A CENTURY OF PROGRESS? By Donal Kennedy


A few days ago I read in THE TIMES of expensive, technically brilliant and damned near risk-free operations in IRAQ, by the British and American Air Forces, which killed in total about twenty ISIS – Islamic “terrorists.” Although the operation was filmed by the missiles involved, no pictures were shown to support the story. It is ironic that seventeen years after the overthrow of Saddam Hussain’s Baathist Government, supposedly in a “war on terrorism” that phenomenon is causing the country’s “liberators” so much ingenuity. 

It is hard to believe that G.W.Bush, Tony Blair and all their advisors were unaware of one of the West’s ancient legends – that those who sow Dragons’ Teeth are confronted with armed men. The Baathists are Secularist Arabs, embracing Moslems, Christian and unbelievers,  as is/was the PLO, but it has suited the West and the Zionists to foster fanatical Islamacists, an unrepresentative faction amongst Moslems, to set people at each others’ throats.

A few months ago I read in the SUNDAY TIMES, a stablemate of THE TIMES, a long article alleging atrocities against British Forces serving in IRAQ. They included the deliberate murder of children and the most vile abuse of prisoners. I have seen no denial of those stories, so it is possible I missed them.

The Black Watch Regiment allegedly stripped Arab men naked and forced them to fellate and sodomise each other. The allegations were not supported by photographs.

Where American troops, including women soldiers, sexually abused Iraqi prisoners, they took photographs which later became public. It is unlikely that allies with the same predilections took none.

The lock-down has re-introduced me to books and papers I had long forgotten. One paper, passed me by an English friend, whose father was having an old houserefurbished, I had got framed.

Immediately under its title it said ” 648th DAY OF THE WAR” and a headline beside it said “Bethmann-Hollwegg’s  Admission of Submarine Failure.”  Smaller headlines quoted the gentleman -“We Cannot Starve England” and told of “Hun Centres in London”.

Another headline read “NORTHERN KEY TO BAGDAD – Russians Only Twelve Miles Away From It.” and the story was accompanied by a tiny map of Mesopotamia,Turkey and Persia. A report from the House of Commons said that the Prime Minister said that British General Townshend’s papers on the Mesopotamian Expedition, and his memorandum on the Bagdad situation would be printed and published.

But the BIG ISSUE with many stories was Ireland, covering half the Broadsheet Paper. Parliament had discussed recent events the the main news was  headlined -“MR ASQUITH GOES TO IRELAND” under that were smaller headlines – “Premier’s Dramatic Step Towards Reconstruction” ” Executive Chaos”  “Necessity To Deal With The Men On The Spot”

The Executive Chaos in Ireland arose from the resignations of the Lord Lieutenant Lord Wimborne, and the chief Secretary, Augustine Birrell and the imposition of Martial Law administered by General Sir John Maxwell.

The bulk of the story covered the demand by John Dillon that the executions of insurgents be stopped and the murder of Ireland’s leading Feminist and Pacifist Francis Skeffington by British soldiers be investigated.

Dillon’s was a manly speech, defending the courage and conduct of the insurgents, whose action he disagreed with, and condemning the stupidity of a government which should have treated Ireland in such a way as would have the insurgents fighting on Britain’s side. Asquith refused, or affected to refuse to believe that British soldiers would behave with regard to Skeffington, and other civilians as claimed by Dillon and spoke of “untrained English recruits” of the Sherwood Foresters killed by the Rebels. He fully backed General Maxwell’s behaviour. He said that thirteen insurgents had been executed following Court Martial and that two more had been condemned and that execution would follow.

The Newspaper was the Daily Express (not the rag it became under Beaverbrook) and it was issued on FRIDAY, MAY 12, 1916.

That morning they shot Sean MacDermott, who, though long-suffering with polio, was crippled with arthritis and unable to walk, in the stone-breaker’s yard in Kilmainham Gaol.

James Connolly, badly wounded in the fighting ,was carried in on a stretcher, placed in a chair and similarly despatched.  

The Irish State’s Official Decade of Centenary Commemorations attempted to airbrush both men, their fellow insurgents and later  disciples out of history.

Within weeks of the executions General Maxwell wrote that in six days of fighting the insurgents had achieved more for Ireland than John Dillon’s party had done in over three decades.

Within sixteen months Lord Wimborne wrote to the British Cabinet that the  bye-election  victory of the Insurgent Eamon de Valera had put the kibosh on Dillon’s party and its policy.

Asquith tried to bribe Skeffington’s widow, Hannah Sheehy-Skeffington, with money to hush her up. Skeffington was murdered by Captain Bowen-Colthurst of Blarney Castle, a Sergeant, and other soldiers, but was judged insane and slipped out to Canada. They had gone on a murderous rampage in Rathmines, when a Sergeant might be expected to restrain a crazy Officer, returned to Portobello Barracks, where Colthurst had the Guard turned out to be used as a firing squad. Then they buried the bodies in the Barracks. An honest British Officer Major Sir Francis Vane, exposed the atrocities and was discharged from his army  “with dishonour.” for his humanity. Hannah Sheehy-Skeffington wrote a pamphlet at the time. Which I read in the early 1950s.

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