the paper once again.
April 2 Friday (Liverpool): The Irish Post rang asking for an interview for their weekly personality spot in which they feature local councillors and people who start car-hire firms. I put him off saying I was going away. Later I thought that I should have put him off more decisively and wondered how to do it now. I sent out notices for a School on April 18 and wrote to many people. Incidentally, Pat Bond is still suffering from colic, and I am not sure that it is not serious, though he says he is no worse. In the evening I came back to Liverpool.
April 3 Saturday: I did little – got up late, read a bit of Bowyer Bell’s book on the IRA [“The Secret Army”, originally published in 1970], and dozed in the afternoon, the cold steadily improving as a result.
Before I left yesterday another thing arose. Barbara Haq had her MCF Council on Monday night. It had been agreed that a statement should be issued and Brockway was to draft it. It was produced all right – transmogrified into a motion that MPs were to sign, and that is how it got by some means into the Irish Times last week. If ever historians try to trace what happens these days from newspaper files, they will go very far wrong. I hope I have not done the same where I relied on them, but surely I must. Anyway she showed me a copy at the House of Commons that I didn’t like at all. So on Friday she sent it down to me, and I drafted an alternative. If they have the two and make a compromise, I have started by asking for the maximum. I asked Barbara Haq what Brockway thought he was playing at. “Playing at?” she exclaimed. “He thinks this will be a historic document.” Did she? She laughed – she thought it a lot of nonsense. If they refused to consider my draft, then she would put it on to the conference [ie. the annual conference of the MCF] as an emergency resolution from the Connolly Association.
April 4 Sunday: I got off some of the material concerned with the Manchester effort next weekend. Peter Mulligan, Michael Crowe and Tony Coughlan will join me there for Easter.
April 5 Monday: I posted the notices for the Easter activity. I had intended to go to Ripley but some copy had not arrived.
April 6 Tuesday: The copy had arrived all the time, but Reynolds had not recognized it. So I went to Ripley today.
April 7 Wednesday: As Mrs Phillips did not turn up, I had to set to and clean the house myself.
April 8 Thursday: I finished making the house passable, then went to Manchester where I spent the evening with Michael Crowe. He is staying with Peggy Hillery (Peggy Redmond).
April 9 Friday: A telegram came from Jack Woddis saying that the meeting with the Irish party representatives would take place next Tuesday. It was brought by Peter Mulligan from 283 Gray’s Inn Rd. and given me when I met him at Manchester. Michael Crowe was supposed to be there but was a half hour late. We went to see Alice Beirne and then saw Joe McCrudden and called at the Hulme Labour club. There was some uncertainty about the whole thing. The room had been promised us before the committee was aware of it. I discovered the basis at the end. The steward thought he could keep the booking secret from the committee and pocket the fee himself. That was Wilf Charles’s explanation and it may be correct.
McCrudden lives in the midst of that inhabited desert that has replaced neighbourly old Hulme. It is a gigantic scheme of prefabricated tenements, with streets entirely given over to motor cars, and “shopping centres” given over to the retail monopolies. Nobody knows anyone else. Milk cannot be left outside the door – it will be stolen. Everywhere there is stale piss and filth. You can hear your next door neighbour cough. There is nothing for the children to do but destroy things. And through the middle of it all the “urban motor way” sprawls and roars. The private “affluence” within the flats contrasts curiously with the external squalor.
April 10 Saturday: In the morning Tony Coughlan arrived. We did not go over to Manchester till afternoon. He told me about the NICRA “carve up”[ie.at its 1971 annual conference]. Apparently the IRA and the CP divided the seats [ie.the Goulding-led “Officials” and the Belfast CPI, represented by Edwina Stewart (née Menzies), who was married to Belfast CP secretary Jimmy Stewart]. It was decided that neither Joe Deighan nor John McClelland should be supported for the Executive Committee [two former leading members of the Connolly Association in Britain, who had joined the CPI on their return to Belfast]. According to Tony Coughlan, Joe Deighan was somewhat disheartened. We met Peter Mulligan and Michael Crowe and went on a sale in Manchester.
April 11 Sunday: Again Tony Coughlan and I went to Manchester and met Michael Crowe and Peter Mulligan. We distributed leaflets. The meeting was not well attended, but was at least promising – about 25, and some old and some new faces. The social on the other hand was excellent, and both Peter Mulligan and Tony Coughlan thought we might be able to restore the position lost by Tom Redmond’s incompetence [Tom Redmond had been Connolly Association secretary in Manchester before returning to Ireland] and Sean Redmond’s inability to build anything up. The enquiry people at Piccadilly told us that the 10.2 pm. to Liverpool was running. When we got to Victoria we found it had been cancelled. Typical. So we had to rush to Oxford Road, and arriving at Lime Street at 11.45 make for the tunnel bus and walk up to 124 Mount Road [where Anthony Coughlan was also staying overnight].
April 12 Monday: Today we had a holiday. I met Michael Crowe at Lime Street but Peter Mulligan did not arrive [They had stayed overnight in Manchester]. He rang later and made his way here from Rock Ferry. The lunch was halfway through when he arrived. I had manufactured vast quantities of curried matter, vegetable curry, sour sweet pork and dhal, but Tony’s appetite was equal to the lot and poor Peter had to do with what was left.
We went for a moment into the music room. “Give me a tune,” said Peter Mulligan. I extemporised in order to comply. Michael Crowe looked very puzzled. “Is that something that you wrote yourself?” “Pooh!”, said Tony Coughlan in his best don’s style, “I’ve heard it before.” “No”, said Michael Crowe with unusual firmness, “You have not heard it before. It is in the classical tradition – more like Busoni, perhaps.”[Ferruccio Busoni, 1866-1924]. I asked Michael about his own playing. “Oh, I did.” “Well, you have a piano.” “Yes, but I can only amuse myself, no more.” Of course he might be quite good.
However, we then went into the city. Peter Mulligan was never in Liverpool before and wanted to see the Cathedrals. Then we went to New Brighton and stayed so long that Peter missed his train. But fortunately he managed to get a sleeper. He came out to 124 Mount Road for the evening. As we waited for the news on the radio there was music. “I’m only just beginning to realise there’s something in classical music,” he said. “But I don’t understand that.” It was obviously variations, I thought either Schubert or Beethoven. It turned out to be Beethoven’s variations on “God save the King”! Now Peter Mulligan must be about 30 years of age, Tony Coughlan 35 and Michael Crowe is 40. How the time goes.
I got the impression that Tony Coughlan is somewhat disillusioned with the Republicans and is concentrating on opposing the Common Market. As for Roy Johnston, he seems to be concentrating on lining his pocket, which with him was always the priority.
April 13 Tuesday (London): I went to London – missing the 8.30 am. but catching a holiday relief at 9.5. I went down to 16 King Street and found Gollan and Woddis in conference with Hughie Moore, Michael O’Riordan, Sean Nolan and Frank Stanley. They had brought a document. Gollan asked them again and again in a dozen different ways whether they wanted British troops withdrawn from the Six Counties. None of them would say “Yes”. But O’Riordan wanted to blame everything on their presence as well! After a while Woddis and I were asked, at Michael O’Riordan’s suggestion, to draft a joint statement. Which we did and it was approved and sent to the press. As we went down I said, “You do the description and I’ll do the demands.” He agreed.
The Dublin delegates had to go early, but Hughie Moore had plenty of time. I thus had a chance for several hours discussion. He had accepted a number of points with weary acquiescence. “That’s all right. I’m a dog’s body anyway. That would be the smallest of my troubles.” It is obvious that the whole thing has got into the most shocking mess, thanks to those accursed Leftists of the International Socialists, whose sabotage was wickedly allowed because the IRA think that anything that involves violence must be right even when they say otherwise. He told me that when they held discussions at Castlebellingham it was the Republicans who objected to the nominations of Joe Deighan and John McClelland on grounds of CA associations, whereas he and his colleagues pressed for their inclusion. Now that evidence is if not contradictory, distinct from other things we have heard. He also said that the “Officials” had most strongly urged them to declare in their favour against the “Provisionals”, but they had not done so; also that the most bitterly opposed to the “Provisionals” was Tom Gill who for two pins would have them shot, and that it was the “Officials” who started the shooting in Belfast, not the “Provisionals”.
I asked him about the absurd statement of Michael O’Riordan in Moscow that Gerry Curran had spoken to me about [a somewhat grandiloquent statement on Ireland made by Michael O’Riordan,1917-2006, General Secretary of the CPI, while attending an international meeting of communist parties]. Why had he talked such nonsense? “Oh – carried away by the great occasion.” Also playing to the Republicans who would love it. What is plain to me is that they have no perspective at all. Before he left Hughie Moore met Jane Tate, Jim Kelly and Charlie Cunningham. He was interested most in Charlie – a member of the London Trades Council, who removed the black circular and got no thanks for it, not the slightest recognition [ie. the ban in Labour Party and some Trade Unions on cooperation with communists or communist representation in various offices; CA member Charlie Cunningham had proposed a resolution in his trade union condemning it].
April 14 Wednesday: The branch meeting was poor – largely because of Pat Hensey’s ineptitude. For the third time in a month Sean Redmond was the speaker. Hensey does not bother to book anybody else. Meanwhile Brian Crowley and Grimes have the basis for sniping and carping. I had the opportunity of a talk with Sean, who represented us at the NICRA conference. He repeated what Tony Coughlan had said, viz. that the speeches of John McClelland and Joe Deighan stood out in the midst of the muddled guff, and that Bobby Heatley completely scattered the ass Farrell [ie. Michael Farrell of the People’s Democracy], indeed was very well able for him indeed. What happened in Dublin may therefore be repeated in Belfast. Sean agreed that Joe Deighan was not pleased at the “carve up” – he and John McClelland got four votes apiece. But John McClelland said he calculated that the North Belfast tail would soon be wagging the Belfast dog. There is less emotionalism in John, and his reaction amused me. Sean Redmond thinks that the Republicans [ie. the “Official” Republicans rather than the “Provisionals”] are of the opinion that their only ideological competitors are the Connolly Association. Thus the “monster demonstration” this July 11th is indeed backed officially [ie. by the Goulding Republicans and the NICRA in Belfast]. Tony Coughlan says that Edwina Stewart is very antagonistic to myself, presumably as the embodiment of the Connolly Association policy, and Sean Redmond, having spoken to her, derived the information that London NICRA had written to Belfast to ask their blessing on the thing.
But Sean Redmond does not accept this. He recalled that when last year Kevin McCorry addressed our conference there was a social after it. Kevin McCorry spent all evening with the NICRA people and it is clear now that he was suggesting a plan by which the huge collection we garnered in Trafalgar Square could be divided into different pockets. I have no compunction about declining to cooperate in this. According to Tony Coughlan Civil Rights had £15,000 last year and squandered the lot. Our turnover is not £5000 even with the paper. Sean Redmond also thought Kevin McCorry’s real aim was to re-build the “Officials” whose London organisation was largely taken over by the “Provisionals”. For Kennedy was talking about making NICRA a countrywide organisation. We decided to write to Coyle offering not to cancel our own demonstration, but to modify it in time or space so as not to clash. I suggested to Sean Redmond the modification of time to be three weeks, and the modification of space to be 200 miles, and we would go to Manchester. I absolutely refuse to be bounced into things I am not consulted about. This is how the absurd Belfast-Derry march [that was attacked at Burntollet in January 1969] was imposed on NICRA when Betty Sinclair had it [ie. was on the NICRA Executive]. And I am coming to the view that they should not have undertaken the Dungannon march, but sent observers[ie.to the first Northern civil rights march from Coalisland to Dungannon in August 1968, which arose from the Caledon incident involving Austin Currie MP and the Brantry Republican Club, which NICRA had agreed to sponsor].
April 15 Thursday: I was in the office all day but in the evening spoke at South London. The usual people were there. I learned that my counter-statement has been referred to a sub-committee of Jack Woddis and myself, and when I rang him he told me that he proposed to return it as it stood. The Movement for Colonial Freedom Executive Council would enter it as a Connolly Association emergency resolution. He commented that the fusion of the two Irish parties seemed far from complete. I told him I had warned Michael O’Riordan that he ran a risk by making the organisational fusion before he had worked out a common policy. He said Frank Stanley had been at the amalgamation meeting and had returned full of enthusiasm. That of course was there – but no policy. I did not mention the bar in the conference hall. He thought they were somewhat confused and their document showed it. I agreed. I called a meeting next Tuesday in Manchester.
April 16 Friday: In the day I was busy working on the Lobby of May 5th. [ie. a lobby of MPs at the House of Commons seeking support for the vote on the Bill of Rights that Greaves had drafted and which took place four weeks later]. In the evening I was in Camden Town with Tony Donaghey.
April 17 Saturday: The usual people came at midday – Pat Hensey, Jim Kelly, Jane Tate and others. And Pat O’Donohue appeared after a holiday. He said all the land vacated by farmers around Claremorris is being sold by the shopkeepers who bought it as building plots. He could understand how Leftists hated the petite-bourgeoisie.
In the evening I was in Hammersmith with Pat Hensey. I ventured to express myself politely but forcefully on his incompetence as a secretary. I do not expect the slightest effect.
April 18 Sunday: We had a one-day school. Sean Redmond went to the MCF. They refused to accept the emergency resolution – which my document was never intended to be – but the South London one was passed. Also the MCF Executive is to issue a reply to Tribune’s campaign on “direct rule”[ie.the weekly left-Labour paper, which was calling for the abolition of the Unionist-majority Stormont Parliament and direct rule from London]. At the school Pat Farley and one other came from Coventry, Alf Ward from Oxford, and late in the afternoon Anne Doherty from Manchester. She is of course a scatterbrain. In the evening Peter Mulligan and I went to Luton. At the school were also Sean Redmond (in the afternoon), Pat Hensey, Gerry Curran, Jane Tate, Pat O’Donohue and quite a few more.
April 19 Monday (Liverpool): I spent another day in the office. Chris Sullivan, again out of work, came in. And Stella Bond was there also. In the evening I had Peter Mulligan, Jim Kelly and Jane Tate on a working party. Finally I caught the midnight train to Liverpool.
April 20 Tuesday: I spent the day reading the proofs of the index of Mellows. I sent them back to Lawrence and Wishart and asked if they could get the book out by 25th May. It would give them just under 5 weeks.
In the evening I went to Manchester. Alice Beirne, Mick Rabbitt and Belle Lalor were there, together with a young man called Newlove who had come into the office on the night when he was working in London. I outlined a plan for a Social to be held soon, a conference on 6th June, a demonstration on July 11th and the Annual Conference in Manchester in September. There was assent – and that clears the road for winning new people by activity. Then I returned to Liverpool.
April 21 Wednesday: I spent the morning clearing up in the house, and the afternoon and evening in the garden. But there is much still to do.
April 22 Thursday: I was not able to do much today because of the rain – badly needed but inconveniently timed. I decided to stay here tomorrow.
April 23 Friday: It rained all day long, coming down in sheets. It was scarcely possible to see Stourton Hill as a heavy mist hung over everything. So by waiting I merely lost a day! I looked up the old short life of Connolly I wrote when Phyllis was ill. Sam Levenson is bringing out a book perhaps next year, in which he uses the Mathieson letters (or so he tells me) which Connolly wrote in the SLP period [Sam Levenson, 1911-1980, American author of “James Connolly: A Biography”, 1973]. I did not have access to them. But I thought to myself that there might be room for an interpretative book with a brief outline of the life, making use of the equally unpublished material Fiona has, which is now at Marx House on a compromise with Bert Edwards [ie. Fiona Connolly’s estranged husband]. At worst, Sam Levenson’s will help to sell my paperback! But I hope he does not go too far in “personalizing”. “What people in America want to read about is whether Connolly had anything to do with naughty women,” he said to me once. I left for Belfast in the evening.
April 24 Saturday (Dublin): I reached Belfast at 7 am. and went straight to Dublin on the Enterprise, and out to Cathal’s. He has an anti-EEC meeting there tomorrow. We went into town – it is still raining, though here the wind is from the West, whereas in England it has been stuck in the East for nearly a month, though it has not been a hard East wind. Helga is buying a new stair carpet. He dropped me off at Sean Nolan’s but I returned after lunch for a talk. Michael O’Riordan was there. They were pleased at the opportuneness of our joint statement. Nolan said Seven Seas [ie. the East German publishers] had announced the paperback of Connolly, which is good. I spent a good part of the evening with Michael O’Riordan and finally he came to Cathal’s where the Cork men for the meeting had assembled, together with Micheal O Loingsigh, Tony Coughlan, an old Republican Sean Hendrick and others. Micheal O’Riordan said that his controversial Moscow speech was addressed to Ireland. He was compelled to admit it was not very satisfactorily formulated, but had no regrets. I think it was part of the game of “see how revolutionary we are” being played by Kevin Street, Gardiner’s Row and now Pembroke Lane! [ie. the respective headquarters of the “Provisional” Republicans, the “Official” ones and the CPI]. Noel Harris came also and Mrs O’Riordan, so that there was a great gathering, and plenty of drink from supplies which Cathal had acquired.
April 25 Sunday: I had a talk with Sean Hendrick, who told me that there was in existence a manuscript of Sean Moylan, a North Tipperary carpenter by origin, which his wife had in her possession[Sean Hendrick, 1900-1971, Cork radical intellectual and cultural figure, friend of the writers Sean O Faolain and Frank O’Connor and the sculptor Seamus Murphy and one of the patrons of the anti-EEC campaign]. He feared it would never be published. He told me the Wallace sisters in Cork were dead but Jim O’Regan and Mrs O’Regan [ie.Jim O’Regan’s mother]are well. I called out to Maire Comerford but she was not in. In the evening Roy Johnston came. He had been at Bodenstown where the new monument was unveiled. Moss Twomey made a speech which both sides accepted. But a Breton walked out when the Marseillaise was played, and Derry Kelleher went off with him. I suggested that the EEC opposition send a delegation to London to try and get big money off the sugar planters [ie. Messrs Tate and Lyle who were opposed to British membership of the EEC, the application to join which had been initiated by Harold Wilson’s Labour Government and was now being pursued by Edward Heath’s Conservative one. The step suggested was not taken]. They are talking of employing a man at £10 a week to work in Cathal’s spare room. I told him I would advise him not to consider it. A £10 a week man will make no impression. Crotty has been at it full-time for six months, living on his savings, but must soon stop. [The economist Raymond Crotty,1925-1994, was a member of the Common Market Study Group and later joint-secretary, with Anthony Coughlan, of the Common Market Defence Campaign which acted as an umbrella group opposing EEC membership for Ireland in the May 1972 referendum on the Treaty of Accession.]
April 26 Monday (Belfast/Liverpool). I went to Belfast. Jack Bennett was not at work. I always seem to strike his day off. But I saw Hughie Moore and suggested he should work out plans for an alternative government as I felt Faulkner might not only be the last of the old, but the first of the new [Unionist politician Brian Faulkner,1917-2006, the sixth and last Prime Minister of Northern Ireland, succeeded James Chichester-Clark in that position in March 1971. Faulkner resigned following the suspension of Stormont and the imposition of direct rule from London following the Bloody Sunday events in Derry in January 1972; Greaves’s remark implies that he was hoping at the time that the Bill of Rights policy which he and the Connolly Association and various others were advocating still had some chance of being adopted]. And I said they should get out a pamphlet against sectarianism. Later I saw John McClelland. Little Barry has just recovered from measles. Margaret still hankers after her secure life at Greasby[Merseyside, where they had previously lived]. The old man, whom we picked up and took for a drink, is suffering from what may well be depression [ie. John McClelland’s father]. He speaks much of his conscience in taking the stand he did at the shipyard, as if to ask, “what was wrong in it?” He has not the intellectual grasp to see the picture as a whole. Apparently Joe Deighan has become more active, and Bobby Heatley is very useful in dealing with the “People’s Democracy”, for he makes mincemeat of them. Then I got myself on board.
April 27 Tuesday (London): I called at 124 Mount Road but did not delay, and came straight on to London. Sean Redmond had been re-elected to the Executive Committee of the NCCL [National Council of Civil Liberties].
April 28 Wednesday: A call came from Barbara Haq. Fenner Brockway was going to introduce a single Bill after all, identical with Latham’s. The reason? One of the Liberal peers had got cold feet at the last moment – even regarding PR, which is Liberal policy! Lord Beaumont I believe. But Latham has not turned in the final draft to Barbara Haq. Apparently it has passed the Table Office or whatever it is called, and conforms with the requirements of the Definitions Act 1885 or whatever that is, and is in effect my draft virtually untouched [The final text, as with all Bills put before the House of Commons, was printed by HMSO].
I had heard that the May Day Committee had been urged to invite me to speak on Saturday next, Sean Redmond and Joe Deighan having done so on the last two occasions. It was Joe O’Connor who was pressing it. But today they indicated that they must have a Trade Union activist. I recommended Charlie Cunningham. But he was not at the meeting in the evening. The evening meeting was poorly attended. Peter Mulligan had asked Charlie would he be secretary instead of Pat Hensey (who has fierce family problems) but he replied, “not under Sean Redmond”. The most active people are Charlie and Peter now, though Pat O’Donohue and Jim Kelly keep going, and Sean Redmond has not tailed off further too much.
April 29 Thursday: The Irish Post rang me again, but I put them off. I am very vulnerable while doing all the jobs at once. It is as if the Connolly Association and Irish Democrat had only one head and if it were chopped off that would be bad for the organism. The young nincompoop O’Connor Lysaght is attacking me as an “agent of King Street” and I don’t want to help to enlarge the smear campaign [Rayner O’Connor Lysaght, a member of Gery Lawless’s Irish Workers’ Group and one of the founders of the Trotskyist Revolutionary Marxist Group in 1972].
April 30 Friday: I was busy in the office all day, then went to Oxford. Alf Ward and Michael Leahy met me at the Station, and we went to Cowley to the Trades Council meeting. The room was packed and almost everybody present asked a question. Both Ward and Leahy were delighted and there is no doubt the CA will have been materially strengthened. It was this that confirmed me in what I had suggested to Barbara Haq on Wednesday, that there was a real possibility of making the Bill of Rights the official policy of the Labour Movement. I returned late and had to get a taxi.
May 1 Saturday: I rang Anne Doherty and she agreed with the next stage. So did Pat Powell, but I fear his illness is serious. He talks about drugs all the time and blood counts and seems a bit depressed. No wonder. Yet if it is cancer why do they not try operating? He cannot be more than 35 or 36 too. On the other hand Elsie had amoebic dysentery which lasted a couple of years. I must find out the specialist she went to if he is still alive.
We held the Standing Committee in the morning and I presented proposals for a very rapid and vigorous turn in the campaign, the centre of which is the drive to the Labour Movement. The NICRA (London) who have the blessing at any rate of NICRA (Belfast) have not yet disclosed the nature of their “massive demonstration” on 11th July to which Edwina Stewart is coming. We decided to move ours to Manchester and hold the annual conference in Manchester.
Then we went to Hyde Park [for the annual May Day rally of the London Labour Movement]. I had a refusal from Charlie Cunningham but got Sean Redmond on to the platform. The attendance was poor, almost exclusively of CP branches with a few Young Socialists and International Socialists and about 3-6 Union banners, I was told. I saw only one. The deplorable sectarianism and lack of imagination of the Left! Sunday is the traditional day. The great thing now is numbers against the whole trend of Tory policy. But they chose Saturday. Why? Because next year it will be Monday and they may get stoppages of work, and thus restore the “traditional day”. Joe O’Connor thought that by 1972 feeling would be running so high that there would be mass strikes. I ventured to doubt it. That would depend. Far better to build on the traditional day something really big. Then the main attack was on the Industrial Relations Bill, which people regard as “in the bag” of the Government. There was nothing on the Common Market, the real issue that they can’t see. Joe O’Connor told me what happened. He had asked them to invite me. But the CP people opposed it. They wanted somebody who was an “active Trade Unionist”. And of course I could see they were at their wits’ end how to draw the Trade Union banners out, having isolated themselves by their stupidity. John Gollan [CPGB General Secretary] was not advertised, but like the Chief of Staff of the IRA he emerged suddenly and gave a vigorous speech lasting about five minutes. Apart from him only Sean Redmond held the crowd. Sean was very good. When he got down he said to me, “Are you nervous on these occasions?” “No”, said I. “My God, I am – even at the Civil Liberties.” “Perhaps I was when I was thirty-five,” said I, and indeed I recall it in my young days. As FM Jones said to me when we were students, it all arises from vanity, fear of looking less than one’s estimate of oneself. I have kept the estimate but gained better certainty of performance and lost the belief that anybody else is interested in it anyway. They’ve enough to keep them busy looking after themselves. I introduced Charlie Cunningham to Andrew Rothstein and mentioned his London Trades Council resolution. Charlie was beaming. That rat Prendergast spoke, or rather ranted [Jim Prendergast,1914-1974, born in Dublin; a former International Brigader in Spain and activist in the National Union of Railwaymen(NUR); a political opponent of Greaves’s in the CA and the CPGB in the 1950s], and on the whole the occasion, though better than nothing, was not what it could have been made. In the evening I went to Stoke Newington with Pat O’Donohue.
May 2 Sunday: After yesterday it was like having two Sundays together. I spent the whole day in the office. Tom McDowell is bringing his petitions with him[ie. for formal presentation of the petition at 10 Downing Street]. He won’t trust them to us and his Committee accuse us of trying to get all the credit – while he has no hesitation in accepting the honour of “Irishman of the Year” from the Irish Post, which unfortunately manages to continue in its petit-bourgeois existence. I could say something about the blindness and lack of imagination of Watters and others in Birmingham [ie. Frank Watters of the CPGB], but it would do no good. Their brains are impermeable. One awaits opportunities. These may come when Mark Clinton returns there, but I don’t know. Peter Mulligan and Charlie Cunningham came in the evening.
May 3 Monday: Another day in the office, from 7.50 to 11.15. But though a heavy day, it was productive. I arranged the Irish Democrat conference, a meeting in the Porchester Hall and the Manchester Conference. Wilf Charles [of the Manchester CPGB] told me on the telephone that the Manchester May Day parade was also woeful, no doubt for the same reason, the foolish Leftism that prevails. I cannot understand why year in year out they always choose to lead where common sense would tell you people won’t follow. They prepare plans out of their own desires, not out of actualities. There was much recrimination after it, and Wilf Charles got his slant from Mick Rabbitt and others. So he agreed to do much of the work of organising the Manchester Conference, and merely asked for the material to be supplied to him. By midnight I had prepared it all and polished it off.
Sean Redmond came in. We learned that he had taken Suzanne Redmond to Belfast. A good move.
May 4 Tuesday: I went to Ripley to read the proofs. For once everything went perfectly. I had to wait for no buses; the trains were on time, and the proofs ready. I brought back 50 copies. When I got back to London I found Sean Redmond as well as Jim Kelly in the office, and quite a deal was done.
May 5 Wednesday: This was the day of the lobby of Parliament [seeking support for the later vote on the Bill of Rights]. First to arrive at the office was Tom McDonald of Glasgow, a young student teacher I would judge to be about 23, an open lad, with none of the bohemian pretentiousness and deliberate disorder that characterises the appearance of so many students. There was also, while I was out, a visit from the Tax Collector. Toni Curran was in the office by chance, doing books for Brief, and very late too. She said we had £250, of which a hundred is required for Ripley, something less due to myself and another hundred for tax. She told him we hadn’t it, but would pay as soon as we could, which was fair enough.
A message came from Maurice Cornforth. As I expected there were one or two points and queries raised on the Northern Ireland book [ie.“The Irish Crisis”], but nothing like what would be imaginable in such a complicated question, when I did the work in such a mad rush. There was a suggestion of adding material, but I am rather inclined to deal with its absence by disclaimers. The great difficulty is in addressing simultaneously two national readerships, one only too well informed, the other too little. I noted that Jack Woddis’s comments all tended to defend the English people, and to suggest the Irish should have done more! I told him I would do what was necessary but could not give a date as I have so much on. I have prepared a programme, now that Sean Redmond is out of the way, for trying to re-establish the fortunes of the paper, and set the Connolly Association on its feet as a countrywide organisation by the time of the conference in August or September. And I am hoping to break with his stick-in-the mud tradition by getting it out of London. But I am not going to transfer to London. It is essential to leave a constant responsibility on those there, and I see signs of Charlie Cunningham, Peter Mulligan and Jim Kelly shouldering it. If I stay there all the time they will put it down. But the result is that when I am here I have to do so much in a short time, which involves going into the office sometimes at 7.15 am., all of which is tiring.
When Charle Cunningham, who had taken a day off, arrived we went to the House of Commons to the Press Conference. For the second time we had been given the wrong information. The room was to have been booked by Arthur Latham but he was not there [Arthur Latham, 1930-2016, Labour MP for Paddington North]. Brockway got in the chair and the newspapers asked questions. He did not answer them very effectively, and after it was over he said Sean Redmond had provided him with a memo that was not much good, and asked me to meet him tomorrow at the Lords’ lobby at 4 pm. “You see, I can’t answer these questions,” he said deprecatingly – which in a man as vain as he is, indicates that he regards such inability as but small disqualification and taking nothing from his estimate of himself. He explained Latham’s absence by the fact that they had been up to 3 am. But he did not put in an appearance at all. “I think he has wife trouble,” said Barbara Haq. So we hope he shows up next Wednesday, when the Bill is to be presented. “I find,” said Barbara, “that every day my opinion of Parliamentarians goes down and down.”
Tom McDowell was there. He had refused to let his box of signatures out of his clutches for fear the CA would rob him of his honour. Anne Doherty was there with MacAuley, but no sign of the forty who were to come by train (as we expected of course). I had had all the signatures parcelled up and the names of those who had collected them were clearly visible in bold or white through the cellotape. Tom McDowell had simply an old box, and his 25,000 proved to be only 17,000. This means the CA was well in the lead, as we had 24-25,000. Pat Turley was there from Coventry, and white-haired Mullen from Sunderland, Pat Ward and a Labour Councillor from Oxford, and through the day our own people began to arrive. The signatures were presented at 2 pm. and then the lobbying began. We saw more MPs than ever before. Indeed I gleaned some interesting items of information.
Roy Hattersley [MP for Birmingham Sparkbrook, former Labour Minister] took Tom McDowell into the Members’ Bar and I’ll swear he did not come out of it until he left for Birmingham. I went there with Rooney from Leeds and saw him well ensconced there as we passed through with Cohen. George Brown was there, laying down the law and in the drink [George Brown, 1914-1985, former Foreign Secretary and Labour Deputy Leader]. At the close of the day’s proceedings the Birmingham deputation emerged holding bottles of whisky they had bought at reduced prices. They were in a good mood. When I proposed in accordance with our discussions last Sunday, proceeding at once to the “Declaration” without calling the coordinating committee together, Tom McDowell said, “We’ll leave it to you. That’s all right.” Barbara Haq got a similar agreement (already broached with Pat Powell) from Pat Turley. And I spoke to Anne Doherty.
Fairly late in the evening Bing came into the lobby. I spoke to him and he assumed I was with the Highgate NICRA crowd. “Who are we waiting for? O’Halloran I think. I’ll be with you in a minute.” Meanwhile the NICRAs were standing there – mild, confused middle-class people, pleasant but desperately unpolitical. They were coming over every few minutes to ask what to say. But now they were joined by Bing and Bowes Egan and away they went. Egan said, “Good evening, Mr Greaves.” I am afraid I was a little off-hand – I should have congratulated him on his acquittal [ie. on a charge of being involved in the House of Commons CS gas incident], but I had too much on my mind. “Hallo, Bowes!” called out Sean Redmond – the most unsociable man within the CA but putting his Dublin bonhomie to the rescue at other times. I wondered what they were up to. Perhaps they cannot speak for themselves, so draw in their “experts” providing they are not of the Connolly Association. It crossed my mind that we might be contributing to this by not joining their committee. But the rift came when they announced their July 11th without consulting us. Whether we could have altered the terms by going in, I do not know. Though I had to stop them from putting sticky labels advertising it all over the House of Commons! I suggested it was hardly the right time.
There was a little social gathering in what used to be Ward’s “Irish House”. It was mainly the Connolly Association people. But Tom McDowell came and brought a friend also from Glasgow. Whereas McDowell has a firm handshake, the other man’s was flaccid. He also is a student but is in London. I saw Mullen to his train. He was delighted. It had been a great day out. “I’ve had butterflies all week,” he said, “about speaking to those MPs. But do you know, I’ve enjoyed myself.”
Now the first thing that happened this morning was that Toni Curran showed me the statement – a hotchpotch of UN troops, direct rule etc., that Brockway, Stallard and others had got out. We all thought it might be an attempt to sabotage, but somehow this explanation does not seem to fit. Sean Redmond discovered its origin from Stallard, whose help was invaluable [Jock Stallard,1921-2008, Labour MP for Camden and St Pancras North]. Indeed I never recall getting such assistance from an MP. He spent the whole day in the lobby with us, making suggestions and pointing people out. Now apparently it all arose when the three British soldiers were killed. Brockway said, “We must do something.” So the “historic document” was drafted, and waved before the MCF Executive, and went its rounds and suffered amendment, to see the light of day and be disregarded only now.
May 6 Thursday (Liverpool): I was in the office early. Tom McDonald came and said he was prepared to try to re-establish our Glasgow Branch. He is a little shaky on the EEC, is not a member of any party, having been working hard as a student, but reads the “Star”[ie. the “Morning Star”]. He has studied history.
I went to the Lords at 4 pm. and waited till 4.25. There was no sign of Brockway. Then I went back to the office, cleared thngs up, sent Brockway a brief Memorandum, and took the night train to Liverpool.
May 7 Friday: I reached 124 Mount Road by about 8 am. The first thing is of course to have a complete rest, and then perhaps go to the cottage. I found the garden somewhat overgrown. The scarlet rhododendron has flowered, after missing two years, but the white lilac has only two or three blossoms – the result of last year’s drought I think, for I could not help reflecting on the poor development and largeness of the foliage last year. By contrast the apple trees in some neighbouring gardens are a mass of white, finer than I ever saw them before.
May 8 Saturday: I bought a rotary lawn-mower – in a sense all are rotary, but this has blades that rotate in a horizontal plane, and which rotate even if the machine is stationary. With it I began work on the back lawn. I got Ashford up and engaged him to repair the crack in the wall of the extension. He thought the chimney stack exerted an influence and advises me to bring it down. I rang Geoffrey Bloor, who promised to come and look at it.
May 9 Sunday: I spent the whole day cleaning up the side garden. I still have the front and the back to do. I am still tired.
May 10 Monday: I spent the whole day on the garden.
May 11 Tuesday: Again I spent the whole day in the garden.
May 12 Wednesday: At the end of the third day the garden was a little more presentable, so I decided I would go away, but yielded to the temptation of waiting to see the fate of the Bill of Rights. Seemingly Charlie Cunningham was at the House, and Sean Redmond saw Brockway yesterday. He said he was there all the time. But he was not where he told me to see him. Apparently Tadhg Feehan was there, and the Embassy were crowing with delight [Tadhg Feehan, who had been in the Anti–Partition League in the late 1940s, was close to the Irish Embassy].But the same Feehan started back in horror at Liam O’Neill’s Connolly badge! The Tories had a well-prepared counter-attack for Latham, and he was refused leave to introduce, but got a vote of about 135 – a very good sign [A Conservative three-line whip was imposed to deny the Bill of Rights a second reading; a reading was granted in the House of Lords, but the Bill was thrown out on its second reading the following month]. Foot was at his elbow all the time, and is still plugging direct rule [Michael Foot, 1913-2010, Labour MP; linked to the leftwing weekly “Tribune”; Labour Party leader 1980-83]. But Charlie Cunningham sent him a copy of the Irish Democrat. Charlie had another success. His resolution on the Bill of Rights is to be sent by his Union to the next TUC [where it was eventually adopted, thus becoming the official policy of the British trade union movement; but the Labour Government was of course now out of office].Stella Bond had telephoned, and I spoke with Sean Redmond about a letter from Kevin McCorry congratulating us on the effectiveness of our lobby, and noting they had been asked to supply a speaker to a demo in Trafalgar Square on 11 July. They understood that we also have a demonstration. “Not wishing to interfere”, they ask if the two could be run together. Sean Redmond concludes that they have at last tumbled to the fact that we can get things done and want to keep on good terms with us. Our feeling was to let them have the fixture, but to concentrate on Manchester [ie.the proposed Connolly Association rally there].
May 13 Thursday (Salop): At last I was able to get away for a break. I cycled to Bromborough, then went to Salop, and caught the connection to LLandrindod Wells, thence cycling to Nant y ddernol. There were three other cyclists there, the old Cycle Touring Club men from Birkenhead, one just retired at 65, the other in his early fifties from Kirkland Avenue. The other was a bearded student of 20, an American from Boston. He had never gone touring before. Casually, as if to dissociate himself from this plebeian sport, he said of some article of clothing, “I wear it when I go skiing.” He told me that there had been a danger that the Faneuil Hall would be demolished by developers, but that it was for the present safe [It had been a meeting place for Boston patriots on the eve of the American Revolution].
May 14 Friday: I cycled across the mountains to Newtown and then went on to the cottage. I found big changes. The area below is planted with young firs, though the hedgerows have been left, I imagine for shelter. There is fencing and netting aimed at keeping rabbits out of the plantation, and the cottage is within the reservation. All the ditches have been opened up, and part of the land within the cottage enclosure has been made into a ditch – it was a blocked water course anyway. Unfortunately the new ditch blocks access and it is necessary to make a detour. On the other hand a bridge has been constructed, over which I can go to the well. Mrs Corbett told me the whole cottage might have been bulldozed but for her intervention. There was “one fellow on a bulldozer” she “didn’t like the look of”. And they came upon the well by accident when the bulldozer struck it. It also is within the planted area. In the village the old post office is demolished. The houses are falling into ruins. Two barytes pits have been filled in. An attempt was made to blow up the old miners’ hostel with dynamite. The attempt was a failure and crippled one man, I think the same Joe Lewes, who was struck by rock while pulling the owner, his employer Mr Fletcher, the Shrewsbury “millionaire” who bought the estate, to safety. His knee cap was wrecked. It is an interesting commentary on capitalism that he sacrificed his own health to save his employer. That tribe must never suffer the results of their folly and wickedness. Mrs Corbett’s son-in-law was there. He works for the Salop [ie.Shropshire] County Council entirely on bridges over roads and rivers. He was telling me about the Telford Bridge in the County.
May 15 Saturday: I spent the whole day on one thing and another – how all the time went it is difficult to know. But it did. Mostly pottering about the house.
May 16 Sunday (Liverpool): I cycled down to Salop for the 10 am. train. On reaching 124 Mount Road I telephoned Geoffrey Bloor who came up in the evening and we held a conference with Ashford. It was decided to pull down the whole chimney stack and abandon the wood burner heating in the extension. I will have to use electricity. Bloor stayed till about 10.15 drinking whisky. He told me of his adventures in the Sudan, where the provincial governor has two concerns, first to induce the local people to lubricate their water wheels so that they could work them with asses instead of oxen. They wouldn’t do it, I said rightly – they’d have their oxen taken off them. The other was to bring phosphotic manure from the desert and put it on their land. Again they wouldn’t. And rightly, for they would end up landless miners digging it for export.
May 17 Monday: At midday Ashford called and told me the repairs to the house will cost about £100, which was what Bloor estimated. I had no choice but to accept. In the afternoon I went to Manchester, and there was a reasonably good meeting, with Wilf Charles, Mick Rabbitt and most of the CEUs [Construction and Engineering Unions’ representatives], but none of the Clan Watters [ie. either Tommy Watters or Barney Watters]. I was very puzzled. However, the programme was agreed on. We had sent out invitations to the Trade Unions and gave in copies of the circular. I could not get a sleeper, so had to return to Liverpool. Then I discovered that the names of the sponsors had not been included on the circular.
May 18 Tuesday (Swindon): I caught the 10.30, which broke down before we got to Crewe, or at any rate was becalmed by a power failure and arrived nearly an hour late. I then had to rush to Paddington to catch the 4 pm. to Swindon. But though the clerk at the barrier had indicated the train, I found out by accident while sitting in it that it did not stop at Swindon. There were new timetables, and these days they always alter times so as to discourage passengers, whom they don’t want. They stand by motor cars like Christians. So I had to wait an hour. Gradwill met me at Swindon and his wife, the famous Angela Tuckett [1906-1994, author of histories of the Blacksmiths’ Trade Union, the Scottish TUC etc.], something of an historian, provided tea. Then we went to the meeting. There were few there, but there resulted an increase of 18 in the order for the Irish Democrat and a prospect of addressing Swindon Trades Council.
May 19 Wednesday (London): I had a further talk with Angela Tuckett. She has a substantial library in a shed built by Gradwill at the bottom of the garden. She is working on a history of the blacksmiths, presumably a companion volume to others on carriers etc. She told me that when R. Palme Dutt’s mother died she helped to clear up the house and found copies of Dutt’s books he had given her. She asked him if he wanted them back, and he said he had no room. So she has them to this day. She does not think much of Ramelson [Bert Ramelson, 1910-1994, CPGB industrial organiser], which is interesting, but thinks Gordon McLennan [1924-2011; General Secretary of the CPGB 1975-1990] has a “soft heart that he keeps well under control”. I don’t know if that carries any overtones! Dutt she thought difficult as a person despite his brilliance [Rajani Palme Dutt, 1896-1974, editor of “Labour Monthly”, whom Greaves thought highly of as an anti-imperialist and theoretician of the national question]. His desire for independence leads him to reject help he could get, and needs.
I caught the 11.05 to Didcot and Oxford, where Mick Leahy was waiting for me. We discussed various plans for the branch. He says the new secretary pro-tem, Dorrington, is somewhat afraid of communism. For the most part the members are not political and do not understand working through the Labour Movement. He said that Cockburn is in Clann na hEireann.
I continued to London and rang Pat Hensey. There had been suggestions that I should address the branch, but he had given me no information. He told me that Sean Redmond was to do it. But when Sean arrived he said he was not. I made one or two animadversions to Pat Hensey in public when I gave them a talk on the new plans. Among those present were Sean Redmond, Pat Hensey, Charlie Cunningham, Peter Mulligan, Jim Kelly, Pat O’Donohue, Elsie O’Dowling and Jane Tate – but few of the “new ones”. I blame the shocking incompetence shown by Hensey, who brings no imagination. Also Sean Redmond puts people off by his complete insensitivity to peoples’ difficulties.
May 20 Thursday (Liverpool): I decided yesterday to go to Manchester and I did. First I went to see Wilf Charles in Salford and found him with the DATA man, Forrester, at lunch in the Town Hall. I learned that only District Committees and no branches had been circularised. I then went to see Gerry Cohen to see if I could get addresses, but apparently all imporant Trade Unions are willing to send out leads themselves, so he has no need of them. Wilf Charles promised to try to get me a meeting with the Confederation [ie.of Building and Engineering trade unions], and to pursue the matter of the Trades Council. I made some arrangements with Cohen about a school in the summer, and the trip was very essential. I came on to Liverpool rather than go straight back. I was a little unsettled because of this rat villainy that the devil Heath is engaged in in Paris. I bought a bottle of wine as consolation. [A major “breakthrough” in the EEC negotiations had been announced on 11 May. This was followed on 20 and 21 May by a summit meeting in Paris between British Prime Minister Edward Heath and French President Georges Pompidou, Charles de Gaulle’s successor, at which it became clear that France now backed British entry to the European Community. The meeting concluded with a press conference on the Friday evening at which Heath announced Britain’s willingness in principle to participate in European economic and monetary union following British entry to the EEC, which was a key French policy objective.]
May 21 Friday (London): I spent practically all day in the office, with masses of work to do. Indeed much of it didn’t get done. I was in Kilburn with Bill Grimes.
May 22 Saturday: The Irish Democrat conference was in the afternoon, and a gloomy affair it was, against the background of falling sales and rising costs. There is, despite the Bill of Rights success, a feeling of defeatism or confusion among the members, and I wonder what it is we are missing. And for myself I was too tired out to make much of the occasion. There was sniping at Gerry Curran because of the book page some of them think “highbrow”. And the drop in sales is quite remarkable. The people in the public houses are not our regulars. These seem to have been dispersed by demolitions. And then the intense competition is another factor. The people have become confused by a babel of contradictory voices. Grimes and Crowley are the Cassandra voices. Crowley is slightly hunchbacked. Grimes for some reason has a grudge against the world. They rang up Peter Mulligan and invited him to drink with them tonight.
May 23 Sunday: We held the EC in the morning, with Michael Crowe down from Sunderland. The usual people were there. An important step forward was that Charlie Cunningham undertook to be circulation manager. Whether he will have the energy and drive and will be able to withstand the frustrations of the job is another matter. The financial position – at last Toni Curran gave us a statement – is desperate, and since the superior landlord wants to raise the rent from £600 to £1000, we have an impossible position. Add to that the poor prospect of a good collection in Trafalgar Square. When Edwina Stewart saw the collection we got last year she immediately resolved to get it into her own pocket, and McCorry was soon over plotting with London NICRA how to pre-empt our date. They have the queerest assembly of speakers – decrepit old Bing now advocating “direct rule”, Abernethy of New York and some other odd characters for an Irish nationalist platform. They will all contradict each other, but the promoters of the event are not concerned with achieving clarity but in making money!
May 24 Monday (Coventry): I did some work on the paper. Tony Coughlan’s stuff did not arrive, so Heaven knows what this issue will be like. Then I caught the 5 pm. train to Coventry where Pat Powell awaited my arrival. His illness is “ulcerated colitis” – this is of course the descriptive name. The drug he is taking is advised for “auto-immune diseases”. He has lost weight but looks fatter since he retains water. He could hardly say it was getting better but said he was “holding his own”. The alternative to this drug was an operation involving the removal of the intestine and the use of a bag. None of this sounds good, even if he has been told the whole story. The result is that he has not been able to supervise Social Justice [ie.the Coventry support group of the Dungannon-based Campaign for Social Justice established by Patricia and Conn McCluskey]. I had said I wished to speak last. There were attempts to reverse it at a meeting last night but Pat Powell and Pat Turley stood firm. Then Johnson [a university lecturer who was a member of the Coventry Social Justice group], who was unable to meet Bernadette Devlin and bring her along, suddenly discovered that he could do so, and trundled off to the station.
There was a big crowd in the Lecture Theatre of the Lanchester. I was there on time, but there was no Bernadette. The chairman asked me would I speak first. I declined. They came half an hour late. They had been drinking. So Bernadette Devlin went on second, after Johnson had waffled a bit. Both his and her speeches were notable for the complete absence of perspective for success. The Clann na hEireann man Yeats or Yates from Birmingham might have been worse. He spoke about the prisoners.
This was the first time I had met Bernadette Devlin. Her hand was as cold as ice, and I have a feeling that though she seemed serious and sincere enough, there was a lack of real conviction. She was certainly friendly enough and I missed that half-hidden personal hostility which I always detect in Trotskies. I think probably her main feelings are those of the downtrodden Catholic, and she is rebellious for that reason, all the rest being acquired at College from her “Left” friends and based on no real understanding of what she is saying.
After the meeting we went hastily to the Irish Club which closed at 10.30. The manager was out, so no drinks could be served after hours. But a man called Terence something arranged with the Transport Club (a busmen’s welfare service) to open a bar for us, and we were there till close on 12 pm. when Bernadette returned by train. I stayed with Pat Powell. I had a few words with her but left them buzzing round the honeypot. Speaking to Pat Powell she said that she thought I did not pay much attention to her because I thought she would be “here today and gone tomorrow” (shrewd enough) and a Trotsky into the bargain. Nobody could say she was anything but amicable, and when Social Justice offered her expenses, she was quite touched and said that didn’t happen very often. I do not suppose her International Socialist friends do anything but bum on her. At the same time there is something of the fish in her, far colder than I had expected. She speaks without notes and seldom misplaces a word. That is a sign that she is a child of the emotions. So she lets McCann and the likes do the thinking for her. Her physical courage? I think deriving from her position in the Catholic community. She is thus not “just an ordinary Trotsky”.
The man who got us the bar is an official of the Planning Department. He told us of his Tammany operations. If people do not “play ball” with him, he discovers something wrong with their drawings, or delays their development plans. He considers himself capable of finding a number of solid objections to any set of proposals ever likely to be submitted to him. By means of these skills he has placed Irishmen in Council and other employment, and got children into the schools desired by their parents, even if these were at the far end of the town.
25 May Tuesday (Leeds): Pat Powell ran me to the station in his car and I went to Liverpool. There was no sign of Ashford or the workmen. Nothing had been done. I then left on the 5 o’clock train for Leeds where M. Rooney met me, together with Michael Crowe who had come from Sunderland. After a snack we went to the Trades Club where we had the meeting. Rooney had constituted an “Irish Socialist Republican Club” to serve as a discussion forum. There were about 50 people present, including several International Socialists who were handing out leaflets for a meeting with Bernadette Devlin. There is undoubtedly a change in the character of the Irish immigration. They have settled down, vacated the lodging house areas and become interested in politics. This must explain the appearance of the Irish Post. In these coming few months when I make my last attempt to put the movement on its feet, it will be necessary to bear this in mind. Wymark-Roose was there. I think he mingles with them but is not of them. Last night Trotsky papers were in evidence, but tonight it was the Irish Democrat. Rooney paid my expenses in full and wanted to pay a £10 fee. I accepted £5. I lectured on Connolly and afterwards had a talk with the Trades Council Secretary, Mrs Huffingley, with a view to having called a conference of the Leeds Trades Council and surrounding Councils. Both Michael Crowe and I were accommodated at Rooney’s house. I had a brief talk with Michael Crowe. Things are going reasonably well up in Co. Durham. There have been report-back meetings and Mullen has pronounced himself delighted with his visit. Apparently he used to be in the CP when he was in London!
May 26 Wednesday (London): Michael Rooney got up early and took Michael Crowe for the 6 am. train. The morning he spent showing me some interesting parts of Leeds. He is quite a remarkable character, who has been visiting us for some years and buying books. He is chairman of the County Board of the GAA, TGWU organiser, member of the Trades Council, Chairman of Clann na hEireann, President of the Irish Centre, and a member of the Civil Rights group they have set up in Leeds, with 200 members and infinite confusion. He told me that he would not join the CA, but if one was set up he would help them with accommodation and finance. He also promised to bring people over to Manchester on July 11th. He is preparing to write a history of the Irish in Yorkshire. He was interned on the Al Rawdah during the war [a ship moored in Strangford Lough where Republicans were imprisoned during World War 2].
He dropped me off at the University in his van, and soon Houghton-Evans met me and we went to the “coffee room” where I gave them a talk which he remarked was the most informative they had ever had. I think it was a kind of socialist discussion group among the staff. Ron Bellamy [Labour historian] was there – a decent man – and we had a wee talk and drink afterwards.
I then returned to London, having made £3 on the whole trip. Jane Tate was quite surprised when I handed it to her. The meeting was addressed by Colin Sweet who went on too long [author of “The Common Market versus the Common People”, 1972]. Sean Redmond did not make a job of the EC report; he can sound terribly apologetic. There is still a certain looseness of morale, which I put down to Pat Hensey’s constant failure to provide leadership. Thus the Committee never meets. He makes no engagement for speakers. Sean and I have to do it, and since this is EC action in branch affairs, the idea grows up that the EC is unrepresentative. Peter Mulligan has asked Sean Redmond if he would do it, and though he also has grave defects, at least he can organise. Peter is busy on the books but has been too busy buying stock to make any money! And in addition to this odour in the Augean stable I have to train Charlie Cunningham to do the circulation.
May 27 Thursday: I learned from John McClelland that Bobby Heatley will speak at the Glasgow conference, and Joe Deighan will consider 11th July [ie.to come to the Manchester CA rally there as a guest speaker]. I worked on the paper all day. Then in the evening I went to South London, where morale is much higher and eight volunteered to go to Manchester. The question is how many will keep to it.
May 28 Friday: I was busy on the paper, then on getting out invitations and letters. I had to take a taxi to the Porchester Hall. This man Dromey Sean Redmond recommended to speak, a member of the EC of the NCCL, turns out to be an International Socialist, a cocky young fellow with beard and outsize tie, very confident as he intones his speech and talks down to his betters, a law student [Jack Dromey, trade unionist and Labour politician; elected MP for Birmingham Erdington in 2010]. Then Pat Hensey and I went to Euston and entrained for Glasgow. Hensey is on holiday. His parents are both dead and he will go to Dublin for only a day to see his sister in Drumcondra. He can get privilege tickets on the railway, so promised to give me a hand in Glasgow.
May 29 Saturday (Glasgow): In the morning we went to the CP unemployment demonstration. I saw Alec Ramsay there, and Arthur Milligan of the “Morning Star”, together with a few others. Then in the afternoon Redford kindly duplicated the envelopes for us. We decided to stay at the George, whither came a message from Tom McDonald saying he would be with us tomorrow. We were puzzled over how he found out where we were. In the evening we went to the Gorbals. There were posters advertising the actions of the “Provisionals”. It was clear that there is much disunity. We went into a public house, thinking to sell some papers. The landlord objected, “Only one paper is allowed in here – Republican News.” A man was standing wearing a Connolly badge. He had had it sent from Belfast. He was astonished when I told him I was the designer of it! Then James McGowan of [Placename unclear in the manuscript journal] appeared. He must be only 19, but he has just got married. Several others were then introduced to us and he said he would be along tomorrow. We then went to the Trade Union centre.
May 30 Sunday: It poured rain all morning but cleared by midday. There were only a few people at the meeting, but among them James McGowan, Tom McDonald and Bill Laughlin – a tower of strength. He is working with a large number of Catholics and perhaps this accounts for his interest. The Harrises were there, but I thought very defeatist, and one oldish man from the CP. However, it was not a total failure, though Tom McDonald is a little puzzled at being pitchforked into the secretaryship of a non-existent organisation. However, there was time to tell him something of the history, and it seems he knew the student Rankin. I explained how I wanted the Connolly Association completely separate from that crowd, however sincere they may be in the objective. I managed to do a bit of thinking, moreover, on the whole problem – stimulated by my travels. We caught the 5.40 to Liverpool, and Pat Hensey got off at Lancaster to go to Heysham.
I had the opportunity to study Pat Hensey more closely. We had gone to Edinburgh for an hour yesterday, and some of his descriptions had a touch of poetry. He can make a sharp observation and a shrewd comment. But he seems to have no capacity for organisation, in which he resembles Gerry Curran. The great problem is therefore “what can he do?” For we cannot afford to have him as Branch Secretary a day longer than is necessary. At the same time we don’t want him to feel superannuated.
31 May Monday (Liverpool): I had at last the opportunity of a full day, and spent it in the garden. Though I have not as much cultivated as last year, at any rate it is passable.
June 1 Tuesday (London): A very trying day. I had two minutes to catch the train. A fool planted himself at the barrier asking the ticket man questions. I went through the gate and misunderstood a partial information, leaped on a holiday special standing in the platform from which the 9.22 usually goes, and got carried without stop to Stafford. There through asking questions I just missed a train to Stoke, and was advised to go to Tamworth, only to find the Enquiry Office had made a mistake and their train only ran on Saturdays. I had three hours in Tamworth, and a taxi at Derby. Then I went on to London and found Charlie Cunningham and Jim Kelly in Neary’s. Charlie is in good form. Jim Kelly does not see the way forward. Later I found a note from Sean Redmond to the effect that he had gone off early. His mother had phoned to say that Tom Redmond’s [Sean Redmond’s brother] marriage was on the rocks and Tom was coming back to England any minute.
June 2 Wednesday: I was busy on the Scottish Conference all day and got off about 200 circulars. In the evening Betty Harrison spoke [ie.at the CA Central London Branch meeting]. The attendance was small but I think Sean Redmond succeeded in getting a little work started. The London NICRA crowd have claimed to have as speakers Abernethy from the USA, Bernadette Devlin, Bing and Conor Cruise O’Brien. They will contradict each other but that will not affect the collection, which I presume will be taken after Edwina Stewart speaks. Dalton Kelly is also coming. Now that means several hundred pounds in fares and Sean Redmond does not believe Abernethy will be there at all. They trick other organisations into declining to support them to save the money. That may be true. Feicimid! [Irish for “We shall see”]. Charlie Cunningham has already started to get the circulation management under way, and perhaps we are at the start of a pull-back.
June 3 Thursday: I was busy on the Manchester Conference all day and sent out about 80 circulars and some as an appeal for funds. Sean Redmond came in at about 6pm. But Suzanne pursued him and succeeded in getting him away and complained she got “no peace” because of his political activity. He has himself in a nice pickle, for he is genuinely interested in politics. In the evening later on came Peter Mulligan, Jim Kelly and Charlie Cunningham, and with the last I discussed the circulation.
June 4 Friday (Liverpool): I was in the office till about 1 pm. and then caught the 2.50 to Liverpool. It was a half hour late. Jack Woddis rang me and said that London NICRA had invited the party to walk on July 13. This was surprising. They seem to be concentrating on “getting people there” at all costs. The Irish Post is touting them as a “non-political effort”. And in a write-up of McManus [ie. Frank McManus, MP for Fermanagh-South Tyrone] they suppress the fact that he is speaking for us. I am toying with the idea of going back to London instead of completing the Mellows article and the book.
June 5 Saturday: In the morning John McClelland arrived. Quite early Margaret McClelland rang to say that their eldest child had passed the examination that will take her to the secondary school. I think it is a Methodist College where they teach Irish. We went to Manchester in the evening, and Wymark-Hore was waiting for us at Piccadilly with his Trinidadian wife, Pandora Zenobia! Add her name to his and there is Volapuk. They went down to All Saints while we went to Longsight, with papers and leaflets. We had quite a talk but there was nothing special. Wymark-Hore will soon settle in Leeds.
June 6 Sunday: We set off early and despite the desperate railway delays managed to get to the Crescent at Salford by 11 [for a Connolly Association conference on the Northern Ireland situation]. Wilf Charles was there with a delegate from Manchester Trades Council. HK Lee came in, then Wymark-Hore and Pandora, Martin Guinan and a friend from Blackburn, finally Belle Lalor and Alice Beirne. There was some value in it, though the progress is slow. We went for a drink afterwards. The Watters family went off to see Agnes who is in hospital. We had hardly sat down when Anne Doherty came in. She had not been able to find the meeting place. She was in an emotional state, and one of the boys thought she may have been taking something. Wilf Charles sent her into a tantrum by saying that if she felt so defeatist she should “get out”. She threw her Connolly badge in the air, ripped up her Trade Union card and threw it at Wilf, and stalked off swearing she would resign from NICRA and have no more to do with the Connolly Association. However, when John McClelland and I got out she was waiting in her car to take us to Piccadilly. I had tackled Wilf for talking too freely in front of her. He did not know who she was. But he got into the car with her and tried to get her to listen to his apology, but she can’t listen to anything. She is a fiery ball of emotion, total repulsion, throwing off sparks all the time and rejecting everything. Then Barney Morgan and another arrived from Liverpool. He also had failed to find the place. But he drove us back to town and brought us through to Prenton, which was very convenient. He was a little less flippant than in the past, possibly because of the other man in the car. He says Mrs Mackey is still alive, though very ill. Brian Stowell is not very interested. The London NICRA have been writing everywhere about their 11th July meeting, but I think I will be able to bring off another in the North of England.
I saw John McClelland off on the Belfast boat in the evening. He was tired but said he had enjoyed the trip. It was quite a good talk he gave too.
June 7 Monday: I spent the day pottering round and tidying things up.
June 8 Tuesday: I started work on the article on Mellows for the “Capuchin Annual”.
June 9 Wednesday: I continued with the Capuchin article. Ashford has not appeared to take down the stack. I rang him and he says he will begin on Saturday.
June 10 Thursday: Another day, partly on the article, partly on the garden.
June 11 Friday (Glasgow): I finished the article, which is not powerful, but did not send it off, thinking I might revise it later. Then I set off for Glasgow, and in the evening young Tom McDonald came into town and we discussed work in the city. He is slightly “International Socialist” and somewhat anti-communist-party – I think because of a Catholic background.
June 12 Saturday: The conference was surprising. People from the AOH [Ancient Order of Hibernians], the “Provisional IRA” or Sinn Fein, and DATA, the Boilermakers, Glasgow CP, Edinburgh miners and Regan of Clann na hEireann were there – about 30, including Fr Sean McManus who has been moved from Liverpool to Perth [He was brother of MP Frank McManus and later moved to the USA where he became a well-known lobbyist on Irish issues on Capitol Hill]. It was clear that Fr McManus would have liked to see the establishment of a branch of “Social Justice”, though he did not say so. I thought of Leslie and Connolly and the years of work whose fruits are garnered by the Church. If we had not got so completely sectish a Communist Party there might be hope of a different outcome this time. But so few of them have the faintest idea of the reality and work in accordance with preconceived theoretical notions, admirable in principle, but not based on a clear view of the facts.
I had intended to get back to London in time to meet Charlie Cunningham at Euston, but I missed the early train. I found the review copy of “Mellows”, which as Maurice Cornforth said, looks very handsome. They have carried out my request to include on one of the fly-leaves the little memorial to Phyllis [his sister, who had died in May 1966; see Volume 17]. It looks a very small tribute in 10-point letters, but the important thing is that it is there. I have had a disinclination to alter anything at 124 Mount Road these good five years, and in a way I have transferred the memorial.
June 13 Sunday (London): I did a few things in the office and in the evening went to Luton with Peter Mulligan.
June 14 Monday: In the morning Fenner Brockway rang up and asked me to go down to the Lords and help him with his speech. He introduces the Bill of Rights tomorrow [This was for the second reading of the Bill of Rights in the House of Lords, where it had been granted a first reading in May. It was rejected on this second reading]. I found him waiting in the Lobby. He explained that last time he had been working in the Library and they could not have looked properly for him. We went through the speech, which was I thought quite good and I cleared up some factual questions. Then Barbara Haq came and we repaired to the Public Cafeteria in the Commons where Brockway, who seemed very appreciative, bought me a meal and a glass of wine, which I was ready to accept for services rendered in view of the double journey, though I know he is not well off – better off than I am, however. Barbara Haq said she had influenza and did not look well. Then I came to the office.
June 15 Tuesday: I was busy all day in the office. In the evening the International Affairs Committee was held with some lively young men from East Bengal discussing very politically the appalling crime that has been committed – all as a result of the Partition of India by these scoundrels in London[In March the Pakistan Army had sought to suppress the Bangladesh independence movement in what was then East Pakistan; massive atrocities were committed; India went to war with Pakistan and the defeat of the Pakistan army at the end of the year led to East Pakistan becoming independent Bangladesh]. Then I came to the office. Woddis asked whether I had considered getting Lawrence and Wishart to issue the complete works of Connolly. I told him I had but would do so again.
June 16 Wednesday (Liverpool): I came to Liverpool and found Ashford on the job with another. Then I went to address the Manchester Trades Council. They were locked out of their room and the meeting did not begin till half an hour late. But the reception was good. After it was over Denis Maher, recently a CP candidate, came out. With him were Bill O’Shaughnessy and a boy called Flynn, from Dublin, unemployed, dressed in denims and very embittered, with long hair and a slight tendency to show his intelligence by contradicting the somewhat more naïve Maher. O’Shaughnessy told me that he was being expelled from the Labour Party for signing Maher’s nomination papers. I do not trust O’Shaughnessy. He was one of the promoters of the CDU [ie. the Labour-Party-oriented Campaign for Democracy in Ulster; Bill O’Shaughnessy had been a Connolly Association member]. But I thought we would let him back if he wants to come but watch him carefully. I returned to Liverpool.
June 17 Thursday: I spent the day in Liverpool though I did not get much done, as Ashford and his assistant were busy on the house. I had to give Ashford £100 for this job and am consequently left very short. Nevertheless it is clear already that the house looks better as well as safer, now it is done. I discussed felling the birch tree which is too big and allowing a laburnum seedling to take its place. There is quite a lot of work yet to be done.
June 18 Friday (London): I caught the 10.30 to London and found that Sean Redmond had done a very creditable job on the demonstration on Sunday. But it poured rain in the evening.
June 19 Saturday: There was constant activity in the day. The members seem to have got moving at last. In the evening I was in Camden Town with Peter Mulligan. I got an impression that the sales are slightly improving. The “Green Gun” came into a bar where we were and though we sold about 12, he sold only one. They are all English student in appearance. There was a rumour that Davoren was planning a counter-demonstration but Sean Redmond thought his organisation was split and could not do it.
June 20 Sunday: We had a Standing Committee in the morning, with myself, Pat Bond, Jane Tate, Sean Redmond and Jim Kelly. We decided on tactics to meet the NICRA (London) July 11th thing. It seems to me that Coyle must be merely a front for something far bigger. Sean Redmond thinks McCorry started it when he came over last autumn and that it is Official IRA, and they are trying to oust the Provisionals from England. But Clann na hEireann seem to be aloof from it, as Roland Kennedy is out with the United Irishman [ie.the monthly paper of the “Official” Republicans] and rather anti-NICRA (Highgate). We decided to go ahead with Manchester [ie.the proposed CA rally there], and to announce our next move on the 11th. It is clear that there is an attempt to challenge our position of pre-eminence in London.
Our own demonstration was fair [This was the annual Connolly Association rally in Trafalgar Square, usually held in June near the anniversary of Wolfe Tone’s death]. The collection was only £105 as against £300, and it was interesting how the audience was overwhelmingly Ulster. Frank McManus [Independent Nationalist MP for Fermanagh-South Tyrone] announced Tom McDowell’s plan for a march from Birmingham to London. This was jumping the gun. Later McDowell asked me if the Coordinating Committee would do it. Sean Redmond and I hastily conferred and said the Connolly Association would support it. McDowell told me that there has been a directive within the Catholic Church that the faithful should plunge into politics and elect Irishmen to every possible position, meaning Catholics. He opposed this. He is very antagonistic to O’Halloran and he thinks London NICRA – against whom he is running the Birmingham meeting and says so – are a clerical offshoot. No doubt we shall see.
I had a word with Des Logan. He told me that his sister knows Frank Gogarty’s son who was, I think, a student, in Paris [Frank Gogarty, the independent Chairman of the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association; an erratic personality]. This young man is a fanatical Mao or anarchist, and with some of his friends seriously discussed bumping me off when I went to Belfast early this year. Happily, as I noted, either they failed or thought better of it, and here I am. At the same time it is interesting to know how people you never met can be prepared to discuss your elimination.
The meeting was fair. The amplification cut out several times. Graham Steele was a vigorous middle-aged Scot, very much the Left Trade Union leader. Young Frank McManus – very like his brother in appearance [ie. Fr McManus; see entry for 12 June] – cheerful and debonair, said that things were now back behind 1968 – yet never gave a thought to what had caused such a position. Tom McDowell spoke reasonably. Two Coventry boys told of their turns round the Clubs last night, in which they were far from feted. “And we had the king with us, too” said one – “the King of the Midlands” They all think Tom McDowell a great thirster for publicity. He is very much against London NICRA and says that there were great attempts by the Belfast people to take over his Birmingham Social Justice when the split occurred [ie. the Republican split between “Officials” and “Provisionals”]. He has been trying to persuade MacLua of the Irish Post to give them less publicity. Frank McManus, I think on his instigation, announced the great meeting in Birmingham, “In the first and second cities of England”, on 11th July. And I added a puff for Manchester, describing it as the third. Some NICRA supporters felt we should concentrate on London, but not after their trickery. I view the whole thing with some concern. But on balance it is all we can do. My fear is that Sean Redmond will not bother to organise our people who stay in London, so that our leaflets and papers will not get enough distribution. Frank MacManus also announced a march from Birmingham to London. This was “jumping the gun”. It is another of Tom McDowell’s stunts of course, partly our own fault as I am holding the Coordinating Committee somewhat in suspense while I try to stabilise the Connolly Association. Tom McDowell had been in Leeds, he told me. A Leeds contingent was going to Birmingham. I said a few words myself. Then Robby Rossiter collected £100. Jock Stallard [MP for Camden-St.Pancras] and Con Lehane [Dublin Republican solicitor and former Clann na Poblachta TD] made a good showing. After a slow meal at Schmidt’s we went to a social evening at the Albany.
As I got off the plinth I was tackled by three “Provisionals” who adopted a very hectoring attitude. One who said little was a venomous little snake, sly and I am sure Fascist in thinking. The others were big stupids. They had “heard from two men” that I (yes, personally) had been going round public houses in South London telling people to boycott a “Sinn Fein” social. I wondered why this. Probably they were annoyed that Sean Redmond stopped them from selling fáinnes [ie. lapel rings indicating proficiency in Irish] in the crowd and concocted quickly the crude basis of a quarrel. I told them the two men were liars and if they had any further complaint they should put it in writing.
June 21 Monday: This was a day spent on the paper. In the evening Charlie Cunningham came in and we discussed circulation. There has been a slight improvement this month, but it will still be a battle royal to save the thing. Sean Redmond goes away on his holidays tomorrow. It was good of him to remain for the Trafalgar Square weekend. However, he is compensated by getting mid-week airfares. He tells me that Tom Redmond’s marriage is on the rocks. But apparently Tom is still living with the wife’s parents, and where Aine Redmond is, he is not clear, presumably those too are not speaking to him. Tom is weak, if well-meaning, in politics and everything else. He has no self-control. Charlie Cunningham came in.
June 22 Tuesday: Another day on the paper. It is well advanced though Tony Coughlan sent very little and John McClelland nothing. In the evening Jim Kelly came in, Peter Mulligan and Jane Tate. The four are working very hard. But we are not recruiting.
June 23 Wednesday: I got a good deal more done. In the evening I spoke to Central London on the subject of “Connolly”. Charlie Cunningham was late. Sean Redmond was away. Elsie O’Dowling (who still has an antagonism against her) opposed everything Jane Tate proposed [Jane Tate had been involved with Elsie’s former husband, Sean Dowling, some years before].Women are like this; or shall I say take less trouble to conceal it behind hypocritical phrases than men. A man has to appear to be acting in the public interest. A woman needn’t. Anyway between the two of them they involved the branch in the launching of my book, and I was well disposed to decline to have anything to do with it [ie. a reception to mark the publication of his book “Liam Mellows and the Irish Revolution”].
June 24 Thursday: After a word with Pat Bond, Jane Tate invented an arrangement by which Pat would personally invite the guests to the launching ceremony. I was anxious that no CA funds should be used and was therefore inclined to drop it. But Pat Bond, Charlie Cunningham and Jane Tate say they will provide the funds and they have booked an expensive hotel. This of course gives me more work, preparing a speech. I finished the paper and started preparing the Manchester campaign and that in West London. I persuaded Brockway to speak in the West [ie.to the West London CA branch]. In the evening Charlie and Peter came in again.
June 25 Friday (Liverpool): One day this week Rooney from Leeds came in. He has started a Republican Club linked to Clann na hEireann, I think in order to prevent my organising a Connolly Association. I suspect he has swiped our members. But he is bringing a bus-load over to Manchester [ie.for the proposed CA rally there on 11 July]. He tells me the students, Trotskies, NICRAs etc. are going to London, so that Leeds is pulled three ways. It looks as if the London thing will be mainly Trotsky. They are handing out lists of people they have invited to speak, but will they show up? And who will speak if they do not? So much for McCorry and Edwina Menzies[ie. Edwina Stewart of the NICRA in Belfast] and their hamfisted work! They are utterly irresponsible in relation to the movement in Britain, and repeatedly divide their allies because they cannot tolerate that anybody should not be under their (constantly diminishing) command [The Republican split had by this time greatly diminished the influence of the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association in Belfast, as the two Republican groups were now feuding, the Provisional IRA was going on the military offensive against the British Army and traditional civil rights issues were being sidelined there]. I went to Liverpool on the 3 pm. train after a heavy day.
June 26 Saturday: I pottered round the house and garden until evening, when I went to Manchester. Peggy Redmond had organised a powerful social evening, although she was disappointed at the number of Connolly Association members present. I had to leave before Tommy Watters and Belle Lalor arrived. But Pat Kearney was there, and very cheerful, Denis Meagher, some of the CEU, including Michael Ward, Michael and Lena Daly, and Barney Watters.
June 27 Sunday: I did very little, a little correspondence, a little in the garden, and that was all. But I got Frank MacManus, who agreed to speak with Brockway.
June 28 Monday: Again I did very little except go to Ripley and read the proofs of the paper.
June 30 Wednesday: I went to Manchester. The meeting was disappointing – Michael and Lena Daly and a Miss Neary who was there on Saturday, Michael Ward and ultimately Belle Lalor. This put me in a difficulty. Today I arranged with Peggy Redmond to put on another social on Sunday week, although later I found Joe Deighan would not be here in time for it.
July 1 Thursday: I went into the City in the morning to see if my book was reviewed on the Morning Star. There was an advert but no review. So I decided to write to Maurice Cornforth. Probably the reviewer failed to turn his piece in. John Gibson was there and in the bookshop [ie.the Liverpool CPGB bookshop], now open every day, is a young Dublin girl, Thelma Walsh, who gave me a very good impression. I had a talk with O’Hara, who told me that she was in the Connolly Youth. Apparently she is living in what was formerly known as “sin” and Welsh is her “husband’s” name. O’Hara told me that the husband is hitting the bottle and is generally demoralized. I had a talk with her. She promised to come on Tuesday. Mrs McClelland told me that J.Roose Williams was knocked down by a lorry while hitch-hiking across Wales [J.Roose Williams, a friend of Greaves’s from his university days; active in Plaid Cymru, the CPGB and the Welsh cultural movement]. Apparently he does this on a grand scale since all the railways were closed down. Like Frank Cartwright, O’Hara was very cooperative. Lancashire is the only place I ever get any support worth mentioning, from Syd Abbott [CPGB organiser] downwards.
In the evening I went to a meeting of CP building workers in the Excelsior. It was crowded – about 30 present I would guess. O’Hara was there – but dolled up in a dark suit and very much the professional. I think he admires himself, but a certain element of illusion is needed to keep a man to a thankless task. They are curious people. They look Irish, but they are not. Nor are they English either. This [ie. Liverpool] must be a very parochial city, and I reflected how I probably know it less than any other of the big cities of Britain [even though he had been born and grew up on Merseyside]. However, I made one or two useful contacts.
July 2 Friday: This was not a very productive day. I went to Manchester and got Wilf Charles’s secretary to do a circular for me. But she did not make a good job of it, and her equipment is not good. I have noticed this streak of amateurism in Wilf himself – as for example in his booking of the Workingmen’s Club at Hulme. I went to the station but could find neither papers nor leaflets. A damn nuisance. I returned to Liverpool.
As I went into Piccadilly Station I saw placards, “Bernadette having baby.” There was a fuller treatment in the Echo [ie.The “Liverpool Post and Echo”]. And of course it was repeated on the BBC. Apparently she gave an interview to the Irish Times. And radio bulletins reported her “independent socialist” organiser in Co.Tyrone as sure she would gain a “vote of confidence”. I don’t know so much. True she did not ride as high as Parnell. But it is unlikely that there will be no effort to get rid of her. A split? Of public opinion, possibly [ie. because of her becoming pregnant when unmarried]. And what will happen at Trafalgar Square, when the non-political Irish (says the Irish Post) will assemble for Civil Rights?
July 3 Saturday: Needless to say the BBC and the newspapers kept the spotlight on Bernadette Devlin. For my own part I thought her statement dignified enough, and of a piece with her rigid Trotskyist position, which nevertheless splits only on Catholicism. For if she had not been a Catholic she would have had it out [ie. had an abortion], and nobody would have known to blame her. Perhaps she could be described as “a good girl fallen among Trotskyists”, though with very unfortunate results. In her inability to contemplate anybody’s point of view but her own, she resembles a man of seventy. So feicimid! [Irish for “We shall see”]. I went to Manchester and met Michael Crowe. We called on Lena Daly and met Joe Neary who had been at the meeting. Lena was anti-Bernadette and thought she had disgraced us. It is the showing of weakness and giving the other side a weapon, not the thing itself. We also went to see Belle Lalor and among the three of us we covered quite a deal of ground [Lena Daly and Belle Lalor were long-standing CA members in Manchester]. But the 1000 papers I ordered cannot be hurried. I had to phone London. Charlie Cunningham enclosed a favourable review of my book in the Irish Times and the note added that our top-floor tenants, “Adams”, have pulled out in view of the expiry of the lease. Two blows when we can least withstand them.
July 4 Sunday: Again I went to Manchester. It could not be said we had a very productive day. But we distributed a few papers and leaflets. Yesterday we saw Pat Kilroy. I was very impressed by his thoughtful and intelligent remarks. It is very much to be hoped that he comes back into things. After his divorce and remarriage he withdrew into himself. But he may come out. There are signs of it.
July 5 Monday: Once again to Manchester. I saw Cohen and Ca.[Full name not known] and called out to Wilf Charles, who agreed to drive us around on Friday night. He told me that things were not happy in the District Office [ie. of the CPGB]. The finances were bad. He was impressed by Ca. but could not understand the arrangement by which Sid Foster had a printing business on the premises. He thought the young man from Altrincham would not stand the pace, and said Cohen treated him with contempt. But I think there is a little element of sour grapes, though Wilf feels genuinely enough that things could be better. I also saw Mick Jenkins.
July 6 Tuesday: Manchester again. I spent the afternoon getting out a press statement. Then I met Anne Doherty at Belle Lalor’s in Stretford. I learned that the Manchester NICRA people are mostly of the Labour Party, and this explains a deal. I had thought it a thing to try to absorb them in the Connolly Association but am less sure of it. There are a number of highly middle-class people, and Anne Doherty had the small town resident’s respect for them.
In the evening the Liverpool Branch met for the first time since last August. Brian Stowell was there and Barney Morgan, as bad a chairman as ever [Barney Morgan, 1930-2021, long-standing member of the Liverpool CA branch; his mother was one of those who travelled from Liverpool to Dublin in 1916 to take part in the Easter Rising; she made sandwiches for the men in the GPO]. The wee girl from the bookshop did not turn up; nor Pat MacLaughlin. Since his accident he is in a bad mood. With no letters from Kathleen (save us!) [ie. his estranged wife] he feels he is despised and rejected and has an unaccustomed fit of the sulks. But the man who told me of his accident, Frank Lyons, was there with several young people. Lyons seems vigorous, about 27 years of age, married to a Welsh nationalist. He told me that there was immense interest but great ignorance. This put me in mind of a series of lectures which might pull some interested people together.
Last night talking with Wilf Charles I heard Denis Maher’s story. Apparently he was a very wild kid who spent 7 or 8 years in Borstal, mostly I believe for violence. It was from the ages of 13 to 21. He finally got a job as a steel erector and worked on a job where Wilf Charles was steward. He became so much an admirer of Wilf that he settled down, joined the CP of which he is now a member of the District Committee. He has bought a house opposite Wilf’s and has a pleasant little wife who is delighted at the change, for even after he came out of jail he was wild enough for a while. Nobody would suspect this background. He strikes me as a strong enthusiastic character. Wilf Charles told me also of his own background. Forty-eight people shared one water closet in the house where he was brought up. His father was an old socialist who sent him to Platt Fields to listen to Tommy Henry, the “wild Irish Red.”
July 7 Wednesday: I learned from Charlie Cunningham that there was savage heckling of the Connolly Association by the Callaghan gang [ie. at the regular Sunday afternoon public meeting at Speakers’ Corner in Hyde Park] – Callaghan is now leader of the London “Provisionals” – and I connected this with the attempt to pick a quarrel in Hyde Park. I had the notion of a new approach to the Connolly Association conference, to make it more educational and also of an “Irish Democrat Supporters’ League” to strengthen the paper. I would try and get Trade Unionists to join. Today the devil Heath announced his EEC plan [ie. publication of the Government White Paper on “The UK and the European Communities”, a shortened version of which was later distributed to every household in the country]. The shadow of a vast European Fascist Empire looms over us, and I wonder how will the Celtic peoples, leave alone the working class of England, fare. I drew up a programme of lectures for Liverpool and Manchester, and Brian Stowell agreed to take part and act as secretary pro tem. Incidentally, I note that Barney Morgan is distributing the United Irishman and the International Socialist as well as the Irish Democrat – or perhaps Pat McLaughlin has the IS [Pat MacLaughlin, Spanish civil war veteran and assiduous seller of the “Irish Democrat”]. He is an old muddle-head though he has a heart of gold.
July 8 Thursday: From Chester-le-Street Michael Crowe rang up complaining of conjunctivitis and postponing his visit to tomorrow. I spent the day cleaning up and making notes for next Tuesday’s affair [ie.the celebration in London to mark the publication of his biography of Liam Mellows]. I spoke to Sean Redmond on the phone. He had been in Belfast. He said that the People’s Democracy were attempting a “come-back” and had bounced the NICRAS into holding an all-in conference in the autumn, to give themselves a platform. Only Kevin McCorry opposed it; all the other Republicans supported it. In London Abernethy is not coming. Edwina Stewart is on holiday in Bulgaria – incredible! They go gallivanting off at the crucial time. Betty Sinclair did the same. Some Republican is coming instead. There are Geoffrey Bing, Bernadette Devlin and the inevitable Mr Bowes Egan. Charlie Cunningham has got Des Logan to look after our sales.
July 9 Friday: I went to Manchester early, and spent all morning looking for the papers [ie.the consignment of monthly “Irish Democrats”, which had been lost]. I was told by the tracing office, who rang Derby, that they were aware of having consigned them to Mayfield Station on 29 June. I spent an hour or two scouring every nook and cranny of Mayfield, without success. Then in the afternoon Michael Jenkins told me he had seen them at Piccadilly [ie.Manchester Piccadilly train station] while looking for something else. Michael Crowe and I went there but couldn’t see them. The incompetence of the railway people is past belief.
I bought an Irish Post. It publishes a letter from W. Callaghan, now of all people, the leader of the “Provisionals” in London, and a rare lot of thugs they appear, attacking the Connolly Association, Tom McDowell and Frank McManus, owing to the presence of the Communist Party on the platform on Sunday June 20. It has taken them some time to get round to it, but the forthcoming pattern is clear. Deliberate disruption. In the evening Wilf Charles drove me round South Manchester on a leaflet distribution. We are getting next to no help from within Manchester, and Wilf says in his day [ie.when he had been Manchester CPGB secretary or organiser] only a handful did the work. That is why it folded up when they left. I returned to Liverpool on the 16.10. Incidentally, once again the Morning Star failed to review my book.
July 10 Saturday (Manchester): I went to Manchester and called out to Len Draper, the young man whom FJ Cohen [of the Manchester CP] suggested would be a possible CA secretary. He is in “digs” in Kersal, Salford and unemployed. I did not much like the beard and slightly – only slightly – hairy appearance. But I soon recognised that I had been put in touch with a very fine young man. He came into town with me and we met Michael Crowe at Hathersage Road. Both Cohen and Denis Maher were most helpful. This is the only place where I ever had any cooperation, and very glad I was to go on receiving it. Lennie Draper and I went round the pubs of Salford Road with papers and leaflets and then went to the social which Peggy Redmond had organised, which raised £8. Denis Maher was there, and I think enormously enjoyed himself. Stan Cole was also present, and the Sunderlands, Dunn and Cairns, a big fellow with fisherman’s boots. I said a few words about the turn-out tomorrow, and stayed the night with Pat Kilroy and his Austrian wife. He told me about his desperate time with Maire, his previous wife. She is now an alcoholic. He has the eldest boy, Kieran, with him and will soon take the twins. I had a long talk with Gretel, a fine intelligent woman, very musical, and we talked of old friends. She was on the Editorial Committee of “Zeitspiegel”, and worked with the Austrian Centre. She had forgotten all about “Zeitspiegel” until I mentioned it. Sean Healy stayed with Michael Crowe and Peggy Redmond.
July 11 Sunday: In the morning we had a last go with the leaflets. Lennie Draper came in and helped. Then Michael Crowe met another Sunderland, and I met the Londons, Pat O’Donohue, Charlie Cunningham, Peter Mulligan, Pat Bond, Jim Kelly, Mrs O’Neill, Pat Hensey and some others from South London. At All Saints we met Joe Deighan. Tommy Watters was there, Lena Daly, and a procession about fifty or sixty strong paraded the town. Anne Doherty was the only ICRA [Irish Civil Rights Association] person present. McCauley, who was to have brought the poles for the banner, did not turn up. She told me half the ICRAS had gone to London, the other half to Birmingham. Barney Morgan, Mai Nolan and one other came from Liverpool. But Rooney did not turn up and nobody came from Leeds. So we can see the political line-up. At the meeting Joe Deighan, Pat Hensey and I spoke. Some of the South Londons were a little disappointed, but not, I think, the myrmidons from Central. One amazing thing was the way the Trotsky bunch set themselves at the rear and shouted sectarian slogans. They had leaflets which they gave away to people. They had wanted to be in the midst of it, but I put them at the back. I said to myself, we’ll fox them nicely next time. We had tea at a Greek Café I had booked.
I had a drink with Joe Deighan afterwards. He told me that the Republicans are complete opportunists and McGurran [Malachy McGurran, Northern organiser for the “Official” IRA and Sinn Fein] has supported the “PD” Boyle [ie. Kevin Boyle, a leading figure in the People’s Democracy]in his call for an autumn conference in order to get some political quid pro quo for the IRA. He says Kevin McCorry opposed it and was the only one of the Republicans [ie. the “Officials” as against the “Provisionals”]. Joe Deighan has most hope of him, and says he is learning fast. I do not myself think the situation has much that is hopeful in it, for the time being at any rate, but Joe is unusually optimistic, so we will see. Edwina Stewart is in Bulgaria, Madge Davidson in North Korea while the crisis breaks!
July 12 Monday (Liverpool): I didn’t really get much done today – not after arriving home in the small hours and sleeping till 11 am. The first tropaeolum was out and the first clematis, despite the fine season a few days late. But the raspberries and loganberries are too advanced and I may miss them. Jean Brown [his next door neighbour at 124 Mount Road, Prenton] leaned over the fence and told me that Mr Marsden died suddenly. His wife got up and found him dead beside her. She was in a desperate state, trembling with shock. And he was so well the day before. Sic transit. I spoke to Sean Redmond who had acted on Callaghan’s attack with commendable speed but fallen into the trap of making the counter-attack on Callaghan instead of on the “Irish Post”, who are now enabled to hold the ring. I also talked to Pat Bond and Jane Tate, who said the members were well enough pleased with yesterday’s jaunt. Cathal [ie. Cathal MacLiam in Dublin] rang in the evening and invited me over for 23rd July. The difficulty is, however, getting a sailing ticket.
July 13 Tuesday (London): It was clear that I would not get a sailing ticket, so I rang Helga and later Cathal rang me and suggested putting off the event until September. There was a reception to celebrate the publication of my book, which I spoke at.
July 14 Wednesday (London): I was in London and went to the Central Branch AGM. Charlie Cunningham says the sales have been poor. Sunday’s event attracted about 3000 people and Sean Redmond estimates they took up £300, about what we took [ie. at the Trafalgar Square rally under the auspices of the London NICRA support-group and others]. He hopes it will go to Belfast, and then they will have nothing to organise on. Sean told me of discussions he had with Gerry Fitt and John Hume at Stormont. He asked them about the Bill of Rights. It had “gone beyond” that. What was wanted was a new Constitution. Sean suspected that in their muddled way they thought they could get something that would enable them to cooperate with the Unionists. Even then, he pointed out, the repeal or amendment of the Government of Ireland Act would be needed. It is a dreadful spectacle these days. Blithering idiots in every position of responsibility!
The branch meeting went off smoothly enough, though it was the AGM. Crowley would not join the Committee. Nor would Pat O’Donohue, something that worried me slightly. Charlie Cunningham became chairman, and Sean Redmond secretary, Pat Hensey, with whom the members have been dissatisfied, treasurer.
July 15 Thursday: All in one day three favourable events. Mark Clinton came in. He is going to live in Birmingham, wants 100 papers sent him every month, and will try to start a branch. He is inclined to sympathise with the CP, though he has not joined it. He lived with Pat O’Donohue and largely brought him into politics. He is from Bailieboro, Co. Cavan, and knows Jim Argue. He said that Pat O’Donohue has not been doing work of sufficient responsibility and wants to. Then came a letter from Lennie Draper saying he would be prepared to take on the job of building the Connolly Association in Manchester. I was pleased at these things as well as of Wednesdays. Within one year of Joe Deighan’s departure, and the withdrawal of Sean Redmond from prime responsibility, I have raised a new generation. Then a letter came from Pat MacLaughlin offering to resume his sales in Liverpool. On the other hand, our landlord who wanted £1150 a year is only prepared to come down to £1000. Seifert suggested offering £900, but I doubt if we could pay it.
I omitted to say that on Tuesday I went to London for a reception at the Kenilworth Hotel [in Great Russell Street near the British Museum, to mark the publication of “Liam Mellows and the Irish Revolution”]. Marcus Lipton and Jock Stallard came [both MPs], also Alec Digges, whom I failed to recognise, and Pat Clancy. Dónall M//ac Amhlaigh [the Irish language writer] came from Northampton. Pat Bond, Sean Redmond, Gerry Curran, Jane Tate, Jim Kelly, Charlie Cunningham, Pat Hensey and many others were present, but nobody from Lawrence and Wishart, Central Books or the Morning Star or party [ie. the CPGB]. It is noteworthy how this is proving an Irish publication. There has not been a single review in the English press. One would think a “D-notice” or whatever it is had been served. I was in South London tonight. It is greatly improved.
July 16 Friday: I began the new edition of the paper. All Hume and Fitt’s talk of a new collaborators’ constitution has been blown away. They have walked out of Stormont altogether. I was out with Sean Redmond who seems to have recovered somewhat from the after-effect of giving up the job. Also I think Suzanne Redmond has become more interested as a result of visiting Ireland. Or for some other reason.
July 17 Saturday: In the morning we got ready for a walk round Hammersmith, in which the North Kensinghton CP participated. Several CA members are in it. It is the first time in history a branch of the CP volunteered to take part in a Connolly Association demonstration. Surely a sign of the times. We hope it will not be the last. The strange tight-lipped unresponsive woman from King Street [CPGB Head Office] was there. I don’t know her name. In the evening I was in Holloway with Pat O’Donohue and he told me he would like to help Toni Curran with the books. So that is good also.
July 18 Sunday (Liverpool): I worked on the paper in the morming. But I felt very tired and yielded to the temptation to get to hell out of the filth and noise of London, so I caught the 4.10 pm. and came home. Yesterday’s “Irish Press” has an extremely favourable review of my book by MacAonghusa [ie. Proinsias Mac Aonghusa, journalist and prominent Irish Labour Party member],who may be a scoundrel but is also a Galwayman and did me proud. But once again not a word in the British press. Now I want Library sales. How will I get them? [The absence of reviews in the British press contrasted with the good coverage given to Greaves’s biography of James Connolly, which had been published ten years before, in 1961. As he commented in his Table-Talk: “The one was socialism, and there is not the least prospect of socialism in our part of the world for the foreseeable future; the other was nationalism, and that is very dangerous to the powers-that-be in the era of the Transnational companies and the European Common Market.”]
July 19 Monday: I stayed at home most of the day. There was work to do in the garden and in the house, which suffers from the loss of the ministrations of Mrs Phillips, who seemingly never got properly over her last illness.
July 20 Tuesday (London): Somewhat refreshed I returned to London and started work on the paper. Tony Coughlan’s stuff had arrived. He was in during the evening [Anthony Coughlan had come to London for the book launch reception in the Kenilworth Hotel referred to in the entry for 15 July above; he stayed to work in the Connolly Association office for some days].
July 21 Wednesday: I continued on the paper. There was a branch meeting. Before it began a young man telephoned from King Street. His name was Michael O’Sullivan and he came to see me. He said he was in Islington YCL, not on the London Committee, but he had been deputed by them to work with the Irish, not necessarily youth organisations, and they seemed to have worked out quite a scheme of how they wanted things to be. He had “got permission” to join the Connolly Association. “Did you need it?” “Oh – They’re very particular about other organisations.” He had been in the Connolly Youth in Dublin. But he had no notion that I had any connection with the CP. He attended the meeting and talked afterwards. I thought he was a decent enough lad. Peter Mulligan did not think much of him, but likewise he did not think much of Lennie Draper. I think the YCL puts a sectish stamp on people. O’Sullivan told me that the Young Socialists will not work with them at any price. So they think they will move on a big scale among Irish organisations. It is the first time this happened. I think it part of a movement towards us.
July 22 Thursday: I was on the paper all day. In the evening Fenner Brockway rang up to say he could not come to the Hammersmith Town Hall meeting [a Connolly Association public meeting on the Northern Ireland situation]. Luckily I had got McManus [ie. Frank McManus MP] and he did turn up, also Hugh Cassidy. There were about 50-60 people. As we gathered outside, a weedy bearded ICO man[ie.a member of the Irish Communist Organisation, led by Brendan and Angela Clifford, which later became the basis of Athol Books, Belfast] man stood with his leaflets and duplicated pamphlets. They are specialising in the “two nations theory” and attacking us. There was another similar weedy individual, as I thought, with him. Suddenly this one threw himself on him, punching, kicking, tearing his wristwatch off and giving him a thorough thumping, though admittedly he did not seem much the worse of it. I was standing with Frank McManus and the “Irish Times” reporter. The language was fierce. ”Jasus!” laughed the reporter, “No wonder we’re in the mess we are.” The assailant was one of Davoren’s men whom Sean Redmond recognised as an ex-Connolly Association member called Joe O’Neill. Now he comes from Belfast and while thumping the ICO he was white as a sheet, though he came into the meeting and was quiet. These people are being tortured into madness.
There was another instance. After the meeting we went for a drink with Frank McManus and some of the South and Central Londons. There was a red-shirted boy with a slight moustache who had shown restiveness at the meeting. He said he had been in the Ardoyne, and his name was Murphy. He had felt his usefulness was over. He had been a student and member of the People’s Democracy. “I’m only nineteen,” he said. Obviously his experiences had been too great for his years. He was very sorry for himself and said he had been ill with a bayonet wound in his back. “And I’ve been mentally ill too.” Yet he wants to be a student again and read sociology and similar rubbish. He had been told to get in touch with me by Eugene Mallon.
Now this one was one of the United Irish Association people who urged cooperation with the Connolly Association. He was at the branch meeting last night. He was a great friend of Bobby Heatley’s, but a bit of a know-all. Now he has grown a beard and his manner has changed. Indeed he is improved. Where did he improve? In Brixton Jail. Seemingly he went to the Six Counties with the idea of doing a documentary film. At some stage in the proceedings he helped himself to some BBC films that had been shot – I presume films that had not been shown. He was advised by his solicitor to plead guilty to the larceny and did some months.
July 23 Friday: I did not finish the paper but brought the front page to Liverpool. At about 7 pm. Sean Redmond rang. Desmond O’Hagan had telephoned him asking if he could get MPs to act against the new terror being instituted in Belfast. He said it was now against the “Officials”[That is, the “Official” Goulding-led Republicans, some of whose homes in Belfast had been raided in arms searches by the British Army]. I suggested he ask Stallard to go there and to contact Brockway. He felt that they had to some extent invited the new British action by means of bellicose speeches in the South. It is remarkable how they make one mistake after another. And in the end Lynch [ie.the Irish Taoiseach, Jack Lynch] will negotiate “peace”.
Frank McManus yesterday was calling for United Nations force in Northern Ireland. He was not pleased when I mentioned the British veto on the Security Council, so I said of course the British Government could do it if they wanted to. This was good enough for him. He was looking for something to say, not something to do. Incidentally, Sean Redmond told me that Edwina Stewart is very antagonistic to myself. “But I think it dates from her Orange days,” he remarked. Tony Coughlan had told me the same.
July 24 Saturday: I finished the paper and posted it off to Ripley. But for the rest I merely pottered.
July 25 Sunday: I began revision on the “Crisis in Ireland”[published as “The Irish Crisis” in 1972] which I have hardly had time to touch. I had Jack Woddis’s criticisms sent on by Maurice Cornforth. They are to my mind all of chauvinist tendency. Thus I criticise those who attacked Irish neutrality in the war, and he replies, “But the Indian Communist Party supported the war.” Thus he confuses the attitude of a Communist Party in a country with no choice but to be belligerent with the attitude of British critics to one country which had remained neutral, but not another country that was equally neutral. I remember nobody criticising Argentina or even the USA for its neutrality before it came into the war. And I do not propose to retreat on this, though I may have to present the case diplomatically as I don’t want to embarrass Cornforth who is prepared to print as it stands.
July 26 Monday: At last Ashford came and took away the builder’s rubble, leaving a few bricks he wanted himself. I went to Manchester. I called in to Hathersage Road. I saw Cohen for a moment. He was doubtful of the wisdom of putting Lennie Draper on the Connolly Association job. He was only in the movement a short time. I saw the force of this, but we agreed to try it out. Later I saw Lennie at the meeting. Perhaps Wilf Charles had put matters to him too strongly, as he made some objections of his responsibility to Salford and wanted a fuller discussion. I said to myself I must go carefully. I returned to Liverpool on the last train.
July 27 Tuesday: I spoke to Cathal on the phone and today a letter came. He will come over the week after next and we will go to the cottage. The presentation to Maire Comerford is on September 10th. I got the impression that Roy Johnston is now secretary of the Wolfe Tone Society. I went to the Liverpool Branch meeting in the evening. It was the best attended for a long time. Fred Lyons had brought a number of Bootle Communists. I think he is the secretary there, so I’ll hardly get him myself, but maybe there will be another. Barney Morgan and Brian Stowell were there. Barney wanted to speak privately. He told me a few months ago some “Provisionals” in Liverpool told him, there was a plan that Tony Coughlan was to be bumped off, as they believed his was the “Marxist brain” behind the Goulding faction. So apparently nobody is safe! It was interesting that I remembered a detail surrounding my visit to Belfast early this year. At the end of his letter to me confirming the engagement, Kevin McCorry did not put “Best wishes” or “Yours truly”. He wrote merely, “Take care.” I remembered noting the double entendre. For it could easily mean, “Watch out.” But when Des Logan told me of the talk I did not immediately recall it. Personally, however, I regard Barney Morgan as I regard Joe O’Connor, as a Republican agent operating in the Communist movement, perhaps not fully calculatedly.
Brian Stowell told me two useful things [Brian Stowell, 1937-2019, Manx language activist and cultural revivalist, was a member of the Liverpool Connolly Association in those years while lecturing on physics at Liverpool University]. The Liverpool Corporation has an “Ulster 1971” flower garden below St. George’s Hall. And a Manchester University man had urged the razing of the Falls [ie. the Falls Road in Belfast] in a letter to the Manchester Evening News.
July 28 Wednesday: I wrote to Cohen [Manchester CP secretary] and Lenny Draper along the lines of trying out how Lenny got on until September 5th and then re-examining the situation. I also asked Lenny to get me the Evening News article. The problem is finding him enough to keep him interested. I suggested to Cohen a secretarial discussion, so all the cards can be put on the table and everybody can be satisfied. Sean Redmond telephoned early and late. They had a good meeting. This fellow Dromey [ie. Jack Dromey] was there. I suspect him of being an International Socialist. He also has an enormous conceit of himself. But Sean apparently thinks well of him. Bobby Heatley is in London. I do not know what for, possibly a holiday. He is a clever man brought up in a stifling atmosphere, denied a proper historical education, not recognised by the Orange Socialists [ie.in the CPNI] when he was a boy and might have turned into something and thus, while his judgement is excellent, too much disappointed to carry anything through [Bobby Heatley, who was of Protestant background, had been in the CPNI in the 1950s before he went to England for some years, where he was active in the Connolly Association, eventually returning to Belfast. He was a leading figure in the Campaign for Democracy there in the 1970s and 1980s, together with Kevin McCorry, Joe Deighan, John McClelland, Roger Kelly and others]. I have seen others like it, doing nothing because it would take too long, then repenting when it was too late. Sean Redmond wanted to know whether to invite all members of the Executive to the meeting next Sunday and I said Yes.
July 29 Thursday (London): I went to London in the morning. Pat Bond rang to say that Stallard was unable to get to the meeting, so I went out to give them a talk. They seem to be doing personally well and there is quite a pleasant atmosphere there. Jane Tate who came in told me that she had been talking to Bobby Heatley after the meeting. She said that Dromey had aroused his suspicions also. It was as well that Heatley was there. She said that he is very fed up with the Republicans. “They are trying so hard to get unity on Civil Rights, but these people propose one thing and do another.” I can understand it. I spoke at the “Communist University” in the afternoon [An annual event organised for some years in London by the CPGB]. The subject was “The Irish Revolution”.
July 30 Friday: In the evening Charlie Cunningham arrived. He had not gone to Ireland, as his mother who is 71 had been unwell. But he was at Eastbourne or some such place for a week. I arranged for Toni Curran to bring in her car, and Pat Hensey and I were conducted to Islington in it. I had a few brief words with Hensey afterwards. I asked him if he was dissatisfied at being replaced by Sean Redmond as secretary of the branch. He said he was. As soon as Sean declined nomination as chairman, he knew what was going to happen, as Sean had said just before the meeting that there was a “move” to make him secretary. I told him frankly that organisation was not his strong point.
July 31 Saturday: Now that Sean Redmond is branch secretary the systole begins [ie.a swing in the other direction]. He does the branch circular on the Wednesday, so Saturday morning loses importance [CA activists in London used regularly call to the office on Gray’s Inn Road on Saturdays, socialise afterwards and then go on paper-selling runs in the evening]. But though neither Pat Hensey nor Sean Redmond came, there was Charlie Cunningham, Jim Kelly, Peter Mulligan and a shopful all afternoon. At the same time Sean has called two committee meetings to plan future work, and this is to the good, especially as it leaves me free for the provinces. Sean and I were in Camden Town in the evening and did well despite heavy showers. Jane Tate is away for the weekend, Pegeen O’Flaherty is on holiday and Jim Kelly goes next week
(End of Volume 22; c. 80,000 words)
GREAVES JOURNAL, VOLUME 22, INDEX
1 June 1970 – 31 July 1971
Aesthetic and cultural matters: 9.5, 4.12
Assessments of others: 6.2, 6.4, 6.12, 6.16, 6.18-19, 6.29, 7.2, 7.4, 7.27,
7.28, 8.14-15, 8.30, 9.13, 9.19, 11.5, 11.7, 12.9,12.12, 1.1-2,1.24,
Britain, public attitudes and assessment of trends in: 4.9, 5.18, 6.5, 6.10-1,
Civil Rights Campaign on Northern Ireland: 6.9, 7.5, 8.18, 9.7, 9.15, 10.2,
10.4, 10.6-7,10.17, 10.29,11.5,11.11,1.10,1.13,1.15,1.24, 2.24,3.11,
4.13-14, 4.30, 5.5, 5.12, 6.14, 7.14
European supranational integration/the EEC: 6.18, 7.8, 8.4, 9.8. 10.4,10.27,
10.29-30,11.2-3, 11.28, 12.6,12.9, 1.22,1.31, 4.12,4.24,5.1, 7.7
Family relations: 7.8, 12.15
Holidays/cycle tours: 7.7,9.26
Irish Republicanism and Republicans: 6.1-2, 6.6-7, 8.27, 10.2, 11.2, 12.28,
Mellows research: 6.6, 2.3,2.20,3.25,4.20,6.12, 6.24,7.3, 7.9, 7.15, 7.18
Nation and the national question: 6.5, 9.1, 3.24, 3.31
Self-assessments and personal plans: 6.6, 6.9,9.1, 10.24, 12.22,12.24,
1.1,1.4,1.25, 3.17, 3.27,4.2-3,4.12, 4.29, 5.1, 5.5, 5.25-26, 6.12,
6.20, 7.1, 7.12, 7.14-15, 7.27-28
Organisation Names Index
Campaign for Democracy in Ulster (CDU): 6.6, 10.3,11.11-12
Campaign for Social Justice: 6.11, 6.27, 1.10, 5.24
Clann na hEireann: 126.96.36.199,12.2,12.11,12.31, 1.27, 2.13, 5.24, 6.20
Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB): 7.3-4, 7.15-16, 8.23, 9.8, 10.4,
11.5, 11.7, 1.22, 2.13, 6.12, 7.1,7.9, 7.17,7.21
Communist Party of Northern Ireland: 7.15, 10.2, 1.24, 1.26, 4.9, 4.15, 7.28
Communist Party of Ireland: 6.7, 8.26-27, 1.24,1.26, 4.9, 4.15
Connolly Association/Irish Democrat: 6.3-6, 6.8, 6.14, 6.16, 6.29, 7.3,
7.5-6, 7.9, 7.25-26, 8.23, 9.1, 9.7, 9.13, 9.15, 10.2,10.4,
10.7,10.17,12.2, 12.6-7, 12.31,1.10-11,1.13,1.15,1.31, 2.13,
2.24,4.14,4.29-30, 5.1, 5.5, 5.12,5.22-23, 5.25, 5.30, 6.12,
6.14,6.20-21,7.1, 7.9, 7.14, 7.17
Fianna Fail: 6.2
Irish Workers Party (formerly Irish Workers League): 6.7
Labour Party (British): 6.3, 6.9, 8.18, 10.2,12.2, 2.12
Labour Party (Irish): 10.31, 12.2, 12.5
Movement for Colonial Freedom (MCF): 10.17, 11.10,1.10-11,4.3, 4.15,
National Council for Civil Liberties: 4.27
Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association (NICRA), including support groups in Britain: 6.3, 6.6, 6.9, 7.26, 10.3, 10.29, 11.21, 12.11, 12.14, 1.6,1.10,
1.13,1.18, 1.24, 1.26,1.31, 2.24, 4.10, 4.14, 5.1, 5.5, 5.12, 6.2,
6.4, 6.20, 7.8, 7.14
People’s Democracy: 1.24,1.31, 4.13, 7.8,7.11
Plaid Cymru (Welsh Nationalist Party): 10.11
Sinn Fein/IRA: 6.1-2, 6.6,10.3,12.5, 4.10, 4.13, 5.29, 6.20, 7.8, 7.11,7.29
Trotskyite and far-left organisations: 6.1, 6.14, 6.28, 7.5, 7.16, 8.1, 8.24,
12.2, 12.4-5, 1.27, 4.13, 5.24, 6.19, 7.21-22
United Ireland Association: 6.9, 9.13, 10.3,12.2, 7.22
Wolfe Tone Society: 8.29, 10.29,11.3, 11.22, 7.27
Personal Names Index
Agnew, Kevin: 1.23
Ali, Tariq: 9.13
Amphlett-Micklewright, Rev.: 1.31
Asmal, Kader: 8.15, 8.29, 10.31,1.24
Barr, Andy: 9.15
Bellamy, Ron: 5.26
Bennett, Jack: 1.26
Bing, Geoffrey: 10.4, 11.10-11, 1.6, 1.13, 2.24, 2.28, 5.5, 5.23
Blaney, Neil TD: 8.4, 10.3
Bloor, Geoffrey: 1.12
Bond, Patrick(Pat, Paddy): 1.10, 6.6, 6.24, 7.12
Bond, Stella: 1.10
Brockway, Lord Fenner: 10.3-4,10.17, 11.10, 11.12, 1.10, 4.3, 5.5, 5.12,
Bourne, Harry: 10.4
Boyle, Kevin: 7.10
Charles, Wilf: 5.20, 6.6, 7.2, 7.5-6
Clifford, Brendan and Angela: 7.22
Clinton, Mark: 5.2, 7.15
Coates, Ken: 8.1, 8.24
Cohen, Gerry: 1.8
Cohen, Jack: 7.4
Comerford, Maire: 11.4, 7.27
Connolly-Edwards, Fiona: 6.6, 7.8, 4.23
Connolly O’Brien, Nora: 6.6
Cornforth, Maurice: 8.7, 8.19, 7.25
Coughlan, Anthony (Tony): 6.2-3, 6.6, 8.4, 8.7, 8.17, 8.30, 10.2,
10.27,10.29,11.2, 11.10, 11.22, 12.1-2,12.5-6, 1.13,1.18,1.24,
1.31,3.23, 4.3, 4.11-12, 4.14, 7.27
Cox, Idris: 7.4, 1.8
Crowe, Michael: 9.18, 4.9, 4.11-12, 5.25, 7.8, 7.11
Cunningham, Charlie: 12.5, 3.31, 4.13, 5.12, 5.23
Curran, Mrs Antoinette (Toni): 8.20, 9.12, 7.17
Curran, Gerard: 6.4, 4.13
Daly, Lawrence: 9.18-19
Daly, Lena: 7.3
Davidson, Madge: 6.9, 7.15, 7.11
Davoren, W.: 6.9, 7.5, 6.19, 7.21
Deighan, Joseph: 6.1, 6.5, 6.9, 10.29, 12.31, 1.22, 1.24-25, 4.10,
4.13-14, 7.9, 7.28
Devine, Pat: 6.28, 7.4,8.30
Devlin, Bernadette: 6.28, 10.4, 10-13, 5.24, 7.2-3
Donaghey, Tony: 6.27, 7.10, 10.16
Doyle, Bob: 6.3, 6.8, 7.3, 7.18
Draper, Lennie: 7.10-11, 7.15, 7.21, 7.26, 7.28
Dromey, Jack: 5.28, 7.9, 7.28
Dunne, Bill: 6.29, 7.1-2, 7.9
Dutt, R. Palme: 7.4, 11.18, 1.8, 3.12, 5.19
Edwards, Bert: 4.23
Edwards, Sean: 1.24
Egan, Bowes: 7.28-29, 8.24, 9.13, 5.5, 7.8
Egelnick, Max: 1.8
Farrell, Michael: 4.14
Feehan, Tadhg: 5.12
Feeney, John: 10.31
Fitt, Gerry MP: 10.4, 7.14
Gannon, Jack: 3.31
Geary, Roy: 8.27
Gollan, John: 7.4, 7.16, 11.18, 1.22, 3.3, 4.13, 5.1
Goulding, Cathal: 6.2, 6.7, 11.1,1.31,7.27
Greaves, Phyllis: 6.12
Green, Nan: 1.8
Haq, Barbara: 10.17, 11.10-12,1.10-11, 2.18, 4.3, 4.28, 4.30, 5.5, 6.14
Harris, Noel: 1.24
Harrison, Betty: 6.4, 12.24
Hattersley, Roy: 5.5
Heath, Edward MP: 6.3, 6.9,6.18
Heatley, Bobby (Robert): 4.14, 4.26, 7.9, 7.28
Hendrick, Sean: 4.24-25
Hensey, Pat: 6.12, 1.2, 3.31,4.17, 5.19, 5.30, 7.30
Hewitt, John: 6.10
Hope, Ann: 6.1, 6.9
Hostettler, John: 9.13
Hume, John: 11.11,1.13, 1.15, 1.23-24, 7.14
Jeger, Lena MP: 6.18,11.10
Johnston, Roy: 6.2-3, 6.6-7, 8.14-15, 9.28,11.2, 4.12
Johnson, Thomas: 11.4
Keating, Justin TD: 11.5, 11.28, 12.2
Kelly, Dalton: (See O Ceallaigh, Daltún)
Kelly, Jim: 9.9,10.10,11.17, 12.31, 1.27, 4.1
Kerrigan, Peter: 7.4
Kilbracken, Lord: 11.11
Kilroy, Pat: 7.4, 7.10
Klugman, James: 7.4
Lakeman, Enid: 10.17
Lalor, Belle: 3.23, 7.3, 7.6
Latham, Arthur MP: 11.11, 1.10, 2.24, 4.28,5.12
Lawless, Gery: 6.28, 8.24, 9.13, 9.18, 12.2, 1.27
Lehane, Con: 11.19, 12.2
Levenson, Sam: 4.23
Longmore, Columba: 6.3
Lysaght, Rayner: 4.29
Mac Amhlaigh, Dónal: 7.15, 9.11
Mac Aonghusa, Proinsias: 7.18
McAuley, Donal (see Mac Amhlaigh) Dónal
McCann, Eamon: 9.13, 5.24
McClelland, John: 1.24, 4.10, 4.13-14, 7.28
McCluskey, Conn and Patricia: 1.10
McCorry, Kevin: 10.17,10.24, 11.10,11.21,1.6, 1.15, 1.24, 1.26, 4.14,
5.12, 6.20, 6.25, 7.8, 7.11,7.27-28
McDowell, Tom: 1.24, 1.26, 1.29, 2.18, 2.24, 5.2, 6.20, 7.9
McGill, Brendan: 6.9
McGill, Jimmy: 2.26
Mac Giolla, Tomás: 4.13
McGurk, Tom: 7.25
McGurran, Malachy: 1.18,1.22, 7.11
McInerney, Michael: 10.31
MacLaughlin, Pat: 7.7, 7.15
McLennan, Gordon: 9.8
MacLiam, Cathal and Helga: 8.14, 8.26, 9.19, 1.24, 4.24
McManus, Frank MP: 1.18, 6.4, 6.12, 6.20, 7.22-23
Maher, Denis: 7.6
Mansholt, Sicco: 10.30,11.1
Maunsell, Frank: 1.1-2,1.6, 1.9
Menzies, Edwina (See Stewart, Edwina)
Milner, Ralph: 7.30
Moore, Hughie: 1.26, 4.13
Morgan, Barney (Bernard): 6.6, 7.7, 7.27
Morton, Alan Geoffrey Prof.: 1.7, 3.30
Morton, Alisoun: 6.1, 7.2
Mulligan, Peter: 6.17, 9.9, 12.8-10, 12.13, 4.12, 5.26, 7.21
Nolan, Sean: 1.25
O’Brien, Conor Cruise TD: 11.11
O Ceallaigh, Daltún: 7.15, 9.7, 9.9, 9.13, 10.17, 6.2
O’Connor, Joe: 12.31
O’Donohue, Pat: 6.3, 6.6, 6.12, 6.16, 7.18, 10.10, 12.7, 7.14-15, 7.17
O’Dowling (née Timbey), Elsie: 11.21
O’Hagan, Desmond: 7.23
O’Leary, Michael TD: 10.31
O Loingsigh, Micheál S: 11.2-3, 1.31
O’Riordan, Michael: 8.26, 4.13, 4.24
Orme, Stan MP: 11.11
O’Shea, Fred: 6.3
O Snodaigh, Pádraig: 11.2
O’Sullivan, Chris: 1.6
Owens, Ben: 6.13
Pakenham, Frank (Lord): 10.3, 11.11
Palmer, John: 9.13
Parrish, Margot: 6.5
Pearce, Bert: 9.1, 9.18, 10.12
Platts-Mills, John: 10.17
Pollitt, Harry: 7.4
Powell, Enoch MP: 1.11
Powell, Pat: 6.22, 10.4, 11.12, 5.2, 5.24
Prendergast, Jim: 6.3, 5.1
Redmond, Sean: 6.1, 6.13, 6.26, 7.2, 7.16, 7.18, 8.31, 9.9,11.11,12.12,
1.27, 1.31, 6.3, 7.31
Rose, Paul MP: 7.10,188.8.131.52-11, 12.9,12.12, 12.31,1.10, 6.18, 6.21,
Rossiter, Robbie (Bobby): 7.12
Scarman, Mr Justice: 1.8
Shore, Peter MP: 3.11
Sinclair, Elizabeth (Betty): 9.13,10.29,1.22
Smullen, Eamon: 7.30
Smythe, Tony: 7.29
Snoddy, Oliver (See O Snodaigh, Pádraig)
Soper, Lord Donald: 11.11
Stallard, Jock MP: 11.10, 5.5
Stewart, Edwina (née Menzies):11.10, 11.22, 1.22,1.24,1.26, 4.14,5.1,
6.2, 6.25, 7.8, 7.11, 7.23
Stewart, Jimmy: 10.2, 11.10,1.22
Stowell, Brian: 7.6, 7.27
Strachan, Billy: 1.8
Tate, Jane: 8.22, 7,9, 7.12
Tuckett, Angela: 5.18-19
Watters, Barney: 6.26
Watters, Tommy: 6.26,11.13
Williams, J.Roose: 7.1
Wilson, Harold MP: 6.1, 6.3, 6.18
Woddis, Jack (Hillel): 7.16, 9.15, 1.8, 3.3, 3.12, 4.13, 5.5, 6.15, 7.25