Desmond Greaves Journal, Vol.24, 1972-73
1 July 1972 – 31 May 1973
Themes: Visiting Belfast and Dublin – Planning to write a book on Sean O’Casey’s art and politics – “What future do the ‘Officials’ have”? (8.11) – The Provisional IRA’s military campaign in full spate in Northern Ireland – Cycle holiday and hostelling in Wales – Sorting his parents’ musical scores and refurbishing his house in Birkenhead – Lecture to Wolfe Tone Society conference in Carrickmacross – Death of J. Roose Williams – “I told them I thought that we had lost this round of the national struggle, because though worthwhile concessions have been and more can be won, the folly of the Republicans and their inability to agree or work with other people is leaving the initiative in English Government hands (11.3) – Connolly Association annual conference in Liverpool – Concern at the Official IRA-oriented Clann na hEireann becoming a rival to the Connolly Association in Britain, with the encouragement of elements in NICRA and the CPGB – Eschewing attacks on the Provisional IRA to keep avenues of influence open –Writing a pamphlet on the Bill of Rights – Celebration to mark his twenty-five years as “Irish Democrat” editor – Peadar O’Donnell speaking in London on the 50th anniversary of Liam Mellows’ execution –Frustrations in trying to get a conference of English organisations, including the CPGB, to influence the Government’s White Paper on Northern Ireland policy: “The organisational methods of Woddis have been a revelation to me. It is however sectarianism, I think. They are intensely conscious of their mission to ‘lead the masses’, but do not appreciate the necessity of keeping constantly in mind the opinions of the ‘masses’ over whether and how they are to be led, and the importance of working on equal terms with those who are prepared to cooperate. I consider this one of the reasons why the CP has remained small in numbers, though obviously it is just part of the story.” (4.21) – Lobby of Parliament and meeting with Labour shadow Northern Ireland spokesman Merlyn Rees – “NICRA’s Bill of Rights” – Concern at the growing harassment of members of the Irish community in Britain in reaction to the Northern violence
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July 1 Saturday (Liverpool): At about 8 am. Tony Coughlan arrived from the boat. He was not very tired, considering that he could not get a bunk, so after a light breakfast we went by train to West Kirby, the weather being fine though very windy, and walked round the lake. We spent the whole day walking, eating and drinking and talking. Tony is looking older – something I ascribe in part, leaving aside the matter of passage of time, to the intense campaign which he unsuccessfully waged against Ireland’s entering the EEC. He tells me that he is back in his own house, his mother having returned to Cork where his sister is now re-established. Naturally there was much talk of Roy Johnston’s desertion of the Republicans, and continuing lining of his own pocket by telling of the development of his political soul in newspaper articles. He told me I should hear Cathal [ie. Cathal MacLiam, Greaves’s old friend in Dublin] and Micheál O Loingsigh on the subject [Micheál O Loingsigh, a member of the Dublin Wolfe Tone Society].
[When the Editor permitted Roy Johnston to read the full Journal in 2002 in response to DrJohnston’s request, he asked that the following note be inserted following the above passage in the original:
“Volume 24 begins on July 1 1972 with an account of Tony Coughlan’s visit to Liverpool, where he is scheduled to act as tutor to an educational seminar on the EEC, aimed primarily at the CPGB, who however do not turn up; it attracts mostly the Irish. The school takes place the next day, but first AC regales CDG with the Dublin gossip, primarily ‘RHWJ.’s desertion of the Republicans and continuing lining of his own pocket by telling of the development of his political soul in newspaper articles … I should hear Cathal and Micheál O Loingsigh on the subject.’
This was pure begrudgery. If I had not written something others would have invented it. The amount paid was buttons. I had resigned quietly, on a friendly basis with Cathal Goulding and Tomás MacGiolla; the press got hold of it some weeks later and hyped it. ‘Desertion’ indeed! I had resigned on principle when it became clear to me that Cathal Goulding had broken the contract on the basis of which he had recruited me, and reverted to militarist mode. This was the Greaves Dublin gossip network at its worst . . . RHW Johnston, 10 February 2002”]
July 2 Sunday: We went to the school at which Tony Coughlan was to act as tutor. Once again the English did not show up – no CP, no YCL – and there were only Pat MacLaughlin, Mrs Campbell of NICRA, old Mr Jones who is over 80 and could hardly walk in, and later a couple of young people who attend the Connolly Association branch. Old Mr Jones was born in Liverpool but settled in Dublin before the First World War and worked in the Land Commission office in Merion Square. He used to run with the harriers and take walks in the Dublin mountains. It was there that he realised that England was exploiting Ireland. He likes the young people of today, “Of course,” he says, and his speech is as clear as his brain, “There’s a small fringe that is purely destructive, but the majority are excellent, different from what we were. We were subservient. “But,” he concluded, “I’d like to go on living, but you get tired of living when you get into your eighties.”
In the afternoon Tony Coughlan went to Manchester, and I continued with the class. Barney Morgan [A member of the Liverpool Connolly Association branch] had appeared for two minutes at lunchtime. Then Fred Lyons arrived [another Liverpool branch member]. He had been with his wife at hospital. He was much relieved. “She’ll be in for some time and she’s very depressed, but she’s going to live.” We had another NICRA member [ie. a member of the local Liverpool self-styled NICRA support group, oriented to the “Official” Republicans following the 1970 Republican split], and two girls who attend the Connolly Association, so we had about a dozen in the end. At the social in the evening one solitary YCL appeared and improved the occasion by distributing recruiting leaflets. A Trotsky was there, I could see from what he had given out. But the Comhaltas musicians came in force. Tony Coughlan and Lenny Draper arrived from Manchester. They, Brian Stowell, myself, Pat MacLaughlin and Mrs Campbell had made a day of it, and Mrs Nolan and Eugene O’Doherty arrived. The Manchester lecture also had been a flop. At the same time, in Liverpool at least, there was a drawing together of the Irish element from a feeling that they were isolated.
The combination was interesting, the two from Liverpool NICRA and the Irish centre, the Connolly Association people, Brian Stowell, Pat MacLaughlin, Barney Morgan (who came for the social) and a few more who are on the point of joining, Mai Nolan who is Kevin Street Sinn Fein, more or less, O’Doherty who is Clann na hEireann, and the musicians, one of whom who plays the Uilleann pipes is an Englishman called Bates who sang a song in Welsh. This interested Tony Coughlan and Lenny Draper. I can see the potentiality, but the need is education. I suspect Bates was distributing the Trotsky material. I asked him to give a talk on Irish music to the CA branch. But he has just given up teaching to be a WEA[Workers’ Education Association] organiser. He expressed the opinion that Irish music (he meant Carolan, of whom we were speaking) was a tattered remnant of an aristocratic tradition. He has obviously read something. Brian Stowell said he one time met him in Birkenhead, where he told Brian he was a “Maoist”. But I think he has an open mind.
July 3 Monday: It rained all day, so the gardening was impossible. If it goes right through to winter as it did in 1931 and 1946, we might get one more good summer in 1973 before the deluge. Here’s hoping! The garden which was very advanced is now almost exactly on time with the first Tropaeolum probably flowering on July 7th. I had a long phone conversation with Sean Redmond and we came to the conclusion that we cannot expect support for a far-reaching policy on Ireland and must break up the formal Declaration into its constituent parts [ie. dealing with the short-term, mid-term and long-term demands that the Connolly Association was putting forward]
July 4 Tuesday: Again the weather, though better, was not conducive to work in the garden. And on the whole little was accomplished.
July 5 Wednesday: I went into town and sought a berth on the Dublin boat – though I loathe the thing. There was not one. So I decided to go via Belfast and joined the ship at 9.30 pm.
July 6 Thursday (Dublin): I got up early, having decided to walk across the city and take the train to Dublin. Two wagons of soldiers were passing along the quay just before I disembarked, but there were no armed men at the gangway as previously and I saw neither soldier nor policeman all the way to the station. I walked along Waring Street, turned into High Street and passed the edge of Donegal Square. Not till I reached the station did I see any sign of substantial damage. The Europa Hotel was boarded up at the first floor but seemed otherwise unharmed, and a pub and houses across the road were damaged. I did not of course have an opportunity to see the outskirts as I took the 8 am. train to Dublin.
I was struck by the absence of tourist crowds – all the day sailings have been cancelled – and by the high prices of everything in the shops. I went up to 24 Belgrave Road and was talking with Helga when Cathal arrived in a dressing gown. He had an ulcerated throat which the doctor had identified as a streptococcus infection. I did not manage to contact Tony Coughlan but went into town and had my eyes tested at Dixon Hempenstalls, ordering some spectacles of 12” focus, better for writing. I then ordered a suit at Kevin and Howlins. In the evening Tony Coughlan and Micheál O Loingsigh came. We discussed the prospects opened by the ceasefire and truce [The Provisional IRA called a truce in their military campaign 0n 22 June, This led to talks between them and Northern Ireland Secretary Whitelaw and other British Ministers in London on 7 July; but the demand by MacStíofáin and his colleagues for a total withdrawal of British troops and administration by January1975 was unacceptable to the British side and the truce collapsed after a fortnight]. In the day I had seen Sean Nolan [Manager of the CPI bookshop in Pearse Street].
July 7 Friday: I went into town again and had lunch with Tony Coughlan. He was telling me about the EEC campaign. He is writing a pamphlet on the legal aspects of entry which he hopes to use to stiffen the resilience of the incredibly weak, vacillating and ignorant Labour TDs. He, and others, think Justin Keating the best of a bad bunch. But he has contracted brucellosis from the cattle he attended as a veterinary surgeon. This results in spells of deep lassitude which sometimes last months. He has of course severed all connections with the progressive movement. And Loretta has left the Labour Party as a result of the anti-semitic outbursts of Coughlan in Limerick [ie.by Labour TD Stephen Coughlan].
Cathal was telling me about Roy Johnston’s quarrel with Tony Coughlan, who now regards him with contempt, and unfortunately shows it. It seems that Roy thought the Wolfe Tone Society (of which he is secretary) was being substituted by the EEC Defence Committee for the greater glory of Tony Coughlan. He was quite prepared to conduct a correspondence on this subject, and even raise it on the branch committee, thus threatening to involve the many people new to politics who have flocked to the anti-EEC standard. In the end there was a standing row, in which Roy made a fool of himself and had to apologise. Mairin has rejoined the CPI [ie. Roy Johnston’s wife].
[Roy Johnston requested in 2002 that the following further note be inserted here: “There is a follow-up on July 7 1972, with CDG in Dublin; Cathal MacLiam regales CDG with the present writer’s ‘quarrel with Tony Coughlan, who now regards him with contempt and unfortunately shows it. It seems that Roy Johnston thought that the Wolfe Tone Society (of which he is the secretary) was being substituted by the EEE Defence Committee for the greater glory of Tony Coughlan…’ There was said to be a ‘…stand-up row…’ and that I was threatening to ‘…raise it on the broad committee, thus threatening to involve the many people new to politics who had flocked to the anti-EEC standard…’
There certainly was a difference of opinion, but I think Cathal exaggerated it. I was concerned to keep the All-Ireland aspect alive, with an eye on the North, seeking a political alternative to the then acute Provisional campaign. Tony Coughlan was keen to keep the priority actions pointed at the problem of minimizing EEC influence post-referendum. The ‘Defence Campaign’ was later to become the Sovereignty Movement, which was led by Tony Coughlan, who some time later quite suddenly turned it in the direction of the Northern question, to the mystification of the many anti-EEC supporters who had remained with it; some of these as a result were lost. This difference of opinion reflected a real dilemma, but in retrospect, after the referendum defeat, was not the North in fact the key issue? The Sovereignty Movement achieved little by way of rearguard actions against the EEC, and indeed much of the Brussels legislation was perceived as benign. The EEC battle proved to be unwinnable, but we had the seeds of the Good Friday Agreement in the Bill of Rights. So, in retrospect, who was right?… RHW Johnston, 10 January 2002]
July 8 Saturday: Having sat up half the night talking with Cathal – indeed till it was light – I did not get up early. The children are catching Cathal’s cold but not the streptococci. Egon and Fionula are 14 tomorrow and are approaching the awkward age. Conor is doing best at school. Egon is afraid to admit it when he knows nothing about something, and does not learn. Fionula is immersed in reading, but still reads for the story. I showed Conor the notation of chess and played him three games in which I undertook to mate with the queen against his king. He learned, for I then saw him trying the same thing on Beibhin, still a lively little child, a conscious charmer of course, but with a rare turn of phrase, a great reader too. I get more impressed with Conor as he grows older. But of course the storms of youth are ahead.
July 9 Sunday: In the morning Tony Coughlan arrived and we went out to Castletown House at Celbridge, which is preserved by the Georgian Society of which he is a member. It was showery but pleasant. Then in the evening Micheál O Loingsigh came in again and we drank some wine. Tony Coughlan had acquired some Gevrey-Chambertin, which was very palatable.
July 10 Monday: I collected the two pairs of spectacles, and bought some books in Hannas and Brown and Nolans. In the evening Tony Coughlan and Micheál O Loingsigh came in again. This time we discussed the resumption of hostilities. Micheál suspected it was a local Belfast decision. “No matter what the provocation,” said Cathal, “they should have completed the talks with Whitelaw.” “At least until after the orange marches,” I added. “A worse time for breaking off negotiations could not be imagined.” This was indeed, I gathered, the general opinion in Dublin.
July 11 Tuesday: I heard Maire Comerford had been asking after me, so took a bus trip out to see her in the afternoon. She was as cheerful and active as ever and brought me back to Cathal’s in her car. It was not without trepidation that I entered it. “I’m trying to forget I’ve got it,” she said, “I don’t want to kill somebody. But it needs an airing.” We discussed Sean O’Casey and I said I was toying with the idea of writing a book about him. She said he was held in low esteem by nationalists and republicans. “He put our flag in a public house.” But then, it struck her, he might have done it to spite the Countess Markievicz. I told her what Mrs Tom Johnson had told me – of the friction between the two of them and how Tom Johnson’s wife had said. “The countess could wind Connolly round her little finger.” This was of course the opinion given me in Totnes by O’Casey himself, and Maire gave a great chuckle as if she would well believe it.
I was leaving when Joan O’Connell, who is a friend of Helga’s, came in. She is the woman who startled the British TUC a few years ago with an impassioned speech on equal pay for women. Cathal said, as he ran me to the boat, that she would like to catch Tony Coughlan, but he maintains himself just out of range.
July 12 Wednesday (Liverpool): I arrived in Liverpool very tired. The B. and I. [ie. the British and Irish Steam Packet Company] now run the most uncomfortable boat on the Irish Sea. So instead of doing the reviews I had intended, I went to bed, and had only the afternoon. I did a little in the garden, which is under control anyway and needs less attention than before. The weather seems to be improving
Then I went to the Liverpool Branch meeting. Brian Stowell had arranged for Pat MacLaughlin to speak on his reminiscences. But very few attended, and Brian left a note to the effect that he was himself prevented from attending. It was decided to put off his talk and I gave my (speculative) interpretation of the resumption of hostilities.
July 13 Thursday (Birmingham): The weather shows signs of taking up, and not before time. I got in a good part of the morning in the garden, then took the 5.10 train to Birmingham where Mark Clinton met me at New Street. We went up to Aston where there was quite a tolerable meeting. Tom Toal was there. Most of those attending were Mark Clinton’s friends, so that the Social Justice people [a support group in Birmingham of the Dungannon-based Campaign for Social Justice established by Patricia and Conn McCluskey] did not know them and I think they were plotting absorbing a new branch. After the meeting we stayed in the public house drinking till 2 am. I am told every Irish house in Birmingham does this. Finally we got to Mark Clinton’s where we continued talking till the sky was light, the weather being so hot as to discourage sleep. However we eventually turned in.
July 14 Friday (London): I came on to London in the afternoon and had the notion of bringing out the paper a week early, as our headline is out of date. Charlie Cunningham told me that at the NICRA meeting [organised by the London-based NICRA support group] only 400 walked, Soper spoke first and was heckled [The Rev Donald Soper,1903-1998, radical Methodist clergyman; later Lord Soper] Brockway was heckled but contrived to say he was in Derry every time things got too hot for him. Geoffrey Bing was prevented from speaking. He gave up under a barrage of interruptions. Then a representative of the “Officials” and another from the “Provisionals” were invited on to the platform and they disowned the interruptions. The other speakers had a slightly quieter hearing. Among them was Kevin Boyle, the Trotsky, who has an academic job in America to go to soon, and good riddance.
July 15 Saturday: The weather was hot again, indeed in the high seventies. I worked on the new paper although I did not know till evening that the printer could produce it next Wednesday. Lenny Draper telephoned, and I was out with Jane Tate later [ie. selling the monthly “Irish Democrat”].
July 16 Sunday: In the morning we had the Standing Committee: Charlie Cunningham, Jim Kelly, Pat O’Donohue and Jane Tate were there, but Sean Redmond is in Belgrade and Pat Bond tied up at home. Clann na hEireann are holding a conference at which Tom Gill will explain to British Labour the road to socialism in Ireland [Tom Gill – Tomás MacGiolla – President of “Official” Sinn Fein in Dublin]. They have invited the CPGB, International Socialism and many other organisations, especially the splinter groups. I wondered if Joe O’Connor was behind this. Charlie Cunningham did not want us to attend, but the rest of us thought we should be represented if we could find anybody with the time to spare, which is doubtful. I got three pages off to Ripley.
Later I met Landy, the more sensible brother, who is in Clann na hEireann. He told me he did not think much of the notion of having Tom Gill over to talk about socialism. he had come from the Anti-Internment League conference. Lawless had been there trying to persuade them to change their name. Apparently every sect had its fling. I trust that organisation is on its way out.
In the evening I met Toni Curran [Mrs Antoinette Curran was treasurer of Connolly Publications, the company that owned the “Irish Democrat” and employed Desmond Greaves as its editor] and we went round Acton and Ealing with the paper. She told me that Gerry Curran is not really well and continually has to take drugs against depression, though occasionally he is on top of the world. I went to the house afterwards and we spent so much time talking and drinking Muscadet that she had to drive me to King’s Cross. Though Gerry Curran has a substantial library I did not notice much sign of opulence in the house. I imagine Gerry loses a deal of time. The two children could not sleep because of the heat. They seem very nice lads, about 8 and 6, the younger quite gifted in music. They have a piano and the youngster plays a fiddle.
July 17 Monday: I was busy on the paper all day, and was able to send most of the remainder to Ripley.
July 18 Tuesday: I sent the last scrapings to the printer and got Pat Devine to post his direct [Pat Devine, who worked for the “Morning Star”, wrote a “World Comment” column in the “Irish Democrat” each month]. Charlie Cunningham came in the evening. His brother, now in Paris, has invited him there for a week. So he is in a mad scramble to get a passport and be off. I spoke at a meeting in South London.
July 19 Wednesday (Liverpool): I went to Ripley [in Derbyshire, where the “Irish Democrat” was printed], read the proofs, and all going very smoothly. I came on to Liverpool. Everything was parched.
July 20 Thursday: I got as much done as I reasonably could, but it was not easy to be busy because of the unfamiliar heat. At the same time the heat is like that of 1948 – accompanied with much cloud and humidity.
July 21 Friday (London): Though it was not in accordance with my inclinations I came back to London. I have been reading through the Italian translation of my “Irish Crisis”, which strikes me as very hastily contrived and wooden. The translator has no imagination. I also had sent me some copies of the American edition. In the evening I was in Hammersmith with Pat Hensey. A Scotchman tried to pick a fight outside the Brook Green. Pat Hensey allowed himself to be caught with his back to the wall, so that I had to go forward and draw the Scotchman off – keeping my own path of retreat fully open. I would have drawn him down the road away from his associates when (if he had been so foolish as to wish to pursue matters, and he was drunk enough), it would have been the worse for him. But he followed a short way shouting about his son in the army, then went back. I judged he was too old to have a son in the army.
July 22 Saturday: The usual people came into the office – Jim Kelly, Pat Hensey, Jane Tate – but Charlie Cunningham and Pat O’Donohue are away on a holiday. I was in Hammersmith with Pat Hensey.
July 23 Sunday (Liverpool): We had no Standing Committee in the morning so I took the midnight train to Liverpool, and spent a good part of the day on the garden, though the weather was damp and close.
July 24 Monday: I erected supports for the runner beans and did other work in the garden, also preparing the lecture for next Wednesday.
July 25 Tuesday (London): I did some more gardening, and then took the 2.30 to Euston, later going to Acton where Toni Curran is starting a Connolly Association branch. Eamon MacLaughlin [a former Connolly Association general secretary, who worked for Acton Rails] spoke also, to about twenty people and two new members joined. This is a new and satisfactory development, for Toni Curran has been relatively inactive. She may now have recovered from her mother’s death early this year. Jane Tate was there, but most of those present I did not know. There was a sprinkling of YCLs, and one English lad who admitted he knew nothing about the “practical side” but told us the theory. He was the typical “Young Socialist” – jeans, brightly coloured printed vest, and beard.
July 26 Wednesday; I rose at 7am. and went into the office, bought milk and was about to make tea when I realised that no buses were running. I had heard last night that the busmen would probably join the protest against the jailing of the Trade Unionists. I did not wait to see if the Underground trains were running but took a taxi to Waterloo. There I found suburban trains were normal. So I had some coffee before going to Egham. I had not been there since 1931, during early July I think, when Donald Magee and I cycled to London with a tent, stopping the first night at Stratford and the second at Egham, whence we went into London. I think it was 1931, though my recollection of Egham is of hot weather and a boat-builder’s yard, gravelly soil and a profusion of bindweed. On the other hand I cycled to London with Be. early in August of that year, and my recollection was that there were only five days in the summer. However that may be, I didn’t see a thing I recognised as the taxi man who was waiting took me to the Holloway College – a sprawling Victorian building of monumental pretentiousness, a cross between St Pancras Station and the Indian Pavilion. There Professor Salmon awaited, and I gave a lecture on the background to O’Casey’s plays. Since I received this invitation I have been toying with the idea of writing a book on O’Casey, and indeed I mentioned it to Maire Comerford who said O’Casey was not popular with the older Republicans in Dublin. But I think I have the key to all that. The lecture went down very well. The staff were most pleasant, and the young people, half Americans and half Canadians, with two Irishmen living in Canada and one Englishman, I thought superior to those I meet in England – not many beards, others mostly practical, a sprinkling of shorts and bare feet, and a generally thoughtful attentive manner. They are the drama school of the University of Saskatchewan on the summer course and go to see O’Casey’s “Shadow of a Gunman” tonight. Salmon introduced me to the two Irishmen, one of whom was a glorious Cork extrovert. The sherry bottle was on the table. “Will you have a drink?” asked Salmon, whose relations to his students is excellent.
“Indeed,” said the Corkman, “I thought you’d lost the power of your arm,” which he said so engagingly that Salmon was delighted. I think he was from West Cork, and he resembled Sean Healy.
I had lunch with them and remained to hear Trewin’s lecture on the plays of O’Casey. He is a much older man than I had imagined him. Salmon is a great personal friend of his and is 54. I would say Trewin was in his early sixties. He is a Cornishman and was delighted when I pronounced his name with the accent on the second syllable. I had mentally translated it as the man from the white village, though I do not know that it is that. He told me that Mrs O’Casey has returned to Ireland and is living in Dublin. The son Brian is a watchmaker in St Ives. Trewin is going to Dublin to visit Mrs O’Casey next month, his first trip to Ireland. He is an extremely intelligent man and cannot stand motor cars and will not drive one. He was interested in my possibly writing about O’Casey and urged me to begin. The day was pleasant, and profitable too; it earned me a fee of thirty guineas.
In the evening Sean Redmond was back, though others are away. Apparently, according to Brian Crowley, the Clann na hEireann thing was crowded to the doors, mostly with young people. Lawless was much in evidence. Needless to say Crowley was highly impressed. He is a most unsound man and inclines to the “Officials”, who are riddled with Trotskyism. Willy Anderson appeared from Canada and he told me this was the case in Scotland as well. He may come back and live here permanently. I hope he does. Tony Coughlan sent me a copy of Thomas Mann’s “Doctor Faustus”, which he thought I might like to read because of the references to music.
July 27 Thursday: I wrote to Maurice Cornforth in the morning asking if Lawrence and Wishart would be interested in a study of O’Casey. I will then see what they say. Then Ned Connolly called in. He has grown a beard and said I didn’t recognise him in Dublin. He was at my talk at the Tailors’ Hall. He is still in Rathluirc [ie. Charleville, Co Cork]. He told me that his brother Seamus drank himself to death on brandy. He thought that he had decided to “opt out”. That may be true. The desire to be drunk is a form of a wish to be dead, but has the advantage of not being permanent. His father is in Nottingham with Peadar and Paudeen, Eugene is in Derby, Raymond also in Nottingham, and Leo is in Leamington Spa. The mother and sister are in Romford, where apparently he is staying. He has been to see off another sister to India. At 2.30 pm Toni Curran came in.
The arrival of Ned Connolly set off a series of petty frustrations. It is early closing day and he kept me till after the shops were closed. I reflected that I had one or two standing items in the flat, including some macaroni cheese made in Liverpool and held in an airtight container. When I went to the flat [ie. his flat in Argyle Street, King’s Cross, London], hurrying to be back for Toni Curran, I found it was beginning to go mouldy. Ha, said I, there is a good loaf of black bread. It was in my rucksack. But hadn’t a mouse got into it, despite its wrappers and being left so short a time. So I returned to the office and bought bread and butter at the Cypriot shop that is always open. But that was not to be the end of it. I bought meat at the one butcher that is open in Caledonian Road. At about 5 pm. I went to cook it – the only onion was bad. I put the steak on to braise, deciding to bring back onions, carrots and salt. At about 8.45 I discovered on putting on an electric kettle in the office that there was no power. The man in the wine shop told me there had been an explosion in an electricity substation. “I hope it’s not the IRA,” I said to myself. The Electricity Enquiry office told me current would be off for at least an hour. I saw that the King’s Cross traffic lights were not working, but the Argyle Street ones were. So I went to 33 Argyle Street and was pleasantly surprised when I pressed the switch in the hallway and the light came on. Alas, it was not so inside the flat. The Council pays for the electricity on the landing and that was on. Then didn’t I discover I had left the braising steak on the flame and it was burned, and for what was eatable I had forgotten to bring salt! Added to all that I mislaid Salmon’s cheque and had to hunt for it. Never was the consolation of a bottle of Liebfraumilch so requisite. The power did not return, so I sat on the landing reading at the expense of Camden Borough Council until there was no more wine left.
July 28 Friday: I got up for a minute at 3.30 am. The power was back. Incidentally, not all Argyle Square was without it, and the reason seems to be that South and west of us the power was unaffected, as I saw when looking through the back windows. I spent the day in the office, and was out in the evening with Chris Sullivan [a long-standing Connolly Association member].
July 29 Saturday: I was in the office in the morning. But later Willie Anderson arrived. I did not know that it was he who took over Michael Crowe’s flat when Michael first left Manchester for Sunderland. Lenny Draper also arrived and they accompanied me to the “Communist University” where I spoke to the Economics section. A lad called Harrison – long hair, caipín dubh (as I called his odd knotted or cord cap), jeans with the die coming out, and unshaven – took the chair. They seemed pleasant enough kids. Harrison seemed to have a good opinion of himself, but in an age when arrogant ignorance vies with arrogant stupidity for the currency of society, he would pass muster. Later, when we returned to the office, Michael Crowe arrived and Willie Anderson went selling with him and Jane Tate. I was taking Lenny Draper to Paddington, but changed partners and sent him to Hammersmith with Gerry Curran, with whom he stayed the night.
July 30 Sunday: We had the Executive Committee today in Oxford. Jim Kelly missed the train by going to Euston by mistake, but arrived by midday. Alf Ward and Considine met us at the station, and we had Sean Redmond, Pat Bond, Pat Hensey, Jane Tate, Pegeen O’Flaherty, Michael Crowe and Lenny Draper. We decided to be ready for an attack on the “no go” areas [ie. areas in Belfast and Derry where effective normal policing by the British authorities was impossible] , and to try to prevent what will presumably take place as soon as Parliament is out of way. In the discussion Pat Bond sat looking worried and distressed beyond measure [a leading CA figure and financial supporter]. He made a plea that we should publicly condemn the “Provisionals” but got no support. It was afterwards that I saw the Morning Star (presumably Myant) had done so. In the afternoon two local councillors came in, one the CND woman Mrs Gibbs. Though the subject of the discussion was “after Whitelaw” they quite arrogantly insisted on lecturing us on the evils of “violence,” with the Provisionals in mind. Sean Redmond had opened the discussion, but they came late. I said a few words which I think quietened them. Father McCabe from Blackfriars was there and came to a social in the evening, in flannels and a roll-neck pullover. Jane Tate elicited the fact that he came from the East Riding of Yorkshire. The social was very successful and the Londons who stayed (Jim Kelly, Pat Hensey, Pegeen O’Flaherty, Jane Tate and myself) were very pleased.
July 31 Monday (Liverpool): Our decisions were overtaken by events. Toni Curran (who was at Oxford deputising for Pat O’Donohue) phoned that she had heard on the 8 am. news that the troops had invaded the “No-go” areas. So our statement of last night was out of date, but I put out a revised statement. Lenny Draper and Michael Crowe came into the office. Yesterday we decided to try to appoint a new full-time organiser by the New Year. I wonder it if will be Lenny Draper – the only one in sight. It will of course be bad for Manchester, and may be unwise. I had a word with Sean Redmond and we agreed to proceed with a meeting of Irish organisations next Sunday. We do not know if they will respond, but hope they will.
I caught the 2.30 for Liverpool and sat opposite a bank official who came from Bournemouth and had learned Italian to read Dante. I quoted the first few lines – and he continued, very much surprised, though he had commented that he thought I was reading Italian. I reached 124 Mount Road [his family house in Prenton, Birkenhead] at about 6 pm. There was thunder and torrential rain. The garden looks bright green with that deep lushness found in vegetation in the west of Scotland where everything is always saturated.
August 1 Tuesday: It rained all day again – in ten minutes’ intermission I gathered some raspberries, but the loganberries and strawberries are going over-ripe because it is impossible to get out to them. I was glad to hear that Stallard [ie. Mr AW “Jock” Stallard, Labour MP for North St Pancras] had opposed the military adventure in the House of Commons, and that the Bogsiders had booed Tuzo [General Tuzo, British military commander in Northern Ireland]. But I was not pleased that that exhibitionist lunatic Bernadette Devlin had been poking her nose in. Incidentally, Michael Crowe told me that the Anti-Internment League in Newcastle has collapsed because she failed to turn up to address a vast meeting.
August 2 Wednesday (London): It was raining as hard as ever when I got up. But it did manage to stop and became quite bright. Unfortunately, the fruit I had hoped to pluck was partly lost. Overnight mould had grown on the loganberries and even on some of the raspberries. Nevertheless I collected several pounds and cooked them at once, then put them in the refrigerator until I got back.
I left for London on the 3.30 and went to the Central London Branch meeting where I was to speak, but Bobby Heatley [former CA member in London; now back living in Belfast and active on civil rights issues] appeared and I persuaded him to do so. He says that people in the Six Counties have learned the folly of some of the mad policies that have ruined everything. But he says John McClelland is very despondent. Bobby on the other hand seems much more optimistic than I ever knew him. He has lost that wretched assumed cynicism and has matured. The result is that the good qualities he possesses, and he has many, show more clearly. Among those present were Sean Redmond, Jane Tate, Jim Kelly, Pat Hensey and a sprinkling of new people. Despite his good qualities, Sean Redmond is a somewhat uninspiring leader. He invited volunteers to speak in Hyde Park – a sure guarantee of getting none. Then he shrugged his shoulders.
August 3 Thursday: What a day! Early in the morning Eugene McCarthy from Camberley came in. He stayed till 11.50 when Mrs Comi from Milan arrived. He told me that when the Aldershot explosion [the British Army base where a bomb planted by the Official IRA killed several civilians]took place he found it impossible to sell papers in Camberley. The Irish ran for cover, though he managed to get a letter into a local paper. Yet he was prepared to defend that absurd action as “raising morale” inside the IRA. I had a long talk with him. He was a little despondent and spoke of his feeling that he had not the stamina for a long struggle.
Now I had come to London today because a Japanese had promised to call. Some other Japanese had called yesterday. But Mrs Comi came. She had been in Dublin and had written a thesis. She kept me answering questions till 3.30, and in the intervals people came into the bookshop. The telephone rang and then three Italian students came, asking if it was safe to go to Belfast. It was now 4 pm. and Sean Redmond came in! So all the work I had intended to do in the day had to be done in the evening and I left the office after 11 pm.
August 4 Friday: Another day almost as bad. The Japanese telephoned at 9 am. saying his plane had been delayed, so that when he reached London it was too late to ring. He wanted to call at 10 am. At first I half suggested a later time but having heard that you must not make a Japanese “lose face” I said come at 10. Pegeen O’Flaherty tells of how her father’s Japanese translator came to Dublin and went into a bank to cash a traveller’s cheque. The clerk gave him a pound too much. He was very distressed but explained that it would not do to take the pound back, for then the clerk would “lose face”. However he proved a pleasant refined young man of about 30, a teacher. I answered a lot of questions and then took him to the Movement for Colonial Freedom [to which the Connolly Association was affiliated]. Both he and Signora Comi commented on the cleanness of London. In Milan or Tokyo it is often difficult to breathe. And all day others came.
At 7 pm. the man from the ground floor flat announced that in the morning there is to be a “changeover to North Sea gas”. So that, I thought, explains the excavations outside every door in the square. But then he added, “Everybody must stay at home.” I don’t like the word “must”, and I said so. “Well – the same for me – I should go to work but I stay at home.” Later I saw a notice they had put in the door announcing the changeover. The man’s name is Curry, but his wife is Cypriot and I am not sure he is even English, but he may be “illiterate Cockney”. “North Sea gas is stronger. It could cause an explosion.” I know something about gas explosions and assured him the report was alarmist. At the same time I was annoyed at the impertinence of the Gas Board, who have sent no warning. I was out with Tony Donaghey in the evening. I asked him if he would be secretary of a new branch in Hertfordshire. I went for a walk in the early evening to try to think out some of the problems. One thing I concluded was organisation throughout the country. The other was to regain the initiative and try to have us moving the MPs instead of having them acting on all manner of absurd short-term hopes.
August 5 Saturday: I did not of course stay at home for the Gas Board, but cut off the gas at the meter and left them a note. At 11.45 I spoke to the boys who were doing the digging. “This is not the connection of the gas – the gas won’t be here for a year yet – it’s only preliminary work.” So Curry had got it all mixed up. These people live in a queer twilight world in which the sensualities are everything and any other initiative is unthinkable to them. The Connemara man on the first floor, Bartley O’Flaherty, accuses Mrs Curry of opening all the correspondence, and tells me woeful stories of how they burgled his flat with an exceptionally long ladder. When they went for a two weeks holiday in Cyprus he was convinced they had skipped with the police in pursuit. Strangely enough all that week a policeman was stationed at the corner. And he swears Curry had been “away for a year and again for eighteen months”. They all have only the vaguest notions of probabilities. And we talk of politics! Bartley, mind, has the stuff in him – he buys the “Democrat” in Camden town, and showed proper antagonism when Prime Minister Wilson appeared in the square at the Labour Committee rooms. He does not like “big shots”.
I sent out an enquiry to East London members about starting a branch there. I had received no letter from Woddis [HCK (Jack) Woddis, 1914-1980, International Secretary of the CPGB and authority on national and colonial questions; member of the advisory International Affairs Committee, of which Desmond Greaves was a long-time member] inviting me, as promised, to take the Irish class in his school. I thought it might have miscarried as the other things did, so I wrote. I received a letter implying but not stating clearly that he had written, but they have “now made other arrangements.” I do not know what they are. Possibly Jimmy Stewart [leading Northern Ireland communist; assistant general secretary of the CPI]. And this probably explains his curiously conciliatory manner when I saw him last. I wondered what it was. It might that be fears I will not condemn the “Provisionals” enough – Myant [Chris Myant, editor of the daily “Morning Star”] had a vitriolic diatribe against them today – but the element of “guilty conscience” he showed might betoken some pressure yielded to. He requested me all the same to try and get more students for him (I already got Lenny Draper), so I sent out six letters, and wrote pressing to know if he had written. If he did so, and my suspicions are unfounded, then four letters from King Street [Head office of the CPGB] have been lost in three months.
August 6 Thursday (Liverpool): I was in the office all morning as we had a loose sort of conference attended by four Oxfords and Anton Coyle of London NICRA and we agreed on a joint statement. It is the beginning of an effort to reconstitute the front wrecked by the Anti-Internment League. A young man from Belfast whom I met in Oxford (indeed he spoke with me), Brendan Goldsmith, who is Clann na hEireann, was there. I would say he is a fine young man and I hope he progresses beyond the middle class muddle of Clann na hEireann. These had a committee meeting in the afternoon. Among those present were Sean Redmond, Jim Kelly, Paddy Bond and Jane Tate.
In the afternoon I made for Manchester, and attended the meeting in the Brunswick public house. Lenny Draper was there but Belle Lalor came late. Apparently we had forgotten to put the venue on the circular. Frank Bushe was there. He is from Doncaster, but is going to Ireland with Lenny Draper next week for a holiday. He has chopped off his beard and does not now look the drooping oddity that he did. “I told you he was all right,” said Lenny. But Belle Lalor was not too pleased with the mix-up over the room. There was a fair attendance. I went on to Liverpool.
August 7 Monday: I got a certain amount of gardening done, and wrote some letters, but seemed to have no less in front of me by the end of the day.
August 8 Tuesday: I decided to go to Ireland and rang Cathal. I could not get a berth on the Dublin boat, so decided to go via Belfast again, not without some stirrings of trepidation, but I reflected that people do live there and go about their business after a fashion.
August 9 Wednesday: I found Belfast very different from itself a month ago. There was considerably more material damage, and the place was crawling with soldiers. One thing was unchanged – the religious scrawlings on the harbour buildings which the ship passes: “Jesus loves you” and “Christ died for you.” For the rest, there were barbed wire entanglements at every street corner except for the main thoroughfares. A soldier or two stood at each. “Pedestrians only,” said a prominent notice. Apart from these there were foot patrols, in twos, everywhere. I had carefully excluded from my baggage everything of a political nature. But nobody paid any attention to me and I was not searched. I caught the 8 am. train and noted with satisfaction our speedy transit towards the border. At one point the train pulled up sharply so that some crockery was spilt. “I hope its not a bomb on the line,” said I to a young Dublin man who told me he was composing “pop songs”. “It very well could be,” says he. But it was not, and I was very pleased when the gap of the north closed behind us, and, as if to confirm matters, the cold drizzly morning gave place to a sunny day.
I went up to 24 Belgrave Road and to my surprise (I had left my key in London) was received by Cathal [ie. Cathal MacLiam] in person, who opened the door in his pyjamas. He has a week’s holiday. On the other hand Tony Coughlan is also away, though he left the key of his home (his mother having gone back to Cork) in case I wanted it. I asked where is he?
“He told Roy he’d be away three weeks. Cork, France and Scotland have all been named.”
Apparently relations between Tony Coughlan and Roy Johnston are at their nadir. Partly it is Roy’s pathological meanness, and also his political nonsense. The world revolves around his personal position. Micheál O Loingsigh came in the evening, after a meeting, and also Roy. To my surprise I found that Nicoletta Comi was staying with Cathal and had brought another girl, Maria, who was very depressed having lost her husband last year, and to make matters worse knows no English and makes everybody speak French. Last night they had prepared an Italian meal of chicken, olives and peppers in wine, spaghetti and an egg dish. The wine had flowed and thus Cathal was up late. Tonight Tomás MacGiolla and Dalton Kelly were to come, but they did not arrive. Roy said he would not stay, but offered a half bottle of whiskey (minus) which he brought in and then stayed till 2 am. drinking our wine. Cathal made Maria successive cups of Gaelic coffee to use up the whiskey, as we knew Roy would take it back if we didn’t drink it on him. At one point he complained of the strain that was on him sitting up late at night when people came from England, what with the Logans, and McLaughlin’s, Redmonds, Currans and so on. I pretended to be very upset and went to bed. Of course it was thoughtless rudeness on his part.
August 10 Thursday: On the mat was a written apology from Roy, enclosed in a used envelope, needless to say. It didn’t say much. In fact there was no sense in it. “You didn’t make the mistake of replying to it?” Cathal asked me later. “I did not, “said I. I was a little shocked at the speed with which Cathal is going grey. He is wearing his hair rather longer than formerly, and possibly this accentuates the white streaks. He is near the 50/50 point. Otherwise, his face retains the youthful freshness and characteristic expression of shrewd gaiety in a serious purpose. I asked him if he was working too hard – they have all broken their backs in the attempt to save the country from the EEC, and this is why Tony Coughlan is going himself on the long holiday. My difficulty is to know whether he will be sending me any copy. I decided to return on Saturday instead of Sunday.
Helga is in Tralee with the girls and Killian. Cathal has the elder boys. Conor has turned into a great little fellow. He plays chess, and very well too. Egon consented to learn it from him, but is too impatient to play properly. On the other hand the boys get on very well together when the others are away. Cathal says any two get on – but add the others, and the quarrelling (none of it serious) breaks out again. While the others are doing reasonably, Conor is doing best at school. Micheál O Loingsigh came again in the evening and there was more drinking.
August 11 Friday: Unlike yesterday this was a full day. Terence McCaughey rang to invite me to lunch, and Derry Kelleher to a press conference. During the morning before we left for town we heard loud quarrels proceeding from two doors away. Mairin’s voice was raised, “Nothing more is to be expected from anybody as stupid as you.” For the past day or two her co-habitant husband, a young fellow in his twenties, good looking in slightly effeminate way, has been in the garden with Roy’s son, Fergus. It is a crazy household. Roy lives with his Janice in the basement, Mairin and hers, plus the children – Roy’s or the others – have the rest of the house. We do not know whether the old or new was the recipient of the invective. “She’ll end up a shrew,” said I. “She’s one now,” said Cathal. “The word has often come into my mind. And as for Roy,” he went on, “He’ll end up a complete crank and oddity.” There was another soul-searching note in a used envelope this morning, warning me against the dangers of trusting Micheál O’Loingsigh.
I met Terence McCaughey [lecturer in Irish at TCD; strong nationalist and leading member of the Irish Anti-Apartheid Movement] at TCD and we went for lunch. It seems he is the nephew of old Professor Finnegan, and Agnes the friend of Elsie O’Dowling whom he will meet in Donegal next week. He said of Roy that after leaving the Republicans Roy still wanted to be an ambassador, but you cannot be an ambassador without a principal. His good qualities were vitiated by his intense adolescent egoism.
After that I called in to Sean Nolan. I asked him what I had tried to elicit from others – what future do the “Officials” think they have. “Search me!” said Nolan – and that was more or less what Cathal said, and what is more, though he put up the Italian girls to ask MacGoilla, they came away with curiosity ungratified. If they stood in an election now not one, Official or Provisional, or at most one or two Provisionals, would save their deposits.
At 7.30 I was at Buswell’s Hotel. The room booked for the press conference was there, but nobody was in it. I went into the bar and a young man recognised me. He was John Flood of the Irish Socialist and he was deputising for Carmody. Derry Kelleher came shortly afterwards [Vice-President of Official Sinn Fein; an admirer of Greaves’s work and author of several books on Irish politics], with May Hayes [a member of the Connolly Association in London in the 1940s, when she was one of Greaves’s assistants in the Irish Exiles Advisory Bureau]. He was bubbling with energy and enthusiasm, though nobody from the press had come. Finally a man from the Independent arrived, and the conference began. Derry Kelleher had gone through the published works of Connolly, had rejected all the syndicalism, and made a collection of the sayings which were Marxist. At least that was his explanation of what he has. The result is being published in three duplicated volumes. But there is a preface which attacks the “Provisionals” and describes Marxism as the necessary philosophy of the “legitimate Republican movement”. He told me afterwards that Jackson’s book is being made essential reading in the “Official ” Sinn Fein, and I can expect many orders. There are twenty-four students this very minute at a school to discuss the book. The chairman of the meeting drove me to Cathal’s. He told me that but for Derry Kelleher he would have been second in command to Sean Stephenson [Sean MacStíofáin, 1928-2001, one of the founders and first chief-of staff cf the Provisional IRA]. He was a mild-mannered inoffensive-seeming little man, but had the eyes of a gunman, though certainly not to the extent of McCabe.
In the evening I played chess with Conor. Roy had convened a meeting of the Standing Committee of the Wolfe Tone Society, though without telling Cathal. It was at the house of Uinsean MacEoin, who, says Cathal, is a “crypto-Provisional,” who has sworn that if Roy offers himself for secretary in the future, he will be opposed. Cathal went, and Micheál O’Loingsigh. They came back at 12.30. The boys were still up. But when they heard Micheál O Loingsigh’s car Egon said, “Let’s get out of here!” And away they scampered, as quick and quiet as a couple of mice, though there were “noises off” when the older generation had arrived. Apparently they had been discussing how to prevent the SDLP from holding discussions with Mr Whitelaw, oblivious of the fact that this was not their responsibility. Roy had been chastened and cooperative – and in any case what they were doing was nonsensical enough to guarantee his approbation. I gently hinted as much, though I helped Micheál O Loingsigh with a draft which he is preparing for a basis of unity. We did not sit up tonight. We were all tired and I have to be up tomorrow morning
August 12 Saturday: Micheál O’Loingsigh called at 9.50 and drove me to the boat. It was a calm uneventful crossing and by 7.30 pm. I was at 124 Mount Road.
August 13 Sunday: The cold weather has given way to a milder spell. I collected more loganberries, but apart from this seem to have achieved nothing.
August 14 Monday (London): I came to London on the 2.30 train. I was astonished at how few people were travelling. The Railway management have put up the fares again and again, and gradually slowed down with additional stops the services they inaugurated in 1966. The Irish trade has gone, I suppose, and there is the general run down of the west coast in prospect of the Common Market. I am told that the Labour Exchanges in Manchester are directing everybody to Germany.
When I got to the office Charlie Cunningham was there. He had not much news, as he was only back from Paris. He has no desire to go to the continent again, though he enjoyed himself.
August 15 Tuesday: I started on the paper. I was well supplied with copy. Jack Bennett sent a long article, Tony Coughlan’s stuff was here, and so I completed four pages. Charlie Cunningham and Jane Tate came in during the evening.
August 16 Wednesday: I completed the paper by early afternoon – surely a record, as I wrote several articles and a book review myself. Then I turned to Connolly Association business, drafted a recruiting brochure, and prepared resolutions. In the evening Paddy Clancy spoke to the branch on Swift. I hardly knew him, he has gone so grey and old in his habits. He was home in Manorhamilton a fortnight ago. The men in the public houses scarcely referred to the Six Counties. As Sean Nolan told me last week, the people merely thank God it is on the other side of the border. This is the basis for their support for Lynch [ie. Fianna Fail Taoiseach Jack Lynch]. I was busy in the office and did not hear his talk, though I was told it was good. One of the Tenants and Residents people attended. Charlie Cunningham told me that Paddy Clancy [a leading CA member in the 1940s] remarked that the Dublin men would not disclose the identity of the author of the “Drapier’s Letters” [written by Jonathan Swift]. The Tenants’ man referred to the £50,000 being offered for information upon the Belfast murders. “Pooh,” said Clancy, “I’d not hesitate to take that reward, killing innocent people!” Yet, Charlie Cunningham remarked, he would probably denounce Carey and defend the Invincibles. But that was in the olden days. Paddy Clancy did indeed express himself to me very antagonistically about the “Provisionals.” Pat MacLaughlin is on the same tack, writing about “that bastard Stephenson”. I know Pat MacLaughlin sells the United Irishman with the Democrat, though I opposed the practice. Now Barney Morgan is a friend of Eamon MacThomáis [well-known Provisional supporter in Dublin] and has faint “Provisional” sympathy. I know Pat MacLaughlin and Barney Morgan are scarcely on speaking terms, and Barney objects to MacLaughlin invading his territory for paper sales. I suspect that the Republican split is the trouble with our Liverpool branch.
According to Paddy Clancy, Justin Keating was over and he met him at Flann Campbell’s. “He’s a nice fellow, but a will-do-man,” said Clancy. “He told me he claims that Wolfe Tone was born on some part of his land. Also that he was illegitimate. He’s been doing some research. I don’t set much store by it myself.” Nor did I. “It may be,” said I, ” that if he can establish that Tone had something to do with it, he’ll be able to get a national memorial built there, and net £10,000 an acre, while retaining the restaurant rights. ” Clancy was amused at that. “That’s the way they go on, indeed.”
We had a Standing Committee earlier and I complained of the weakness of the business side. Sean Redmond said he would consider being company secretary to replace Toni Curran. The situation continues to be unsatisfactory, Pat O’Donohue is being asked to do things that the company secretary should do, and is far too slapdash. I have not been able to find out if Akram, our tenant, has paid his rent. A lease agreement came. I signed and sealed it and sent it to Toni Curran for her to send to Seafort. Now Seafort is asking me what happened to it. Toni says she thinks she gave it to Pat O’Donohue to bring to me.
August 17 Thursday: I was in the office all day, trying to get a speaker for the TUC and finding it difficult, also difficult to get a room, though Whittenbury is helping. At 6.30 Alan Morton called and we had a meal. He has been made Emeritus Professor and is on top of the world. “The only honour I ever had conferred on me in my life, and I would have chosen no other.” He talks of nothing but his own affairs, so that it can even get tiresome. He and Freda are hoping that David’s marriage will not last long as they do not get on and she hates the Morton family. Strangely enough she is Irish. Alisoun was in hospital, and every horror suspected, but now they think she strained a muscle shifting scenery. John can still not get a job. And the move to Edinburgh has been a success. Of course he is so overcome by all the sudden strokes of good fortune – his flat in Edinburgh has appreciated by £2000 since he bought it – that a little volubility on it can be understood.
August 18 Friday: I was out with Jane Tate in Camden Town in the evening. She had been here when Alan Morton called in, full of himself, and we had a chuckle over it. At the same time she thinks it is time he had some good fortune.
August 19 Saturday: I went to Luton with Tony Donaghey. It was interesting to note the new atmosphere. There were several pubs we could not get into. At one a middle-aged Englishwoman behind the bar said “No Irish here!” Immediately two young lads with Cockney or semi-Cockney accents cried, “We’re Irish” and came out to buy the paper. She would not let them get back to their drinks until they had folded the paper up and put it in their pockets. Two YCLs stopped us in the street and were very encouraging. I asked Tony if we might try to form a branch, He said he was prepared to try.
August 20 Sunday: I was in the office all day, but in the evening was out with the paper again with Ivor Lloyd, a former West London member now living in Guildford but anxious to get back to London. At a recent branch meeting, as Jane Tate remarked, he seemed to be experiencing periodical twinges of pain, but he seemed all right tonight.
August 21 Monday: I had finished the paper in two days this time, and to make good better I took no more than three hours to read the proofs. But owing to the TUC uncertainty I returned to London.
August 22 Tuesday (Liverpool): I spoke to Andy Barr on the phone. He could not promise to speak, nor could Brian Mathers. And he warned that if he did he would speak “from a socialist standpoint”. This is the strange outlook of the British Labour movement, that they want to add the label, for what he meant was not what he said, which was fair enough, but that he was going to say that the trouble would go on till we had socialism. Later in the day I came to Liverpool.
August 23 Wednesday: The Liverpool Connolly Association is in the doldrums. Brian Stowell and Barney Morgan are on holiday, and Pat MacLaughlin in the midst of his usual parochial preoccupations. I had come here to “spring clean” the house. Owing to the fine weather I started on the garden.
August 24 Thursday: I cleared surplus raspberries out of the way and started saving timber for winter fires.
August 25 Friday: I continued with the timber but there are loads of it.
August 26 Saturday: I seemed to have developed a cold, but pottered on. In particular I bought a new and decent radio at Smiths.
August 27 Sunday: I thought brandy might do the health good and bought some.
August 28 Monday: The dry weather continues, but there is little heat in it. The ground is getting parched. I had to water some things.
August 29 Tuesday: I got down to some of the work in the house, cleared and varnished a set of shelves from the cottage and filled it with books in my bedroom, which I “did out”.
August 30 Wednesday: The weather has improved, but I had to water the beans. I finished the bedroom and did the hall and music room.
August 31 Thursday: I felt somewhat better of the cold, perhaps thanks to the brandy, and started on the front room below.
September 1 Friday: I carried on with the operations in the house and garden, though it was surprising how time-consuming it proved.
September 2 Saturday: A telephone message came from Charlie Cunningham to the effect that Clann na hEireann had appointed a “southwest organiser” who would cover South Wales. I suspected this to be a response to our own projected activities, and wondered what Brian Wilkinson was playing at.
September 3 Sunday: I was busy with the house all day, and can now pronounce it tolerable.
September 4 Monday (Newport): I went via Chester and Salop to Newport, but called in to see Bert Pearce at Cardiff first. He told me that Wayne Jenkins had become associated with an SLL [Socialist Labour League] character and that he is politically degenerating fast. Brian Wilkinson was no longer the candidate and had announced his intention of concentrating all his attention on the Irish question, and had moreover induced some of the local people to do the same.
I went to the meeting in the Students’ Union at Newport. There were about eight present, all in their early twenties but Brian Wilkinson and one other. They seemed excellent youngsters, and I got my desire, a regular monthly meeting. Then at Brian Wilkinson’s we were up till 3.30 arguing the question of his relation to Clann na hEireann. His wife is terrified, and was very pleased that I urged him, as Bert Pearce had done, to be one thing or the other. It seems that he is the Clann na hEireann agent for Wales. Yeats (who is International Socialist) comes from Birmingham and stays the night there, and his talk (though his actions are mild enough) alarms the poor woman for the safety of her children. I couldn’t knock much sense into him. He is a worthy man, but a romantic dilettante.
September 5 Tuesday (London): I caught an early train to London and around midday Tony Coughlan arrived. He will stay with Sean Redmond.
September 6 Wednesday: With Tony Coughlan and Chris Sullivan I went to the TUC. The weather was superb – one fine day in a very indifferent cloudy cool summer – and we gave out leaflets and met people. Andy Barr was there, but I don’t think he was pleased to see us. We held a meeting in the evening and a handful of delegates and some local people came. Among those who were there were Jane Tate, Charlie Cunningham and McKeevir.
September 7 Thursday: I started work on the paper, and indeed tried to persuade Tony Coughlan to stay over the weekend and do his columns, so that I could have them early and get away on the holiday I am planning. However, he felt he required the comforts of his own office.
September 8 Friday: I worked on the paper, and later met Bert Pearce to tell him what had happened with Brian Wilkinson. He had received a letter bluntly asking him whether he thought it would be better for him to leave the CP. Bert Pearce had of course replied that it was for Wilkinson to make that decision. I told Bert Pearce that Wilkinson’s “reason” for working with Clann na hEireann was that he disagreed with the policy of the CPI and if he lived in Ireland he would join Sinn Fein. According to Bert Pearce he often suggests resigning, so I guess he will ultimately do it. The instability of these people is incredible. One day bursting to be a Communist candidate against all sensible advice, then throwing it up, or talking of throwing it up for Sinn Fein. I then remained for the IAC [International Affairs Committee of the CPGB, of which Greaves was a member to advise on Irish matters].
September 9 Saturday: In the morning Tony Coughlan came into the office and got our back numbers into order, later leaving for Liverpool and Dublin.
September 10 Sunday: I was in the office most of the day, mostly on organisational work.
September 11 Monday: I decided on a flying visit to Liverpool, to bring up some clothes, and to see Harrison who has begun painting the house, which it badly needs.
September 12 Tuesday: Back in London by 3 pm. I was visited by Tom Mitchell, the Luton organiser with whom I had been in touch about a branch there. I was surprised to find him a much older man than I had thought, about sixty years old I would say, possibly more, and as Charlie Cunningham (who has met him) puts it, a trifle tired. He told me that Trotskies from Nottingham operate in Northampton, and I told him about MacDonald’s nonsensical Republican party which was going to send up a candidate against that ass Paget [Reg Paget, Labour MP for Northampton]. He agreed to help to get the Connolly Association going in Luton. Tony Donaghey will also help.
September 13 Wednesday: Tony Coughlan’s stuff still hasn’t arrived, though he tells me on the phone that he posted it on Monday. Every time I think of going for a holiday some damned thing happens. In the evening I went with Paddy Bond to a meeting in Ilford which we hope may lead to the establishment of an East London Branch. Pat Devine was there and Gloria, who I am hoping will do some of the work.
September 14 Thursday: At last Tony Coughlan’s material arrived. I went into a gallop and got four pages done by evening. I had written to Maurice Cornforth on 27 July about the O’Casey book. Today I phoned Nan Green. She said a reply was sent to 124 Mount Road almost by return. So here is one more letter that has simply disappeared. I wonder if the political branch are looking at my stuff. By mistake I dated my letter 27 September, understandable since it is my birthday. Maurice sarcastically dead-pan replied, “Thanking you for your letter of 27 September.” This would have made the half-wits look for some code! Modern society is raving mad, and everybody in it, so any nonsense might happen. She promised to send me a copy. For the rest of the day I cleared things up, and made some arrangements for the conference. Pat O’Donohue came in at midday, and they seem to be getting something done in West London.
September 15 Friday (Liverpool): I spent the day in the office, but caught the 5 pm. to Liverpool. I found the copy of Cornforth’s letter. Apparently a young man called Jack Mitchell who wrote on Robert Tressell [1870-1911, author of “The Ragged-Trousered Philanthropists”] has suggested doing them a book, but somewhat vaguely. I doubt if he’d be capable of understanding O’Casey, and we would have another uncomprehending wooden English hotchpotch of adulation of O’Casey and contempt for Irish nationalism. So I am at first reaction inclined to go ahead perhaps seeking another publisher, as I do not think the books would compete. But Cornforth says he is not certain of Mitchell’s intentions and will write to him. If he decides to go ahead then Cornforth suggests I discuss the project with him and he will then “perhaps produce a better way than without it.” That would be best for Maurice no doubt. But would it be best for me? That is a different matter. However, I will write again as there has been nothing further.
I met Roland Kennedy at King’s Cross. He tried to persuade me that the “Provisionals” are about to embark on a bombing campaign in London. His sole evidence was that “they are swarming into the place.” Which is not very convincing. He thought the split the finest thing that ever happened the IRA. He has been in politics perhaps eighteen months. A decent likeable lad without an idea. He thinks the Provisionals have “no support”. But if they have not, how can they “swarm” into London?
September 16 Saturday (Liverpool): I came to Liverpool direct. I had intended to go to Ripley yesterday and then come here last night. But Tony Coughlan’s copy being delayed put paid to that. I could see that Harrison had started on the painting of the house, so that I may stay here a week before (as I intend) going into Wales. It is 1969 since I got away for more than a few days.
September 17 Sunday: I did little enough today, pottered a little in the garden and read and played.
September 18 Monday: I went to Ripley and while the paper was ready, had desperate ill fortune with the transport and was not home till 9 pm.
September 19 Tuesday: Harrison was busy on the painting, and I set about saving the timber I got by lopping trees.
September 20 Wednesday: The weather seems to have taken up somewhat, and I managed to cut out the old loganberries and tie up the new shoots. But I found I had left my camera in London. I decided to go and get it. I wrote to Maurice Cornforth [ie. his publisher at Lawrence and Wishart].
September 21 Thursday: I caught the 10.30. This is the crew I know best. One of them told me about “Alf”, the conductor who retired early this year. He is going to New Zealand for six months. I got the camera, went to Collett’s and bought Mitchell’s book on Tressell, and a Haydn quartet score, and then caught the 4.25 pm. back to Liverpool. I was glad to get away. It was so hot in London, and I did not feel particularly well. However, back in Liverpool it was pouring rain. What I told Maurice Cornforth was reinforced by what I saw of the book. The writer has not a notion of the significance of Nunan’s (or Noonan’s) being Irish. I had told him that there were certain themes I was desirous of developing myself, and that if Mitchell proceeded I would develop these but leave the rest to Mitchell. But if Mitchell decided not to proceed, I would expand my themes. If I could be sure of a publisher I would not be sorry to be spared the exercise in “English crit” (as Cornforth calls Mitchell’s qualification and business), which would possibly be called for. I told him I would seek another publisher if he couldn’t do it, but I would be prepared to read Mitchell’s manuscript. What I have in mind would in my opinion entirely escape Mitchell. I bought and read on the train Ulick O’Connor’s life of Behan and found it very interesting. I have no time for O’Connor – an arrogant upstart; I heard him bullying some poor fool who had got into his clutches on television. He got his secretary to write to me when he was preparing the book. He wanted material from the “Irish Democrat”. In my reply (to the secretary) I said that Mr O’Connor was very fortunate in having a secretary to do all his work for him. I had nothing to tell him – nor am I sure that I would have told it if I had. Let his secretary find out for him. Nevertheless, the book was interesting.
One of its features was the sycophantic adulation of the surviving Behans. The way he makes men of those sub-human corrupt conceited humbugs Brian, Dominic and Seán Furlong is not wonderful but audacious. It is done by telling the lie boldly. In his autobiography Brian described me as “wearing a kilt” at a dance at the Porchester Hall. But his autobiography is praised for its truthfulness. Seán Furlong, the furtive intriguing scrounging carrion – odoriferous with pretence – is described as a “gentle person” – as gentle as a salmonella germ, but mercifully less catching. Dominic’s rubbish is taken seriously. Why does he suck up to these people? Perhaps Dominic can get him radio contracts.
Still, to Behan. He was the best of a bad bunch. “A clever bum,” said Mairin Maguire in a moment of insight, but really more. The desire for limelight led him to prostitute real talents. I remember meeting him quite a few times. Around 1961 he rang at 7am. from Paddington. “That’s a fine book you wrote. Have you any drink in the house?” “Sorry, I don’t touch it” “Jesus, I’m dying. Where’ll I get some?” I got my own back on the snake O’Shea by giving Behan his address, and I hope he drank him out of house and home! Once in Sean Nolan’s shop, after one of his books (“The Hostage”?) was published, I was present when Behan came in holding a copy in his hand. “What will I write as an inscription,” he asked Nolan.
“Well,” I interrupted, “You could write ‘fuck’, and you could write ‘shit’ and you could write ‘bollocks’.” I expected a burst of splendid Dublin repartee. But no, I believe he was hurt. But O’Connor gives the explanation is he really all the time was ashamed of his playing to the gallery. Then, the homosexuality O’Connor alleges, but others deny. It is possible. I recall going to Kilmainham with Packie Earley, I think, though Cathal may have been there. It was during the early days of the renovation campaign [ie. the campaign to restore Kilmainham Prison for the nation]. Casually I pointed out a hemlock and suggested that there were others who could do with it as well as Socrates. Behan was very interested. Packie Earley and others were really only there to get him away, because he was off drink for a spell. But when Packie offered to drive him home, he said somewhat guiltily “I’ll be off with the boys.” The pleasure in male company. There may be just enough in it for it to form a factor.
September 22 Friday: I did little enough again, indeed slept in a chair most of the afternoon, becoming drowsy after taking a bath. The weather was dry and reasonably warm. The house is almost finished. I did contrive however to saw up more of the timber. I have secured some large cardboard boxes. I cut down the lilacs that shade the garden on Wednesday, so I will have another load. But of course it burns in no time. I’ve quite a sizeable wood stack in the garage, but it will go quickly in winter.
September 23 Saturday: The painting of the house was completed today, and the weather still holds.
September 24 Sunday: Although there was more cloud I determined to make off at once. I am in need of a holiday, and rely on it to restore my energies for the big effort this autumn. I cycled to Bromborough, took the train to Shrewsbury and then on to Ludlow where I cycled to Clun Youth Hostel. There were two youngsters there when I arrived. They resembled turtle doves with the exception of the playful pat on the hindquarters he periodically gave her. There was also the most boring old Brummie I ever met in my life. The students had “hitch-hiked”. The Brummie came on a mechanised bicycle; what he called it I don’t know. He wandered up and started talking. The weather. I told him I knew not only what it had done all last week, but could save him the trouble of speculating over next. It would continue fine. This I actually thought as there is an anticyclone covering half Europe. “I wouldn’t like to forecast the weather a week ahead,” he grunted with lugubrious scepticism, and started explaining to a bearded young German who had arrived and bummed soup (his only food) off the English students, that the British climate was very uncertain.
The students, who came from St Albans, asked if I objected to their switching on their transistor. I didn’t, since they had the grace to ask. Then the boy said he had been working in a factory and you heard all these “pop songs” five times a day. “They play very boring songs,” said the German, so they put it off. So the young people are slowly learning. The German was engaged in trying to “dodge the draft”, but feared he would be caught when he was 25. “But that’s ages away.” he said. He must have been about 20, and such was his time scale.
An Australian girl was there. The warden came in, and I think he stayed because of her. She wanted to buy a bicycle. She thought people should stop using coal and get back to civilised transport to avoid pollution. But the warden was a motorist. He runs a shop in the town and is a cockney. He had doubled the “bed nights” since he took over last year, partly by organising “events” – “walk ins”! How did he do it? “It’s simple. If you make it like a detention centre you can do so – but then people don’t come again.” He had seen under his predecessor boys of sixteen waiting outside the hotel at 4.30 in pouring rain. “What purpose was achieved by that?” He lets them in. he keeps the rules at full relaxation and says he can scarcely remember any visitor against whom he would have the slightest complaint. One of his grievances is school parties, a common enough one, and stemming from the YHA’s folly in accepting Government money “without strings” in 1953. He says the warden at “Bridges” takes in these parties at weekends and people arrive to find to their consternation not a scrap of room.
September 25 Monday (Nant Dernol): I cycled to Broom Station to get the train to Penyhant. It was 30 minutes late. A lorry had fallen over a railway bridge between Crewe and Whitechurch and delayed its “parent train,” the Crewe-Cardiff, this being Salop-Swansea. I cycled from Penyhant to Nant Dernol. I called as usual to Mrs Hughes’s house. “I’m not the warden now,” she said. “How was she?” Not well.” the warden was at the hostel. He was staying the winter, as he had no other home. I went up and found him there, a pleasant unassuming character in his late fifties, grizzly-bearded and dressed very shabbily. Two Germans arrived in a car. A motorcyclist from London appeared. He had been in Tunisia for the sun, but his wife would not join him at the hostels. Then came a cyclist from Sheffield.
There was a chess set there – this much good has the Fischer-Spassky affair done – and the German offered to play the Londoner. They asked me to play the winner, and the Sheffield cyclist was to play the winner of that game. The German lost. The Englishman was a very strong attacking player though without a scientific grasp of the game. All the same I had to do some thinking before I scattered him. I had intended to play my old favourite, the Reti opening, but he converted it into a King’s Knight game. I now realised that these were all comparatively recent or revived players, and to settle the last man I started the Queen’s gambit, but the man accepted.So it was all a kind of superior skittles. Anyway I scattered him too, though he was the toughest of them. He told me that in his factory at Sheffield they played chess for half an hour each lunchtime. Now everybody present was giving strong vent to anti-motor-car feeling, except the Germans who were students, and one reading Don Quixote. The warden said he understood that Cervantes had written a number of unsuccessful plays before he produced this novel, and I was able to confirm this by translating the preface for them, the Germans (who never eat anything) having gone to bed.
The warden told me he would be there all winter and open all the time. He is quite intelligent. He promised to take up – indeed volunteered with alacrity – the issue of a right of way, which I told him I believed was obstructed. He told me that the man who used to walk down from the top farm each night had died. He had moved to a caravan by the Wye, as the trudge was too much for him. The house had now been bought by a London lawyer as a weekend residence. He paid £4,000 for it, £1,400 for the stables. So that is the end of another valley. For Mrs Hughes cannot last long now. She had to give up the hotel when she went into hospital, and she is selling it to the YHA for £1,400, which is cheap! Of the school parties he said a teacher had brought four boys of ten. You would have thought there were five. He watched with amazement this man of 22 or 23 become a ten-year-old himself for two hours at a stretch. Then the boys took hatchets and split the bottoms of the buckets, and threw tin tacks into the animals feed so that it all had to be thrown away. Hughes threatened to close the hostel down, and the YHA footed a £7 bill no doubt collected from the school. The teacher had given up his authority and could do nothing.
September 26 Tuesday (Tregaron): The cloudy weather of yesterday gave way to brilliant sunshine. The cyclist from Sheffield who was all muffled up yesterday, came down in a jersey and stylish poplin shorts with a CTC [ie. Cyclists’ Touring Club] badge on them. The change revealed that he was older than I had thought, and perhaps in the mid-forties. He is a member of a cycling club in Sheffield and says there are quite a few whose members ride into Derbyshire and Lincolnshire. We went to Rhayader together. He is slightly stiff when moving, perhaps from some accident in the past and sang the virtues of a very low gear. He was going to Ystumtuen, I to Blaen Caron.
Rhayader was full of English cars. They crawled like lice over the fair face of the village. I went easily over the hills, a strong east wind behind me, and down Carn Ystwyth with no worse mishap than, venturing to a stream to make tea, though I clearly saw the potamogeton on it, I put my foot into a foot deep pool in a bog-hole. But when I got to Blaencaron the warden was nowhere to be seen, and the key was not out. Consulting the handbook I found that Tuesday was closing day. But I did not recollect her closing three years ago. All I could do was to ride post-haste back into Tregaron and look for a hotel. The Talbot, which I was tempted to go into, was just a little high-hat for the circumstances. Eventually I went to the Railway, where I had the celebratory drink on my birthday three years ago, and booked in there.
There was a new landlord, a recently arrived Birmingham man, about 30. There was not a word of English in the bar except when the customers ordered their drinks. Quite a few young people came in, and I was told that they went to the Railway because the landlord was not unduly urgent in hurrying them away at closing time. However a cockney came in, and his group started speaking English. So did the radio – sport – and what with this, and the Englishman talking about money, how to earn it, how to cheat with it, how to steal it, or otherwise get it for nothing, the vital importance of Welsh language “pop” music was forcibly borne in on me. It does not matter if it is the filthiest pornography, anything provided it is in Welsh. These people have nothing to do, and the little they have to do is not in Welsh. The radio was not long kept on however. After some sporting event was heard about, it was conversation again, though behind the scenes in the house it was blaring away.
A group of young men were playing darts. They spoke Welsh except for shouting some of the numbers in English. I asked one of them why he said “twelve”. Would “deud-deg” not do? He said “twelve” was shorter. I noticed that they all laughed and joked and grew excited when speaking Welsh, but reserved English for graver subjects, such as the Englishman’s expertness in the field of pilfering. They could not tell me the meaning of “Meurig” in Ystrad Meurig.
As a resident of course I could drink as long as they were prepared to serve me. I had dinner with a reasonable half-bottle of claret, then returned to the bar, just before most of those present left – about 11.15. There remained two women, presumably friends of the landlord, who were in no hurry to leave. One was born in Liverpool of Welsh parents but had married a Tregaron man. She was slightly forward. I would estimate her age as approaching thirty. I think she could not speak Welsh. Her companion was older and obviously could speak it, for we had some discussion on the subject, and she regarded me in a quite new and respectful light when I elucidated the contracted form “Be’ch sy’n gwild?” for the benefit of enquiries. The talk went on till about 12.30. Then a young man also close to thirty dressed in a blue anorak with a broad yellow strip down each sleeve came in. He said nothing but took his wife’s coat from the bar and threw it to her. “My purse!” she said – it was on the bar – he threw that to her as well, opened the door, and pushed her out. So there is a tale to be told there.
September 27 Wednesday (Blaencaron): I am 59 today. But it is useless to complain. Best treat every day as if it was your first. I cycled to where I bought a quart of cider to drink with sandwiches, there being no hotel or cafe in the place. It was a hilly road and a tiring ride, the weather being hot when the sun came out, but cold when it clouded over, and there was a steady easterly breeze. Every few minutes I was stopping to put on or off a jersey or jacket. It was 1934 since I was in Aberarth.
I went to Blaencaron. The warden was most apologetic. The key is always left at the hotel, but her husband took it away by mistake. She had been to Tregaron market day. It was surprising that several people arrived, none objectionable. Everybody under 40 dresses like a student these days, and I had passed what I took to be a lollipop-headed boy and girl in the village. They arrived but proved to be racing cyclists from Macclesfield or somewhere like that, and aged about 40. There was difficulty in getting milk. The farm opposite is now a weekend holiday house, but otherwise Carn y groes [a prehistoric cairn] is intact. A Huddersfield cyclist and his wife arrived on a tandem. He and the Macclesfield man loudly denounced motorcars and holiday homes. It seems it is now becoming virtually impossible to get youth hostels. The young people cannot get houses in the country and are being driven into the cities as this scum spreads over the land. The Huddersfield said Northumberland was another happy hunting ground. And they had something to say of the warden at [name unclear] who was only waiting for the motorway to reach Pembroke when he would start a cafe and watch the shekels roll in.
It was interesting to hear the account of racing life. It seems the wife was the more famous. The Huddersfields were also club people and knew many people known to the Macclesfields. But the rot has gone far there too. Years ago all contestants cycled to the race, and after it was over there was a great social occasion. Now they go in little groups of three or four, and immediately the race is over they crawl back into their little private boxes and drive home.
Another interesting thing was that the Macclesfields refused to possess a TV, or a car, and the man cycled to work every day. They told of a TV team who wanted to make a feature on cycle racing – “the sport of our grandfathers” or some such title. They said it was laughable that the young actors did not know how to get on a bicycle. They learned quickly however, but those who saw the show said the determination with which they gripped the handlebars indicated their extreme lack of confidence. Otherwise it was good enough. The Huddersfield incidentally said that there are many cycling club members in the West Riding. Indeed that seems the main centre, for I see nothing around Liverpool now. There used to be hundreds on the boat every Sunday morning.
September 28 Thursday: I went into Tregaron but did little more than loaf around. There was a cafe – I can scarcely call it a restaurant – where I had lunch. It was over a curio shop, but it was hard to know if it had any connection with it. I ordered “pryd porthmon” [Drover’s snack]wondering what the drover ate. It turned out to be ham and cheese with simple salad, that is to say a cold meal. A large number of labourers who were engaged on what seems like a sewage system in the main street were there. As before I noted the greater emotional freedom when speaking Welsh, but they turned to English to discuss the job.
I was in the square when a man of about 75 came over to me, and rather assuming that I was disposed to talk to him he looked at the bicycle and said “Oh – I see you’ve got a ten-speed gear. We have them. Where did I get the bicycle?” In England I told him. He seemed surprised that so much progress was to be recorded “We’ve got them in Canada of course, but it’s the first I’ve seen here.” He explained that he had been in Canada for fifty years. “This place is a hundred years behind,” he said. I restrained my inclination to say, “and a good thing too.” As he said himself apropos of something else, “If people talk silly to you, talk silly to them and they laugh. If you try to correct them they get mad.” He had all the Welshman’s gift of emphasis on the vital word. He was staying with his sister. “But they all talk too fast. When I come in it is: ‘Oh, there’s a draught there; do you want tea. I’m waiting for the postman all morning.’ And the language is changed. I can’t speak it any more. Can’t understand them. All mixed up with English.” He looked at a vacant shop. “There’s an old person gone. Somebody so important. Yet when they’ve gone nobody remembers them.” He complained of the long wait for a bus. I suggested trying to get a lift, and he moved over to a group of old men outside the post office, presumably to canvass this. There was nobody else at Blaencaron this evening.
September 29 Friday (Ponterwyd): I cycled to Ystumtuen through Swydd Ffynnon and Ystrad Meurig. Another fine day with this continuous relentless easterly breeze. I arrived quite early and the warden, a farmer’s wife living down the hill, told me five people had booked – actually it was three. A “minibus” crammed with tired-looking children drove past. “Oh horror!” I thought, “a school party.” Two people from Liverpool came. They had had the same dreadful thought, but discovered they were camping down at the farm. “Very good for them too,” we agreed. I would judge he was in his early forties, and his wife perhaps a little older. They can only be described as fanatical outdoor enthusiasts, for it is commonplace for them to go camping in the snow. However the wife was ill. She thought perhaps she had eaten something that disagreed with her, or drunk polluted water on a mountain side, or perhaps gone without food too long when they would get nothing to eat at Ponterwyd. They had walked the two miles from there, one mile along the main London-Aberystwyth road. “The motorcar has taken over everything” was his complaint. The drivers simply disregarded their presence and relied on their jumping out of the way. All the sidewalks and margins have been appropriated to the carriage way. “Something will have to be done,” said he. But what? I was put in mind of the racing cyclist at Blaencaron. “It’s all the fault of the Government. They refuse to subsidise public transport.”
A man and wife came by car, utilising the new rule allowing them to do so, but which I have so far seen little result of. Perhaps in summer it is different. I think he was from Birmingham. She was from Hastings and a little more civilised. Later three Wolverhampton students came, those who had booked, also by car. They were not bad lads. They had no notion of what was the reason for what was going on around them, but were interested to a degree that was encouraging. The eldest and the man who had arranged the trip had obviously some connection with Wales for he sprang to the defence once or twice. They had come to do some walking, and had brought the car because public transport had become so bad. They instanced a journey from Newport (Cards.) [Cardiganshire] to Wolverhampton which took eleven hours thanks to bad connections between buses and trains involving three-hour waits that were quite unnecessary. The younger ones joked and laughed when every hostel was shown to be a former school. “The village died,” explained the older one.
The Liverpool purists were quite unsympathetic and denounced motorcars and all their works and pomps. “I mostly walk,” said the man, “but I keep a bike. I wouldn’t be without one.” He criticised those managing the YHA especially over school parties, the most general grievance. Of course having once accepted government money, “without strings” and got up to their necks in debt on account of it, they must fall in with government plans – to save expenditure on education, and to add to the number of hostel places for European tourists.
September 30 Saturday (Blaencaron): This was the first day I began to “feel the benefit” of my holiday. I returned to Blaencaron where I had been given a warm welcome. On the way I went to look at Strata Florida and sent Cathal MacLiam a picture of it. There were week-end cottages everywhere, and many a caravan site. The local people however spoke Welsh among themselves. The area where Welsh is the main language is large, but its population is sparse.
The farmer was minding sheep when I got back, and I was interested to see the young boy, surely not more than ten, lifting the protesting sheep bodily out of the pen one by one. The farmer looks gaunt and tired. So does the wife, the warden. The young girl with whom I discussed the Mabinogion three years ago was at home – she has gone to the training college at Llanbedr to be a teacher. I thought her subdued. If he is relying on the youngster aged ten, I don’t know what the future of the farm will be. I noticed however that there is a lad of about twenty at Glan ‘rafon udaf, who drives up each night on a motorcycle, which he noisily turns round by the hotel. And also there seems to be a lad of similar age at the one surviving upper farm. I then began wondering where they will get wives. In the village? And will they be prepared to come out. The disintegrating effect of respectability on country life is plainly visible. Yet the peasantry are the soul of it. Something for the young people to do. That is the thing.
There was nobody but myself, and the hostel closed. However I made arrangements to came back myself next week. I also began to think of some changes that should be instituted at 124 Mount Road when I get back.
October 1 Sunday: I stayed again at Blaencaron, staying in till midday, then walking to Cwys yr Ychen bannog I discussed with Williams three years ago. The wind was very fresh and every sign indicated approaching rain. Yet the clouds seem to bunch in the south without coming near. I suppose I walked about six miles. I asked the warden the meaning of “bannog” – interestingly she mutates the “b” and pronounced it “fannog” – or to be more precise “vanogue”, with a long “o”. She brought up her youngest to the hostel, and I heard the child counting, in English, presumably saying a school lesson. I did a little work on Welsh etymology in the evening, clarifying the prefixes and suffixes and trying to get their German and Latin equivalents, the sort of thing no grammar ever tells you. The wind kept up and no rain came.
October 2 Monday (Cynghordy): The cloud thinned. The wind still blew from the East. I went into Tregaron and then across the mountains to Abergwesyn, over three ranges 1500 feet high. The two fords I knew during the war were replaced by bridges. One nuisance was that the butchers were closed in Llanwyrted, the one town I touched after Tregaron. At Bryncochuchaf was a Birmingham man with his wife, travelling on a “tandem”. He was another “club man” cycling every week-end. But his club covered the whole of South Birmingham and mustered about ten each weekend. He must be in his fifties. It looks as if the cycling and walking fraternity are being driven into South Wales, the only area with an enlightened policy of small and old hostels. The Birmingham man was innocuous but entirely without brains, and his wife was worse.
The warden’s young son must now be close to 18 years of age. He has left school, which he hated, and is in his element on the farm. Everything shows prosperity, and he told me that his parents had taken another farm down the valley as well, and were also engaged in painting a bridge or gate on the road. I was pleased all the same, though somebody will have gone. They have no calves this year, I think – but the six fine geese seemed to be eating just as much.
October 3 Tuesday: I cycled into Llanymddyfiri [Llandovery] down the Towy Valley – a much better way than through Cynghordy, and free from traffic. There was Welsh in the town, but not much, and the bookshop, while containing material about Wales likely to be interesting to tourists, had only children’s books in Welsh. I had been reading “Y Cymro” [Welsh language newspaper] and was not pleased with their editorial calling for a strengthening of the European connection. But I could not get “Y Faner”. The weather turned warm and brilliant, though the strong East-Southeast wind blew on.
At about noon I saw the two Liverpools who had been at Ystradowen. They had slept two nights on the tops of mountains, but last night had been at Pen Pliew up the Towy valley where the proprietor had introduced them to all the neighbouring farmers. He wants to become some kind of forestry conservator. Everywhere the forests are encroaching on the sheep runs. But where the farms have already gone I do not feel too disturbed. But they must insist on the establishment of ancillary industries when the trees are fully grown. And I do not think the aesthetic objection to the conifer carries much weight. There was only sedge and bracken before. I went up the valley to Cilycwm and Rhandir Mwyn bridge. The warden was complaining about the dry weather. It is near to drought and water is becoming short. That is true, for I have seen many small watercourses bone dry.
October 4 Wednesday (Ystradfellte): The weather was brilliant from dawn – with the same wind. The air is cold, but the sun makes the difference. I cycled to Llangmddyfri then to Trecastle, Portsenwi and Ystradfellte. One cyclist passed me, I took it on the way back from Brynpochuchaf. I wished afterwards I had hailed him as he could have told me that Ystradfellte was not satisfactory. There were two buildings separated by the road. The wardens were civil but not forthcoming, obviously city people, and I thought English or anglicised. The old man – an enormous body who drove to work in the morning – came in to use the YHA gas to cook his supper.
There was a petition hanging on the door started by Croydon YHA against the introduction of motor tourists. I signed it. I noticed some of those who had signed were schoolboys. The weakness of the YHA is that the policy of the management has driven away the people in their early twenties, always the backbone in the olden days, but a very impressionable age group.
I was interested in Maen Llia at the top of the valley, and that the hill over it is called Fan Llia. There was not a Welsh signature on the petition. Indeed I have not met a single Welshman at any of the hostels. But there were signs here of Newport and Cardiff groups, and a few Welsh notices. Where they have lost the language they pay retrospective tribute to it – as in Ireland. The library at Trecastle stands in the main street. Here there were displayed some small novels in Welsh, not very well produced but welcome.
October 5 Thursday: I decided to go no further south, and also not to go to Lladdessant for fear it was as bad. So I returned to Brynpochuchaf, and learned that a cyclist had been in last night. The weather was the same.
October 6 Friday (Blaencaron): Another bright sunny day with strong east wind. I returned to Blaencaron but this time through Llanbedr. I had a desperate meal for ten bob at LLandhedr – some of the caterers are very poor. No wonder the English come in, though it must be recognised as I saw in Llanwrtyd that they quickly conform. When I reached the farm the warden was out, but there was a boy aged about 17. The parents were working on the potatoes at a neighbouring farm. I fear they may be training another teacher, and possibly doing work for other farmers to pay for it. They should send him to an agricultural college if he shows the slightest desire or aptitude. The wind was roaring from East Southeast all evening – something like a winter wind.
October 7 Saturday: The morning was clear, and still the leaves of the ashes are bent in the one direction in the east wind. There has been a touch of frost, and the oaks show it worst, together with the birches, the alders slightly, but the ashes not at all. I could not get Y Cymro in Tregaron at midday. They had sold out.
October 8 Sunday (Tregaron): I cycled to Llandbedr for Y Cymro and saw that TS has a letter in it – of great length – defending the Irish. He says his proper name but gives his address as London. It was quite a useful letter. I came back through Llwyngroes where there was a school and plenty of children about. But there were signs of rain.
October 9 Monday: I spent the day walking the mountains. But soon after I got down the rain began in earnest, and I thought it might be wise to regard the weather as broken and go home.
October 10 Tuesday (Liverpool): It was wet in the morning, but I decided to cycle into Aberystwyth, which I did, and took the train back to Rock Ferry. There were two young students travelling as far as Bath, both obviously married, very much in love and fascinated by the baby they had with them. The boy was saying that he could not make out why Aberystwyth had such a large railway station. “Perhaps there were more lines at one time,” he said, “and they closed them down.” How quickly a new generation grows up that does not know. This shows the importance of telling of recent events.
October 11 Wednesday: It was damp and dull, but after yesterday’s brief southerly, the wind was back in the east. It was not possible to do much, but I ordered half a ton of coal and went to the city for supplies of food. My expectation is for the exceptionally cold winter to fall in 1974, but what is a year one way or the other? I base it on 1895 – 1929 –1963, and 1881–1916–1940.
October 12 Thursday: I proceeded with cutting up the timber from the trees and shrubs I cut. I also cut boards for the coal shed, for it will be fuller than it has been for years, and removed some parcels from a shelf in it. These proved to contain hundreds of musical scores, in various degrees of dilapidation. I started sorting it. My guess is that AEG [ie. his mother], or more likely PHG [ie. his sister], could not bring herself to the decision to throw away this material which had a sentimental significance, but did not want it in the house. I took out anything that I might make any use of – anything by the classical composers, and a few items in Welsh and Scotch and Irish airs. There were scores CEG [ie. his father] had bought on 3/11/1903 when he was 20 – and some of these were copied on to manuscript paper. I do not know why. Later I found things he had bought in 1900 before he was 17. It is clear that the entire circle surrounding AEG was musical, and as I noted later from scores in the house, she used to have them bound and embossed with her initials.
October 13 Friday: I finished such timber as is lying around. The weather is dry and sunny again, though not very bright. I also cut some other surplus shrubs. The place has become too shady and things do not get enough sunshine to grow properly. The coal arrived and I did some more sorting of the scores. There was ample evidence of AEG’s versatility. I was trying to think of the Beethoven sonatas she played. Her favourite was, in later times, the C minor (“Pathétique”) though earlier she often played the F major, Op. 10, No 2, and the C sharp minor Op.27, No. 2. I also remember well the little G minor which she had me learning and, more impressively, the G major Op.31, No1. But a radio performance took me further back – recollections of being in bed as a child and hearing the continual rehearsal of the C major, Op.2, No.3, which is full of interesting episodes. It is strange that it was not until the third movement started that the recollection flashed back on me and from then on I anticipated every note – or at least every passage. I think also there was the A flat, Op. 26, though I do not connect it with any specific time. It may be that these were set pieces for examinations and she was going through them with her pupils. And since she must have stopped teaching around 1924 or 25, these were early days indeed. Some, like the “Appassionata” one, is so familiar that it is difficult to say when one first heard it. It seems however to possess a special familiarity, so probably she played that too. Of the last ones I am specially familiar with the A flat, Op. 110, but again I would not be sure. I remember sitting in a cafe in Epsom in 1937 and hearing it on the radio and experiencing that same curious sense of familiarity – something I never experience with the symphonies, none of which I heard in full until radio was invented. This illustrates the predominance of vocal music apart from the piano. I was wondering if anything would turn up of use to the man who is writing the history [a reference to someone who was writing a history of local or Liverpool musical endeavour], but it did not, except that it stimulated memory.
I went to the Royal Court Theatre to the “Entfuhrung aus dem Serail” sung in German by the Glyndebourne touring company. It is not my favourite Mozart opera. Late at night Edwina Stewart rang. She was coming to London. Could I arrange a meeting of MPs for her? I told her I was on holiday. Would she ring Sean Redmond. Then she said they were holding some kind of function and wanted “eminent persons like yourself” to meet the people of Ballymurphy. I reflected that I was not “eminent” when they held their conference last year and was deliberately ignored. Apart from which the use of the exaggerated adjective was a cheap effort at plámás [ie. flattery in Irish]. So I referred her to Sean Redmond again. Then soon afterwards Cathal rang, inviting me to address a Wolfe Tone conference at Clones. This was different and I consented, though Clones is an awkward place, and too damned near the border.
October 14 Sunday: I started clearing up the garden and lifted the onions (disappointing; maybe I left them in too long) and potatoes, the earlier ones poor, the later perfect. I prepared the bed where I intend to plant gooseberries. I also cleared the outside WC which (since Ashford was at Browns) I decided to ask him to disconnect and convert the space into an anthracite or timber store.
October 15 Sunday: The weather was brilliantly fine – still with on East wind, but a light one – and I did quite a deal of work in the garden. Of course I could do with weeks. But I succeeded in getting into the front and tackling the weed over-run desert.
October 16 Monday: Part of the time I spent on the house, the remainder on the garden, and becoming tired out went to bed at 12.
October 17 Tuesday: Again I got work done in both gardens [There was a sizeable front and side garden in this corner suburban house]. The tomatoes have been a success and are ripening in the front window. I also cleared the music from the cabinet in the music room and the bureau in the dining room. Again I threw away the torn and incomplete scores, and kept those that might be of interest to myself or had some intrinsic curiosity – thus a group of Maori songs that Hilda Taylor brought from New Zealand. Once again I was impressed with the mass of work put in over the years by AEG and CEG, but especially when they were young. There are opera scores – unfortunately mostly damaged – parts for various instruments, and hundreds and hundreds of part songs, glees, madrigals (from the days of CEG’s “Madrigal” Society around 1929) and much more. I have kept some which might possibly be donated to a library. Yet still there is more to be sorted. And I think there may be some in the loft. There was also massive evidence of Phyllis’s musical creativity. She had copied scores and written out parts and duplicated them. This would date from the period 1947-53 when she was conductor of a joint choir of Liverpool schools. But strangely enough none of the things that I used to play remain, except for an odd torn page. The arrangement in the music school and cabinet all shows that Phyllis re-arranged the scores for her own work, which was absolutely sensible. I asked Phyllis once if she played the piano. She said she did not. Now she must have been taught. But there was some intention of her learning the violin that was in the old music room, which she never did. And probably the best course would have been to have her concentrate on the piano, and me learn the fiddle, as she like CEG and AEG were good sight readers, while I relied on ear and a sense of harmony, and as now find the treble and the bass enough until a thing has been studied a while.
October 18 Wednesday: The weather was dry but overcast. I tackled the kitchen, and continued with the front garden. Ashford came and replaced some tiles on the roof. I explained the changes I wanted made and he promised to call and look at the foundations next Tuesday.
A letter came from Cathal. The Wolfe Tone conference is in Carrickmacross, not Clones. This means that I might get back for the Sunday and go to Newcastle, if somebody will run me into Dundalk. Jack Bennett will be there – it will be like old times in a new location – and Kader Asmal.
I spoke to Sean Redmond on the phone. He has postponed the East London meeting until after the conference – always the easy way out – and Tom Mitchell did not send the promised addresses in Luton. When I look back through the years there is one thing that is constant, the complete lack of dependability of CP District secretaries. Are they overworked? Do they lightly assume responsibilities they cannot fulfil? Is it that they are constantly interrupted and disturbed? Is the Centre constantly making unexpected calls on them? Do they quickly lose interest in such mundane things as addresses? I don’t know. But every time you depend on them you waste your time and money, with one or two notable exceptions, among which Lancashire shines brightest. You actually get replies to letters from Manchester. Elsewhere you follow up with a telephone call.
I cleared out more music. It struck me that many of the scores could with advantage be given to a library. But I kept the madrigals. I noted, incidentally, that whereas AEG’s old scores are largely Chopin and Brahms (plus a great variety of shorter compositions by Ravel, Debussy etc.) the later ones, which are in the best condition, are bound volumes of Haydn and Mozart, as if the stream could return to its source. The immense amount of copying Phyllis did once more forcibly impressed itself. She must have spent hours. The feminine patience is a remarkable thing. How can they sew and copy I do not know. Or embroidering. Yet I seem to recall the time as a child when I could paint (very badly) and draw and colour for hours!
October 19 Thursday: I completed the disposal of the scores that are downstairs, and having sent loads of torn papers for pulping, have enough left comfortably to fill the various cabinets. I cleaned out the music room following this, and planned some bookshelves, which will need to be carefully executed to carry scores and books about music in that room. The changes I have in mind will be expensive, but if as appears I am to settle here for the next few years, presuming I’m “spared” as they say, I may as well have things as I want them. At the same time I am hesitant to say I will settle here, as I have put down no roots whatsoever in the six years since Phyllis died, and though admittedly I have not sought to do so, the exercise has not been forced upon me either.
I arranged with Brian Stowell to call the Liverpool branch together next Wednesday. He is not enthusiastic and talks of the work he has to do – this time extra evening lectures. Of course the absurd behaviour of Pat MacLaughlin and Barney Morgan (whom I suspect of being respectively “Official” and “Provisional” admirers) would not encourage him towards activity. Still he will book the room. I spoke to Charlie Cunningham on the telephone, and he said he was going to Oxford tomorrow, and of course this was good news. He said the Anti-Internment League held a conference recently and that the International Socialists have seemingly pulled out, leaving the “International Marxists” in control, for whatever they are. There are not many sellers this weekend. But Chris Sullivan and Jim Kelly are going out tomorrow. On Saturday there is a social evening.
October 20 Friday: The morning I spent in the house – making pickles, cleaning up the breakfast room, and the afternoon in the garden, which is beginning to look a little more presentable. It is good to get it dug over in autumn. Heaven knows what the weather will be in the winter, though I do not expect the worst winter this year.
October 21 Saturday (London): I caught the 9.30 am. to Euston and went into the office, where I found Charlie Cunningham, Peter Mulligan and Brian Crowley – I thought slightly improved, and this appeared later. There was a letter from Maurice Cornforth saying that Mitchell had written to him from East Germany saying that he considered that I should have precedence in the O’Casey project, but it is clear that there are two quite different books in question and he may be able to do his after all. Maurice asked me to do a book on O’Casey for Lawrence and Wishart. I was pleased at this result. It is seldom enough that anything satisfying happens.
I could not find Roy Johnston’s letter about the Wolfe Tone meeting in Monaghan. When I mentioned this to Charlie Cunningham, he said Sean Redmond had it, as he understood he was giving the lecture. I rang Sean and her referred to me a letter I had not read. He was mystified and not too pleased. Apparently when Roy’s letter came Stella Bond told Roy that I was not contactable, although Charlie Cunningham had sent me the content of his letter. Roy then rang Sean Redmond and asked him to do it. So now I did not know what the position was as Sean was adjusting his holiday in order to go there. Not of course that the most strenuous efforts were made to trace me. Charlie Cunningham succeeded! So I rang Dublin and spoke to Helga. She said that my name was printed on the invitation. I would of course have been quite happy for Sean Redmond to go. She also said that there had been a great schemozzle and that Roy had come into 24 Belgrave Road and gone out in a “canary fit”. Cathal would not be sorry if he found something they had made a mess of. I then rang Sean Redmond and told him. It was agreed it was “Roy’s messing”.
[Roy Johnston asked that the following note regarding this incident be inserted here:
“The entries continue mostly on CA business until October 21 1972 when there is a mention of CDG not being able to find a letter from the present writer about the Wolfe Tone Society meeting in Monaghan. In this, the present writer had invited CDG to contribute a paper to a conference and AGM in the Nuramore Hotel, near Carrickmacross, and this in fact constituted an olive branch. CDG makes a complex story about this letter, not receiving it, Roy J. being told that CDG was not contactable, phone-calls to Dublin, ‘canary-fits’, the conclusion of which is for CDG to blame the present writer for ‘messing’.
“In retrospect it looks as if the present writer was trying to pull together the agenda for the projected Wolfe Tone Society conference, and some people working in the undergrowth were trying to prevent his communicating with CDG, under the impression that the present writer was a person from whose attentions CDG was to be defended. CDG may in fact have conveyed this impression to his followers, given his recent attitudes. In the end he must have got the letter, because the conference took place, and CDG contributed a paper, which was subsequently published. We see more about this below. . . RHW Johnston, 10 January 2002.]
After that there was a social evening at which Charlie Cunningham got totally plastered – I never saw him like it before. The Clann na hEireann were there – Landy and another whose name I forget, but a friend of Gloria Devine’s. Brian Crowley tackled Landy and told him he was in the wrong organisation, something which I deprecated publicly but thought better of Crowley for. Tadhg Egan was there, mercilessly pulling Bill Hardy’s leg. He said he was ill and had to give up work. “It’s all those bullets inside you,” says Tadhg, “and they’re so far in nobody could get them out.” Lenny Draper was there.
October 22 Sunday (Liverpool): There was an EC in the morning, very well attended, with Lenny Draper, Michael Crowe, Jim Kelly, Sean Redmond, Pat Hensey, Charlie Cunningham, Alf Ward, Jane Tate, Peter Mulligan, Mark Clinton, Pat O’Donohue – Paddy Bond was on holiday, and Pegeen O’Flaherty unwell. Martin Guinan’s wife was ill. The meeting was very good. Mark Clinton has been active in Birmingham – more than I could have hoped. He made contact with Frank Watters. The first action at the Star Club was to invite him to join the party! But they are cooperating with him. He suspects there is a plan to use him against Tom McDowell who is now collecting money for a statue to a deceased Liberal MP. Sean Redmond has been active. He got a meeting in North-West London. He was in Newport and Charlie Cunningham was in Oxford. It is the height of wisdom that I do not do everything myself. Irish people work better without a boss. If anybody tries to order everything he employs himself alone. I made available the fruits of some thought given while I was on holiday, and I am more hopeful than for some time.
I had a talk with Mark Clinton and also Lenny Draper. He told me that it was Jimmy Stewart who gave the talk at the school. So that was it. It is of no consequence, but it shows the lack of frankness on Woddis’s part. He asks me to help to get students for a school, saying that he wants me to give a lecture on Ireland, while refraining from clinching matters. Then I hear no more. There is a pretence that a letter did not arrive, but I do not believe it was sent. There was nothing to prevent his telling me he had made alternative arrangements. I could have been keeping dates free, and I’d never know. And his alternative arrangement was quite logical. However I feel there is a slight jealousy. He would like to be the expert on everything himself. I remember his sour attitude to Palme Dutt in latter times. At the same time like Sean Redmond he is able to behave rationally, whatever little weaknesses he betrays, so there is no occasion for more than irritation. Lenny Draper thought Jimmy Stewart “arrogant”.
After I had sent off some circulars and letters I came back to Liverpool on the 6.30.
October 23 Monday: I went to Ripley. This time everything conspired for an easy passage. I was back by 7.30 pm. – in the house – and I did not even use a taxi. A letter from Cathal reported a schemozzle with Roy Johnston and his “contempt” for that gentleman’s behaviour. He will tell me on Friday week.
October 24 Tuesday: I spent almost the whole day on the front garden. There is any amount of work to be done. I trimmed heavily the rowan and other trees.
October 25 Wednesday: I spent a good part of the day in the garden, but also started reading for the O’Casey book. In the evening I went to the CA meeting. I remember, as I walked along Tarleton Street, saying to myself, “Will there be anybody there? Will it in effect be a boycott? In view of the conference.” And I guessed Barney Morgan would not be there. He was not. Apart from Brian Stowell, there was only Pat MacLaughlin and Eugene O’Doherty, but there was also a young man in his late twenties, an obvious Republican, plus Mrs Gibson. She had come to offer six places for delegates. I was never so strongly impressed by the advancing senility of Pat MacLaughlin – he is all but moithered, boring, repetitive, sentimental. I guessed he had brought the Republican. And support seemed given by the fact that at one point the two of them went out together, held a conversation on the stairs, and gave no explanation. But Brian Stowell told me it was O’Doherty who brought him. Pat MacLaughlin is a fanatical “Official.” He sells the United Irishman with the Irish Democrat, and is then amazed that nobody he has confused immediately responds by attending a meeting. On the other hand Barney Morgan has “Provisional” sympathies, but still sells the United Irishman. I decided I would divulge no plans in front of the Republican observer. I suggested we attempt another meeting next week. Then I went for a drink with Brian Stowell and he promised to make some arrangements. It will be necessary to get an entirely new personnel. Barney Morgan kept away for fear of work, of course, and because he owes the Democrat £50 for paper sales.
October 26 Thursday (London): I returned to London by the 12.30 and in the office began some preliminary work on the conference. In the evening I went to Luton and we had a small meeting with a view to launching a branch. Michael Hand of Vauxhalls was there – a quiet shrewd man of about 50 – a young man from Belfast, a French Trotskyist girl, very vague, and one other, plus Tony Donaghey. The Belfast man said he would try to do something, and we may get somebody to the conference. I was both surprised and pleased after last night’s useless meeting.
October 27 Friday: I was busy on conference work all day. Towards evening Charlie Cunningham and Sean Redmond came in. They had been at the British Peace Committee’s meeting last night at which Edwina Stewart and others spoke. There were about 50 there. Colin Sweet [British peace activist and anti-nuclear campaigner; died 1995] informed Sean they “would not cut across” the work of the CA as they were “concentrating on the Trade Unions”. This is the usual bland assumption of the English Movement: that we cannot possibly have been doing for years what they have only just thought of. Sean asked him to have the sense to consult. There was a “Provisional,” a United Ireland Association, and a “Two nations theory” presence. The Irish showed the usual divided front.
They saw a pile of letters, one addressed to J. Roose Williams. “Isn’t he the Welshman that was in Liverpool?” they asked, and then said they thought he was dead – had died about six weeks ago. I was very surprised and rang Bert Pearce. He told me that it indeed was true. He had been very hopeful, and recovered after the suicide of his bother, and had taken possession of his new house. But within days he was found dead in it. It must have been a cerebral haemorrhage presumably brought on by the fracture of the skull sustained when the lorry knocked him down. The death took place on or around the August Bank Holiday and Bert Pearce himself was away. The funeral was a quiet affair arranged by the Bangor brother who is very “chapel”. No response has been obtained to enquiries after his papers and manuscripts – I stressed to Bert Pearce the importance of the life of TE Nicholas in Welsh which Roose Williams had nearly finished.
I said I should try and send a little appreciation to Cyffro. It was in 1936 that I got the student out to Coedpoeth, and it was probably the same year that we had the meeting in Mrs Jones’s cottage, Abermanai, from which the North Wales District began [ie. of the CPGB]. I was very sorry to hear about this. I doubt if he was more than 67, but I am told that he showed his years after the accident.
Bert Pearce told me that the Connolly Association in Newport had seemingly downgraded Wayne Jenkins and appointed a man called Coates. But though Bert was pleased, Sean Redmond told me that this man is another Clann na hEireann, and possibly International Socialist. The Clann na hEireann are bringing out a paper any minute. According to Charlie Cunningham they have changed the local meeting to Tuesday, and he met Roland Kennedy in Neary’s after our meeting on Tuesday, which was very well attended since Betty Sinclair was there. He asked Charlie if he had any big functions. Charlie said we had a Mellows commemoration. I didn’t know why he tells people things. Let them find out. “Ah,” said Kennedy, “that gives me an idea.” The idea, you can be sure, is a special Mellows issue of their paper to cash in on our meeting. Then Kennedy says with the kind of jocularity which conceals a serious purpose, “We’ll scatter you yet.” And indeed that is what they exist for. I do not find myself convinced by those who regard the “Officials” as “genuine left-wingers”, “Marxists” and so on. I think they want a national revolution, which will be harder to get than they think and they consequently believe they can afford to insure against its running to socialism. This they do by pretending to be great Marxists themselves, and thus feeding interested youngsters pseudo-Marx, which gives them no permanent understanding, leaves no permanent mark, and can simply be ignored once its purveyors revert to type. Part of the same thing is implacable hostility to the Connolly Association, at present kept muted by the need for mutual tolerance.
October 28 Saturday (Liverpool): I got on well with conference arrangements. A letter from Maurice Cornforth confirmed the agreement on the O’Casey book, and also said that Seven Seas were interested in a 1974 edition of the “Irish Crisis”. This arises from good sales in the USA.
I was out with Pat Hensey in the evening in Hammersmith. We secured a copy of the Clann na hEireann paper. The Editorial Board includes Clare Madden the madwoman, and her daughter the redoubtable Mrs Amholtz. And no doubt Joe O’Connor is not far off. Brian Crowley was there today. He is on his best behaviour, I suspect because he wants control of the bookshop. Peter Mulligan having built it up too busy for management, proposes to settle in Northampton and as I feared would happen, wants to wish it on somebody else. But Sean Redmond says Brian Crowley is intriguing with Clann na hEireann. A friend of his whose name I forget came in, a Belfast man, seeming Sinn Fein, but also a friend of Bill Grimes. Yet with him came a young man of about 21 who joined the Connolly Association and said he had quite a few young men who would join, but there was nobody to lead them. Now in the evening a young man from Omagh, John MacLaughlin, who said he was at the British Peace Committee meeting and knew me by sight, saw our papers and offered to help us, which he did. I therefore arranged a Standing Committee for Monday, but came to Liverpool on the midnight train. The Clann na hEireann paper is quite showy, printed by International Socialist printers, and contains no immediate policy. This is the vital thing. But it would be wrong to underestimate the danger, since they have the alliance with the International Socialists.
October 29 Sunday: I spent the day in the office, but in the afternoon went to Manchester, where they had the branch meeting. The situation was not satisfactory. Lenny Draper is still working at night and cannot get around. Lena Daly was there, and a few more, but none of the “Clan Watters”. There is a possibility that they may have a minibus to Liverpool. I caught the 10 pm. back to Liverpool.
October 30. Monday (London): I went to Manchester and had a long talk with Vic Eddisford [Manchester CPGB secretary/organiser] – the atmosphere of that office has improved beyond measure. He has got extra staff and his attitude is like that of Bert Pearce in Cardiff. He proposed to look for a day job for Lenny Draper. I told him about the problems of Liverpool CA, with the warring factions all around. “Just as all eels breed in, come from and go back to the Sargasso sea,” he said, “so Trotskyism and left diversions originate and return to Liverpool. It’s the same in the party.”
I went on to London in time for the Standing Committee. which Jim Kelly, Pat O’Donohue, Charlie Cunningham, Sean Redmond and Jane Tate attended, plus Pat Hensey. Some practical decisions were taken, and discussion was useful. As the meeting was breaking up someone noticed a letter to J.Roose Williams and said he was dead [Desmond Greaves has mixed up the Journal entries here, as this event was noted above on October 27. Presumably one or other of these entries was written some days after they occurred. His description of his travel movements is also confused. He would have been upset at hearing of Roose Williams’s death]. Naturally I was very surprised and sorry and rang Bert Pearce in Cardiff to confirm it. Apparently it was during the August bank holiday. He had quite recently moved into his new house. But apparently as an indirect consequence of the fractured skull sustained when the lorry knocked him down, he had a haemorrhage and was found dead. Seemingly the funeral was small and private, and all books and papers have been seized by the brother, who is very “chapel”. I asked what about the biography of TE Nicholas, written in Welsh and almost finished. He promised to regain the manuscript – but the brother replies to no letters.
This removes one of the figures of the happiest periods of my youth, the years 1935 and 1936. I think it was in the August of the latter year that we all went to Coedpath and camped in Iowerth Williams’s field. It must have been Roose Williams who gave me the addresses, as Bruce Williams was furious, and Roose was always complaining that Liverpool gave him “plenty of interference but no help”. I promised to try and make a brief appreciation of him for Cyffro, but I am fairly certain I have lost the diaries of the period [Greaves admired J.Roose Williams and wrote a poem in his memory, “Planxty Roose Williams”. in the collection “Four Letter Verses and the Mountbatten Award”, 1983]
October 31 Tuesday (Liverpool): I worked in the office, and then caught the 6.30 pm. to Liverpool. On the train was a man who looked Irish but was George Webster, a business associate of Bill Grove-White who, he said, had made £120,000 through the sale of his caravan site. Webster had been a shareholder. He told me that Grove-White was not the “communist he used to be,” and indeed was well established with the landed families, to the extent that he had been elected High Sheriff (or something) of Anglesey, spending a year in which he periodically donned gorgeous robes for state occasions and was ready to welcome itinerant royalty. Webster lives in Rhyl. His parents were from Liverpool, but he himself speaks Welsh and his two children go to a Welsh-speaking school [Greaves had met Grove-White as a leftwing student at Trinity College Dublin in the late 1940s].
November 1 Wednesday: I spent the day at 124 Mount Road, there being plenty to be done in house and garden. The exceptionally mild weather continues and it is reasonably dry.
November 2 Thursday: I went to see Roger O’Hara [Liverpool CPGB secretary/organiser] in the afternoon. He told me that Fred Lyons had become embittered and was attacking the party in letters to the press. I said that while I deplored this, he had not been treated properly. “No,” said O’Hara,” It stank.” But I think that what happened was that O’Hara tried to make it up in other ways to Fred Lyons and did not defend him on the point that rankled. Later I went to the branch meeting. Barney Morgan was there, old Pat MacLaughlin (who says Roger O’Hara does not believe Fred Lyons is writing these letters) but no Clann na hEireanns, as I did not invite them.
Incidentally, I had another piece of bad news. I saw in the Morning Star that Jack Dunman is dead. It is no joke when the people of your own decade start dying like flies. I first heard of Dunman and got in touch with him regarding policy on agriculture at the suggestion of John Cornford [Cambridge student and poet, killed in the Spanish Civil War], I think while he was staying here at 124 Mount Road during a conference. Cornford said he was a station master at March in Cambridge – he had left the University but couldn’t get a job, I think only that year, I suppose 1935, but his wife told me he was a managerial trainee. He was fond of music and did criticisms of concerts for the old Daily Worker. Then he worked at King Street. I remember being present when he suffered a particularly offensive piece of bullying from Kerrigan [Peter Kerrigan, leading CPGB figure]. Long after Kerrigan had gone, his services were dispensed with, I presume on grounds of economy, and people said he felt a little sour. Possibly this is what killed him, as retirement from the NUBV sent Bert Edwards off his head. On the other hand he did not have half his life wasted on him by the ignorance of arrogant fools, whom you could just tolerate for the folly if they had that undecorated.
I caught the 10.15 boat to Dublin, I hate travelling by this route, and it lived down to my expectations.
November 3 Friday (Dublin): I took a taxi up to 24 Belgrave Road and Cathal opened the door, but rushed off to work. I did not do much during the day. I was tired. I bought a new sports coat at Kevin and Howlins and had lunch with Tony Coughlan. In the evening Tony Coughlan and Dalton Kelly came. I told them I thought that we had lost this round of the national struggle, because though worthwhile concessions have been and more can be won, the folly of the Republicans and their inability to agree or work with other people, is leaving the initiative in English Government hands. I elaborated on some of the mistakes I thought had been made.
November 4 Saturday (Carrickmacross/Liverpool): Cathal drove me to the Nuremore Hotel just outside Carrickmacross and I met Maire Comerford, Jack Bennett, Anna Bennett, Kader Asmal, Derry Kelleher, the young NICRA man MacShane from Armagh, Roy Johnston and others – among them for the first time Liam de Paor of TCD. He told me he had been speaking to Peregrine Worsthorne and had asked that gentleman why he had made his volte-face in favour of the EEC. Worsthorne bumbled about changed circumstances and De Paor observed that public opinion in Great Britain did not appear to have changed. “My dear Sir,” said Worsthorne, “I and my friends are high Tories. We care nothing for public opinion.” He then added some qualification which would justify his articles meaning “except when it is necessary to manipulate it”. He told me that Conor Cruise O’Brien is a calculating businessman and that he has a literary agent to see that every article he writes and every speech he made earns the maximum by appearing in as many periodicals as possible. He considers him intellectually totally dishonest, but too arrogant ever to admit his dishonesty to himself. He said that Frank Mitchell was well, but his daughter still a Mao [Frank Mitchell FRS, 1912-1997, Trinity College academic, geologist and naturalist, whom Greaves got to know in the late 1940s when he was studying Ireland’s energy resources]. I gave my talk first so as to get back to England to go to Newcastle. Roy Johnston drove me to Dundalk. On the way he said that the Republicans took much more notice of him after his resignation than while he was a member. I know they took precious little then, so was not impressed. He spoke in lordly terms of the “role of the Wolfe Tone Society” and said that if nobody wanted to go on the committee he would be quite prepared to have it wound up. I then started one of the most horribly uncomfortable journeys I ever had. Incidentally, Derry Kelleher told me that Sean Redmond is applying for a Trade Union job in Ireland, and I suspect it is the one that Cathal is applying for also. This he told me about on Friday. He is so active now in one thing and another that he seems to be at a meeting every night. Con Lehane [Dublin solicitor] told me we can expect £2000 within three months [from a political legacy].
November 5 Sunday (Chester-le-Street): I came to 124 Mount Road, made some breakfast, and caught the 11.50 to York, whence to Newcastle – no food or drink on the train, and late into the bargain. Michael Crowe was at the station. All went reasonably well once I was there. We had a meeting at the Bridge Hotel. But arrangements for delegates are in chaos. The Mallocks are in Ireland because of a death in Waterford. They were to drive to Liverpool. A young friend of Joe Deighan’s was there, a student with a beard. Michael Crowe had asked him to go although he is not yet a member. He has declined, then hesitated a few times. But I saw what the trouble was. It is the almost irreversible parochialism of the Belfast people. All small nations are parochial of course. It is as if they tailored their interest to the field in which they feel they can exercise an influence. I had been resting everything on the responsibilities of the English Government. The man from Batley – middle aged, about 50 – asked if the Pope could help the situation by de-centralising the Catholic church. This was of course a red-herring. But the man is a Catholic and this is his hobby horse. Before I could answer, the Belfast student (named MacCollun or something like it) interjected. About what? About the difference between the virtuous “Officials” and the vicious “Provisionals”. And because of this they are condemned to chewing the cud. I am tempted to strike harder “ideological ” blows, but must be sure where to bring down the hammer.
November 6 Monday: I decided to go in to Newcastle from Chester-le-Street and catch the through train to Liverpool. I went down in the bus to the town centre with Michael Crowe and he paid. I caught the train. There is no ticket office and I bought a ticket on the train from small change in my pocket. I went into the bookstall. Having insufficient change I went for my pocket book. It was not there. I was stranded in Newcastle with 5 1/2 pence, and though I had a return ticket to Liverpool, I had not the fare to take me across the Mersey, unless I suppose I took the boat, and I was not sure what the fare had risen to. I rang the Mallocks as they were due back. Then I made contact at the party office, but Horace Green was out. He would be back later.
I know what happened – or thought I did – I had thrown my jacket carelessly over an oak table and it had fallen. Michael Crowe had picked it up and hung it on a coat hanger. He would of course not notice if something had fallen from the pocket. So there I was with a cheque book, a watch and a return ticket. I telephoned Stella Bond and fortunately she was in the office and asked her to trace and ring Michael Crowe at Sunderland, and as standby to wire me £5. But by then Horace Green had reached the office and cashed my cheque. So all was well.
But the accident made me aware of a new development. In the bookshop the Clann na hEireann paper was prominent. Apparently Clann na hEireann has sent a dozen to every party bookshop. “We didn’t order them, and we don’t intend to,” said the woman in the shop. And to add to it all, the YCL had a talk from two avowed representatives of the IRA (I guess Clann na hEireann, alias International Socialists!) in the party rooms without consulting Horace Green [These would be “Official” IRA]. But I think he is easy going. He complains, but I think he does not like scenes. If he had had what I have had to put up with he would have less concern for other people’s feelings, and call a blockhead a blockhead. So the launching of the new paper is an interesting diversion. The editor of the United Irishman has been dismissed. In Dublin I heard that it is being run by a committee. Roy Johnston told me that the objection was not the attacks on the Trotskies or Provisionals, but the occupying of space with things of no interest to the country man, namely ideological controversies. Now the refusal of Clann na hEireann to sell it was not based on this, but on the side taken on these controversies, which was the right side. So here, on the pretext of breaking free from the wary slant of Dublin, they launch the most serious and concerted attack on the Irish Democrat that has ever came, and if it is repelled, then that is the finish of the I.S. in the Republican field. It is of course this calculation which has led them to discredit themselves by pulling right out of the Anti-Internment League, which is handed over to Gery Lawless and the “International Marxists”. And their weakness is that they have placed themselves in precisely the historical position of the dismissed editor of the United Irishman – all ideology and no policy.
This brings me to something else I had not time to note. I rang Jack Woddis last week. Among other things he wondered if the Connolly Association could make the point that after the establishment of a “People’s Britain” there should be some kind of amalgamation or junction between the two countries. This was part of a long conversation in which he said that Belfast had represented to Gordon McLennan that more should be done in England as they are not negotiating from strength. For people who have striven consistently to knock the weapons out of the hands of those anxious to raise a movement in their favour, this was remarkable. But perhaps it was Moore and Barr rather than the Stewarts [Hughie Moore was a full-time CPI official in Belfast; Andy Barr was a leading Northern Ireland trade unionist, a CPI member, and on the Executive of the ICTU]. I told him I had already estimated that the time was ripe to get joint action of all those who had sent delegations. “Would we be represented?” he asked. I said I saw no reason to exclude them. So we decided to have a further talk.
Now presenting the matter in terms of political action – the Connolly Association Executive talked about how a lobby in February and a conference in May should outflank the ideology-mongers. But the only thing I would fear from Woddis is his tendency to rely on shibboleths – as witness the amalgamation, which is from Marx and in no way likely to do anything but rouse suspicion today [Karl Marx had originally thought that Ireland and Britain should be politically amalgamated, until “later study” convinced him they should be separated]. He is extremely intelligent but constantly displays these qualities of impracticability, the desire to get some theoretical point established irrespective of the circumstances. As Pat Hensey said to me, “It is no use thinking that if an Englishman lectures an Irishman on the ultimate limits of nationalism, the Irishman will listen to him.” These kinds of amalgamations can be left until some concrete conditions for them can be seen. And why amalgamate with England? Is there nowhere else?
Now where does it come from? Part from the old habit of regarding Ireland as a sphere of influence. Part also I think from isolation from ordinary people. It is hard to appreciate that those dependent largely on articles, reports and meetings cannot respond to the thousand tugs of experience met by them in the field. Vic Eddisford made this point while talking about something quite different. I asked him if he liked being back in Manchester. “I’m out of the Ivory Tower” he said, “That’s what I call it.” And he explained that he had invited the editor of Comment [A CPGB publication] to come to Manchester so that he could attend a social gathering and meet the members. I said what about the great majority of the population who were not. “Ah,” he said, “that would be better, My wife works in a factory. Often she says, ‘you don’t have the faintest notion of what they think. You should hear them on the coloured people.'”
Now of course I would be afraid that Jack Woddis, not knowing movement in the solid, but as pieces of paper, might get into his head the theoretical notion that “unity” meant bringing in your enemies into your house. So we would have the Trotskies back. I thought therefore perhaps we might keep this to English organisations plus the CA to guide them, and try an Irish coordination in parallel which might later take the place of the CA (if possible) in the broader movement. Thus I would get these wreckers between two fires. There is more to unity than “everybody come in”.
But scarcely had I written these words when Sean Redmond telephoned, and it was clear that somebody else had also been thinking. He told me that Edwina Stewart had telephoned saying she was coming over on December 6th. Her proposal was that Belfast NICRA should organise a conference in London. This proposal had been put to her by the NUS [National Union of Students]whose secretary had recently been in Belfast. He had said that a conference in England should not be confined solely to the civil rights issue and he told her our own plans for a broad collaboration of English movements, arising out of the Peace Committee initiative. She came back with “Civil rights is the main thing.” “Of course, but since direct rule the constitutional question has been attached to it.” She seemed impressed at this and told him that she was going to raise the matter at an EC in Dublin next weekend [ie. at an Executive meeting of the CPI, at which Northerners and Southerners would be present]. I was afraid that she might be the unwitting spokesman for the PD element, and it might be we who got between the two fires.
November 7 Tuesday: I am gravely inconvenienced through lack of my pocket book and the engagements which I am having to remember. Fortunately, though I can’t remember names or faces of people, I can remember almost anything ordered in time. So though inconvenient it is not disastrous. I started work on reviews for the paper and re-wrote from remembering the positions of headings in the last notebook, in extended form my talk in Monaghan [published as “England’s Responsibility for the Crisis in Ireland”, Atlantis, No.5, April 1973].
November 8 Wednesday (London): I went to London and did more work on the paper. I rang Tony Coughlan and also Jack Woddis. I want to know if he knows about the Edwina Stewart proposal. I had the impression that he was not mightily pleased to hear my voice, as if I was adding a dimension he was as well without, but one can be too sensitive to these things. He said there was another proposal which he favoured, as it would “bring the NUS in”. I had no opportunity to talk to Sean Redmond as he was not at the branch meeting, being on holiday. The conference was the subject of discussion and I took the chair to enable Charlie Cunningham to speak. The attendance was not good. But it does seem that we still have a good contingent coming to Liverpool. The lack however is of capable speakers. This is where some of those who returned to Ireland would be useful. According to Woddis they are urging that more should be done in Britain. If they had given us support they could have had it long ago, but instead they started breakaways.
November 9. Thursday: I was going to Birmingham but Mark Clinton telephoned to say the circulars had not arrived, so we postponed it. I went on with the paper and conference.
November 10 Friday: I continued the work on the conference – the most difficult task is the arranging of hospitality, especially as the branches and members make up their minds so late. I had intended to go to the IAC [International Affairs Committee] but found I had too much to do.
November 11 Saturday: I asked Jim Kelly why he was not going to Liverpool. He told me his father was sick and wanted to save every penny as he might have to go back home in a hurry. This I quietly explained to some of the others who came into the office, Charlie Cunningham, Jane Tate and so on. In the evening I was out in Camden town with a young man who came on Wednesday, David MacLoughlin, He has just finished a physics degree and is taking a PhD. He is the son of MacLoughlin, Hemel Hampstead, but of comparatively remote Irish ancestry. I am very favourably impressed. He is independent but modest, dresses in a sensible way with a little moustache, but none of your flowing beards, spends his holidays cycling, and has a strong sense of humour. But unfortunately he is tied up very much with the NUS [National Union of Students] and CP student affairs.
November 12 Sunday: I was in the office all day working on the conference. Charlie Cunningham came in, and later Pegeen O’Flaherty. Apparently, despite the competition of the new Clann na hEireann paper, the money has been coming in quite well. It poured rain in the evening and kept us all in the office. However, there was plenty to be done, especially regarding hospitality. The delegations are steadily increasing.
November 13 Monday: I continued with conference arrangements. In the evening Sean Redmond was back and they had a branch meeting. We were able to have a talk over the NICRA thing and our views were identical. But Tom Redmond had told Sean that Edwina Stewart did not raise the matter in Dublin. It is strange of course that she should think of doing so. The trouble is that you don’t know what forces are moving behind anything. Of NICRA Jack Woddis said to me, “They’re not negotiating from strength,” which we knew already, and it might be that some of them took to England when things are hard at home. Or the “Officials” might have some plan to dish the “Provisionals” in England with the aid of the CP. However we thought our EC proposals were worthy of acceptance generally.
November 14 Tuesday: I found we had seven unaccommodated delegates and rang Roger O’Hara’s office. But I got no encouragement – not even an offer to think. I therefore rang Vic Eddisford in Manchester and had an immediate response. The contrast between the two cities was expressed most vividly. He put me on to several people. Frow said he would be delighted but was going away. And a Mrs Watts undertook to telephone round for me to save me trunk calls. I also wrote to Pat Kilroy [a Manchester CA member].
In the afternoon I called on Jack Woddis. He told me about the proposals that NICRA should run a conference in London. This was an NUS motion [National Union of Students]. “They’ve even fixed a date for it – March 29. “Who’ll undertake the preparatory secretarial work?” “Oh. We’ve got somebody,” said he, “with the air of producing a rabbit from a hat. But later he said the person concerned (a student) had not yet been approached. He said that the British Peace Comittee had plunged into the fray without consulting him and pronounced some strictures on Colin Sweet, who had resigned without warning and handed over to a comparatively non-political person. He did not think the British Peace Committee had much future, nor the MCF [Movement for Colonial Freedom], of which the new secretary was an “International Socialist”. The proposal was that the conference, run by NICRA (Belfast, not London, as the “London crowd are only using the name”), should be sponsored by “bona fide organisations” – the Connolly Association, Communist Party, National Union of Students and others. He did not mention Clann na hEireann. Now that is a point to watch. But I did not press as I wanted to make up our own proposals. I said I thought NICRA should not run it, first because the base was too narrow politically, as excluding the constitutional question, and also too narrow organisationally as excluding the SDLP. I proposed a preliminary meeting of individuals in organisations to draw up a list of people to be approached as sponsors, and undertook to have this done as the CA was already committed to it. I proposed postponing the conference till April and fitting in a lobby in February. I proposed that the organising committee should be based in London and should try to associate with its work not only NICRA but the Belfast Trades Council, the SDLP and others. He was impressed with these arguments and I think came over to my way of thinking. But he has now to discuss the thing with others. I asked him if he would attend the preliminary meeting we were calling and he said he would try.
November 15 Wednesday (Liverpool): I was in the office till midday and caught the 1 pm. to Lime St. At the meeting in the evening Pat MacLaughlin was present but left early. The others were Brian Stowell, Barney Morgan and Sam Watts. We went for a drink afterwards and Watts told us about Bootle, explaining what had been obscure. At the meeting Pat MacLaughlin handed me a letter from Eugene O’Doherty. I was surprised. How did he get it? “He left it at the house.” “What a long way for him to go. He lives miles away.” “He gives lessons in driving and often gets up there.” So far so good. But Sam Watts told the three of us that Clann na hEireann hold meetings at Pat MacLaughlin’s house. Collins, the young man O’Doherty brought to the meeting, is in Bootle. The new Clann na hEireann paper is in evidence and they are urging Watts to sell it. Clann na hEireann has approached Bootle CP with proposals of cooperation. These include an arrangement that if they find anybody politically inclined towards Communism they should edge them to the CP, in return for which the CP must push Republicans to them. They are not unfriendly to the Connolly Association, but O’Doherty thought I was a bit sharp with him when I insisted that the CA did not want to be identified with either Republican wing. But the most interesting proposal was that Clann na hEireann should provide tutors for CP classes. Would Collins be one of them? “No. They said they would get people far higher than themselves.” Did Roger O’Hara know about this? Watts was not sure. I urged him to consult him and to ask O’Hara to arrange a school. And Barney Morgan, whose sympathy is more to the “Provisionals”, backed me up, and from his own standpoint added that I was right in thinking that this was the political basis for the rift between him and Pat MacLaughlin.
But this was not all. Roger O’Hara had told me that Fred Lyons was writing articles on the CP in the papers but that Pat MacLaughlin refused to believe this was true. It seems however that Fred Lyons has joined the Labour Party, and taken with him a few others, and that those all meet at MacLaughlin’s (or some of them, certainly Fred Lyons). Now I recall Lyons’s saying he thought there would be no solution without violence – of course there was violence at the time, and the statement added nothing but an implication that this was to be made a shibboleth. So now we know. And so here in Liverpool, as in Cardiff, Clann na hEireann is working within the Connolly Association and the CP. Why? Possibly because of the lack of native Irish. I was sorry I had sent the three Aberystwyth students to Pat MacLaughlin. But I resolved I would put a stop to that gentleman’s gallop at the first opportunity. He must be doddering. He rejoins the CP but would not allow Watts into his house. What did he not want him to see? Pensions? Literature? I was very pleased to see Watts and hear his position. At first he was uneasy. But he relaxed. He said the only reason he had kept away from the CA was that he thought Fred Lyons was there, that Lyons had wanted to be secretary. “But I objected to that,” said Barney Morgan. “His father was a Black and Tan.” “He says he was a Jew.” “Jews could be Black and Tans, couldn’t they?” I told them that I thought Lyons had good qualities as well as bad ones, and that their method of handling him had increased the bad ones as they were too sharp and antagonistic, but that I would have been prepared to have him as secretary as I thought we could manage him. As it was, we had nobody and they had seriously weakened their branch. But Watts was loud in his denunciations. It was Brian Stowell who said the shrewdest thing. “I don’t thing he has the ability to concentrate on anything.” So now we know.
And to add complications, Cathal Goulding had an article in today’s Morning Star which Watts had read as if it applied to England. It is hard to estimate what is going on in their minds. Has Cathal Goulding become a communist (he has long described himself as such), but wants to keep the name and aura of the IRA? Is the Morning Star trying to make an alliance with the Officials? Or do none of them really know what they are doing, however much they may think they do? The last is the most likely. But I note down these signs for future reference.
November 16 Thursday (Birmingham): I did some work on the paper and then went to Birmingham. There was only myself and Mark Clinton present, until later one of the Birmingham CP people came. We repaired to the Star Club. McCartney (Birmingham Irish) arrived there. He was a member of the old McNally branch which broke up. At first he was a little antagonistic or at least stand-offish. But later we got talking. It seems that Social Justice is in ruins. Toal wants to introduce NICRA. Tom McDowell is busy erecting a statue to a deceased Liberal council candidate, and of course is discredited. After some talk it was decided to try a Connolly Association branch. We were talking till 1am. – the keys of the bar having been handed to the young fellow. The telephone rang. His father was anxious to meet me. So we remained, as he promised to drive us to Erdington. This he did at 3 am. At a huge clover-leaf junction two policemen stopped the car. “You were doing 42 miles an hour and you crossed over to the wrong lane.”
There was not a slur in the driver’s speech, not the slightest. “I’m very sorry, officer,” he said calmly, “I didn’t notice.” When they let him go they thanked him. Of course a thousand drivers do ten times as much in the heat and danger of the day, but at night police get bored with having nothing to do and become extra officious. All the same, I was glad to be out of the juggernaut.
November 17 Friday (Liverpool): I had stayed the night with Mark Clinton and this morning returned to Liverpool with a date fixed. Tony Coughlan rang to say he could not come until Saturday night as he could not get a berth. But John McClelland was all right. I went to Birkenhead for food and drink for Mark Clinton and Charlie Cunningham, who will be staying with me [ie. for the Connolly Association annual conference in Liverpool that weekend].
November 18 Saturday: At about 8 am. John McClelland arrived. He seemed in good health and quite cheerful. The mood of disappointment Bobby Heatley noted was present all right, but arose logically enough from a realisation of the hopeless mess that has been made on all sides. He thinks Joe Deighan is in a dangerous position, with his shop in a mixed area. All that is required is that his picture should appear in the Irish News for them to be burned out. He thinks Dorothy Deighan does not understand the seriousness of the position. Bobby Heatley he considers very tough. He has brazened it out in the Corporation and on a Protestant estate, but is now at Queen’s University. So he has made his goal at last. He does not join the CP. He has a habit of reminding them of the old days when they ostracised him and Jack Bennett for urging a nationalist orientation. Now of course they are more nationalist than Goulding. Moreover, he still finds it hard to tolerate fools gladly. And he has plenty of opportunities for displaying toleration. The great thing now in NICRA is the Bill of Rights, which not long ago they were describing as “divisive”. Of course the basis of NICRA is narrow in the extreme, consisting of Republicans (Official) and CP. I said it was my suspicion that, having failed to make progress at home, they were coming to England. I had often seen that. He told me that they gallivant round the world raising money, but make no effort to raise it at home. The reason is that they don’t like dull work, but must always fly off on what is glamorous. He thinks this is true of many of them. As to Joe Deighan he gets very emotional at the excesses of the troops. “We’ve got to get rid of them at once!” he cries. But how? That is the problem.
We went over to the Stork [This was the venue of the Connolly Association Annual Conference in Liverpool]. There were quite a few there, and the bus from London was on time. There were as well as myself and John McClelland, Sean Redmond, Charlie Cunningham, Peter Mulligan, Chris Sulivan, Tadhg Egan, Pegeen O’Flaherty, Jane Tate, Siobhan O’Neill, Pat Hensey, Michael Crowe, the Mallocks from Newcastle, Brian MacCallum, the young student who came to the last meeting, TS from Aberystwyth and two other students, Tony Martin the Clann na hEireann from Newport, who was not impressive and read his speech at the conference. Lenny Draper came with Lena Daly and some others. Indeed when Barney Morgan, Brian Stowell and the Liverpool visitors were included, there was a full house. The proceedings went swimmingly. The report on localities built up a full political picture, and Charlie Cunningham spoke well. Sean Redmond took the chair until Michael Crowe (who was a little late) arrived by road. In the evening there was a social which Pat MacLaughlin and O’Doherty attended. I noted that the Newport CA is engaged in typical Clann na hEreann things like a campaign to get visitors for prisoners, and one or two other schemes they have.
November 19 Sunday: Again the conference was well attended and could be pronounced a huge success. There was plenty of debate but every resolution was passed unanimously. This greatly impressed Donnington from Oxford, who had never seen it before. The Londoners got back by 11 pm. and Jane Tate rang me up to tell me. The new EC was interesting – myself, Sean Redmond, Charlie Cunningham, Paddy Bond, Pat Hensey, Lenny Draper, Mark Clinton, Alf Ward, Pat O’Donohue, Michael Crowe and Jane Tate were to be presumed. But Jim Kelly lost his place through his absence and was replaced by Toni Curran, and Bobby Rossiter was replaced by Siobhan O’Neill. This means that there are two more women on it, and both by their own right, not because they are women. We thus have 25% women – the highest ever. The others were Peter Mulligan, Pegeen O’Flaherty and Martin Guinan. Now the last has done nothing like the work of Jim Kelly. But absens haeres non erit [The absent one will not inherit].
I arranged for Chris Sullivan (who is going to Belfast) to stop with Barney Morgan, where John McClelland also went, while Charlie Cunningham remained with me. It was generally agreed that this was the most successful conference the Connolly Association ever held.
November 20 Monday: I worked on the paper until I was able to post off a few pages at 4.30. Then we met Chris Sullivan and John McClelland and saw them off to Belfast.
November 21 Tuesday: I finished the paper by about 11.30. Charlie and I then went for a walk, and to New Brighton. In the evening we went to a performance of Don Giovanni at the Royal Court. It was enjoyable, but not of the standard of the Dublin performance I was present at a few years ago. The scenery was stylized and I thought the orchestra (Welsh Philharmonic) was far from perfect. An oboe came in too soon for one beat. The rain came down in sheets as we left – nearly as badly as last night – but stopped before we reached Rock Ferry.
November 22 Wednesday: We went to Ripley and there, thanks to Charlie’s assistance in reading the proofs, I was able to catch the 3.40, and the slightly delayed 3 pm. from Euston and get back to 124 Mount Road at 6.15. Charlie went to London. He is having a week’s holiday, but because of tomorrow’s railway strike prefers to go on a trip on Friday.
November 23 Thursday: I did a little clearing up after the busy weekend. In the afternoon I went to see Roger O’Hara. The Mersey railway was not running, so I took a bus to Woodside. A northerly gale was raging. I seldom saw such seas in the Mersey. However we got across easily enough and I stood on the spine of the boat quite comfortably. I walked up to Duke St. I found both O’Hara and MMcL much more cordial than usual and we made some arrangements, one being that I attend the area committee on 2 January [ie. of the local Merseyside CPGB]. At 1 pm. however I heard that Sinn Fein (Provisional) is to launch a major propaganda campaign in Britain. Soon we’ll have the lot of them at it. Just what has prompted the decision we may find out some time – the arrest of Stephenson, the NICRA proposal to do the same, or some other reason.
November 24 Friday: I seemed to achieve precious little, though I was “at it” all day. I tackled the front room.
November 25 Saturday: I spent the day on my accounts for the most part, and was first alarmed at the rate of expenditure, and second encouraged by the fact that the royalties that have been coming in have eased the situation somewhat.
November 26 Sunday: I sawed up a lot more timber, and have broken the back of the second job. But there are twigs and thin branches to be disposed of. Radio Eireann is off the air, so Heaven knows what is happening in Dublin. The contemptible BBC is urging on the Irish Government to subject Seán Stephenson to forcible feeding. What a strange character he is. I remember him years ago in London, a young lad with a fair lollipop face. I think the last time I spoke to him would be when the Irish games were at Mitcham. The weather was fine, so it may have been 1955. I was struck by his complete lack of sense of humour.
November 27 Monday: I wrote the review of Terence O’Neill’s book and started on the article for Roy Johnston (“Atlantis”) based on the Carrickmacross speech [published as “England’s responsibility for the crisis in Ireland”, Atlantis, No.5, April 1973]. I also turned over some beds in the garden and washed towels, table-clothes and shirts and put new zips in two pairs of jeans. A busy day.
November 28 Tuesday: I got some more done in the garden and proceeded further with the “Atlantis” article. I looked at the article the “Socialist Register ” rejected and, free from the immediate circumstances which might have clouded one’s judgement, decided it was very good and should be published, perhaps as a pamphlet. I know why they rejected it. It is not “gentlemanly”.
November 29 Wednesday: I finished the “Atlantis” job and sent it off to Roy Johnston. I heard from Stella Bond that Mark Clinton is busy in Birmingham and Tony Donaghey in Luton. Toni told me that there is great enthusiasm after the conference, and this is shown by the initiative that is being displayed.
I went to the “Free Church Centre” and went in a few minutes early. There I found Pat MacLaughlin. The caretaker was seated. At the front of the stairs was a blackbearded man of about thirty – a hefty tough character. The CA meeting was not posted on the board. Clearly Pat MacLaughlin and the young man were not on good terms.
“There,” said MacLaughlin to me. “My son! A fascist.”
So that was who it was. The young man showed signs of intense resentment. But I spoke him fair. I said I was not concerned with his political views, but wanted to decide who had booked the room. The caretaker then made it clear that the “Nationalist Union” had it. So that was that. While we were deciding the point about six or seven people, mostly in their late twenties or thirties, came in. There was nothing special about them. They were not extravagantly dressed in tattered jeans like Trotskies. But I would say they were all poorly dressed through lack of funds. If Pat MacLaughlin had not been there I would have talked to his son to try to find out what turns working class people in this direction. But while the son was polite to me it was clear that he and MacLaughlin were not on speaking terms.
We repaired to the Caernarfon Castle where Brian Stowell, Roy Frodsham and Barney Morgan joined us. Pat MacLaughlin explained that this was his second son Desmond. He had gone to sea but deserted at Brazzaville or some such place when the ship was holed by a tug – I have it only approximately. He was blacklisted. Kath MacLaughlin [ie. his mother] persuaded the owners to have him back. But he repeated the performance. Apparently drink was the inducement. Since then he became a taxi driver and lives in Rock Ferry. He is a prominent member of the “National Front” and likely to be a candidate. According to Pat MacLaughlin he will not accept a coloured man as a fare.
“And do you know,” said MacLaughlin, “we gave him everything he could possibly want.”
I was astonished at this monumental act of self-deception and could not forbear from asking, “Then what did you do to make him like this?” “Oh – he’s a nasty piece of work,” said MacLaughlin. “He owes me a hundred pounds. I bought him five bicycles and he smashed or sold the lot. Kath insisted on it. You know how soft-hearted she is.” Apparently when he turned fascist Pat MacLaughin threw him out of the house. Of course the long and short of the matter is that Pat MacLaughlin was never at home, and when he was he was incapable of accruing respect because he is utterly immature himself, and in constant difficulties. Whether the children got what they wanted I do not know, but that they failed to get what they most needed would be a certainty. And this was reflected in the young man’s bearing – he displayed a resentment not just against his father, which could be felt like a physical presence. And the silly old fool does not have the slightest notion that it is his fault.
I brought them down to earth a bit. I asked Barney Morgan to be secretary. He urged his occupation, but I think it was fear of being thrown out of the Irish Centre which they fell foul of in John McClelland’s time, needless to say against my advice. for I advised them to accept no positions on it and merely to use it as a pool to fish in. This I advised again tonight, and Brian Stowell said he would re-join and see if they accepted him. They had none of them bothered to get the Catholic Pictorial, though it was the only paper represented at the conference, and by a sour-looking bitch I would add. But Barney Morgan suggested that Pat Doherty might accept the secretaryship. Apparently he is quite active and has the advantage of being a Dublin man. They need to try to recruit some new members. So I think I have whittled the stake to the core, and perhaps drove it in. The only capable person is Brian Stowell, and he would do the job but for the fact that this wife is studying to be a teacher and he has to look after the children more than was usual in the past. I found that very little is being done with the paper, and I noted last week that it is not on display at the bookshop and the man in the shop did not know about it.
November 30 Thursday (London): I spent the morning clearing up and in the afternoon caught the 4.30 to Euston. There was nobody in during the evening.
December 1 Friday: I was in the office all day, until going out with Chris Sullivan in the evening. Last night I rang Brian Wilkinson who told me he had written to Charlie Cunningham, but that Bert Pearce had “gone off” an Irish Democrat conference, especially since some of them had been in Belfast. Wilkinson thought that the Democrat could secure a broader representation than anybody else. I thought a while over this, and then rang Bert Pearce. “I was just going to ring you,” he said. “I believe you’re coming to Newport on Sunday.” The letter to Charlie Cunningham had meanwhile arrived, so I knew of the proposal to meet on Sunday afternoon. Unfortunately his man was tied up with a student conference. Could I make it the evening? I said I could if the others wanted it. I then mentioned Brian Wilkinson’s doubts and suggested that Wilkinson should call a preliminary meeting from which if necessary an ad-hoc committee could be formed. He said Madge Davison had suggested “a solidarity with NICRA” committee, but I said there was no reason for confining it to civil rights. He agreed.
I mentioned that I was in touch with TS about calling a seminar on the Irish Question at Aberystwyth, a scheme he thought a good one.
December 2 Sunday: I had a call from Lenny Draper. He was dispirited that there was no resolution on Ireland at the Lancashire District conference [ie. of the Lancashire CPGB]. He had attempted to get an emergency resolution, but as he was only a visitor he failed. He also said that Jimmy Stewart will be in Liverpool and Manchester on January 4th. This may mean I will not get the invitation to the committee on January 2nd. We will see. Of course with the position what it is, one would not know what people would do.
During the morning Charlie Cunningham, Jim Kelly, Chris Sullivan, Jane Tate and others came in. Charlie told me that the British Peace Committee had scaled down their aim for an advert in the Times. It was now to be in Tribune. There may be no harm in letting one of these conferences go through on a purely English basis, just to see what support is in it. I think we should not risk the lobby’s being in anybody else’s hands. It is too important. Charlie thinks that the Peace Committee expected they were climbing on to a bandwagon, but then found it was not going anywhere. But you don’t know how hard they tried and what co-operation they got. What I want to get started is hard constituency work. Brian Wilkinson rang and confirmed the evening appointment.
The expected came from Clann na hEireann. I recall how Charlie Cunnigham met Roland Kennedy in the public house and Charlie (to my intense irritation when I heard of it) answered his enquiry about our next plan by saying we were holding a Mellows commemoration meeting. “That gives me an idea,” said Kennedy. Then he commented half jokingly, “We’ll scatter you!” They will not fail for lack of trying. They have put out a leaflet advertising a Mellows commemoration two days before ours. Both Sean Redmond and I told Charlie Cunningham he should keep his gob shut, for they would try to wreck our event. They have no ideology of their own, but a great capacity for amateurish imitation. Now Charlie is saying “pater peccavi [Father, I have sinned].
Then Jane Tate told me about the London District Irish Committee which is to be held in the morning. Seemingly it exists because Joe O’Connor is constantly working for separate Irish CP branches. I didn’t know this was his hobbyhorse, but it seems that even Prendergast wouldn’t stomach it and the two quarrelled over the issue. I was out with her in the evening.
December 3 Sunday (Newport, South Wales): The meeting in Newport was put off till evening, so I took the 5 pm. to South Wales. Brian Wilkinson was at the station. David Richards met us. He is the “sabbatical officer” of the Art School – I take it a graduated student who spends a year on student affairs before taking seriously to his profession. He had driven from an NUS meeting in Bangor in a hired car. He told us that every lunatic in Newport was at the meeting. Should we kick them out? Nobody knew how they heard of it. I advised against it. We would have a general discussion and then retire early for our own business. This suited me well enough because I could arrange it without the Clann na hEireanns knowing what was going on – until Brian Wilkinson told them, that is. There were “Officials”, “Provisionals”, “International Marxists”, everybody there, very excitable, but I quelled them. Then we went to Brian Wilkinson’s where he agreed that David Richards (an excellent young man) and I should decide the details of the conference with Brian Pearce tomorrow. I rubbed well into Brian Wilkinson the dangers of supping with the devil.
December 4 Monday (London): David Richards called in the morning and drove me into Cardiff through the flooded countryside, though the torrents had ceased. We saw Bert Pearce and his assistant who was at one time a student at Newport but was thrown out, for not working I suppose. He probably realised what nonsense it all was. We agreed on a conference on January 20. David Richards drove me up to Pontypridd to see Dai Francis, who agreed to sponsor the thing. The miners have given up their own premises in Cardiff and now have a floor in the AEU building at Pontypridd, “a sign of the times” as Bert Pearce says. David Richards suggested seeing George Wright of the TGWU [Transport and General Workers Union] to sponsor as well, and indeed telephoned him. I learned that Tom Jones, whom I knew at Ponciau in the thirties, was leaving Connah’s Quay [in Flintshire], retiring next year and coming to live in Cardiff. As he was leaving for Swansea immediately it was agreed that David Richards would call on him tomorrow and would ring me. I then returned to London.
December 5 Tuesday (Liverpool): I sent out circulars for the meeting next Tuesday. Jack Woddis phoned. He advised against inviting the Movement for Colonial Freedom because Barbara Haq had resigned and the young man who was appointed her assistant is bringing in the Fourth International and making a general mess of things. He also objected to Colin Sweet who had displeased him by launching all manner of things without consultation. It would take a long time to explain. So who was left? He would ring Lomas and the student he had lined up to organise the thing. Another point needs recording. He said that NICRA, who wished to organise the thing themselves, did not want to be associated with NICRA (London), who were “only using their name”.
I then went to Liverpool to collect papers on the Bill of Rights.
December 6 Wednesday (London): On Monday I had prepared a draft for reorganisation of CA activities for the next three months, which appear to me crucial – quite possibly the dice will be cast before Jack Woddis’s conference takes place, and I have not high hopes of the outcome [The British Government was planning to produce a White Paper on Northern Ireland, which appeared in March 1973 as “Northern Ireland Constitutional Proposals”, and to replace internment with the Diplock Courts. Greaves and the Connolly Association sought to adapt the Bill of Rights policy to the new situation, following the imposition of direct rule and an expected move back to devolution in Belfast]. Living today is like trying to keep afloat in a sea of stupidity, venality, vanity and ignorance. I think the point to which pressure must be directed is the House of Commons, though I am fully aware that only Stallard has any emotional feeling towards Ireland. The ultra-left of course want demonstrations all the time. To influence events? No, to get publicity for themselves. So I thought we need two new departments, one for Parliament, the other for the Trade Unions, and a weekly bulletin to be re-started. Then we must re-publish the Bill of Rights and a pamphlet on the issue of sovereignty. I intend to make a fight of it these coming two months, and then we will see how things stand, and perhaps then I can get busy on O’Casey, as the balance of the results will then be clear.
Anyway I returned to London. David Richards rang to tell me that when he got to the TGWU office George Wright had left for Birmingham, and had not even recorded Richards’ appointment in his book. So much for Bert Pearce’s “good fellow”. I always find the CP people too sanguine. Bert Pearce was confident that if the CP in South Wales was a co-sponsor, nobody would pull back. “We’re accepted.” Woddis says, “We’re more acceptable than the BPC [British Peace Committee].” “Would Liverpool Trades Council remain aloof if you were in?” I asked Roger O’Hara. “Oh – no. We’re fully accepted.” And on Monday Bert Pearce was confident both Wright and Tom Jones (whom I wrote to) would not be put off. This we will see. Of course the object of the exercise is as likely to put them off as the company. They would collaborate with the communists where their own members were pressing them, but not in something where they would have to take a stand in advance of their members.
Woddis wanted to found the conference on the ICTU peace plan. I had a fresh look at it and wrote to him advising against adopting the first point, which involves operations in Ireland. In advising against a NICRA sponsorship I had suggested associating the Belfast Trades Council with it, and this shows his thinking is moving in that direction. But then Sean Redmond rang Lomas of the Co-op, on whom we had been counting, and learned that he had got concussion in a motor accident. A pity the damn things were ever invented.
In the evening a young man came into the bookshop. He was going to Belfast tonight. Could I put him in touch with any place to stay, and tell him where Marquis Street was. I told him to ring Edwina Stewart on arrival. He then remarked, “I hear she’s in London today.” “How did you know that?” I asked. “She was at a meeting of Highgate NICRA last night.” Not a public meeting. I mentioned it to Sean Redmond who saw little significance in it. I suspected she was “jumping the gun” over the conference, to present Jack Woddis with a fait accompli when he arrives on Friday. But Sean thinks she is visiting East European journalists. More glamour.
The branch meeting, which I addressed, was well attended. The young lad from Newport (Clann na hEireannn) was there, and Pat O’Donohue, Sean Redmond, Charlie Cunningham, Pat Hensey, Jim Kelly, Jane Tate, Pegeen O’Flaherty, Joyce Tringham and others. The meeting I attended in Willesden on Monday was even better, with about 24 there.
December 7 Thursday: I spent some time trying to find people to invite to the meeting on Tuesday next. I had rung Joe Deighan who replied that he had asked Madge Davison [of NICRA, Belfast] to phone all the relevant information. No call came. I today rang Bill Dunne. He said to his belief not a single Trade Unionist had gone to Belfast. That is to say that when I could only list those I’d sent myself, I was listing the lot. Dunne suggested getting our heads together next Monday to work out a plan, and to this I readily assented. It was his opinion that the difficulty was the absence of invitations from Belfast. For example the Belfast Trades Council had never invited the London. I said I thought Joe Cooper had done so. When? When he spoke to them last April. “Oh yes – we arranged that.” It is remarkable – the arrogance is there so short a time after Charlie Cunningham got the ban lifted.
However, I then rang Betty Sinclair. She said that Cooper had invited them but that Levine had acted in a very slippery manner. I mentioned the lobby [ie. of the House of Commons]. She said she had heard that NICRA was talking about a lobby and she said it should coincide with ours. She said somebody else was in London trying to get Trade Union action. “Well I wish they’d come in to see me,” I said. “Well you must think over who’s in London.” “I heard Edwina was.” “Correct. I asked her if you knew and she said you did, but I suspected otherwise. The trouble is that they have some kind of ill feeling and they’re not grown up enough to disregard it. You have to work through them and round them. But it would be no harm if you could get an hour’s talk with some of them.” She told me that men were being driven from their jobs by sectarian opposition and the British Trade Union head offices were doing nothing about it. It is an absolute tragedy that Betty Sinclair was ousted from the leadership by that little viper Devlin [ie. Bernadette Devlin, whose close colleagues Michael Farrell and Kevin Boyle had brought about Betty Sinclair’s resignation from the NICRA Executive in 1969].
In the evening Jane Tate arrived. She told me about Egelnick’s meeting on Sunday last. Apparently that incredibly confused woman Irene Brennan is on the DPC [ie. the London District Party Committee]. She was there, and Joe O’Connor, Egelnick, Tony Donaghey and one or two youngsters. Irene Brennan and Egelnick were loudly bemoaning the collapse of the Anti-Internment League. There would be nobody to call demonstrations. Pitifully, Egelnick asked Jane Tate if the Connolly Association would call one before Christmas. He said it should be against Lynch [ie. Irish Taoiseach Jack Lynch]. “It’s little wonder that the people of the North do not want a United Ireland under such a government as that,” said he. “He hasn’t a clue,” said Jane to me. He had missed the fact that Lynch had made the attack on the Republicans to please those who were most bitterly opposed to a United Ireland. Then Egelnick said there was “little coordination among Irish organisations”, and he was the man from his Olympian seniority to bring order among the savages. There should be a talk with the Connolly Association. Jane Tate wisely said nothing.
Of course Betty Sinclair indicated clearly to me the nettle that they would not grasp. Both the Electrical and Building Trade Unions have done nothing when their Catholic members were driven from their jobs in Belfast. To raise the question of action by the English movement immediately raised the question of the Belfast members who are sectarian. And the CP in Northern Ireland is bound to be influenced by this situation. They will be trying to avoid the issue and pressing all kinds of nonsense on Jack Woddis, which he may or may not have the wit to withstand. We will see. I went to South London.
December 8 Friday: I was in the office all day. I had written to Sean Kenny asking him to help Mark Clinton. His reply was despondent. Nobody ever tells me anything, of course. Apparently last April his wife was ill and he asked the Campaign for Social Justice to release him for a month. This dragged on to three. At no time did anybody enquire after his or his wife’s health. In the meantime the organisation fell apart. He thought a number of former members might join the Connolly Association but felt disinclined to “get involved again”. though he promised to discuss it with me. Later I rang Frank Watters, who told me he had seen Sean Kenny last night and had “sorted it out”, which I hope means he will help Mark Clinton. I arranged to see him on Tuesday morning.
But when Charlie Cunningham came in during the evening he told me there was a report in the Clann na hEireann paper that a meeting had been held jointly by the Clann na hEireann and Provisionals, the first joint effort since the split. And also Tom McDowell had held a meeting under Social Justice. I recalled that Sean Kenny told me of a meeting at which “physical force” was glorified, and Charlie told me how the Provisionals at a demonstration he attended had been expressing their contempt for the British working class in order to rile him. He also said that the Clann na hEireann paper contained an attack on the International Socialists and International Marxists. Of course the whole thing is immature nonsense, and you would as easily “co-ordinate” these people as coordinate water. I was in Paddington with Charlie. Pouring rain. I wrote many letters but mostly worked on the publication of a pamphlet on the Bill of Rights. And talking about pamphlets, Jane Tate told me that the London District CP is to produce a pamphlet which will be written by Joe O’Connor. She could hardly stand for laughing.
December 9 Saturday: I was in the office early working on plans for the next two months, which I want to put to the Standing Committee tomorrow. The duplicator broke down at a crucial time, but Peter Mulligan seems to have got it going again. With Charlie Cunningham I went to London airport and we met Peadar O’ Donnell [Socialist Republican activist and novelist,1893-1986, who was to speak at a CA meeting the following day to mark the 50th anniversary of the execution of Liam Mellows]. He now uses a stick, but he is as tough as if he was immortal. All the way in the bus he was talking. He said that he thought Sean Stephenson now cut a very pathetic figure [The Provisional IRA Chief-of-Staff had gone on hunger and thirst strike following his arrest in Dublin and then abandoned it. This led to his losing his position in Republican circles]. He told me that Michael O’Riordan and Hughie Moore had been to see him [ie. Stephenson/ MacStíofáin]. He was walking up and down the room pontificating. Both of his visitors made notes, which they compared afterwards. Michael O’Riordan had written “Napoleon”. Hughie Moore had written “Bonaparte”. Peadar observed, “It’s strange how a man can dramatise himself and then when he has to face the position where he must act the part in reality, he finds he isn’t that sort of person.” I had remarked to Charlie that something should be done for Sean Nolan [Manager of the CPI bookshop in Pearse Street, Dublin]. I thought we could do a write up. Almost as if there had been telepathy, Peadar said (it led on from his remarking that we had done miracles keeping the Democrat going so long) that Sean Nolan’s keeping of his bookshop for years was a wonderful achievement and that he deserved some acknowledgement. He was delighted to learn that we had thought the same.
He said he could scarcely believe it was fifty years since 8 December 1922, which was the most mournful day of his life, and he had plenty to say [This was the date on which leading Republicans Liam Mellows, Dick Barrett, Rory O’Connor and Joe McKelvey were shot by the Free State Government as a reprisal in the Civil War]. He said the three finest orators he heard in his life were Shapurji Saklatvala, Jim Larkin and Fr O’Flanagan. But his method (Peadar’s) was the opposite of Fr O’Flanagan’s. Fr O’Flanagan would prepare a speech and deliver it five times in a day with exactly the same words and prepared gestures. He on the other hand prepared slides or pictures which would illustrate a point, and he never prepared a script because he knew the words would come.
He told a most revealing story about De Valera. He was with him years ago when a man wanted to speak to Dev. He was a man, said Peadar, whom he could not imagine giving the slightest information to him and he was about to dismiss him when Dev held his hand. He listened for twenty minutes. Peadar sat bored. When the man had gone Dev said to Peadar, “When a clever man speaks to you he speaks for one. When a man like that speaks he speaks for thousands, Always listen to them.” As I left the airport bar behind the others a woman spoke to me. “We couldn’t help overhearing your conversation. It was most interesting. I’m from Belfast. But tell me, who is he?” I told her and she was highly delighted.
I think the story that delighted her was of how Peadar succeeded in persuading an Orangemen (possibly Tom Carnduff) to allow him to go through the minutes of his lodge back to 1900. Members were fined for “unnecessarily associating with Roman Catholics”. Recently Peadar met two young Orangemen in a pub and he was telling them things which were obviously only known normally to members of the order. It was before the troubles, and they were pleasant lads.
“You’re not an Orangeman.”
“No I’m a Fenian.”
“Well, how do you know what you’re saying?”
“I was on the executive of the IRA.”
“Well, what would that help you?”
“Just think now. Do you think that the IRA wouldn’t treat the Orange
“Of course? But what d’you mean.”
“Oh – we had a couple of spies in every lodge. Very likely they do today.”
“You see, “Peadar explained to us, “I could hardly tell them the truth of how I knew. But I’ve an Orange sash I got from that time.”
We had tea at the Regent Palace and Charlie Cunningham and I came away.
I phoned Jack Woddis by previous arrangement. All seems to have gone well and possibly the key factor was that Edwina Stewart is in East Germany. They drew up a joint statement which will be published on Monday, and it seemed to me that it was sound. As regards the lobby, he has arranged that Jimmy Stewart will support ours. As regards Tuesday he is inviting Edwina. I said I thought the best type of conference would be one to hear a report from a high power Trade Union delegation and that if we could get over first a “rank and file delegation”, this would prepare the way. He thought that London had not responded well. It struck me afterwards that he does not clearly see the way forward, but if propositions are put that make sense he will fall in with them. Thank goodness there is one like that. When I mentioned that Betty Sinclair had told me that Edwina Stewart was seeing Trade Unionists, he said, “Ah, that’s Colin Sweet. She thinks they’re acting on our behalf. I’m going to put her in the picture.” But I still don’t know what is his complaint of Sweet. The main point is that I seem to have succeeded in placing a structure for a united front, which Edwina Stewart’s nonsense with the students would have jeopardised. At the same time the bones of things are clear. I mentioned that Catholic building workers and plumbers had been driven from their jobs without the slightest reaction from the British Executive of their unions. He was indignant. I mentioned Billy Hull. “Ah – he’s lost a lot of support. Andy Barr has been speaking to him.” Which means that Barr has said, “Lay off” – quite understandably, but that’s how things are.
I was out with Tony Donaghey. He was at Egelnick’s meeting, and says that Egelnick proposed that Irish organisations should “get out a joint statement”. Needless to say, Tony was highly amused at this piece of utopianism.
December 10 Sunday: We had a Standing Committee in the morning at which my proposals for a Parliamentary Department, a Trade Union Department and the issue of a bulletin were agreed. We had a good attendance. As well as the regular members, myself, Sean Redmond, Pat Bond, Charlie Cunningham, Jane Tate and Pat O’Donohue, we had Siobhan O’Neill, Toni Curran and Pat Hensey. Sean thought the idea of a Parliamentary Department somewhat ambitious, but Jane thought of asking WDP to do it – strangely enough I had exactly the same idea myself[It is unclear whom these initials refer to].
In the afternoon the meeting in the NUR hall was packed to the door. Peadar O’Donnell spoke very effectively, and so did Stallard [ie. Jock Stallard, Labour MP for St Pancras North]. Sean Redmond is greatly improving too – he has less “er” and less repetition. We took Peadar to Schmidts for a meal. But Brian Crowley took Mark Clinton and Pat O’Donohue off for tea on their own. The position is that Pat O’Donohue has more to do with Brian Crowley than pleases me; despite a marked improvement in that gentleman’s attitude. I took Peadar O’Donnell back to his hotel in a taxi and returned to Charlotte Street, where we had a drink. The three Birmingham boys were then taken off by the ubiquitous Mr Crowley to have a final meal. They will be lucky to catch their train.
December 11 Monday (Birmingham): I was in the office, then went to see Bill Dunne. Frank Cartwright was there – but has grown his hair longer; so at first I did not recognise him. Dunne assured me that it was he who got the London Trades Council to invite Belfast and I resolved to check with Charlie Cunningham. I found him extremely cooperative and not a bit arrogant. So it shows the impression that can be created over a telephone is often distorted. We discussed getting Trade Unionists to Belfast. Later I rang Betty Sinclair and discussed it. She will issue a general statement. Then we will have to contrive to get them over. They would none of them consider my notion of a “rank and file” investigating committee which on its return could sponsor other things. All want a short cut. But each stands on ceremony. London wants to be invited. Belfast wants to be “approached”. This suits the Unions who have members in the Six Counties, as those can be left undisturbed. When historians come to investigate the impotence of the progressive forces in this crisis, for they have made the worst showing ever, they will need to consider these things carefully.
Soon after I got back I wrote to WDP, and Donal Lenihan came in. He agreed to edit the Bulletin. Then I went to Birmingham where Mark Clinton met me at the station.
We went to a very good Indian restaurant, then to the Wellington. This time there were nine present, a great improvement, and one joined. We went to the Star Club afterwards, and then I stayed with Mark. He told me that Brian Crowley had told him, and surprised him by it, that he had joined the CP. It surprised me too, for seemingly he is still playing about with Clann na hEireann. At the same time it might explain the improvement in his attitude. He is less sour and less noticeably mischievous, though it is still there. Apparently Clann na hEireann had their meeting on Friday. Rory O’Brady was present from Belfast, simultaneously CP and Sinn Fein (Official)[This seems to have been Desmond O’ Hagan of the “Officials” from a later entry, perhaps using a pseudonym]. Apparently only 7 turned up. He attended our meeting and saw it full. So that was interesting news.
It was not possible to find out about the joint Provisional/Official meeting at which Tom McDowell took the chair. Sean Kenny, whom we saw at the club (and who has now got a hate-fixation on Tom McDowell and is vitiating his only usefulness by dwelling on it all the time), says probably McDowell represented himself independently to each side as the envoy of the other and so got them together. I would be surprised if it was this easy. More likely they decided to combine against Lynch and wanted a neutral chairman with no taint of socialism, since they were so socialist themselves. Sean Kenny claims that Tom McDowell printed forged cards to pack the Social Justice meeting and oust him from the chairmanship. He also said he had lost his position as a shop-steward. He is a tough, popular, strident personality, but I doubt if he will find it easy to work with others if he joins us, as he may well. He agreed to furnish Mark Clinton with a list of people who might join him, people who had possibly been disillusioned by the antics of Social Justice. At the meeting there was a man who used to listen to me in the Bull Ring years ago. On the whole it looked more promising than before.
December 12 Tuesday: I was in the office in the day. The lad from Wales called in at midday. He is both Connolly Association and Clann na hEireann but I doubt if he will be impressed by them. Of course the most important event was the meeting of the broad committee. I had phoned Jack Woddis who had strongly opposed inviting the British Peace Committee. Their “Declaration” had dropped on the mat this morning. Woddis was very scornful of their list of Unions. “We could have given them a much better list.” Yes, but would they have responded? I decided not to invite the Peace, although it was our original intention to do so. I could possibly trace, mingled with the proper desire to show solidarity, a strand of haste lest somebody who had started when they were idle reached the goal first. At 7.30 Amphlett-Micklewright, Egelnick, Woddis, Sean Redmond, Charlie Cunningham and myself were assembled. Woddis had said that Egelnick had some suggestions to make. I suspect the presence of Amphlett-Micklewright irritated him. There was also a man from the London Co-op whom Charlie Cunningham described as a “fussy continental”.
Now Jack Woddis had told me that Edwina Stewart had been under the impression that he had initiated the Peace Committee move, but that he had explained to her that it was not so, and she had gone to try to extricate herself. The plopping on the mat must have made this difficult. Sean Redmond and I had come to the conclusion that it was best to try and bring the whole thing into one. But this was not Woddis’s idea. Since we were in the dark about the basis of the disagreement, we did not pursue this, but Sean undertook to raise the question at the meeting to see what the response was. Even as I write this, the impression grows on me that Woddis did not really know what he was doing – but to the story.
I had roughed out and typed something of a plan. It was that an ad hoc committee should organise a conference after 24 March, that a preparatory thing should be the sending of Trade Unionists [ie. to visit Belfast as observers and report back to the planned conference]; these should then be drawn on to the committee. I would take responsibility for bringing them together again in January, but after that the committee should go under its own steam. I forget the exact order in which they were discussed. I had planted my feet very definitely in position – what we were talking about was an English démarche. The CA was only getting it off the ground. The position was that the student (Stamforth, whom we knew in Nottingham) did not arrive. I had brought the Haldane Society, and jointly we had brought the London Cooperative Society.
The general plan met with acceptance. But the discussion of the details showed how the parties stood. Who was to do the actual work? I said that everybody present had heavy commitments, “But Mr Woddis is a great one for finding workers.” This pleased him and amused everybody. And it could not be objected to by Edwina Stewart. But he had not got his man. The fussy continental said that there was no reason why the English should not take the responsibility while others (whom I understood to mean the Irish) did the work. I had taken the chair so was able to dip in whenever I wanted, so I said the Irish would view cynically any arrangement by which the English took the responsibility and the Irish did the work. Edwina was a little surprised but not displeased at this. She was anyway on her best behaviour and somewhat out of her depth. So this was the Connolly Association withdrawing to let the champions come forward. But where was the worker to work? “I hope,” said Woddis,” that we’ll be able to get most of the work done in the NUS office.” But then looking round at our ample space he added, “But I suppose he could work from here.” I had discussed this with Sean Redmond, as I had thought it was bound to be suggested by somebody. He had thought we should aim at the maximum influence in the thing, as obviously nobody seemed to know what he was at. But I thought that we would have to supply keys and in effect the world and his wife would be in our premises, which we are trying to get insured against objections from the CIS that too many people have access. So I said nothing. Edwina Stewart said it would give it an air of being an Irish initiative if the work was done from our HQ. She said to me as if apologising for taking it off us, that everybody knew we had started it. But of course she did not know that I regarded the lobby of 21 February as much more important than this conference which they had fixed at April 1st, after the constitutional decisions have been taken [ie. by the British Government]. Also I estimated that when they found the difficulties that were inherent in the thing, they might not be so pernickety about accepting our assistance. And by this time the lobby would be over and the die cast. So we could help them out if they needed it – but not before the lobby. Also, she had no notion of the amount of work intended to put into the lobby, or our new departments. It was thus left to Jack Woddis to find the worker and his office, phone etc. himself and Egelnick to find the Trade Unionists, and myself to convene the next meeting.
Now came another thing. Egelnick said he thought the other Irish organisations should be brought in. Edwina Stewart was stopped from supporting the proposition, and we all said nothing – Jack Woddis included. For Sean Redmond asked whether the Peace Committee should be brought in or not. Here was the big question. “They should be,” said Woddis, “but not until after January 15. ” So he was precluded from taking Egelnick’s suggestion. For if we fell in with his ban on the Peace People, he must fall in with ours on the Clann na hEireanns. So that was that. Woddis had asked me if the Connolly Association was running the lobby and I said it was, but of course we wanted others to support it. He seemed content at this, and the reason showed later. What about doing things to raise interest? He said his own party was organising a series of public meetings. Everybody said that was very good. Sean Redmond said we were organising a lobby and reprinting the Bill of Rights. Everybody said that was very good. Again Edwina Stewart had no notion of the scale of what was planned. She could have found out if she had asked to come and see us, but she did not. So as well as the joint effort, everybody had his own. Of course all this might seem a somewhat cynical portrayal of the actual horse-trading among people with the same end in view. But unfortunately nonsense is not defeated by argument, and certainly those of us who “knew the score”, as Charlie Cunningham put it – that is, Sean Redmond, Jack Woddis and myself – were anxious to get the most practical possible arrangement, while safeguarding what would be regarded by our members as the reasonable interests of our organisations.
Then we went to Neary’s for a drink, that is Charlie Cunningham, Sean Redmond, Edwina Stewart and myself. Here she was more communicative. She expressed astonishment when we said that we were on good terms with the “Provisionals,” and asked how we did it. I replied that while we did not agree with their policy of physical force at all times, we understand how they could be rendered desperate by injustice and thus be driven to it. Desmond (not Rory, I had the name wrong) O’Hagan had been to our meeting and had seen the huge crowd. Afterwards he had seen Edwina Stewart (and I ask where? was it at the BPC? [British Peace Committee]. He had told her that the state of Clann na hEireann had thoroughly alarmed him, not only because of the poor attendance, but of the political tendencies. There were strong expressions in favour of the “Provisionals” whom the Clann na hEireann people thought were “doing something”. Finally in a burst of confidence she said, “Desmond O’Hagan would very much like to be on this committee we started tonight.” So what has happened is that she has discussed it with him. Now he, like Joe O’Connor, is both Civil Rights and “Official” Sinn Fein. From the start I thought this new phase of diplomatic activity is seen by the “Officials” as an operation of encirclement directed against the Connolly Association. One claw has broken in their hands.
December 13 Wednesday (Liverpool): This was a day of set-backs. First WDP whom I had asked to telephone me today did not do so. The “Long Kesh handkerchiefs” sent by Tony Coughlan had gone to 124 Mount Road [These were handkerchiefs embroidered with political messages by internees in Long Kesh prison camp]. In the morning Edwina Stewart came, but there was no time to talk as she was giving a press interview before going to Leeds. That will be for Rooney, more Clann na hEireann. It is possible slowly to discern Jack Woddis’s objection – for it is clear that the content of the whole thing is to resist the establishment of Communist leadership within the whole movement.
I took the train to Crewe – only to Crewe because I had found I had left the Bill of Rights behind – then returned to London. This meant I could not attend the Liverpool Branch meeting. But then didn’t Brian Stowell ring up and say he could not go either. I hope this doesn’t ruin things. I had asked Barney Morgan to be secretary, but he will not do so for fear he will be excluded from the Irish Centre. There is thus no local secretary and the thing survives because I keep it on.
I attended the branch meeting at which Sean Redmond spoke, and sent out the first Bulletin pending Donal Lenihan starting work on it. The usual people were there, and Charlie Cunningham reminded me of Edwina Stewart’s remark that the NICRA “support groups” in England sent them over £1,000 last year. Yet Woddis told me that they did not wish them involved in the broad movement because they were not bona fide affiliates and were only using the NICRA name. The real reason is of course that she does not want any of the money diverted to political work in Britain. But instead of being frank about it, she weaves a web of intrigue.
Finally I came to Liverpool on the midnight train.
December 14 Thursday: I did very little. I always find night-travelling tiring, even with a sleeper. I had had an alarmed call from Lenny Draper early in the week saying he wanted to see me urgently. But today he said there were new plans and that Dave Haywood was giving him some new help. I said I would see him in Manchester on Saturday.
December 15 Friday: I went to town to look for a filing cabinet, but was unsuccessful in finding a cheap one. I ordered 80 feet of timber for bookshelves.
December 16 Saturday: I went to Manchester. Mick Jenkins is in hospital with haemorrhoids. Dave Haywood was out, and Lenny Draper did not turn up though I waited 40 minutes. One of the boys offered me a lift to Piccadilly, but from there I rang Hathersage Road, and Lenny Draper, very apologetic, reached me there quite soon. I had seen the Morning Star, which reported that Edwina Stewart had announced in Manchester last night that she wanted as many people as possible to go to Pat Arrowsmith’s meeting in Derry which NICRA was organising. Here is another example of the fix people are in. In Cardiff Bert Pearce was busy getting people to it. Edwina Stewart is flying around the country organising it. But in England it is the British Peace Committee who are sponsoring it and Woddis will not work with them while the Morning Star is telling people to support them. People need little encouragement before becoming confused, and they receive plenty. The Morning Star is pursuing a “liberal” policy in reporting and advertising. But unless this “liberal” policy runs the way through everything done, we find a point of sticking which will appear arbitrary.
However, Lenny Draper threw light on it. She made her appeal at a meeting of the Manchester British Peace Committee last night. There were very few there. Lenny was present however, and Frank Bourke of Doncaster. Edwina made what Lenny Draper understood as an attack on the Connolly Association and dismissed out of hand any suggestion that the Irish in Britain had a role to play in winning British Labour. “We’ve established direct contact now,” said she, “and all that’s unnecessary.” Of course she has another role for the Irish to play – as suppliers of funds – but she said nothing of it. But Lenny Draper tackled things in his own way. He counter-attacked. Ben Ainley’s wife and all those who knew of the Connolly Association and Joe Deighan’s work, supported him, and Edwina was extremely annoyed. When the meeting was over she walked over to Lenny Draper and said sharply, “Why did you sabotage me?” “Sabotage” is a strong word. “Oppose” would be better. Probably he took the wisest course, for Manchester. Lenny thinks Edwina then went on to London.
Now while Jack Woddis was in Belfast he told Jimmy Stewart of our lobby and the point was made that they may send people over to it. I had broached this possibility in conversation with Woddis. But apparently there were some of them who wanted to have a say in the content – the usual thing is to demand that the constitutional question be left out. However, I said to Woddis that of course they would want to see whether they were in a position to take part or not.
Lenny Draper commented that both Jimmy Stewart and Edwina seem terribly obsessed with the importance of their own position. That is true. I don’t wonder that Betty Sinclair and others are nearly driven mad by them. He also remarked that at no time did she criticise the English Government. She was still “orange” at bottom, he thought. Now this recalled to my mind a detail of Tuesday’s meeting. When Sean Redmond asked about the British Peace Committee, I produced their “Declaration”. Ours had been spoiled by Direct Rule. As I handed it to Sean, Edwina Stewart said, “That must be good – I wrote it.” I think Jack Woddis may be getting slightly hard of hearing. He did not hear me offer to introduce him to Amphlett-Micklewrght. So I think he did not hear this, for he picked it up and seized on a point in the text. “That’s not going to win support from Republicans,” he commented. Yet at the same time I felt he was like a musician who sees a false relation in an oboe part, but fails to reflect that in performance it would be drowned by a sustained rumpus from brass and drums, and would probably be corrected anyway by the player.
We went to the Capri, where you can drink all afternoon, and then for a few minutes to Bellevue where there was a CP dance. Stan Cole was there, and I also saw Dave Haywood. Now Lenny Draper says that Haywood has been carried away by the Derry thing. I think that this is part of the game of “direct contact”. But it is not direct contact at all – instead of Union to Union, TUC to TUC, it is even more indirect than NICRA – CA – TU [ie.Trade Union]. It is NICRA – BPC – TU. And they are collecting them at Derry so that the link will be transferred to the “Officials”. We will see who wins at this game.
December 17 Monday: I heard on the midday news that an “Irish Civil Rights Association” has been started by the “Provisionals” in Dublin. Needless to say Bernadette Devlin is one of the sponsors and (of all people) David Thornley. I remember him as a fresh postgraduate student sitting opposite me in the National Library while I was preparing my life of Connolly. Now I am told he is drunken, gross, cynical, and what is more, silly. How do these things happen? The Labour Party whose discipline would crack like a whip if anybody touched communism, makes no objection to one of its TDs linking with the “Provisionals”, though Cruise O’Brien regards them as the worst thing ever spawned in Ireland. Everybody wants to have a finger in every pie, and we can be sure it will start over here too.
I was thinking further about the British Peace Committee and Colin Sweet, and can sympathise with Woddis. They call themselves “Trade Unionists for peace in Ireland”. Last time they were “Trade Unionists against the Common Market,” and “Trade Unionists” for or against this, that or the other. They thus create a parallel apparatus, and block Woddis’s efforts, though it is true if they had been made earlier it would have been possible to frustrate them. And I suppose the British Peace Committee would not have started if I had not held on waiting for the Anti-Internment League to collapse. This, by the way, Egelnick calls “the broad movement”, as if they had treated it seriously. So if they had not helped to bolster it, it would have collapsed earlier.
I did little but a trifle of gardening. I have however been hard at the study of counterpoint and think I have made the biggest yet improvement in the technique of improvisation. Also harmony. I spent an hour with the score of Beethoven’s Ef Sonata before listening to it on the radio.
December 18 Monday: I glanced at the Scottish Marxist which I had bought in Manchester. It contained a very polite reference to the Irish Democrat and a reply to Mulholland who had argued for a separate CP in Scotland – or so I understood him [Robert Mulholland wrote a series of articles on Scottish affairs in the “Irish Democrat” which he later published in book form]. They understood him as meaning that they were not Marxist because they were opposed to this, and I must confess they would have room for being indignant if Mulholland intended that. When I heard about it indirectly, I told those who told me to tell them to send a reply for publication [ie. in the “Irish Democrat”]. But they did not. So they sacrifice the appeal to many thousands of readers (not in Scotland admittedly) for the satisfaction of striking at those among the Scotch who think as Mulholland does. I thought I would send a reply for publication in their paper, as they attributed editorial significance to Mulholland’s attacks.
I spoke to Sean Redmond on the phone. The social was seemingly a large success on Saturday, and the £100 prize was won by Pat O’Donohue’s brother in Norfolk. I spent some time thinking over the position in respect of the Derry and London prospects, and drew the conclusion that the one thinking most along our lines was Jack Woddis, for he is now prepared to do what we always said he should do – tackle the English [ie. as regards their responsibilities vis-à-vis Ireland].
December 19 Tuesday: I had a slight cold which takes the edge off things. However, 80 feet of timber for new bookshelves arrived and I resolved to mend the 100-year-old mahogany chairs CEG and AEG bought from Betty Brown. Instead of the horse-hair cushions, I will put plain wood and polish it.
Late at night Jack Woddis rang. How, I wondered, did he get the number. I’d have no peace now, unless I adopt the habit of only answering calls that are by appointment. He said the Political Committee [ie. of the CPGB] was meeting tomorrow. Would it be possible to announce the conference? The British Peace Committee were now talking of one in February, which would cut across the lobby. I said talk to Sean Redmond; he was our press officer. He had already done so, but Sean advised him to consult me. I said I would telephone Sean, as this was obviously common sense.
He then said that he was glad we had raised the position of the British Peace Committee [a body that took up general peace and disarmament issues]. He was for bringing them in, but getting things more cut and dried first. I suppose it is to be like England going into the Common Market. She must conform or remain outside. I replied that I quite understood that he had some reason for his hesitation, and we had therefore taken his advice on trust. I added that I appreciated that Egelnick wanted to bring in the other Irish organisations, and noted that our hesitations had been respected. I then drew a bow at a venture. Was the “Trade Unionists against the Common Market” another example of Sweet’s plunging into a field without any preparation. He replied that it was, and so my suspicions were confirmed, and I judged myself to have a fair grasp of the alignments, which I propose to watch as if I was playing the middle game from a Reti opening [ie. in chess].
December 20 Wednesday: I still had the cold, so I bought a lot of wine, whiskey and gin. It will last a while. I went to Quelly Roberts in Woodchurch Lane and noted first that the name over the shop was now Bowker, second that though they have Bouchard they have no Barton and Guestier, and this wretched Sichel stuff is being sold there. Obviously, however, there were other changes, for I saw the assistants looking at each other somewhat strangely. As I was looking at the somewhat restricted supplies, I saw a policeman come from behind the shop with a boy of about fifteen or sixteen whom he appeared to have under arrest. Then an athletic looking young man in mufti followed. A few minutes later another policeman came in holding a pint bottle of beer. “Is this yours?” he asked. The assistant said it was. “Aha!” said the policeman with great satisfaction. It was clear that now the case was complete and somebody was for it. “You’ll get it back,” he said. “We found it thrown into a garden at the bottom of the lane.”
I naturally asked what had happened. The beer was stacked immediately behind the door. The boy had flung the door open, seized a bottle and run away. The assistants ran out. A policeman off duty, hearing the commotion, gave chase and captured the thief. “But,” said the very pleasant girl who is there most times, “We all feel sorry for him. They’re only children, and he was terribly frightened. “But if we let him away with it, it would go from bad to worse.”
I spoke to Stella Bond in the morning. She told me the Income Tax were claiming us for £200. I rang Toni Curran who promised to get hold of Pat O’Donohue. She thought we should pay them £50 to quiet them. Our difficulty is that the Peterstones owe us six months’ rent and we have put it into the hands of Seafort to recover it and if necessary get rid of them. In the evening I spoke to Sean Redmond who said he would send out Jack Woddis’s notice. He told me that the social made £30 and the ballot £200. Then Pat O’Donohue explained that £200 was not the tax figure. It was nearer £110. So it was decided to pay the £50 and pursue the sub-tenant more vigorously. I said to myself that we will have to tackle this financial thing more professionally.
December 21 Thursday: Didn’t Jack Woddis ring me up so early that I had to get out of bed. It was Sean Redmond who gave him this number as he had been loudly lamenting his inability to speak to me. He told me that the Political Committee [ie. of the CPGB] had agreed to support the three things. Sean had told me the same as it was on yesterday’s Morning Star – though this must have been before the PC. I had on Tuesday warned Woddis of the danger of pulling two ways at once, especially if he was going for unification ultimately. He said that Edwina Stewart had said she would cooperate with anybody in England who worked for Civil Rights. She could not expect to take account of our internal differences. Then she should not inject hers, said I, thinking of the Belfast Trades Council’s complaint that they had been frozen out. It was apropos of this that he spoke of bringing in the British Peace Committee later. For Sean Redmond and I are most anxious to get it all into one.
Today he said that the Political Committee had agreed to ask Jules Jacks to do the work. This seems to signify he has not got his student, as Jules was named to me by Bill Dunne as the man who would get the Trade Unions. The student had agreed to accept and they would donate £50. “That will pay Jules’ expenses.” They had agreed to allocate a total of £200 to the Irish campaign. But since he had presumably not got his student, where was Jules Jacks to work from? He circled for a while and then dived. What about our place? There would have to be some address for mail. I said there were difficulties, but they mightn’t be insuperable. I did not want to be bounced into this without looking at it further. So we agreed to look after Xmas.
An interesting further aspect of the situation is that the Movement for Colonial Freedom has been the subject of a Brockway intrigue. When Barbara Haq decided to retire, without consulting anybody or calling the committee Brockway got together two or three cronies and appointed the young fellow who was engaged to do fundraising. Now Woddis tells me that he belongs to the International Socialists, and I remark the words of Brockway on that subject [namely, that the IS people, despite their faults, were the repositories of the true wine of socialism, or words to that effect, a view mentioned earlier in the Journal].
December 22 Friday: I still have a cold and did little enough. In the evening Alan Morton rang. He is bringing Alisoun to London on Thursday. David has secured a bed for her in a hospital in Dartford. The specialist he found told Alan that what is wrong with her is precisely what the medical people in Edinburgh refused to look at, and even hauled her up before a psychiatrist who tried to persuade her that the origin of her symptoms – a definite pain in a definite place – was psychosomatic. The London specialist had some sharp remarks to make about the Scotchmen.
December 23 Saturday: There was a call from Charlie Cunningham. He said Liverpool Trades Council had welcomed our proposal for a lecture in May. Rott wanted to put off my meeting his committee on January 2, as Jimmy Stewart was coming on 16 May. And Colin Sweet had been trying to contact me. An announcement of a conference on February 24th had come into the office. I imagine he will be trying to get us to accept his date. For myself I would play this very flexibly. I wonder how flexible Jack Woddis will be and how far I will be able to get my own way. This move by Sweet is “cheek.” The nuisance is that it is after our lobby.
A card came from Gerry Curran and Toni. Enid Greaves told me that Dorothy Greaves’s husband died in September. Harley Greaves told her on the phone last Sunday. Later a confirmation came in a card from D2G. Apparently also Harley’s daughter’s husband has walked out on her, leaving her with three small children. Once the rot sets in in a family it continues over the generations, but natural selection does not operate because the breeding increases. I also had a card from Alice Taylor. I replied. And yesterday Lenny Draper rang suggesting a National petition relating to the lobby – it struck me that this might be a reply to Colin Sweet.
December 24 Sunday: I stayed at home all day, and did a few odd jobs, for example mending the new seat for the mahogany chair. In the afternoon there was a radio broadcast of “Cosi fan tutte”, and what was more interesting still a broadcast in the evening of the Messiah, complete and in the Linn edition. I am for my part a defender of Mozart’s “additional accompaniments,” but fashion is against them today, with the trend to ossification. But what was interesting was the practice of improvised ornamentation. I had AEG’s score [ie. his mother’s], but (what was a great advantage) CEG [his father] had marked it throughout. I remember years ago being surprised at the insertion of appoggiature in the recitatives, and wondered how they all knew what to sing when it was not in the score. This must be the remnant of the tradition, and I noted that it was always the older and more confident singers who added them. I am quite confident, both from my own recollections and from his markings in the score, that CEG knew the “Messiah” far better than the man who conducted tonight. There were many crescendi etc. which CEG had marked and this fellow missed, but just one which CEG had not spotted and this man did, I thought, very effectively.
December 25 Monday: I did not wake till 12.25 pm. and was surprised to have slept so late. True I sat up till 1.45 reading Fielding’s “Tom Jones” and during the process downed over a quarter of a bottle of whiskey and several beers. But that would not be sufficient to produce the effect. I found however that the cold I was suffering from was much better. In my younger days I often used to throw infection off during a late sleep punctuated with many dreams. It was indeed as a result of this experience that (long before the discovery of two types of sleep) I rejected Freud’s theory, and drew the conclusion that in general dreams are “good for you”, and have a restorative function. Anyway as a result of this the day passed quickly.
December 26 Tuesday: I did little but re-seat the chair, read, and listen to the four Beethoven sonatas, two of them AEG’s favourites.
December 27 Wednesday: About 2 pm. after I had planted three of the four gooseberry bushes that arrived from Scotland, Lenny Draper arrived and we had lunch. We spent the afternoon and evening convivially enough. He told me more of Edwina Stewart’s actions. As I suspected, it was Rooney she saw in Leeds. But on the whole there was not much new. Lenny stayed the night.
December 28 Thursday (London): We set out for Lime Street early and thoroughly discussed the situation in Manchester. Then I came on to London and found Charlie Cunningham in the office. A new turn of events was a letter from Colin Sweet informing me that they were having a national peace conference in February and asking me to speak at it and for other discussions. I am not sure about the nature of the conference. Charlie thinks it covers a range of subjects and Ireland would be one. If so it could be made into a partial boost for the April one, and it would be hard for Colin Sweet to get out of the position, as our lobby would dominate everything, having just taken place. But persuading Jack Woddis may be difficult. I don’t know what he has against Sweet, though he is certainly very bitter about something. I got two pages off to Ripley
December 29 Friday: I got another four pages off to the printer, and have only about fifteen inches left on the middle-page spread.
December 30 Saturday: I got the middle page off by mid-day, then made a blitzkrieg on the correspondence, clearing it all off and starting on the circular by the time I finished just before 11 pm. I see the front open at this moment and intend to go in and, if I can, win. TS is arranging a seminar in Aberystwyth. These students have got votes, so we must go into the Universities. I had the idea of trying to recruit in Liverpool on the basis of socials, as this is the only thing which will draw them out of the Irish Centre. They are having one on January 7th, but as they have no secretary I had to do the circular. Lenny Draper rang up saying the Manchester meeting is fixed.
Another amazing development showed when Joyce Tringham rang. There had been a meeting of London MCF at which it was disclosed that only three resolutions had come in for the conference in February, which is on the 17th, and there was none on Ireland. The qualifying date is December 31. I told her we had heard nothing about the conference. She then informed me that the young man whom Fenner Brockway and some of them had unconstitutionally given Barbara Haq’s job to when she left, a somewhat self-important International Socialist, had disappeared and left Kay Beuchamp and Joan Hyman to run the organisation. “You can depend upon it,” I said, “that he had not sent out the material, and fled before the prospect of exposure.” Now this brings in the possibility of bringing in the MCF through Joan Hyman. Amphlett-Micklewright in a letter told me that John Platts-Mills will act as a sponsor if Fenner Brockway does. Now the question will be how far Woddis is confident that CP involvement will not frighten the others away. There seems at least a prospect of avoiding a split and damaging competition.
December 31 Sunday: I was in the office early and busy all day. Then in the evening I had a wee drink with some of the members – in view of “the day that was in it”[New Year’s Eve] . Peter Mulligan explained that there is a lunatic in the flat below him who frightens his very young wife. He is trying to have him certified but has put in for a house in Northampton as a precaution. Among those not prevented by the fog in outer London, were Brian Crowley (actually he hasimproved) and Charlie Cunningham.
January 1 Monday: The paper having gone I could spend the whole day on preparations for the next two months’ activity. There was a Standing Committee at which I put other proposals. The plan for a Parliamentary Department received a setback when WDP told me his brother had recently died suddenly and he was looking after the widow’s affairs. I am sure he was only 60. But Pegeen O’Flaherty agreed to take charge. Fiona has not responded. Then I proposed also a University department. TS came in during the day and we arranged a seminar at Aberystwyth to which Tony Coughlan and I will go. Then we are for a memorandum to Whitelaw, and deputations to others. We discussed the new situation in the MCF. Sean Redmond told me that Jack Woddis had telephoned him on Thursday over some small shift in his position – in our favour. I forget it for the moment.
January 2 Tuesday (Liverpool): I had a phone call from Colin Sweet. He had sent a letter asking me to speak at their conference in February. Now I remember what Woddis told Sean Redmond. Sweet had telephoned him complaining that the Connolly Association lobby would “cut across” his conference. Sweet asked if he could see me on Friday when I return to London. So I told him to come at 4 pm. I was already decided that the time was ripe to try to dismiss Woddis’s objections to bring Sweet and his committee into the fold – though of course the problem of getting them to stop their independent nonsense would then arise. I therefore telephoned Woddis and put it to him that I could obviously not refuse to see Sweet, and if he came I could not keep him in the dark about the committee which of course is (as Sean Redmond put it) far two narrow as it is. He was compelled to agree. “As long as you know where you stand,” says he. I asked him if he thought Sweet a slippery customer and he indicated that such was his view, though I think I pushed him further than he wanted to go. I then gave him strictures on Sweet I intended him to take to himself, by saying that the CA had been doing this work for years and nobody showed the slightest interest, but now there was the smell of a bandwagon everybody was trying to book a seat. Of the MCF he said ,”Yes, we’ve sacked that fellow. We’ve dismissed him. We passed a resolution that from a certain date he was no longer to be regarded as secretary.” This shows the measure of Woddis – he likes to appear clever or grand. My guess is that the resolution was passed after he disappeared. Also he says the obvious as if it would greatly help you to make up your mind – again as if you wanted that! Concluding, he mistakenly addressed me as “Colin”, but too much need not be read into that, except that he has really gone a roundabout way to an object that was before him. I imagine that the toughest assignment will be Colin Sweet. Some thinking needs to be done.
One thing Woddis said – and he seems much against this trip to Derry venture – is that from a letter he saw from Edwina Stewart he deduced they were going off it. It was a call for messages. Now I replied that I had received a circular from the same woman which asked that meetings be called all over England. “Perhaps they’ve re-estimated the situation.” More likely muddled it, thought I, but I said I doubted if the organisation was monolithic. It could be, indeed, that Edwina Stewart and Sweet were made in heaven for each other, and once they got together the whole campaign appeared by magic from a monstrous womb and took shape before anybody had time to think, still less consult. So then I went for the Liverpool train. My problem is of course, what inducement I can offer Sweet to get him to give up his plan for a “Declaration” (an idea he took from us) that doesn’t suit us in its terms.
In the short run there are obvious difficulties. I must offer what I haven’t got!
January 3 Wednesday: I went to Ripley and all went smoothly. Soon after I got back to Liverpool Lenny Draper telephoned. He has booked a hall for a meeting on the 26th. He had talked with Dave Haywood but “can’t get through to him.” Sweet had told me that Ben Ainley was going to Derry. “You know Ben Ainley?” said Sweet inquiringly. I said I did, but did not say, “for 38 years”, as I could. Lenny Draper knew nothing about it, but thought it was confused by the British Peace Committee move – purely the result of Jack Woddis’s diplomatic method. Dave Haywood wanted to see me. Now Roger O’Hara [Liverpool CPGB secretary/organiser] had invited me to address his committee on January 2. When it was announced that Jimmy Stewart would be in Liverpool on January 4 he postponed my visit “sine die”, a very illogical thing, showing he has no notion but to go through the forms and show he is “doing something”. I therefore wrote at once to Vic Eddisford and suggested a discussion in Manchester. So this may well come as Dave Haywood wants it too. What I want to do if it is possible to bring in Sweet, is to absorb the whole lot in a movement infinitely wider which might influence events. But in the meantime I am encouraging every possible CA activity so that if the one fails the other is still there.
January 4 Thursday: the weather was still mild but very damp, so without completing the planting of my fruit bushes, I took the opportunity to do a little tidying up in the house.
January 5 Friday (London): I went to London, arriving soon after midday. At 4 pm. Colin Sweet appeared, very grave, sedate, and I felt of my own accord not greatly to be trusted. He asked me whether I thought the English Government would introduce reforms highly distasteful to the Protestants. I replied that I did not. I anticipated their selecting some means of making the Irish impotent by division and enabling themselves to sit by more cheaply to control the squabbling. “So you don’t think hell will break loose?” “I can’t promise of course, but I doubt if the English Government would invite it.” I also said that John Taylor’s proposals showed there was not much shot in the UDI gun [ie. a proposal for a “Unilateral Declaration of Independence” by Northern Ireland] and already they were looking for magical roads of escape. I told him of our lobby and conference, but not of the committee. He told me of his. But he had already printed the names of the speakers, and added that if I liked to speak also they would be very pleased. I told him to invite the Connolly Association. But I at once took an instant resolution not to speak from the floor. Apparently it is a one-day national conference on peace, with Ireland only one topic out of three. He agreed in principle to associate himself with a broader movement. We did not discuss the “Declaration” he and Edwina Stewart got out. I was out with Jim Kelly [ie. selling the “Irish Democrat” round the pubs of one of the Irish districts of London].
January 6 Saturday: I was in the office most of the day, and rang Woddis in the afternoon. He was pleased that I had managed to tell Colin Sweet of our plans without disclosing that we were meeting. “Did he not ask if you were meeting?” “He did not,” said I, though it went through my mind that possibly he knew damned well and didn’t need to. I also thought to myself that he is mainly interested in his own venture. On the other hand it may be that here is an extremely capable man who is impatient of leading strings and is intent to strike out on his own; possibly he does not know how to collaborate. Now a new development was this. Woddis told me last time I telephoned that he had a circular from Edwina Stewart asking that messages be sent to Derry. He deduced from this that they were not pressing the demonstration so much. But at the Political Committee [ie. of the CPGB] on Wednesday they decided to send somebody from every district. The reason is of course the fear, very understandable, of becoming isolated. And one can be led into nonsense by that fear. “But,” he added, “We’re not going to pull out all the stops, as what is important is what happens here.” In this way of course one becomes a kind of agency for transmitting the leads of the movement in Ireland, but with a reservation that this aspect is largely a matter of form.
Anyway that was that, and Charlie Cunningham, Jim Kelly and Pegeen O’Flaherty came in. She has agreed to take on the Parliamentary Department and started work. Fiona rang and said she would help too; also from Toni Curran I learned so would Una Milner. And indeed Pegeen O’Flaherty started work. Later Tony Donaghey came in and told me of his plans in Luton.
January 7 Sunday (Liverpool): I was in the office early and at about midday Toni Curran came in and we discussed the excellent progress of West London. Then I came to Liverpool. In the morning I had been told on the phone that Clann na hEireann were holding a social on Scotland Road and that they had pre-empted our music. But when I reached The Mitre there was the branch as large as life. “They’ve cancelled theirs in favour of ours,” said Brian Stowell. Apparently Peter Lacey or one of the boys had said we had asked them first, and though he is a member of Clann na hEireann this boy said we had first right. So this created better blood between the organisations. Certainly it contrasted with the sneaking behaviour of the Londons. The musicians were also especially friendly. I had written to them thanking them for their past help and telling them I had an article on John Field in the paper. This was the first social Liverpool ever ran under its own steam, and Brian Stowell who had been getting dispirited was materially cheered. Pat MacLaughlin was there and a Gerard Hart (I think) of Clann na hEireann. He told me that Manchester Clann na hEireann were running a demonstration with thirteen coffins at the end of the month [ie. symbolical of the thirteen civilians who had been killed in Derry on Bloody Sunday, 30 January the previous year]. But there would be no political party banners. God! What nincompoops we have to deal with!
Then there was Tony McClelland of the CP and Trades Council. Quite unaware of it, he is as chauvinistic an Englishman as you’d ever find. “Irish revolutions were bourgeois,” he says, “as there’s no industrial working class in Ireland.” He hasn’t even begun to understand, but he speaks with almost aggressive self-assurance. Then there was a young YCL – a big tall fellow – these must have come from leaflets given out by Pat MacLaughlin at the meeting which Jimmy Stewart addressed on Friday. He asked if the CA was “just bringing all the Irish comrades together.” He expressed his distaste for materialism, and it was necessary to explain. Now all of this comes from one thing, philosophically it can be called idealism, the giving of preference to ideas over reality, so that the awkward aspects of reality are not even seen, let alone thought about. Peter Lacey, by the way, was a Maoist but is now in Clann na hEireann. Pat Doherty and his wife were there – pleased to be on the front page of the Democrat. Indeed if, as Brian Stowell says, Liverpool is in a state of trauma because of the transference of the position of capital of the North of England to Manchester, and the loss of its status as a world city, then this need of recognition was as nectar to all of them, and the feeling was very good, which was what I wanted.
January 8 Monday: I planted the last gooseberry and two of the blackcurrants. In the evening I went to Manchester and about 11 turned up – not the new ones but the older ones – Barney Watters, a pillar of common sense at 80. A lad of about 22 was there, English, with long red hair. I spotted him as soon as he opened his mouth. Lena Daly challenged him. He was from the Anti-Internment League, who are planning a coach trip to London for the 28th. Committees are being set up all over England to heed the call of NICRA – thus Edwina Stewart’s endless meddling is to put the re-organised Anti-Internment League (a combination of Gery Lawless and the “International Marxists”) on their feet. I said we had already been invited by the Clann na hEireann in Liverpool. I would not say there are brilliant prospects but at least there is something. They agreed to the plans for lobbying and will hold a meeting on the 26th. As well as Lenny Draper, there were Belle Lalor, the two Wrights (Roy as confused as ever) and a few more. Then I came back to Liverpool.
During the day the thought came to me to play a card we have had in our hands for many years – the provision in the Constitution which enables us to accept affiliations. It is worth thinking over.
January 9 Tuesday (Birmingham): In the morning I planted another black-currant – and it took me nearly two hours. The reason for this was the layer of broken bricks, tiles and round metal at a depth of about 18 inches. The gardens of these houses were the rubbish tips for the Tranmere Hall Estate, and indeed I suspect that the reason for the subsidence of the annex is that it was built out on to this disturbed ground. However, it was dry and mild and I am far more advanced than in most seasons. The mild weather has produced strange effects. There is a yellow hollyhock still blooming in the front garden, a swede turnip in flower, and a flower or two on the flowering quince; most striking is a perfect newly opened rose on the “Madame Butterfly”, and the Helliborus Niger in its proper season, so to speak glancing uneasily at those who have broken its monopoly.
In the afternoon I left for Birmingham and attended the meeting in the Wellington. Mark Clinton and his friends from Bailieborough were there, and for the first time Sean Kenny, who is still chewing the cud of Tom McDowell’s villainy and can’t understand how he allowed himself to be defeated by people who know how to raise up movements and let them down again. Still he is more turned to practical things. This character Walsh who joined last year and rejoined last week was there. The Cavan boys suspected him of using language that did not tally with the situation. He sat there dark and scowling, a clerk of some kind, we guessed. Last week he revealed that he was distributing the Irish Weekly. After the meeting was over Mark Clinton stayed with him and he revealed his association with a new organisation, including himself, Tom Toal (Tom McDowell’s rival in Social Justice) and Frank Short of the old Anti-Partition League. “That’s Fianna Fail,” was my reaction to the others. He has refused to distribute the Irish Democrat. So the fissiparous abilities of exile organisations are revealed once more. I stayed with Mark Clinton.
January 10 Wednesday (Liverpool): As we sat up talking until 6.30, I did not get up till 10 am. Mark Clinton did not go in. He decided on diplomatic influenza. He told me that from the time he was 25 (seven years ago) his ambition was to be a teacher. And now he dislikes the job. I returned to Liverpool, but got little done, as I was naturally somewhat tired. But in the evening Cathal telephoned to tell me about the reprints of the Monaghan weekend conference. I think I recorded that Roy Johnston had asked me to send my speech, which I did. I learned from Tony Coughlan that Jack Bennett’s was to be republished apparently by the Sovereignty Society [ie. the Irish Sovereignty Movement, established in Dublin by Anthony Coughlan and others following the EEC Accession Treaty referendum the previous May]. It seems from Cathal that it is Tony Coughlan who jumped the gun. Apparently, though he was not able to be at Monaghan, and consequently unaware of the intention to publish all three in this magazine on the part of the Wolfe Tone [ie. the Dublin Wolfe Tone Society], he asked Jack Bennett to hand over his script. Jack then asked an opportunity to revise it. Now the whole thing is duplicated and in two versions.
“It has brought much grist to Roy’s mill,” said Cathal.
“I certainly thought Tony somewhat off-hand when I discussed it with him,” I said.
“You know the regard I have for Tony,” Cathal replied, “But I can’t stand that off-hand manner. And in this case it is his fault.” Indeed Roy had just been representing the same, but had gone. “They’re buzzing like flies,” says Cathal.
January 11 Thursday (London): I had agreed to see a young journalist, Tom Brown from Suffolk, at 11.30 am – by mistake because it should have been tomorrow. I went for the Pullman but missed it by 30 seconds, thanks to the bad bus service. Then the 8.30 dragged and dawdled. But Brown was late so that was that. He said he was a freelance writer preparing an article on the Connolly Association for the Manchester Guardian. He seemed a decent enough typical middleclass lad – about 30-ish I would say. But it is hard to treat them all seriously. I gave him all the published material and was glad when he went.
Among the correspondence was a surprising letter from Pat Hensey. It began with the salutation, “Dear Mr Greaves”, and ended, “Yours respectfully.” He said that “largely for personal reasons” he was resigning from the CA. I knew he was dissatisfied in some way. Mark Clinton said that our not electing him to the Standing Committee was the cause of it. But at bottom the trouble is that he is in his middle forties and has ceased to develop. When that happens people inevitably fall back. I wrote a reply, but did not post it. Sean Redmond came in for a minute or two. He also was surprised. We decided to try to persuade him to withdraw it.
Then I went to Toni Curran’s where the West London Branch was holding its committee, with Pat O’Donohue, Gerry Curran and some others. They formed as enthusiastic a group as you would find. Toni produced coffee and wine and I was not back at King’s Cross until 1 am.
January 12 Friday: Troubles never come singly. I had written to Brief asking about VAT and Post-War credit. A letter from his brother informed me that Brief had died on 16 November, but providing me with the information. I felt somewhat shocked at this. He was as lively as a cricket when I saw him in the summer. The way time goes! I met a relation of Will Parkinson’s in the Co-op yesterday and learned that he has been retired for eighteen months and merely does a few hours. And to add to the gathering of unpleasantness Sean Redmond has invited the Irish Post to my dinner party, which is just what I asked him not to do [a function to mark his 25 years as editor of the “Irish Democrat”]. I don’t know what can have prevailed on him to do this. And Jane Tate is still in bed with influenza, having (of all things) got up on Sunday and gone to a demonstration. What next! Betty Sinclair has not been able to get the Trades Council [ie. the Belfast Trades Council of which she was full-time secretary] to offer the invitations to visitors, but she can speak in Cardiff in February. John McClelland will come to Manchester.
During the day Dai Richards [Welsh Trade Union leader] rang from Cardiff and said the date we had chosen for our conference was that of the founding of the Welsh TUC. Who was in the room at the time but Dave McLaughlin, who was getting out the bulletin. He is an excellent person, extremely intelligent, modest, shrewd and with a great sense of fun, an example of what the youth can be, when properly brought up. I mentioned Newport and he remarked, “There’s a mate of mine up there – Dave Richards. We met in Manchester and got on like a house on fire.” I commented to Dave Richards, “David McLaughlin is here” “A fine fellow!” he declared. I am glad the two young men talk to each other, as it confirms my judgement of both of them. Dave Richards said he might go to Aberystwith to see TS. In the evening I was in Camden Town with Chris Sullivan. He told me that Bobby Rossiter had been attacked by hoodlums while conducting his bus, and was blind for three days [ Bobby Rossiter, originally from Waterford, was a long-standing CA member in South London who worked as a bus conductor and who suffered permanent eye-impairment as a result of this incident].
January 13 Saturday: I asked Charlie Cunningham when he came in about Bobby Rossiter. He said the incident took place some months ago and that he was recovered. Sean Redmond had met him. Jim Kelly came in, Pat O’Donohue and Brian Crowley, but not Peter Mulligan, who must be fully occupied with his own affairs. I was always afraid he would expand this book business beyond his capacity to maintain it. But if he stays away much longer I can avail of the situation for a drastic cut-back.
January 14 Sunday: I wrote to Maire Comerford. Some months ago I was travelling to Liverpool and spoke to a Mrs Pearson of Southport, whom I judged to be a very fine woman, a Catholic, with a family of “teen-aged” children who all used bicycles, and were ardent Irish nationalists. She had been brought to Southport as a baby after her father was killed by the Black and Tans in 1918. I noted that there were no Black and Tans in 1918, but of course there was shooting at all times. She wondered if she could find the full story as her children were very strong Republicans. So I gave her Maire Comerford’s address. At Christmas Mrs Pearson sent me a card, containing a note to the effect that her daughter had visited Maire Comerford and they had both read my books, the boy being particularly Republican. As she had not provided an address, and as I wanted to thank her for the card, I wrote to Maire Comerford and received a reply. In short Mrs Pearson’s father was probably still alive, was an alcoholic, and all but destitute. She had found this out and was prepared to tell Mrs Pearson but not the daughter. I discussed the case with Pegeen O’Flaherty, and like me she was inclined to head Mrs Pearson off the investigation, so I wrote to Maire Comerford to this effect. Why should we destroy what these children have founded their identity upon? It will be time enough when they have established an identity for themselves.
There was a brief Standing Committee at 2 pm., with Sean Redmond, Charlie Cunningham, Pat O’Donohue – but not Paddy Bond, who is a dreadful lone wolf. He had gone right ahead with the plans for a lobby, and then gone to see Jack Henry about calling a meeting of shop- stewards to suggest a half-day stoppage on the building jobs. This was very good, but it would have been better to have had notice of it. I told him that if Jack Henry and Bill Dunne considered it would succeed, I was all for a stoppage. Apparently it was Lou Lewis who suggested it. Jack Henry was perhaps a little lukewarm. Possibly the electing of deputations would do.
Then there was a “seminar” which Toni Curran, Pat O’Donohue, Jim Kelly, Peter Mulligan, Amphlett-Micklewright, Una Milner, Pegeen O’Flaherty and others came to, which Sean Redmond introduced and Micklewright developed. He tells me he will be 65 next summer – “which isn’t bad going” and proposes to retire but teach (law, I believe) two days a week. It was a useful afternoon. Elsie O’Dowling was there, somewhat showing her age at long last, as she must be nearly 77, and using a hearing aid. Then I was out in Camden town with [initials unclear]. This must be the most sustained spell of intensive organising I have ever put in, and that is saying something, but I want to be able to dispose of a much stronger organisation when the chips begin to go down in a month or two. I sent out the appeals for finance for the campaign.
January 15 Monday: I was in the office all day. In the evening we held the meeting of the conference committee. Jack Woddis was there, with Sean Redmond and Charlie Cunningham, and the NCCL sent Jack Dromey and one other, Spencer, (whom Charlie calls the “fussy continental”) and Tansey and Rajek from the Haldane Society. Micklewright could not come through illness. The student did not show up, and I wondered if the NUS is playing a double game. Woddis has seen Jules Jacks in the afternoon and reported that he would do the work. Now Egelnick could not come and sent White, this lad who is secretary of the “Irish Committee”. He was a pallid youngster, not very bright I would believe, and his eyes had the hunted expression that sometimes goes with emotional imbalance. He spoke not a word, but wrote down all that took place. When it was over we invited him for a drink, but no, he was off to report to Egelnick. We said that we had no objection to Jules Jacks working in our offices, and Woddis told me afterwards that Jacks wanted a preliminary discussion with myself and Bill Dunne. “Don’t omit Dunne,” says Woddis. He also asked Spencer if the London Co-op would give some money and possibly do the North London envelopes. Spencer said he hoped they would. But only when Lomas heard that the NCCL was to be present did he consent to make London Co-op Society participation official. And the cream of the joke is that the NCCL are not yet officially represented – only Lomas did not ask that!
I exchanged a few words about Colin Sweet. Woddis asked why I had not invited Sweet. “Not that I object,” said he. I told him I had not had a too favourable impression of him. “Ha,” says he, “I’m glad you had that discussion with him. We’ll bring him in afterwards when everything is cut and dried.” He said he thought Colin Sweet was only interested in glorifying himself and would start any hare if it was to have this result. At the same time they are backing Sweet’s Derry thing, while having misgivings all the time.
January 16 Tuesday (Liverpool): I telephoned Jules Jacks in the morning. He agreed to come in to see me next Monday. But he professed to believe that Lomas was to attend as well. “He’s going to do the technical work,” said Jacks. Woddis had told him so. Of course he could not have done, unless he was presuming things so as to persuade Jules Jacks – something I think I detect in his manner of working, a certain slickness, not however going beyond the tolerable, but giving those who work with him the need to keep a hand on the brake. I had the impression, moreover, that Jacks thought that all those actually doing the work would be CP members and thus no awkward questions would be asked at any time – he was by no means clear – but I said that while I presided over the committee, everything of moment would be decided by the full committee. I know that Woddis approached Spencer (the fussy continental from the London Cooperative Society) after he had seen Jules Jacks. Then he said, “Oh dear me! I wonder if we’ll have to engage a part-time typist to help Jules.” Apparently Jules cannot type. This illustrates the hand-to- mouth way things are done. And it is very galling when we know the Connolly Association has the resources to do the whole thing properly, to have to put up with all this just to prevent somebody else duplicating the work. However, when I rang up Bill Dunne I left a message asking him to telephone me, but he didn’t.
I had Pegeen O’Flaherty in at 6.30 and later Fiona [ie. Mrs Fiona Connolly-Edwards] came, and we formally inaugurated the work of the Parliamentary Committee, or department perhaps I should say. They began the classifying of constituencies. I left for Liverpool on the 7.55 and was at 124 Mount Road soon after 11 pm.
January 17 Wednesday: There was thick fog. I stayed in most of the day, and when I found Brian Stowell and Roy Frodsham outside the Hall in Tarleton St. we found the door was locked and the caretaker did not turn up. So that was a journey totally lost.
January 18 Thursday (London): I returned to London, ran through the correspondence in the office and then went out to Luton where we found one or two new faces. Very very slowly we seem to gain influence. But it is at the expense of the total abandonment of my literary work. I found Bill Dunne is in Italy.
January 19 Friday: I told Jules Jacks not to come on Monday and informed Jack Woddis. Dunne will be back on Monday week. Betty Sinclair told me that she was raising the subject of a visit of Trade Unionists next week. Her meeting is, I think, on the 25th. In the evening I went to Birmingham, where we had only Sean Kenny and Mark Clinton. But there was now no doubt of the commitment of Sean Kenny, which is important. We went to the Star Club afterwards. It had been let to some West Indians and was dark and deafening. Sean Kenny was indignant. “You can’t get in to your own club!” However we managed to get a drink, and I returned on the midnight train. David McLaughlin was in in the day.
January 20 Saturday: The usual people came in to the office, but not Pat Hensey. About a week ago there arrived a letter from him saying that he had decided “largely for personal reasons” to resign from the CA. It was a strangely formal letter. I wrote back saying I would regard it as not having been received and promised to telephone him. I was out with Jim Kelly.
January 21 Sunday (Oxford/Newport): I caught the 10.40 to Oxford where Alf Ward met me and we met Dorrington and Barry Riordan in a pub. Then there was a reasonably well-attended meeting at Ruskin College. Young Brendan Goldsmith was there, a fine lad, but being from the Falls Road, he is in Clann na hEireann. I noted however that he made notes of what I said about the Bill of Rights. Then I went on to Newport. There had been a mix-up at the meeting. It had been mistakenly called for the afternoon. But the conference having been postponed to February 17, and the notices being all but ready, there seems a chance. We broke up early. The College Union was like an ice-box. Apparently since a “sit-in” last year the municipality has failed to repair the central heating, apparently desirous of cooling the ardour of sedition. Dai Richards was there and said how impressed he was by Dave McLaughlin, and I stayed with Brian Wilkinson. Another young fellow was thinking of writing a novel. I encouraged him.
January 22 Monday (London): I returned to London and found Stella Bond in the office. The young fellow Tony Martin comes in most lunchtimes and helps in the office. And Fiona has been in several times. She says Peadar O’Donnell would laugh to see her now. She used to work in the Republican Congress, and when it collapsed she and Nora were in tears. They blamed Roddy[ie. Roddy Connolly, James Connolly’s son] and promised him a fine lecture as soon as he presented himself. But when he did he was obviously very ill, so they hadn’t the heart. Now Fiona was then married to Len Wilson, then a member of the CP. Fiona says he [ie. Roddy Connolly] found out afterwards that Wilson was acting for the CPGB in Ireland and that he had conveyed an instruction to wind it up. I have no doubt Fiona believes this and was told it. But I would think it was a mere excuse to push responsibility out of the country, for what would Wilson do if they refused?
I telephoned Pat Hensey and he said he had nothing against retaining membership, but could not do anything for us. It may be his sister’s marriage troubles have arisen again. I think she is separated from a man who molests her, but from whom she cannot make a complete break. Sean Redmond booked the Mahatma Gandhi Hall for our conference, but today the deposit came back with an apology -–the conference was “political”. So we didn’t know where to go. I received a letter from Gollan [John Gollan, CPGB General Secretary] congratulating me, in terms I thought a trifle exaggerated, on completing 25 years as Editor of the “Democrat”. It is rather a sign of age to be told you are “loved by all”, especially incongruous when you know how well, in certain quarters, you are hated.
While Fiona was in the office a Russian on his way to Belfast called. He represented New Times. But it had not occurred to them to warn him about the dangers of the place, which we duly impressed upon him, so that he promised to take great care. I rang Edwina Stewart about him.
January 23 Tuesday: I was in the office all day, busy on the paper. In the evening the dinner to celebrate my twenty-five years “hard labour” was held at Schmidt’s. Sean Redmond had, much to my displeasure, invited the press. About 75 people attended, including Sean himself, Pat Bond and Stella, Charlie Cunningham, Jim Kelly, Mark Clinton, Flann Campbell, Paddy Clancy, May Nolan, Kay Phoenix, Jane Tate, James Klugman, Maurice Cornforth, Jack Woddis and many more including Pat Devine, Gloria Devine, Dave McLaughlin, Marcus Lipton and the Seiferts. Sean Redmond read extracts from about 40 messages, from Tony Coughlan, Cathal MacLiam, Micheál O Loingsigh, Dalton Kelly, Jim O’Regan, Jim Savage, from a branch of the Cork Labour Party, and some from Australia, New Zealand and the USA. The remarks made by Sean were to the point. I thought Pat Bond inclined to personalise a lot. However, I made a suitable reply and all went well. Sean and Pat Bond must have put in much work on it.
But when I got to the office hadn’t I forgotten or lost my keys. Jane Tate brought in the cabinet key so that I could get out the spares and get into my flat. But this was a nuisance.
January 24 Wednesday: I worked on the paper between ringing Schmidts, who seem to have no central agency for finding or keeping things.
January 25 Thursday: Schmidts made up their minds at last. They have not the keys. So I went by tube to Baker Street on what I thought the millionth chance I had dropped them in the bus on the way back. I glanced at my ticket and saw the number was 4900 – I thought that’s a lucky number, if you can get that by chance, you might turn up the keys by the same token. So with this engaging irrationality in my mind I prepared for the reality I properly envisaged, a wait in a long queue and no keys. But to make matters worse there was an announcement that things lost on Tuesday would not be available under normal conditions until late on Thursday. But there was only one man ahead of me, and when he had gone, out came the keys which had been handed in this morning. I therefore went back and finished the paper. But so much time had been wasted that I had to call off a trip to Oxford that was not essential.
January 26 Friday (Liverpool): I was busy clearing up organisational back-log all day, till I took the 4.30 to Manchester. Parker claimed to be ill and cried off [John Parker, Labour MP for Dagenham], so that there was only John McClelland and myself and Martin Guinan in the chair. There were only about 40 there, for all Lenny Draper’s work, and I reminded him I had told him not to bite off more than he can chew. But the great thing about Manchester is that the people out of the party office will come to things. Dave Haywood was there tonight, and Tommy Watters, and indeed most of the clan Watters. Nevertheless I think a useful purpose was served. As Lenny Draper had not thought of getting accommodation for John McClelland, I took him to Liverpool.
January 27 Saturday (Manchester): John McClelland could not get a flight to Belfast this morning and decided to go via Heysham tonight as the Liverpool sailing is cancelled for some reason. We therefore decided to go to Manchester as there is no through train from Liverpool to Heysham. This meant we could discuss the situation there all day. At the end I thought we had quite a clear idea and I propose to incorporate it in a memorandum, based on the seminar Sean Redmond opened.
He told me that the NICRA executive has not met for months as they cannot get a quorum, and that Edwina Stewart pleases himself. They have tacitly dropped the absurd “alternative assembly” rubbish that even temporarily took in Jack Woddis. They have no real policy. When John McClelland asked Joe Deighan what was their policy he replied “The Bill of Rights” – the thing which Jimmy Stewart only last year decided was “divisive” and then proposed should be fought for under another name. When I said that Tony Coughlan seemed to have washed his hands of the North and spoke contemptuously of “bumbling incompetence”, John McClelland said it was near to that. And of course Gollan and Woddis cannot see this because they know insufficient about the subject. He said that the secret meetings at Dundalk between CP and Officials included People’s Democracy and it was thus that the “assembly of peoples’ organisations” derived. He says there is no scientific thought brought to bear, and that as for the Republicans, the Officials exist, but the Provisionals rule the roost. No political work or explanation is undertaken.
I went with him to Manchester and we went to Lenny Draper’s very poor social that looked up a bit around 11 pm. Burke has found a girl, has chopped his beard off to his great improvement, but I think will not do much, though he sings well enough. I spent most of the time talking with Dave Haywood and since one of the boys offered me a bed for the night at his parents’ place, I stayed, and we visited some dark noisy shebeen where we drank till 2 am!
I forgot to note regarding yesterday that on the way up in the train, there were two Tory MPs who gave the dining car the opportunity to hear everything they said. They came from Alderley Edge and Bolton. They agreed that if the miners came out on strike they should close down the television, leaving one radio channel open, and shut down the newspapers, and thus have a government monopoly of propaganda. Of Northern Ireland they said, “They’ve got purely administrative Government there, and we could do with it here.”
January 28 Sunday(Liverpool): I did little enough today. I still have a cold, and did not get about much after returning to Liverpool in the rain.
January 29 Monday: I went to Ripley to read the proofs of the paper, returning through Manchester where I attended a meeting of the secretariat.
January 30 Tuesday: Again I did little but potter around. The Peace man was there last night. It was agreed that they would not hold a conference until there was further discussion. Francis Deane thought the Connolly Association a far better organisation for the job than the British Peace Committee.
January 31 Wednesday: I bought a Primus Stove – for nearly £8 – since there is a danger of a gas strike. Stella Bond told me that the Willesden meeting was a success. And Lenny Draper told me he had made progress in Rochdale.
February 1 Thursday (London): I do not remember the mild weather lasting so long, at any rate since the nineteen thirties, when like this year there used to be no snow. But this winter seems the mildest of all judged horticulturally. The last hollyhock flower of the summer faded yesterday. There are wallflowers and primulas out. A rose shoot pushed up from the ground last week and flowered perfectly! In all the gardens there are well-formed roses, yet in others forsythias are in bloom. I have a few odd flowers of ornamental quince.
I came to London. Fiona was in the office. The Irish Post has been trying to get me. They all want interviews, thanks to Sean Redmond’s folly in inviting the press last Tuesday week, and I have not the slightest doubt they have a political aim which is not good. Either I must give the facts and enter into explanations, not to my discredit, of why I took up the Irish cause, or fob them off some way. In either case I am too exposed at the head of the Connolly Association, and the communist bogey is lurking round the corner ready to do a job for the two Governments. I mentioned my fears to Charlie Cunningham, who understood them but had nothing to offer. I saw at once at the dinner that this excessive publicity with the messages and boasting could likely lead to a set-back.
However notwithstanding that I was worried I addressed a meeting of the West London branch at Stanwick Library. It was well attended, with many old friends. Certainly Toni Curran is doing very well out there. Among those present were Gerry Curran and Toni, Pat O’Donohue and Una Milner.
February 2 Friday: I was in the office most of the day, but did not answer the telephone calls I judged to be from the Irish Post. They had been ringing when Fiona was there yesterday. Pat Hensey wrote to say he was dropping out of activity for a while, but retaining his membership. I have then persuaded him, and we can bring Jim Kelly back.
February 3 Saturday: The usual people came into the office. We managed to pay the printer, but both Akram and the Tenants are behind with their rent. Akram knocked down one of the letter boxes hauling a large parcel up the stairs. He now says that one of his crates was smashed open at the docks and a load of surgical instruments from Pakistan stolen. He has lost £1,000, he says, and can we give him time.
I was out with Sean Redmond in the evening and opened to him the business of the press. It is odd that while I felt considerable uneasiness, knowing as I do what a dirty game politics can be, we were greeted most enthusiastically by a Kilkenny man who is a “Provisional”. He insisted on buying us both a whiskey and spoke of twenty-five years’ dedication and service. Then I asked him a political question. If the British Government were to make the declaration of intent [ie. a declaration that it was Britain’s policy objective to work for a united Ireland with the consent of a Northern Ireland majority] and put down the ensuing Orange disturbances with a firm hand, would the Provisionals hold their hands while they were doing it? He did not answer the question. He said that they wanted the troops out. If the troops came out the extreme Unionists would leave with them, and as for the moderate ones, they were prepared to live with them. Of course this means there is no solution. It is clear moreover, as we remarked afterwards, that they think they could defeat the Unionist forces. Yet what a dream the thing is. It is based on the assumption that England would withdraw and leave a vacuum, or that Lynch would be willing to fill it. In practice, since the most possible is the declaration of intent, it means that the Provisionals would attack the British army while they were putting down the UDF etc. – and if they think that, then the Government will not risk any declaration of intent. It is moving to the “common ruin of the contending classes”.
About the other thing, Sean Redmond thought I should make no statement to the press, get out of it some way, perhaps by offering a political but not a personal interview, if they tackle me at the lobby. As for the rest, we must diversify responsibilities, and I had some ideas for that. I think Sean was concerned that he should have brought on the embarrassment by neglecting my wishes.
February 4 Sunday: I was busy in the office all day, indeed until 10.30 pm., when I stopped work because, happy reflection, there was no more to do!
February 5 Monday (Liverpool): I was in the office in the morning, then went to 16 King Street where Jack Woddis was seated with Tony Chater before galley proofs covered in red ink. He must have re-written his book on the galleys! Then Jules Jacks and Bill Dunne appeared. They wanted the conference postponed till May. I then discovered how they proposed to work. Apparently Bill Dunne would get his advisory committee to do the correspondence, and Woddis would put some of the expense on to CP districts. In a sense then it is a “front” that is being set up. However, it was satisfactory enough. As he left, Woddis assumed a mock-politeness air and announced that he was going to see Jim Callaghan [Labour shadow Home Secretary]. Later I found it was as part of a Trade Union delegation.
I spoke to Betty Sinclair on the phone and she promised to come on to London from Cardiff. Then the meeting began. Terry, the NUS lad, was there. But Micklewright had influenza. Rajak, who had been on top of the world last time, looked sheepish and crestfallen. The Haldane Society had declined to sponsor the conference. The NUS had not yet decided. Jack Woddis, who had told me confidently that the NUS would offer £50, asked about this, and was told £25 was the maximum. The London Co-op said they must give £50. So I said we might manage £50 but our committee would need to vote it. Woddis said he would offer £25. The NCCL, who are in it, said they had spent £2000 on Ireland over the past year and would be reluctant to charge any more to their general fund. So things looked grim. I notice how Woddis works. He is just a little carried away by his own cleverness, and hopes by announcing his hopes he will get a response as if he had announced an actuality. I can see what Gloria Devine means. I then came to Liverpool on the night train.
February 6 Tuesday: Although I was, surprisingly, not tired, I did little enough in the day, though I started on the syllabus for Wales. I wrote to Lenny Draper, Mark Clinton and Dave McLaughlin.
February 7 Wednesday: I finished the syllabus for the school in Wales, and I think Sean Redmond will contrive to have it typed by Stella Bond. The crab I bought is still standing; the weather has been too wet for me to plant it. But it continues remarkably mild.
February 8 Thursday: I got very little done today. The ground was still too wet for planting.
February 9 Friday (London): I went to Birmingham and to my gratification found quite a fair assembly, at which Sean Kenny rejoined. There were about 14 present, and I think it will at last “get off the ground”, as they say in aeronautics. Mark Clinton was in excellent form. He had done a mass of work on the meeting, and would of course have liked to have more, but still it was good. I went on to London on the midnight train.
February 10 Saturday: The usual people came in during the day. In the evening I was out with Sean Redmond in Camden Town. Our sales have slumped however and I am wondering why, for there is anything but antagonism. The Irish just do not seem to be there, and where they are they are Western men [ie. from the West of Ireland] without much politics.
February 12 Monday (Liverpool): I came to Liverpool on the night train, resolved to finish the paper up here – it is coming out a week early – and see if a day was fine enough to plant the tree. The rain came down again however and it was still mild – roses, a stray wallflower, snowdrops, crocuses, the helleborus fading, an occasional red dead nettle – an extraordinary mixture of seasons. The hollyhock flowers only finished last week. I think it must be the mildest year I knew, with the possible exceptions of those early years in the thirties.
February 13 Tuesday: I continued on the paper, and should finish tomorrow.
February 14 Wednesday: I finished the paper. But today as if from the North Pole, the snow came – and had not the decency to be one thing or another – but came in showers, mingled with hail, and lay melting in filthy sludge on all sides. Needless to say only Barney Morgan and Brian Stowell arrived at the branch meeting. But Brian will be in London on Wednesday.
I omitted to say that on Sunday night I met Stallard [ie. AW “Jock” Stallard MP]. I had asked him if he could call together some Labour MPs to hear Betty Sinclair on the subject of the position of the Trade Unions. He told me he had written to me to say that the Tribune group were going to Lincoln on the 21st to canvass. I held hasty telephone discussions with Sean Redmond and Pat Bond and in the end we decided not to change the date of the lobby. Now Stallard agreed to call the meeting on the 20th.
February 15 Thursday (London): It was still cold, though not desperately so, and indeed though there was snow cover in the midlands, in the south it was mild and sunny. I therefore concluded there will be no winter this year, and possibly a good summer. I took the 10.30 and then went to a building site at Knightsbridge where Jack Henry had arranged for me to address a Trade Union meeting. G. Driscoll was there, and a West Indian who had attended a meeting Paddy Bond had called at the office a couple of weeks ago. They agreed to support the lobby, and indeed it is possible that they may leave work at 4 pm. in order to do so. Fiona Connolly was in the office. She is doing a deal of clerical work on the Parliamentary side.
February 16 Friday (Newport): I disposed of outstanding correspondence and took the 1 pm. train to Cardiff. I called at the BBC to see if they had Welsh language records. Then I went to Newport. Brian Wilkinson picked me up. Seemingly Clann na hEireann has not met for months. Apropos of this last Wednesday I learned more of Pat MacLaughlin’s activities. A man was recruited into the CA by Barney Morgan. By some means Pat MacLaughlin got to know, and sent round the Clann na hEireann man to see him. It is in short that old silly who is to blame for holding everything up. But I do not intend to give in. To return to Cardiff, later in the evening Dave Richards arrived after taking Betty Sinclair to her destination. He seems to have worked tremendously hard on the conference. I thought there might be enough there to avoid a disgrace. The latest news is, however, that Brian Wilkinson contemplates leaving Newport for Leeds where his wife has a sister. Now Leeds is the citadel of Clann na hEireann.
February 17 Saturday: Dave Richards drove us to Cardiff and picked up Betty Sinclair on the way. To our great satisfaction about 33 people came, and the gathering was widely representative. We recruited a new member, a printer’s apprentice called Michael Morgan, of Newport. It was interesting that Betty Sinclair had formed exactly the same opinion as myself of the events of 7th February [This was an abortive general strike of Loyalists called by William Craig to protest against the Special Powers Act being used to intern Loyalists for the first time],and was most interested when I told her of the statement I had in the new issue of the paper. She was very pleased with the conference. We returned to London by the 2 o’clock train, and had lunch on the way. Then Jane Tate took her home while I was out in Camden with Jim Kelly. Again we did badly.
February 18 Sunday: We held the Standing Committee in the morning, with Sean Redmond, Paddy Bond, Pat O’Donohue, Jane Tate, Charlie Cunningham, and later Jim Kelly, Ackerman and Betty Sinclair arrived. It was a useful meeting. We agreed on a conference to discuss the Irish Democrat, voted £25 to the conference committee, appointed delegates to Colin Sweet’s conference. Ackerman is doing good work in North-West London and promised to undertake paper sales.
In the afternoon there was a seminar addressed by Betty Sinclair which was well attended and provided much information. Possibly the muddling emotional petite bourgeoisie is coming to the end of its tether. At any rate efforts are being made by the Trade Union movement to restore sanity. I asked Betty about NICRA. She feared that the Republicans would swamp the committee at this week-end’s conference. I asked what they were playing at in their journal, which had nothing to do with Civil Rights. She said whoever was producing it was simply working off his own feelings onto paper. Then I was in Hammersmith with Charlie Cunningham, where to our surprise we did quite well.
February 19 Monday: The Ad Hoc committee met with Jules Jacks, Betty Sinclair, Charlie Cunningham, Miss Cash (I think it is, from the NCCL), Rajak and a friend who looks very much the young barrister, and Micklewright. We settled the liaison between Belfast Trades Council and ourselves. So that was fixed. Sean Redmond had told Jack Woddis that we needed more time, so it was agreed to move to the 28th and to a Saturday. We discovered more of Woddis’s wishful thinking. He had told us that “Liberation” were sponsoring. Now Spencer, who had insisted on my writing to the London Co-op for money, only to be turned down, told me they were not. They were very uneasy about another organisation possibly being formed (leave that to us!). “But Woddis told us he had made that right, ” said Sean Redmond. Well it wasn’t right. So this is a recurrent pattern. Woddis to get other people to do what he wants, represents himself as possessing agreement with third parties that he doesn’t possess at all. “He doesn’t realise that a word is not necessarily a deed,” remarked Jules Jacks. Perhaps it is the “Ivory tower”, as Eddisford calls it. Plans are made there, but it is not where decisions are clinched. I proposed that we do away with sponsoring organisations and use the word “participating”. Neither Woddis nor Egelnick were there. But Hugh White, the lad I thought was no good but is only oddly dressed and quiet, was present. I think he had had his eyes opened by being in the place where the actual work is done. A few others were there, Jane Tate, and Brian Crowley. He also I thought no good. The strange, or perhaps not so strange, thing is that his joining the CP has transformed him. He has entirely lost that warped strained manner and fits quite comfortably into the company. So the soil has grown another crop.
We saw the NICRA elections. As Betty Sinclair expected, the republicans swamped it. Apart from Edwina Stewart, there was only Ann Hope, Madge Davison and Joe Deighan [ie. as non-Official Republicans on the NICRA Executive Committee]. Betty remarked that the Republicans do no work, and do not carry out their engagements. “Cheats and liars” she called them apropos of their their breaking their agreement not to swamp the committee last year. She gave the impression that Joe Deighan was not doing much. “I think Dorothy has got him on a tight lead,” said she. I reflect, for all his virtues, how fortunate we are not to have him here, with his emotionalism and personality-mongering.
February 20 Tuesday: In the evening I took Betty Sinclair and with her Jane Tate to the House of Commons where the MPs gathered in a room booked by Jock Stallard. Tom Swain asked her if she was satisfied with the actions of the Labour opposition. She said that she could not understand bipartisanship on the Irish question. Tom Cox of Wandsworth was there, a young man from Edinburgh, but not one of the old crowd – Rose, Orme and so on. Orme, who is honest enough but stupid, is acting as shadow something or other, and is possibly afraid to come. However, we were well pleased.
February 21 Wednesday: Today we had the lobby. The first arrival at the office was Michael Crowe. Later came the Oxford people, Brian Stowell from Liverpool, Ann Doherty and Lenny Draper from Manchester, and a great crowd from Birmingham. Brian Stowell, Michael Crowe, Sean Redmond and I had an hour with Merlyn Rees by previous appointment [Merlyn Rees, Labour shadow spokesman on Northern Ireland, Northern Secretary 1974-76]. He expected Lynch to win the election, and we said he was probably right. The “Irish Dimension” in the White Paper would be an economic committee to “open up and develop Donegal”. There would be no political concession. He seemed to favour the “Greater London Council” picture of Six County administration. Vivian Simpson had been with him this morning and had expressed great fear that PR was to be left out of the new proposals [Vivian Simpson, 1920-2006, Northern Ireland Labour Party leader and the sole NILP MP in the House of Commons]. Rees was most worried that representation of the Six Counties at Westminster might be increased. He was quite surprised when we told him we thought they were under-represented, though he agreed this was true. He mentioned the PR reform and Sean Redmond struck a blindingly impressive blow, “Oh that was one of O’Neill’s reforms – on 22nd November 1968, I think.” I asked him afterwards how he remembered the date. “Well,” says he, “I couldn’t swear to it to the day, but I wasn’t going to tell him that.” We did manage to impress on him that there was no immediate solution, and that what was wanted was a road to traverse. He talked of “power- sharing”. But he had attended a meeting of Unionists – quite a high-up one – and they had said, “”What? Share power with Fenians?” We thought it a “non-starter”, and Sean Redmond got over to him that provided the full Bill of Rights was passed, the precise form of Stormont’s successor was not important. When we left he asked us to be sure to send him our views on the White Paper as soon as it was published.
Later we saw Lena Jeger [Labour MP for Holborn and Camden], and in all over 40 MPs. Mark Clinton was there and all seems well at Birmingham. Betty Sinclair was hugely delighted.
February 22 Thursday (Liverpool): I went to Colindale to look up material for an article on Scotland. It was pleasant to be doing research again. I enjoy researching but I loathe writing, without which the research is no use! If only things would write themselves! Then in the evening we all went to see an O’Casey play at the Sugawn Theatre in the Duke of Wellington. The proprietor had been at the lobby. Those present included Mark Clinton, Charlie Cunningham, Jim Kelly, Jane Tate, Pat O’Donohue, Jack Guilfoyle, Toni Curran and Chris Sullivan – probably more. then I caught the midnight train to Liverpool.
February 23 Friday: I arrived back early in the morning. The garden still shows the effects of the mild winter, as the cold was so short lived. Crocuses and the dead nettles are in flower under a perfectly formed rose. There is a buttercup out, and the daffodils should only be a few days.
February 24 Saturday: I found I had a cold coming on. Doubtless that is why I felt tired yesterday. I brought some whiskey and sat and read.
February 25 Sunday: I got the fifth blackcurrant planted and offered the sixth to Jean Brown next door. In the evening I started on O’Casey and read “Juno”. Then I read Shaw’s “You never can tell.” The superiority of O’Casey over Shaw is startling. Then I started analysing the play as one would the structure of a sonata, and the thought struck me that I would never really understand this till I wrote a play myself. I did of course write a verse play when I was 27 and it possibly still reposes among my juvenilia. But then comes the question, can I spare the time.
February 26 Monday: I found I was financially badly off, with only £10 left in the current account. I think that Toni Curran is right that there are expenses due to me. But the whole position of the paper is bad, and I talked to Sean Redmond about an effort to win more support at the Irish Democrat conference.
February 27 Tuesday: I heard from Charlie Cunningham that Sweet’s thing had 96 delegates and he is pushing for all he is worth. He is looking for affiliations from Trade Unionists, and Chris Myant has written a pamphlet for him in conjunction with a girl in Leeds.
February 28 Wednesday: I decided to have another look at Ted Shields’s songbook and see if I could make a few bob by carrying out the commission to edit it. Of course I found it in the state I anticipated, and I made a kind of catalogue of queries which I sent to Ted Shields. For one thing half the text was missing here, half the songs there, there were quotations without references, and not the faintest indication of an appreciation of what a printer would need. Then there were errors in the scores. I found a bar with five crotchets. However we will see what he says.
A telephone call came from Vic Eddisford. He tells me that Manchester Trades Council are meeting next Tuesday, and suggests that I invite them, the BPC, the Confederation [ie. of Shipbuilding and Engineering Unions] and UCATT to sponsor a conference. I persuaded him that the Irish Democrat should call it and finance it (though we are so short), because I don’t want any repetition of the London thing, with so many cooks stirring the broth that it is a marvel that there’s not a hole in the pot.
March 1 Thursday: I received a call from Lenny Draper. He said something about Arnison being deputed to keep some kind of tabs on him in regard to this conference. But as he did not seem to object and I did not understand it, I said nothing.
March 2 Friday: I got out the invitations to the four Manchester organisations, and sent prepaid reply postcards.
March 3 Saturday: I did a little more on O’Casey.
March 4 Sunday: Again I did a little work on O’Casey.
March 5 Monday: I spoke to Sean Redmond on the phone. He told me that the meeting on finance would take place next Tuesday.
March 6 Tuesday: I got a little done in the garden, but I still have a cold, and am not very energetic.
March 7 Wednesday: I had another phone call from Lenny Draper, who explained that there was some proposal for a conference committee and Arnison was to be on it, he thought, so as to guide him, but this was not explicit. I want to do sufficient guiding myself to avoid another mess.
March 8 Thursday: A bombshell went off in the morning, though mercifully not of the physical kind. A letter came from Devlin saying that TS had taken ill and gone home to London. No preparations had been made for the seminar in Aberystwyth and they had cancelled it. I rang Tony Coughlan who said he would come over anyway. Of course there is a railway strike today and it is impossible to get a letter delivered before Saturday. Devlin signed herself as “Acting Secretary.” I hope young Tom has not had another nervous break down.
March 9 Friday: Tony Coughlan arrived in the morning and told me the news. As we surmised, the Republicans had indeed packed the NICRA committee [ie. the Official Republicans whose key people in Belfast at the time were Malachy McGurran, Liam McMillen and Jim Sullivan]. Indeed at present they are going further. Apparently NICRA has plenty of money, and they would like it. So they have sought to oust Madge Davison from the full-time position she holds, and to replace Ann Hope as treasurer. Seemingly Michael O’Riordan is seeing Cathal Goulding about it, to try to get orders through to reverse it.
In the afternoon we went to Birmingham, where Mark CIinton met us at the station. There were about 14 at the meeting and a collection realised £9. Art MacMillen’s brother was there, very emotional and confused [This was probably Liam (Billy) McMillen, the Official IRA leader in Belfast, who was later assassinated in an inter-republican feud].
March 10 Saturday: We returned to Liverpool, and I worked on the article for the “Scottish Marxist”, while Tony Coughlan went to Chester.
March 11 Sunday: I worked in the garden for a while, while Tony Coughlan went to see Speke Hall, which I must confess I never went to. I completed the article for the “Scottish Marxist”[published as “Scotland and the struggle for Irish freedom”, Scottish Marxist, No 4, June 1973]
March 12 Monday: The weather continues dry and mild. The first Forsythia opened, and there are real dead nettles, wallflowers and roses! Tony Coughlan went to London.
March 13 Tuesday (London): I went to Lime Street for the 12.30, only to find it had been cancelled, although announced in the papers. This meant a two-hour wait. When I reached London Tony Coughlan had gone, though he rang me up from Euston.
We had the finance meeting in the evening. Not much emerged from it except the knowledge of our difficulties. Central London sales have plummeted, and that is the main difficulty. And the cost of printing has risen. Those present were Sean Redmond, Jim Kelly, Pat O’Donohue, Toni Curran and Brian Crowley (who made not a single constructive suggestion), but Paddy Bond was ill and Charlie Cunningham had a prior engagement.
There was a letter from the WMA [Workers Music Association, founded in 1936 by the leftwing composer Alan Bush]. I had written Alan Bush suggesting they employ me as consultant and editor to make a feasibility study on the Shields’s book for out-of-pocket expenses, and then to edit it if feasible at a fee of £100, which is small for the work, but quicker than waiting for royalties.
March 14 Wednesday: I heard from Jules Jacks that he had not got out the notices because he had heard nothing from Belfast. I rang Betty Sinclair and she said she would harry Joe Cooper. Sean Redmond on the other hand had booked the Hampstead Town Hall. Jules Jacks told me that Jack Woddis would hardly be at the next meeting, but Egelnick would. Also that at Woddis’s suggestion he had left off the names of the sponsoring organisations. Now at the meeting there was difficulty because Rajak reported that the Haldane Society would not sponsor, and Spencer that the London Co-op would not. This placed us in a difficulty, which I cast about for ways of getting out of. As they were all prepared to serve on the committee I suggested changing the name – calling them the “participating organisations.” Woddis was not present, but ever confident in his mental powers, he brushed this aside. “Why,” says he to Jules Jacks, “Any organisation that attends the conference is a participating organisation.” So Jules, who understood the matter no better, obediently cut them out. “Of course,” I pointed out to him, “those that participate in the conference participate in it, but these participate in the committee.” Later I rang Woddis. He was depressed at the lack of sponsors and could not at first see the point of mentioning the organisations. But later he did see the point and agreed. Sean Redmond then so arranged the layout that this was clear.
Incidentally, Betty Sinclair told me that the conference in Belfast was successful but that the committee coming from it was put together behind the scenes before it, and not elected. She fears a repetition of 1965 [ie. the conference on civil liberties in Northern Ireland that year which had been sponsored by the Belfast Trades Council, but whose proposals came to nothing because of the lack of interest of the Northern Ireland Labour Party].
I worked on the paper all day.
March 15 Thursday: I spent the day on the paper. I had a word with Stallard on the phone. He says Tuesday is White Paper day. Fiona was in during the afternoon. I learned that Tony Donaghey has a meeting at Luton tonight, and I went to South London.
March 16 Friday: The letter from Belfast came. I got hold of Jules Jacks and Woddis and urged them to make use of it to get the people they knew to participate in the committee, which they promised to do. To Woddis I mentioned the British Peace Committee. He played the expected card – other Irish organisations – like a gangster. He said there was much support for Republicanism among students, and students were saying, “Why only the CA?” He was all for inviting the British Peace Committee to come in now, as he thought they would not attend. I was against inviting Clann na hEireann because I was sure they would. So the position was better for him than for me. I therefore left it at that and did no more.
In the evening Tom MacDowell rang up to ask for an address and this is what passed. “I believe you’ve started a branch in Birmingham.” “Well, there’s always been one nominally, but we’ve reorganised it.” “Well, let me know if I can help you in any way.” He then asked if Sean Redmond or I would speak at a debate at some time in the future. I wrote to Mark Clinton and Sean Kenny about it.
March 17 Saturday: In the morning Jules Jacks brought in a stencil. Sean Redmond and I did not think it satisfactory, so we decided to make some small alterations and be damned. He told me that arising out of my letter, in which I said they should seek firm commitments, he had spoken to Jack Woddis. He entirely agreed with me that Woddis indulged in wistful thinking and we resolved to press him to put salt on the tail of the NUS. I said that at the beginning he had told me that he expected to get all the work done in the NUS office. Jules Jacks then told me that the position of Digby Jacks was by no means as secure as one might think and that Woddis should have had more sense. Jules is a thoroughly practical man. He told me he had offered to resign as secretary to the committee. He had been told his job was to get a Trade Union delegation; then he found himself organising a conference. But he agreed to carry on. Of course all this stems from silly Edwina Stewart, who wanted to brush aside the Connolly Association for personal reasons. Charlie Cunningham told me there were 96 at Sweet’s conference. Here is Woddis on it: “They count for nothing – unfortunately – they only got 80 at their conference and a lot of those were Trotskyists and ultra-lefts.” I asked Charlie Cunningham about this. He thought 96. He said that Freeman, who addressed a meeting to report on March 3, had attacked Betty Sinclair [ie. Northern trade unionist John Freeman].
We had the social in the evening. Dave Richards was there. He had gone to Aberystwyth last Saturday, but enjoyed the trip. I had wired Mark Clinton to tell him but had not managed to contact Dave Richards. Dave McLaughlin who was in yesterday was to have come, and I think he would if he had known Dave Richards would be there. Young Andy Barr was there and told me that Des O’Hagan was on the Belfast committee representing NICRA. And Charlie Cunningham told me that the meeting of students in Derry was to get IRA speakers [ie.from the “Official” IRA], round the universities and this was the wonderful week of activity the students were putting on. The whole scene sparkles with nonsense.
March 18 Sunday: I had a call from Woddis. He has at last nailed the students, so that all objections to putting on the names of the organisations have vanished and Richards is himself again. There is now every chance of success.
Ian Mills, the young teacher in Clann na hEireann (and politically clueless), was there last night. He asked could I recommend a Trade Unionist to speak at one of their meetings. “As I don’t know any,” he added. This is the sort of mechanical way they do things. The other speakers have no relevance to it. “We approached Mike Cooley, but he can’t do it – he’s a good speaker isn’t he?” I decided not to have anything to do with it. I suggested that if Cooley could not do it, they should ask Cooley to find a substitute.
March 19 Monday: I did some work on the paper during the day. Jules Jacks came in at 6.30 as arranged, but Jack Woddis who was to have been there did not. He came to the meeting at 7 pm. but only stayed ten minutes. He was off to give a talk on his new book at the Friends Meeting House. Brian Crowley went there. As we have now a reasonable panel of sponsors, Jules Jacks and I congratulated ourselves on putting our feet down. Sean Redmond produced so resplendent a stencil that Jules was loud in his admiration, but Woddis, who is above small things except when he is telling people what to do about them, scarcely noticed it. However the outcome was satisfactory. Sean Redmond ran off 1500 copies. This means that the committee is more indebted to us than to any other organisation. But the students rang Sean and said they would be voting money. It was noticeable that Woddis was somewhat apologetic to Jules Jacks. Of course I knew why. The agreement was that districts of the CP would be asked to send out the notices. I asked if this was as good as our sending them out from this office. But they all profess to believe that nothing ever went out from this office, and it would not be possible to convince them that we have any records, for they would not listen.
I went for a drink with Hugh White, whom I mentally wronged when he came to the first meeting. He never speaks. He is just desperately shy. Later Brian Crowley came in. He was indignant because in the course of an hour’s speech Jack Woddis had not referred to Ireland once. It was interesting that Crowley then remarked that many of the CP “don’t think the Connolly Association is necessary at all.” And it might be added that there are those among them who don’t think that Ireland is necessary at all, and that it be internationalist like the English. My fear is now that the CP districts will receive the invitations and take weeks to send them out. But Jules Jacks and Jack Woddis assure me this is the quickest way.
March 20 Tuesday (Liverpool): I was delayed going to Liverpool. The overhead conductor wires came down, or cracked or broke or something at Hartford, So when I got to 124 Mount Road I found that Bloor had been there. He proposed to come tomorrow, but I shall be at Ripley. The White Paper was announced over the radio. “Parturient montes” [Latin tag: the mountains give birth, concluding: “nascetur ridiculus mus”– “and they produce a ridiculous mouse”. The White Paper proposed a new Northern Ireland Assembly elected on a proportional representation basis, with an executive to include members of the leading opposition party].
March 21 Wednesday: I went to Ripley early. Of course I had to cut the entire book page, to print the summary, and write a new main lead. Melville was at golf, his Wednesday pastime, so Terry managed things, and managed them very well. All the staff cooperated and the job was finished by 4 pm. and on the machine.
March 22 Thursday: A letter came from Dorothy Greaves wanting to come and stay with me on April 1st. I wrote and told her it was convenient. It will be expense that I can ill afford, but I suppose many a time I put someone to expense and never heard of it. My royalties have not come, and this made it more trying to have to contemplate spending money on the house. There has been perhaps the slightest subsidence since the chimney was taken down, but Bloor, who came at 6 pm., doubted it. He strongly approved of my proposal of enlarging the room by removing the chimney breast. So when Asford came he noted the particulars (not on paper) and went away to prepare an estimate.
March 23 Friday (London): I received a bank statement which showed me badly overdrawn. I therefore decided I must increase by drawing from Connolly Publications, by something like £30 a month. I sent for £250 from the Building Society. Then I went to Manchester and saw Dave Haywood. I was not too easy. Woddis had been there and according to Haywood and Malcolm Cowle, had told them distinctly that the conference on 28 April was “National”. You couldn’t match that man. It is only now, being thrown into contact with this method of work, that I notice these things. There is a CP committee which is going to do the work. Apparently it has only just been set up. They told me that “This is the way the Vietnam campaign was conducted.” I replied that the results did not impress me, and that I could hardly be expected to accept the method without question. I was afraid perhaps I was too sharp with them. But though they mean well, they don’t really know what they’re doing, though they think they do.
When I reached London It was not long before Charlie Cunningham and Chris Sullivan appeared. As for the National Conference, Stella Bond had at Jules Jack’s request posted invitations to Kent, Surrey, Middlesex and Luton [presumably CGB districts]. London, who were to pick up 800, had not shown up, nor had Jules Jacks suggested sending any to Spencer or the Students. So we have to do all the checking, but are unable to do it at the best convenience to ourselves. Meanwhile Charlie Cunningham is sceptical of Woddis’s position in relation to Colin Sweet, whom he trusts and I do not. It is of interest that when I did not mention the other Irish organisations at the meeting on Monday, Woddis did not mention Sweet. And Egelnick was not there. I was out in Paddington with Charlie.
March 24 Saturday: Not much happened. I was out with Jim Kelly. There is a general mood of apathy and I wondered what it was due to. the sales position is thus very bad, and apart from that Central London sellers are just not going out. I wonder if the conference tomorrow will help.
March 25 Sunday: I was in the office in the morning. Toni Curran called for papers. Later Charlie Cunningham came. The conference took place at 2 pm. It was attended by representatives of our own branches, but none from industry, not even George O’Driscoll. As for Jack Henry, Paddy Bond has telephoned him sixteen times, but he is busy electioneering. We had present Gerry Curran, Jane Tate, Charlie Cunningham, Paddy Bond, Jim Kelly and quite a few others including Pat O’Donohue. Brian Crowley spoke. He proposed that a committee of representatives of branches should “advise” the Editor. This he had produced two years ago. The aim is no doubt to have a committee parallel to the EC and Standing Committee. I said nothing about it. Then I was out with Jane Tate.
March 26 Monday (Liverpool): I spent most of the day in the office until I finally took the 5 pm. back to Liverpool. Stella Bond sent off the conference invitations to the Students and others. I finally got hold of Bill Dunne who undertook to collect them on Wednesday.
March 27 Tuesday: I was speaking to Toni Curran on the phone. She says that Pat O’Donohue did not keep his appointment with her on Sunday night. But instead he attended a meeting concerned with the ten alleged bomb-placers who are in jail. Now how this came abut we can only guess. But I do know that I received an invitation from Clann na hEireann to send a representative to a meeting regarding the prisoners and passed it on to Sean Redmond. I was none too pleased when Central London Branch delegated Brian Crowley, but knowing that he had showed signs of improvement, was not unduly worried. However Toni Curran, who had backed Pat O’Donohue vigorously, learned from him that with Brian Crowley were Una Miller and Geraldine Joyce, both at the conference. So Crowley had enlisted three others to join him as delegate. Now Betty O’Shea also was there and the leading lights were not Clann na hEireann, but McCann, Bowes Egan and (I think) Lawless, all Trotskies. However Crowley’s trick did not work with Pat O’Donohue, who was angry at the nonsense that was talked, and Toni Curran thinks he has seen through Brian Crowley’s politics. Toni commented that the weakness of the Central London branch is that it does not know how to relate its work to the paper. She says that Pat O’Donohue commented that she was the first to make him understand what was meant by this. But he has not been out for two weeks and his high opnion of himself is very irritating. Incidentally Toni Curran charged him with this.
I went to Manchester. The meeting was good, with new young people, but these are not Irish. I was surprised to find that Dave Haywood and others had assumed that the aim of the Irish Democrat conference was to set up a committee to deal with the Irish Question, and thus oust or elbow out of the way the CA. Lenny Draper did not see this danger. But Ann Doherty (who is a changed woman) did. “They don’t think the Irish can do anything themselves,” was her comment. But there was more. While I was with Dave Haywood last week, the Peace man rang. I forgot his name. He said that they were holding a meeting on the White Paper in April and that Bernard Porter was speaking. Haywood showed annoyance and said, “They never consult us.” That is Jack Woddis’s complaint. Now tonight I learned, when I mentioned it, that nobody had seen fit to inform him. He was of course annoyed and was going to make a fuss. Both Ann Doherty and I told him to say nothing. If he isn’t told, he does not know and can do as he pleases. But I remarked that I would like to know who else is going to speak. When we know that we shall have learned something. Now at the end Lenny Draper told me quite casually that the thing was postponed, though I have booked Joe Deighan.
March 28 Wednesday: I bought some books and in the evening went to the Liverpool CA meeting. It was more hopeful. Joe Bourke was back from the sea for a spell. Brian Stowell and Barney Morgan were there, and a young fellow called Sylvester Hutton, who is a bit of a golddigger and goes to the Irish Centre, where the Provisionals are the whiteheaded boys – for the present. We shall see what the White Paper does. Pat MacLaughlin had called to say he would not be there. They think he is dropping out altogether. His health is not good and perhaps we should be charitable and say as that declined his head does not improve. I spoke to Sean Redmond who has sent out copies of the resolution I drafted. On the radio I heard that Paul Rose had resigned from the chairmanship of the CDU [The Labour Party-oriented Campaign for Democracy in Ulster]. I asked Sean to ring Patsy Byrne and ask his opinion [Labour Party Councillor, a key man in the CDU]. The BBC said that Rose thought the CDU had achieved its object and should disband. I said that Byrne should be told not to disband, as even that statement might strengthen the pressure on Rose. Rose will now set his sights for a job in the next Labour Government, the useless rat. I told the Liverpool branch his history, and we drafted a resolution to send to Heffer [ie. Eric Heffer, 1922-1991, Labour MP for Liverpool Walton].
March 29 Thursday: Ashford came at last and asked £145 for removing the chimney breast and taking down the partition wall in the breakfast room. He had been uneasy about doing it, but Bloor came up on Tuesday and persuaded him that it was safe. I sent Bloor a copy of my book “The Irish Crisis”. At midnight Sean Kenny rang up – how he got my number I don’t know, too many people are getting it – but his news was first that Tom Toal was dead, having had a heart attack, and second that Mark Clinton had induced Brian Mathers to join the Connolly Association, and seemingly without difficulty.
March 30 Friday (London): There was a brief note from Brockway when I reached London. He returned some papers I had sent him for the debate. I was out with Michael Crowe.
March 31 Saturday: I was in the office in the day, then out with Michael Crowe and Jim Kelly in the evening.
April 1 Sunday (Liverpool): We all went to Birmingham for the EC. Those present were Sean Redmond, Michael Crowe, Alf Ward, Mark Clinton, Charlie Cunningham, Toni Curran, Siobhan O’Neill, Jane Tate, Pegeen O’Flaherty, Pat O’Donohue and Paddy Bond, and the visitors were two Birminghams, Chris Sullivan, and Barry Riordan of Oxford. On the whole it was useful if not inspired. Michael Crowe is an atrocious chairman and can bring nothing to a point. We elected Alf Ward president and put Jim Kelly in to replace Pat Hensey. Toni Curran was excellent and I hope she will be taken notice of. Lenny Draper was not there, and this surprised me.
When the Londons and Oxfords had gone back I went to the Star Club with Mark Clinton and Sean Kenny. The branch is going great guns. They had 23 at their last meeting and it is being talked of. Sean Kenny thinks that those who were following Toal in this “Irish News” society will now drop out. Toal was only 45, and a thin wiry person. Of course the CA will have difficulties. Its rapid growth means that it brings over much from the past. Mark Clinton shows many signs of inexperience and Sean Kenny is inclined to talk interminably and finds listening a strain. I came on to Liverpool.
April 2 Monday: My royalties arrived – but only £130 this time. So I just must write something else and quick. I went to the bank to pay the cheque in. The interesting thing is that (as I expected) shops are putting no price tickets on the goods they display for sale – not I suppose until people have had a chance to forget what prices were before the infliction of Value Added Tax. I sent off the enquiry to Walton’s regarding copyright of the songs Ted Shields wants to publish. I also started on the lecture on the Irish in Liverpool which I am delivering during the Trades Council celebrations. I found a book I had was by Brian D. White (written in 1951). I would not be surprised if he was the man who was at Oxford – from Caldfy, I think [a village on the Wirral Peninsula]. He “rejected” the Labour theory of value, so his protégé Scholfield rejected it too, and so did Tickell and round that they built up a faction in the university group, the aim of which was to depose me. Of course I took it very much to heart and fought back and defeated them. But was the fuss necessary? Inevitable I suppose would be the word [See Vols.2 and 3 for references to these when young]. White had a friend called Woodward who played the trombone. I stayed at his lodgings during a vacation while I visited Alan Morton after his return from Berlin. And I recall the landlady who was almost stone deaf saying, “My poor ears!” But there is nothing in the history of Liverpool Corporation to identify the White I recall. I think he drifted out through the Trotskyite gate.
In the evening Lenny Draper rang up to say he had been ill – an obvious abscess associated with a wisdom tooth. Dorothy Greaves was to arrive tonight, but her trip is off. Today’s weather was savage – hail showers driven by a northwesterly gale – and all the spring flowers cowering under it.
April 3 Tuesday: Today though cool was dry and bright – a rapid change. I did a little in the garden, worked on the Liverpool lectures, then in the evening went to Manchester. They all swore last week that they would be there. But there was no sign of the Wrights, or of Ann Doherty. However the three boys were there, Roche (I think his name is), Hurley and Lenny Draper, plus a man and wife from Tipperary. These seem to make up the hard core and they made some business- like plans. Now Lenny told me that though he attended the meeting of the new “International Committee”, he did not know until I told him today that this is what it was. What in heaven’s name are people playing at!
April 4 Wednesday: I went to Waterstone’s bookshop in Berry Street and picked up a copy of Picton’s “Memorials of Liverpool” for £2. This is extremely useful for my lecture in May, and I was busy making a card index for the rest of the day.
April 5 Thursday: I did some work in the garden – lifted three wheelbarrow loads of rubble and lime out of the old lime-pit which served at least this end of the Tranmere Hall estate. I also made an index from Denvir – far and away the best writer on the Irish in Britain [John Denvir, author of “The Irish in Britain from the Earliest Times to the Fall and Death of Parnell”, 1894.].
Late in the evening Ashford called, apologetic at his delay. He agreed to start the work next Wednesday. And Charlie Cunningham rang up saying that Colin Sweet had written making complaint that the British Peace Committee had not been invited to sponsor the conference. This is further result of Jack Woddis’s ineptitude. But since he made no bones about it, if I propose the BPC he would propose Clann na hEireann, I could no nothing about it. And to make matters worse, none of us have a notion of what his objection is, and it may well be no more than a storm in a teacup. I dare say Sweet is a rascal, but Woddis is undoubtedly influenced by Edwina Stewart’s hatred of the CA. He could only defeat the British Peace Committee by backing the CA. This he was unwilling to do (for he is inclined to be a fence-sitter, as I will remember from 1959 when he did not open his mouth) [ie. to defend Greaves’s position in the internal CPGB argument with the leftist North London CP and CA members], so that there is now the danger of falling between two stools. The root of the thing is the position in Belfast, and Woddis’s fear of putting himself in disfavour there. And moreover, Charlie Cunningham will probably tell Sweet the background.
April 6 Friday (London): Before I set off for London a letter from Betty Sinclair arrived. She said that there were to be discussions between the CPI and the CPSU and she was off to Moscow next week. She wondered if she could get back in time to look after the Trade Union delegation, as she had been offered a holiday, and felt she needed it. I am aware that her heart is not perfect and the strain of Belfast tells on her. She asked my advice. However I did not at once reply. I will look into the matter in London.
When I reached London I found Colin Sweet’s letter. It showed surprise that the British Peace Committee had not been invited to take part in the conference or preparatory committee, and indeed there was something of an ultimatum in it. I don’t think Woddis will talk about Clann na hEireann when I read this to him. However, I rang Jules Jacks first but could not get him.
I showed the two letters to Sean Redmond. Betty Sinclair’s was trying to postpone the Trade Union visit till July, or the election. She said Joe Cooper liked to be president of the Trades Council but not to do its work. He thought that was all we could do. It is always surprising to me how these strong characters give in so easily to circumstances. I think with Sean Redmond it is laziness. He knew about the Moscow trip, but views it with some cynicism. He thinks that they “bluff the Russians over their own importance” and enjoy a good holiday. Whether he would think this if he were in his brother’s place (for Tom is going) is a different matter.
April 7 Saturday: I was in the office in the morning and started work on the paper. I could not get Jules Jacks, who seems to be away from home. I wanted to get his impressions before speaking to Jack Woddis, for example to find out when his Trade Union delegation was going, and how events had progressed. In Hammersmith a severe mischance befell. Jane Tate slipped on some rotten apples and injured her thumb. I accompanied her to the Accident and Emergency hospital where it was found to be badly broken and the joint twisted. Indeed it was so bad that they kept her in for the night. So there is precious little going right just now.
April 8 Sunday: Still there was no Jules Jacks. I therefore phoned Woddis, and explained the contents of Betty Sinclair’s letter. His first reaction was to separate the conference from the Trade Union delegation. Then he wondered if she could be persuaded to forego her holiday. Could he arrange an alternative one for her? “Oh – going to Moscow – that’s easy. We have so many invitations that we have to take a decision that no full-time official goes more that once in five years.” I asked about England, as I guessed Betty Sinclair would not want to make Eastern European arrangements through London. He promised to look into it. I then told him about Colin Sweet. His reaction was immediate. “Then, he must come.” So first he makes an enemy and then gives in to him. Of course I also am for inviting him, and wanted merely to make sure Woddis was not keeping up the boycott. He then ventured to give me advice as to what I should say if he expressed further surprise at our not inviting him from the start. “You could say you had had a talk with me, and thought he knew the position.” Yes, these were his precise words! “It wouldn’t do for me to mention you at all,” I replied, “good bad or indifferent.” And I then said, “Leave it to me.” He agreed and there was not a squeak about Clann na hEireann. But of course Bill Dunne was nine days collecting the circulars, and the clumsy crude work that Woddis and others do has prevented the establishment of a proper working unity. His picture of unity seems to be that independent organisations give their names to cover actions which he make at his discretion. And then he wonders that people back out.
Anyway, I wired Betty Sinclair and asked her to phone in the morning. Then Charlie Cunningham came and we went to Hammersmith. There we met Hammy Donoghue [A former CA member who became active in the Campaign for Democracy in Ulster, CDU]. He was half drunk as usual, but breathing fire and slaughter after Paul Rose [who held that the CDU had served its purpose now that direct rule had replaced devolution to Stormont]. I urged him to try to keep the CDU going. He told me that their Executive was meeting tomorrow. There is not one place alone where individuals regard organisations as their property.
April 9 Monday: Quite early, Betty Sinclair rang. She agreed to forgo her holiday and told me she was going to Moscow on Friday. I told this to Woddis, who said he was thinking of getting her a holiday with Wogan Phillips. Then I got Jules Jacks who was coming to London early. Bill Dunne rang excusing himself for the delay in sending out the invitations. He had arranged the delegation which was to go on Wednesday. I said that if it could go on Tuesday, Betty Sinclair could have her holiday. He then agreed to send out wires, telling the delegates to meet me at Euston tomorrow and I could get them on the boat. I then rang Betty Sinclair and told her that her holiday was saved.
In the afternoon Jules Jacks arrived. We had a meal and he asked me what Jack Woddis had against Colin Sweet. “I don’t know,” said I. “Have you asked him?” “I have given him opportunities to explain.” “Well, let’s both have a go at him.” So when we met him at the office we did. Jules Jacks began. “Now we know there’s some little rift, but we’re both of us completely in the dark about it.”
“Oh,” said Woddis, “It’s only that he goes doing things without consulting anybody. And if he’s at a meeting he’s quite likely to refuse to cooperate and threaten to walk out if he doesn’t get his own way.”
“Nothing political?” asked Jacks.
“No – nothing political.”
“If that’s all that’s wrong,” said I, “is keeping him at arms length the best way of dealing with him?”
“No,” said Woddis, then adding, “but we’re not keeping him at arm’s length.”
More like telegraph pole length, thought I. So we got no sense out of him. I was a little amused at his complaint of non-consultation. When speaking this morning he told me that he thought it had been a mistake to confine this conference to the London area and that he had invited CP districts from all over England. Also there was interest in what he is pleased to call the “Northwest”. Manchester are arranging their own conference,” I told him. “Oh, yes – that.” He indicated that it was of no moment. But I happen to know that he told Dave Haywood that the London one was “national.” One tale to one, another to another.
At the ad hoc committee meeting, not only did Egelnick fail to arrive, but now Hugh White was absent. Woddis came however. But there was no Spencer. He has missed two weeks. And no Haldane Society. Only the NCCL, the CP and the CA were there. There have been changes in the student leadership as Jules Jacks foresaw, and indeed what wonder? Nevertheless Woddis was no sooner on this conference when he was talking of another. Both Sean Redmond and I told him that we did not want a new permanent organisation set up. Jules Jacks said we had no right to commit delegates who must be allowed to report back. When he heard our views I got the impression that Woddis was either angry but concealed it, or frightened (it is hard to tell the difference). And indeed he looked more shaken than usual, though he carries it off well. I would guess that his trouble is a swelled head, and he has worked out the blueprint of some darling idea in his mind, based on the Vietnam experience that he constantly alluded to, and which I told him is of little value here.
When he descanted on the great achievement of for the first time securing the “unity” of all these organisations, both I and the NCCL people pointed to those who had not been in attendance. The trouble is of course part sectishness. He will not be content to use the forces of history, but wants to reshape them from the ground upwards. It is typified in Egelnick. He brought a dozen or more to the lobby we called. They kept themselves to themselves, spoke to nobody, barely acknowledging the presence of those outside their party whom they knew, and operated on the principle that the CP was going to do something that would be reported in the Morning Star. The substance of actually inducing action by MPs was secondary.
Then when we talked after the meeting and I happened to say that when Colin Sweet came to see me he seriously believed Civil War was possible in Northern Ireland, Woddis immediately turned hot on the scent, and asked somewhat sneeringly, “Why did he think there would be civil war?” At the same time he understood that from an imperial point of view the withdrawal of power from the Six County assembly was an act of reaction, a consolidation.
April 10 Tuesday (Liverpool): I was in the office most of the day. When I confirmed the arrival of the three delegates on Wednesday morning, after ringing up John McClelland to have them met, Betty Sinclair told me the trip to Moscow was postponed. Much ado about nothing. In the afternoon before I left Sean Redmond came in.
“Woddis seems very keen on keeping that committee going.”
“What is his reason?”
“Perhaps he is afraid that Colin Sweet will do it if he doesn’t.”
That hardly seems sufficient reason, though of his annoyance with Sweet there can be no doubt.
I met the three Trade Unionists, Cook, Spring and Brown – nobody more English could be found and they were typical Cockneys, and saw them on the boat at Prince’s Dock.
April 11 Wednesday: More trouble. The circular for the Liverpool meeting bore the wrong date. I spoke to Pat Devine on the phone to stop him from coming. But then my phone went out of order. I telephoned Brian Stowell from a call box. He cannot come tonight or next week and had been trying to contact me. I went over and found Pat Doherty, Barney Morgan and two other dockers, one of whom had attended a conference we held in Liverpool.
April 12 Thursday: At last Ashford appeared – in the afternoon. He discovered that the annexe was resting on a concrete plinth only 9″ thick above loose earth. There was no proper foundation made in the first place. At about 9.30 pm. Bloor arrived and made an inspection. He decided to come again on Saturday morning.
April 13 Friday: There was no sign of Ashford all day. I continued partly with my lecture and partly with efforts to get the phone restored. It seems they had been mending the wrong line. Finally Lenny Draper got through.
April 14 Saturday: At last I got Bloor and Ashford together and it was decided that the annexe must be underpinned. Now while Ashford was making one of his innumerable excursions to get things, Charlie Cunningham rang. Among other things he told me that an application for the conference had come from Neville Carey of Bristol, so Jack Woddis must have invited him. Now I think of it, he told me he had notified a number of his districts, and there was some talk in Birmingham. Then Lenny Draper rang. He told me that Vic Eddisford had asked him to go in and send out circulars for the London conference, though these might go in the same envelopes as his own for the Manchester one. But the Manchester conference must have been destroyed by this. The talk is of a “national conference”. Naturally I was astonished and angry at Woddis’s duplicity. He must have had circulars duplicated. And now I see why he wanted to duplicate them himself, although he would lose time. Possibly this is the basis of his plaint regarding Sweet – that he has an office and a duplicator and likes to duplicate things – and possibly confines them to what is agreed. And likewise one understands his contempt for the Manchester effort.
I had a word with Sean Redmond. The position is that Woddis, while sitting on a committee and agreeing that a conference shall cover London, has been secretly organising a national one. That means there will be an attempt to set up a new organisation on Saturday week, with a committee elected at the conference, Woddis having in the meantime moved his man in on circulars he has duplicated himself, and then there is the fait accompli, and what can we do? And would Colin Sweet’s presence in some way hinder this? Perhaps we wrong him, but that would be an explanation. Sean Redmond and I decided that the cards should go on the table if possible. As Sean remarked, the basis is extreme sectarianism, a kind of sophisticated form of Kay Beauchamp’s techniques; for if he is bent on the new organisation, once it is established he is independent of the ad hoc committee, and doubtless expects it to fall in line. This would explain his making no real effort to bring in the students, and the cessation of attendance by Spencer, but not of the Haldanes. And anyway can one imagine all this effort by Dunne unless there was something to be gained. Sean Redmond recalled how shaken he looked when we kept up our opposition to a new organisation. But if this is what he is working for it would have been elementary to explain it at the start, and it should be clear that failure to do so would arouse dissatisfaction. And why should he assume that people were not open to conviction, but must be deceived? Or is this another tip of the Colin Sweet iceberg? Or perhaps the explanation is complacency and incompetence, but if so, how has he got where he is? It is a great mystery for the moment. No doubt we shall see.
April 15 Sunday: There was of course little that could be done today, though I did a little on the Liverpool lecture. The weather remains cool but extremely dry. Indeed I scarcely recall such a prolonged dry spell.
April 16 Monday: I spoke to both Gerry Curran and Sean Redmond. Gerry was disappointed at yesterday’s meeting, at which Carmody spoke well [ie. Paddy Carmody from Dublin]. There were about 40 there, said Sean, though Gerry said fewer. About six were from West London, and the same from Central. Not one person from the English “left” bothered to attend, but one is used to that. Ireland is not far enough away. The applications for the conference are almost non-existent except for Districts of the CP whom Woddis has circularised.
April 17 Tuesday: I was in touch with Mark Clinton, who has agreed to come from Birmingham to speak at the meeting tomorrow, if anybody turns up.
April 18 Wednesday: All yesterday and today I was trying to get Barney Morgan, and left messages, but he did not ring. As I expected, though I met Mark Clinton at Lime St, and took him to the Free Church Centre, Barney did not put in an appearance. Instead we had Pat MacLaughlin and Sylvester Hutton, a musician and a new member or prospective one, the first that has favourably impressed me. We were to have had a social on Sunday. But Pat MacLaughlin informed Brian Stowell that the musicians were all going to Birmingham for a Clann na hEireann event. It was strange that Brian Stowell suspected him of deliberately misleading him so as to strengthen the Clann na hEireann attendance. So we postponed it. Then Barney Morgan said they were going to a Feis in Leeds. But now Sylvester Hutton tells me that they were expecting the social, and that it is fortunate that I informed him of its postponement. As for old Pat MacLaughlin, he spent all the time complaining about Barney Morgan to Mark Clinton, and saying that he “doesn’t go and sell the paper where Barney Morgan goes.” I had the impression that Pat does not like Sylvester Hutton, possibly because he is not like himself an ardent devotee of the “Officials”.
April 19 Thursday: I had Mark Clinton at John Gibson’s last night, as Ashford has brought the job to the maximum mess with the minimum effect. He has put four pieces under the foundation and started on removing the chimney breast. But now I have to go to London, and could think of almost anywhere else where I would prefer to go. Sean Redmond is going to Dublin, I suspect looking for a job there, though I am not certain. It is natural that he should wish to live at home, and even more to wish himself away from London. And I have injured the little finger of my right hand, and can’t write properly, or play decently.
I showed Mark Clinton round the city. We went up the Cathedral Tower, and then went to a rehearsal of Alan Bush’s “Liverpool Overture” in the Philharmonic Hall. He told me of falling sales in Birmingham, though he now has a branch of 25 members, the biggest outside London. He is full of enthusiasm and hopes for the future, and since this has developed slowly, I think he will yet be a power in the land. He didn’t get speaking at the meeting, but certainly enjoyed the trip, which included dinner at the Playouse last night, and lunch today in the Royal Iris. When I got back, Ashford was still busy. But I must go away when the job is half done.
April 20 Friday (Birmingham): Ashford came again, and though the job is not half complete, presented a bill of £55 and wanted cash. I offered him £25 on account, while he took a cheque for the rest. According to Bloor it is part of the tradition of the building industry to use its customer’s capital. But apart from this, Ashford, though a very good workman, is a messer and never plans anything. It would never occur to him that I would not have cash without being warned and enabled to go to the bank.
In the afternoon I went to Birmingham and found about 20 people assembled and a general air of optimism. Mark Clinton was there of course, and Sean Kenny, and some I had seen before, others not. And, a surprise. Pat Powell had driven over from Coventry. He looks better and has stopped the injections of cortisone. Of course you would still say he was a sick man, and his face is still somewhat puffed. But the bowel motions are now normal, so we hope for the best. For the first time for some time we would place him in the land of the living. He told me the melancholy story of Coventry Social Justice, which was wrecked by this priest, Fr Fell, who has got himself arrested. He it was who injected “Provisionalism”, caused splits, and was prepared to countenance what was an opportunist signal for physical force, which was seen as preferable to socialism. Now he has bitten off more than he can chew. Pat Powell also said that there had been widespread raids on Irish homes, and that houses had been rendered uninhabitable when all their floorboards were ripped up. There was one man who was arrested at work and taken to the police station; there he was stripped and subjected to interrogation in a naked state, and compelled as part of the humiliation to answer questions with his bare legs on the table in conditions of maximum self-exposure. Apparently this is being kept dark, but will be used in due course by the MP (Morris, I think the name is) who has been engaged for the defence. So as from Algeria to France, so Fascism comes from the Six Counties to England. Pat Powell said that the Irish in Coventry are pretty well scared at the moment, and people who were never seen near him are now calling on him for advice.
As for some of the others, there was one I mentioned, of whom he said, “The trouble is LSD.” “What, you mean working long hours of overtime?” “No, I don’t,” he replied, “I mean the drug.” So apparently that has also been used as a means of demoralising the young people. I told Pat Powell years ago that without the establishment of a Connolly Association first, all his broad operations would come to nothing. They have, but whether they will be concrete or not, I do not know. I mean his second thoughts. It was necessary to let Birmingham work itself right out and come back to zero before Mark Clinton could do a thing. It is clear now however that every effort must be bestowed on the Midlands.
An excellent thing is the cautiousness of Mark Clinton and Sean Kenny. There are of course a few oddities who either seek entrance or hover about. One young man who came a few weeks ago interrupted with loud foolish statements, such as would be suitable in an “International Marxist” (soi-disant) organisation. He was there tonight, and Mark said had broken with the ultra-left. He proved to be somewhat stupid but with a good heart if it could disentangle itself from the stupidity. Last time he had applied to join. “Oh no,” says Sean Kenny, the Dublinman to his boots. “It’s not so easy. Do you see these books?” He slapped a pile of them. “Have you read them?” When the applicant answered that he had not, Kenny reinforced his objections. “Now to be a member of the Connolly Association you’d need to have read all these, and understood them.” The result was that the young man has become completely chastened, and imbued with a deep desire to become a member. Perhaps Kenny will have to relax the rules he has invented. It is amusing that the play designed to get rid of him had proved an agency of reformation.
There is another character called Ryan, who at intervals describes himself as a barrister, when he assumes an accent of Etonian grandeur, then professes to be working on a building site. All the time he spins fresh yarns.
“Why do you tell so many lies?” asked Mark Clinton when this gentleman had penetrated the Star Club from which he had been debarred (Sean Kenny alleging his concern, not entirely innocent, with a fire that had occurred, but without proof).
“I do it to see people’s reactions,” was the answer.
“Well,” says Mark, “You want to be careful of my reactions, for I’m only restraining myself from kicking you down the stairs,” which he would have been well able to carry into effect.
I stayed the night at Erdington with Mark.
April 21 Saturday (London): I arrived in London soon after 2 pm. As we had sat up talking and reducing the contents of a bottle of whiskey until 5 am. I started late. In the office I found Charlie Cunningham, Chris Sullivan and Jim Kelly and learned that despite Sean Redmond’s absence and Jane Tate’s illness, the old hands had rallied well to the sales. There were only about six letters for Jules Jacks. Charlie told me that he had been speaking to a sheetmetal worker called Parker who told him that his committee had received no invitation. “Who’s is charge of distribution?” asked Parker. “Bill Dunne,” said Charlie. “Oh – that lot.” He expressed the opinion that Bill Dunne and Jack Woddis were “messers”. I don’t know about Bill Dunne, but the organisational methods of Woddis have been a revelation to me. It is however, sectarianism, I think. They are intensely conscious of their mission to “lead the masses”, but do not appreciate the necessity of keeping constantly in mind the opinions of the “masses” over whether and how they are to be led, and the importance of working on equal terms with those who are prepared to cooperate. I consider this one of the reasons why the CP has remained small in numbers, though obviously it is just part of the story. I was out in Hammersmith with Chris Sullivan in the evening, without much success. Mark Clinton also tells of increasing sales resistance and intense competition.
April 22 Sunday: It has been remarkable that while Sean Redmond is away, Jane Tate ill, Pegeen O’Flaherty also away, and even Toni Curran so burdened by a cold that she can hardly speak, Chris Sullivan, Charlie Cunningham and Jim Kelly stepped into the breach with the sales. Charlie and Chris were in during the day and they went up to the “Provisional” demonstration where £600 was raised from a crowd they estimated as 500. As crowds usually contain fewer individuals than one thinks, the testimony was the more remarkable. And every indication by the madmen in Whitehall that they are set on a “military solution” will confirm the Irish in wishing for the same.
I spent most of the day in the office, but got little done. I spoke to Brian Wilkinson on the phone, and he told me that Dave Richards was in London and would call, but he has not. I see that there are about a dozen applications for the conference, and that Jules Jacks has got Stella Bond (who sent out the notices in his name) to invite the three delegates. It is possible that Jack Woddis thought that he could bring a vast crowd if his advice were taken. Paddy Bond, who came in for a few minutes, said Bill Dunne told him “pressure was being exerted” and that the AUEW North London committee was coming – as if this was a great achievement “. But if I were to remark to Woddis or Dunne that we have been in touch with them continuously for 20 years and that they have for years had a standing order for 20 copies of the “Democrat”, I know exactly what would happen. They would give the impression of not having heard. Possibly they would not hear. They certainly would neither listen nor reflect. There is a complete block on their minds, as they regard the Connolly Association as a useless organisation, this view being widely prevalent in London, where it may have arisen from the propaganda of O’Neill etc., who though discredited, still influence people’s minds when they are disposed that way anyway [a reference to Greaves’s conflict with the leftist elements in the Connolly Association and CPGB in the late 1950s, in which Dubliners Andy and Patsy O’Neill were key protagonists]. But maybe having had so much of his own way, Woddis may discover that all is not so easy.
I was in Harlesden with Chris Sullivan.
April 23 Monday: We held a perfectly quiet and successful meeting in a chilly Hyde Park – Gerry Curran, Charlie Cunningham and Chris Sullivan.
April 24 Tuesday: Such comings and goings as there were today nobody ever saw. First I had Amphlett-Micklewright on the phone for the first time. He took surely half an hour to tell me of the villainies of Rick Tansey and Harry Rajack, who are IS [ie. International Socialist] supporters in the Haldane Society, Rajack being secretary. At one of our conference Committee meetings he undertook to take a party of lawyers to the Six Counties, and they were talking about defending cases in courts and preparing the most splendid reports. Now it appears there is neither deputation nor report. At lunchtime there was Amphlett-Micklewright for the second time. “I want you to do something for me. Ring up Platts-Mills, remember he has it hyphenated in the book, and have a good moan to him about the failure of the Haldane Society to back up this conference.” “I’d prefer not to do that. It would be interfering.” “Ah, perhaps you are right.”
Soon after that there was a plop and a huge envelope appeared, so big that one would apprehend a letter bomb. It was not that, however, but a report from Rick Tansey together with a request to be permitted to speak on the Diplock Report, so to speak from the platform [The Diplock Report of December 1972 recommended that internment without trial in Northern Ireland be replaced by a juryless court process to overcome the problem of intimidation of witnesses]. So there must be a third hour’s session with Micklewright. He thought the game was to get an IS speech from the platform. I suggested that Micklewright attend the Haldane Society meeting which is tonight, and always falls miraculously on our committee night however oddly we change it – perhaps to give Rajack an alibi, perhaps to keep Micklewright from one or other of them. He should propose that Tansey be sent as a delegate and try to get himself elected as well. Then Tansey could speak not from the platform but from the Haldane Society, but we’d give him a few extra minutes. He consented to this.
But then Tansey himself rang. Had I received his document? I told him I had and suggested he get himself delegated and I would put it that the chairman should give him latitude. He seemed happy enough. Then I telephoned Micklewright to tell him. He informed me that Tansey had complained that the conference was falling too much within the “architecture” of the Connolly Association, and Micklewright thought that that was why he did not press the Haldane Society to sponsor it.
Then the Committee meeting began, with no Egelnick and no Hugh White, though the NCCL, Jack Woddis, Charlies Cunningham, Sean Redmond, and a Mrs Vorhaus, an American from the British Peace Committee. Quite clearly they had sent somebody not too influential. Micklewright was there for part of the time. I had prepared a written agenda, and a schedule of alternative follow-ups. As last time Woddis had been all apologies to Jules Jacks, tonight he was deferential to me – at one point I thought he was out of his depth, which was interesting. For the NCCL man said he didn’t want a standing conference, or a permanent committee. From Woddis’s point of view to wind this up leaves the British Peace Committee free to get up to anything they like. But the obvious course of backing up the Connolly Association would possibly lead Edwina to cast discretion to the winds and back Colin Sweet [ie. of the British Peace Committee ] – which she may be doing anyway. For the “Star” [ie. the “Morning Star”], this morning published a long boost of the BPC statement on Ireland, whereas we cannot get in a line. I presume the author of this inequity is the weed, Myant [editorial writer on that paper at the time], who I am told has written part of it, together with a Leeds girl. Since he returned from Belfast, editorially the Connolly Association does not exist. Fortunately the London attitude does not extend to Birmingham, where Frank Watters gave Mark Clinton the Star Club free, so that they made £25 on a social last Sunday.
The shaking point came when I suggested a lobby. Would the other organisations agree? They all wanted to refer back. And as I sat silent, thinking, I caught Woddis looking at me. That was when I thought he was out of his depth. For he had declared enthusiastically that he did not need to refer back. I then said that the CA would call the lobby and invite the others in. This would be a more natural arrangement, but for Edwina Stewart’s absurdity. Incidentally, Sean Redmond told me he was doing a bit of “moaning” in Dublin to Tom [ie. to his brother Tom Redmond, who was on the CPI Executive] and Harris [ie. Trade Unionist Noel Harris, also on that Executive] about her prejudice and silly interference.
The striking thing was the transformation of the deputation. They were self-confident arrogant cockneys when they went over. But after being stopped and searched a few times, and seeing the situation there, they were full of desire to act, so at least that has been achieved.
April 25 Wednesday: Stella Bond and I spent the whole day trying to get this conference off the rocks, this broth spoiled by too many cooks. She bought £9 worth of stamps and we sent out invitations to people to come as visitors. I spoke to Alan Morton on the phone, and wrote to Pat Powell in Coventry. After the branch meeting which Kay Beauchamp addressed, we had a little party in Neary’s to bid farewell to Peter Mulligan who is moving to Northampton. That incredibly silly Joyce Tringham woman was there. She will lend her car but none of the boys will sell with her, and I can well see why. She would drive them mad. And what it is, and they must all sense it, is unconscious English chauvinism. They have admitted Ireland’s right to self-determination, but think it quite natural that if they choose to go there and buy property they should be welcomed with open arms. As for carrying Wales and Scotland into the hell they have created, what else should they do? Of course Kay Beauchamp is immeasurably better, except that even she cannot accept that the Welsh and the Scots have national rights.
And some of them had noticed how the Morning Star review of the British Peace Committee thing talked of the NICRA’s Bill of Rights. It must be denied to the Connolly Association, though Myant knows perfectly well that NICRA had not the slightest hand in it. What contemptible presenters of facts journalists can be!
April 26 Thursday: I went to King Street to see if Fred Bowen’s book was in the library. It was not. I then had a few minutes with Woddis. He seems to be still hankering after a committee of his own, and thinks there should be “a young man to act as liaison” between him and me. I am now somewhat forewarned and am not impressed at being ceremoniously shaken by the hand as I leave the door. Gloria Devine was right. She likes to see Jack Woddis discomfited. But she says “They” (meaning himself and his wife) “are absolutely dedicated.” Their dedication can go the way of personal sharp practice.
Then I went to Colindale but did not get very far, and in the evening I went to Marx House, again not finding much. It must be a couple of days since I wrote to Dave Richards telling him that the Movement for Colonial Freedom was looking for a full-time secretary and suggesting that he might care to apply for the post. But there is no reply so far. Kay Beauchamp said she would be interested, though I am possibly not doing him a good turn, for Kay Beauchamp would drive one stark staring mad.
April 27 Friday: Before going to Colindale I came into the office. The Morning Star had a huge article by Joan Maynard [Joan Maynard, 1921-1998, leftwing Labour MP for Sheffield; member of the Labour Party National Executive], the day before our conference. But it was not so annoying as that a few days ago. When I got back Sean Redmond was there – I sent off a few credentials this morning; the practical slogging falls back on to my shoulders and those of the unfortunate Bill Dunne – and said Woddis had rung to say Jules Jacks was in hospital with a detached retina, and would not attend. Of course I knew that. Dunne had got George Anthony as the morning’s chairman [leading Engineering trade unionist]. He is the man I tried to get to the Six Counties ten years ago when all this horror could have been averted, but the Bill Dunnes of those days wouldn’t let him, or dissuaded him. His knowledge is very slight. But Woddis said more. This morning’s article referred to the support given by the British Peace Committee, of which Joan Maynard is chairman, which began last year (she does not go back to 1938) [ie. as the Connolly Association did] and culminates in support for the conference tomorrow. Woddis said that this reference to the conference showed how the BPC “try to take things over”, and that this (to Sean Redmond) was what he had warned me about: there was nothing political against them. However, there was this to be said for her, said I to Sean Redmond, at least she acknowledged the Irish Democrat had initiated the thing. For it was our idea to send the Trade Unionists over and have a conference to receive them; and but for Edwina Stewart we would have been able to run it ourselves and still have everybody in. As Sean Redmond put it, a camel is a horse designed by a committee. He told me that he was “moaning” to Sean Nolan [ie. of the CPI in Dublin] that NICRA had printed a pamphlet and reproduced the Bill of Rights word for word in an appendix, referring to it as “our” Bill of Rights. As Sean said to Nolan, you publish a thing with a view to its being taken up by others, but too blatant a claim to adopted paternity can be a trifle irritating. He told me that not only are some people trying to oust Ann Hope and control the funds, they would like Edwina Stewart out of the way as “every time anybody rings the office the phone is answered by a Communist.” Sean suspects ultra-left manoeuvrings within the Republicans [ie. the Official IRA/Sinn Fein]. He asked Tom Redmond if NICRA was likely to retain its importance in the future, and his brother was most emphatic that it was. But Tom’s judgement was never of the best.
Dave Richards rang and said he was interested in the MCF job and had spoken to Kay Beauchamp. Pat Powell rang and said he will probably come tomorrow.
April 28 Saturday: I was up early and went to the conference at Hampstead Town Hall. It was better than we feared, about 67 attending each session, giving a total of about 85. Of these seventeen were “pure visitors” and included Pat Arrowsmith, who arrogantly walked in with a young fellow, but Jane Tate made her pay the fee. There was also Anthony Arblaster who came from Sheffield [Academic and well-known political writer]. The CA sent about 18 delegates, which included Pat Powell. The participating organisations apart from the CA sent eleven. Thus the general and TU delegates numbered about thirty in each session. These included the West of England, London and Bristol CP, also Essex. It was clearly a very leftwing gathering, and it was odd to see Peter Kerrigan, Easton, Woddis at a meeting of this type. Sean Redmond opened the proceedings. Jane Tate and Charlie Cunningham managed the admissions, Elsie O’Dowling looked after the bookstall, and I wound up . The three delegates were extremely impressive. The lawyers contributed well, the NCCL making the introduction and Tansey behaving himself admirably. The proposals for developing a campaign based on the English were acceptable to most, though an “International Marxist” from Kent NUS talked some nonsense. Pat Powell told of events in Coventry, and I wound up. George Antony took the chair and performed the function effectively. Of course the small Trade Union response (in terms of branches, though there were six or seven Trades Councils) arises from Woddis’s nonsense. But I think he has seen this, and he may pay more attention in future. Certainly any fears that he would use the occasion to try and launch something were quite groundless, as the limit he went was to invite those present to “support the committee of nine organisations in anything further it may decide to do.” I saw Jack Askins there. This must be the result of the démarche in Lancashire. There was a young man present from Liverpool Polytechnic. He proved, as we found out later, to be Dave Richards’ predecessor at Newport.
Later Charlie Cunningham came and I had a talk with Dave Richards, who is in London. He seems to be pressing on with the MCF job, though I wonder how he will get on with Kay Beauchamp.
April 29 Sunday (Liverpool): We had a Standing Committee in the morning, but as Pat O’Donohue is on holiday, and Charlie Cunningham in Stevenage, and Paddy Bond unwilling to come into town two days running, only myself, Jane Tate and Sean Redmond and Jim Kelly were present. We worked on a draft statement to call a lobby on 12 June. “Harassment” is to be the subject. I found Sean in rather an odd mood, and suspect that he is thinking of returning to Dublin and has perhaps a general disinclination to involve himself in things. But this may not be so. Jane Tate told me that his job in the Trade Union is much more routine than he had had it represented to him when he accepted the position, and he is dissatisfied.
I then came to Liverpool, found the work in the house little progressed, and then went to The Mitre. Despite the letter and advert, very few were there. Pat MacLaughlin, Sylvester Hytton, his wife, his sister, two friends from Birmingham, another from London, myself and Brian Stowell, and only Syl Hutton’s fiddle for music. Pat MacLaughlin was in a carping offensive mood and I told him that if he felt that way he should resign. He accused me of prejudice against his wife, from whom he has been divorced twice and remarried, and I am alleged to have communicated this to John McClelland and this girl Dunlop. “You surround yourself with as many “Provisionals” as you can,” he declared, and “You kept Mallon ” in the organisation. This utter drivel annoyed me. We would be better off without him. He is doddering.
As for the others, Barney Morgan did not put in an appearance. He has taken on a confectioner’s shop and is wondering whether to abandon his career as mental health visitor. He gets up at 6 am. for the newspaper side. As for the others present there was Bert Edwards and his niece. He was talking about being James Connolly’s son-in-law, and of presenting the papers “left to him” to the Marx Library. The man from London was looking for a field, for Sylvester Hutton has bought a field in Co. Clare where he hoped to build a bungalow, and presumably live on the tourist trade. The vast flood of international wealth is converting workers into petit-bourgeois, and this may well go on until the “dies illa” when the terms of world trade irrecoverably reverse, and these western peoples must go on their knees for oil and food. I was told by Hutton that the reason the musicians did not come is that the Connolly Association is seen as “on the wrong side of the fence,” meaning “Provisional”, so this is the work that that old fool has been doing. I see little prospect in Liverpool, and all that remains is to go through the motions of giving the lecture on Wednesday, and thereafter transfer the effort to Birmingham, unless of course it is better than we expect.
April 30 Monday: Just after 9 am. Ashford appeared, explained that he had “setbacks” and then took himself off saying he would “not be long”, that is to say not above a year or two. I wrote to Jack Woddis and spoke to Sean Redmond on the phone, also to Lenny Draper. I went to the Picton Library in the afternoon, and as I expected (for Ashford is a good liar but a poor dissimulator) he had not troubled to come again. It is very provoking, as the house is hardly fit to be lived in.
I was on the phone to Stella Bond who told me that the Clann na hEireann had asked us to send a speaker to a meeting on the subject of the harassment of Irish people in Britain, and ICRA (“Provisional” counterweight to the “Official” NICRA) have invited us to take part in a demonstration on July 8. Now here is the history. We invented the idea of a meeting near July 12. We took a very good collection at one attended by Edwina Stewart. Oblivious of the political side of it, she resolved to have it herself next year. So within weeks, NICRA had popped up in Highgate and announced a meeting a year in advance. This they kept up for year or two. But now the “Provisionals” have decided to appropriate the occasion to themselves. So the biter is bitten. I told Stella Bond I thought we should take part in both.
Talk about one damned thing after another! I seem to have lost my watch, goodness knows where or how. The place is in such chaos thanks to Ashford’s rare operations that nothing can possibly be found. Lenny Draper rang up to say that he has not had a single application for credentials for the conference. Wilf Charles tells him to go to Vic Eddisford and “play hell.” And he can’t get a room as nobody will accommodate an Irish organisation.
May 1 Tuesday: I intended to go to Liverpool to see the memorial to the Trades Council unveiled. I knew there were no trains. But when I got to Woodside I found there were no boats. So we have the anomaly that meetings are called but the transport strike prevents people from getting to them.
May 2 Wednesday: I did some work on the lecture, though I will be surprised if five people turn up. There is no doubt that Pat MacLaughlin has gone over to Clann na hEireann completely. And Eugene O’Doherty is the villain. He has a driving school or some similar activity near to him. When Sylvester Hutton joined, two days later O’Doherty was there asking him to join Clann na hEireann. And he used to attend Connolly Association meetings and ascertain the names and addresses of newcomers. I dislike that poncing technique.
In the afternoon Ashford arrived and did some pottering. And at 9.30 pm. Bloor came up and approved of Ashford’s ultra-cautious pier-making, but only because he had not seen the job in its original state before Ashford covered it all up with cement! I learned from Stella Bond that Paddy Bond thinks about 250 Democrats were sold in London yesterday.
May 3 Thursday: The weather continues as cold and miserable as it has been for a month. The best of winter is followed by the worst of spring. But at last it rained and the earth that had done nothing showed faint signs of life. In the morning I had a phone call from Woddis’s secretary. Would I open a discussion at the next meeting of the IAC [International Affairs Committee]. I said I would. Perhaps somebody else has dropped out. Or somebody had demanded some point be heard. Or Woddis has become uneasy. For certainly this is short notice. But it will give me an opportunity to get my thoughts up to date, and to prepare the additional chapters required for the German edition and the Russian translation [ie. of “The Irish Crisis” book],
I went to the meeting at The State with little enthusiasm. Brian Stowell was there, and Bert Edwards with his niece, also Pat MacLaughlin and Syl Hutton. Barney Morgan came late. There were also present two friends of his named Halpin, two lecturers from the Polytechnic, young Trickey who was Dave Richard’s predecessor at Newport and at Saturday’s conference, and a student of history. So the total was something over a dozen. There was nobody from the CP, or the Trade Union movement in Liverpool, despite the leaflets sent to Roger O’Hara and the Trades Council. But the lecture was received very well by those who attended. And so it should be after all the research that went into it. I may make a small book or pamphlet. Perhaps it is a waste of time to try to interest the Labour movement in what does not interest it, however much it should do so. Whatever about that, there were some new faces. And afterwards we met Barney Morgan’s manager. He has bought a business and employs three people, and spent much of the time boasting of the high rate of profit he gets. Pat MacLaughlin was “sweetened” by a letter I wrote him, but I am done with him.
May 4 Friday: Today Ashford was here all the time and has begun the main job which he was engaged to do, taking down the chimney breast. He has some of the perfectionism of Gerry Curran and is always unwilling to take a short cut. However I think he does a good job, and perhaps that is why he is permanently short of money. I have been toying with the idea of going to Ireland for a day or two. It is necessary to have a break to turn my mind on to next Friday’s thing – my feeling is that Woddis doesn’t know what to do next – and I might also see Waltons about the Shields’s songs copyright.
May 5 Saturday: The expected phone call came from Lenny Draper and he came over to Liverpool in the afternoon, and spent the evening. He tells me next to no applications have been received for credentials for the conference. In other words Manchester is as bad as London. I think partly an anti-Irish feeling has built up, and partly the English people have got used to putting Six-County events out of their minds. After all isn’t the Government giving them a new constitution. He had tackled Vic Eddisford on the subject. Apparently Askins is helpful and was impressed by the London conference, which he attended. There were of course positive aspects – Joe O’Connor was at his usual talk about the importance of Republicanism, and I saw Egelnick show signs of acute impatience. Because the essence of the thing was the attempt to get the English moving.
The Manchester Branch cannot find a meeting place. Lenny Draper alone is selling the paper and things are as bad as they are in Liverpool. It is strange how reaction appears on apparently unconnected fronts. The difficulties of the position have resulted in Lenny Draper’s having gone through a mild emotional crisis, after which he tells me he has returned ready for the fray. We went to the two exhibitions arranged for the Trades Council commemoration, and he caught the 9.15 back to Manchester. He tells me he has written to the District Committee expressing concern at the lack of response to the conference. For he tells me that CP influence in the Trade Unions is adequate to making the conference a success.
May 6 Sunday: Although the weather continues exceptionally chilly, I contrived to get a little work done in the garden. The succession of growth is in a state of confusion – the small low things well advanced, but the crab, like the black poplar, is doing precisely nothing.
May 7 Monday: A letter arrived from Charlie Cunningham. He had gone along to Colin Sweet’s thing, and of all people found Bannister the other speaker. This character is now living in Birmingham and talks of joining the CA. Mercifully he is incapable of following any course of action consistently and will undoubtedly find other things to interest him. He said the BPC [ie. British Peace Committee] people were there looking very suspicious. He wondered what they have to fear. Sweet and his friends know nothing about the subject. Sweet is like a prima donna. But what Charlie does not appreciate is the danger of another English centre.
Ashford arrived at 9.30. I saw his van drive up, and that he had a passenger. “Ho,” I said, “he has not come to work.” He came in, emptied a bag of sand, remarked, “I must go and get some more materials,” went off, and did not appear all day.
May 8 Tuesday: As Ashford did not arrive in the morning, I commenced a “phone war” and rang at intervals. At last I got him and he undertook to come “later”, which turned out to be the evening.
May 9 Wednesday: Ashford put in a full day’s work for once, and was apologetic at the slow progress. As he left in the evening he said, “I’ll be here in the morning.” Hm! He will come on Friday and ask for money for what he has done so far. I intend to give him a taste of his own medicine if he is not here tomorrow. For I have to go to London. Before the rain came down in the evening I burned the twigs from last year’s tree cuttings. It is still cold but the crab is timidly spreading. I got in fennel, coriander, kohlrabi, parsley, white onions, purslane and prepared ground for Hamburg parsley, the last of which I have just eaten. But I need a week on the job.
May 10 Thursday (London): Though he had sworn to be here this morning, Ashford had not put in an appearance when I left at 11.45. I left him a note expressing my concern, but whether he will come into the place to see it is another matter. I returned to London. Jane Tate came in during the evening. Letters from Jack Woddis show quite a different strain from that I had come unpleasantly familiar with. He admitted that there were “organisational weaknesses” in the preparation of the conferences, and that these were not ours but his. I had had the contents read to me, and had already sent a friendly reply. It looks as if he first thought there was a chance of a mighty mass movement that we had missed. At this stage he was in a state of euphoria. Then when the whole thing proved illusory he may have got into a panic. The combination – to those who never suffered from the illusion – looked like either lunacy or a deep laid plot.
May 11 Friday: I was in the office all day then went to the IAC [International Affairs Committee]. Everybody was exceptionally cordial and I saw no reason not to reciprocate. I do not mean those who have no reason not be cordial. There is no doubt a lesson was learned. Max Egelnick came for a drink and reminded me that I had recruited him into the CP in May 1942. I was in Golders Green at the house of Harry Silver. He told me that he had been in the Labour Party and was aware that CP people were in it. Then they were suddenly withdrawn and he wondered what had happened to them. There was a young lad of eighteen from Sheffield, called Ashford I think – at any rate I wondered if he was the son of the incredibly sectish Ashford, or was it Ashworth – of Sheffield in 1934. But it wasn’t, as they came from Leeds. His father had ruined his career with political work in the thirties, when that often happened. I have a sentiment that Joe O’Connor has dropped in the general esteem, as I noticed Egelnick’s somewhat contemptuous expression when he was speaking.
May 12 Saturday: I was in the office in the day. Not much happened. Charlie Cunningham came in, but Sean Redmond was tied up the whole week-end with Union work. I worked on the paper.
May 13 Sunday: Again I was busy with the paper. In the evening Charlie and I went to Fulham, with reasonable success.
May 14 Monday: I was busy on the paper all day. but at 6.30 we had the Conference Committee. Only Jack Woddis, Sean Redmond, Jack Dromey and the NCCL girl was there. There was thus no difficulty in persuading Woddis that the type of Vietnam Committee he seems to have been hankering after was not possible. But I proposed that all concerned should meet again after the election. Dromey told us what the NCCL was doing. When he asked Woddis for what he was doing he said, “We can’t really ask things. We prefer other people to call things we can support.” And that’s precisely his difficulty. For it tempts him to secure that other peoples’ initiative is to his liking by manipulation. But there was no sign of this now. It is as if some pressure had been taken off him. Perhaps they think Colin Sweet is no longer a danger. There have been “goings on” we do not understand.
May 15 Tuesday (Liverpool): I was in the office a while, then came to Liverpool, where to my gratification I found Ashford at work and signs of progress. What is strange, moreover, he did not ask for money, even though I had brought him some. I continued work on the paper and had a few words with Tony Coughlan on the phone.
May 16 Wednesday: I continued with the paper and Ashford continued with the alterations. I also did a little in the garden.
May 17 Thursday: I got the final copy off to Ripley, but he cannot see me till Tuesday. The weather has improved. It is still too dry, but warm and at last the crab is sprouting. I really got on quite well today. The rowan in the front garden is in full bloom. But the black poplars are only very slightly shooting. There is an odd mixture of seasons – roses nearly out, gooseberries on the bushes, pansies in bloom – but the tall trees are behind.
May 18 Friday: This was a fine warm day and I got on very well in the garden. It is beginning to look shipshape.
May 19 Saturday: Another useful day. I got beans in, and other seeds down, while Ashford was busy in the house.
May 20 Sunday: I was to meet Joe Deighan at Lime Street and caught the 9.04 train from Rock Ferry. At Central it stopped for ten minutes and I complained to a railway official that I would miss my connection. He telephoned Lime Street and they held the train, though as I found a taxi I might have just caught it. But others would not. I found a very depressed and despondent Joe Deighan. “I’m in a minority of one on the Executive Committee,” he told me [ie. on the Executive Committee of the CPI]. Apparently it has been decided to fight the municipal elections on bread and butter issues, while he says it should be civil rights. I think he is right in this. But I’m doubtful of his other position [ie. his position as a member of the Executive of the NICRA]. NICRA is taking up signatures for a pledge which they want to extract from candidates that they will not take office while internment remains. I asked whether the communist candidates would give that pledge. They would not. What about the SDLP? They would. The fact that the CP refused would not influence events as none of them would get in. But the others would get in, and go in, though they could have been kept out – if… So they are in the realm of “if”. Joe told me that the Stewarts are putting it round everywhere that I have gone “Provisional”. It is incredible to encompass the petty malice of these people. I wonder if this is what started things in Liverpool – I know Edwina Stewart was there, for what purpose I don’t know. It seems that she accepts every invitation to speak in England. That is fair enough. But then she sets up organisations, but seemingly does not report back what she has done, for to Joe Deighan it was merely addressing meetings.
It struck me forcibly that the days of reporters from Northern Ireland are done. Joe had not taken the trouble to prepare one line of notes, and gave a quiet but somewhat wobbly speech, in which he spoke of being “despondent” and hoping that what we did today would bear fruit sometime in the future. Of course this is due to his failure to adapt himself to the new situation. The attendance was not good, but the British Peace Committee were there, and Jim Arnison. Wilf Charles said he had a “stiff neck”, which Joe Deighan said had “come on in the night, but was nothing and would go away again as these things do.” But Lenny Draper told me that he had not seen him move one of his arms and that Wilf had talked laughingly of a “stroke” and Lenny was sure he had suffered one. I had not noticed this alleged paralysis, and certainly he walked about and spoke easily enough. I suppose about 25 people turned up. Among them were the UIA [United Ireland Association], and the Rochdale Clann na hEireann. I proposed that a further meeting be held bringing together representatives of the various participating organisations, to send over investigators and to report to a much more substantial public meeting. It is interesting that the UIA, as well as the BPC, agreed to be represented. So then we all went for a meal and a drink, and I came back to Liverpool on the 10.9 from Victoria. Joe was to go to Stranraer, but looked like missing his train when I left them.
Now Lenny Draper professed himself materially enlightened by the conference. And I also thought Joe Deighan was done some good. He was not quite so dispirited afterwards.
May 21 Monday: Ashford appeared and put in a full day. So that is proceeding. As far the rest, I was busy on the garden.
May 22 Tuesday: I went to Ripley to read the proofs. They were in a muddle, and had had to send copy out to be set, the first time I remember it. Apparently the IS [ie. International Socialists] in Leeds have started an eight-page weekly paper. They have just changed their printers. But they want only 1,500 copies. Reynolds may burn his fingers [Reynolds, the owner of Ripley Printers]. But in the meantime he has more work than he can manage.
May 23 Wednesday: Again I was busy in the garden all day. I would say one more day, and the job will be complete. Ashford says he has “broken the back” of the job.
May 24 Thursday: I was busy in the garden all day, and as I estimated was also able to “break the back” of the job. After seven years I have brought some slight semblance of order to the overgrown area at the back of the house, though there is still something to be done. Gradually I have cut the trees back and brought the soil into cultivation. I lent Ashford my key, which he went off with, leaving me locked out in singlet and shorts and having to wait till Jean Hack came in to lunch. “His head is in the clouds,” said she. In the afternoon Jack Woddis rang. They want me to go to Wolsey. “Not a big meeting,” the girl explained. I know that, or they would be there themselves. But as it happens Tony Coughlan is coming on the day they want. Woddis has written an article on the British workers and the Irish question in Marxism Today. Jules Jacks when he heard of it remarked with some slight reproach, “So you’re an expert on the Irish question now,” as much as to disbelieve and censure him for the pretence. However, he now asked me whether the Republic was established in 1916 or 1919. And in his quotation, which he read, he had the words, “The Republic which the British recognised in 1920, at least as far as twenty-six counties are concerned.” It is clear that he is chancing his arm, and thus we see the operation of vanity within the mind of a “dedicated person” and see how one thing can coexist with another.
In the evening Bloor came to look at the job. The people in Borough Road have still not repaired their fence. I am thinking of saving the bricks and putting up a wall. I have long contemplated something like this as a recompense for the trick they played on Phyllis and Jean Hack when the two women were alone here, and they erected their immense garage. But I did not find the opportunity.
May 25 Friday (London): Ashford seems more diligent now. Perhaps he wonders whether he will lose on the job by delaying. We discussed the wall. We think there will be enough bricks. I rang up the Planning Department to ask if permission would be necessary, and they told me that provided the height did not exceed 6ft 6″, it was not necessary. This ascertained, I took the 3.40 to London. When I got into the office Charlie Cunningham told me the news.
It had astonished everybody. Apparently Chris Sullivan was out selling with Sean Redmond a week ago. “I was out last night with Mrs Sullivan,” said he. “But we didn’t do well.”
“Who the hell’s Mrs Sullivan?” asked Sean unceremoniously.
“Well, her name used to be O’Flaherty.”
And there is the fact. He has married Pegeen O’Flaherty, Liam O’Flaherty’s daughter. And of course everybody is astonished. It is a Dickensian romance. He was born in Barrack Street, Cork. I think he lacked parents and was sent to an Industrial School, then into the British Army, or Air Force, or something. He is every slow of speech, lacking great power of self-expression, but as I recognised long ago a very deep thinker. She, on the other hand, has the word to her tongue at all times. But she also has the streak of eccentricity. She was sent to a very la-di-da girls’ public school in England, and if ever a marriage disregarded social position, this is one. But the O’Flaherties would do that. And so would Chris. He was sacked from one job because the foreman didn’t like his bringing in the Financial Times every day [He used also get the “Morning Star” daily, and used sometimes say: “What I can’t get in this one, I can get in the other”].
I was out with Tony Donaghey, and we were attacked by an Orangeman in Camden Town. Sothings are developing in England.
May 26 Saturday: A letter came from Martin Guinan resigning from the Connolly Association on the grounds that he might be returning to Ireland for a spell. This was very formally couched, and reminds me of Pat Hensey. I would like to know what is going on, whether it links witn Pat Hensey, or Pat MacLaughlin, or is a fortuitous coincidence. To try it further I suggested he take out associate membership. For the point is that what he does while a member is confined to selling a few papers. Perhaps he wants to drop this, and going home (for a holiday) is the excuse. He is mostly immersed in tenants’ organisations.
I had a letter from George Slessor of Luton Trades Council agreeing to sponsor a conference and wrote back. Also TS sent an article and some poems in Welsh that he has written. His letters have about fifty languages in them. But he must be an extremely clever lad. His illness was only German measles. I am glad he has got over his mental depression. But as for Dave Richards, there is not a squeak. I must ring Brian Wilkinson. Toni Curran rang up and told me all seems well in the West [ie. in the West London branch of the Connolly Association]. I was out with Charlie Cunningham [ie. selling the “Irish Democrat”]
May 27 Sunday: The weather was hot and dry, but there was cloud when I reached Liverpool. As a result of the hot moist conditions here the garden has made a sudden leap, and as I have more ground under cultivation than ever, things look promising.
May 28 Monday: It was hot but damp, with dribbling showers. I sorted out 400 bricks from the rubble and stacked them outside the garage. In the afternoon Ashford came twice, first to see me, then to get cement for a job he is doing at home. He thought the bricks would be enough for the 8 foot of wall it is proposed to build in the first place. He is bringing his nephew, a draughtsman but a bit of a carpenter, to help make good within the house. He told me that Jean Brown had a cottage at Trydden which a local builder failed to renovate properly. He went out to make up the deficiency, but now she is in the middle of litigation. She refused to pay the builder who defaulted on the job. He threatened to have her in court. Now he says the case is dropped, and the County Council, always ready to knock things down, say the cottage is to be demolished. But her own solicitor has asked for £100. The response she has made is to write to the Law Society. I would love to know what happens. This solicitor is a character called Bing in Hamilton Square. You miss all this when you get all legal advice from your personal friends.
May 29 Tuesday: Ashford seems to be coming every day now. Perhaps he fears that if he does not get down to work he will lose money on the job. But he never gets all his materials together in the morning, and is constantly popping off, usually while the suppliers he visits are at lunch, have closed for half day or for the night. He announced that his nephew would be there this evening with a drill. But he did not materialise. The desirability of being here and finding something that can be done while the house is in chaos, has led to my putting in more time than previously in the garden, and I have more soil in cultivation than ever before. So there are compensations.
May 30 Wednesday: Though it was showery I continued the work in the garden, and watched Ashford – incidentally over the period I have learned quite a bit about house construction, as despite his indiscipline Ashford is knowledgeable. The nephew who was to have come at 6 pm. arrived at 9.30, blaming his wife. He is a hearty young fellow of 29 or 30. That the subsidence is checked I have little doubt. I also have hopes that the damp on the interior wall, which we thought was due to condensation, will be corrected. I spoke to Gerry Curran on the phone. He had been in Andover over the weekend, and was in the thunderstorm where the policeman was struck by lightning. I also spoke to Sean Redmond.
May 31 Thursday: For the first time Ashford arrived at 9 am. – I was about to listen to Schubert’s Mass in E flat on the radio – but once more he synchronised his presence or absence with the maximum inconvenience. After ten minutes he said he must go home for a plank, and was away for another hour. Jean Hack [Greaves’s neighbour next door] says his wife suffers from some form of neurasthenia. I said I was not surprised. Because of the rain there was nothing to be done in the garden, and the radio was the obvious thing. However, I had missed the opening, so there was no point in listening to the remainder.
There was a phone call from Lenny Draper. Apparently not waiting for the meeting the Irish Democrat was to call, Vic Eddisford has called one in his own office on Saturday morning. Lenny thinks they don’t know what to do. I would not be surprised. Or the Johnny-come-latelies who are fishing in the stormy waters want to cast according to their inclination. I said I might “gate crash”. The phone call came yesterday. On the other hand Slessor in Luton is anxious for a conference in that town and the Trades Council is sponsoring it. Betty Sinclair will be prepared to accept a further delegation. But I get the impression that she also is being “got down” by the situation there. Her last two letters have been very depressed. Though she did not apparently broaden Joe Deighan’s “minority of one”.
I then spoke to Toni Curran on the phone in the morning. Conor [one of her two sons] has chickenpox, but she seems on top of the world. Brian Crowley, whom for all his conversion on the EEC and joining the CP I still do not trust, has been pressing Pat O’Donohue to take Peter Mulligan’s place in charge of the bookshop. This is because then Crowley himself would run things from behind the scenes. He has a thirst for personal influence over a little group of people. I was of course not pleased, as the meeting we held had specifically rejected such a proposal. Toni Curran has also been at loggerheads with Brian Crowley over the paper, the importance of which is on the one hand denied, and on the other hand when he proposes a committee to “advise” the editor – the Executive Committee presumably is not qualified to do this. This is a mild form of the old demand of the O’Neill crowd that the paper should become a “Cooperative Society.” The main object – secure control of the paper.
I phoned Tony Coughlan who had promised to tackle Waltons over the copyright of songs for the Shields’s book. He had forgotten to do it, but promised to go this afternoon.
Then there were more phone calls. Lenny Draper told me that the Saturday meeting is off. They have all gone to London. But Jack Askin’s has got the Trades Council to agree to send a deputation to Belfast. He did not come to our conference. Presumably he took his lead from the London conference. But there is no coordination. Each man does what he thinks of at the moment. I agreed that we should call our meeting as soon as possible, and try to get some coordination into things.
There was yet another call, from Mark Clinton, who told the sad story of Sean Kenny, who was sitting in his car outside the Catholic club when the police pounced on him, pronounced him drunk, and gave him three breath tests, all of which were negative. They refused to let him go, and after taking him to the barracks searched his car. Then they wanted to photograph him and take fingerprints. But he refused and demanded his solicitor. The blood test was performed and this also was negative, as he had not drunk a pint of beer and is a sober man anyway. In the barracks there was an instruction on display “All Irishmen must be searched for ” – he could not read the whole of it – it began with a “d”. It struck me to think of detonators. He was there all night, being released at 7 am. It cost him £15 in doctor’s fees. The police then apologised and asked if he proposed to take action against them. He said he would not. He was afraid of a vendetta in which he would get the worst of it.
Mark also told me about a call from Mary Brennan saying that a Peace in Ireland movement had been started in the University. At the British Peace Committee conference which Charlie Cunningham went to, who should turn up but Bannister. I suppose he is in his early forties now, though he continues to look younger, to my eyes anyway. The first I heard of him was about fifteen to twenty years ago, when he appeared in London from Dublin. I understood that he was an adopted child, brought up Protestant. He plunged into the peace movement and went to some conferences, in Warsaw or somewhere like that. I don’t know when I first heard or suspected his peculiarities. I next saw him at a social in Nottingham. He is always very effusive. He had been fined a few shillings for indecent exposure. “Caught with his pants down,” said one of the old Trade Unionists, who may have well been right though it seems odd that he should have been compelled to relieve himself in the Castle grounds. Then he appeared and reappeared at intervals, always in a fresh place. I think Charlie Cunningham told me he claims to be settled in Birmingham for two years. But I doubt that. The last time I had heard of him was in Dublin. He had been at the public house on the corner of Upper Rathmines Road where Roy Johnston had a drink with him, and noted how he held the hand of the young bartender for an unnecessarily long stretch of time, whereupon he told Roy of his proclivities, and Roy told the rest of us, with a combination of wonderment, indignation and amusement. However that as may be, while he is entitled to his personal life, I am not sure that it might not mingle with his public life. I counselled Charlie Cunningham to keep him out of the CA, and now advised Mark Clinton not to participate. He is a mere butterfly, here today and gone tomorrow. If this is the Birmingham development he promised Charlie Cunningham, then it can be relied upon to come to nothing.
(End of Volume 24, c.71,000 words)
Desmond Greaves Journal, Vol. 24, 1972-73, Index
1 July 1972 – 31 May 1973
Greaves, C. Desmond
Aesthetic and cultural matters: 9.21, 10.13, 10.17, 12.11, 12.17, 12.24
Assessments of others: 8.4, 9.21, 9.29, 10.22,10.25, 11.2, 11.6, 12.11, 12.13, 1.6-7, 4.9, 4.25, 5.3, 5.10, 5.24
Britain, public attitudes and assessment of trends in: 8.4,8.19, 9.26-27, 12.6, 12.11, 1.27
Civil Rights Campaign on Northern Ireland: 10.27,11.8, 11.18, 1.27, 2.19. 4.27
European supranational integration/the EEC: 7.1,8.10, 8.14, 10.3,
Family relations: 12.23
Holidays/cycle tours: 9.24-10.10
O’Casey research: 7.11, 7.26, 7.29, 9.15,10.21,10.28,12.6, 2.25
Self-assessments and personal plans: 7.11, 7.29, 8.4, 9.14, 9.27,10.19,
10.22, 10.30,11.5, 11.7, 11.18, 11.28, 12.6, 12.11. 12.25, 1.14, 1.18, 1.22, 2.22, 2.25, 3.23, 4.1, 4.21, 4.29, 5.3, 5.10
Organisation Names Index
Anti-Internment League: 7.16,7.31, 8.6, 10.19, 12.7, 12.17, 1.8
British Peace Committee: 10.27, 11.14, 12.2, 12.6, 12.12, 12.17, 12.19, 12.21, 2.5, 3.16, 4.5, 4.24
Campaign for Democracy in Ulster (CDU): 3.28, 4.8
Campaign for Social Justice (Britain): 12.11, 1.9, 4.20
Clann na hEireann: 7.16, 7.28, 8.6,9.2, 9.4, 9.8,10.27-28, 11.6,11.14- 15, 11.18, 12.2, 12.8, 12.11-13, 1.7, 2.16, 3.18, 4.5, 4.8, 4.30, 5.2
Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB): 9.8,10.18, 10.22, 11.2, 11.6, 11.13, 11.15, 12.6-7, 12.13, 12.17, 1.6, 2.5, 3.19, 3.28, 4.5, 4.8-9, 4.21-22, 4.24, 5.3, 5.14
Communist Party of Ireland: 9.8, 5.20
Communist Party of Northern Ireland: 11.18, 12.7
Connolly Association/Irish Democrat: 8.16, 8.23, 10.27, 11.6, 11.19, 12.6, 12.10, 12.13, 12.16, 1.23, 2.5, 3.19, 4.5, 4.21-22, 4.24-25
Labour Party (British): 2.20
Movement for Colonial Freedom (MCF): 12.21,4.26
National Council for Civil Liberties: 2.5, 5.14
National Union of Students (NUS): 11.6, 11.8, 11.14, 1.15, 3.17, 4.9,4.28, 5.14
Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association (NICRA), including support groups in Britain: 11.8, 11.13-14, 11.18, 12.5-6, 12.13, 12.16, 1.27, 2.18-19, 4.25, 4.27, 5.20
People’s Democracy: 1.27
Sinn Fein/IRA-Officials: 7.28, 8.11, 9.15, 10.27, 11.5-6,11.13, 11.15 11.18, 12.16, 1.27, 2.18, 4.27
Sinn Fein/IRA-Provisionals: 7.10, 7.30,8.11, 8.16, 9.15, 11.3, 11.5, 11.15,11.23, 12.8, 12.12, 12.17, 1.27, 2.3, 4.20, 4.22, 4.29-
Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP): 8.11
Trotskyite and far-left organisations: 10.28, 10.30, 11.6, 12.8
Wolfe Tone Society: 7.7, 8.11, 10.13, 10.21, 11.4, 1.10
Personal Names Index
Amphlett-Micklewright, Rev.: 12.12, 12.16, 12.30
Anthony, George: 4.22, 4.28
Asmal, Kader: 10.18,11.4
Barr, Andy: 8.22, 9.6, 11.6, 12.9
Beauchamp, Kay: 4.25-26
Behan, Brendan: 9.21
Bennett, Jack: 8.15, 10.18, 11.18, 1.10
Bond, Patrick (Pat, Paddy): 11.14, 1.14, 1.23, 2.14, 4.1, 4.29, 5.2
Bond, Stella: 2.7, 4.22, 4.25, 4.30
Boyle, Kevin: 7.14
Brennan, Irene: 12.7
Brockway, Lord Fenner: 12.21
Byrne, Patsy Cllr.: 3.28
Campbell, Flann and Mary: 8.16
Carmody, Paddy: 4.16
Clancy, Paddy: 8.16
Clinton, Mark: 7.13, 10.22,11.16-17,12.8, 12.11, 1.9-11, 1.19, 2.9, 2.21, 3.16, 3.29, 4.1, 4.18-20, 4.24, 5.31
Comerford, Maire: 7.11, 1.14
Comi, Signora Nicoletta: 8.3, 8.9
Connolly-Edwards, Mrs Fiona: 1.6, 1.16, 1.22, 2.1, 2.15
Cooper, Joe: 12.6, 4.6
Cornforth, Maurice: 9.15, 10.21,10.28
Coughlan, Anthony (Tony): 7.1-2, 7.6-7, 7.9-11, 7.28, 8.9-10, 8.15, 9.5-7, 9.9, 11.17, 1.1, 1.10, 1.27, 2.8-13, 5.15, 5.31
Crowe, Michael: 11.5-6, 11.18, 4.1
Crowley, Brian: 12.11, 12.31, 2.19, 3.19, 3.25, 3.27, 5.31
Cunningham, Charlie: 7.16, 11.17-22, 12.2, 12.9, 4.5
Curran, Mrs Antoinette (Toni): 7.16, 7.25, 7.31, 8.16, 11.29, 1.11, 2.1
Curran, Gerard: 7.16
Deighan, Joseph: 11.18, 2.19, 5.20
De Paor, Liam: 11.4
De Valera, Eamon TD: 12.9
Devlin, Bernadette MP: 7.31, 12,6, 12.17
Donaghey, Tony: 8.4, 8.19, 9.12, 12.9, 1.6
Draper, Lenny: 8.6, 10.29, 11.18, 12.2, 12.16,12.23, 12.27, 1.3, 1.26, 2.21,3.27,4.30, 5.5, 5.20,5.31
Dromey, Jack: 5.14
Dunman, Jack: 11.2
Dunne, Bill: 12,7, 12.11, 4.9, 4.21
Eddisford, Vic: 10.30, 11.6, 11.14, 4.14
Edwards, Bert: 4.29
Egan, Tadhg: 11.18
Egelnick, Max: 12.7, 12.9, 5.11
Francis, Dai: 12.4, 1.12
Gollan, John: 1.22
Goulding, Cathal: 11.15, 2.9
Grove-White, William (Bill): 10.31
Guinan, Martin: 10.22
Haq, Barbara: 12.5
Hayes, May: 8.11
Heatley, Bobby (Robert): 8.2,11.18
Hensey, Pat: 1.11
Hope, Ann: 4.27
Johnston, Roy: 7.1, 8.9-11, 10.21, 11.4, 11.6
Keating, Justin TD: 7.7, 8.16
Kelleher, Derry: 8.11, 11.4
Kelly, Dalton: (See O Ceallaigh, Daltún)
Kelly, Jim: 10.22, 11.19
Kenny, Sean: 12.8, 12.11, 1.9, 1.19, 4.20, 5.31
Kerrigan, Peter: 11.2
Lawless, Gery: 7.16, 1.8
Lehane, Con: 11.4
Lenihan, Donal: 12.11,12.13
Lynch, Jack TD: 8.16
Lyons, Fred: 11.15
McCaughey, Rev. Terence: 8.11
McClelland, John: 1.26-27, 4.10
McDowell, Tom: 11.22,12.11
MacEoin, Uinseann (Vincent): 8.11
Mac Giolla, Tomás: 7.16, 8.9
MacLaughlin, Eamon: 7.25
MacLaughlin, Pat: 8.16,10.25, 11.15, 11.29, 4.29
MacLiam, Cathal and Helga: 7.1, 7.6, 7.10,10.21, 10.23, 11.4,1.10
MacStiofain, Seán (Stephenson): 8.11, 8.16, 11.23, 11.26, 12.9
Maynard, Joan MP: 4.27
Menzies, Edwina: (See Stewart, Edwina)
Mitchell, Jack: 9.15, 9.21, 10.21
Moore, Hughie: 11.6, 12.9
Morgan, Barney (Bernard): 7.2, 8.16,10.25,11.1, 11.29
Morton, Alan G. Prof. and Mrs Freda Morton: 8.17-18, 12.22
Mulligan, Peter: 10.22, 4.25
Myant, Chris: 7.30, 4.24-25
Nolan, Sean: 7.6, 8.11, 12.9, 4.27
O’Brien, Conor Cruise TD: 11.4, 12.17
O’Casey, Sean: 7.11
O Ceallaigh, Daltún: 8.9, 11.3
O’Connell, Joan: 7.11
O’Connor, Joe: 7.16, 12.2, 12.8, 12.12, 5.11
O’Connor, Ulick: 9.21
O’Donnell, Peadar: 12.9
O’Donohue, Pat: 12.20, 3.27
O’Dowling (née Timbey), Elsie: 1.14
O’Flaherty, Pegeen (Mrs Chris Sullivan): 1.1, 1.6, 5.25
O’Hagan, Des: 12.12
O’Hara, Roger: 11.15
O Loingsigh, Micheál S: 7.1, 7.6, 8.10-12
O’Neill, Patsy and Andy: 4.22
O’Neill, Siobhán: 11.18-19
O’Riordan, Michael: 12.9, 2.9
O’Shea, Fred: 9.21
Orme, Stan MP: 2.20
Pearce, Bert: 9.4, 9.8,10.27, 12.1
Platts-Mills, John QC: 12.30
Powell, Pat: 4.20, 4.28
Prendergast, Jim: 12.2
Redmond, Sean: 7.3, 8.2, 10.22, 1.23, 2.3, 2.19, 4.14, 4.19, 4.29,5.25
Redmond, Tom: 4.27
Rees, Merlyn MP: 2.21
Riordan, Barry: 1.21, 4.1
Rose, Paul MP: 2.20, 3.28, 4.8
Sinclair, Elizabeth (Betty): 12.6, 12.16, 1.12, 2.5, 2.17-20, 4.5-6, 4.10, 5.31
Stallard, AW “Jock” MP: 12.6, 2.14
Stephenson, Sean: See MacStíofáin
Stewart, Edwina (née Menzies): 10.13, 10.27, 11.6, 12.6, 12.12-13, 12.16, 1.2, 1.8, 1.22, 1.27, 2.19, 4.5, 4.24, 4.30, 5.20
Stewart, Jimmy: 8.5, 12.16, 1.27
Stowell, Brian: 11.29
Sullivan, Chris: 5.25
Sweet, Colin: 10.27, 11.14,12.5, 12.17, 12.19,12.23, 12.28, 1.2, 1.5-6, 1.15, 3.23, 4.5, 4.8-9, 5.7, 5.14
Tate, Jane: 7.15,12.7-8, 2.17
Thornley, David TD: 12.17
Ward, Alf: 10.22
Watters, Frank: 10.22
Wilkinson, Brian: 9.4, 9.8, 12.1, 12.3, 1.21
Williams, J.Roose: 9.4, 9.8
Woddis, Jack (Hillel):10.22, 11.6, 11.8,11.13-14,12.5-7, 12.9, 12.12- 13, 12.16-17, 12.19, 12.21, 12.23, 12.28, 2.30, 1.1-2, 1.6, 1.15- 16, 2.5, 2.19, 3.14, 3.16-17, 3.28, 4.5-9, 4.14, 4.21-22, 4.24, 4.26, 5.3, 5.10, 5.14, 5.24
Worsthorne, Peregrine: 11.4