1 April 1974 – 30 April 19 75
THEMES: Lobbying the House of Commons on internment in Northern Ireland – Proposing a resolution at the NCCL conference in Birmingham – A discussion with Betty Sinclair – Visiting George Gilmore on Howth Head – Speaking to the Belfast Trades Council on “James Connolly: Trade Unionist”– Campaigning for a British Declaration of Intent to renounce sovereignty in Ireland in cooperation with the Irish Government as an alternative to the “Troops Out Now” demand of the political far-Left and as an inducement to the Provisional IRA to abandon their military campaign – Tension with the Manchester CPGB over lack of support for the Connolly Association’s work in that city – Reactions in Britain to the Ulster Workers Council strike against the Sunningdale “power-sharing” administration in May 1974 – Writing a memorandum for the Gardiner Committee on emergency powers in Northern Ireland – Attending the September 1974 Trades Union Congress in Brighton –Tension with NICRA and with elements of the CPGB over the Bill of Rights concept and the Declaration of Intent demand – Presentation of anti-internment petition at 10 Downing Street with John Mulcahy of Dublin’s “Hibernia” and the SDLP’s Paddy Devlin MP – Discussion with Bill Hamling MP, Prime Minister Harold Wilson’s PPS, on a possible Irish trade union delegation to Wilson – Attending a joint CPI and CPGB meeting in Dublin on the Declaration of Intent demand – Funeral of R. Palme Dutt – Reactions of the Irish community in Britain to the IRA’s bombing campaign there, in particular to the Birmingham bombing of November 1974 – Government announcement of a referendum on EEC membership: “I have always regarded this issue as the most important of all, and if others had thought so, things might be different today.”(Jan.23 1975) – Confrontation with Jack Dromey of the National Council for Civil Liberties over a possible NCCL branch in Northern Ireland – Tension with Irene Brennan of the CPGB over her encouragement of Clann na hEireann, the Official Republicans’ support group in Britain – Thinking of moving to Ireland to settle permanently there, partly out of disgust at the failure of elements of the British communist movement to support the work of the Connolly Association: “I am certainly not going to face a repetition of 1956-59” (19 March 1975)
* * *
April 1 Monday (Liverpool): I managed to get the greater part of the day in the garden, planting some “tree strawberries”, a damson bush and a vaccinium [This was at his family home, 124 Mount Road, Prenton, Birkenhead, Merseyside]. I have now nearly all the fruit I want but might try a peach. But the general cultivation has not been started and I am hoping for the continuation of dry weather until Easter, as I may get a few days in then. I should have gone to Ripley today, but as there is an overtime ban I cannot go until tomorrow. I forgot to record that Alan Morton came from Edinburgh last Wednesday. He is full of his own affairs, and you would not think anybody else had any. He has a new flat in “Professors’ Row,” and as he has a secret – not so secret but unavowed – leaning towards the genteel, it suits him very well. His daughter Alisoun has been badly treated by her university teachers and medical advisors but is thinking of doing medicine. Alan asked me to see if I could find anything for her in the Celtic language department in Dublin. I had an invitation through Oliver Snoddy [Padraig O Snodaigh, then working in the National Museum, Dublin] to address the “Labour History Society” in that city and thought he would be the ideal man to refer the question to.
April 2 Tuesday (London): Much to my distaste I rose at 6 am. and took the 7.20 train to Crewe and Derby. From Derby I took a taxi to Ripley, read the proofs, taxied back to Derby and reached St Pancras at 5 pm., went to the flat and changed, then went by tube to Westminster where Michael Crowe was in a sense holding the fort [President of the Connolly Association at the time, a university lecturer in French in Newcastle/Sunderland]. I say in a sense, because he had already lost half his property and had managed to enlist the respectful services of the policemen who were following him around saying such things as, “I think we can find you a spare Hansard, Mr Crowe.” Chris Sullivan was there when I arrived and Pegeen O’Flaherty had been there. Jock Stallard left me a message [AW “Jock” Stallard, 1921-2008, MP for St Pancras North; later Lord Stallard] and later whisked me off to the bar to discuss the speech he wants to make on Thursday. Lawrence Daly [Secretary of the National Union of Mineworkers from 1968 to 1984]and Mick McGahey [Scottish miners’ leader and prominent CPGB member] were there. “Hmm!” says Stallard nodding in the direction of Daly, “He got drunk here a few nights ago. A disgraceful scene.” Stallard does not like McGahey – an overspill from Gordon McLennan’s opposing him [McLennan, later CPGB General Secretary, had opposed Stallard in the North St Pancras constituency in the general election in February; see Vol. 25]. He refused to sign the motion condemning McGahey – and what did he get for his pains?[a reference to a House of Commons motion signed by over 100 Labour MPs condemning McGahey for calling on the army not to transport coal in an effort to break the miners’ strike during Edward Heath’s three-day-week policy earlier that year]. I always stick to the business in hand and do not express opinions on these things.
Stan Orme passed us in the bar [Labour MP for Salford East]. Stallard did not know whether I knew him and went to make an introduction. But Orme was in high spirits (I can’t conceive why) and his good humour spilled over: “Of course I know Mr Greaves. We’ve often spoken from the same platform.” I think that at bottom he is a decent enough fellow, anxious to be on good terms with everybody, not calculating for the main chance but flattered when he gets it, and uncritical of what he is asked to do – not like the top leadership of the Labour Party who are incorrigible twisters and opportunists.
We spoke with quite a few members. Julius Silverman [Leftwing Labour MP for Birmingham Erdington] was waiting for Mark Clinton and he and I and Stallard had quite a lively discussion. I thought Stallard was rough with him, but later saw that it was necessary. Silverman was incapable of making up his mind about any matter of broad principle, and in his total ignorance of the Irish question was determined to say nothing out of line for fear it should return and confound him. I did feel however that there was a new willingness to consider fundamentals. Later Mark Clinton came from Birmingham and had to tell me about Bannister, whose self-control (the maintenance of which up to now surprised me) has broken down entirely. He gets drunk on three glasses of beer, then tries to kiss the young men at the meeting and take others off on midnight assignments. I told him to stand no such nonsense. At first I thought they should deliver an ultimatum. But later I thought to tell him to clear off would be best. He is a weak flabby character at best, and I told them not to accept him as a member. His sexual proclivities are his own affair, but he must keep them his own affair. I think they have already lost one member.
Among others at the lobby were Elsie O’Dowling, looking 50 though she is getting on for 80, Sean MacMillan, Jim McKeever, Pat Bond (furious at the non-attendance of his members) [Bond was the key person in the Connolly Association’s South London branch], Toni Curran, Pat O’Donohue and Siobhan O’Neill. One important incident was Douglas Jay’s virtually insulting McKeever, who is one of his constituents [Douglas Jay, Labour MP for Battersea North; former President of the Board of Trade; leading opponent of the UK’s EEC membership in the 1975 EEC referendum]. “You are wasting my time,” said the old imperialist. I told McKeever to call a public meeting in the constituency. It will be made worth his while to “waste his time”. Bob Fairley was there and saw a number of AUEW members [ie. Labour Party MPs sponsored by the Amalgamated Union of Engineering Workers]. While we did not see many who disagreed with us, I think we certainly got further with our friends than before.
April 3 Wednesday: I was last week suddenly smitten with the suspicion that Seafort [ie. the Connolly Association’s solicitor] had never served a notice to quit on Akram [a delinquent sub-tenant of the CA at its office in 283 Grays Inn Road, London WC1]. I therefore asked Toni Curran [Connolly Association treasurer at the time] to go there and look through Seafort’s files. Today she told me I was right. This incredible incompetent had taken no steps, and presumably forgotten he had taken no steps, and had then advised us to lock the man out as his notice had expired. The youngish man who is looking after the whole thing with Toni Curran wore a sardonic smile throughout the proceedings and ended by saying, “If Mr Seafort owed you a thousand pounds and wouldn’t pay it, after ten minutes he would have persuaded you that you owed him a thousand pounds and that it was all your fault.” We must see he doesn’t charge us after this. At the branch meeting in the evening Amphlett-Micklewright spoke. He paid Charlie Cunningham a six-month old debt of £3 and took away £4 of books on tick!
April 4 Thursday: I went to Oxford, spent a while looking round the bookshops, and then spoke at the Hatfield Polytechnic second year students summer school. It was a brilliant spring day, the first of the year, so the attendance was not powerful. The head of the “Business Studies” section was there, and I thought well enough impressed. He had certainly not heard our arguments before. Two of the lecturers drove me back to London by a circuitous route. The one who drove had in his youth always “voted communist” but had been disgusted with the Russians by the excesses of Stalin and the continuing rigidity of their system. I told him I believed that the removal of anarchy in the manipulation of the vast mass of modern production was a sine qua non, before which little could be done to remove the evils that oppress us, but that a substitute acceptable to our expectations might not be possible for some generations, but that I believed a strong Trade Union movement might provide “checks and balances” against the development of excessive centralisation. I found him singularly deficient in the weapons of political or social analysis. He is studying for a degree in psychology, which I told him was a “non-science”. He was healthily against the Common Market, but though in his early forties, still a slave to words. Why should a socialist not favour international organisation? I replied because the principle of democracy operates only within recognised communities.
I had a phone call from Edwina Stewart [Leading figure in the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association in Belfast and a member of the CPI]. NICRA is sending Ricky Graham to the NCCL. Would we arrange accommodation for him? I said we would try. It was of interest to note that her manner was more civil than usual, and not merely I thought because the ass was begging. Madge Davison in her letter of appreciation reported that she had received money from England as a result of her visit [Madge Davison, 1949-1991, NICRA office secretary in Belfast, had written to thank Greaves for his and the Connolly Association’s help for her meetings in Britain the previous month; see Vol. 25]. This would be enough to set Edwina Stewart’s tongue hanging out, in which condition it would be civil enough.
April 5 Friday: I was in the office all day, and who should appear but Desmond Logan. He is on the sick list, and of course seems to be in robust, indeed vigorous, health. He had had “kidney disease” and the pills he took for that started up a disease of their own, and consequently he needs another week off work. He is talking of going to Dublin and is another one who has inflicted himself on Cathal and Helga [ie. Greaves’s friends Cathal and Helga MacLiam in Dublin], since Mairin Johnson [ie. Roy Johnston’s wife] will have him no longer. I told John Kilderry and his wife (in the “Edinburgh Castle”, which I visited with Jim Kelly) and they burst their sides laughing over the great hypochondriac. “He’s the only man who takes one pill to remind him to take the next,” said Kilderry. We found the 10p. paper sold well enough [ie. the monthly “Irish Democrat”, which Greaves and Jim Kelly were selling on one of the weekend pub runs in the Irish districts of London].
April 6 Saturday (Birmingham): I went into the office for a few minutes, but soon left for Birmingham to represent both the Standing Committee and Central London Branch at the NCCL conference [ie. the National Council for Civil Liberties, later Liberty]. This is the first time it has been held outside London, as a result one imagines of I.S. [ie. International Socialist] penetration. Mark Clinton awaited me at New Street. On Tuesday he had reported to me the strange behaviour of Bannister, who gets drunk on three glasses of small beer and then starts kissing any young male person within reach and even inviting them home with him. I advised him to get rid of him. But apparently Sean Kenny and Albert Rice think that “he is all right if he’ll keep sober,” and they advise trying to control him. Apparently he was at the Star Club last week and greatly impressed Frank Watters and JIC by his contribution on the subject of peace [Birmingham CPGB officials]. I have often commented on the fact that CP people have not developed any appreciable insights into individuals; they think conformity to Marxist conclusions suffice, but it does not. Bannister is weak and pathological, and if he is not at it here, he will be at it there. So I advised Mark Clinton to tackle him and request “qu’l nous fiche decamp” [ie. that he clear off from us].
Mark went to the airport to meet Betty Sinclair. He had already provided for Ricky Graham at SmM’s, Amphlett-Micklewright’s brother’s. I took the bus to Selly Oak and soon found the pleasant University buildings set amid spacious grounds where the conference was in progress. They were running late, largely I guessed from the International Socialist propensity to talk endlessly about nothing. I saw the wee girls at the table and left a message for Graham, who (as John McClelland told me when I phoned to ask this morning) [John McClelland, former CA member in Liverpool, now returned to Belfast] is inclined to the “Officials” and is thus suitably billeted. For a moment I saw Cass Scorer. She had come into the office last week, as I noted, talking about “extra time for Betty Sinclair” and a joint meeting with Edwina Stewart. She and Jack Dromey had Graham in tow, but that was well enough [Jack Dromey,1943-2022; of Irish parents; friend of former Connolly Association general secretary Sean Redmond; chairman of the NICCL in the 1970s; later worked for the ATGWU; elected Labour MP for Birmingham Erdington in 2010].
When Betty Sinclair arrived she complained of having to fill up a
document on the plane, one of the things the Central London branch resolution condemns. There were two amendments. One was in the name of Tony Smythe [General Secretary of the NCCL]and one other, the other in the name of the Executive. I could see no purpose in either but to shorten and simplify, but last Sunday secured a mandate to accept them if all others were withdrawn and we did not lose our right to speak. I spoke to Purdie [Bob Purdie, a NCCL activist and supporter of the International Socialists] after a word with Betty Sinclair – our anxiety was not to show disunity of purpose. It was then necessary to find Tony Smythe, who was engaged in a resolution on Woman’s Liberation; so I had to wait. In the meantime Betty Sinclair delivered herself of some animadversions regarding Jack Dromey. “He’s a bit of a barnstormer, I think,” says she.
“He’s a dashing young fellow,” I agreed. Now I always suspected he had I.S.[ie International Socialist] tendencies, because of his slight ultra-leftism at a meeting in Paddington he spoke at. Sean Redmond always denied this, admitting he was astonishingly conceited, but denying there was more than this. I certainly have never found in him that negative destructive attitude so typical of all Trotskies, whatever the brand. But now Betty Sinclair complains that Dromey is working against Tony Smythe, whom she seems to regard highly. These tensions seemingly arise from the establishment of the Belfast office of the NCCL. This has become the office at which Protestants register their complaints, the Catholics going to NICRA, which opposed the establishment of the NCCL one. When the Belfast people challenge this position with Larry Grant the reply is, “Where are these people to go if we are not there to help them?”
“To the devil,” is Betty Sinclair’s answer, “They’ll just have to suffer, just the same as workers who won’t join a trade union.”
When I finally found Tony Smythe I listened to a complaint that the Executive resolution dealt with only harassment, and that it was impossible to legislate against it. I came to the conclusion that neither Smythe nor the NCCL Executive knew anything about what was involved in the subject and resolved to press the resolution, or at least to think over the whole situation with that in mind. Indeed I was thinking about it all night, my determination strengthening all the time.
I found Ricky Graham with Cass Scorer, who promised to drive us to the nearest public house, but mysteriously disappeared. I think she was relying on Dromey’s car, which was possibly not available. I passed a few words with the wee girls on the table and arranged for Betty Sinclair and Graham to gate-crash the dinner and entertainment that followed, while Mark Clinton and I went selling in Erdington, where we did quite well, and ended up in Michael Kelly’s near to Mark’s flat.
Here Betty Sinclair was to join us, being driven out by Sean Kenny, We waited till 11.15 pm. I knew something had happened. We found that Ricky Graham was safely at SmM’s, but Betty had left with Sean Kenny an hour ago. When we rang Kenny we found she was at his house, but though I was angry we said nothing, for we guessed that Betty was a “bit under the weather” and Kenny told me afterwards that this was indeed the case. When Mark Clinton and his wife returned (we had let ourselves in) we left.
April 7 Sunday (Birmingham/Liverpool): I informed Bob Purdie when we arrived that we had decided to press our resolution. He did not seem concerned. Then Jack Dromey appeared and told me that he was preparing the Executive statement. He was a very uncomfortable young man when I explained to him the deficiencies in that amendment which I had become increasingly conscious of, and I think he would have liked to get out of his duty, which was less likely to prove a gratification than he expected. However, his manner of taking it was such that I concluded that at bottom he is not a bad lad, and our suspicions were probably ill-founded.
The first resolution was that of the EC – no doubt coming from Belfast since it was exclusively concerned with the Emergency Provisions Act. After it was moved – by Jack Dromey, if I remember right – a young man called Kelsey proposed his own pet amendment, urging that it be retained until certain “rebels” had ceased to menace the integrity of the United Kingdom. The same gentleman had proposed an amendment to make picketing by strikers more difficult, and we were promised a further performance on the subject of homosexual law reform. He was completely wanting in personality, a grey colourless individual of enormous length, who stood and wriggled his lower limbs as if he was suspended from the roof. Betty Sinclair spoke against him, and Graham had a go. She was forceful and made an impression as she always does. He was nervous but did his duty manfully. Kelsey was scattered and we won. Then came our EC resolution which Sean Kenny proposed, and since nobody had offered an amendment it went through unanimously.
When I mounted the platform to propose the Central London one, the atmosphere was already in our favour. I deliberately chose not to use the microphone, as the hall only held a few hundred. It was thus easier to capture their attention and I hoped Dromey would use the amplifier and thus seem “dead” in comparison. This happened, and as he shuffled uncomfortably and deplored the “length” of our resolution, I could see at once that we had won. Betty Sinclair supported us. A number of delegates stood up one after another. Not a word was said for the EC and we won hands down. But both Dromey and I emphasised that we worked together with mutual goodwill and respect.
Now immediately after this Mr Kelsey got up on his homosexual bandwagon, and I determined if possible to be a nuisance to him. I told Sean Kenny to abstain on the amendments so as to make the resolution as nonsensical as possible without involving ourselves, and then vote against the motion. When he got up we were treated to sentiments of incredible absurdity and utter vulgarity: “It is the natural right,” says he, “of every citizen to ‘have sex’ of whatever kind he prefers at any time he likes.”
“That’s not true,” said Sean Kenny, thinking no doubt of his wife. He could hardly say that Mr Kelsey “had” much “sex,” and no doubt it was understandable that he should wish to “have” it to a greater or more frequent degree. Among his supporters were other chatterboxes whose main interest was to hear their own voices, and they admired their ability to produce words, much as an infant would wonder at its ability to spit, shit or deafen everybody for yards around. Unfortunately, about 80% of those present were carried away on the tide of libertarianism and voted for the resolution as amended.
When I spoke to Betty Sinclair she said, “What’s the resolution about?” “Never mind,” said I, “you see who’s proposing it.” Ricky Graham fell very readily into the spirit of these manoeuvres. Among the things which the reformers wanted was the establishment of brothels so that they could “have sex” whenever they felt disposed. Fortunately the Women’s Liberationists objected to this.
We left at lunchtime. Sean Kenny and Mark Clinton had an appointment with Frank Watters [Birmingham CPGB organiser]. However, there was a meeting in progress, we did not know at the time how big a one, and we went for a drink. Here Betty Sinclair told me more about Madge Davison and that she had told her that her trip had been highly educational, particularly in that she had learned to appreciate myself. I looked a trifle puzzled. Betty told me not to blame the Republicans for some of the foolish things NICRA does here, but the Stewarts. “They’ve built you up as a kind of an ogre,” says she. And apparently it is this view that Madge Davison has relinquished. She then told me that Jimmy Stewart has “received a salutary shock. Apparently he attended some conference in Brussels (they are always gallivanting) where he was highly displeased at the casual way John Gollan [General Secretary of the CPGB] had dismissed “our little problem in Northern Ireland”. He had come back ranting about the unconcern of the CPGB. “Then he should be backing me up all these years, instead of calling me an ogre.”
“He’ll back you up now,” says Betty energetically, but somehow I do not think so. Of course the trouble with essentially vain people like Jimmy Stewart is that they can feel no indignation at political wrong till it is combined with personal affront.
Now when we got back to the Star Club we went into the meeting room where the bar had opened, and there was Gollan sitting at a table. I would have had a word with him but he had a succession of interlocutors. Ramelson passed me with a cheery word, asking whether I had been at the meeting, for surely he had not noticed me [Bert Ramelson, CPGB National Industrial Organiser]. We took our drinks into a small room when the meeting resumed. It was clear to me that Betty Sinclair was upset. Apparently Ramelson had not spoken to her. Now if his mind was on something else he may not have seen her. She had spoken to Gollan and from the fact that her voice was shaking and one might have imagined tears possible, the passage did not please her. In essence it was a matter of upbraiding him with his Brussels performance. Yet again one can understand that. Every move would be opposed by Trade Unionists dependent on their Belfast members. For years the whole Northern Ireland Communist Party not only tolerated but defended this. Even now the Trade Union section avoids Civil Rights like the plague. And if they have a right to complain of a situation, they had a part in creating it.
Of course I did not say what I thought. For I was the ogre for saying what everybody is saying now. Betty Sinclair tells me that Andy Barr [leading Northern Ireland trade union leader and CPI member] declined to attend the NICRA conference because of his position in the Trade Union movement. So to relieve her feelings she started burning everything English but their coal. What horrible ill-mannered people they are. How imperialism makes people stand-offish. When they went to the USSR didn’t some of them go down on the beach and hold a private bottle party. Another offered her vodka he had swiped from the restaurant table and didn’t it turn out to be water. She recalled that the CPUSA had sent millions of dollars to South American communist parties, whereas the most she could get from London was a loan of £250 in 1941, which she told Harry Pollitt [then CPGB General Secretary] would not be repaid. So there it is. The CPGB sees the necessity of a campaign in Britain, but approaches it in a sectish way, unwilling to subordinate its “independent role”, to use the old catchphrase that justified all nonsense. On the other hand the CPI sees the function of the campaign in Britain as gaining funds for a campaign in Ireland which may or may not divert from the first. All the ingredients of misunderstanding between excellent people thus go on reproducing themselves.
After all this we went to Erdington where Sean Kenny’s wife had prepared an excellent lunch. Kenny drove me to New Street and Betty Sinclair to the Airport. And I came on to Liverpool.
Incidentally Betty Sinclair, who is 63, is beginning to show her years, but not mentally. In Sean Kenny’s car as we went to New Street, she paid me the compliment of describing the publication of my life of Connolly as a historical event. Whereupon Mark Clinton, to whom I had indicated that I personally set more store by “Mellows”, asked what of that. “Surely that was more so?” “I think,” said Betty, “that to some extent Desmond made use of Mellows’s ‘The Irish Revolution’. What is it? ‘Liam Mellows and the Irish Revolution.’ That’s something. Now I can’t warm to Mellows but I can warm to the Revolution. Mellows is too much of an ‘Official’ [ie. akin to the Official IRA, formed from the 1970 Republican split]. They only understand things in words. Perhaps we have an example of a little justifiable opportunism on Desmond’s part.”
I can see exactly why she should think that. But she would not know the history. I intended to complete the book in 1962 and spent several weeks at Craig [A youth hostel in Scotland, where he wrote part of the book]. I forget the exact period. I think it was late in the year. I remember telephoning Phyllis and describing the extraordinary colours and the duck-egg blue sea. Till then I had accepted Dorothy Macardle’s account of the Revolution. But writing the earlier story of Mellows and trying to continue it convinced me that I must repeat the whole research from primary sources. I solved the main structural problems by 1965 and wrote one or two articles on the jubilee of 1916 in “Marxism Today”. From then on there were two factors in the book, and though I think I had chosen the title earlier, its present form became inevitable. But though I did not deny it to Betty Sinclair, who would not have accepted it without the explanation that there was no time for, opportunism did not enter into it.
When I reached 124 Mount Road the radio was speaking of bombs let off in Birmingham last night. We saw the bustle following these. As Mark Clinton and I came through the shopping centre we saw groups of people running excitedly. A policeman without a hat was shouting hysterically, “Out! Out!”, without the slightest attempt to explain anything. It was stated on the radio that the public did not cooperate. Since they were left to guess, it would have been difficult. And I think the young officer had lost his head. We did not hear the sound of any explosion but when we went into a public house full of Dublin men who saw the “Democrat”, they all laughed and declared, “You’ve got a nerve bringing that around.”
April 8 Monday: There were several letters in the post. One was from Gordon McLennan whom I had informed of Cass Scoter’s proposal of a meeting. He said that he agreed that we should “redevelop the movement here on the question of solidarity with the democratic forces in Ireland.” I am of course aware of the significance of “re-develop” from having in the meantime heard Betty Sinclair. But it is clear that to him after the Hampstead meeting everything stopped. It is like dealing with those creatures which respond to polarised light; no polarisation, no light. And there is a similar specific stimulus over there. So nobody ever sees the thing as a whole. And again they all think they are far cleverer than they are, and anything beyond their ken cannot exist and need not therefore be looked for.
April 9 Tuesday: Thanks to the fine dry weather I have been able to spend two days on the long neglected front garden. The weather is quite remarkable. But a radio broadcast last night dashed my hopes that the climatic optimum was returning after an intermission from 1940 to 1970. Apparently there is a distinct global trend to cooler conditions which has not been apparent these last few years in the Eastern Atlantic. Certainly last year I saw clouds I had not seen the like of since the thirties. But the old “warm front” conditions seem very seldom to recur.
April 10 Wednesday: Another dry warm day with an east wind. I spent most of it in the front garden. Everything is very advanced, daffodils over, broad beans in flower, wallflowers, dead nettles, “honesty” and roses and peonies in swelling bud. Another fine day and things will look shipshape.
A phone call from Stella Bond said to the effect that the TGWU have offered their hall to us free for the conference in Birmingham. I do not really like this, but we may possibly arrange to pay the caretaker’s wages.
April 11 Thursday: It rained all day today, though the east wind continued. And to make matters worse I have a cold coming on. I managed to do a bit about the house, but that was all.
April 12 Friday (London): It was raining again though it had stopped by the time I reached London. I was out with Chris Sullivan, but we did indifferently.
April 13 Saturday: The weather was brighter and dry and a number of members had come in to clean the premises in preparation for new tenants. Fresh evidence of Seafort’s irresponsibility appeared. His assistant had prepared an affidavit for Toni Curran to swear. I asked why it did not contain the date when Akram appeared and I made him the appointment with Seafort. Toni says that they had searched Seafort’s engagement book and could find no reference to this appointment. They went back as far as the beginning of December. So I have to hope I noted it myself, which I may not have done. I began to wonder whether Seafort is not doddering.
The usual people came in: Charlie Cunningham, Jim Kelly, Pat O’Donohue and others. Apparently Jim Kelly and Chris Sullivan have had a quarrel over the route to be taken while selling the “Irish Democrat”. So the partnership being temporarily broken up, Charlie Cunningham was with Chris and I was with Jim Kelly, who told me about the rift, and then half apologised for himself and said he was sorry it had happened! He is very sensitive to any real or financial affront and reacts excessively. And of course Chris is a little inclined that way himself.
There was news from Birmingham that we may have the use of the TGWU hall, and what’s more there will be no charge.
April 14 Sunday: I remained in the office most of the day, while Charlie Cunningham and some of the others held a meeting in Hyde Park.
April 15 Monday (Liverpool): This was Bank Holiday and I returned by train to Liverpool and did a little in the garden. Everything is very advanced. Roses are nearly out and there are buds on raspberries and gooseberries. The crab is flowering and the strawberries look very plentiful.
April 16 Tuesday: I spent the day in the garden and produced some effect. The weather is dry but rather cooler and the wind is consistently from the east.
April 17 Wednesday: I spent the day in the garden but in the evening set out for Chester and Caergybie [ie. Holyhead, en route to Dublin].
April 18 Thursday: I reached Dublin in the morning and took a taxi to Cathal’s. Later I called in to Oliver Snoddy at the National Museum. We found the O’Casey letters of which he promised me photostats. At least we found that George Russell had suggested the design of the Plough and the Stars. When Alan Morton was in London he had asked me about finding something for Alisoun Morton. I asked Snoddy about her and he promised to phone the Institute for Advanced Studies.
There was a message from Mairin Johnston [Roy Johnston’s estranged wife, now living with Fergal Costello of RTE] asking me to call to help her with an article on May Day. I wanted her help with the Shields’s Song Book [a book of Irish political songs by Ted and Gwen Shields of the Workers’ Music Association, which Greaves had taken over and undertook to edit]. I found her at home with Fergal Costello, who is quite a pleasant quiet fellow Helga says is enormously capable. Feargus was there and little Aileen [Mairin Johnston’s children, the son by Roy Johnston]. I could not think whom she reminds me of – somebody familiar. But Cathal rapidly solved the problem. He recalled an evening when Roy was in tantrums and broke two wine glasses.
“She’s not mine!” he declared vehemently.
“Then whose is she?”
“O’Leary’s” [ie. Michael O’Leary, Labour Party Government Minister and later Tanaiste].
And of course you could not mistake it. And add to that O’Leary sent her £25 for Christmas. There is another wee child there whom I take to be Costello’s.
At lunch time and again in the evening I saw Tony Coughlan.
April 19 Friday: I spent all day in the National Library and finished reading the Matheson papers [JC Matheson, founder member of the Socialist Labour Party in Scotland and friend of James Connolly]. Matheson seems to have been a most attractive character, with none of the aggressive leftism of Yates, despite his De Leonism. I must go through all O’Brien’s papers [William O’Brien’s papers on James Connolly; O’Brien had declined to let Greaves see them when he was working on his biography of James Connolly]. Perhaps we might bring out an enlarged edition of Connolly. In the evening Tony Coughlan came.
April 20 Saturday: We had sat up so late last night that we rose correspondingly late. As a result I missed the National Library and went to see Sean Nolan. He is better but still suffers from headaches. He told me there would be a “few bob” more for us from the Maguire bequest. The final dispute is over tax payable to the Irish Government. He cannot get Con Lehane to move. “Lawyers!” he exclaimed, “When you go to see them they’re full of business. Then after three months you find they’ve done nothing. And as often as not they don’t know what to do. It’s like doctors. You have to tell them what’s wrong with you.” I was strongly inclined to agree with this, thinking of Seafort who did nothing for a year and then sued the man for the wrong thing!
I had intended to return to Liverpool this evening but found that Kader Asmal [TCD lecturer in Law and South African Anti-Apartheid activist] had invited me to a party along with Cathal and Helga. Tony Coughlan also came, but the people present included Anti-Apartheid people from England, one woman called De Causo (I do not know how it is spelled but write it as Latin) being extremely intelligent. Cathal has bought a huge fast car from a policeman for £300 and drove us there and back.
April 21 Sunday: In the morning Cathal and Helga said they were going to a party at Dalkey. They asked Egon [the MacLiams’ eldest son] what he wished to do, and he said he would accompany Tony Coughlan and myself to Howth. Finula had been “bitchy”, as Helga put it, and he refused to lend her his anorak. So we set out on a fine bright afternoon, walked round the harbour and later at Tony Coughlan’s suggestion called on George Gilmore. He described how he was flying over the Pyrenees in a small plane running out of petrol during the Spanish Civil War. At last they reached the coast and decided to crash land in a sandy bay. They rolled themselves up into balls. But the sand was too soft. The plane as a whole rolled like a wheel. But Gilmore alone escaped with a badly sprained ankle. Others were scattered along the strand with broken limbs. Now I told Tony Coughlan that shortly after coming to live in London I saw a film which was fictional but about the civil war in Spain. This incident formed the last scene, but the crash took place high in the mountains and all the occupants of the plane were killed. It was a convention that the Republicans must live, so when reality was borrowed from, as I think it must have been, it was doctored into pessimistic shape. He also described walking across Washington Bridge in New York during the slump and seeing the body of a man in evening dress who had committed suicide. It was nothing to find ex-business men in shabby Wall Street suits begging in the street. All this was duly taken in by Egon, whom we took for tea before returning. He is now fifteen and is a good sober sensible lad. Let us hope he remains so. I do not fear much for Cathal’s children. They carry plentiful cultural ballast.
Cathal then drove me to Dun Laoire. But before he did Oliver Snoddy rang and said he thought Alisoun Morton could get a studentship in Celtic Studies at the Institute of Advanced Studies.
April 22 Monday (Liverpool): I got up in time for the “Emerald Isle” but had hardly slept a wink. Nosey Parker was at the gangway – not Leavis this time [British policemen]. He wanted to know how long I had been in Ireland and did not ask my name. He was smirking as he asked, and obviously knew who I was. It was an encounter of no asperity, however. There was no business to be done on either side. When I reached 124 Mount Road I did more work in the garden but felt too tired to do much. The roses were out.
April 23 Tuesday (London): I left for London on a fine warm day, not too pleased to be leaving the west coast for the cloud and rain promised in the east. I was told by Tony Chater [leading CPGB activist] that Jack Woddis was ill and could not attend the resuscitated Ad Hoc Committee’s meeting [ie. a committee of key persons in British organisations concerned with the Irish question, including the MCF, the NCCL, the British Peace Committee, the National Union of Students, the CPGB and the Connolly Association]. We met for a meal, and he told me that Woddis has had a heart attack and is suffering from angina pectoris, a thoroughly unpleasant complaint. He may not be back at work till July. And Chater was so dubious about that that one could imagine worse still.
At the meeting we had Cass Scorer. She is Dromey’s friend, and we still are not too sure of his connections. However she said little. This deficiency was compensated by the young student Parry who was willing to teach all his grandparents to suck eggs. Egelnick came – pleasant and cooperative, but eternally worried. Chater is unlike most of them for he has a most lively sense of humour and I would think enjoys life. Amphlett-Micklewright was there, and Julian Hart of Liberation [formerly the Movement for Colonial Freedom, MCF], who impressed me favourably. In the end we worked out a plan, which included having Stallard to speak at a meeting, and Michael McGahey to double as Trade Union and CP man. If Stallard objected to McGahey we would ask Marsden. This worried Egelnick very deeply; he did not think it was “principled”.
April 24 Wednesday: Quite early in the morning Chater rang up to say he had reported on the meeting to the Political Committee [ie. of the CPGB] and they had all risen on him. They demanded that he adopt a “principled” position. “They mean rigid,” said I. “Well, they call it principled,” he said defensively. “Much as our own stubbornness is strong mindedness and other people’s is obstinacy,” said I. “And anyway, what principle is involved?” I had been most careful to have this thoroughly verbalised last night, so that there was general agreement. I did not like the doctrine that the bargain of a plenipotentiary can be torn up. And I did not see why Chater should have reported the differences, for as sure as he did it was inviting his hearers to take sides. However, we decided that the issue might not arise and to wait until it did.
I worked on the paper, and in the evening addressed the Central London branch.
April 25 Thursday: I decided to ring McGahey first as there was a possibility that he might decline and the crux with Stallard might never arise. Egelnick had explained to me that Stallard had been a CP member and shop-steward some years ago, so that there is some bitterness against him. As it fell out, McGahey had another engagement. I told Chater this on telephone. “Ah well. Even if we’ve lost a speaker we’re let off the hook, says he, adding that he thought he might have failed to present his report in a “psychological way”, as Seafort used to call it.
I rang Berry who is representing us in the Akram case but did not think he was very interested. Toni Curran told me she had visited Seafort again and got a donation of £15 off him for the organiser’s fund! That is conscience money if ever such was!
Tom Mitchell came in and we discussed the Lennon case [It is unclear what this was about]. He told me that so far as he could ascertain, Lennon was never in the CP. But Michael Hawes told him something I have completely forgotten, namely that Lennon wrote into GIR [unclear what this abbreviation refers to] suggesting doing something in Luton, and that I was suspicious of him and wrote to Michael Hawes asking him to investigate, and that Hawes called on him, concluded he was an unstable person and advised us to have nothing to do with him, which we did. He was never a “militant shop steward”. Mitchell is quite keen on starting the Connolly Association in Luton and thinks he may have found the man, one of the young people who attended the meeting in the college. Later Charlie Cunningham arrived to do the printers’ list, and finally Jane Tate to do the accounts.
April 26 Friday: I rang Jock Stallard in the morning and he told me that he would speak but that there was a meeting in the House of Commons in May arranged by Cass Scorer and Patsy Byrne of the CDU [the Labour Party- based Campaign for Democracy in Ulster], in which he had been told we were concerned. I knew nothing about it and rang JH at the MCF. He also knew nothing about it. I rang Chater and told him I suspected an International Socialist intrigue. At last after trying all day I caught Cass Scorer. She told me that it was in June, that Patsy Byrne had drawn up a list of organisations including the Connolly Association, but that the NCCL had decided to limit it to themselves and the CDU. Of course the CDU is defunct, but they want to block the best influences from the MPs. Cass Scorer (who had been talking to Dromey and getting curious advice) told me that the object of the meeting was that Rock Tansey should address the MPs. And I’m fairly sure he is International Socialist and Amphlett-Micklewright certainly has little time for him. I said I thought the Connolly Association should have a representative there, promised to tackle Byrne, and she said she would do the same. She is going to Belfast to see NICRA tomorrow.
Gerry Curran has been making some noise upon the supposed further harassment of Barry Riordan and Considine in Oxford, but Alf Ward informed me that they had drink taken and it was no wonder they were pulled in, for Considine was in charge of a car. Alf Ward has been visiting them with fatherly advice.
April 27 Saturday: The new tenants (Bulgarian Friendship Society) moved in today. But there is no news of the preliminary of the Akram case. Apparently Berry (Seafort’s assistant) did not return to the office. It is the hardest thing to get dispatch in anything. I was in the office all day and out in Hammersmith with Gerry Curran in the evening. He had come to Alf Ward’s opinion of Oxford.
April 28 Sunday (Birmingham): I went to the EC in Leicester. Toni Curran and Siobhan O’Neill could not go and Jim Kelly did not turn up. Both Charlie Cunningham and Mark Clinton were late, but on the whole it was useful enough. We adopted a resolution which refuted the mechanical demand for immediate withdrawal of English troops on Irish national grounds, it being argued that the Irish should decide the method and timing, that for once England would not act unilaterally. There was a seminar on the decline of civil liberties in Britain as a result of the Irish crisis, which was attended by Foreman (a middle-aged railwayman) and Hoffman, a young university lecturer[John Hoffman, lecturer in philosophy]. Those present throughout, or nearly, were Michael Crowe, Charlie Cunningham, Lenny Draper, Alf Ward, Jane Tate, Paddy Bond, Pat O’Donohue, Peter Mulligan, Mark Clinton, Tony Donaghey and myself. Alf Ward told me about the Oxford troubles. Apparently Barry Riordan and Considine went drinking on Easter Monday. Considine was driving and refused to have a breath test. Then Riordan joined in and started abusing the police. Result – both of them taken and charged with unruly behaviour. Alf Ward is disgusted with their lack of discipline. Considine’s wife is threatening to leave him and Alf Ward is driving round like Kissinger [US Secretary of State under Richard Nixon] trying to make peace on all fronts. I said I thought Riordan should retire from the Oxford secretaryship till this blows over.
I went back to Birmingham with Mark Clinton. He is talking of spending a year or two on the buildings, though all he does is carry a hod. School teaching does not pay well enough. He told me some story about having an £800 overdraft from his bank to pay off. Aber das stimmt nicht [But that doesn’t make sense]. I did not of course press for details. He says he is disappointed in Sean Kenny, who was to have come today (as he told me on the phone) and will not be at the conference either. I tried (as Betty Sinclair had tried) to persuade Mark to return to teaching – in a Catholic school.
April 29 Monday (Liverpool): I came to Liverpool but went first to Derby. Something occurred that never happened before. I forgot I had to go to Derby and was waiting for the Liverpool train when I remembered, just in time. At 124 Mount Road I found letters from Alan Morton and Freda thanking me for the initiative over Alisoun, and also one from Tony Coughlan enclosing a photograph of myself with the MacLiam children, and Egon and the two of us at Howth.
April 30 Tuesday: The weather continuing dry, with the seemingly endless East wind, and cool too, I was able to do something in the garden. But I had to leave in the early evening to go to Chester and Holyhead.
May 1 Wednesday: I arrived at Dublin at about 8 pm. and took a taxi to 24 Belgrave Road [the home of Cathal and Helga MacLiam in Rathmines]. There was little enough done in the day. I am always tired by doing the night crossing. I seldom retire before 1 am. or even 2 am. But I am not used to rising at 6 am. I went to some of the bookshops and had lunch with Tony Coughlan. He gave me a copy of the letter which he has got 19 Fianna Fail TDs to sign. This arose as follows. I wrote to Cathal saying that our work was hindered by the compliance of Dublin in the Sunningdale fraud [ie. the power-sharing Executive in Northern Ireland established in November 1973 and permitted to collapse in face of the Loyalist Ulster Workers Council strike in May 1974]. He urged tackling Tony Coughlan, which I did. The response is very promising and it is expected that the letter will be despatched quite soon. The object is to make clear that Cosgrave has not unanimous support [ie. Taoiseach Liam Cosgrave in his attitude to the Northern Ireland situation]. I saw Cathal in the evening, and Tony C. came in again. They told me that Sean Redmond had joined the executive of the Irish Sovereignty Movement [established by Anthony Coughlan, Micheál O Loingsigh and others in Dublin following the May 1972 EEC Accession Treaty referendum]. They expect him to join Noel Harris’s union next year. But I disapprove of English Unions operating in Ireland.
May 2 Thursday: I caught the11.00 am. train to Belfast and found both John McClelland and Betty Sinclair waiting for me at Great Victoria Street. I spent the afternoon re-writing some notes for the lecture I was to give to the Belfast Trades Council. At about 5 pm. Bobby Heatley and his two pretty children (half Iraqi) arrived. There was also a student from Newry who came to the lecture. Margaret McClelland told me she was trying to persuade John to leave Belfast and go to live in Newtownards. I felt it might be to keep him out of political mischief. She has an Orange background, whereas his is staunchly Labour [This is a mistake; Mrs McClelland was in fact of Catholic background]. We went down to the meeting and left John’s car in Cromac Square. As this is Catholic territory he thought it would be safe. The meeting was at the UCATT hall. I was very pleased that something over fifty people arrived. Joe Cooper took the chair. Joan O’Connell [Education Officer of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions] had come from Dublin on some other business. Joe Deighan was there and Dorothy, Lance Noakes and Ann Hope, John McClelland’s father (looking quite well I was pleased to note) and a sprinkling of others I knew. A trio which arrived late I took to be either “Officials” or “International Socialists”. But they were neither. They were “two nations” men, and Bobby Heatley remarked that his pleasure in the lecture was materially enhanced by the pain it seemed to be inflicting upon these three. They asked silly questions and described a quotation they said was from Connolly as “misleading the working class”. They said it was a “very important” quotation, but I could not recall it. And if it was genuine the obvious reply was that Connolly (unlike the Trotskies) never claimed omniscience or infallibility. I have had these blockheads tackle me about some long-forgotten editorial in the “Democrat”. “Why did you write that?” Answer. “Because I saw nothing wrong with it at the time. And now look at what it was aimed at.” I was however very pleased with the meeting. Desmond O’Hagan’s brother, a teacher, moved the vote of thanks and paid me the compliment of saying I had brought Connolly back to life [Desmond O’Hagan was a leading Official Republican]. It was very essential that this meeting should be a success, as it is the first effort of the Belfast Trades Council to undertake non-sectarian education. It was I who had suggested the title “James Connolly – Trade Unionist” and I kept off the more controversial issues, except to state historical facts. I did however launch an attack on penalising anybody for something he is not responsible for. There was dead silence and I thought I saw wry faces in the front. But one of those most affected came up afterwards to thank me for saying it.
After the meeting we discussed having a drink, and John McClelland suggested the “Eglantine” on the Malone Road. He had a feeling that its proprietor might possibly be a Protestant. So we went there, myself, John McClelland, Betty Sinclair, Bobby Heatley and one or two more, including Joe and Dorothy Deighan and Doreen Weston’s brother, also Joan O’Connell. At about 9.30 I would imagine, possibly later, Margaret McClelland came in breathless to tell us that a public house had been blown up on the Ormeau Road and that the explosion had shaken the house. However, we remained till closing time and I brought a bottle of Jameson back. I heard that John McClelland (following Bobby Heatley’s cynical talk) had dropped NICRA. Margaret McClelland very bitterly denounced them. “They don’t want him because he was in the Connolly Association.” I had said something of this to Betty Sinclair who also blamed Bobby Heatley. I tackled him on his cynicism. “It’s only on the surface,” said he. I believe it. But the reality beneath is also unattractive – it is laziness. Now Betty Sinclair said that since the Madge Davison trip the Connolly Association is becoming less suspect, the more so since the set-to at Brussels. Apparently Gollan was somewhat casual in his references to Northern Ireland. If he had made some allusion (favourable of course) to the presence of Jimmy Stewart, I am sure that that gentleman would have tolerated a quite desultory treatment of the political issues. And now Betty Sinclair says they are feeling worse because the “Morning Star” said nothing about Northern Ireland in the May Day issue.
Now as I was leaving the lecture room Ann Hope pressed an envelope into my hand. I opened it, and wish I kept it. It was from Edwina Stewart. Would I get in touch with her tomorrow? She would be here at this time, there at another – a most complicated set of instructions. Then she concluded: “Oh, I forgot, I’ve got to be at the hospital tomorrow. Madge Davison will speak to you.” Unfortunately, I have other engagements and am not to be turned on and off like a tap by somebody too lazy or casual to take a new sheet of paper. I had arranged to see Tony Coughlan at lunchtime in Dublin, and this I told Ann Hope. I saw from the enclosed NICRA paper that they propose to hold a lobby at Westminster on July 25. No consultation. Typical Republican tactics. They decide. We are supposed to fall in. Actually there is a rumour that the House will rise on July 11th. But I am dubious of it.
Of course the absurdity of the Stewarts’ position is that while they are for ever berating the CPGB on doing no more for Ireland, they are totally opposed to the existence of the Connolly Association, which is the principal means by which they could do it. They consequently put a restraint on the CPGB, which has not the resources to follow a specialised issue with which the Connolly Association was set up to deal. If they would support the CA everything else would fall into place, but they even drive people out of their own movement in pursuit of a vendetta against people who do not even know how they are alleged to have harmed them!
I thought, however, that there might be opportunities to bring this highly unsatisfactory state of affairs to a close and bethought of Michael O’Riordan – another reason for getting to Dublin early. Betty Sinclair liked the idea. So I arranged with Joan O’Connell to meet her on the 8 am. train.
May 3 Friday: I met Joan O’Connell at Great Victoria Street and we went to Dublin. I had met her some time ago at Cathal’s. She works as Education Officer of the ICTU. I had lunch with Tony Coughlan and in the afternoon he came up to Cathal’s. They told the story of little Aileen who lives with the Johnstons (Mairin Johnston in the house with the children and Roy in the basement with a Welsh girl he has made as big a miser as himself.) I had called in to find about the songs and met Una [Daughter of Roy and Mairin Johnston] who is going to transcribe them for me. She proposes to study music at TCD. Now Aileen is the spit of Michael O’Leary. I remarked at this and they told me that he had acknowledged her when this Christmas he sent her £25. This must have been the child that Mairin Johnston was so worried about while Phyllis [his sister, who was ill with a terminal cancer in 1966] was ill; she wrote to me but I was too preoccupied to give proper advice, though I suggested “negotiating” with Roy. Apparently, this is what she did.
“It reminds me of the night they broke two glasses – and didn’t replace them.” says Cathal. “She’s not mine,” says Roy. “Then who is she?” “She’s Michael O’Leary’s.” And so the suspicion and so the admission. And now there is another by the young photographer Costello, I presume, who is not a bad lad. Neither is Roy bad – only so desperately parsimonious that he impoverishes himself with it. Fergus will have a good time spending what he leaves.
I saw Michael O’Riordan. He told me that the “talks” Egelnick had spoken of as fixing the date of Jimmy Stewart’s meeting in London were taking place in Dublin. So either Egelnick or Michael O’Riordan does not know the full story. Michael O’Riordan’s idea was to bring some of them to Bodenstown [ie. to the annual Wolfe Tone commemoration there in June]. So perhaps the thing is to get Jimmy Stewart’s visit over first. I suggested other means of arousing interest. And then Cathal drove me to Dun Laoire, with Tony Coughlan accompanying. There I caught the boat.
May 4 Saturday: Imagine my disgust at finding my telephone cut off. I phoned Charlie Cunningham from a call box and he promised to tackle Toni Curran who presumably had forgotten to pay the bill. A letter from Alan Morton reported that Alisoun is frantic at not yet receiving a reply from Dublin. But I can ring nobody. A damned nuisance. However, the weather still being dry and cool with the interminable East wind, I started on the garden.
May 5 Sunday: Again I spent a good part of the day in the garden, and got in artichokes and soya beans.
May 6 Monday: Another day in the garden. Otherwise nothing. I got in spinach beet, beet, and cabbage.
May 7 Tuesday: Another day in the garden. I got in more beet and garlic.
May 8 Wednesday: Another day in the garden. This time more artichokes, scallions and herbs.
May 9 Thursday: Another day in the garden. Swedes. But by evening it was clear that the weather was breaking. The phone is still off but I spoke to Charlie Cunningham.
May 10 Friday: It was showering, but I managed to prepare another bed, though I sowed nothing in it. I dyed two shirts and a pair of short pants.
May 11 Saturday (London): A letter came from Tony Coughlan, and my spectacles I had left at the Wicklow Hotel. Another came from Lawrence and Wishart about the German translation of T.A. Jackson’s book. Toni Curran told me Akram had offered to settle out of court. I took the 3.04 train to London (all the times have altered) and found in the restaurant car the conductor who lives in Neston. He is working in the new Scotch trains four days a week, but does the Liverpool run twice on Sunday by way of overtime. There was hardly anybody on the train. I was the only passenger taking “high tea”, but he expected to be loaded with Rugby football people on the return journey.
I had a word with Toni Curran, and Lenny Draper who was not hopeful about his social, for which in my opinion he is charging too much. I learned that Cass Scorer has been in and out. The CDU and NCCL are arranging a meeting in the House of Commons in June and I wrote to Patsy Byrne saying we should be in on it, but got no reply. The same woman (whom with Dromey I suspect of I.S. tendencies) is trying to bring in the world and his wife to the ad hoc committee. And so is Parry, the voluble NUS [National Union of Students] secretary. I have lost Sean Redmond [who had returned to Ireland to work there] who was very useful in “in-fighting,” and Jack Woddis [CPGB International Affairs secretary] is ill. So I have only myself to depend on, and into the bargain have to take the chair or relinquish it to somebody ineffective. It occurred to me to be “upset” at not being let into the House of Commons arrangement, so that then I could get my own way in other things, as Cass Scorer would hesitate about making me upset on somebody else’s behalf when she had successfully accomplished it on her own.
Late at night there was a commotion in Argyle Square and I looked through the window. I had seen six men outside one of the hotels, whom I took to be rugby football followers from Yorkshire or somewhere like that. They were up-ending bottles of liquor then. But by now they were engaged in disrobing themselves as they shouted obscenities at the tops of their voices. One of them who could not have been under forty was naked but for a pair of “briefs” and it was amusing to see him plucking up courage to take these off and run a few yards in the nude. A dog barked and they scattered into the hotel. But they were soon out again. The performance went on for the best part of an hour, when one assumes they sobered up. A fortnight earlier there was a fight with milk-bottles between gangs of about thirty boys. Before that I saw hundreds of boys poorly dressed in shabby denims careering like a pack of wolves along the platform of King’s Cross tube station. It is all part of the same thing of course, but I thought tonight’s display the most significant. Because, as in the Roman Empire, the people have no more power to influence their own lives than the animals, they are reduced to animal pleasures and see no reason they should not at any rate play with them.
May 12 Sunday: I came into the office in the morning. Lenny Draper phoned and said he had had a successful meeting with Michael O’Riordan, which was good. Then we went to the Euston Hall which was well filled and O’Riordan gave a good talk. He gave full credit to the Connolly Association for its work, and this confirmed my belief that we might secure a position of much greater unity all round. Myant was there and a photographer from the “Morning Star” [Chris Myant was assistant editor of the “Morning Star”]. I proposed a resolution which I telephoned to Myant, who had left early. Life is much easier when you reach a position of cooperation. Among those present were Charlie Cunningham, who spoke, Paddy Bond (in the chair) Amphlett-Micklewright, Pat O’Donohue, Toni Curran and a number of building workers like Larry Fennell. In the evening we held a social in the “Bull and Mouth.” Jane Tate gave one of the singers £1 because he had missed his train. Later I found he had not missed it at all and this was the doing of Brian Crowley who said a taxi was cheaper than the train – which was certainly true when the organisation was paying. I reserved this for Crowley.
At lunchtime Michael Melly (of the CDU) telephoned. He said he had learned from “inside sources” that the Emergency Provisions Act was to be renewed by Order in Council on Tuesday, and that there would be no debate. I rang Jock Stallard who told me there was an amending Bill coming up on Tuesday and that there would be a debate of one to one and a half hours in which he told me he would try to speak. He said he thought that the amendment (which would legalise the UVF and Sinn Fein) was the product of Merlyn Rees’s boundless ignorance of Northern Ireland and that he did not know what he was proposing to legalise. It was from this that my resolution arose. I rang Joe Deighan, who assured me that the UVF was still military.
May 13 Monday: I telephoned Jock Stallard and Jack Bennett. The latter assured me that there had been changes in the approach of the UVF [ie. the Loyalist Ulster Volunteer Force], which wanted to qualify for political conversations, and he thought they would now leave others to do the dirty work. I arranged to meet Stallard at the House of Commons but though I went there he seemed to have forgotten the conversation.
In the evening I went to Thanet, where after a meal at the house of its secretary, L.Humphries, I addressed the Trades Council, which is thinking of affiliating to the Connolly Association. We are gathering affiliations, but silently so that we will not give the idea to others. The meeting took place in a Workingmen’s Club, very decently furnished. Both Humphries and an Irishman from Petersfield had attended conferences of ours in the past and the reception was good. I think we will get the affiliation. Humphries told me that originally they had planned a Trade Union club, but the brewery that was to advance the capital and sent a team of investigative experts to the area, refused to do so, insisting that membership should be open without restriction. The purpose was economic, though of course political purposes were served as well. Now the original secretary has fallen foul of his successors and has been forbidden the premises. And to add complexities, he has been elected delegate to the Trades Council by the branch of some Union. So when I arrived they were discussing what to do if he presented himself. They wisely decided that it was a matter that lay between the club and the Union branch.
May 14 Tuesday: There was a telephone call from NICRA and the manner showed the improved relations that have resulted from Madge Davison’s visit. Edwina Stewart cannot speak on the 20th. A letter which arrived in the morning had indicated that fact. So I had to do something, as she proposed a Republican.
May 15 Wednesday: I had to do some thinking and negotiating. I had learned that Chater was not coming to the Ad Hoc Committee tonight. First I went to see Betty Reid about getting more industrial affiliations to the NCCL, where I am convinced that an International Socialist takeover is imminent if not secured [Betty Reid, 1915-2004, long-time CPGB official, charged with preventing hostile infiltration of the party, especially by Trotskyists]. She told me that a man called Sampson had attended the Troops Out movement conference on Sunday, and I see from the Irish Times that Lawless, McCann and Dromey spoke at it. There had been some hesitation and they merely sent an observer who spoke briefly. She thought that some like Falber [Reuben Falber, CPGB official] thought it best to go right in. But McGahey, with whom I had a drink, told me that he had declined to go. I also had a word with the student organiser to try and stop young Parry’s gob. He is writing crying that all kinds of Republican committees shall be drawn into the Edwina Stewart meeting committee. He is now secretary of the National Union of Students. The young man at 16 King Street [CPGB Head Office] thought his trouble was that he was slightly conceited. After a brief drinking session with McGahey I saw Chater and we agreed on changing the date. This might make it possible to bring in Marsden [Eddie Marsden, 1913-1975, leading engineering trade unionist and TUC figure]. I then telephoned Edwina Stewart and represented that nobody but herself would do. She was most forthcoming, offered the date 25 June, and went so far as to say that Joe Deighan had warned her against doing anything in England that would cut across our efforts.
I had already decided that it was now time to offer a memorandum on joint working which might be considered in relation to the Dublin discussions, with a view to getting everybody cooperating. I think the time may be ripe – after thirty years!
When the committee met Cass Scorer was trying to get sponsorships from Northern Ireland and trying to wriggle in people like Clann na hEireann, with whom she has been hobnobbing this last six months. I saw Dromey’s hand in this. Micklewright, Egelnick and a man from the Co-op joined me in opposing her, and finally she gave way. Meantime Patsy Byrne had agreed to invite the Connolly Association to hear the speakers at the June 11 or 12 meeting. The speaker is, I believe, Tansey or Rajak, the former being here tonight supporting Cass Scorer with specious arguments. The whole exercise is designed to give the International Socialists a platform at the House of Commons, and as Mickelwright says, probably they would like to have seats.
I heard from Toni Curran that it looks as if the Akram affair is settled. The scoundrel pretends that we put the lock on his door on September 9, whereas I know from my records that it was about November 5th, He has offered rent up to the first date, £25 costs and a declaration that the tenancy no longer exists. So all is well, but whether we will receive a penny is doubtful. I suppose he’ll plead poverty and delay paying.
May 16 Thursday: I spent the day in the office. I tied up the “Ad-Hoc Committee’s” decisions. But there is no JJ now and it falls on me alone. And I cannot see much work coming from Chater.
May 17 Friday: Another day spent in the office, this time arranging Betty Sinclair’s tour. Forman called in and we discussed Leicester.
May 18 Saturday: As Mark Clinton had provided me with no special names and addresses for accommodation of delegates in Birmingham I decided to go there myself, though he swore it was unnecessary. He is an easygoing countryman. When we met at the station he informed me he had left the addresses at home. So we trailed out to Erdington. Then he had to copy them from a notebook on to sheets of paper, and with them he supplied the firm ones. Now, with only a fortnight to go I have to send letters to them all. I have been trying for weeks to get him moving. So has Paddy Bond.
The situation is not powerful. Sean Kenny has proved little more than a talker. This is how he let McDowell defeat him. When I reached London the first of a series of annoyances appeared. I had left Charlie Cunningham a note saying that as railway timetables are unobtainable I could not look up the trains and could not be sure of the time of my return. Would he leave instructions as to where I was to go and whom to meet. Instead he said that he would telephone after 6 pm. It was now 7.13. I phoned Jim Kelly but he was out. The phone rang at 8 pm. but gave only two bursts of sound. Whoever was calling rang off before I could lift the receiver. My guess was that Jim Kelly, always ready to attack any arrangement made by Charlie Cunningham, deliberately did not ring up properly in order to say Charlie had made a failure. So I got on with other work.
May 19 Sunday: I could not go to Liverpool today as intended, as the North Sea Gas people are coming to 33 Argyle Square [where his London flat was] on Monday. More wasted time! The Standing Committee met in the morning. When I complained to Charlie Cunningham and Jim Kelly that they had between them made a mess of my clear instructions, Kelly flew into one of his rages and stormed off. But he was back in a few minutes, to announce that he would no longer do the work of preparing the money for banking. I said nothing but determined that I would have somebody else. He has quarrelled with Chris Sullivan, and several times with Charlie in the last fortnight. I used to think his tantrums were due to the slight handicap he suffers from as a result, I think, of poliomyelitis. But now I think it is a case of insufferable conceit, with the small justification that usually accompanies that. There were only Charlie Cunningham, Pat O’Donohue and myself present, as Paddy Bond was collecting money on his ballot, and Jane Tate was away with her brother in Maidstone.
In the afternoon Charlie Cunningham was in the park [ie. at Speakers’ Corner in Hyde Park, where the Connolly Association held a meeting every Sunday afternoon during these years] speaking with Robbie Rossiter, who was very enthusiastic about Michael O’Riordan’s meeting last Sunday. Now since he never makes his arrangements for the sales till the last minute, and Chris Sullivan is away, Charlie suggested my going to West London. They guaranteed the transport to get me back. So at any rate he said. After the sale, having been in the office since 7 am. making arrangements for the conference, I was dog tired and accepted Toni Curran’s offer of coffee at her house. She then drove me to North Ealing station, swearing that I could get a train to King’s Cross. I expressed doubt and was very hesitant, but the Indian porter or ticket clerk assured me all would be well. When I looked at the timetable I saw it was not. I got a train to Hammersmith, then another to Earl’s Court. Then as there were no taxis (after ringing Toni Curran to tell her what I thought of her arrangements) I started to walk. Luckily I got a taxi by the Air Terminal. But I reached the flat at 1.30 am. and must get up to be ready for the gas people on the morrow.
May 20 Monday (Liverpool): Today was foostered away with watching and waiting as the gas men took their leisurely course. Still they did the job. Tony Coughlan was on the phone during one of the brief spells I spent at the office. His open letter to Wilson is ready and he is thinking of coming to London on Friday to hold a press conference [An initiative of the Irish Sovereignty Movement in Dublin]. And Betty Sinclair rang up to say she is coming tomorrow. Finally I caught the 7.30 pm. train back to Liverpool. Ashford had not been here.
May 21 Tuesday: I started work on the garden but had to go into Birkenhead. I bought a new watch, mistakenly thinking I had lost my other, and two stainless steel bowls that I got cheap. Lenny Draper rang and I met him at Lime Street, at about 6 pm. And a strange evening it was. First the notion that Desmond Crowe and his wife have, that they will collect six members of their way of thinking in Manchester and start an anti-Draper branch. Apparently “Debbie”, a wee girl who is in the CP and Clann na hEireann, is with them, and the rather unstable youth I met before. He has done as I advised and called a branch meeting for Thursday and told them all to be there.
But a most curious thing relates to Lenny Draper. There are some notorious “Provisionals” a few doors away, and apparently Lenny goes into their house for a talk. The result is that the police are constantly raiding Lenny Draper’s, who moreover is ill. Stranger still, the Crowes go to Lenny Draper’s every Wednesday and (according to Lenny) operate a tape-recorder and take down all her conversation. And she is incapable of guarding her tongue. Lenny Draper is most suspicious of this and I suggested that he should go there and surprise them at it. Lenny says she “doesn’t like” to ask them not to.
Add to this that Lenny Draper had a letter from home (in Portadown) to the effect that extremists have hinted that unless he ceases his activities with the Connolly Association his family will be made to suffer. It is hard to know how to assess this.
I left him to catch a train at 9.25 and went to the underground hoping to hear the 10 pm. news on the radio and find how things were shaping. I found the train in semi-darkness. Then I saw Brian Stowell, who told me that a ten- minute delay had been announced. I decided not to wait and took a taxi to the boat and another up the other side [ie. of the Mersey, as Prenton, Birkenhead, where he lived was on the other side of the river]. The second driver pointed out the police car by the station. Apparently, somebody had walked on to the line presumably with a view to committing suicide. The current was switched off, and now they were hunting the tunnel which has numerous alcoves where engineers shelter as trains go by. I rang up Mrs Stowell who was very pleased to get the information, if not pleased at its substance.
During our discussion Lenny Draper told me about Sean Meehan. He has never seen him sober and says that he was responsible in some way for having Smullen and the other man detected in their absurd arms conspiracy in Huddersfield, where anybody should have been able to see where it was leading [Eamon Smullen, a leading member of Cathal Goulding’s “Official” IRA, has been imprisoned for seeking to buy and smuggle guns]. At the Manchester meeting to which Madge Davison came, he and his two companions were not sober enough to keep quiet while Madge Davison was speaking. Now they were quiet enough while I was there, but I think I detected incipient interruption. As for Lenny Draper himself, he is unemployed again, for two pins would leave Manchester, but thanks to having taken to the bicycle, has lost a stone of weight and feels fit as a fiddle.
May 22 Wednesday: There was a phone call from Toni Curran. She told me that Jim Kelly had been in the office entering the cash on Tuesday and had rung her up over some discrepancy and told about the “row” which he caused on Sunday. I do not know whether he proposes to continue with it or not. In the evening Charlie Cunningham said that he had withdrawn his name from the Executive Committee candidates and would not be going to the conference. There is something more than conceit here – pathological small-mindedness.
May 23 Thursday: The weather was not so good and I got less but something done in the garden. Ashford, who appears unbidden like a ghost, haunting and disappearing in the unaccountable way those entities are credited with, arrived and started work on the wall and the fence. He said he had had his car and tools stolen and could not start work again until it was found abandoned. Peter Mulligan rang up to say Tom Mitchell was in Northampton complaining that he could not get a hall for Betty Sinclair. Peter asked for the date but I gave him Mitchell’s. I will say Betty has to be back in London for a meeting on the Friday morning. I’m not going to risk her in Huddersfield. Best go myself there first. Paddy Bond rang up in political perturbation. I told him to demand that the Government stand firm against the Orangemen, though Gerry Fitt has already retreated [ie. in face of the intimidation of the Ulster Workers Council strike to bring down the Sunningdale Executive].
May 24 Friday (London): I got in a full day in the garden and have the vegetable garden to rights, but the front is scarcely touched. A letter from Toni Curran, largely plamás, urged me to go to West London again to expunge the memory of last Sunday’s disaster. I’m not of a mind to do so. The young man Sorrell, whose book I advised Lawrence and Wishart to reject, wrote. What Maurice Cornforth is playing at I don’t know. Apart from fooling around with somebody unable in my opinion to write a satisfactory book about the IRA, he gives him my Liverpool address and suggests I meet him. And all the time I suspect he is in the International Socialists, though it may be just confused leftism. Lenny Draper had his meeting last night but he did not ring today. I went to London.
May 25 Saturday: I went to Birmingham and am plunged into a melée of activity that defies record. Mark Clinton had not sent the accommodation addresses.
May 26 Sunday: I was in the office all day. I have to get out the paper, arrange a lecture tour for Betty Sinclair and arrange the big meeting on June 25.
May 27 Monday: This was a bank holiday, so at least it was quiet. I was in the office all day. I got out a statement on the Six County crisis [ie. the collapse of the power-sharing Sunningdale Executive in Northern Ireland in face of the Ulster Workers Council strike].
May 28 Tuesday: Again I was in the office all day, working at top speed. This is the busiest period I have ever known.
May 29 Wednesday (Liverpool): The “Morning Star” gave good space to my statement, and I have also posted plenty of them off. Maire Comerford rang in the evening about the Price sisters[who had been sentenced to long terms of imprisonment for IRA bombing activity and were force-fed on hunger strike for 200 days]. I got on to Jock Stallard and then rang back to Maire Comerford. I finished all the work except for two pages of the paper I am holding – largely due to last night’s working party. And I caught the 7.30 back to Liverpool.
May 30 Thursday: Jane Tate rang to say there were errors in some of the hastily duplicated statements. But the conference stuff seems all right. I never remember so many things on at once. Mark Clinton rang to say the leaflets advertising our Birmingham meeting have not arrived. He has hunted through the Post Office and they have simply disappeared.
May 31 Friday: I finished the paper at last, but I am absolutely tired out. I have the conference tomorrow and Sunday, Ripley on Monday, but then I want to go away for a few days. Tony Coughlan is coming over and we thought of going cycling in Wales. Usually something happens to prevent it.
Mark Clinton rang in the afternoon. There has been some mix-up about accommodation. That is another job I had to do. I had to go to Birmingham last Saturday to get the addresses Mark had not posted despite letter after letter. When I met him at the station he had left them at home. There is nothing from Lenny Draper though early in the week he told me his meeting was adjourned. It seems clear that we are not finding such talented individuals now as we did when we had Tony Coughlan, Sean Redmond, Cal O’Herlihy and the like [ie. in the late 1950s and 1960s]. I imagine many of the young people are following the “men of action” [ie. the Provisional IRA]. I have a request from the “Labour Monthly” for an article, and R.Palme Dutt [Editor of “Labour Monthly”] asked for a copy of our statement for his “Notes of the Month”. Later I had a word with Pat Bond. The heroes of the present are Pat Bond and Jane Tate, with Toni Curran and Pat O’Donohue doing their share.
June 1 Saturday (Birmingham): I did not wait for Tony Coughlan. He could not get on the direct boat (which meant that he did not miss much) and travelled by the more comfortable but roundabout Holyhead route. I was in Birmingham by midday and Mark Clinton came along. The handbills for tomorrow’s meeting have disappeared into thin air. Frank Watters was good enough to duplicate some for us. But there is a “jinx” on this meeting. The conference opened: Michael Crowe, and Meehan, Peter Mulligan and others from outlying areas, but no Lenny Draper. He sent no apology. And Nolan, elected with him, did not come either. We speculated that perhaps he was out of money and did not like to confess it. Neither did Forman from Leicester arrive. Then halfway through the afternoon one of the Kellys came in a taxi and handed Mark Clinton a message from his brother in Cavan to the effect that his father was seriously ill and not expected to recover. I got £35 from Jane Tate (for he was penniless) and off he went, very disappointed. Frank Watters felt very sorry for him as he had worked hard to make a success of the conference.
June 2 Sunday (Birmingham): Today’s sessions of the conference marked it out as the most successful ever from the point of view of maturity. It was completely business-like and no nonsense appeared. The meeting on the other hand was indifferent, as we expected. Sean Kenny took the chair and the crisis appeared to have shaken him out of himself. He undertook to go to Leicester tomorrow to address the meeting Mark Clinton was to do for me. Jack Bennett made a useful speech, as Tony Coughlan had done yesterday.
In the afternoon Tony Donaghey told me that Prendergast was dead. I was quite surprised. “But he never ailed a day.” Apparently it was “an accident in the home”. In other words he was drunk. It would be sheer hypocrisy on my part to pretend the slightest concern. At the same time he could have departed this scene more constructively when he had a little more power to perform evil. For the next few days people will tell pleasant lies about him, and then he can be forgotten. He had of course ceased his vendetta, and when I last met him at Pat Devine’s funeral he was asking me to try to counteract McInerney’s influence over one of his sons – as if I could! [ie. Michael McInerney, former “Irish Freedom” editor, now working for the “Irish Times” in Dublin]. The motive of his vendetta arose out of a desire to be editor of the Irish Democrat, as what I descended to appeared an ascent to him. I think Dominic Behan cherished the same dream. And a third, Sean Redmond, undertook some little intrigue with Peter Mulligan to induce my retirement, but had too much integrity, despite his lack of manners, to play any dirty tricks. Indeed I would have been happy to hand over to Sean Redmond if things had progressed better, even though he lacks adequate imagination. As it is, I go on carrying the thing like the proverbial and no doubt misquoted albatross.
Mark Clinton had given me the key of his flat, plus the key of a flat where somebody was staying. We had comedy over this. I got Hughie White to drive me out to see which fitted Mark Clinton’s door. The first key I tried opened it. Mark was within packing his things. “That’s not my key,” he said. By a chance in a million coincidence the keys were interchangeable, though one of them was for a house miles away. So we need not have troubled. I stayed again at Mark’s, and Tony Coughlan was accommodated like Jack Bennett with members of the Kelly family. I have every reason to believe that Jack Bennett enjoyed himself [Belfast friend of Greaves’s, a journalist on the “Belfast Telegraph”, who wrote the influential “Claud Gordon” weekly column in the “Sunday Press” at the time]. But for myself I was tired out and glad of the chance of a break.
June 3 Monday: Both Tony Coughlan and myself went to Ripley where we were able to get the paper done quickly and reached Liverpool quite early.
June 4 Tuesday: Though I had feared not to be able to, I went off on the bicycle with Tony Coughlan. We rode to Heswall Hills, took the train to Wrexham, lunched there, then took another train to Chirk. In bright though cool weather we rode to Llansantffraid Dyffryn Ceiriog, to Llanrhaidr, and through Llangynog to Bala. While there we observed a spectacular partial eclipse of the moon.
June 5 Wednesday (Dollgelau): We went into Machynlleth. But today was wet and windy. We pushed our way to Trawsfynydd, where the whiskey tasted like nectar, and then turned south to Dolgellau. It was dry enough for a walk in the evening.
June 6 Thursday (Liverpool): In heavy rain we rode to Llanuwchllyn, after which it was drier, and we went through Llandrillo and Bryn Eglwys to Pennyfford, whence by train to Heswall. Despite the bad weather we both felt we had been “done good”, and perhaps I may get rid of the cold I have had dragging on for two months. All the while the back of my mind was exercising itself on the subject of a memorandum for King Street which might influence the course of discussions with Dublin and Belfast. A letter from Alisoun Morton said that her professor had declined to back her for the Dublin job and had given only a lukewarm testimonial.
June 7 Friday: I remained in Liverpool all day. Tony Coughlan was short of money, so I had to go to the bank. We had dinner at the Playhouse, after which he caught the boat.
June 8 Saturday (London): I went to London and found Charlie Cunningham in difficulties over sales. He is not pushing or ingenious, and Brian Crowley has his people doing work for the bookshop because Charlie is too timid to ask. There was nothing heard from Lenny Draper, so I fear he has “taken a scunder”. Meehan told me that when he rang Lenny Draper asking him to come to Huddersfield Lenny had replied that he was “in the doldrums”. “What did he mean by that?” “That’s what I want to know,” says Meehan. Now Lenny Draper had told me that he had never seen Meehan sober and that on the occasion he phoned him he sounded drunk. But though Meehan took drink on Sunday he was certainly in no way affected by it. Charlie Cunningham rang Lenny Draper. His neighbour said he was in the bath and asked him to ring in fifteen minutes. When he did so Lenny Draper had “gone out”. “I don’t like the smell of this,” said Charlie. It is certainly clear that there is a weak side to his character, and I have concluded that at present at least he would not be able to do the job of organiser.
News came that Mark Clinton’s father had recovered. I had sent him another £25. So £60 has been wasted. The last thing I said to the Kelly’s on Sunday was that it might well be a false alarm. The mother was away, and the brother got into a panic. “That’s the sort of fellow he is,” said Mrs Kelly. In the evening Charlie and I were driven to Kilburn by Margot Parrish and sold 132 in no time – running out, so strong had been the effect of the Price sisters’ partial victory [The Government had agreed to the repatriation of the Price sister to Northern Ireland so that they could serve out their sentences there, following the death of one of their hunger-striking colleagues, Michael Gaughan].
June 9 Sunday: I heard from Jane Tate that she and Betty Sinclair had been to Prendergast’s funeral and had followed it by a “wake” at the house of Joe Monks. Apparently half Dublin came over. They have money to spend on that. She did not get home till 3 am. Later I learned that Des Logan (who came to this afternoon’s meeting) had been there, and surprisingly enough Eamon MacLaughlin, whom Prendergast spread all manner of slander about when he first arrived. But as Jimmy Shields remarked years ago, he never heard lies like those told at funerals. At the afternoon meeting we had only a few. Sean Hurley reappeared. Jane Tate thinks he is not the worst of those connected with Fred O’Shea’s disruption in 1958-9.
We finished at about 5 pm. and I took Betty Sinclair to Oxford where there were about fifty people – including Gillans, but not Leahy, nor many of the CP people, who will only go to their own things. This was the best our Oxford branch has done, and I think it has established it. I left at 9 pm. and returned to London.
[Note no entry for 10 June]
June 11 Tuesday: I was in the office all day. The “Ad Hoc” Committee was held at 6.30. Chater had excused himself. Egelnick did not show up. Cash Scorer said that the ructions at the NCCL prevented her attendance. Only Mickelwright and the man from the London Co-op were there. The intense interest at the time Colin Sweet was busying himself with the Irish question had entirely evaporated. And yesterday Betty Sinclair was asking when the British CP was “going to get off its backside” on the Irish question. It would require a substantial change in mental habits. When fascism menaces Chile the habit of protesting at distant abuses springs to their aid; when fascism menaces themselves the habit of temporising over difficult questions takes over.
We had a meeting in Tottenham. Hennessy and about 20 were present. On Monday Betty Sinclair was in Battersea and I spent all day in the office.
Regarding Lenny Draper I telephoned Vic Eddisford and arranged to go to Manchester on Saturday. I wrote to Lenny inviting him to meet me and attend Eddisford’s meeting. Brian Crowley was at the Tottenham meeting and indeed he has taken up the bookshop with enthusiasm. Thus though he always seems to take the weak line in policy, he has found a niche where he can be useful. Hughie White was also there. Pat O’Donohue has persuaded him to be membership organiser for Central London and I think he is losing his nervousness and developing unsuspected talents.
At Tottenham there was talk of the National Front. I told one of the CP people that they needed to take up strongly such national issues as withdrawal from the EEC. “Ah,” he replied, “but if we do that the International Socialists and others will be after us for saying the same thing as the National Front.” What could I say? Say what is right no matter who else says it? There is too much fear of these absurd Trotskies.
June 12 Wednesday (Leicester): I was in the office all day, but in the evening took Betty Sinclair to Leicester, where there was a reasonable meeting (about 20) in the AEU hall. But Foreman was away on holiday, and they all said how unreliable he was. He had spoken to John Hoffman as if he had been in Birmingham and had then cleared off without warning. I stayed with Hoffman.
June 13 Thursday: I was in the office till about 5.30 pm., then took Betty Sinclair to Peter Mulligan’s meeting in Northampton. Two “Provisional” Sinn Feins were there. One, called Ivory, had been in the Manchester Branch in Tom Redmond’s time. I vaguely remember the name. Betty Sinclair is beginning to call for the “Declaration of Intent”, which is progress. [ie. the call that the British Government should indicate its interest in withdrawing its sovereignty over Northern Ireland and its intent to work towards that end over time in cooperation with the Irish Government. This was a counter to the call for “Troops Out Now” by British organisations of the far-Left and an attempt to influence the Provisional movement to cease their campaign]. We returned the same night.
June 14 Friday (Birmingham): In the morning Reuben Falber rang up. Jimmy Stewart had been in London last night and there had been heckling, I’m told. Would I go to Belfast for the two-party talks? This was at Jimmy Stewart’s request. I said it would be difficult at this short notice. I tried to get Charlie Cunningham to go to Luton for me, but he has trouble at home. His father is totally senile, yet none of them can summon the decision to have him in a hospital. So I decided not go, though Betty Sinclair pressed me.
We went to Birmingham where we had the only poor meeting so far – only ten. Sean Kenny had lost the list of names I sent him, and only the CP had been notified, except for Malachy Kelly. We stayed the night there. Since he spoke at the conference he has been quite pleased with himself. Mark Clinton is not back, nor I imagine will be for a time, but a young lad, Ryan, offered to help with the papers in Sparkbrook. Meleady said he would get them to him, but will he?
June 15 Saturday (London): I made a flying visit to Manchester. I had invited Lenny Draper to meet me at the station, but he didn’t respond. I went to 28 Hathersage Road and found the “International Committee”, the source of all the trouble, starting its session [ie. a group of Manchester CPGB officials]. I had phoned Vic Eddisford, who had undertaken to be present. Ben Ainley spoke for half an hour about nothing. I realised the position. There was a girl who said nothing, Arnison, and Ainley, together with Eddisford and Askins. If Eddisford had not been there Askins would be in a permanent minority. Ainley spoke of Sweet’s London conference. He was impressed. “But,” said he, and this was the one point of substance, “it is clear that there is a great rift between the British Peace Committee and the party leadership. But even so the conference was so impressive that I am sure we should support it.” When the question of Ireland came up some facts emerged. When Arnison’s delegation got back there were two report-back meetings, each with the same handful. Lenny Draper had got 80 on his own. A printed report was now on its way – 500 copies. I launched into a critical examination of their policy and accused them of brushing the Connolly Association out of the way and scundering Lenny Draper. I did not mince my words. There was open opposition from Ainley, shamefaced opposition from Arnison, and strong support both from Askins and Eddisford. So we carried the day – the “Irish Democrat” is to be the umbrella and the Connolly Association the host organisation in future. Arnison said that his activities arose “by accident”. Afterwards he made himself very friendly as if anxious to reassure me. I do not doubt his integrity, but I remember myself when young trying to put the older man’s mind at ease while reserving my own. As for Ainley, while he is not exactly doddering, he is 74, and cannot see anybody’s point of view but his own.
I then returned to London and went to Hammersmith in Margot Parrish’s car. We were in time to call in at the end of Toni Curran’s joint social in Betty Sinclair’s honour. I took out a book with which she was presented. Margot Parrish told me two years ago she left the CP. I was sorry for that. Perhaps it was around that time that I noticed a certain cynicism. But I did not notice it tonight. She still vastly admires R.Palme Dutt, but is critical of some of them at King Street, though I could not tie her remarks up with anything I had observed myself. She does not like Jack Woddis, and Idris Cox but a little better. Toni Curran’s once more not feeling inclined to do more than dump Betty Sinclair and Jane Tate at the tube station, we squashed them into Margot’s car, and returned.
June 16 Sunday (Liverpool): I was in the office in the morning. In the afternoon Betty Sinclair, Jane Tate and I went to Luton. There were 50 people at the meeting, so that after that at Oxford this is the most successful. The young man McDonald who has agreed to be secretary is the brother of Jim McDonald in Central London. So all went well. Then I rang Belle Lalor. She told me she had at last contacted Lenny Draper. He said he was “fed up with the lot of them.”
There was a curious incident at Luton. We waited for a taxi and a young Indian was ahead of us. He named his destination. “I can’t take you there,” shouted the driver. “I’d never get out. It’s a shambles. Cars parked all over the place. Cul de sac. I couldn’t turn.” “Get in,” he said to us, which we did, though not without with a slight feeling that we were condoning racial discrimination. Still he had not actually mentioned it and we were desperate to get to the meeting. “I couldn’t go there!” he said, as I gave the destination we wanted as 396 Dunstable Road. “What part of Dunstable Road is it? he asked, then reverted to his early theme. “Anyway, I don’t like cheeky Pakies. Too many of them in this town.”
“He may have been born in your country,” said Betty, who alone always makes a point of saying “your” instead of “this,” I have often wondered why, for she retreated from the “Declaration of Intent” this afternoon, simply asserting that the British Government should “say what it is going to do.” “Pooh!” said the taxi driver, as if that finished it. But when we picked our way number by number along the somewhat irregular Dunstable Road, and I pointed out at last the AUEW building, the driver said, “Why didn’t you say the AUEW Hall? I’d have found it at once. Keep up the good work!”
I saw Chris Sullivan for a few minutes in the office. He had been at this fracas in Red Lion Square. Last Tuesday I had contrasting opinions of seeking a confrontation with the National Front on the one night. The Co-op representative said he thought the MCF was foolish in embarking on it. But then Ken Keable took in on himself to announce it at our meeting. I was in the camp of the dubious. Chris Sullivan said there were fierce ructions. I caught the 8.30 pm. train to Liverpool, passing through a heavy thunderstorm.
June 17 Monday: I succeeded in doing some work in the garden. The weather was damp and chilly, but everywhere there remain signs of drought. I have lost more seedlings this year than last. But the gooseberries are ready, the turnip thinnings and spinach beet – more than I can eat! In fact this year it is an “embarras de richesse” because of the extra ground I have cultivated. I saw in the “Manchester Guardian” that on Saturday a group of Trotskies attacked the police, and so produced the identical position reached in Derry. They are the worst mischief-makers on earth.
June 18 Tuesday: I got more gardening done. Again the weather is not attractive, so I did not go away but carried on. There is plenty to do.
June 19 Wednesday: I had a letter from Tony Coughlan saying his trip to Wales was quite an experience and promising to be in London for a day or two in July. Stella Bond telephoned. Betty Sinclair had been talking about an AUEW shop stewards’ meeting tomorrow night Jimmy Graham [Belfast trade unionist] was to have addressed it, but should anything supervene he was to phone Betty Sinclair, who would remain over. Receiving no message this morning Betty Sinclair got into an aeroplane and flew away. Then Graham sent his apologies to George Anthony [of the North London district of the Amalgamated Engineering Union]. He in turn rang and finally spoke to Stella Bond, who was in the office more or less by accident. She told him that I was in Liverpool, but she would ring me. I at once volunteered to go to London, as this was only hastening my departure by a day, and address the meeting.
June 20 Thursday (London): I spent the morning, which was bright and warm, in the garden. Then I caught the 2.4 pm. train to London. At 7.45 I went to the AUEW meeting, which was one of the most satisfactory in years. At the office afterwards I found Charlie Cunningham and Jane Tate. Charlie has to go to Stevenage every weekend because his father is suffering from senile dementia and has the intelligence, says the doctor, of a baby of two months. We are suffering blow on blow, for Una Milner has shingles, and she is out of action – this from continuous waiting on her arthritic and autocratic mother.
June 21 Friday: I was in the office all day. Madge Davison had rung asking for advice about the NICRA lobby, and at last I contacted Jock Stallard. He said there was a meeting of the Labour Party Northern Ireland group next Tuesday and they might be heard at it, or if not they would meet some of the members. I rang Madge Davison and advised her to wire Kevin McNamara[1934-2017, Labour MP for Kingston on Hull] and ask for this, and she seemed favourably inclined.
Then Chris Sullivan came in. He told me his brother had had an accident. At 1 am. on Thursday morning a uniformed policeman knocked at the door. “This is it!” gasped Pegeen [ie. his wife]convinced that it was a search. It was not. It was to tell Chris that his brother (who has a criminal record) had been climbing a drain spout and had fallen and broken his jaw. Whether he was drunk or burgling, he did not know.
The brother is a weak “inadequate” character, but Chris felt very sorry for him when he went to see him. He has written to another brother in Luton, who is a pillar of society with heaven knows how many good Catholic children.
June 22 Saturday: In the morning Madge Davison said she was coming on Tuesday. To my surprise and pleasure Brian Crowley stepped into the breach and brought in Hughie White and Jim Kelly to stand in for Charlie Cunningham. So that all the work was done. And Pat O’Donohue stood in for the sales in Hammersmith. R.Palme Dutt rang up to thank me for information for his Notes [ie. “Notes of the Month” in the “Labour Monthly” magazine which Dutt edited].
June 23 Sunday: I was in the office in the day, and out with Chris Sullivan in the evening. He says his brother has greatly improved.
June 24 Monday: After spending the morning in the office I went to the Philippa Fawcett College in Streatham, to address the students. Then in the evening I spoke to the Holborn CP and met Nicola Seyd of the “Labour Monthly”. Jane Tate was there and Elsie O’Dowling, who will be 79 on 17 November. She is quite remarkable, for though she is old she has a complexion that makes her look years younger.
June 25 Tuesday: After a day in the office on the paper I went to the Conway Hall meeting. Edwina Stewart had telephoned saying that she was attending the Northern Ireland group of MPs. It did not occur to her to thank me for making it possible. She is utterly boorish like her husband. When the meeting assembled there were about eighty people. A young man called Charles Clarke came instead of Steven Parry. He had telephoned earlier to say that Parry was ill. “That’s very surprising,” said I. “He can’t be a day older than 22.” “Ah – but you’d not be surprised if you knew how much he drinks and smokes.” Actually Clarke proved a far superior young man, and gave a speech Parry would have been incapable of. Only 85 people attended. We estimated 60 came from or through the Connolly Association. There were about 10 members of the National Front, if Amphlett-Micklewright is to be believed. They were indistinguishable from the ICOs [British and Irish Communist Organisation, the “two-nationist” group]. They were interrupting Edwina Stewart. “You’ll get a chance to ask questions afterwards,” said Lomas, a much younger and less experienced man than I had expected. “There’s no provision for them in the timetable,” said I. “Oh – we must let them have a go.” I insisted that questions be taken in Stallard’s time, for he had not turned up and sent an apology, and before I made the final speech. If I had not done this the meeting would have broken up in fisticuffs, but I was able to isolate them and restore the position.
After the meeting, which was thus disappointing, Edwina Stewart closeted herself in the public house at a table with Myant and Dromey. But when they had gone she deigned to come to us where she began to talk. I had made some noise over the “Declaration of Intent”and she told me it worried her. When we were going all out for the “Bill of Rights” Jimmy Stewart condemned it as “divisive”. Now that it is going to be extremely difficult to get it, they can think of nothing else.
June 26 Wednesday: I continued work on the paper. It becomes very difficult because of the degeneration of the postal service. In the evening I addressed the Central London Connolly Association.
June 27 Thursday (Liverpool): I came to Liverpool and looked in the garden. A blackbird could hardly waddle across the lawn. Yet it seemed chirpy enough. Then I saw the damage it had been inflicting on my strawberries and raspberries. I had thought the poor thing was ill, but now I turned the hosepipe on it and threw stones up the tree it flew into. Within half an hour it was swooping from tree to tree in fine fettle. And the female that joined it was as saucy a bird as ever was seen. I got some nets out of the garage and protected the strawberries. The raspberries are largely destroyed – the first year it ever happened. But I am told that blackbirds are the worst for fruit. Everything is very dry.
June 28 Friday: I continued to work in the garden without seeming to achieve very much.
June 29 Saturday: I did some shopping in the city – bought two pairs of jeans for £1.08 as a standby for the future and worked on reviews for R.Palme Dutt.
June 30 Sunday: I finished the paper and will take final copy with me. I ate more strawberries than I have for years, and stewed gooseberries. I still have two bushes untouched. I spoke to Cathal MacLiam on the telephone about the need to follow up the open letter to Wilson. Late at night Paul Oliver and Dave Cook rang up. Oliver wants me to help with a summary of the Bill of Rights for a leaflet. They will not study the thing themselves. Cook wanted me at the student committee. But I do not like being telephoned here and was not in a mood to put myself out. It is cheek derived from a sense of self- importance. Cook gave five days’ notice!
July 1 Monday (London): I went for the 9.20, the only train which will get me to Derby without an hour’s wait at Crewe. There was a crowd waiting on the platform. Whether it was due to the very high wind I do not know but, said an official, the power had failed at Edge Hill. As a result I missed the connection. Nevertheless, things went fairly well. I caught the 6 pm. to Leicester, where Hoffman and Jack Lalor awaited me. But no Foreman. He has proved thoroughly unreliable. Still, we decided to go ahead with the meeting on the 28th.
I had a talk with Lalor when Hoffman had gone. He married a Russian girl while in Russia this March but is still waiting for her to be let out. He has discontinued his journal he was so set on in Belfast when Robbie Rossiter and I were there with him. I hope he has kept it. He would like to go back farming in Ireland but has quarrelled with his father who may not leave him the farm.
The 9 pm. to St Pancras was an hour late, so I did not come into the office.
July 2 Tuesday: Last week, despairing of Arnison’s doing anything that was not aimed at furthering his own schemes or boosting his own ego, whichever it is, I wrote to Lenny Draper. Today there was a reply. He was fed up with the laziness of the Manchester branch, was taking a holiday from politics for a couple of months, and after a trip to West Cork (why there I do not know) he may come to London. I wrote to Vic Eddisford saying I now had Lenny Draper’s account of himself, and said I thought Arnison should have been in the Connolly Association. When I was in Manchester on June 15 Arnison was complaining about the number of meetings on Ireland he had to address. Lenny Draper was complaining he was not invited to speak from one year’s end to the next. The meetings were channelled away from him to Arnison. He was thus deprived of the opportunity of extending his contacts or building his organisation.
A letter came from Desmond Crowe saying that Lenny Draper had refused to call any meetings. It is clear that there is an element of arbitrariness in Draper’s character, a form of that individualism that is so common and goes with what Maire Comerford calls “Irish intellectual arrogance”, the origin of which she cannot account for. Lenny Draper’s letter assures us that he is only angry with Manchester [ie. with the Manchester CPGB] and that events elsewhere have not affected him.
Madge Davison rang. They are talking of sending six people to a “lobby” next Tuesday. They want English people to bring their MPs out and have them there for NICRA to talk to and have contacted the National Union of Students! A fat lot of use they will be when they’re all on holiday. I told them not to mix it, but to approach Merlyn Rees as a deputation. They wanted a press conference. “We would get publicity in the Morning Star“. Comment is superfluous. I thought I detected in her tone some irritation with those who told her what to do.
Cass Scorer [of the NCCL] rang up. She is a little ingenuous, I think. She asked what I thought of the meeting last Tuesday. I said I was disappointed at the attendance. Out of 85, 60 were there as a result of CA work; the students numbered about three; the NCCL three (of which, though I did not say this, Tichfield and a red-headed girl, possibly Cass Scorer though I never noticed the colour of her hair to be different from anybody else’s, chatterboxed through Edwina Stewart’s most harrowing stories), and one (Tom Durkin) from the CP – plus a dozen fascists there to interrupt. She was depressed at my opinion and said that the comments afterwards were that it was a very good meeting.
Myant did not think attendance and the whole thing worthy of his attention, but rang Ronksley and Edwina Stewart and put in something about the meeting [ie. in the “Morning Star”]. He did not say who was running it nor did he mention the lobby tomorrow. I’ll put that in the next day.” he told me. Did he, fiddlesticks!
July 3 Wednesday: I was in the office in the morning, mostly getting ready for the lobby. Michael Crowe arrived and Mark Clinton rang to say he had at last got a job but would not be down today. At the House of Commons quite a few turned up. McKeever saw Douglas Jay and they are on speaking terms again. Lena Jeger came out to talk with Jane Tate and Elsie O’Dowling and myself. Jock Stallard was very helpful. Barry Riordan came from Oxford, Corridan saw his titled man, Pat O’Donohue and Toni Curran saw Sid Bidwell, who promises to try to get us speaking to the “Tribune” group of MPs. Stallard expressed the view that the conference in Oxford is a Governmental front [ie. a conference of the British-Irish Association, which held regular meetings on the Irish question in Oxford for some years thereafter]. We noticed this Anglo-Irish thing appearing in the Universities a year ago. The White Paper promised for tomorrow will be ready for it – and this indeed has been prepared in great secrecy. The ingenuity of the English ruling class can only excite wonderment if not admiration. Kevin McNamara expressed the view that the statement issued by Tony Coughlan in the middle of the Belfast lock-out could not be worse timed [issued on behalf of the Irish Sovereignty Movement in Dublin] . But Stallard and Bidwell supported it. Weinman and Wellbeloved came out, Michael Crowe got two Tyneside MPs, and Paddy Bond got Bill Hamling [Elected MP for Woolwich West in the 1964 general election; had been an opponent of Greaves’s in student politics at Liverpool University in 1934-5; see Vol.2].Seeing me standing there, Hamling came across with Paddy Bond.
“I knew this man forty years ago.” says he. Then he told me he was private secretary to Harold Wilson. “If ever you’re in an emergency,” he said, “ring me up at the Prime Minister’s office. Don’t forget. I mean it.” So whatever the motive (and he had drink taken), that is no harm.
July 4 Thursday (Liverpool): I spent a while in the office. I had been asked by Stallard to read through the Young Offenders Bill and let him have some suggestions. This I did and then came to Liverpool on the two o’clock train. I found everything had been blown down by gales.
July 5 Friday: Early in the evening Tony Coughlan arrived with Micheál O Loingsigh on the way to the “Foreign Office Front” at Oxford [ie. the conference of the British-Irish Association to which both had been invited as representing the Irish Sovereignty Movement in Ireland]. They expressed fears that the CPI might be weakening on the question of National Independence since the Six County lockout. I got some hint of it from Sean Nolan early in May but did not think much of it. So the opportunity for a radical improvement over here was either illusory or passed as quickly as it had came. They told me that while Cathal Goulding and Tom Gill are sound enough, the “Official” Sinn Fein is riddled with “two nation” theorists who joined Sinn Fein when they pulled out of the Labour Party. Of Justin Keating, they say he is a disgrace, wears a constant hangdog expression, but will not defend his former principles, not from desire for money, for he has plenty, but from a desire to continue to be received in the “best” households. They said that the complete opportunism of Irish politics is such that nobody any longer makes any pretences, and that they feel uneasy in the company of people who are interested in an objective, as one would look askance at a companion who insisted on giving away money to everybody he met. They said that in their opinion the Dublin “Provisionals” have completely lost control over Belfast, and that the only way to find anybody they could talk to would be to let the leaders out of Long Kesh. Tony Coughlan had been surprised at the invitation to Oxford. I wonder if Fianna Fail engineered it.
July 6 Saturday: I did a certain amount about the house but seem to have achieved very little.
July 7 Sunday: I did a little on the Songbook, only to realise the hopeless mess Ted Shields has got it in. I think he “got stuck” and didn’t know how to go on. In the evening Micheál O Loingsigh rang on his way back to Dublin. Tony Coughlan has gone via Reading and Swansea to Cork. Micheál had said a few words about the EEC, but thinks Tony holds back more than he needs. He told me Kevin McCorry was there. This made me sorry we had not sought an invitation. I wonder how he got it. He must be regarded secretly as a “safe man,” or possibly in Tony Coughlan’s category.
July 8 Monday: I completed the review of the book on Unionism for the “Labour Monthly”. I am glad to have got back into it. It was Betty Sinclair’s fault that I was dropped from it [ie. from being invited to contribute articles on Irish issues]. She attended an editorial board meeting and complained of a lack of material on Ireland. They suggested an article by myself. “Oh – dear no! He’s far too identified with the Irish movement. You need somebody completely identified with the English.” Now of course they couldn’t find anybody and there were no articles. I did not attempt to force the pace. And now of course they are moaning that nothing is being done. Perhaps now the ice is broken it will be better.
July 9 Tuesday: I did again something in the house and garden and an hour or two on this wretched Songbook. For two pins I’d pick a quarrel with them and give it up in a scunder. But I am doing it for Alan Bush [ie. the well-known composer, who was a leading light in the Workers’ Music Association; Ted and Gwen Shields had done initial work on this book of Irish political songs, with musical notation. It was eventually published in 1980 as “The Easter Rising in Song and Ballad”, edited by CD Greaves].
July 10 Wednesday: Another day spent in the house and garden. I did a review for Gerry Curran on the John MacLean book.
July 11 Thursday: I seem to be slightly recovering from the chronic cold that is kept going by the shocking treacherous weather. The series of good summers is clearly over and we can expect the bad winter any year now.
July 12 Friday (London): I came to London in the afternoon. Jane Tate rang to say Betty Sinclair was there. Jane finds her a terrible handful. She has to be waited on hand and foot and sits there drinking whiskey like a queen and using Jane’s phone for interminable phone calls to Dublin and Belfast. Jane has pretended to having someone staying with her over the weekend to get two evenings in bed before 2 am! She is glad to have her but finds it a strain. I took Betty to dinner.
July 13 Saturday: I was in the office in the morning and in the afternoon the Standing Committee met and prepared a programme. Betty Sinclair is attending the CP Executive and has now decided to stay till Thursday. I think things are bad with NICRA and others. They are spending too much time here. This is the usual second stage of degeneration. In the olden days the third was a campaign for more forestry! But heaven knows what will happen when the crisis breaks this autumn or winter quite possibly.
I went to Hammersmith with Michael Keane and Wt.[original name not known], who has turned out very nervous, as I saw at the start, but increasingly helpful. Indeed he goes to great trouble driving us round in his car. He had heard I had to be up at 6 am. in the morning to go to Sudbury and volunteered to drive me to King’s Cross. But at Knightsbridge we ran into a savage traffic block which held us for half an hour. We then doubled back out of it and came through Belgravia. It was 12.30 before I could retire.
July 14 Sunday: I got up soon after six, went to the office and collected literature. I had been unable to prepare a talk and relied on doing so in the train. I got a taxi to Liverpool Street, congratulating myself on having three quarters of an hour before the train went and an hour and a half before it was going. But when I put my hand in my pocket I found I had neither pencil nor paper. I was to be met at Sudbury, which involved a change at Marks Tey. It must be 30 years since I travelled on this line, or very near it. It may be the time in January 1945 I travelled to Colchester to see Flann Campbell, who was editing the “Democrat”, in ice cold weather, the first time I ever saw snow on the ground with a west wind. As we were getting near to Colchester I collected my luggage and suddenly realised that the train had stopped not in open country but alongside a platform which was only on one side of the line. I looked through the window. No sign of any board. I poked my head out – Marks Tey. But before I could get out, away we went to Colchester and I had missed my connection. I went to the inspector. I was to be met at Sudbury. He rang the signal man at Marks Tey asking him to get the Sudbury signal man, the only one on duty, to find the man meeting me and ask him to come to Colchester. Twenty minutes later the message came through that he was on his way. He told me when I met him that the signalman had appeared panting from hurrying along the line on his bicycle. So we arrived not very late.
The school was held at Leslie Martin’s place. Vivien Morton was there, and also Elsie O’Dowling who was staying with friends at Clare. Wilson, who chaired the one-man meeting we held in Melton Mowbray in the early fifties, was there. He is now a lecturer in the Agricultural College. And a man was there who had attended the “second front” meeting I addressed along with the Mayor of Ilford around 1943. I had at first forgotten it. Then I remembered I had arrived late at it, and George Barnard was there. It was a great success.
Then in the afternoon the Belfast man Tom Foley was there with his son. He had attended my lecture on Connolly in Moran’s Hotel [in Dublin] in 1966. He is East Anglia organiser for TASS [Technical, Administrative and Advisory Section of the AUEW]. Wilson drove be back to Chelmsford, but not before we had invited two delegations, one from Chelmsford-Ipswich, the other from Norwich. The train was crowded with holiday makers from Clacton and places like that. I had to stand in the corridor, where I heard exclamations of disgust from outside one of the compartments. There were two people in it and they had so placed their feet that nobody else could open the door. “Two young fellows”, commented one. Later their vigilance must have relaxed as I saw a group of people enter, one a young man with a baby, his wife squeezing into the next compartment. But that was not all. The door was open and through it altercations began again. A decent-looking young man in his early twenties with spectacles and in a dark anorak was disputing with them. Suddenly I saw him lean forward and snatch what proved to be a lighted cigarette which he threw through the window. There were noises like animals at the zoo, snarls, growls and through them discernible imprecations as two brawny youngsters of about nineteen wearing only singlets and showing off their muscularity shouldered their way towards the older boy. To my surprise he acquitted himself very well, gave them some good kicks in the narrow corridor, ourselves keeping well away, so that the result was a drawn battle. Of course then the baby began to cry and the mother had to come for it and a youngster in my compartment who otherwise would undoubtedly have lit up, went into the corridor to smoke. To young people rules are to be obeyed. To the old they are to be conformed with.
I was very interested in the Suffolk villages. I think Norfolk and Suffolk are the only counties in England I have not cycled in. This prosperous county with its picturesque towns and handsome old churches would be worth a more leisurely visit.
July 15 Monday: I was in the office all day until evening, when Jane Tate and Betty Sinclair arrived. The Manchester people sent me a copy of their report. They reproduce the bowdlerised Bill of Rights which uses about 81 out of the 88 lines in the original, and for the other seven substitutes utter balderdash. I mentioned this to Betty Sinclair, who agreed that NICRA should be ashamed of annexing and bowdlerising other people’s work. I blamed Kevin McCorry, whom she said had “drafted” the rubbish. But she blamed the Stewarts, who wish it not to be known that the Connolly Association ever did anything.
In a further development from Manchester young Jimmy Nolan phoned to say that he was selling Lenny Draper’s papers and would send the cash. So there are bigger mysteries still in Manchester.
July 16 Tuesday: I was in the office in the day but in the evening went to Greenwich to a meeting Paddy Bond asked me to address which was organised by the Trades Council conjointly with the Labour Party. Only a few days ago I learned that there was another speaker, a representative of the “Belfast Young Socialists”. I was late, so hardly had I got on to the platform at London Bridge when the loudspeaker announced that my train was cancelled. To this moment I do not know the name of the young man who was speaking. But I at once detected that he was no friend of ours. Instead of the respectable Trade Union meeting I had anticipated, I saw a room full of youngsters. There was talk of the Labour Party Young Socialists. In sum the thing was a Trotsky confidence trick which Paddy Bond had fallen for. The speaker, whose name was not announced, attacked Andy Barr, NICRA, the CPI, the “Provisionals” and everybody else. Those who contributed to the discussion were mostly of the International Socialists. The chairman, who I judged to be one of them, allowed the anonymous one to speak last. He so far forgot common courtesy as to launch an attack on myself. I had expected this and had resolved to interrupt, which I did and greatly angered the chairman. One of the anonymous one’s gems was that the “Officials” had betrayed the working class because under Arthur Griffith they had opposed the Dublin Transport Strike of 1913. Paddy Bond said he did not consider that so much confusion could exist but noted that it all tended to justify Unionism.
Now who did I meet afterwards but Mrs Con O’Keefe, who used to be Mrs Kevin Halpin, and what else. With her was O’Keefe who published Sam Levenson’s book. He struck me as a shifty cynical young man. He asked if I had had a free copy of Levenson’s book. I told him that I had received a set of page proofs in a box, but no book, and had not been pleased. He assured me that Levenson had given express instructions that I must be sent a copy, and that he had made the necessary arrangements but could not be sure they were carried out. For my part I supposed there must have been an element of guilty conscience. I think he sent the page proofs to save expense. However, he promised to send a copy and we will see if he does. He is some relative of Con O’Keefe.
July 17 Wednesday (Liverpool): I was in the office in the morning when FH Amphlett-Micklewright came to discuss the re-drafting of Section 5 of the Bill of Rights in terms of positive law. Then I caught the 3.50 to Liverpool.
July 18 Thursday: I spent most of the day in the garden, which is gradually becoming a thing of economic value, with strawberries, blackcurrants, loganberries, raspberries available, and broad beans, spinach and turnip thinnings on the vegetable front. I transplanted tarragon from seed trays – the first time I got it established – and set some “cologne mint” given me by Leslie Morton and Vivien Morton [The latter was one of TA Jackson’s two daughters; the other, Stella, was partner of the poet Ewart Milne]. Incidentally, the Germans want to translate TA Jackson’s book, but want to start at the time of Cromwell. I suggested a preface, but I told Skelly to write to Vivien Morton to see what she says.
A few words over the phone with Gerry Curran indicated that my hopes have been dashed in another quarter. Apparently, Toni Curran went to see Fred Reilly, the local CP secretary. He said there had been a report back from Sunday’s EC [ie. Executive of the CPGB] to the effect that they disagreed with the Connolly Association, which was “raising the question of partition”. This was “divisive” and only the Bill of Rights should be referred to. Of course, as Toni Curran remarked, experience will soon disabuse them, for they’ll have the divisions here instead of Belfast. It is clear of course that the Unionists have got the bit between their teeth and that the Stewarts are in fundamental outlook as Unionist as ever – what Roy Johnston once described as an “Orange Communist”, though they would indignantly repudiate it. Riley has put somebody “in charge” of the subject. All this reminds me of 1947 and 1948.
It is of course a pity I did not go to Belfast. But then Charlie Cunningham was so reluctant to replace me in Luton. But perhaps I was given only two days’ notice in hopes that I would not be able to go.
July 19 Friday: I was speaking to Toni Curran. Gerry Curran did not have the story right. The “person in charge” is to be national not local, and I would guess the main candidates will be Myant and Arnison. Riley had attended a report back meeting for District Secretaries [ie. of the CPGB]. I told her not to fall into any traps, for I suspected there might be an aim hatched in the “Official” camp to seize our slogan of the Bill of Rights and place us in a position where we had to drop the struggle against Partition and be eaten up by the “Provisionals,” or alternatively be labelled “Provisional” and discredited. I said that above all she must do nothing “divisive.” The Standing Committee had discussed a re-draft of the Bill of Rights and we could do little about the constitution [ie. of Northern Ireland], now that the White Paper had put it on the long finger. At the same time I see many difficulties.
I treat all this seriously because Tony Coughlan and Micheál O Loingsigh told me that Michael O’Riordan had told them of fundamental reappraisals of their position and dropping the Anti-Partition position. I asked if the alliance with the “Officials” would survive it. They replied that people like Cathal Goulding and Tom Gill might not be pleased, but that all the Trotskies who had abandoned the Labour Party had flocked into Sinn Fein [ie. Official Sinn Fein/IRA, led by Tomas MacGiolla and Cathal Goulding]. So they thought it might well find favour there. But of course I have not the full facts.
July 20 Saturday: I seem to spend time to no effect at all, for here was another day footered away pottering!
July 21 Sunday: I went for a cycle ride in the morning to Heswall Hills. the new motorway has not caused as much ruin as I had expected it would.
July 22 Monday (London): I returned to London earlier than I had intended. Toni Curran told me that “differences with the CA” had not been mentioned at Riley’s District Political Committee on Sunday. And from Michael Crowe I learned that he had heard nothing of the new trends. I could of course just walk in to King Street and ask what is the position. I think that though Jack Woddis is back, he is doing very little and that may well be part of the trouble. I would prefer to have it broached obliquely. You can meet trouble halfway when it may never come the whole.
I started telephoning to try to find out the position and rang Sean Kenny in Birmingham. To my surprise he told me Mark Clinton is back in Ireland, and went without a word of warning. He seemed somewhat in the dumps and doubted the whole story of the dying father. He said that before he went back Mark admitted to being “on the binge for a week”, and thinks he is less stable than we thought. But I remember long ago he used to disappear for spells, much like Des Logan, and reappear when you were despairing of him. On the other hand, Seamus Nolan rang and said he would help to restore the Manchester branch and had sold half of Lenny Draper’s hundred papers and would pay next week. I arranged a meeting with them in Manchester on July 29th after my visit to Ripley. I spoke to Belle Lalor who said there was no sign of Lenny Draper. And in Oxford nothing has been done about the Summer School, for which I got Oliver Snoddy and Dalton Kelly [ie. as speakers].
July 23 Tuesday: I got on with the paper, and not much happened. Charlie Cunningham is away, but Jane Tate came in.
July 24 Wednesday: Still on the paper. But in the morning Micklewright came in and discussed the re-drafting of the Bill of Rights. The Manchester people have reprinted NICRA’s amateur nonsense. I asked Betty Sinclair who did the drafting and she said it was Kevin McCorry – but she insisted at the instance of Jimmy Stewart who is determined that the Connolly Association shall be denied credit for anything. The Stewarts pursue this vendetta with ruthless determination. The only motive I can think is this: a lingering touch of Orangeism allied to sublime conceit.
The Central London meeting was held in the evening. Neary has gone from the “King’s Head”, so we had to go to the “Queen’s Head” (or the other way round). I found Jim Kelly very amiable. He is trying to make amends for his ill temper of a few weeks ago and produced a double whiskey for me, as it were out of a hat.
July 25 Thursday: A letter came from Cathal asking me to meet the twins at Victoria on Saturday afternoon and conduct them to Euston. They have been staying with Nicoletta Comi in Leghorn and go to the Donegal Gaeltacht next Monday. In the evening I went to the West London branch. Our new pamphlet arrived, by Jack Bennett [“Fourteen Days of Fascist Terror”, on the collapse of the Sunningdale Executive in face of the Ulster Workers Council strike the previous May].
July 26 Friday: I learned that Alf Ward could not come to Leicester on Sunday because of the sickness of his wife. Sean Kenny said he would call a meeting on Friday week and would come to Leicester, but I have my doubts. Gerry Curran is in bed with lumbago. Lenny Draper maintains his Achilles-in-his-tent attitude. In the evening I was out with Jim Kelly in Hammersmith. Tony Coughlan is away to Normandy [on a holiday visiting French friends].
July 27 Saturday: I finished the paper in the morning and at 5.30 pm. arrived at Victoria. But the train did not arrive till after 6.30. We then went to Euston. Egon was talking about his travels, naturally enough. He must be sixteen now. Finula seems a deeper, more thoughtful character, but she likes “pop” music, so the thoughtfulness is possibly an appearance, perhaps a sense of discontent. I was out with Michael Keane who told me of the number of Irish people who had left West London as a result of demolitions.
July 28 Sunday (Leicester): I was to drive to Leicester with Pat Bond and Jane Tate. But Jane rang to say she was ill. So Pat Bond and I set off without her – she has “gastric ‘flu”, which is another name for a bad cold. We picked up Peter Mulligan at Northampton Station. He had given his ticket to Tom Mulcahy in order to allow him to our EC.
All the way to Northampton I was asking Pat Bond about the attitude of the CP and the Irish. It seems Gerry Cohen [A CPGB official] had drawn to his attention that the Connolly Association was saying that England should get out of Ireland, and the CP was not. This is odd as I have Gollan’s signature on the affirmation and remember the agreement at the Political Committee a year ago. There has in other words been a retreat. They are trying to reconstitute the Irish Committee. I wonder how. I told the Political Committee last year, “You will not be able to solve this problem without devoting more resources to it”, whereat they all sat very glum and said nothing. I asked Pat Bond, “If the Connolly Association was to take up the position that it did not raise the question of Partition, would it lose all its support among the Irish?” “Undoubtedly it would,” he said, which means that the CP will not win it. The trouble is that the English do not know enough about it, and Jimmy Stewart and Co. are not intelligent enough to find the formula that will allow them to stand where they must with their feet and do as they must with their hands. So nonsense follows nonsense, year after year. Jack Henry had told Pat Bond that Betty Sinclair was very disappointing. I think she pulls her punches before audiences of people she thinks important. But Jack Henry was full of praise for Tom Redmond. This looks like the old device of sending the pup. For he has no convictions of his own that he has thought out.
Pat Bond says that the Connolly Association is very widely respected among the Irish for its continuous work, but there is scarcely a handful that has any faith in its policy. And that policy demands faith in the English Labour movement, which they do not possess. Pat Bond was interested to know Tony Coughlan’s opinions. He said that every lunatic in Europe was at the “Officials” jamboree in Dublin, and that as far as he could see the “Officials” had abandoned the national struggle [The Goulding-led “Official” Republicans organised a two-week “Anti-Imperialist Festival” in Dublin and Belfast in August, attended by some 200 visitors from foreign nationalist and left-wing organisations]. I remember at the very start of the split saying that the “Provisionals” would be the IRA. If they had the sense to call a truce now they could sweep the political field as well. Pat Bond took the view that the Bill of Rights will not interest the Irish, but internment will. It was as a result of this advice from me, with very wide personal contact, that I advised the EC to make that the main issue.
This was the smallest EC ever. We had Pat Bond, Michael Crowe, Pat O’Donohue, Toni Curran, Peter Mulligan, John Hoffman from Leicester, and Mulcahy apart from myself. The absent were Charlie Cunningham, Lenny Draper, Alf Ward, Jane Tate, Gerry Curran and Sean Kenny, who (I was not surprised) did not turn up. But we held a very successful open-air meeting in the City Square, about 80 people attending, and a real basis for a Leicester branch reviving itself. John Hoffman is the moving spirit and I stayed with him. Like myself he is very concerned at the drift to fascism (and incidentally, so is Micklewright) and wonders at the complacency that exists. He says the CP people in the East Midlands regard the one important issue that of wages. I said I did not think it was “economism” in Lenin’s sense. The total frustration of all political action, the abolition of local Government, the monopoly control of all products, bureaucratisation of all action, destruction of all other avenues of initiative save pilfering and fiddling, leaves the worker the one avenue alone open; if his life is to be what it is, then he must be paid for it.
July 29 Monday (Liverpool): I left for Derby on the 10.40, John Hoffman and his wife bringing me to the station. I read the proofs, then went via Sheffield to Manchester where Belle Lalor, Nolan and the Crowes awaited me. Lenny Draper is still in the dumps. He has a rotten job on shift work. Nolan met him at the “Exile of Erin”, but he will not speak with him. It was clear to me that Lenny Draper did wonderful work on his own in response to London requests, but had not the art of leading others. And there was an erratic quality in the thing. The reason he could not get meeting rooms (they say) is that he had booked them so often only to cancel them that nobody would let him a room. Whatever about that, we decided on a branch meeting as soon as the holidays are over. I then came on to Liverpool, where it was drenching us with rain.
July 30 Tuesday: I could get nothing done in the garden. It poured rain all day and I felt a cold coming on. Possibly it is this same virus that attacked Jane Tate. I used to say I never caught influenza, but perhaps I do but take it rather lightly until some new powerful virus comes along.
July 31 Wednesday: I rang Stella Bond in the morning, and later Paddy Bond, who has a savage cold which keeps him at home. The weather is atrocious. For the third day running it has been pouring rain, so the tally of good summers is well told. And this time one could hardly say there was an outstanding one. The sheer weight of water has pulled tall plants over, but it is too heavy to go out and shake them up.
August 1 Thursday: At last it became possible to go out and I managed to tie some things up and tidy up. But nobody could accuse it of simulating the height of summer.
August 2 Friday (London): I decided to return to London early again, so many people are away. And though this will keep me in London more than half August it will have to be done, otherwise necessary work will be neglected. I arrived by the 4.04 train and in the evening was out in Hammersmith with Michael McDonnell. He was at Coleg Harlech when the school was to have been held at Aberystwyth. This was mysteriously called off and we found that a number of people had motored to Harlech to find nothing there. The excuse given was that TS had gone to London with German measles. But I suspected politics and blamed the “Official” Republicans. Then we saw TS (who has not been near us since as far as I can remember) clinging limply on the arm of a girl who was carrying the Trotskyite paper of the International Socialists. TS’s trouble was his total lack of any sense of humour. A pity too, for he is not without ability. But a sense of humour is as necessary to the mind as a supply of insulin is to the muscles. If it isn’t there, not only the seat of the affections but the rest of the organism is impaired. And you could see in him the physical changes that accompany Trotskyism.
August 3 Saturday: I was in the office all day. Brian Crowley told me that the local CP branch had received a circular inviting nominations to serve on an “Irish Committee”. They had asked him, but he had demurred – “Why should I be the tame Irishman?” This is typical! They dismiss the Connolly Association because the Irish Community are no consequence. They then ask members of that community to come out of it and do their work for them! The Bulgarian woman above has similar trouble. “They will do anything but come and ask ‘how can we help?'” It is a sectishness that is rooted in defensive arrogance, I think. They can never think of themselves as like anybody else and able to deal on equal terms.
August 4 Sunday: I came into the office in the morning and was busy till 8.30 when I met Chris Sullivan in Camden Town. He told me that Margot Parrish (who dropped out of politics after Biafra) is tied up with prisoners’ rehabilitation and will not be able to help us much in future. There has always been the philanthropist in her. Desmond Buckle used to laugh at her and Barbara Ruhemann for asking for the South Africans more than they wanted themselves – this was the time of the Seretse Kama business [Botswana’s first president married an Englishwoman, Ruth Williams, which caused much media and political fuss at the time]. It is a pity that officialdom can make better use of her abilities and generous enthusiasms than we can. I arranged with Sean Kenny to call a meeting in Birmingham on Friday and sent out the notices myself. Pat O’Donohue and his young sister, over for a wedding, came in. In the evening I went to Camden Town with Chris Sullivan [ie. selling the “Irish Democrat”].
August 5 Monday: In the evening Charlie Cunningham reappeared. His father, in extreme dotage, has at last been put in an old people’s home or asylum. He was wandering away, soiling himself, forgetting the names of his family, and destroying everybody around. Just as you can’t live decently in industrial society, so you can’t dote with dignity – though by all accounts old Mr Cunningham is very far gone and has a “mental age” of ten months. Second babyhood. Charlie spoke to George Guy on the phone. Colin Sweet’s people had a meeting on Sunday and there was a report of action taken to respond to Andy Barr’s appeal for a special TUC. There is talk of TASS calling a conference and bringing in the sheet metal workers. I was surprised at TASS as they were referring everything to their Northern Ireland people, even in defiance of conference resolutions. I add that I would not put it past Sweet to jump the gun and call a conference that would let the TUC sit back. But perhaps there is a glimmer of light.
August 6 Tuesday: I was in the office all day. I was told by Paddy Bond that a member of the South London branch who is in TASS told him that the EC have decided not to have the Belfast tail wagging the London dog anymore. If the Belfast people want to be members of the union they must follow conference decisions. This is of course excellent news and a splendid precedent, which can be applied to the reunification of Ireland in due course. It goes to show that in preparing to do anything at all the English Trade Unions have had to disregard Belfast negativism. This compensates for many annoyances and shows our past work is not entirely wasted. I hope however they get the TUC involved. I spoke to Andy Barr on the phone. He likes Jack Bennett’s pamphlet and suggests we send it to Trade Unions suggesting they order supplies.
August 7 Wednesday: To everybody’s surprise Tony Coughlan appeared after we had assumed he had gone direct to Dublin. He has been in Brittany, or just on border with Normandy, having a holiday at the holiday home of some French friends.
August 8 Thursday: I was in the office most of the day. Tony Coughlan came in during the afternoon. He was staying with Chris Sullivan, who recently showed his strength of mind by going off on a holiday on his own – in Bulgaria where Pegeen could have translated for him! She has put a good face on it, but I think she was not too pleased. It is time he put his foot down. He can’t have a drink after a meeting: “No, dear, you look tired. We must hurry home.”
August 9 Friday: I stayed in the office till midday, then went to Birmingham. I had an hour’s talk with Don Brayford. He has not much of an opinion of either Sean Kenny or Mark Clinton himself, and I am disposed to agree. When I learned from Sean Kenny that after getting his brief job before returning to Ireland Mark “went on the booze for a week,” I could not forebear thinking of the money he owes the CA and “Irish Democrat”, not to speak of his overdraft at the bank. He lacks application and continuity of purpose. And Kenny is as bad if not worse. I held a brief meeting with them in a pub – Sean Kenny, Malachy Kelly and the young lad Michael Ryan from Graiguenamanagh who was in the Connolly Youth. It was a holding operation. I stayed with Malachy, who has heard nothing from Mark Clinton.
August 10 Saturday (Liverpool): I had written to Lenny Draper on hearing from Belle Lalor on Wednesday that he was afraid he had TB and could not get an X-ray. She says he has lost weight. But there was no reply, and I did not therefore go to Manchester as I had hoped. I am wondering what is the matter there and I am wondering if there could not be just a touch of mental instability. He went to see Belle last Monday and she thinks it was to find out what the others were doing. Yet he will do nothing himself and is obviously anxious to avoid me. But he has not the guts to write a letter. I remember the nonsense about the Pakistanis following him and some absurd talk of being in a Moslem mosque in Cork city, and I wondered if he can always distinguish between fantasy and reality. Now if he wanted the X-ray we could have got him one in London. Clearly little dependence can be had here.
In the afternoon I attended the National Student Committee. They were all very sensible, but one (from Scotland) was anxious to find excuses for thinking that the Ulster Workers Council had progressive elements. He was obviously very Protestant himself and threw out quite defiantly that Jimmy Stewart had told him that before 1968 the CPNI was mainly Protestant – which it was. I thought there was a good solid consensus there, and possibilities of cooperation with the NUS. I came back to Liverpool on the evening train and found pouring rain.
August 11 Sunday: Little could be done on account of the poor weather. I looked into my financial circumstances and found them highly unsatisfactory.
August 12 Monday: I have started to develop a filthy cold. At all times of the year! So once again there was little done.
August 13 Tuesday: Again I did little but potter round the house, though I got into the garden for a few minutes.
August 14 Wednesday: I still have a vile cold. It must be the same virus as that which attacked Paddy Bond and Jane Tate – but managed to paint a door and the cupboards in the kitchen and do one or two odd jobs in the garden. The weather is un-enticing.
August 15 Thursday: Another gloomy cold miserable day. Yet suddenly without knowing why, I started on the O’Casey work with the whole approach to the thing quite clear in my mind. I suppose I have been chewing over it mentally for a year or two, and now the thing has sorted itself out – what they used to call “unconscious cerebration”. As soon as that had happened I no longer felt the disinclination to start the job. It was clear to me that the first thing is to historicize the first three volumes of the autobiography, identify the hard fact and circumstance, and establish the evolution. The early period is the vital one, and to look at O’Casey himself as if he began as a dramatist is to “post hoc ergo pre hoc”. Of course I have long realised that his Dublin plays released frustration at the defeated revolution, and that as Ireland then held nothing for him he had to leave it, or had no reason for not leaving it.
August 16 Friday (London): I returned to London to find a somewhat gushing letter from Sam Levenson, to whom I had written when I learned of the failure of O’Keefe to carry out the request to send me a copy of his book. He prophesied that O’Keefe would become one of the great publishers of England. As for that, “feicimid” [Irish for “We shall see”]. I thought him a somewhat supercilious young man who liked people to be looking at him and preferably listening as well. I was out with Charlie Cunningham.
August 17 Saturday: I was in the office during the day, mostly organising the summer school. For once there was a reasonably fine day and I was in Hammersmith with Gerry Curran in the evening. Royston Green [Cornish nationalist and leftwing activist] is coming to the school but then taking up a university post in East Germany. He does not think that TS has gone Trotsky.
August 18 Sunday: I was in the office most of the day. In the evening Charlie Cunningham and I went up to Camden Town. It has been lashing rain all day and I have a most virulent cold.
August 19 Monday: I was in the office in the morning and at lunchtime Phillips of ASTMS came to see me about a conference early in October. In the afternoon I went to Lawrence and Wishart to discuss the German translation of TA Jackson’s book. Vivien Morton was there. We decided that since the West Germans are publishing only half the book, we should insist on a change of title. Vivien suggested that Lawrence and Wishart might publish the full text of Jackson’s autobiography, which was rejected. According to Vivien, when TA Jackson took it in he was told by Pollitt, “Publish that as it stands and you are expelled from the party.” I thought it was in the days of Garman, who had declared it was “not edifying”. But she says it was Cornforth. I would not be surprised if there were some stories in bad taste about Pollitt and Gallacher. For he used to tell them in conversation. I went on with the paper in the evening.
August 20 Tuesday: I got on quite well with the paper despite this filthy cold which I can’t get rid of.
August 21 Wednesday: I finished most of the paper. In the evening there was a branch meeting which I addressed. But everybody is either away or going away – Paddy and Stella Bond, Toni Curran going tomorrow, Gerry Curran at the weekend, Jim Kelly and Pat O’Donohue, Michael Donovan and Alf Kearney. All kinds of things need to be planned, but I can’t get a committee meeting.
August 22 Thursday: I finished the paper in the morning. Young Hart of the MCF telephoned to say “Liberation” were contemplating a demonstration on internment in November, and he wanted to see me. I immediately traced the hand of Jack Woddis. But the substance was good enough. He came down and prevaricated: “This arose out of Fenner Brockway’s visit to Ireland.” He then explained the plan for a demonstration. “Did you discuss it with Jack Woddis?” “Yes – he likes it.” Then he showed it had all been worked out between them. He wanted to convene the committee of ten organisations. So I gave him the addresses. And he is first of all going to Belfast to see Edwina Stewart. He has never been before. But whether he has a notion of what he is doing I do not know. He then said there was going to be an anonymously organised counter-demonstration when the National Front marches under the slogan of “Support the Ulster Loyalists” on Saturday September 7th. Would the CA take part? I told him I was very dubious. I am not sure that counter-demonstration is the way out and what if the thing in November called by Liberation also leads to a counter-demonstration? He says that Liberation are not organising it. Now I gather that Woddis and he do not think the Connolly Association the most suitable Irish organisation despite its record – but is the MCF any better? I fear that many blunders will be made. And I will have to attend a lot of meetings to try to stop them. What is so damnable is that Woddis charges boldly in without ever thinking of consulting those who are working in the field all the time to find out what they envisage. I didn’t want “Paddy-bashing” to spread through the country, and a real confrontation in Manchester in November. But there you are. Perhaps the matter looks worse from the appalling bad manners of the young fellow. I immediately wrote to Woddis and told him what I had said. Better not have him as go-between. He may cherish ambitions for political grandeur.
August 23 Friday: I started work on the memorandum which the Gardiner Committee has requested of us but did not get very far [The Gardiner Committee was established by Labour Northern Ireland secretary Merlyn Rees,1974-76, to draft a report on the Emergency Powers Act. It reported in 1975, arguing that the continued use of special powers should be limited in duration and scope, with a long-term solution possibly requiring a Bill of Rights. It proposed the abolition of “special category” status for political prisoners in Northern Ireland, which had been introduced by Conservative Secretary of State William Whitelaw. This was duly done and led to the H-Blocks in the Maze Prison]. Still, I have it all clearly in my mind.
August 24 Saturday: I continued with the memorandum and have it practically finished. The question now is to get it duplicated in a highly professional way, so that we can send a copy for each member of the committee.
August 25 Sunday (Oxford): The Summer School began today, Oliver Snoddy (Padraig O Sodaigh) opening the first session. The Celtic League were there in force, and the young fellow Bonhan who is active in Princes Risborough, and Michael Crowe, Jane Tate, Charlie Cunningham, Pegeen O’Flaherty, Barry Riordan from Oxford, Considine also, several from South London, and also Alisoun Morton from Edinburgh. I was shocked when Alisoun came in. She seemed to have lost the self-confident deportment of a year or two ago and become diminished in personality. And no wonder: first the long illness, the wrong treatment, the operation in London, the attempted rape, the second wrong treatment by those Edinburgh fools, the more successful treatment by the osteopath, and finally the refusal of her professor to back her up in continuing Celtic Studies. There were as many present as we could get into the room. I placed Alisoun to stay with Joyce Tringam and DoC (Dalton Kelly wants now to be known as Daltún O Ceallaigh to go with his new beard), and dropped a hint to Joyce Tringham about the possibility of her spending a year at TCD, where I am sure her spirits will revive.
We held a social evening in the “Bull and Mouth”. Daltun O Ceallaigh was there but Oliver Snoddy had to leave early.
August 26 Monday: The remainder of the school was as successful. I had brought a six-pint kettle, Charlie Cunningham had borrowed an eight-pint teapot, and a south London member had brought a gas ring and a cylinder of gas. Pegeen O’Flaherty, Mrs de Swant, Jane Tate and myself brought sandwiches, and I got in a dozen cans of beer for those who wanted them. We used the room Akram vacated for the lunch. This being free created a general good feeling and saved time.
Later Jane Tate and I had an Indian meal with Daltún O Ceallaigh. Jane had duplicated the memorandum with which Daltún professed himself highly impressed. I sent a copy to Woddis and have a number of other copies for others. Then we repaired to the “Eastern Tavern”, Jane Tate leaving us to prepare for her holiday. I see, by the way, that Colin Sweet has gone in with the “set a date” crowd of the Troops Out Movement, so he has left the mainstream. I wonder if this was unavoidable.
Anyway, Freda Morton appeared to “collect” Alisoun, and spent the evening with us. There were Daltún O Ceallaigh, Freda Morton, Charlie Cunningham, Chris Sullivan, Michael Crowe and Jane Tate. I told Alisoun that if she spent a year with Terence McCaughey at TCD she could apply for a studentship at the Institute of Advanced Studies [in Dublin]. But I detected that slight superciliousness in relation to things Irish, which is the last thing the best English people lose. Freda said she had been immeasurably enlivened and was at her brightest for years. So that is all to the good. They told me that Alan Morton, the fine old English gentleman, insisting on learning ancient Greek to read Theophrastus in the original for his history of botany, had now gone off learning Italian for the same purpose or a similar one. But now his publisher informs him that a German is preparing a history also, and is asking him when he is to see the MS.
I thought it wise to try to jog Alisoun out of her mask of respectful gentility, when her mother said, “Well, if she takes your advice at least she’ll get her foot in the door.” “That’s not good enough,” said I turning to her, “you must get your arse in.”
August 27 Tuesday (Liverpool): I went into the office, packed and posted the memorandum, sent off one or two other letters, then went to Ripley, where all went smoothly enough. I then came on to Liverpool. There was a letter from Dorothy Greaves saying she was arriving tomorrow. But the Birkenhead buses are on strike. I rang Enid Greaves to find Dorothy’s address in Worcester. She was out. I rang Harley Greaves [a first cousin], whose slurred speech indicated that he had been taking something. He mentioned Grimley Post Office. But I left it till tomorrow.
August 28 Wednesday: I finally traced Dorothy Greaves’s friends in Worcester and learned she was not there. I had asked her to telephone, but she had written instead. I was therefore at a loss to know whether she was coming or not. But to my surprise she arrived at 9 pm. I was struck by the extent to which she had aged. Last time she was here I was surprised when Brian Stowell described her as an “old lady”. But she is one now – but of immense vivacity. She was disappointed in her second husband’s will. “I enjoyed his company,” said she, “but he wasn’t worth Harry’s finger.” Now he has left her the house for her lifetime, but she fears the son will claim dilapidations from her estate. It did not strike me at once that she might have considered refusing the bequest as compelling her to move to her detriment. For Brownlees’ son thus acquired part of her estate, unless of course he does not attempt it – but he is a solicitor, and his firm the executors.
August 29 Thursday: During the day Dorothy Greaves went to visit friends, and I seemed to be busy all day and achieved nothing. She must return tomorrow as she had booked her coach ticket under the mistaken impression that August 30th was Saturday. She told me that old Hope had built the extension on the house. Now he was only a plumber and decorator. I remember years ago when he came to repair a burst, how he bemoaned the fact that pipes were not placed on the outsides of houses where plumbers could get at them. He knew nothing of insulation and indignantly rebutted the aesthetic argument. “But it’s no detriment to have them on the outside.” He had, I believe, played some instrument in CEG’s orchestra [ie. his father’s], and it may have been he who spoke to AEG [ie. his mother] about the “tetchneek” of music and described one of CEG’s silences following a fortissimo as coming “as clear as the snap of a carrot”. He was something of an artist too and put an attractive design on an interior door. But foundations? What are they? He was a good type of self-made artisan. There would be no question of skimping a job – but the excess brickwork which shows this, illustrates his rule-of thumb methods. I am sure no plan was drawn up.
Dorothy said that the little plaster figure of the boy taking the thorn out of his foot was brought from home and given to AEG by herself. She did not get on with Mary Greaves [his paternal aunt]of course, and she said that AEG was a “heroine” to go to Southsea. True, she mellowed later but she had a long way to go. She confirmed what Phyllis [ie. his sister] had said, that Enid Greaves [another first cousin] took to drink while at school and drew Harley Greaves into it. But, said she, the mother had a brother who was a virtual dipsomaniac. Dorothy does not think Harley will keep his shop [He was a chemist and fond of the bottle]. And if he loses it, she says, he will abscond and take to the road. And she is convinced of it.
She said she was still in occasional correspondent with Marjory Wilson and knew Harold well enough when he was here [ie. the Labour Prime Minister, who was MP for Huyton, Liverpool]. She repeated the story of the “twopenny schoolmistress” that I heard next door [It is not known what this refers to]. She did not say very determinedly that she was present when the remark was made. There was, she said, a big element of the accidental in Wilson’s rise to power. She is very disgusted with both political parties. She will not vote. But she has a lively head and having mixed very widely among people concerned with public affairs, she knows what goes on. There is no doubt the visit has done her good, and she was so animated that I began to feel my years but blamed it on the slow recovery from that filthy cold. Another interesting thing, she expressed disappointment that she had not received a “New Year Honour” for her organising work during the war.
August 30 Friday: At last a day not too windy. After Dorothy Greaves had left I spent the morning burning the twigs from the felled birch tree and clearing the drive. I have the job half done. It is of interest to note Dorothy’s political opinions. Of the Irish question she says, “I’m afraid I’m on the side of Dublin. England has no right to the Six Counties.” She stands for Scottish autonomy and return of the Scone stone. Of Communism she says it should be introduced, “if it was for the good of the country.” But of political parties she says, “I won’t vote. They’re all the same.” But over the radio came a statement that CRA (Provisionals) [ie. Civil Rights Association] are to send up 20 candidates in England.
August 30 Friday: The bad weather swiftly returned. If I had not done the gardening yesterday I could not have done it at all. I am still not over the cold and accomplished very little.
September 1 Sunday: The weather continues as bad as it can be. I scarcely got out all day. If it is not raining it is threatening to rain!
September 2 Monday: What a filthy day again. Rain and high winds and my good artichokes blown over. Paddy Bond rang in the evening.
September 3 Tuesday: The weather was a little better. It puts me in mind of 1946 and 1931. I did a bit on the introduction to the German translation of TA Jackson’s book [ie. the history, “Ireland Her Own”]. I am making a card index of dates in “Dark Age” history.
September 4 Wednesday (London): I went to London on the afternoon train and attended the Central London branch meeting. Bob Doyle was speaking on his visit to Portugal. But the attendance was poor. Jim Kelly is back, but Jane Tate and others are away.
September 5 Thursday: I met Charlie Cunningham at Victoria and we went on the 9 am. train to Brighton [where the annual Trades Union Congress was meeting]. It was raining cats and dogs! Both Tony Donaghey and Leo Glendenning missed the train. We waited till Glendenning arrived – it was announced over the loudspeaker that a tree had been blown across the track. But Glendenning, who saw it, said it was only a branch, which the driver and guard sawed up and pitched off the track. We did not find Tony Donaghey [a member of the National Union of Railwaymen, later RMT] till later. Charlie showed me a circular from the British Peace Committee. They are holding a meeting next Tuesday to discuss a joint demonstration with the “Troops Out Movement.” This is to take place in October. This means of course that Woddis will need the “Declaration of Intent” – something I half expected when I, so to speak, refused to evacuate the territory. For they have got this wretched Crossman “Name a date” slogan in it. Most intriguing is the final paragraph to the effect that they are prepared to “break with the International Marxists”. Jack Askins was there. I mentioned it to him. He had not heard about it and grew very excited. He is a strong critic of Colin Sweet [ie. of the British Peace Committee] and evidently hopes to do him some mischief. He told me that in Manchester they were “still arsing around with that conference”. My guess is that Arnison never went to look for Lenny Draper and proceeded to ignore the decision on “Irish Democrat” sponsorship. Askins agreed with my view of Lenny Draper’s departure. He got no reply, so he got fed up. The problem is that Ben Ainley is an admirer of Sweet.
Moving around like a lost soul was heavily bearded Stephen Hart. He is either angry with me or just possesses the worst of English middle-class manners. It struck me that he was ignoring my presence but thought nothing of it since the room was crowded. But later I was talking to George Anthony [of the AUEW, North London district]. It seems they have retreated from their nonsense of having a confrontation with the “National Front,” and the AUEW are inviting people to attend a protest meeting in Hyde Park. Now possibly Hart may think I have pulled strings. That I don’t know. As I was speaking with Anthony, the young fellow came up and spoke to him, without apology for interrupting and again ignoring my presence. He must have his share of conceit. But it is surprising that he should think he might never be in need of my cooperation. Perhaps he is happy to have been handed the reins. But I told him nothing about the horses.
At lunch I had a long talk with Hughie D’Arcy, one of our very old supporters in Edinburgh. How superior the Scots are. There was a decent lad from Liverpool there, called Tony Law, another from Manchester, and Jack Henry [Building Workers trade union leader]. But D’Arcy remarked of them that they were admirable products of the English working class but they could not even conceive how the Scots should want their own Parliament! Jack Henry told me that he hoped to get speaking on the Irish paragraph of the Annual Report.
Later he did, and spoke well. But immediately afterwards we saw Kennedy go forward. Jack Jones [leader of the ATGWU] had forbidden any of his delegates to speak to this paragraph, and some of them were impatient. This was to permit Kennedy to wash all the salt out of Jack Henry’s proposals, which he did. But that did not prevent Bert Ramelson [Industrial organiser of the CPGB]from greeting me with cheery congratulations: “You’ve done well! Two speeches on Ireland!” “Hm,” said I, “I’d have done with the one if I couldn’t have two the same.” But he still professed extreme satisfaction.
Before we left we had a chat with Michael Rooney from Leeds, Lawrence Daly [National Union of Mineworkers leader] and a few others. Glendenning was very interested. I met a Dublin man called Smyth who was at the Liverpool meeting chaired by Angus MacPherson when we showed “the Dawn“[an early film made in Kerry about the Irish War of Independence, which the Connolly Association possessed an original copy of].
September 6 Friday: About mid-afternoon Michael Rooney came into the office. He joined the Association and paid two years’ subscription. He says he has Corscadden up there. He has left Clann na hEireann and I was most interested to learn how he got on. He invited me to Leeds. Then suddenly changing his mind, which was to start up the Connolly Association, he switched to Clann na hEireann. What influence was brought to bear? Whose but that of Joe O’Connor, the man I always considered an IRA agent in the CP. Michael Rooney also told me that after the split with the “Provisionals” Joe O’Connor organised a Trade Union Committee” of Clann na hEireann, which comprised himself, Rooney and a lad from Birmingham. I was not a little bit surprised [Clann na hEireann was the support group in Britain of the “Official” Republicans in Ireland, who were moving at this time to becoming “Sinn Fein The Workers Party” and then “The Workers Party”, which caused growing tensions with the CPI. From then on the Official Republicans sought to gain influence in the CPGB through Clann na hEireann and some elements in the CPGB, particularly in the London District, welcomed the accretion of new members from the latter].
September 7 Saturday: Some of our people went to Hyde Park. I had heard that some people had pulled out after learning that the International Marxist Group were to be present. This is what Stephen Hart told George Anthony on Thursday. They were there, and Clann na hEireann. It is interesting that the Connolly Association was not invited to speak. Of course that crazy secretary Kay Beauchamp [of the MCF] is mixed up in all this. It may on the other hand be just a matter of overlooking us. But it is hard to follow. The AUEW is very close to us and not to Clann na hEireann. Have Clann na hEireann penetrated “LIberation”? Again I doubt it. I was out with Chris Sullivan [ie. selling the “Irish Democrat”].
September 8 Sunday: We held the Standing Committee in the morning – only Chris Sullivan, Paddy Bond and myself. But it was fruitful enough. Paddy was visibly shocked when I reported Hart’s blunt demand for the names of those who attended the Ad-Hoc Committee. Of course his main concern will be to make himself important. They inclined to think it was English chauvinism – it being the most simple principle on earth that the English are always born managers. However, we made some plans.
I learned on the phone that Nolan had a “slipped disk” and had not been able to send a circular for next Wednesday’s meeting. I sent one myself. I was not too sorry as it means everybody is invited. I was out with Charlie Cunningham. This week we have done well.
September 9 Monday (Liverpool): I spent the morning in the office, and then came back to Liverpool on the afternoon train.
September 10 Tuesday: The weather was better but I did not get much done. I must need a holiday. I accepted to see Vic Eddisford at 2 pm. tomorrow.
September 11 Wednesday: I went to Manchester but when I reached 28 Hathersage Road I learned that Eddisford was not in. He had been taken ill yesterday, so would I have a talk with Phil Weddall? I would – but he wasn’t in. So I went to see Jimmy McGill [An old CA member] whose bookshop will be demolished in two months and he still has nowhere to go. Then I had lunch and returned to see Weddall at 4 pm. It seems that Lenny Draper took his scunder after a telephone row with Weddall in which the latter “hung up on him”. This was something to do with the demand for a meeting and resolutions. I got the impression that Lenny was suspicious that Crowe was working against him and refrained from calling meetings and did everything on his own. We had a useful discussion in which he told me that a girl he thinks is an IMG [International Marxist Group] has called a meeting next Tuesday to get contingents to Colin Sweet’s demonstration in October. He asked me to meet a man who is going as an observer, and I agreed.
Then I went to see Lena Daly – and what a story! Mrs Gillespie had been in the habit of popping in and out of 7 Victoria Grove borrowing things or just talking. One evening a police superintendent called. Mrs Gillespie’s house was being searched. Would Lena Daly go there? Michael protested. Lena was sick with pleurisy. But in the end she went, and I think Michael went – only to see a revolver tumble out of a press with a false bottom in it. But Mrs Gillespie persuaded her that it had been “planted”.
The woman is huge. She cracked a door panel with the skull of one policeman and knocked out one who was telephoning with a terrific blow behind the ear. Then she cracked the glass in the upstairs window and was overpowered, as they said, for fear she should commit suicide.
The two daughters are involved in the explosion case in Wellington. Lena Daly says they called to see her at 3 pm. and 5 pm. and have tried to base an alibi upon their having called at 6 pm. So Lena is immensely worried. Mrs Gillespie and the sons are in Ireland but the two girls are still here. Lena Daly is not very coherent, so it would be a mistake to try to recount the thing chronologically. Anne, she says is “very bitter”. “It would not take a thing out of her if she died for Ireland tomorrow.” She thinks them all very poor conspirators. Indeed it is the old story – desperate courage, uncontrollable emotions, and no political sense.
I met Weddall’s man at the “Lass o’ Gowrie”. I can’t understand why Lenny Draper claimed he could not get a room. He must have been avoiding meetings for some other reason. He was a man in his late thirties who had been in Arnison’s deputation. His head was stuffed with the idea of an “umbrella organisation” such as was started for Chile. So the anti-CA lobby has been at him too. I explained to him that there was not wide unanimity on this subject, and perhaps I half-convinced him. His name was Bert Cottam.
The meeting was surprisingly good. As well as young Nolan there was a Manchester Irish lad called Ray Hogan and another very young boy called Coats. Later the Crowes and Belle Lalor came, Jimmy McGill and the famous “Debbie”, whom Lenny Draper thought Nolan was sweet on and resented his presence. Later Jimmy McGill arrived. About ten in all. They say Clann na hEireann is not meeting and Belle Lalor says it is widely believed that the CA has collapsed. But this was the most encouraging I have seen. In the afternoon Lena Daly, who is now full of praise for Lenny Draper, says she thinks Crowe was working against him. I watched Crowe. There is undoubtedly something negative about him. I think there is mainly stupidity and a peasant’s suspiciousness. I would not be surprised if when Nolan took the lead he would not turn against him. But he promised to help Nolan with the papers. Fanning, the man I met in the London tube, was there and joined.
When I got back to 124 Mount Road there was a letter from Dorothy Greaves. She said that Enid Greaves is in hospital with cancer of the pancreas, is under heavy sedation, and that her death is only a matter of time. But she did not indicate what length of time. I am sorry about this.
September 12 Thursday: I wrote to Dorothy Greaves about Enid and said I was prepared to go and see her if it was of any use. The weather was not good enough for me to go away.
September 13 Friday: Another letter came from Dorothy saying that Harley Greaves does not know that Enid has cancer and that his wife Daphne says, “He must never know.” In the name of Heaven why not? I wonder if he finds out, will he thank them for keeping him in the dark?
September 14 Saturday (Machynlleth): I set off in the afternoon, taking the train to Machynlleth. The day was not a success. I mistook the time of the train from Rock Ferry and missed my connection at Chester. This entailed an hour’s delay, which I filled in by drinking gin. Then I got to Salop and spent two hours waiting there. Such are the rail connections these days. When I reached Machynlleth it was pitch dark. I began the journey to Corris as I was told in two hotels they were full – the guard had dissuaded me from proceeding to Aberystwyth. However, it was extremely dark and I decided not to chance a road I did not know. Finally I found lodgings at a house called “Brooklyn”. I then went for a drink.
The bar was full of Welsh speakers and one of them told me that Machynlleth is still a Welsh-speaking town. But sometimes when he addresses a youngster in Welsh he replies in English. Yet the schools are fully Welsh. I imagine that this arises from the meretricious glamour of the television screen. There was one middle-aged drunk, making squawking noises and performing contortions, but never spilling a drop. “Dychi’n cani?” asked my companion [Do you like dogs?]. “I don’t understand that. I’m an Englishman.” “Indeed then – there’s a German. Talk German with him!” He explained to me that “Tom’s all right.” His head had been affected when a motorcar knocked him down. He works on a farm four miles out of town, is normal all week, but comes into town every Saturday night, gets drunk, plays the fool, but has a taxi waiting for him when the public house is closed. He is of course a local man.
September 15 Sunday (Tregaron): It rained most of the day, but I cycled to Aberystwyth and then on to Tregaron. Soon after I was installed two young people from Cambridge arrived – a boy of about 20 or 21 in cycling shorts and beard, and a girl in “correct” tweeds with an accent so Cockney that at times I could not understand, since she spoke in a very quiet and “refained” voice. They were punctilious about their responsibilities in the hostel but were living in a travelling love nest which we hope endures.
September 16 Monday: It was fine today. I went into Tregaron town – where I was alarmed to see an English girl sewing in the main grocer’s, which has been taken over by a chain store. Otherwise the Welsh language seemed to be still on top. If only these chauvinists would learn the language of a country they presume to work in. Then in the afternoon I walked up the mountain. Four people came at nightfall, another travelling love-nest in a car. These simply slept, driving into Tregaron for supper and breakfast and did nothing to maintain the facilities they used. The others were more interesting. One was a man in his thirties, completely and totally bald. With him was a younger man about 27 from Oxford with the usual flowing locks. From his instant agreement with a disparaging remark I made on the subject of a “Sunday Express” that was lying there, I gathered their sympathies were on the left. The younger one knew Dominic Behan’s song about O’Hanlon, but not knowing Behan or the politics behind it, approved of it. I think I know who the other man is. Many years ago I gave a talk to the Communist students of Birmingham. Their leader was a totally bald man not dissimilar. But twenty years have surely passed – I think it may even have been in Pat O’Brien’s time – and “nos mutamur in temporibus” [We change with the times]. I did not ask.
September 17 Tuesday: Today was wet so I stayed on, though I had intended to move north. I was on my own at night.
September 18 Wednesday (Liverpool): I had intended to catch a train at Aberystwyth, get off at Artog and cycle to Cynwych. Again I got into trouble by missing the train. My watch was 10 minutes slow and I just missed it. Indeed I had time to catch it, if I had known. So I came straight back to Liverpool.
September 19 Thursday: More drizzly weather – the worst September that came for years. The garden is overgrown, but I can’t get on it.
September 20 Friday (London): A letter from Dorothy Greaves told me that Enid is brighter but there is no hope. Also she is worried about Harley, whose speech is slurred and who fell over in her presence. His wife says he had fallen over and knocked his head and was suffering from shock. Dorothy thinks he has been taking drugs for years and that his presence in the shop is “merely a blind”. She does all the work, including dispensing, which she should not do. She told me when she visited me that he will lose his shop and “go on the bum”. I could hardly believe it, but she says he is mad enough. But where will he get his drugs? I wrote to her suitably, also to Cathal. Alisoun Morton rang from Edinburgh to say that Terence McCaughey had sent a very nice letter and she was going to Dublin on Tuesday. She seems a new girl, full of good spirits, perhaps in the belief that her luck is turning at last. So I told her to go and stay with Cathal and Helga [ie. at the MacLiam household at 24 Belgrave Road, Rathmines, Dublin]. I then came to London.
September 21 Saturday: A letter from Tony Coughlan said Con Lehane had told him that there would shortly be about £1500 coming to me from the Maguire bequest for the purpose of maintaining the paper. I had come back ready for a big fight to keep it going, so this assurance was encouraging. Last night I was out with Jim Kelly, tonight with Chris Sullivan. Pegeen O’Flaherty has put Chris up to the idea of spending a year in “social studies” at a Polytechnic. I hope he does not, as though he is solid enough, the rubbish they teach would confuse anybody who put his neck in the halter by “learning” it. Jane Tate is just back from Dublin. The Workers Music Association are fussing about their songbook, but they can fuss. Stephen Hart has been busy, and Irene Brennan (a confused philosophy lecturer) rang Charlie Cunningham up saying she was getting the National Assembly of Women to hold a “vigil” in October. Hart is behind this. I suppose it is to “show” something is being done and quiet criticisms from Belfast. However, the manifesto (according to Chris Sullivan) contains a demand for a United Ireland, and that is very much to the good. And the election agent Dave Cook has sent for 30 copies of the CA statement on the Irish candidates that the “Morning Star” gave such a poor account of. I had sent Jack Woddis six and I imagine he passed one on. Possibly it was he who insisted on the United Ireland demand, for he knows more about the subject than the others. The Gardiner Committee sent us a very polite note saying they were holding a meeting to discuss our memorandum. I arranged that if I am away on holiday. Amphlett-Micklewright will attend if called upon. An order for 200 copies of Jack Bennett’s pamphlet came from the ITGWU in Dublin. So for once in a way some favourable things have happened.
I watch with some amusement the genesis of Hart’s committee. The National Assembly of Women never sent a single representative to the old one. They have not the resources. But now Irene Brennan who never went near them appears as their activist. The NCCL is in chaos. Micklewright tells me their staff may be cut to four, and Rock Tansey, linked to Clann na hEireann and the International Socialists, is dominating their legal side. But someone may pop up under this young man’s conductorship. Charlie Cunningham tells me that Colin Sweet’s organisation [ie. the British Peace Committee] also is in chaos, but still they won’t listen to what we tell them. As Chris Sullivan puts it, “Unfortunately political experience is not inherited. Everybody must learn from scratch.” But I fear it is incommunicable also. But I thought of a principle of the game of chess, “Set your rooks against your opponent’s Queen, no matter how many pieces in between,” and we will see if that works.
September 22 Sunday: We held a Standing Committee in the morning, but only Charlie Cunningham and Jane Tate could come. Nevertheless, we did useful business.
September 23 Monday: A telephone call from John Mulcahy of “Hibernia” [ie. the Dublin magazine of that name] as good as handed over management of the anti-internment campaign here to the Connolly Association.
September 24 Tuesday: I knew that Alisoun Morton was going to Dublin today, and telephoned Helga in the afternoon. She had arrived and was going to see Tony Coughlan and Terence McCaughey tomorrow. I worked on the paper.
September 25 Wednesday: The weather seems to have gone to hell altogether! I spoke at the Central London branch in the evening. Toni Curran came in.
September 26 Thursday: I spoke in West London. Jack Henry was there, and Victor Brown who went to Belfast when I took them to Liverpool. ASTMS had asked me to open a conference. I withdrew when I saw the circular, which was based on the prospect of recruiting in Ireland if they took a certain stand on politics. I did not want to be associated with this narrow, and I think chauvinistic, attitude. But I made an excuse and suggested Victor Brown. He says he will do it, though his satisfaction with his knowledge of the subject exceeds what is really warranted by the extent of it. Hughie White was there and drove Charlie Cunningham, Jack Henry and myself back to King’s Cross. About 30 turned up. I had a useful talk with Jack Henry, who promised to cooperate in the anti-internment campaign. Pat O’Donohue was there, and young Steve Botham, now a student and making efforts to grow a beard!
September 27 Friday: I rang Helga again. She told me that Alisoun Morton has decided on her course, is delighted with her reception in Dublin, which is so unlike Edinburgh, and is looking for a flat. Madge Davison rang saying that Kevin McCorry is leaving them to study law in TCD and asking me to autograph a copy of Mellows for him. They will present it to him. Sixty-one today [ie. his birthday]. But what is the alternative?
September 28 Saturday: Alan Morton came in last night and I told him about Alisoun and he is very pleased. Today I was in the office. A phone call came from Mark Clinton, whom I scarcely expected to hear from again. He is back in Birmingham staying with Malachy Kelly. His landlady put all his stuff out of the flat and failed to cash the rent cheque book his brother had sent. The father died a week ago. He is a little apologetic for not communicating. He says it dragged on from day to day. He spent much time sitting up at night. He is glad it is over.
I was out with Chris Sullivan and in the “Dublin Castle” a young man in his middle twenties said with some enthusiasm that he had just met Paul McDonald of Luton.
September 29 Sunday: There was a truncated Standing Committee – Pat Bond, Pat O’Donohue, Gerry Curran and myself – but we got plenty of business done. The paper is losing £60 a month.
September 30 Monday (Liverpool): Last night we went to Luton and Paul McDonald showed me letters he had written to the local press. He had not met my interlocutor of the “Dublin Castle”. Presumably he had seen the name in the newspapers. There were Paul McDonald, a wee girl, Mrs Moran, with whom he lives in what in former times used to be called “sin”, and an Englishman, and a very argumentative one, apart from myself and Charlie Cunningham. We sold 40 papers and Paul McDonald placed a monthly order for 50. It seems that Paul McDonald, whom I had thought a more reserved copy of Jim McDonald, is the more vigorous of the two brothers.
Today I went to Ripley. Reynolds was overwhelmed with election work. I had asked Seamus Nolan to meet me at Manchester with any others who cared to come. There was nobody there, but I did not delay and caught my connection. When I reached Liverpool this gloomiest of Septembers was concluding its performance with torrential rain.
October 1 Wednesday: The ground was too wet for any work in the garden, which is worse overgrown than I have ever seen it, and to keep it that way there were constant wintery showers. There was no news from Dorothy Greaves about Enid and the telephone is out of order. I sent a protesting letter about this.
October 2 Wednesday: A letter arrived from Alisoun Morton and she intends to settle in Dublin for a year. The weather today was so cold that it could have been December or March. I’ll swear it did not reach 50F – all the time it is about 10’ below average. People on the bus ask each other what sort of winter is coming. For my part I half expected a very cold one last year, as a kind of 34-year repeat of 1940. But the autumn of 1939 was intensely hot. Incidentally I date the ruin of the climate from that winter. It was of a different order from any other I ever experienced. Then over the past five years a pale imitation of the thirties seemed to appear, and I saw cloud formations I remembered then as frequent, but had not seen for years, particularly those associated with “warm sectors” which seem to have disappeared.
October 3 Thursday: It was milder – but what next? – a depression is reported heading for us from the northeast! It is as if a circulation several hundreds of miles north had descended on us. But it was dry and I got in a couple of hours cutting and burning the timber that still clutters the place.
October 4 Friday (London): I left on the 9.10 and reached Leeds at 11 am., where Michael Rooney was waiting for me. We discussed all aspects of possible work in Yorks and there seems to be a reasonable prospect. Then I came on to London and went to Hammersmith to meet Jim McDonald. We did not do badly, though Charlie Cunningham’s arrangements are not the best. He lacks imagination and power of decision and is too “nice”. But the last is a “good fault”.
October 5 Saturday: I was in the office all day. There was a letter from Betty Sinclair offering to tour the north after a conference in York on November 3. I wrote to Michael Rooney, Meehan and spoke to Michael Crowe. I might fit in Manchester or Liverpool. I was in Camden Town with Jane Tate.
October 6 Sunday: I was in the office all day. I learned that Glendenning had been out with Jim Kelly last night but that the latter gentleman had given full run to his personal unpleasantness and talked about making a mistake in coming out, and the need to get home early. Of course if Charlie had arranged for me to go in that car instead of to Camden Town, I could have kept him under a species of control. Jim Kelly’s tantrums are a by-word. I do not think he will ever develop, though he often makes a shrewd comment.
But come back all I said! Hardly had I written these words when Jim Kelly appeared in person in great form. It seems that he was in Kilburn and it was Jim McDonald who was with HW and Considine, who must have said Kelly while he thought he had said McDonald. It is more like Kelly to be rude and cantankerous than to chicken out of a commitment. It was pouring rain as usual, but whereas Considine met Charlie Cunningham in Paddington, Jim Kelly and I went to Hammersmith, to complete what was, all considered, not an unsatisfactory week before the election.
October 7 Monday: I spent the morning in the office. Michael Rooney telephoned. He is making arrangements for a meeting to be addressed by Betty Sinclair, who has volunteered to address a few meetings after attending an AUEW school at York on November 3rd. Then I went down to see Woddis. He looks well and though he is taking things more easily, is full of vigour. Since our discussion revealed an identity of opinion on all practical matters, and we spent the best part of two hours, ranging widely over many subjects, what I record are only wisps of human interest. I had sensed something curious when young Hart called. Now I learned what it was. Fenner Brockway had been to Ireland. There he found Catholics and Protestants simultaneously protesting against internment. “Pooh!” said I to Woddis, “They want to be out so that they can get at each other’s throats.” He laughed. For Brockway was anxious to call a meeting in London which would unite the two sides. Now I suspect that Woddis knew I would pooh-pooh the whole thing, and yet was afraid not to appear to try it. So we get his long silence followed by an invitation to talk over lectures, when the whole thing fell through. For Hart had gone to Belfast – where he probably heard from certain quarters what a dog was CDG [ie. Greaves himself] – and came back with nothing accomplished. But he is still going on with his demonstration. Woddis added that one of his notices was to have something to counterbalance the demonstration called by Colin Sweet, who has plunged into the Troops Out Movement with every Trotsky in London. “I warned you against Sweet,” says Woddis. “And you have proved right,” said I, “But you will recall that I never trusted him.” For he had no sense of humour. Finally, I criticised Hosey’s statement [Hosey was a CPGB election candidate]. I suspect Woddis had a hand in it, but I could not get that out of him. My complaint was that since it contained no reference to an “Irish dimension” he would win few Irish votes, especially as a Dublin man, though he had cast enough doubt on English policy to lose English ones. So he had abandoned a principle without even reaping the reward of opportunism. Now Jack Woddis was not to be drawn on this. He could not dispute what I said but suggested perhaps that Hosey’s speech (if it was a speech; he did not know) might have contained the points I was pressing. But my suspicion is that an understanding has been reached with Jimmy Stewart and that Woddis does not agree with it. It is a pity I could not have got to Belfast [ie. to influence the understanding referred to], thanks to Charlie Cunningham’s indecision.
In the evening Charlie and Considine came in – on their way to canvass for Arthur Latham [Arthur Latham,1930-2016, Labour MP for Paddington North]. I spoke to Latham’s agent. He did not seem very amiable, though I got him (through Tony Coughlan) a statement of support from six leading trade unionists. Of course part of my motive was to commit Latham to future support. Amphlett-Micklewright tells me that there is an intensely anti-Irish councillor named Cheeseworth or something in Paddington, and a young teacher, Cosgrave, who are gunning for the CA and anxious to frighten Latham off his pro-Irish stand.
Mark Clinton rang up and we arranged to meet in Birmingham on Thursday.
October 8 Tuesday: I was in the office. Soon after lunch Seamus Nolan rang up and in a very lugubrious voice announced that he was in personal difficulties and could no longer carry on with the papers or the CA. What had happened? “Oh, terrible things.” Lenny Draper used to say he used narcotics and had put a wee girl in the family way. But who is to know? But Nolan did communicate something that might help him to clear up the Lenny Draper mystery. He met a friend of his who said he was in France, and Nolan added Frank Rush was in France too. The friend of Lenny Draper told him that Lenny had sent me a letter resigning from the CA. But I did not receive any such thing. Nolan complained that, after attending two meetings, the two Crowes came no more. I would not be sorry to be disembarrassed of them.
October 9 Wednesday: I phoned Manchester but could not make contact with Weddall. I therefore decided to leave things be there a while. It may be that there will be a serious drop in the prestige of the British Peace Committee and Ben Ainley will get less of his own way. I am working on the November paper to allow Gerry Curran to finish a few pages for me [ie.while Greaves went on his usual October holiday break].
October 10 Thursday (Liverpool): I went to vote in the morning, then left for Birmingham, where Mark Clinton met me at the station. It seems that the Currans, who took their children to the conference, have badly upset the Kellys where they stayed. I imagine that Toni Curran, the East End jewess, has no notion of the degree of good manners possessed and demanded by Irish country people. And seemingly Toni was rude to Mark Clinton also. It is a different picture of the Currans and their children from that usually accepted. Toni complained to me that Cregan’s children had been frightening hers – but Mark tells me that the Currans are far older!
When I reached Liverpool there was nothing from Con Lehane, nothing from Alan Morton (who as he gets older gets more and more immersed in his own affairs and has twice promised me some references that he has not sent), but trouble in a letter from Dorothy Greaves. The letter is not too clear, but seemingly Enid is out of hospital, but has no hope, and Harley has gone in after having a cerebral haemorrhage. And my telephone is still out of order.
October 11 Friday: I got through to the phone manager in person and the line was working by 4 pm. At about 8 pm. I rang Dorothy Greaves. She described the pathetic state of Harley and Enid. He is sitting in a chair paralysed down one side and his mind frequently wanders. Suddenly he will say, ” I must get the leads and take those two dogs for a walk.” But he had no dogs. As for Enid she is apparently under sedation at home. “Is she lucid?” I said, as I thought I would write to her. “No!” said Dorothy. Harley talks about dogs and Enid about monkeys.” So there it is.
October 12 Saturday: I had as I thought a slight cold when I went to bed last night, but thought, “That will be gone in the morning.” I fully intended to go to Gobowen and cycle across to Dinas Mawddwy. When I awoke I had a headache and was coughing and sneezing. It was out of the question to go. I let safety go to the four winds, turned up the electric blanket and got up at midday, very annoyed and sorry for myself.
October 13 Sunday: I did not go out except to buy more whiskey.
October 14 Monday: Though this is not quite as virulent as the last cold I had, it is largely keeping me indoors.
October 15 Tuesday: Talk about a wasted week. I am just sitting by the fire, sipping whiskey and reading Prescott’s “Conquest of Mexico”. However, I am marking all the botanical references, and will send them on to Alan Morton for such use as he can make of them in his history.
October 16 Wednesday: If it were summer I would go away, but the weather (though not as cold as it was last week) is damp and objectionable. So I stay.
October 17 Thursday: Today was the first fine day since early July. I went to the city and called at Waterstones – I found a Father Sheehan novel I had not got, and two by Henry Kingsley.
October 18 Friday: The fine weather did not last, so I am still here. Indeed nobody would go away on a day like today.
October 19 Saturday: Still it goes on. It is too wet to do anything in the garden and very cold for the time of year. Everybody is talking about a shocking winter.
October 20 Thursday: Again I did nothing but cook meals, eat them, sit and read, though I think it will soon be dry and cold with an east wind, as the showers go on all the time. I felt nearly well enough to go away.
October 21 Monday: This was the first day of feeling back to normal – the thing I have been careful of is a cough – not of course because the plight of Harley Greaves and Enid makes me want to coddle, but because it is so late in the year. I lifted some potatoes, which were badly riddled by slugs as I expected, though I got a few pounds of good ones. The artichokes I lifted were however in very good condition. Perhaps the slugs are preferentially eating the cabbages which are near them. And I also got the last pound of runner beans.
October 22 Tuesday: I am still not completely recovered. Too many sniffles and snuffles. I went out, but each evening I rest by a big fire.
October 23 Wednesday: I went to Manchester and bought some books from Jimmy McGill. He at last has “the smell” of new premises for his business, which is as well both for him and the young boy, Paul, who has left school and is now working for him.
October 24 Thursday: I might have gone away, but some tax enquiries came. From Alan Morton I learned he had been in Dublin for three days and was most cordially received by Cathal and Helga, and Alisoun is duly installed.
October 25 Friday: I was still sniffling last night, but today things have improved further and I sawed up some wood.
October 26 Saturday: I decided to remain here. The weather is simply atrocious. The garden is very green, hideously overgrown, and you just can’t get on it and the botanical oddities. The second crop strawberries are still growing but wither instead of ripening. I consider that for the past three months the temperature has been 10’F below that of last year, which indeed was no furnace. The chrysanthemums have in many cases not lowered, and the sunflowers have not opened. Poppies, unable to shoot up tall, are lying in luscious green rosettes like hosannas. Raspberry cones have flowered on next years’ shoots but cannot ripen. But all my root crops are excellent. I have swedes, kohlrabi, artichokes and spinach-beet galore, and pulled some good beetroots I made borscht out of.
October 27 Sunday: I am taking things easily as there is plenty next week. With all the rain, what point is there in going away. I read novels [This was the time when he began a long course of reading of the major and minor Victorian novelists, marking their references to Ireland, with a view to writing on their attitudes to that country].
October 28 Monday: I had a word with Stella Bond on the phone. The arrangements for the Betty Sinclair tour seem to be satisfactory.
October 29 Tuesday: A letter came from Freda Morton. While in Dublin Alan called on David’s mother-in-law, whom she pronounces to be a “warm- hearted simple old thing with not two pennies to clink together”. The daughter, however, considers the entire Clan Morton a species of dogsbody. Apparently they were rapturously received and feted – Alan and Alisoun, that is.
October 30 Wednesday: From Manchester Weddall telephoned asking about a meeting there. But I told him I would go and see him next week. He had received a letter from Jack Woddis, which reflected a position that existed three weeks ago.
October 31 Thursday: I phoned Dorothy Greaves who told me that Harley Greaves is back at Southampton in a deep coma. He cannot last long. And as for his wife, she cannot be advised. The son Michael is some kind of shop manager, but with little in his head. And the daughter who inhabits a five- bedroom house is drawing “social security” benefit!
November 1 Friday: At last a mild day, but too late for me to go holidaying. And the ground is too wet for doing much in the garden. The cold still lingers. I spend each evening in the music room, with a lot of whiskey, playing the piano (over these last years of constant practice and the study of harmony and counterpoint beyond anything I did in my youth, this facility has vastly improved) and reading, with an occasional recourse to the radio if there is anything from the classical period.
November 2 Saturday: I spoke to Jim Kelly on the phone. He said things were going well. Robinson from New York was in London and gave the Central London branch a donation of £10. But there was no response for the conference. Later Charlie Cunningham rang. He said George Smith’s social raised £33. Mark Clinton had held a meeting in Birmingham which was well attended. Belle Lalor had rung about a meeting in Manchester but said she might come to Liverpool. I then spoke to Gideon Ben Toburn who is married to Pat Devine’s daughter, and we arranged things for Wednesday.
But then came the news. Dorothy Greaves phoned at about 4 pm. to say that Harley Greaves had died this morning. So one more of us has descended into the black hole. And Enid Greaves is “sinking”. How strange that they should be going so close in time, neither even knowing the other is ill! Dorothy promises to tell me tomorrow when the funeral will be. She thinks Wednesday. But I am disinclined to go. I only once met Harley Greaves’s wife at Harry Greaves’s funeral and do not remember what she looked like. If I met the children at all, I very much doubt. Although he and I were boyhood companions, indeed from the cradle since we were the same age, we had nothing in common once we reached adolescence. I therefore do not feel an inner need to put a stone on the cairn. And the only one I would be concerned about is Dorothy Greaves. But she is not a blood relation, and doubtless has her own circle in Bournemouth. Certainly she seldom saw Harley. If she felt terribly upset I would go, but I do not think she will be. Perhaps I will send a wreath and place an advertisement in the “Birkenhead News”.
At the same time Harley played a part in the chain of causality that brought Alisoun Morton to Trinity College! I saw quite a deal of his father Harry Greaves during the first world war when CEG [ie. his father] was in the army, which he joined because the Government decided that if they did not do so civil servants would lose their bonus. But they had great difficulty recovering it, and I believe the Government did not pay up till 1927. There had been some friends of William Greaves at Dyserth and I recall a holiday at at Prestytyn, whence we went to Dyserth and I was most impressed by the convolvulus flowers which surrounded the cottage of Mrs Ellis. Harry Greaves’s wife [ie. his first wife] was called Winifred. She was a lugubrious individual. I am not sure that this was not in 1916, for I have a vague recollection of several people being present, but definitely Harley. I was old enough to climb a hill to watch the train with two engines go by and hear Harley explain that it was the Irish Mail. I do not recall Phyllis at this time, or Enid Greaves. But Harley was there. He had been before and had described to me how you went on a train that went fast as far as Chester, then you caught one that went very fast, and then if you wanted to go to Dyserth you took the western train. But I cannot remember anything but the convolvulus (calyxized of course) and the Irish Mail. It may have been the next year we had the holiday at Rhyl, but possibly AEG [ie. his mother] was at Rhyl and Harley at Prestatyn. For I do remember Rhyl, and the large room, presumably in a hotel, where I amused the soldiers by commenting that they were eating worms (shrimps). And I also remember swiping a pea from a greengrocer’s stall and being told the policeman would surely get me if I went on like that. If it was 1916, I was not yet three. And I do not recall Harley Greaves at Rhyl.
Now Harley’s great hobby was catching butterflies and moths. While on holiday of course we were supplied with butterfly nets – butterflies flew all over the place every summer in those days; these days they only fly over my cabbages. The net we used would scarcely hold a butterfly. But Harley had a huge thing, in which you could ensnare very nearly a peacock! It must have had an opening a good 18″ in diameter. And I seem to recall this study during that holiday.
When I would go to Harley Greaves’s I would find him setting out his specimens and arranging them in glass cages for display. Now Harry Greaves became interested in the same subject. And indeed I think he may have surpassed Harley later. It must have been about 1927, round about the time when thirteen-year-old CDG decided that from then on he was going to run his own life and make his own decisions – I recall the date, it was December 1926, and I started a new diary to be devoted to scientific notes. Harley had entomology. I was to have botany, and thus I started pressing flowers, then graduated to gardening, and then to the research on Tropaeolum which led to my first scientific paper in 1931. Every year the Joint Learned Societies of Liverpool held a soirée. I cannot recall exactly how it happened. Was it from the school? There were competitions, and schoolchildren were invited to display their work. For the life of me I cannot recall how I went to the soirée. However, I think I joined the Liverpool Botanical Society from the invitation of Horace Green, its secretary, who was for ever prowling for neophytes. I became a junior member and used to attend the meeting in short pants – so the period must be around 1928, possibly the December. There was one other young person there, who gave highly philosophical talks. His father used to come on such occasions. Of course the two young people came together. That was how I first met Alan Morton, then a student, I imagine not more than 18, if I was 15. When it was decided that I was to go to Liverpool, I chose botany for my degree, but this was nothing towards my retaining the connection with Alan Morton, which was based, or came to be based, on politics. I think we joined the CP within weeks of each other. I was then 20.
In the meantime my ways had diverged from those of Harley. He was not judged able enough for the University. Perhaps one would say he was streaked with a touch of anarchism: catching butterflies, climbing for birds eggs, putting treacle on tree trunks to catch moths. But not books. I have a feeling that he too was linked with the Joint Learned Societies but this may not be so. Indeed I am inclined to prefer another connection. Just before I had decided that I could not rival him in entomology, and after a preliminary strike at meteorology, I had come across a schoolboy a year younger than myself who was also interested in insects. We became very friendly. He met Harley and thereafter had little time to spare for me, something I resented and at the same time could do nothing about. There was a certain defiance of the two of them in my adopting botany. But Arthur Hyatt Williams – he became a doctor and indeed was the man who visited Bristol Jail and heard a confession of murder which brought him into the news [see Vol.1]– had some connections with the curator of Liverpool City Museum, whose name I cannot recall. He was also an enthusiastic lepidopterist and the three of us then haunted Formby sand dunes looking for lepidoptera. In this period Harley began to show his anarchism. Phyllis [ie.his sister] used to say it was Enid Greaves’s fault. She went to what was regarded as a “classy” high school and one of the girls there introduced her to drink. Harley learned it from her, bought a motorcycle, neglected his studies and was finally packed off to Portsmouth to pursue them under Mary Greaves’s eagle eye. Harry Greaves’s first wife died around 1927. He bought a motorcar. Then he married Dorothy, who was of Scottish parentage, but she was only a few years older than Harley and could not control him. It was during his stay at 26 Bristol Road that the Brunning case occurred [concerning a motor accident]. How far Harley was implicated I never learned, but Enid hinted it strongly.
I was at 26 Bristol Road [ie. his aunt Mary Greaves’s home in Portsmouth] one day, on a visit from London, around 1939 I think, when Harley Greaves appeared with a silver cup which he said he had won by running a quarter of a mile quicker than anybody else. He announced it in an off-hand way. I did not congratulate him, not from ill-nature but because I could not believe that he could run that distance against others. To this day I am not sure one way or the other. Finally he passed his examinations and had a job in Chichester, ultimately buying a business in Bournemouth. Mary Greaves lent him the money, but he seldom visited her. According to Dorothy Greaves he did not want the responsibility of the shop and left it to his wife. The children were dragged up. Yet he was a most warm-hearted person and had Harry Greaves’s ability to mix with people. He was in Wexford and fell in with some IRA men, or so he believed them to be. They asked him if it was possible to get them guns (some of them would be mad enough to ask a stranger, odd though this may be, so I believed him). “Guns?” says my bold Harley, “Sure it’s possible. How many d’you want?” He had a mischievous sense of humour and could keep it up. At one time he thought of giving up the shop, so arranging it that he had a few pounds a week, and going on the tramp. “What?” said I to Dorothy Greaves, “Is this serious?” “I’m sure he’d do it. If anything happened to have him struck off, that’s what he’d do.” He took to drinking heavily in the day. And even as long ago as Mary Greaves’s funeral we noted his slurred speech. Perhaps there had already been a cerebral haemorrhage, though some attributed it to drugs. Of course Harley, Enid and I, were of two families, but the cousins were much closer than is usually the case. I saw steadily less of Harley after we were 15, and virtually nothing since 1939. He made a lot of money at one point and had several shops. But he neglected his business later. I always got on well with him. I don’t think we had a quarrel in our lives and I think of him as a colourful if slightly irresponsible character.
November 3 Sunday (Leeds): I did a few things about the house – no use in trying the garden, which is saturated though the weather is much milder. Then I caught the 6.10 to Leeds. Needless to say, it was late but I had left Michael Rooney a message to start and I was there by 8.45 – at the grand new club premises the Leeds Trades Council has opened. I would say about 20 people were present, and none of them fools. Several represented Trade Unions and promised to do something. I stayed overnight with Mr Corscadden (one time of Coventry, a lame “wild man” from Leitrim, a member of Clann na hEireann and I believe still in the CP) was there. He held me back as I was about to depart from the hall and, signalling to Rooney, said, “That’s a very dangerous man. He’s been in everything, and anywhere there’s any money to be got.” Strangely enough Michael Rooney guessed what was going on and good-humouredly remarked that he supposed Corscadden was running him down. It is surely 20 years since I saw Corscadden. Now Rooney repeated that Joe 0’Connor had arranged the Clann na hEireann Trade Union committee and that it included a man called Murray in Birmingham, and a “railwayman with a lame knee” who sounds like Tony Donaghey. I must ask him. Michael Rooney had had a visit from the “Special Branch” and commented on it ruefully. They found nothing.
November 4 Monday (Newcastle): Betty Sinclair and I went into town to see BHF, the Trades Council Secretary. We decided on a delegation and a conference and telephoned Dave Prescott to secure his cooperation, which he willingly gave. I must have first met him in Portsmouth, around 1935, when he was studying with the NCCL. He would scarcely be 18 then. We did not tackle Howard Hill. He is only interested in wage rates – none of your politics! BHF said that Michael Rooney was unstable and had left Clann na hEireann on account of the police raid and joined the Connolly Association to be in something. When some differences arose between the Trades Council and the Irish Clubs who hired the premises (the old premises) for a weekly dance, Rooney and his son Kevin (now aged 19 and studying at a seminary to be a priest) picketed the hall. But she speaks him fair.
In the afternoon we went to Newcastle where Michael Crowe met us at the station. After a meal we held a meeting at the Bridge House Hotel, which was well attended for this day. Again no nonsensical questions. Perhaps we have tired the Trotskies out. I stayed the night with Michael Crowe, and Betty Sinclair made some arrangement over the delegation.
November 5 Tuesday (Liverpool): We went to Leeds, thence to Bradford, where a young man in jeans and a jean jacket whom we took to be a student met us. But he turned out to be a Trade Union official of the Wool Sorters’ Union. He walked us up to the hill and through rabbit burrows till we got to the Sociology Building where there was a very good meeting, and again very sensible.
We returned to Leeds and then came to Liverpool. I had to jump into a taxi to get a key Brian Stowell had put through the door of 124 Mount Road. At Manchester two people we thought were together sat opposite us in the buffet car. One was a man of forty to fifty. He spoke very knowledgeably of museums and art galleries and recommended us to the Liverpool Transport Museum – a chance word of mine about the “Rocket” started him off. Betty Sinclair was of course for anything like this. The woman next to him had been in contention with a group of three girls who were, it seems, her daughters. She had sat apart from them.
“You’re pleasing yourself.”
“That’s what I am doing.” Plus a few more meaningless discourtesies.
She thought Betty Sinclair was an American. She told me she had been left a widow, to bring up eight children. She was a Catholic. “And if I had only four shillings I’d give two to the priest when he called on Friday. That’s to pay for the Cathedral, the finest in the world, but I’m not a good Catholic. I never send them to Mass. They went if they wanted to.”
The bar closed at Manchester, but by the time everybody had settled down Betty Sinclair produced a bottle of Jameson and gave some to our fellow passengers. When we got up at Lime Street the children were looking at their mother with a new respect, indeed almost with admiration. That she had been in conversation with these confident people who produced a bottle of whiskey like others produced a handkerchief. Now the man invited us for a drink, which I could not spare the time for. When I got back into the bar where I left Betty, they were still there, though he had “only a minute for a quick one”. He was listening to her on politics – and looked a somewhat crestfallen man. “D’you know who she is?” I asked as we left, wishing to restore his self-esteem, which Betty could have been too hard upon. “Oh – I thought it was somebody like that,” he said when I told him.
We had a better attendance than I expected – Brian Stowell, Barney Morgan, Pat Doherty, old surly Eugene O’Doherty, worse than ever, and some new faces. Silvester Hutton promised to serve on a committee if we could start one, so perhaps building can commence if we get a foundation.
November 6 Wednesday: We went to the Arts Reading Room where a student or a lecturer (he was young enough I suppose to be a student) met us. He said they had had great difficulty in getting a room. There was political prejudice. I met the young man, Ben Hakim, who is Pat Devine’s son-in-law. I had met him before but not noticed him much. Then of all people didn’t Norman Wilson come in. I did not know he was still alive. I doubt if I ever met him before. He was a friend of the Gaskell family and thus knew Phyllis [ie. his deceased sister]. Indeed I think that Phyllis’s left-wing tendencies were derived from that source. He is surely around the 75 mark but is still a part-time lecturer. He replied ruefully when I said I had heard of him “many, many years ago”. Again it was a great success, and one of those present was a wee girl called Collins, a Connolly Association member and daughter of one of Pat Bond’s members in South London.
Then we visited the Transport Museum, where an official was very helpful indeed. I mentioned the scandal of the Maritime Museum. He was very scornful of the authorities. “By the time it’s housed we’ll have forgotten Liverpool was ever a port – the way the docks are today!” A wee girl was there who was writing a history of Liverpool.
I had an opportunity for some general discussion with Betty Sinclair. Owing to the ferries strike she could not get on a plane at Liverpool and had to go to Manchester. I mentioned Arnison’s activities. She said that when he brought the 24 trade unionists to Belfast, he embarrassed NICRA by centring the whole thing on a “Provisional” Club up the Falls Road. What was more, though he knew of the burning of Long Kesh before it happened, he failed to warn Jimmy Stewart. He is a very curious man and I distrust him.
November 7 Thursday: I spent the day clearing up in readiness for a spell in London. I understand from Dorothy Greaves that some doubt has arisen as to the cause of Harley Greaves’s death and that there may be an inquest. They suspect a fall. The state of the economic life of this country is illustrated by the situation regarding salt. For weeks past Toni Curran has been telling me that salt is unobtainable in West London – even harder to get than sugar. Jane Tate says the same. During this time there was plenty of salt in the Co-op Store in Mount Road, and I could hardly conceive the possibility of a shortage of salt in the County of Chester! But over the last week it has disappeared. People in the shop spoke of fools who bought 20 lbs. at a time – probably people who drove in from Wales or Lancashire, or people who have settled here and do not know that in this commodity at least supplies were all but inexhaustible. But then I went into the greengrocers, where salt is not normally sold. The assistants were bagging it up in 2 lb. packages and bringing them out in armfuls. Apparently the salt is plentiful but the containers are not. The Co-op, which buys ready-packed salt, is therefore out of it, while the small retailers reap a harvest.
November 8 Friday (London): I took the afternoon train to London and found an alarming situation regarding the conference. The roof had leaked and destroyed some of our invitations. Those that had gone were subjected to delay through a strike at King’s Cross Post Office. And Charlie Cunningham had foolishly included other material with the circular. I started a campaign of telephoning. I was out with Jim Kelly and Jim McDonald in Hammersmith.
November 9 Saturday: Apart from the conference things seem improved. Toni Curran made £190 profit and sold £85 worth of literature at her conference on Thursday. There were good sales last weekend and a prospective tenant has turned up – a young man publishing a “Rock and Roll” magazine. I was in the office all day.
November 10 Sunday: I was in the office in the day, Leo Glendenning helping with some of the work. He has become more enthusiastic and we seem to have a useful member. Later Charlie Cunningham came in. I was with Glendenning in Camden Town in the evening. Who should be in the “Dublin Castle” but Padraig O Conchubhair, the Celtic League man. He had been in Dublin and met Alisoun Morton, who is going to all the right things.
November 11 Monday: I was in the office. I phoned Phil Weddall in Manchester and arranged to see him on Wednesday. I am embarked on a herculean effort to get the CA on its feet, begun before my holiday and resumed now. I also spoke about the conference to Tom Mitchell and Tony Donaghey, Eamon MacLaughlin and others. Liam Mulally came in for a while and helped with clerical work. He is a friend of O Conchubhair’s. Andy Barr has declined to speak at a big meeting in the winter on somewhat flimsy grounds. I spoke to Betty Sinclair about the possibility of getting Michael O’Riordan to persuade him. She thought it the best plan, though in Liverpool she had told me that there is antagonism to Michael O’Riordan in Dublin, centred on Carmody and Sam Nolan. They are still arguing over Czechoslovakia. She asked me to stimulate Newcastle, who are sending a delegation but refusing to allow Michael Crowe to handle it, Another thing Betty told me while we were travelling is that she is anxious to give up the secretaryship of the Belfast Trades Council in order to write a book about Civil Rights. Seemingly she has a voluminous diary.
November 12 Tuesday: I spent the morning in the office, but then went to a lunchtime meeting at Willesden Polytechnic. I was met by Graham Taylor, who had been advised to write to us by Hillel Woddis [ie. Jack Woddis], who incidentally did not belie my first impression of him that he has a neurotic aspect to his character, but who has proved a very enthusiastic worker none the less and extremely obliging. He is one of those extremely intelligent sensitive “melancholic” people like Gerry Curran. The meeting was very successful, and after it a few of the lecturers went into “The Case is Altered” for a drink. Peter Robson was in the audience – the man who came to the “Cockpit” and occupied the “bas fond” when he was demobilised in 1946 [ie. Greaves’s former flat in Northington Street, Holborn]. I met his son a year or so ago. Taylor told me that the son has something of Peter Robson’s naive romanticism. He decided some years ago, when he was I suppose about 18 years old, to become a “beatnik”. He took it seriously and decided to bum his way to India to sit at the feet of some prodigious “guru”. He was disappointed. The guru stole all his money and he arrived in Delhi penniless and with cholera. He lay down proposing to die in the street as there seemed nothing else to do, when he was recognised by an Englishman who knew him who took him to the British Embassy and got him into hospital to be injected with salt and water and cured – not only of cholera but of beatniks and gurus, after which he returned to London and went to the university like everybody else. Peter of course did not go so far. He threw up his career to be a “proletarian” in a power station. Then they threw him out and he returned to his studies and is now a lecturer at the Polytechnic.
I had another meeting, that called by George Smith of the Paddington TGWU. This also was a success – a packed room and sensible questions. I had a talk with Smith afterwards. He had been in the ETU affair [a ballot-rigging scandal involving CP members in the Electrical Trade Union in 1961]. He told me he did not believe that Haxell [General Secretary of the ETU and a CPGB member] knew about the ballot-rigging until it was too late and then decided not to expose it. The real villain of the piece was a character called Fraser, now deceased, who was a veritable gangster. They used all to meet at Finches [a well-known public house frequented by Irishmen] in Edgeware Road. And there, apparently, the votes were switched. They had two identical suitcases made or purchased and one was left down and the other picked up. Which papers found their way to Finches Smith did not know, but he remembers the case-full being there. Andy O’Neill [Dublin electrician and CPGB member, expelled from the Connolly Association in 1958 because his encouragement of its North London Branch leftist dissidents] was in the thick of it, and apparently would do anything Fraser asked. This links with Fred O’Shea’s remark to the Burkes that the Communist Party would not do anything to prevent himself and his cronies from wrecking the Connolly Association because this would involve destroying their position in the ETU. But to study this further one would need to recall the precise date and circumstances. It may mean that Fred O’Shea, a worthless two-faced rascal, had been given to understand that the ballot-rigging had CP blessing. George Salisbury was at the meeting, looking aged and unwell. A Clann na hEireann lad with a beard spoke of two mysterious meetings, one in the Conway Hall, the other at Hammersmith, which he suggested the CA knew about. I guess it arises from the flittings to and fro of Irene Brennan, who is of course an utter po-head.
When I reached the office there was a note from Toni Curran saying that her father who had gone to hospital for an operation for glaucoma had died suddenly. I rang her up and expressed condolences. She was naturally upset and shocked, but she is a tough woman psychologically and very sensible.
November 13 Wednesday (Liverpool): I took the early train to Manchester. Weddall came to meet me but missed me, and I took a taxi. He had brought in the young lad who is going to try and keep the Connolly Association going, and the wee girl “Debbie,” and we worked out some plans. I discussed Liverpool, where things are more hopeful than before, with Vic Eddisford. Gordon McLennan was there and was extremely affable. Then I went to see Frances Deane who had become secretary of the Trades Council. I told her I blamed the wreck of our organisation in Manchester on Arnison, who I understood is ill, and on silly old Ben Ainley who is over 70 and has lost all flexibility of mind, apart from being a schoolteacher to begin with. She said she had trouble with the lot of them but more particularly with the vociferous Stan Cole, who sends in meaningless resolutions to the Trades Council. I then went on to Liverpool.
Incidentally Vic Eddisford told me of Tom Redmond’s visit to the EC [ie. of the CPGB]. “It was a breath of fresh air,” said he. But I know Tomaisin’s fresh air. It is very often hot.
November 14 Thursday: I went to see Roger O’Hara [CPGB secretary in Liverpool] and told him of my discussion with Eddisford. He said he had been instructed to set up a committee to deal with the Irish question, but I told him I was engaged in that precise thing, and that no doubt his instructions could be interpreted with latitude. He thought this possible and we discussed personnel.
November 15 Friday: I went to see Len Walker of SLADE [unclear what these initials stand for],who used to be on the Belfast Trades Council and he agreed to sit on the committee. Then as I was passing the Queen’s Hotel Denis Anderson rushed out after me and brought me in to where half the docker shop-stewards on the Mersey were taking an afternoon off. Pat O’Doherty was there, and O’Rourke the seaman. Anderson agreed to serve on the committee, so there was another one got. They all went to a shebeen, where I left them after one drink. A lad called Kelly agreed to help. During the period we were talking some soldiers were brought in, no doubt off the Belfast boat. There were many protests to the man at the door. “We don’t want this place blown up!” said Pat O’Doherty.
November 16 Saturday (London): I came to London and attended a meeting of the Central London branch committee. In the evening I was out with Jim Cosgrave.
November 17 Sunday: There was a Standing Committee in the morning. Pat O’Donohue said the paper was losing £50 a month, so I sent out an appeal in the afternoon. Pat Bond reported an unpleasant experience in the town of Dartford, where he had “addressed” a public meeting of the local CP. He had about 14 people before him but had hardly opened his mouth when 24 to 30 members of the National Front came in and asked, in view of the fact that they were the “majority” in the room, if they would be given “equal time for a Loyalist speaker”. On being told No, they created a deafening clamour, and not a word Pat Bond said could be heard. They gathered round the platform. Then they announced, “We’re closing this meeting down,” and started removing the chairs and stacking them. The police were called, but before they arrived the fascists had said, “anybody who is not a supporter of the CP leave the room.” They added that they would prevent the CP from ever again holding a public meeting in Dartford and alleged that the CP had broken up one of their meetings. Pat Bond thought that maybe some ultra-left group had done it and the fascists were making it an excuse. But with the likes of Kay Beauchamp, Tony Gilbert and the like running round the place, anything could happen. Pat Bond felt sure there would be trouble at my meeting at Croydon tomorrow, so we alerted Robbie Rossiter, Pat Hensey and Patsy Byrne.
November 18 Monday: I spent the day in the office and told Sid French’s office about the change in Croydon [Sid French, leading figure in the Surrey CP District]. They informed the police and organised the maximum attendance. When I got there there was a full room and an audience composed of fine strapping young fellows who informed me that if the “National Front” boys came they would have a hot reception. The secretary, Ken Brennan, is an excellent young man. I could not place his accent until he pronounced a Welsh name correctly. I spoke to him in Welsh later and he responded, but his hometown must be in South Wales for I did not know the name – unless I misheard it. He has been taking classes on the Irish Question, and went to Derry to find things out for himself. A very promising young man. But the room was full of them. There is some excellent material among the young people and I was very pleased to see it. The fascists did not come. My guess is that if they intended to they gave up their purpose when, as probably happened, the police telephoned them. Patsy Byrne was there [A leading member of the CDU]. The Campaign for Democracy in Ulster has asked for the use of our room on Friday and he was glad to be of service to us, and John Kane, whom I knew in the olden days in Carshalton. He is getting very old and does not look after himself. His son is a Councillor (Labour) in Sutton.
November 19 Tuesday: I telephoned Gerry Cohen in the morning to make an enquiry. What a hopelessly rude curmudgeonly fellow he is. I mentioned a date for a meeting. “That shows you ‘ve not been reading your Morning Star.” This was because I had struck a date when they have a function. I think he would like me to consult him all the time about everything. They have started the “Irish Committee” and Irene Brennan is on it, indeed in charge of it. She is well-meaning but naive and does not know the history of people and things. She came in last night and asked for a credential for the conference to represent the London District Committee [ie. of the CPGB]. I was a little short with her as I knew she would make me miss the train. And this morning I checked that they had appointed her, as it seems they had had no invitation. I rang Jack Woddis to see if he had. He had only received it yesterday – I had sent them specially for fear the first had miscarried. He also was quite short. There were things he didn’t like. Essex hadn’t received a credential. This conference was obviously not going to be more than a “working party”. The self-esteem and arrogance of a man whose nonsense caused all the trouble. For he rang me at Liverpool asking for a supply of invitations. Stella Bond took him 20 to his office by hand, and Charlie Cunningham ticked him off the list of recipients. He sent to some districts but not others and left out the South-East plus London. This was how he was in last year’s conference. But they never ask, “How can we help?” However, I myself sent out all the credentials yesterday, the Essex included.
November 20 Wednesday: Liam Mulally has been giving a hand in the office for a few weeks. He returns to Austria in a week or two. He gave an interesting talk in the evening. Seemingly he comes from Mullingar, I would say from fairly well-to-do people who encouraged in his youth his strong talent for languages. He went into the Irish Army and was on reserve by the late nineteen thirties. He knew the Republican Congress people and bought all their papers but was not a member. And as how he spent most of his time as a guide (“courier” they call it now) on the continent. He was present at the border at the time of the Anschluss and saw the German troops move into Czechoslovakia. Indeed he took skis and made for Innsbruck as soon as he heard. He said the Austrians were stronger Nazis than the Germans, and he was in danger of rough handling for not giving the Nazi salute. He returned to Ireland when the war broke out. In November 1939 while all seemed quiet he heard of a post in neutral Hungary and sought permission from the army to accept it. This he received. He was in Hungary teaching in a school when France fell. After a while the Hungarians grew restive at his presence. He got in touch with the Irish Ambassador in Berlin and left for that city. He could not get back to Ireland from Hungary. (This I find surprising, for surely he could have gone to Greece and got to Spain or Portugal by sea). So he spent the war in Germany. He used to write home in Gaelic, an old professor of Celtic studies being appointed to censor his letters. He met Frank Ryan and Francis Stewart. He says Ryan was using the name of Edwards – but he is buried as Richards in English, as Ryan in Irish. He gave a melancholic picture of Nazi Germany as seen from the non-political angle. The Gestapo and the regular police were at loggerheads; they were both against the party, against other localities, and the army suspected all other chains of command. There were aristocrats who were openly pro-British and this was condoned – but not being pro-Russian. Yet today, he says, the Germans appreciate that they were used in a war against Russia but are amazed when they see the English ruling class toying with fascism. After the meeting, which By attended [It is not known whom this abbreviation refers to], people were wondering whether he was working for Irish intelligence!
November 21 Thursday: The applications for credentials are coming in better despite Woddis’s melancholy prognostications. Liberation [ie. the former Movement for Colonial Freedom]telephoned, and I rang the National Union of Students. There was a two-week postal strike in WC1 and so our letters out and theirs in were delayed.
November 22 Friday: I decided I must do something to break this cycle of colds and decided to try Vitamin C – I eat very little fruit. And also I stayed in bed till 10 am. In the office I met Brian Crowley. He said Mark Clinton had been on the line. “He’s very urgent and excited and no wonder.”
“No wonder about what?”
“You don’t know? Two pubs blown up and fourteen people killed “[In fact twenty-one people died as a result of this Provisional IRA bombing in Birmingham and over 150 were injured].
I had bought no paper and left my little radio (which Phyllis had in hospital) in the office. Then about midday Mark got through and told of the savage hysterical anti-Irish feeling and the activities of the National Front. I rang Pat Bond and told him I thought we must condemn this act of madness. It makes a solution further away than ever. I felt increasingly depressed as the incalculable possible consequences were borne in on me. At first I thought of going to Birmingham at once. Then I decided to go tomorrow and try to get a Trade Union delegate. To our surprise we did some sales in the evening, but the Irish are badly frightened.
November 23 Saturday: I went to Birmingham but did not go looking at the damage. I saw enough during the war. I found the Star Club closed and Frank Watters away, but I got in through the bookshop. Ramelson had a meeting there. I spoke to him and explained my business. “This will affect your conference,” he said. Finally, by the aid of Bill Goulding [a long-standing CA member] I secured an extra speaker, Ken Grant, who was persuaded that it was his duty to come to London tomorrow. I spent the afternoon with Mark Clinton and returned to join Jim Kelly in Hammersmith [ie. selling the “Irish Democrat”].
November 24 Sunday: The conference was an outstanding success, in many ways the best yet. Some failed to turn up, and the police popped in at the beginning and assured us that if there was any trouble they would see it was protected. But there was none. Jack Bennett and John Hostettler spoke. Ken Grant commented on the absence of the ultra-left. Young Stephen Hart dropped his cool suspicious mask, showed evident enthusiasm and asked how we kept the ultra-left out. I think that we have frozen them out by our absolutely uncompromising refusal to join with them in anything. It is a pity that others are not the same. But they go by slogans and general ideas rather than the practicalities of the political process. Thus Irene Brennan told me she was working with the Anti-Internment League because she “believed in the unity of the left”. But she had not asked who were “the left”. After the conference we had a little social gathering in the office.
November 25 Monday (Liverpool): Our conference was the main lead in the “Morning Star”, which is an achievement, though my call for a six months’ campaign was not reported, and Irene Brennan’s and Stan Cole’s speeches received most attention. Cole is busy with his “Northwest Conference”, gaily including Liverpool despite my arrangement there. I imagine he would not consult Vic Eddisford. He wanted to see me about speakers. But I will require something more definite. My guess is that there will be a strong attitude of cold feet.
I remained in London because Sean Redmond was coming and wanted to see me. He has come from the ILO [International Labour Office] in Geneva, which he finds a depressing Calvinistic city. He wanted to consult me about Mulcahy’s petition and asked whether presenting it at Westminster on December 10 would cut across anything we did [a petition against internment in the North organised by John Mulcahy, editor of the Dublin journal “Hibernia”]. It seems Mulcahy would like to close the campaign by that date but has not decided where the petition is to go. I advised them to take it to New York, and he was inclined to agree [presumably for presentation at the United Nations there]. All the funds could be raised there, even if with one meeting in Boston. It would bring embarrassing pressure on HMG [ie. Her Majesty’s Government] and would get publicity. And to bring an Irish deputation just now might be unwise and earn hostile comment from those always ready for it. He would speak to Tom Redmond, who seems very influential these days, and that would be done.
I asked him about the IRA and why they pursue this perverse policy. I wondered if they hoped for a descent into civil war, with possible English invasion of the Republic, and a call for the unity of all Irishmen against the enemy, or a UN intervention leading to a peace conference. He thought this possible but said there was a fundamental cleavage in the “Provisionals”. He thought Mallon [Kevin Mallon] on the left would favour a truce, but O’Connell [David O’Connell] on the right was all set for a long war of attrition. I have independent evidence for one side of this. Ann Hope, now at Ruskin, told me at the conference that she knew David O’Connell as a boy. He was a mild-mannered decent lad. “But I think after he was in prison he changed. He became fanatical.” Then Mary Holland was talking to Jack Henry after her (in my opinion irresponsible) Thames Television interview with him. She said his face was suffused with hatred. As she came away she for the first time in her life felt afraid. And Sean Redmond added that Mallon is always getting caught, while the other man seems to go where he pleases, almost as if some people thought a bomber a good insurance against a socialist. As for the “Officials”, they were at sixes and sevens too, and he thought Michael O’Riordan and the others were beginning to be disillusioned with them. And small wonder indeed, the daft way they go on!
I came onto Liverpool after Sean Redmond had left – incidentally he has matured in his more responsible job. He praised Tony Coughlan as an indefatigable worker, though he thought Dalton Kelly [ie. Daltún O Ceallaigh] had the sharpest mind. Now if ever I wanted to annoy Sean Redmond when he was in London (and he could be very trying) I would praise Tony Coughlan. It is clear that his trouble was not so much conceit as “inferiority complex” and I am glad he is getting over it.
When I reached 124 Mount Road, there was a letter from Dorothy Greaves. Enid Greaves is still alive, but they are all amazed that she lives so long. But it was the same with Phyllis [ie. his sister who died of a cancer also]. She is talking of another visit here. Though I was always one of her defenders, I would never have imagined that all the others would be gone or nearly gone, and Dorothy was making a habit of visiting me at 124 Mount Road. I thought that possibly Phyllis and I might join forces – but not till we were about eighty! How different things are from what you expect.
November 26 Tuesday: I went to Ripley. They could not give me a machine proof. I am very concerned about the future of the paper. Pat Bond tells me that two publicans told him that they had received phone calls from the National Front to the effect that if Irish papers were sold on the premises they would receive a petrol bomb. I was wondering how to weather the storm. There is said to be another £1500 coming from the Maguire bequest, but when? Con Lehane is still negotiating with the taxmen. We might bring up the Central Books sale and develop sales at churches and on sites. But I would need a group of generous guarantors. We are losing £50 a month this past while, as it is, largely through loss of the paper sales of Lenny Draper and Mark Clinton. Now the latter is not likely to be restored if petrol bombs are flying about Birmingham. I have been preparing for harder times anyway – have washed flannels I would normally have thrown away, mended or re-zipped jeans, anoraks and gansies, done some painting in the house myself, and made more careful financial checks.
November 27 Wednesday: I did some work about the house and also on the Songbook, with a view to going to Dublin tomorrow. But I told Tony Coughlan that I might not. I wondered whether I would need to go to London.
November 28 Thursday: I read some books for review, and did not in the end go to Dublin, though it was largely accident. I was nearly ready when it poured rain. I decided that I must go but will try to fit it in when the lobby is over, perhaps straight from that. I have been wracking my brains for something which would open a way to peace. If I could think of it I would go and see Brockway. He must remember the time when I warned him of what would happen if Labour supported direct rule. All this trouble arises from that madness. As for Enoch Powell, he may have to say like Carson, “What a fool I was. I was only a fool, and so was Ulster, a fool in the political game that was to put England under military dictatorship.”[Enoch Powell, 1912-1998, Conservative MP for Wolverhampton, whose endorsement of Labour in the February 1974 general election because of Edward Heath’s pro-EEC policy led to Labour being returned as a minority Government under Harold Wilson. Powell was expelled from the Tory Party for this and was elected as Ulster Unionist Party MP for South Down in the October 1974 general election, in which he also urged support for Labour on the EEC issue.] I do not believe the army are in any hurry to “defeat the IRA”. They are interested in the general drift to the right.
November 29 Friday: I did very little except think over the pass things have come to. If any proposal could be made that Mallon might support [ie. Kevin Mallon of the Provisional IRA]. Would that help?
November 30 Saturday: I spoke to Charlie Cunningham on the phone. He was not able to tell me anything about sales. Jane Tate and Jim Kelly are at the Labour Party conference with papers.
December 1 Saturday: It was a pleasant, very mild day. I cleared some weeds and sawed up some timber. There has been no frost and I picked spinach beet. The Tropaeolums are in flower and have not that draggled appearance they usually get in December. And for once the day was dry.
December 2 Monday: I did a little work on the Songbook, but I do not proceed very fast.
December 3 Tuesday (Birmingham): In the afternoon I went to Birmingham and met Frank Watters [the CPGB secretary]. While I was there Mark Clinton came in and I stayed the night at the Kellys.
December 4 Wednesday (London): I came to London, but rather later than I had expected. I noticed adverts in the “Morning Star” indicating a close link between the London District [ie. of the CPGB] and Clann na hEireannn. I wonder what they are at. The young student who spoke at the Conway Hall meeting came to the branch.
December 5 Thursday: I had a call from Jack Woddis saying that the Political Committee [ie. of the CPGB] was discussing “the campaign” on the 11th. I tried to persuade him to put it off till after Xmas, as I want to go to Ireland and not come back to London. Charlie Cunningham saw Les Burt of the London District at the “Morning Star” bazaar. He was very critical of the Connolly Association, saying that we “didn’t want to know” when Irene Brennan proposed something. He defended the link with Clann na hEireann saying they were seeking “broad left unity”. Playing with fire is what I would call it.
December 6 Friday (Birmingham): I was in the office. Mulcahy phoned from Dublin and we made some arrangements. I went to Birmingham. Quite a good meeting.
December 7 Saturday: I remained in Birmingham until about midday, then came to London. In Hammersmith the Clann na hEireann young man who had been at George Smith’s meeting was out with “Rosc Catha” [in English “Battle Cry”, the Clann na hEireann news-sheet] and giving out leaflets for this joint meeting with “the party”. I could smell humbug. Chris Sullivan told me that John Maher has been trying to stir up ill feeling between him and George Smith.
December 8 Sunday: We had a useful Standing Committee in the morning, with Charlie Cunningham, Pat Bond, Jane Tate and Pat O’Donohue. In the evening a young man called Tony O’Donnell came in to say Chris Sullivan had been telling him all about Clann na hEireann’s plot to destroy the Connolly Association. I wish he had not so over-dramatised the situation. At the same time Tony O’Donnell could see how serious things could be. The “Trade Unionists in support of Irish Workers”, a completely bogus organisation, is being helped to gain credence and the CP runs the risk of being linked with the IRA. Both Ken Graham and Steven Hart asked me, “How do you manage to keep the lunatic left out of your meetings?” I could have replied, “By avoiding their toils and not legitimising them.” Frank Watters in Birmingham told me there is a great deal of “Troops Out Now” in the Midlands, and he wants a school about it. I can imagine an effort will be made to create an All-In Vietnam type of organisation which will spend all its time quarrelling. I was out with Charlie Cunningham in the evening. I had a talk with Kilderry in Shepherd’s Bush and Green in Hammersmith [two publicans]. Both had had their business affected. Many of the Irish are afraid to buy the papers.
I asked Paddy Bond where in his opinion it would be best to complain of the London District Committee alliance with Clann na hEireann, about which we were not consulted in the slightest. He thought Cohen. What about Woddis, I asked. “They’ll take no notice. The trouble is there’s no discipline. They’ll allow anything as long as they get members.”
December 9 Monday: Our new tenants came in. One is a girl of about 21 – a nice wee lassie – called Jennifer. Then there is a young man in jeans covered with every species of patch and embroidery. And then there is an ordinary young man with a beard. They run a “pop music” magazine.
John Guilfoyle was in the office with Stella Bond. We were up to our eyes. “You’ve chosen a hard life,” said Guilfoyle. What about yourself? “Ah – I never had anything.” I never had a compliment except from an ordinary worker. The others are too busy thinking of and scheming for themselves.
I went to the Cuba reception and took Jane Tate. I had seen Colin Sweet’s letter in the “Morning Star” and told Gollan I would write them an article on the “Troops Out” slogan. This is how the conversation with the features editor went: “I have seen Sweet’s letter, and as I was the chairman of the conference referred to, I thought I would like to reply. But a letter would be too long. What about an article?”
“Hmm – yes – but the trouble is what would you say?”
“I think I could answer him effectively.”
“Hmm – yes – well if you think you can, I suggest you submit an article; but remember it has to be typed on one side of the paper and in double spacing.”
This must be the female who insulted Toni Curran so badly that she had to go to bed to get over the shock. And they wonder they don’t win friends! Of course the trouble is that there is nobody of ability.
Maurice Cornforth was there, and I told him that Betty Sinclair wanted to write a book, possibly about the history of the Civil Rights movement. Kay Beauchamp was there, and Alan Winnington whom I had the row with in 1943, also Andrew Rothstein, Jack Woddis bustling about, never relaxing.
We also had a meeting at the office of myself, Hostettler and Amphlett-Micklewright, at which we worked out proposals for protecting innocent people under the PTA [Prevention of Terrorism Act, which had been passed following the London and Birmingham IRA bombings]. Mulcahy rang and I arranged to meet him at 10 am.
December 10 Tuesday: I got into the office at 9.45 am. and found the Editor of “Hibernia” there already. He is a likeable cultivated person and he has enormously improved his magazine. We drafted and duplicated a ten-point argument against internment. Then we went by taxi to the House of Commons and found Fenner Brockway in Room 4. About fifteen pressmen arrived. The “Irish Post” boy was held by an official for taking a photograph.
“This gentleman has taken a photograph, m’lud.”
“Dear me. I’ll have to go and see Black Rod.”
“Well m’lud, I hope you’ll clear me.”
“Oh yes – and get a permit.”
“I could get into trouble this afternoon, m’lud.”
So m’lud [i.e Fenner Brockway] left the press conference while this little matter was adjusted. Paddy Devlin was there [A founder member of the SDLP and a member of the power-sharing Sunningdale Northern Ireland Executive]. Mulcahy opened up. But scarcely had he finished when Paddy Devlin launched into the explanation of a “package deal” he had brought with him. Of course it wasn’t what the press conference was about and he wasn’t asking the press to say anything about it. But there it was. There were a few questions and then at 1 pm. John McClelland, Paddy Devlin and I went over to Downing Street where Sergeant Gardner stood in person. He recognised me, shook hands, and told us that we would be received inside the door. This country is riddled with minute snobbishness. “It is a pleasure to make contact with moderate opinion,” the Sergeant remarked to me, “We live in queer times.” The young man, very public school, who met us was most amiable, bowing with almost every sentence. John Mulcahy had had three handsome scrolls made. At the last moment he decided to give Mr Wilson a photostat. “We’ll get as much publicity from this as we’d get for the real thing, and it will only go into the wastepaper basket.” The young man asked for the original, but John Mulcahy said he proposed to take it home and frame it.
Then we went to lunch, Alan Smith of “The Guardian” having attached himself. I took the opportunity to ask Paddy Devlin some questions. He had a further purpose in coming here, namely to see Roy Jenkins [ie. the Home Secretary, responsible for the Prevention of Terrorism Act and related measures]. My guess is that negotiations are being resumed over the Price sisters [ie. Marian and Dolours Price who had been given long prison sentences for involvement in IRA car-bombings in London and who sought to serve their sentences in Northern Ireland]. He told of his fury when, last time, it had been agreed that nothing was to be said to the press about the agreement that was reached. Fenner Brockway went ahead of them and they emerged into a press conference Brockway had called without consulting them. Ever the showman – but then Devlin stole Mulcahy’s publicity today. I asked what were his minimum demands on the “Irish dimension”. They had not prepared their position. I asked if Section 6 of the Bill of Rights would do, and he said it would.
He considered the Officials (“Stickies” he calls them) something of a fraud, and he has letters in which they say the opposite of what they say in public. He takes the “Irish Democrat” and agrees with it but considers himself the “left” of the party. He thinks that Jack Bennett can be “poisonous” and attacks the SDLP far too much [ie. in his weekly “Claud Gordon” column in the Northern Ireland edition of the “Sunday Press”]. He would be willing to speak for the Connolly Association. Of course the trouble today is that Andy Barr did not turn up, so that Devlin got the limelight. During lunch I met young Peter Nieswand. I said often you could tell Protestants from Catholics even in Dublin. He at once asked how I placed Smith [ie. the “Guardian” journalist].“Protestant,” I replied. He asked him. A third generation atheist, he replied. “Same thing,” said I – and I am quite sure it is a ‘Protestant atheist’ he is, too.”
I went into the lobby and saw Stallard for a moment. He suggested Norman Buchan [Labour MP for Renfrewshire] whom I knew years ago in Scotland, indeed went to a party at his house when I think Sean Redmond was there with me – about 1961. He was desperately concerned. “I never thought to be wavering over internment,” he said. He spoke of last night’s “Tribune” meeting and said there was a strong “Troops Out at once” grouping. Who were they? Joan Maynard, Maurice Colqhoun [left Labour MPs] and some others. He went into the house and sent out Stan Newens[Labour MP for Harlow], who still doesn’t look a day older than 30. Sid Bidwell’s [Labour MP for Southall] motion on internment had been lost. I suggested a compromise, which Norman Buchan said he was ready to put down as an early day motion. We drafted it and he showed it to Jock Stallard. But that gentleman appeared to be suddenly in retreat. “The feeling among the Irish is too sour,” he declared. Now afterwards I concluded that he was contriving some coup with Devlin and did not want Newens asking for something he might get lest Devlin lose what he might get. I had a long talk with Newens in the cafeteria. He reminded me that one of the great eighteenth century wars was brought to an end by the efforts of an obscure monk. Could we find a go-between who would negotiate with the “Provisional” IRA? I offered to go and see Pakenham [ie. Lord Pakenham] but wondered if Kilbracken [ie. Lord Kilbracken] might be more acceptable and more discreet. We left it as a suggestion. Newens is intensely concerned and offered to do what he can. In the meantime Thorne (Preston) [Stan Thorne, Labour MP for Preston South] had come out looking for me and wanting to join the Connolly Association.
In the lobby Paddy Bond was talking to Bill Hamling [Labour MP for Woolwich and a fellow student with Greaves at Liverpool University; see Vol.2]. “Is Desmond Greaves here?” I heard him say. “He’s beside you,” said Paddy Bond. Hamling whisked us way, not into the bar or cafeteria which would be too mean for him in his exalted position, but into the Members’ guest room. There he bought us Irish whisky and started “thinking aloud”. I mentioned our compromise proposals which he promised to put to Wilson, whose ear, as his PPS, he claims to have. “Were we happy about Merlyn Rees?” “We were not. “Can you think of a replacement?” I told him that Paddy Devlin had said that they would prefer responsibility to be returned to Jenkins rather than endure Rees any longer. If a Loyalist so much as barked, Rees had a fit of the shivers. “Push Orme up and Rees to the Lords?” Orme was not big enough. Hattersley? We said he was not suitable, and anyway would he take it? “When you’re offered a job here you take it,” he replied. “You’re in the big boys now.”(Hamling was a teacher.) It must be a senior privy councillor, said Hamling. Callaghan? “He did it before.” (At least he thinks he did, I thought to myself.) “Of course,” said Hamling, “a new man appointed before Xmas with these proposals in his hand might get a truce over Xmas.”
Something of Wilson’s character has rubbed off on him. “A fortnight’s a hell of a long time in politics,” he said. Callaghan also. He (says Newens) thinks Makarios tiresome because he asks what will be the state of Cyprus in fifty years, whereas Clerides [Glafkos Clerides, Cypriot politician and later President] works from week to week. I asked Hamling whether if we could get a very high-powered Trade Union delegation over, Wilson would see them. He thought that he would and asked me to get in touch with him if they were thinking about it. He thought the vote on the death penalty as safe as houses.
But Lena Jeger did not. She was like a jelly. Couldn’t think of acting against internment, the vote on hanging was tomorrow. When we pressed her she said, “Surely you do not want to keep hanging,” and would not listen when we said, “Do away with hanging first, get rid of internment next.” We then joined the others and went for a drink.
Mark Clinton had come from Birmingham. He told me that Frank Watters is having trouble with Clann na hEireann. Last Saturday they came to the Star Club late after selling papers and were abusive to Watters when he objected to admitting them after time. I learned there was a meeting of the Camden Borough Committee on Ireland tonight.
December 11 Wednesday: I went down to 16 King Street [CPGB Head Office] in the morning and had a word with Jack Woddis. He told me that he and Gollan were going to Dublin for talks with the CPI next Wednesday. He asked me whether I could attend the Political Committee on the day afterwards, and I agreed to modify my arrangements so as to make it possible. He told me that Irene Brennan was also worried about the London District’s flirtation with Clann na hEireann and had raised the matter with them and got no reaction. This was in part good news. I resolved to be present at those talks in Dublin and telephoned first Betty Sinclair and then Michael O’Riordan, who readily offered an invitation. There was no attendance at the branch meeting and we went for a drink – Jane Tate, Jim Kelly, Elsie O’Dowling, Charlie Cunningham and myself. Jane Tate told us that Camden Borough is talking of a joint meeting with Clann na hEireann and that Irene Brennan’s committee is gradually being assembled.
“Oh – that’s that horrible man Durkin,” said Elsie O’Dowling [ie. Tom Durkin, Irish member of the CPGB]. “He always refuses to buy the ‘Democrat’ on demonstrations. I hate him.”
She is a good hater for 79 – as vigorous in her speech and as capable of charm as a girl in her twenties. Yesterday she told me with a smile, as if it was the greatest joke on earth, that I had gone to resemble her father. Tonight she brought her father’s photograph.
“I don’t see the slightest resemblance,” said I.
“You wouldn’t of course, but I can.”
She showed the photograph round. When she had gone – she left early – the others told me that she added, “But he’s much handsomer than Desmond.” I was very amused. My guess is that she found the photograph and wanted an excuse to show it round. When we praised her “panache” Jane Tate was glum. Having competed for the same man – to whom Elsie was married but did not want – the two do not get on. Elsie never showed the slightest sign of noticing Sean Dowling’s affair with Jane Tate but has treated the other woman with aristocratic disdain from that day to this.
While at King Street I saw Frank Watters, who told me the details of Clann na hEireann’s little escapade in Birmingham. It seems Collins, when the others were not allowed after time [ie. in the “Star” Club] accused Watters of racialism and declared, “This is a bum club – we’ll know what to do with it.” The threat was idle, but the attitude revealing.
December 12 Thursday (Liverpool): I was in the office in the morning but came to Liverpool as soon as I could. There has still been no frost at all, and the Tropaeolums are in full green and flowering normally, though the flowers are inclined to be few and small. But everywhere is so wet that it is almost impossible to do anything.
December 13 Friday: I spent the day clearing up, washed some more flannels and worked on the review of Cardew’s book [It is not known what this was].
December 14 Saturday (Dublin): I left Rock Ferry at 8.8 pm. and went to Holyhead. All passengers were asked their business. I think my man was a customs official, as he was searching and suspicious. I had dressed in good tweeds, with a white shirt and black tie, so looking so eminently respectable I easily passed muster and got on the boat.
December 15 Sunday: I went up to Cathal’s [ie. Cathal and Helga MacLiam’s house at 24 Belgrave Road, Rathmines] and found quite a day of events laid out for me. Tony Coughlan arrived. After lunch he and I and Cathal walked to Sandymount. In the evening we went to a concert at TCD and a reception given by the Goethe Institute. They came back to 24 Belgrave Road, where Micheál O Loingsigh, Dalton Kelly (he calls himself Daltún O’Ceallaigh now) and others came. Alisoun Morton was at the concert, and she seems delighted with everything in Dublin and would like to stay on. I stayed the night with Tony Coughlan. I also visited the “Irish Socialist” Christmas bazaar.
December 16 Monday: I went up to Waltons but could not trace this “Selection” which has been drawn up by Shields. In the afternoon I saw Sean Nolan at the shop. He is complaining about his health. Fits of dizziness and headaches affect him – the side effects of drugs taken to reduce blood pressure. I wonder how far this treatment is sound. I asked him about the Maguire legacy, which is rapidly losing value as inflation increases. He told me that he understood that the difficulty was Irish income tax. They did not know how long he had lived in Ireland on his American pension. Sean Nolan had been to a tax court and testified that that information was not available, but the court had judged it tolerable to wait while they found out. I asked if there were no records in the USA. “We don’t know where he lived,” said Nolan. What about the pensions office? That might help – he would see Con Lehane. I spent the evening at Cathal’s and Alisoun Morton came in.
December 17 Tuesday: I telephoned Michael O’ Riordan who has had influenza and is staying in bed so as to be well for the important meeting tomorrow. I saw Mairin Johnston who suggested I should go to the music library in Kevin Street. But though they were very helpful they did not have Shields’s wretched songs. I did buy one or two at Walton’s later. I spent the evening once more at Cathal’s.
December 18 Wednesday: I arrived at Noel Harris’s office where the meeting was to be held at the time appointed. Only he himself was there. At about 11.25 Madge Davison and Jimmy Stewart appeared, the latter more amiable that hitherto. Later Michael O’Riordan, and Sean Nolan brought in Jack Woddis and John Gollan from the airport. Jimmy Stewart had prepared a document on the train, so it had to be duplicated. We got started at about noon. When Jimmy Stewart read the document I could hardly believe my ears. It called for a “Declaration of Intent” by England to get out of Ireland, and hand over to the Irish people.
“We won’t sign that,” declared Gollan firmly.
“Why not?” they asked.
“We’ve never decided on it. Our Executive has never discussed it at any time.”
“You’re not saying it’s wrong then,” said I, “You’re merely saying you’re not empowered to sign it.”
“I think it’s wrong,” he replied. “You don’t see the trap. They’ll give it you. They’ll say the people of the Six Counties are Irish and hand over to the Unionists.”
Now all last night and the night before I had been telling Cathal, Tony Coughlan, Micheál O Loingsigh, and Daltún O Ceallaigh that the two parties were agreed on rejecting the Declaration of Intent and suggesting that Section Six of the Bill of Rights should become part of the constitution of the Six Counties. This provides that the Six-County Government may merge services with the 26-Counties. I therefore tried this out now. But Gollan wouldn’t hear of it. “We couldn’t make any kind of stipulation for a Six- County Government. We don’t believe there should be any such thing.”
Noel Harris tried to argue. But with all the other Irish representatives he was nonplussed. “Well,” declared Michael O’Riordan, “if you won’t have it in a joint statement, we’ll have it in our Congress statement.”
“That’s your right,” said Gollan as cool as a cucumber. There was no heat. It might have been deciding the order of play in a sports event.
“I take it,” I said to Jimmy Stewart, “that you want this to win people away from the Provisionals. After all you can’t attack them so furiously in paragraph one without seconding their slogan in paragraph whatever this is.”
He nodded. I had been trying to soften the attack on the Republicans, at least to recognise that they do not intend the evil consequences of their policy, and both Gollan and Woddis helped in this. So poor Jimmy Stewart lost out on two counts.
Now I am not sure that I have fully grasped what this interchange signifies, so I will do no more than record it – except to say that on Jimmy Stewart’s side there is an element of opportunism, something vague to escape mentioning Partition, while on John Gollan’s there is lack of insight into Irish feelings. A statement was in due course agreed and they all went away.
I bought some meat, which is about two fifths of the price we pay in London and Liverpool. I went to Cathal’s. Before Cathal drove me to the boat Bebhinn appeared carrying a parcel which, she assured me, was a Christmas present. I could not understand. On opening it I found it was a copy of Bunting’s “Ancient Irish Music”, which was signed by Helga, Daltún O Ceallaigh, Tony Coughlan and Micheál O Loingsigh, and which Bebhinn had been commissioned to present to me. Needless to say I was very appreciative. Little Killian is a lovely child, lively intelligent and affectionate. He is now six. “There’s no such thing as Father Xmas, is there?” he said to me. “No,” said I, but it’s nice to get presents.” “And I don’t believe in God,” he added for good measure.
Cathal brought Tony Coughlan and myself to Micheál O Loingsigh’s, and then we all went to Dun Laoire. At Holyhead the enquiry was in the hands of a policeman. He was bluffer and less suspicious than the Customs man. He was quite mystified when he saw the British Museum and Public Record Office tickets but looked into my meat bag. I felt emboldened to crack a joke, “’Twould be bad if there was a bomb in the turkey,” and he laughed without restraint.
December 19 Thursday (London): I reached London in the early morning, dealt with correspondence in the office, and then went to the Political Committee. Apart from myself the only “key people” (as Jack Woddis had said) were Irene Brennan and Myant. Gollan gave some account of the Dublin conference but said nothing of Declarations of Intent. In Dublin it was reported that the Connolly Association was arranging the conference in May and a meeting in March. But Woddis took it for granted that the arrangements could be changed by himself. The March meeting became “a march” possibly to be arranged by “Liberation”. “It’s the month of March, not a march” said Gollan with laughter. I nobbled the holding of the May conference under some new umbrella which Irene Brennan and Ramelson were pressing for. I said we were committed to it. As for the March event, I had arranged for Noel Harris to see about speakers and we will see if they can come. To Irene Brennan’s grand new alliance á la Vietnam there was some suspicion from George Matthews and Bill Wainwright. Gordon McLennan raised the idea of the “coercion of Ulster”. It was decided that the CP should issue a new pamphlet and hold a meeting, but the umbrella organisation was left in abeyance.
I resolved to talk to Myant and Irene Brennan and took them for a drink. I made myself specially pleasant to himself, and all three agreed to meet periodically in my office. She had held her committee, but its composition as far as she described it seemed unexceptionable. Myant did not seem impressed by the Political Committee discussion. He repeated that he was interested in the Irish Movement through the Connolly Association by Sean Redmond. “The trouble is that the party has never decided to put all its support behind the Connolly Association.” So it seems that others have noticed this historic and disastrous error.
December 20 Friday (Liverpool): I had hoped to get back to Liverpool by the earliest train but had to go into the office. Brian Crowley was there by about 10 am. He said he wanted a word with me. He said he suffered from a congenital disease of the heart, had been given only three years to live and had been told to give up work five years ago, that he expected to be running our bookshop in five years’ time, but that he might drop down dead any minute. I do not know why he chose this time to tell me. We had a talk in the “Lucas Arms”. I know that Pat O’Donohue says, “He’s just the same”, but I still think he has improved. Pat O’Donohue is going to New York. I rang Sean Nolan to ask whether he could trace Maguire. Maguire was a member of the Railway Brotherhood, said Nolan. We’ll let Pat O’Donohue go and see them, said I. I am pressing this because of the disastrous drop in sales due to the bombs. Incidentally, I was told by Sean Redmond that sources close to the “Provisionals” had said to him that there would be an Xmas truce, but I did not think that there was anything definite to put to Hamling. I do not see myself as providing a PPS [Parliamentary Private Secretary, which Hamling was to Prime Minister Harold Wilson] with background information he may anyway misuse. If there was anything to be got for our cause, then it would be different.
I came to Liverpool on the 4.50 and found a letter from Dorothy Greaves and another from Alison Hull, Enid’s daughter, to the effect that Enid Greaves died on December 19th, six weeks after Harley Greaves. A letter from Bertha Taylor told me she was eighty. Mabel must be 86 and Vic 88. I am pleased they are doing so well. But so far there is nothing from Mabel Taylor [maternal aunts].
Still there has been no frost and the nasturtiums are flowering. But though it is exceptionally mild I got the feeling that it is getting drier and that presages colder weather.
December 21 Saturday: I rang Sean Nolan who said that the Income Tax had been paid on an agreed settlement and that we should have the money in the New Year, early, if only because Con Lehane wanted his costs and disbursements. I phoned Toni Curran and asked her to tell Pat O’Donohue, who goes tomorrow for three weeks. He has a brother in New York City. I got a little work done in the garden.
I told Sean Nolan that I would like to attend the CPI conference in March. I think I may be able to work out a formulation that would bring things forward. For there is no reason why the CPI should not stipulate in regard to the Six County Government. And incidentally before I left London I wrote to Jack Woddis, saying that the Connolly Association expected to undertake the March meeting, but that as we were doing nothing big in January, February, or April, if he could persuade others to act during these months we would give them support. I learned by the way from Jane Tate that her branch [ie. of the CPGB] is going for support for the “Irish Democrat”, and Brian Crowley’s as well. Last night I learned of the death of R. Palme Dutt.
December 22 Sunday: I did some work in the house and garden, but nothing of any importance.
December 23 Monday: The day was largely taken up in preparations for Christmas, as this year Mark Clinton is coming to stay. He cannot afford to go home.
December 24 Tuesday: I went to Birkenhead and bought drink and in the evening Mark Clinton came with more.
December 25 Wednesday: We spent the day eating, drinking and talking. At about 11 pm. Betty Sinclair rang up to wish me a merry Xmas – and added that she had told Jimmy Stewart that I had telephoned about the joint meeting and that he was “taken aback”. I think she had a drop taken, and that is possibly why, feeling lonely as she must, she gave me a ring.
December 26 Thursday: Another day was spent in exactly the same way, but nobody rang up. I heard from Bertha Taylor who has pneumonia, but not from Mabel Taylor. Bertha is 80 and Mabel must be 87.
December 27 Friday: Mark went in the morning, and I spent the day clearing up. I decided to go to Palme Dutt’s funeral tomorrow, as there is a cheap trip to London.
December 28 Saturday (Liverpool): I got up at 5.18, but just missed the 7.04. I arrived in London at 10.40, and Golders Green at 11.00 – who should appear behind me but Charlie Cunningham, also late. We met Margot Parrish coming away, saying she could not get into the chapel, but we went on and found the proceedings were being broadcast by a loudspeaker outside. As we went up Charlie told me that Lenny Draper had telephoned Belle Lalor. He wanted to wish me compliments of the season and had rung 283 Gray’s Inn Road and 124 Mount Road without finding me. I imagine I was in Dublin. He rang from Paris and talks of returning to England and settling in London. Now we had considered him for the full-time job, but once he threw up the sponge I have had less faith in his ability, though I am pleased that he has not abandoned all touch. But without any prompting from me Mark Clinton said he might take the job. But Tony Coughlan has been trying to entice him to Dublin. This is short-sighted. He [ie. A.Coughlan] can only see the importance of his own work.
There was a substantial crowd. I heard Ivor Montague’s voice, though I could not see inside the chapel. Tom Mitchell was there, John Gollan, Bill Wainwright, Jack Woddis, Andrew Rothstein, Seafort, and Michael O’Riordan – closely shadowed by the snake O’Shea and the putrescent codfish Sean Furlong. Of our own people I saw Robbie Rossiter, Jane Tate and Jim McDonald. I was told that Betty Sinclair was too upset to travel. I contrived to have a few words with Michael O’Riordan. He has the agreement of Andy Barr, Michael Mullen [General Secretary of the ITGWU]and Paddy Devlin to come across. But I had not time to go into details. I told him I wanted to attend his conference in March. But he wants me to bring nobody else.
I was struck by Jack Woddis’s pale and aged appearance. I wonder how far his nonsense is the mental concomitant of his physical condition. He never went on like this in the past. But then he was defending the Movement for Colonial Freedom against efforts to embarrass it. Now he is with the embarrassers. “I take no notice of them,” he said to me once. Bill Wainwright also looks old and wretched. “We’re an ageing party,” said Tom Mitchell. I returned to Liverpool on the 6.30. I found material for the paper from Tony Coughlan.
December 29 Sunday: I was tired as a result of yesterday’s long day and fear the symptoms of a cold. Consequently I did little enough. I was thinking about some of the “younger” people at the funeral. One man aged 47 thought the “older members” were very cautious about future political trends. For his part he expected “economic and social collapse” next year, with the result that there would be socialist revolution. I said I was with the cautious ones!
December 30 Monday: I did some work on the paper and sent off two pages. I phoned Belle Lalor in the evening. She said Lenny Draper rang from Paris. He is returning in the New Year and would like to go home but will probably settle for a time in Manchester or London. He sent his apologies for his abrupt departure. He seemed more like his normal self and was concerned at the total collapse in Manchester. I wonder if he would have another go? Belle Lalor tells me that O’Shea is prowling around.
December 31 Tuesday: I worked on the paper during the day. Then in the evening I went to visit Will Pemberton. He had not “got over” the death of Enid Greaves but has learned to put up with it. I told him what I knew about Elsie Greaves and Harley. His eldest daughter Valery is teaching in Oakhampton and her children go to school at Clayford, where I sometimes used to stay – I think it was near there. The wee daughter aged four can remember any tune after hearing it twice. “Is there any inherited ability for music in the family?” she asked her father! She did not know that both her grandfather and her great grandfather were conductors. Enid Greaves was not interested, probably because her father died when she was young. It was certainly not passed on to Victor Pemberton.
The remarkable thing was a change in Leslie Greaves. Will Pemberton has had him at a rehabilitation centre in Heswall. As a result of mixing with people he can carry on a reasonably lucid if childish conversation, and like a child’s some of his observations are just. “There’s a lot of knocking-down going on in Birkenhead,” he observed to me. He had spent two weeks in Old Peoples’ Homes while Will Pemberton was on holiday, and had gone on a trip to London, about which he could not stop talking. He has the brain of a child of 8, says Will Pemberton, but is pleasant and biddable. “If we had had occupational therapy fifty years ago,” said Will, “he might have been earning a living today.” Later I listened to Haydn’s “Creation”.
January 1 Wednesday: The New Year has come in mild, with light rain, something which is not the usual. But what is most remarkable is the absence of even a ground frost. The nasturtiums are still perfect – the leaves more indented, as I noted in 1932 – but small perfect flowers are produced. There are small lettuces. Strawberries and quinces are flowering for the spring, antirrhinums and pyrethrums and roses for the autumn. Only the Helleborus is at its proper time. There has been no substantial change in temperature for over three months. It lingers in the fifties. I completed two more pages of the paper.
When I was out in the garden knocking a few nails into a fence damaged by the gales Fred Brown appeared. He has retired. “I might as well be hard up idle as hard up working,” he said. “I sign on at the Labour Exchange. It’s a racket. But ex-managing-directors do it now. A fine state the country is in! I think this government has given up. Everything’s out of control.”
January 2 Thursday: I spoke to Michael O’Riordan on the phone because he had said he was seeing Andy Barr, Michael Mullen and Paddy Devlin today. They have all three agreed to come over for a meeting. He said he saw them last night after all. Naturally they want to wait until they know if the “Provisionals” are going to continue their truce or ceasefire. He said he thought the most important thing was to set a date for the ending of internment. This is his opinion. Setting a date would presumably be a number of days after a permanent cease fire had been agreed.
January 3 Friday: The “ceasefire” has been extended for two weeks. It struck me that the “Provisionals” might accept an extended form of Section 6 of the Bill of Rights as a “Declaration of Intent” and I rang Pat Bond. He in turn rang Hamling [Bill Hamling MP, Prime Minister Harold Wilson’s PPS] who said, “There is a great deal going on. The parsons have taken proposal back with them, and will be passing them on.”[These were the talks at Feakle, Co Clare, between Protestant churchmen and the Provisional IRA Army Council, followed by talks with British Government officials, during which an IRA ceasefire prevailed.] This is at a time when they are loudly protesting that they are in no sense intermediaries. I also spoke to Joe Deighan on the telephone. He thought a plain “Declaration of Intent” difficult to get. He hopes they will accept less, as political life is non-existent. If the truce becomes permanent the Connolly Association must undertake a swift and radical turn in the direction of its work. Some of our critics may not be mentally equipped to make it.
I rang Malachy Kelly and arranged to go to Birmingham on Sunday.
January 4 Saturday: I had a word with Charlie Cunningham on the phone. Then in the evening I arranged to see Mark Clinton at Birmingham tomorrow. I did some work for my lecture at Leicester.
January 5 Sunday (Birmingham): Another mild day. Before I left for Birmingham I spotted a poppy in flower! The evening primroses are breaking into leaf below the old seed pods. Roses are flowering quickly. I am pulling spinach every week. The elder is coming into spring leaf and the bay buds are swelling. The trouble is that I am so curious to see what happens – whether the mint can remain evergreen for example – that I am not touching the garden.
I was met at New Street by Mark Clinton and after a talk we both went to Leicester. Relations between him and the Kellys have been constrained in a curious way, which in part he puts down to his own misfortunes and shortage of money, in part also to the middle-class tendencies of Malachy’s wife. He is working on the buildings so as to get money to pay his debts. Not of course that he managed very wisely. He let his flat go by sheer sloppiness, but then he had plenty on his mind.
We reached Leicester and went to the Secular Hall, where I was to address the Secular Society. We were met by the caretaker, shown into a comfortable room called the “Members’ Room” (to which I understand they all have a key) and provided with tea. All the Leicester secularists were pleasant, possessing that peculiar amiability which was I think more typical of the nineteenth century than the present one. I recall to mind the Liverpool Botanical Society, which had in it some of the most personable people either Alan Morton or myself ever remember. The premises are large, and the president told me that there is another large hall above in which fifty years ago it was not possible to get a seat. There were about a dozen chairs put out this evening and about twenty people arrived all told. These included JH, Foreman and Lalor, who has whisked away a snow-white bride from the very banks of the Ob [in Russia] and brought her to drink Guinness in Leicester. And of course Hoffman’s and Foreman’s wives, and a young kid we thought was a YCL[ie. a Young Communist League member]. We thought the talk was well received.
That miserable character I had the dispute with after the summer school in Oxford was there. He has settled in Leicester and told me something he was doing which I forget all about but that it didn’t arouse any pleasure. We had a drink and a talk with the Leicesters, then returned to Birmingham. Kelly did not come from the “Lyndhurst” till 1 am. He told us after the women had retired that the police had been there while Mark Clinton was in Liverpool. “We’re watching Clinton,” they told him. So this was the origin of the constraint, and many hinted lectures on the virtues of looking after oneself, settling down, getting a good living and not being a fanatic.
January 6 Monday (Liverpool): I left early and was back in Liverpool by lunchtime. I had thought of doing a little in the garden, but the rain began again. Still the nasturtiums are standing green and in perfect health! But I doubt they will be here when I get back in a week’s time.
January 7 Monday (London): I went to Ripley in the morning, read the proofs and came on to London. Charlie Cunningham was in the office.
January 8 Wednesday: I was in the office most of the day but spoke to the branch in the evening. Leslie Morton and Vivien Morton were there, Elsie O’Dowling, Charlie Cunningham, Jim Kelly, Chris Sullivan and others. Chris is in the thick of his “project” for Enfield Technical College. I cannot see the sense in taking these boys for a year and teaching “liberal studies”. Why not give them a skilled trade? It smells of indoctrination. He had some absurd sociological textbook which I could not restrain myself from pronouncing to be nonsense.
January 9 Thursday: After calling to the office I went down to the Lawrence and Wishart reception to mark the beginning of the publication of Marx’s Collected Works. Leslie Morton and Vivien were there. Indeed this is what they had come up to town for. Vivien told me that the Workers Music Association had asked Stella if they could reprint the Galvin book, which he has publicly admitted is her work [Vivien and Stella were TA Jackson’s two daughters]. She sent them quite a friendly answer, though it was to the effect that he still possesses the copyright – and didn’t I see it on sale in Dublin under the colophon of an American publisher, and £2 a copy at that. She says that Stella is shaping up.
“Perhaps Ewart Milne is losing his influence on her,” said she.
“Pity he doesn’t run off with somebody else.”
However, when Vivien Morton inadvertently referred to R. Palme Dutt and expected a storm, Stella (who is of course as mad as a hatter) said she was very sorry to hear it. So maybe she will not be able to bring herself to accept the royalties on her father’s book, which she so high-mindedly donated to the Society of Authors. If they had been more than a few shillings, however, I am sure that Ewart would have brought himself to spend them. Skelly (who shortly takes over from Maurice Cornforth who is retiring) told us he had heard not a word from the German firm that was proposing to translate TA Jackson’s book.
Among others James Klugman was there [Leading CPGB member and editor of its monthly theoretical journal, “Marxism Today”]. He has gone very heavy and old and complains that he cannot easily walk up stairs. John Campbell however is a sprightly 70, or thereabouts. John Mahon was there, also aged but vigorous enough. His life of Pollitt is completed and he hopes it will be published in the autumn. Cornforth said a few words and he was followed by that hook-nosed professor fellow from Cambridge – Hobsbawm, whom I remember as an incredibly cocky student years ago, who was deputising for Maurice Dobb[This was the historian Eric Hobsbawm who disagreed with Greaves’s views on the national question generally and on Ireland]. Maggie Mynott was there receiving compliments. But I did not get a chance to speak to her. She has probably forgotten that I called her a “hardened bitch” twenty years ago. But she remembered quite a time. Even so, she made no advances! Some pleasant fellows from the Russian embassy were there, but no Andrew Rothstein.
“He’s not speaking to us,” said Maurice Cornforth when Vivien Morton and I asked him. “He wanted us to publish something and when we wouldn’t, wrote and called us philistines. I replied that if by that he meant we had to consider money, then I replied guilty to the charge.”
“He regards us as a business,” said another.
“Indeed. And what else are we?” So there was nobody from Marx House, which has suffered gravely since John Williamson died. A man in his thirties was talking to Skelly.
“Who’s that?” asked Vivien Morton of Cornforth.
“That’s the well-known Marxologist McLellan [ie. David McLellan]. He has written a life of Marx. He’s really quite good, but a bit of a smart alec.” Clive Jenkins was there, the only Trade Union official.
I returned to the office in time to receive Irene Brennan. Myant was to have come but excused himself. I spoke her fair, but the woman is a nuisance. She told me that on going to Belfast last autumn she had decided that she must drop all other commitments in order to make the Irish question her sole field of work. She had approached 16 King Street, who objected, but she insisted and in time bore down the opposition. Woddis, who looks old and ill anyway, seems to have been happy about it because he told her that his main interest was Africa and now that he worked only part-time he would not have much opportunity of following the Irish scene. So she has been allowed free rein. She expressed not one estimate of politics. All related to organisational activities. And she thinks she knows all that needs to be known. I think she is absolutely humourless, and indeed sometimes I got the sensation I have when talking to Muriel MacSwiney, that she is “not all there”. But she engages in an endless succession of activities, all of which Jack Woddis places his blessing on, or at least praises sufficiently to enable her to do just what she pleases.
She got the NCCL to organise a deputation to Belfast deliberately excluding the Connolly Association, something I objected to, but not too strongly, as I learn the NCCL is still at its nonsense of setting up an office in Belfast. She has been in touch with the Manchester crowd as well. Tom Durkin has got Brent Trades Council making similar proposals to other Trades Councils, while some object that the Federation should do it. It is after all she who has created the link with Clann na hEireann. She consulted Myant who warned her that Clann na hEireann in the provinces might be vastly different from her London cronies. But she still persists. She asked me if there was anything we thought they should do.
“Distribute the ‘Democrat’” said I. “The CP sells only 300 a month in the whole country.”
“ Ah, but the trouble is the content.”
“What’s wrong with it?”
“Those songs. The average comrade doesn’t like them.”
“Well, that’s the one thing we can’t cut out. Is there anything wrong with the other seven pages?”
She dropped the subject. Then she expatiated on how interesting and novel was this new field of work, and how fresh experiences were crowding in on her. It did not even cross her mind that anybody could advise her in anything. She is solely interested in herself, her self-expression I suppose.
I told Paddy Bond about it. “Surely it is possible to get a stop put to this Clann na hEireann nonsense,” he exclaimed. I doubted it. Generally speaking people do not consider changing their course of action until its disadvantages have become apparent. And as often as not what they do then is more foolish still.
Later Chris Sullivan, Jim Kelly and Charlie Cunningham came in. Charlie and I went to the “Lucas Arms”. A group of individuals Charlie pronounced “political” at once came in. One of them was a former St Pancras Councillor concerned with Lawrence in the red flag episode [when that flag was hoisted over a local London Town Hall], which I told Kay Beauchamp was nonsense, but she wouldn’t listen. He said the British Peace Committee was not long for this world, that King Street wanted to close it down and deprive Sweet of his card – so the gossip is widely spread.
January 10 Friday: I received a telephone call from young Stephen Hart. It seems that one of Irene Brennan’s schemes is a deputation to Merlyn Rees. She mentioned it yesterday and said it had been “arranged through Brockway”. She did not mention the date. But now Stephen Hart tells me it is next Wednesday. Now Pat Bond told me that “Liberation” had discussed this proposal and the CA was to be invited to send a delegate. But Hart did not mention this, which came from Starr, one of our members, and I suspected this was not being done. But I said nothing. What he wanted was advice on what members of the General Council of the TUC might be induced to attend next Wednesday. You might as well ask Merlyn Rees himself to come to the Liberation office at three days’ notice! However, I told him to ring Charlie Cunningham tomorrow. I went out with Jim Kelly in Hammersmith.
January 11 Saturday (Birmingham): I was in the office in the morning. Stephen Hart did not telephone, but fresh botherations hove in sight. There is to be a meeting at the AUEW rooms in Salford on Sunday week, the very time the CA school is being held. Purdie of the Socialist Labour League is to be there. The madness and folly of Ainley and Arnison in wrecking the CA in Manchester is revealing itself afresh every day.
In the afternoon I went to Birmingham and Mark Clinton met me at New Street. I went out with him with the papers in Sparkhill. There was still an atmosphere of uncertainty and unease. He told me, on my asking about the song page and reactions to it, that Mary Brennan (Irene Brennan’s twin sister in Coventry) had been spreading precisely the same contention as herself. I was interested in this. I stayed the night with Syd Atkins.
January 12 Sunday (London): I addressed the Irish CP members in the morning. Among those present was old Johnny Griffin – looking very much a grizzled sexagenarian, and as despondent as ever though his heart is in the right place. Young Ryan had to go home for a funeral. In the afternoon there was a wider gathering. Though not well attended, they seemed worthwhile. I returned to London to meet Charlie Cunningham. It seems, by the way, that the police did not visit Malachy’s, but spoke to him in “The Lyndhurst” where they were all drinking after hours. It is strange how these people put themselves in a weak position by means of peccadilloes. He could just as well drink at home and go on as long as he pleased.
January 13 Monday: A telephone call came from Stephen Hart asking if I would join in the deputation to Rees. Pat Bond had asked Starr what was the intention. And perhaps Starr had reminded Hart of the decision. That I don’t know. It could be that when the General Council members proved impossible to get, then he lowered his sights. Still I agreed, though it means waiting till Wednesday.
But the trouble is that I have no decent clothes in London – not even a clean shirt – as I was expecting to leave and do the laundry in Liverpool and had simply come down in flannels.
January 14 Tuesday: Despite the expense I took a day trip to Liverpool and changed into a decent suit. Then I returned to London and went out to Hemel Hampstead to address the YCL. John McLaughlin (the bell-ringer) was there, and both David McLaughlin and his brother Peter. Of the two boys I prefer David. The other has a touch of cynicism. I returned to Euston with him, and learned that he is in South London CA.
January 15 Wednesday (Liverpool): I reached the Northern Ireland office at the time indicated. There were three people there, standing irresolute and disconsolate outside, Stephen Hart himself, an MCF man I’ve seen before, and a young student in jeans and jean jacket plastered and bedizened with hammer and sickle badges, “Free the Shrewsbury Two” discs, and heaven knows what else. “Our MPs have let us down,” groaned Hart. “They’ve had an all-night’s sitting.” They were Newens and Bidwell. Hart was not disposed to proceed. “Where’s Brockway?” I enquired. “Ill.” After a while Hart, having been offered “a few minutes with the Minister’s secretary,” and all agreeing that that wouldn’t do, I hailed a taxi and brought Hart up to King’s Cross. I could see what had happened – the sort of thing Kay Beauchamp was always causing. The people who take the decisions, or impel the decisions, are not those who have to carry them out. So my bold Irene Brennan sets Hart an impossible task, and of course it couldn’t be a success at such short notice. I observed an improved attitude to myself on the part of the young fellow. He is possibly sorting out those who advise and those who act. But I let it be known that I could advise as well, and he said he was anxious to consult me on future occasions. “It is very frustrating,” he remarked. “You do the work and in the end you feel yourself worse off.” But of course they think they can push young people around. In time he will learn to say “No”.
I then left for Liverpool, with both time and money wasted, thanks to the new “Meddlesome Mattie”.
January 16 Thursday: I found the tropaeolums in flower, with chrysanthemums, roses, fennel sprouting, tansy still green, strawberries in flower – but there was a trace of frost in the morning, or a heavy fall of rain or dew.
January 17 Friday: Pat Bond rang in the evening, very despondent about the collapse of the “cease fire”. I advised him to wait a day or two.
January 18 Saturday: Now at last the frost came. The wind is NNW and there were hailstorms. At the moment nothing has suffered, but it looks like as if we are entering the winter at last. Still it can’t last that long – unless it is 1947 again. The way the winters have become steadily milder over the past six years is truly remarkable, and who can tell what sort of the cycle is involved. And this just when we had grown to expect severe weather.
There is still some show of truce, but the “Provisionals” have issued the most unrealistic demands ever heard, which would involve both the British and 26-County States. They live in a world of their own. I understand that police have visited Barney Morgan and were very surprised to find an Englishman. Apparently the local police gave the Special Branch his name. This is what he gets for fooling about with Clann na hEireann, and both his wife and myself tried to warn him when he had one of their Birmingham people in the house.
January 19 Sunday: I had to get up at 7am. to catch the bus to Lime Street and the train to Manchester. I reached the Polytechnic after the Manchester CA school was to be held. Cohen was there but explained that “Debbie”, due an hour before, had not shown up. He phoned. She explained she had over-slept. But she took time to array herself in dazzling splendour, something after the fashion of a red Indian I would say, or possibly a peacock. Still she is a nice enough young girl, and only 17. Neither she nor Cohen said anything. Two Labour Party Young Socialists were there and went off in the afternoon, I presume to the affair in Salford. Two of the Ainley camarilla were there – one of them quite a good lad, the other the secretary of this committee, and very anxious to prevent the Connolly Association re-establishing itself. There is an “Irish Question” bandwagon now – things are very different. Lena Daly and Michael were there, and Belle Lalor – that’s about all, apart from Eric Howley, who came in the afternoon. So apart from the three old members there were no Irish. All the same, Cohen is selling the paper and talks of increasing the order.
I had a talk with Hoffman. He says that Lenny Draper was undoubtedly afraid. He thought people were following him, and towards the end he used to stay in other people’s houses. He lived entirely on his own and apart from starting to learn Irish, had no interest other than the Connolly Association. He thought that towards the end he was trying to avoid him. When he would call Lenny Draper would be in, but would not come to the door.
January 20 Monday: I had a call from Mark Clinton a few days ago saying he had got two Trade Union officials willing to go to Belfast. Today I heard from Stella Bond that Betty Sinclair was ready to receive them. But it must be before 28 February as shortly after that she retires – “to devote a few years to doing what she pleases”. She fears Joe Cooper will not be so helpful. Now I rang Mark Clinton to tell him this and he said there had been a District Party Committee in Birmingham yesterday and Frank Watters had strongly opposed giving any support. Again he wanted the Connolly Association cut out. It should be Trades Council to Trades Council. But apparently he was over ruled, and I understand Bill Goulding and SN. stood very firm and five supported them. Next Mark Clinton had a talk with Frank Watters and told him that eighteen months ago he rejected his proposals in order to get a delegation from the Trades Council and when a meeting was called nobody turned up! Did he want to wait another 18 months? To make matters worse, Watters wanted to have an organisation to call a demonstration against the “Provisionals”. “If there should be another bomb in Birmingham we’ll never control the ‘backlash’ against the Irish,” he declared. It was useless for Mark to try to explain how the Irish would feel endangered by the bombing, and oppose it, but would not take part in a demonstration against it because it would seem like changing their nationality in an English town. The solution to the “backlash” business is the understanding that the delegation will help to create.
About midday after I had spoken to Mark Clinton, Pat Bond phoned saying that Litterick had phoned asking about the “harassment” of the Irish [Tom Litterick, Labour MP for Birmingham Selly Oak]. I rang him up in Birmingham and he said he was anxious to ask a question in the House of Commons. I promised to get information and perhaps see him at the House next Monday. I thought I would like to size him up. One thing he said amused me, apropos of Roy Jenkins: “The poor old dear with his liberal conscience! We’ll make him talk like a Tory.”
January 21 Tuesday: The frost was light. The nasturtiums survived; snowdrops and crocuses are out; the flowering quince is in hesitant bloom; some of last year’s hollyhocks are in flower, together with roses and composites of one kind and another. It is almost as if we had flowers of the four seasons. But it is blowing great guns every day, and three fences have been damaged.
January 22 Wednesday: I have got a few things done, a slight reorganisation of the kitchen, the washing and drying of some sheets, mending gansies and suchlike to save money, tedious but useful. But I can’t touch the garden, which is becoming a wilderness, though it is full of vegetables – kohlrabi, swedes, colcannon, artichokes and spinach, and some cabbage not quite ready, likewise winter broccoli. I wrote to Daltún O Ceallaigh telling him he could go ahead with my Marx House lecture on Connolly and nationalism. They want to reprint it. I tackled Ted Shields about the nursery songs. He said he got them from Joe Deighan; so I wrote to him as well.
January 23 Thursday: I had a word with Mark Clinton and arranged to see him on Saturday. I will go to London tomorrow. It looks as if the Six County truce is failing. When both sides are so rigid what can be expected? The EEC referendum was announced today [Prime Minister Harold Wilson’s referendum, held on 5 June 1975, on whether the UK should remain in the then European Economic Community (EEC), having joined it on 1 January 1973; this was the first ever UK-wide referendum. Wilson regarded it as a way of dealing with the opposition to EEC membership in his own party, led by MPs Tony Benn and Peter Shore]. I have asked Tony Coughlan if he will come over and run a campaign against it. I have always regarded this issue as the most important of all, and if others had thought so, things might be different today.
January 24 Friday: I had intended to go to London today but found there was a serious derailment near Watford occasioning delay. I therefore remained.
January 25 Saturday (London): I went to Birmingham and had a talk with Mark Clinton. Apparently Frank Watters is anxious to get a direct Trade Union to Trade Union delegation to Belfast, and opposes Mark’s approach. But he was overruled by the others because of the difficulty of persuading Birmingham Trades Council to move. I came on to London in the evening.
January 26 Sunday: We had a useful Executive Committee in the afternoon, with Paddy Bond, Charlie Cunningham, Jane Tate, Alf Ward, Barry Riordan, Jim Kelly, Mark Clinton, Michael Crowe, Chris Sullivan, Pegeen O’Flaherty, Brian Crowley and one or two more. Mark Clinton explained that he had proved unable to persuade anybody affected by the Terrorism Act to come forward. Many of them were “on the lump” or afraid that petty offences would come to light. Siobhán O’Neill, who had been visited by police who planted two cars in front of the house and one behind on the strength of a phone call from a neighbour, was not prepared even to pass on the facts to an MP. I think many of the Irish are like Alsatian dogs. They bite because they are nervous; either they fear to move at all or they move too fast and furiously.
January 27 Monday: I was in the office during the day, working on the paper. In the evening Alan Morton came in. He has been in Hastings. He tells me Freda is not well, having some affection of the eye, which worries them. Alisoun is quite happy, though her neck is still liable to be dislocated and she is under treatment. He tells me that Helga said she is having trouble with young Egon, who is “a bit inclined to hang round street corners.” I do not know what this means.
January 28 Tuesday: I was in the office working on the paper all day. In the evening Jane Tate came in, but no Charlie Cunningham despite his meeting on Sunday.
January 29 Wednesday: Again I was busy on the paper. There was a bus strike and a poor attendance in the evening. Partly this was due to Charlie Cunningham’s failure to send out notices and get speakers. He is not an efficient secretary as he finds it hard to take decisions and is always hesitating and prevaricating. But I got them all (that is Jim Kelly, Brian Crowley and Jane Tate, with Elsie O’ Dowling for a while) busy working for the meeting. I understand that Jack Dromey has been in the USA getting funds for setting up an NCCL Belfast office. He is a young man I do not altogether trust, but I think personal importance rather than political malice activates him. I do not remember his ever hindering things.
January 30 Thursday: The Gardiner Report came out and I went down to the Stationery Office to get a copy – though this proved unnecessary as the Northern Ireland Office sent me a free copy, and Jack Dromey (who could not come for the discussion) sent one via Irene Brennan. The result is that they go ahead with their delegation and succeed in excluding the Connolly Association. Apparently Dromey is now secretary of Brent Trades Council and as such comes under Tom Durkin’s influence. But some useful things are being done as well. Gloria Devine told Charlie Cunningham of a meeting at Stepney addressed by Irene Brennan at which she protested at the absence of copies of the “Irish Democrat”.
January 31 Friday: I heard from Noel Harris that Michael Mullen can attend our meeting. So I phoned Sid Bidwell, who agreed to come. He is Chairman of the “Tribune” group of MPs but is very dissatisfied because Jock Stallard will not join them.
“He spends a lot of time on it,” you know, ” he declared, “But the man’s an anarchist – used to be a shop steward at London Airport.” It was amusing that in the evening Chris Sullivan and I ran into Stallard at Camden Town. I told him that Stan Newens had agreed to stand in for him on Sunday. “I’m glad of that. But mind, I’ve no time for the soft-bellied left. If something’s happening in Timbuctu or Siam they are all on edge. But something in their own back yard! I want nothing to do with them.”
Chris Sullivan told me that Charlie Cunningham had a wee tiff with Kay Beauchamp over signing a petition form in Trafalgar Square. As a result Charlie would not send in the affiliation fee to London MCF and Chris had to do it. Then Kay Beauchamp retaliated by sending the receipt and a personal membership card to Chris Sullivan, thus disaffiliating or at least disfranchising the CA. Pat Bond only discovered today that the last day for the receipt of resolutions is next Monday. Now when a few days ago I spoke to Kay Beauchamp on the phone I could tell something was affecting her manner. Now I know what it was – a guilty conscience.
I gather from Noel Harris, incidentally that they are not too pleased at Betty Sinclair’s retirement. He says that she’s “under the weather”, meaning drinking too much. And she talks of going to Prague for some months. And apparently Joe Cooper makes it clear that he thinks he has been “let down”. She speaks of writing her memoirs, and it is to be hoped she succeeds.
Another thing regarding Bidwell. He says of Merlyn Rees: “He is absolutely incapable of originating a new idea. As a result he is at the mercy of his civil servants on the one hand, and on the other he takes his directions from Callaghan.”
February 1 Saturday: I was in the office as usual in the morning and the usual people came in: Charlie, Jane Tate, Jim Kelly and Pat O’Donohue, who tells me we face a grim financial situation.
February 2 Sunday (Liverpool): There was a meeting at St Pancras Labour Rooms, which were well filled. Dan Cook was there – I thought there was a streak of defeatism in his continuous plaints, and at one point he took up the “Withdraw troops at once” slogan of the ultra-left. Newens was good but some of the boys attacked him and would have liked to attack him more about the Prevention of Terrorism Act. Brian Loughran made a witty and original speech. Then I took the train to Liverpool.
February 3 Monday: To my surprise when I looked at the garden the Tropaeolums were still untouched by frost – a few stray leaves injured. But the weather has changed and though it is not cold by winter standards, it is not mild.
February 4 Tuesday: I went to Ripley where all went reasonably. But it is a long drag as the transport is so unsatisfactory.
February 5 Wednesday: I went to Hull where I met the student Walmark. He had been present at the King Street meeting last summer. I gave a talk to about 60 students. They had a bookstall for the “Irish Week” they were running – not a copy of the “Irish Democrat” or any other CA literature. They seem unaware of its existence. It is obvious that a big publicity drive is necessary. But “Rosc Catha” was there and the inevitable Clann na hEreann men in the CP, plus one of their travelling organisers whose name escapes me who had been in Bristol and Liverpool and was on his way to Sheffield. The great feature of these odd disruptive groups is their extreme mobility. He said Collins in Birmingham had been arrested, had tests for explosives performed on his possessions, and then released. And he expressed the view that the young men in jail on remand in Birmingham had intended to blow up the rotunda and had put the bomb in the wrong place. He was talking about the great “unity” in London.
They then asked me to reply to a debate on the “adoption” of an internee. I did not like the notion. It smacks too much of political gimmickry. And to “adopt” an internee is to acquiesce in the continuance of internment. All this was clear. But I did what they wanted, get prolonged and thunderous applause and an adverse vote, after the President of the Union had thrown his weight into the wrong pan. Maire, Roddy Connolly’s youngest daughter, is a student at the College and introduced herself. Again I got back late.
February 6 Thursday: There was a touch of ground frost, though seemingly no air frost, and the Tropaeolums took a slight cold! It was too cold to do anything in the garden. I have been doing a deal of reading for the O’Casey book.
February 7 Friday (Birmingham): I went to Birmingham and located Mark Clinton who appeared with Michael Ryan, the young Kilkenny lad who is helping him, in the intervals of floating around with a fourteen-year-old Birmingham girl and trying to grow a beard. The branch meeting was held at the Labour Party Club, and we expected Litterick [MP for Selly Oak]. Bannister was there, much improved possibly by the “talking to” Mark Clinton gave him. But though he is over 50 he is talking of going to Sussex University next year, and I did not like that. Still, it was he who interested Litterick. And Mary Brennan appeared – Irene Brennan’s similar twin, and a twin in every way. She, like her sister, is a member of the Connolly Association but reserves the right to act independently of its policy. She is in the Labour Party, but when I first met them I thought both of them were members of the International Socialists. They are the type. I was explaining the Gardiner Report, and of course the statement was of fact. When the time for discussion came she felt it incumbent upon herself to pronounce the pontifical judgement. “I agree with your statement,” she began. She had not read the report. I was reading it out. The sole basis of her judgement was what I had said! I was told what happened when I went out of the room. She is some kind of lecturer at the University – in “social studies” or some other waste of time department. Mark Clinton knows one or two students and said that perhaps the “Irish Democrat” could be distributed in the University. All present were startled and amused when she interjected an emphatic “No”. Now we still wait to learn by what means she earned the right of veto!
Later Tom Litterick appeared and we had a brief talk. I stayed with the Kellys.
February 8 Saturday (Liverpool): There had been a message from Frank Watters. Would I see him? So I went in while Mark Clinton stayed in bed. Would I like a cup of coffee? I would. Would I like some rum in it? That also. Now came the disclosure. Despite the decision to support Mark Clinton’s delegation to Belfast, Sid Atkins had brought up the question of an official one at the Trades Council. It was not without its advantages, but since many interests would be involved it could not go possibly till autumn. By then Betty Sinclair would have left. I did not at once agree and said I must consult Mark Clinton. When he came in, and he had to be wakened, having taken his share of the whiskey and some poteen as well, I said we should send his delegation as an exploratory trip, preparing the ground for the second, and thus we would be sure of something, withdrew our objection to Brian Mathers since this was exploratory, and invite Litterick. After a spell of objecting, Watters agreed with this, so peace and light rule in Birmingham. I returned to Liverpool.
February 9 Sunday: There had been a moderate frost, yet even now some of the Tropaeolums are unharmed. I am anxious to see how long they last.
February 10 Monday: We have had no confirmation that they are prepared to speak at the March 20th meeting, neither from Andy Barr, who will probably pull out, Jimmy Reid, Michael Mullen or Paddy Devlin. I tried to get Tony Coughlan on the phone and Stella Bond found a number for Jimmy Reid which proved to be the wrong one. I wasted the day on all this.
February 11 Tuesday: Another wasted day on the same thing – three hours trying to get through to Tony Coughlan. Finally I got Jimmy Reid’s home number. At 3 pm. they told me he was in bed with influenza but to ring at 4. I did so. Could they take a message – I had been told to ring at 4 pm. She went to see him and came back. Was it about the Connolly meeting? Now Jack Woddis told me he had approached him and received assurance that if he was not ill he would speak. I wrote and got no reply. Finally Stella Bond tackled Woddis, who wrote suggesting I contact Jimmy Reid via Glasgow, which I did. But what was the reply now? That on 20 March Reid would be in Italy at the Italian CP congress! He had said something to Gordon McLennan about “getting somebody else”. Now I have suffered plenty from Woddis’s organisational prunings, but I do not blame him here, though I shall tackle him. The essence of the thing is that the leaders of the CPGB still do not like the Irish question, and like Jack Cohen in Coventry in the forties, “will always place it as the last priority.” I imagine that Woddis was not consulted because he is only there three days a week. But I think that deep in all of them there is a “United Kingdom” ideology which influences them without their being aware of it.
February 12 Wednesday: I could not get Mick McGahey in Edinburgh, so I wrote to him in London. Perhaps he will take Jimmy Reid’s place.
February 13 Thursday: I still seem to spend most of the day trying to get speakers on the telephone. I shudder at the bill. Since Michael O’ Riordan gave Mullen the wrong day, he has been trying to get rid of a meeting he transferred to the 20th.
February 14 Friday (London): I came to London and saw Charlie Cunningham and the others. There was no reply from Michael McGahey but he has been in negotiation with the Coal Board. I heard from Frank Watters that Jimmy Lindsey had been arrested. At first it was thought that it arose from the Prevention of Terrorism Act, but it seems that in 1969 he had a fight with a policeman in Belfast, was sentenced to 6 months, appealed against the sentence, was allowed bail, but jumped bail and came to Birmingham. Watters hopes to be able to get him to serve his sentence in England, as having deserted the Orange cause, he may be in physical danger. I consulted Amphlett-Micklewright about the legal aspect of it and rang Mark Clinton and wrote to Frank Watters.
There was a letter from DmM [full name unknown] saying that he had called expecting to see me on the 13th. Actually I had deliberately been vague to Irene Brennan, as I thought it would be no harm for them to have the experience of being “messed about”, and I did not bother my head. If I heard from them well and good. However I contemplate going over their heads.
February 15 Saturday: I finally got Mick McGahey on the phone. He says he is going to India in March but suggested Joe Whelan [A CA member in Hucknall, Derbyshire, also a leading miner trade unionist]. When I finally contacted him he told me that he was going to India as well. Anything to get you off the line! For surely McGahey knew this. I did not realise that Whelan was on the CP executive. He will be better than some.
February 16 Sunday: In the afternoon we had a meeting on the operation of the Prevention of Terrorism Act which Amphlett-Micklewright attended and young Tony O’Donnell, who is a promising young fellow from Donegal, married to the Welwyn Garden City girl who went on the Luton trip to Belfast.
February 17 Monday (Lancaster): After fruitlessly trying to contact Michael Mullen, who still has not said whether he can come on the 20th, I went to Liverpool and there found a letter from Elsie Greaves’s daughter saying that Cy Greaves, now living in California, is visiting Europe. Elsie had asked me if I would give him the letters written from the USA to my grandfather for deposit in the Utah State library. The only other place might be the Liverpool Public Library, but the letters are about the USA and I have no special feeling of warmth for the local institution.
I went on to Lancaster where R.Gwilt met me in a car which promptly broke down. We had to leave it and take a taxi to the University which is, as he said, “an ivory tower perched on a hill”. He is of Welsh extraction but became interested in the Irish question in Manchester under the influence of Lenny Draper. There was a very well attended NUS meeting, with a few International Socialist stupids with whom Gwilt lost his temper, which was a pity. He has no great sense of humour but is a sound lad, an ex-lorry driver of about 26 or 27.
When I was having a drink with the students a porter brought a message from Sandy Stewart, Mr Stewart’s son, inviting me to see him tomorrow. P. Stewart is still alive but has had to give up her house and go into a home. I had lost track of her in the rush to get out “Mellows”. But I have to leave on the 9 am. train.
February 18 Tuesday (London): I caught the 9 am. train and was in London by 12.30. At about 4 pm. I learned that Mullen could not manage the Thursday. I rang Stella Bond, who rang Pat Bond, who threw one of the more restrained tantrums of his middle age and swore we should go on regardless. Then Bidwell and Sapper pulled out and I must carry on with one speaker. We all met at the House of Commons where Gerry Curran, Toni Curran, Pat O’Donohue, Charlie Cunningham and Pat Bond himself recognised we had reached an impasse. And all swore there was a “jinx” on the meeting and we decided to postpone.
I spoke with Stallard about Lindsey and he promised to take it up. Mark Clinton came in and saw Silverman, who has got to look very old. Young Tony O’Donnell was there and seems to be getting interested.
February 19 Wednesday: I said to Stella in a sudden flash of inspiration: “Ring up Hammersmith Town Hall – St Pancras can’t give us the hall for the Wednesday, but if they can we’ll switch the speakers to the other day.” She did so, and that is what we decided to do. Mullen agreed, Devlin, now out of hospital, agreed, and Tony Coughlan said Terence McCaughey would be all right, and the only difficulty was Andy Barr whom I could not get, but I rang Michael O’Riordan. A month has been lost as a result of his silly mistake. He says he will be seeing him in Belfast tomorrow.
February 20 Thursday: I was booked to speak at the City University, the old Northampton Polytechnic where Cathal [ie. Cathal MacLiam] used to work. But nobody turned up but the secretary of the Socialist Society who had arranged the meeting. He had rung up yesterday to ask if I minded speaking at a small gathering. But I had not bargained for none at all. Toni Curran went to Brighton where they showed films, and when she was to speak everybody walked out. That was the CP, who also had a branch meeting at the same time. Why are the “left” so frequently incompetent? I put it down to sectishness. They live in a world of their own, upheld by their own sense of righteousness and unable to approach sinners. The two meetings under the NUS auspices on the other hand, organised individually by communists, were excellent. Perhaps all the most competent take positions in the NUS, as they do in the trade unions, and leave only the young or the incompetent. However, he offered me £2.50 expenses, which I was in a mood to accept. I got Andy Barr on the phone. He is grumbly, but I think he will come.
February 21 Friday: I saw Brian Crowley in the morning. He is doing very well with the bookshop. He is going to Irene Brennan’s meeting on Tuesday. His branch proposed a resolution at the District Congress urging branches to distribute the “Irish Democrat”. Meanwhile I got Jane Tate to propose one congratulating the “Irish Democrat” and the “Morning Star” on their Irish coverage. The branch secretary forgot to include this, and when she remembered it had to be printed as an addendum. Finally, it was included in a composite resolution that was passed. But Brian Crowley’s branch was very dissatisfied that theirs did not go forward. There was a Clann na hEireann man in the branch, and Crowley had made it something of an issue that the “Irish Democrat” and not “Rosc Catha” should be supported. Now the resolution states that the “Irish Democrat” is “indispensable” and Brian expected a meeting to discuss carrying the resolution out. But Irene Brennan countered with a proposal to consider all literature on the Irish question. We have no doubt that this has as its object including “Rosc Catha”.
When Egelnick had his “Irish Committee”, which he admitted was a failure. Joe O’Connor, now deceased, pressed for the establishment of separate Irish branches, and Prendergast rightly opposed him. Now they are bringing the same thing about through Clann na hEireann. This is the old conception of the “Irish Socialist Party in Britain”. I have no doubt that it is deliberate policy stemming from the “Official” IRA and though I do not usually look for conspirators under the bed, I would not be surprised if it was deliberately organised from outside the movement, the police touts being told to set Clann na hEireann against the Connolly Association. The thing is too artificial for anything else. As for Irene Brennan, I always regarded her as something of a semi-Trotskyist, for she refused to work with the Connolly Association and organised a branch of the Anti-Internment League in Kensington. I was amazed when she was put on the EC [ie. of the CPGB] but I presume it came from London [ie. from people in the London CP District] who also elevated Brian Behan against my explicit advice [Brian Behan, 1926-2002, brother of the dramatist Brendan Behan, was on the CP Executive in the early 1950s. He left the CPGB over Hungary in 1956 and became a leading Trotskyite].
February 22 Saturday: I was in the office all day, but in the evening went to George Smith’s social in the Euston Tavern. Tony Donaghey was there, also Jim MacDonald, Smith himself and the bearded Clann na hEireann man who belongs to the Marylebone TGWU. I spoke to George Anthony, an excellent man, President of London North AUEW. At 11 pm. I went to the bar and found them lowering the portcullis though there was reported to be an extension. One or two of those present had drink taken and were singing. I expostulated with the barman. “We’ve had some trouble, so we’re closing the bar,” he said. “Well,” said I, “if you are unwilling to discharge your duty of supplying drink, perhaps you will permit me to depart.” They had locked the doors. However. they let me out and I reflected that a storm was probably brewing.
February 23 Sunday: I was in the office. Brian Crowley and Geraldine were getting out a catalogue and Pat Bond called in. I told him I was at Smith’s social. “Are you all right?” he asked. “Yes. Why do you ask?” “I’m told the police came through the bar and there were two arrests.” So my expectations were realised. Of course I saw no “trouble” and blame the nervousness of the three young trainee barmen. We discussed next Tuesday’s meeting, and I said, “Stick to the resolution that’s been passed, and demand no further discussion of anything else.” He agreed that that was wisest. Pat Bond told me that at long last there is a slight sign of the sales recovery. He sold 90 last night and came to the office for extra supplies. When I was in Hammersmith with Brian Glendenning. I found the same. He is helping Brian Crowley with the bookshop. The trouble is, as Pat put it, that we have only old people now, for the “Provisionals” have captured the youth. I think however it will not be long before they are disillusioned.
February 24 Monday (Liverpool): I was in the office till 6 pm. hard at it, but finally caught the 7.30 to Liverpool. There are a few healthy leaves on the Tropaeolums, but there must have been a frost while I was away. Nothing else is harmed.
February 25 Tuesday: I was busy with the paper all day. Apart from that I have been busy with George Thomson’s books, part of the O’Casey project.
February 26 Wednesday: Again I was busy with the paper, apart from a couple of telephone call conversations with Stella Bond.
February 27 Thursday: I finished the paper and wrote to Bill Hamling about Michael Mullen seeing Wilson. Speaking to Paddy Bond I asked about Tuesday. He was disgusted, and added that Brian Crowley was no help, for he concentrated on the ill-treatment of his branch. There were two Clann na hEireann men there who argued that “Rosc Catha” was closer to the “party line” than the “Irish Democrat” since we advocated the “Declaration of Intent” and they did not. We must kill that phrase, then they’ll have nothing to hack at. Pat Bond thinks Irene Brennan is not a malefactor, only confused. I doubt it. She has no need to make the running when her lieutenants do it. Pat Bond says she spends much of her time with Clann na hEireann. However, the secretariat had already agreed to make a distribution of the CA to branches, and Pat Bond was successful in deferring discussion of other things till later. Actually I’m not afraid of competition, but it is the same thing as 1958, mutatis mutandis, except that now Dublin is friendly. They agreed to support the meeting on the 19th, but the only question Irene Brennan asked was, “have you invited Clann na hEireann?”
Now the “Official” Republicans are at sixes and sevens because Seamus Costello has started the Irish Republican Socialist Party, claiming that “Official” Sinn Fein has abandoned the struggle for national independence, and concentrates solely on socialism. I have discussed with Charlie Cunningham the possibility that that issue will arise in Clann na hEireann, in which case we can expect the nationalist element to hive off and leave a nasty leftist rump all in the Communist Party, but not of it.
February 28 Friday: More trouble with this wretched meeting on the 19th March. Tony Coughlan rang to say that Michael Mullen had been told Andy Barr was not going and was getting cold feet himself. That would mean Devlin would not come. Tony Coughlan said he would come himself. That would be something. Could I promise he would see some MPs. Of course I could, but Bidwell’s pulling out to go to America had also worried him. I rang Pat Bond and we discussed possibilities. It was decided to write reassuringly to Mullen. On the other hand Andy Barr must have babbled about his uncertainty. He is like young Jim Larkin in that he is not really interested in politics apart from Trade Unionism and has a circumscribed trade union outlook devoid of political imagination, though with his limitations a very admirable man.
However, to add to the drama, Pat O’Donohue phoned that Bill Hamling had rung the office and that Harold Wilson would be prepared to meet Michael Mullen and Andy Barr. I could not however get the details, as Pat O’Donohue had not known what questions to ask. So I rang Pat Bond again and we thought that perhaps the situation was saved. I tried to get Tony Coughlan and tried Cathal MacLiam. Cathal has been down with influenza but is back at work. But of course we are not out of the wood. Will Andy Barr come? Will they see Wilson and miss the meeting? For one thing is certain, their own interests will be foremost.
March 1 Saturday: In the morning I rang Bill Hamling. He told me that he had discussed the visit with the Prime Minister’s office and that they had entered the engagement in his diary, and their proposition was that Wilson should invite Andy Barr and Michael Mullen “over to No.10 for a drink”. But Wilson is in Scotland and will not be back till Monday, so that he will have to confirm then. I wrote to Tony Coughlan but decided to leave Michael Mullen until I had or had not the confirmation. With it I can ask him to help me over Andy Barr. without it I must get the MPs meeting. I thought of a possible way to attract Devlin if the others fail. He has just published a book. We can invite him to autograph copies at a special stall.
March 2 Sunday: I did little enough but lift some artichokes and continue with the two Rees’s book. I have been busy with George Thomson and making cross-references.
March 3 Monday: I went to Ripley to read the proofs. Terry Reynolds drove me to Alfreton for the London train, and who should be the guard but Tony Donaghey. I saw Charlie Cunningham at the office. Hamling had not confirmed.
March 4 Tuesday (London): Brian Crowley was in all day. He certainly is working hard at the bookshop. He told me about the London District Committee meeting at which he was disgusted, though Paddy Bond told me he was of little help. Those present were Tony Martin, (the lad from South Wales in Clann na hEireann and the Connolly Association whom I was doubtful of two years ago, but who has no ideas about politics), the bearded Clann na hEireann from Marleybone, Les Burt and Irene Brennan. The only Irish person there but the young Clann na Eireann was Pat Bond. And of course the political level was near zero. It is beyond understanding that they go about things the way they do. It was the bearded Clann na hEireann who launched the bitter attack on the Connolly Association. While we are under desperate pressure and could use every pair of hands we could get, this is the contribution made there! Charlie Cunningham was in during the evening.
March 5 Wednesday: I was in the office all day. In the evening the branch meeting took place and Bill Butler who was there invited by [name accidentally omitted] to address the Joint Sites Committee tomorrow night. I spoke on the new history of the CPI that has just come out.
March 6 Thursday: I was in the office in the day and in the evening went to the Builders’ meeting. There are some excellent people there, quite a few Connolly Association members too. I was highly impressed by them. The secretary is Lou Lewis, a Liverpool man, and George Smith. George O’Driscoll and a few more were present, including Jim McDonald.
March 7 Friday: A man called Lytton came in, a Belfast Protestant who had spent 27 years in Australia and lost his prejudices. Indeed he is a strong nationalist of 74 years of age. He emigrated after leaving the army in 1929, and stopped outside a wee bookshop in Sussex Street, Sydney. Curiosity led him in and there he met John Loughran (once of Connolly’s ISRP) who offered him a cup of tea, and through time recruited him into the Australian CP of which John Loughran was an Executive Committee member. In those days there was a strong Irish sympathy. Sharkey was to the fore [Lance Sharkey, Australian communist leader]. But when a few years later O’Brien the Trade Unionist, Lytton and some others started the Connolly Association, the Communist Party was opposed to it. When the CA had the tricolour on May Day, the members were instructed to “function with their trade unions” and so a strong branch of 200 members was slowly depleted, and as I saw from the papers, the Irish handed over to the Sinn Fein – as in England. Lytton considered them extremely sectarian.
I asked him what he knew about Loughran. Apparently he emigrated before the 1914 war. He was a tailor by trade. A pacifist or at least refuser of military service, he worked in the mines in New Zealand, where he had a rough time. In New Zealand he married a very domineering German woman. He moved to Australia in the early twenties and was friendly with Peter Larkin. Apparently Loughran also was with the IWW [Industrial Workers of the World, the “Wobblies”] but advanced beyond it. Peter Larkin never got beyond “direct action”.
I was with Tony Donaghey in Camden Town in the evening.
March 8 Saturday: I had a telephone call from Paddy Bond to the effect that members of Irene Brennan’s committee who are in Clann na hEireann are going round YCL branches saying that they should not support the Connolly Association but Clann na hEireann. He wants war to the knife “on principle”. But I think we will take it cautiously.
March 9 Sunday: I caught the 8.25 train from Paddington to Oxford, where Alf Ward met me and I attended a very successful conference that was at the same time not without its cross-currents, mostly emanating from Leahy, who apparently got Tanver more or less where he wants him [Tanver was the local CP secretary/organiser]. Barry Riordan finds them very difficult to contend with, but Alf Ward says “Ach – he’s young and inexperienced.” You’d need some experience to watch Leahy. Madge Davison and Betty Sinclair were there.
In the train on the way back to London Betty was telling me that George Jeffares, Paddy Carmody and Sam Nolan were gunning for Michael O’Riordan because of his attitude on the Russian invasion of Czechoslovakia – as if they couldn’t just agree to differ. The result is a personal feud, so that neither Michael O’ Riordan nor Sean Nolan were elected as delegates from their branches. The young people support O’Riordan, I am glad to say.
Betty says Joe Deighan looks tired, overworked and old. She made an odd remark, “Do you know, I believe he’s more interested in the Irish question than general socialism.” She thereby revealed her own position. We had Joe Gallagher at the conference. He was once a member of Liverpool CA and says he met me at a meeting at the Pier Head. It must be several years ago. I was in Hammersmith with Charlie Cunningham. We were talking about Chris Sullivan. He has pursued this absurd “sociology” course at the instance of Pegeen O’Flaherty (and I suspect Irene Brennan is also behind it) and has his head full of such anachronisms as Bentham, which he is surprised that we are not interested in. It is a pity to see a man “brainwashed” to suit his wife’s social prejudices. He is talking about going to the City of London University and becoming a teacher of the same rubbish. But I doubt his capacity. He has a lively brain but it is too unformed and inarticulate. I can’t see him achieving articulateness.
March 10 Monday: There is no word from Bill Hamling about the prospect of seeing Wilson. We got no reply from his flat and there is hardly ever anybody in the Prime Minister’s office. I suppose they are all rushing off to Dublin.
March 11 Tuesday: Rushed off my feet as usual in the office all day. At last we learned that Hamling has been taken ill and will not be at home for some days. So the “jinx” seems still to be operating on the meeting. No word from Andy Barr or Terence McCaughey or Devlin, but Michael Mullen is coming.
March 12 Wednesday: I was superlatively busy all day in the office. In the evening Betty Sinclair spoke at the branch meeting and Charlie Cunningham gave her a book as a memento of her retirement from the Belfast Trades Council.
March 13 Thursday (Liverpool): I heard last night that Charlie Cunningham had been to see Jack Dromey, but what about I did not know. I have had no reply to my letter to the secretary of the NCCL about our exclusion from their “Ad-hoc Committee”. So when Betty Sinclair said she was going to visit the NCCL I said I would come too and she was very pleased. She called in at the office where she told me that Dromey had been up in West Belfast talking to the UDA [ie. the Loyalist Ulster Defence Association]. We found the place after going a long way round. It is certainly not far away. We found Dromey and his echo Cass Scorer at the top of the building, and Betty Sinclair told him very bluntly, “If you’re going to play about with those loyalists as they call themselves that no Trade Unionist will speak to, then you can take it the NCCL is finished in Northern Ireland.”
“You can’t say we’re playing about – after all in our position we have to speak to everybody.”
“Do you? The trade union movement doesn’t.”
“Look – we were going to set up an office in Belfast but on representations from NICRA we decided not to. We’re trying to raise money to make nine visits a year. We know more about the Emergency Provisions Act than anybody else. We’ve got to get court experience and that means getting it from both sides.”
“You remember what I said to you before. If these Loyalists won’t approach NICRA, then to hell with them. We don’t want a Protestant and a Catholic Civil Rights movement. And why can’t you get this information from Belfast?”
“There’s nobody in Belfast capable of giving it.”
So that was his opinion. He is of course conceited beyond measure. He then told me that Kevin Boyle and others were busy drafting Bills of Rights with a view to making this the first discussion in the Assembly when it meets. He asked what I thought of that. I said we couldn’t stop them, but they had no power to enact it and it would inevitably come over here.
Before we left I tackled him on the fact that we had had no notification of the Annual Conference. They were unable to trace any reference to us in their records. But they hastened to add that last year had been chaotic owing to incompetence in the office. They agreed to permit us to send resolutions. I then tackled him about our exclusion from the Ad-hoc Committee. “We’ll have to make our emergency resolution a protest against racialism.”
“Oh! No, Desmond, that’s unfair.”
“Well you say you don’t want us because we’re an Irish organisation.”
With this the story came out. It was not murder, only robbery or battomry on the high seas. First and foremost they intended to see Loyalists, and having the Connolly Association a sponsor was likely to make it difficult. We wanted no more. The NCCL is trying to manoeuvre into the typical English imperial position of holding the balance between two camps. No wonder they applied for a subsidy from the Home Office last year. “In other words,” said Betty Sinclair, “you’re yielding to blackmail in advance.” So then he started to concoct some elaborate plan by which a Connolly Association member would be included in the NCCL panel. I said we would think about it.
But then his intrigues with Charlie Cunningham emerged. He was getting Charlie to get his branch to affiliate to Camden Trades Council so that Charlie could be sent on the Brent Trades Council delegation. They had consulted the Connolly Association not at all and Betty Sinclair outlined some of the practices he adopted. She warned about the size of the delegation and complained that the Belfast Trades Council had not been consulted.
Afterwards over a whiskey or two she told me it was doubtful whether the Northern Ireland Committee of the ICTU would bother. She is disgusted with Dromey. I suspected him from the first meeting at the Porchester Hall, though Sean Redmond could not see the flaw [Sean Redmond, former CA General Secretary, has been a personal friend of Jack Dromey’s for a while when they both served on the NCCL Executive].
I went to Liverpool to have a day off. Late at night Betty Sinclair rang to say that Lawrence and Wishart had accepted her memoirs – or that she should write them. She had also been to visit Lawrence and Wishart and Chris Myant. She had impressed on Myant the need to keep more closely in touch with myself and said he did not find it easy to get all his material published.
March 14 Friday (Liverpool): It was cold and there had been frost. There are still a few green Tropaeolum leaves, but I think they will soon die back. There are a few quite sturdy poppies, and the oenotheras are acting as perennials for now. The damson and Victoria plum are in half-hearted flower and I imagine there will be no fruit. I had a cold, so I did little but sit by the fire.
March 15 Saturday (London): I came back to London on the morning train, and found awaiting me a letter from Bill Hamling’s secretary. He had had a slight heart attack and was now in Westminster Hospital. I was in Hammersmith with Chris Sullivan, who has to go home early on his wife’s orders, is doing badly and looks a very worried man. Such nonsense!
March 16 Sunday: I was in the office all day, until in the evening I was out in Fulham and Hammersmith with the papers and leaflets for the meeting. Since the incidents in December the Irish have been thoroughly intimidated and our circulation fell by at least a half. I would say February was the worst. But I have the impression that our work for the meeting is at last bearing fruit, and there were tonight even more than last night signs of recovered confidence. Nevertheless, Charlie Cunningham and Jane Tate told me that there were only 150 on the St Patrick’s Day parade, which used to attract thousands.
March 17 Monday: I was in the office preparing for the conference of 11 May. Jack Woddis rang asking me could I see him on Wednesday. He had rung on Thursday but was out when I rang back on Friday and Saturday. I was wondering what he was wanting. Now he said he was worried about “coordination” and wanted a meeting with Irene Brennan. However, I told him that I had to look after the speakers and be available all day Wednesday. Thursday? I was going to Dublin to the CPI congress. “When does that begin?” Friday. (I shall probably not go till Friday night but want to get a day’s peace.) I suggested Tuesday and will probably see him without Irene Brennan. My guess is that Jack Dromey got in touch with Irene Brennan the minute Betty Sinclair and I left the NCCL. His letter had not arrived. I don’t believe it ever existed. But I got Jane Tate to send off £10 to make sure our subscription was paid. Then Connie Seafort came in. She was talking about sending a delegate who was in the Labour Party. “We’re keeping away from NICRA” she said, “because of the Secretary’s connections with the ultra-left.” “Do you mean Edwina Stewart?” She did. I gathered thus that the war to the knife with Colin Sweet is being pursued in the midst of the Northern Ireland solidarity movement. I rang Betty Sinclair and asked whom the NCCL delegation was being sponsored by. She did not know. Nor did Edwina Stewart know. They did not want their fortnight visits and felt a strange odour attaching itself to both delegations. When I first met Irene Brennan I thought she was a Trotskyite. I had the same impression of Dromey. If through the stupidity of people who should know better they ruin everything, I will not stay in England. Their arrogance is unbelievable.
Betty Sinclair was indignant at documents duplicated and circulated stating that the Belfast Trades Council would act as hosts when the Trades Council had never been approached.
I rang Bill Hamling’s secretary in the morning. She did not know anything about the arrangements Hamling had made. He is still in hospital but is recovering. No permanent damage has been done. She promised to ring Downing Street and see if Wilson was free on Wednesday. Then she rang back to say he had gone into a Cabinet meeting, the subject I gathered from a portentous tone in her voice, was the EEC. Could the visitors stay over till Thursday? I thought not. So we seem to have hit the “jinx” again. On the other hand Betty Sinclair told me that Andy Barr has been persuaded by Michael O’Riordan and Jimmy Stewart to come. But Wilson will be too busy betraying the English to bother with the Irish.
I went to the South London Social and saw there Paddy Bond, Charlie Cunningham, and young Andy Barr [son of the Northern Ireland trade union leader]. He asked if his father was coming over. I didn’t know. Then he said an odd thing, “Why don’t you go and live in Dublin and work for the party?” This after I had been thinking of Dublin already. Apparently Andy Barr intends to settle there when he retires.
March 18 Tuesday: I spent most of the day trying to locate Andy Barr, but without success. The cold weather has come at last, and I wondered if the “jinx” would send a snowstorm. I got Barr at his home at 11.15. I had tried his office and been fobbed off and had no satisfaction from Jimmy Stewart. Moreover, Betty Sinclair changed her mind and decided not to substitute for Andy Barr. Now at last he finally declined and said, “I hear you’ve been looking for me all day. I should have left a message for you.” He should have had the elementary courtesy of answering my letter. I spoke most cordially and said I quite understood. But I propose to tell everybody. If I had not telephoned I would have heard nothing. I asked for a telegram. If it comes I read it. If not I say I do not know where he is. “You can write out any message you like and say it’s from me,” he said, no doubt intending to be helpful. But I read out what he sends and nothing else.
March 19 Wednesday: The “jinx” struck again – this is becoming a standard phrase with us. At 10 am. Stan Thorne rang up to say his father had died and he must go to Preston! He promised to find a substitute and I’m sure he will. He said he read the “Democrat” for years and its views coincided with his own. At about 12 noon Toni Curran arrived (Tony Coughlan having come at 8 am. and gone to the airport) with Devlin and Michael Mullen. So we rearranged our plans. Paddy Bond took over the chair. And I was to be a speaker. Terence McCaughey has mumps and cannot come, but Tony Coughlan will take his place.
We had lunch at “The Shire”, the five of us. In the midst of it all Michael Mullen asked me if I would consider writing the history of the ITGWU. So just as I was asking Tony Coughlan if he thought I could make a living in Dublin, and he assured me that it could be arranged, here is a definite proposal. And the offer may be open for a year or two, when I can “retire”. It was of course not just a sudden feeling of disgust that prompted the idea. I am not getting any younger and cannot expect to enjoy the sort of health required for my present life indefinitely. But I’m certainly not going to face a repetition of 1956-59. On this, by the way, I saw Jack Woddis on Tuesday. Irene Brennan had telephoned him to say she had had a difference of opinion with me on whether the Connolly Association should be represented on the NCCL Ad Hoc Committee. I told him that my committee thought that we should and that while we will not rock the general boat or push things unreasonably, we intended to take a stand.
After lunch we went to the Irish Club where Gerry Fitt was in bed. “What’s he doing in bed at this time of day?” I asked Devlin. “With a woman,” said he shortly, I do not know whether seriously or in jest. So we went to the House of Commons as the “jinx” produced icy cold rain clouds and unpleasant east winds. There I had a talk with Martin Flannery, who left the CP over Hungary, though his wife is still in it [Leftwing Labour MP for Sheffield Hillsborough, of Irish background].He is unfortunately under leftist influence. Jock Stallard was there. Tom Litterick had agreed to replace Stan Thorne. I did not go to the meeting which Jo Richardson [Labour MP for Barking] had arranged but returned to the office and picked them up later. We took a taxi to Hammersmith.
About 250 people turned up, and Monsignor Bruce Kent [Leading figure in British CND], Patsy Byrne, Jock Stallard and Steve Perry sat on the platform. And yet it could not pass without trouble. Tom Litterick was taken ill after his speech and had to be taken home by Stallard. But despite the financial loss the meeting was judged a success. It was mostly attended by the Trade Union Irish, but it is something to get them moving as an organised force on the Irish question. Frank Watters spoke well and both Devlin and Michael Mullen gave good speeches. After it was all over, the flower plucked from the nettle, we all went to the “Hop Poles” for a drink.
March 20 Thursday (Liverpool): I came into the office in the morning and did not get away till midday. After reaching Liverpool I bought an “Echo”[ie. the “Liverpool Post and Echo”]. To my surprise I read that “A by-election is now pending owing to the death of Mr W. Hamling, the Prime Minister’s PPS” According to Paddy Bond, whom I spoke to on the telephone, he was discharged from hospital as perfectly fit yesterday, but went home and collapsed and died. So the “jinx” has completed the job!
In the evening the phone rang. Who should it be but Lenny Draper ringing from Paris. He said he had rung the office many times but had not written as he preferred to speak. “You’ll have to forgive my leaving like that,” he said, “There were one or two things that upset me.” He says he is not doing well financially but is returning next week to visit his family and will call in to the office on Friday 28th.
March 21 Friday: I seem to have gotten through the day without producing much noticeable effect. But I took the 8.8 pm. train to Chester and went on to Holyhead and on board ship.
March 22 Saturday (Dublin): I left my luggage at Cathal’s and went down to Liberty Hall where the CPI congress was in progress. Michael O’Riordan was speaking and making reference to differences over Czechoslovakia. Reading his speech over afterwards I found it very good. And the “Declaration of Intent” was in the resolution. They had a number of other resolutions and adopted the somewhat unusual procedure of debating them one after the other and voting on the whole tomorrow. Carmody made an impassioned speech against Russia’s invasion of Czechoslovakia, and Jeffares, who has also been anti-O’Riordan, made a speech which was sound enough if it had not been allied with the divisive trend. Among those present were Tom Redmond, Jimmy Stewart, Edwina Stewart, Roy Johnston, who must speak in every debate, both Stephen and John Mooney, Peter O’Connor, Jim Savage (who is not dead at all, though I was told he was), John Meehan of Ballinrobe, Andy Barr in the chair, Betty Sinclair, Madge Davison, Hughie Moore, Gordon McLennan from London, and Chris Myant. It was clear that they had been doing very well, with many new recruits and promising young people. Mairin Johnston spoke on the question of the women. Feargal Costello whom she is living with was there, and of course Sean Nolan. I would say 120 people were present.
It was the most unruly conference you ever saw.
“You see why England will never be able to govern Ireland,” I said to Gordon McLennan.
“I do – and wonder why they should want to,” replied the Scot.
But though Andy Barr in the chair had his work cut out settling points of order, the whole proceedings were conducted in high good humour, and they all seemed very pleased with themselves, as well they might be, with new branches springing up all over the country, thanks to their having the right policy.
In the evening I met Micheál O Loingsigh at Cathal’s, Daltún O Ceallaigh also called. Tony Coughlan, who had come to Liverpool with me on Thursday last (it was Friday, not Thursday, when Des Logan rang), went on to Scotland. Cathal and Helga went to dinner at Sean Redmond’s, but I went to the CPI social. Most of the time I spent out of the overcrowded room at “The Fleet”, talking with Betty Sinclair and Kay O’Riordan, Michael’s wife. Then young Liam Mooney, son of John, introduced himself and drove Betty Sinclair to Roy Johnston’s and myself to Cathal’s. He is a very pleasant promising young fellow, about 21 or 22, but the brother who is in Sinn Fein is not so good. He told me he often heard about the “battle of Hyde Park” [assaults on CA meetings there in the early 1950s] when his mother broke a new handbag on the head of a hoodlum.
March 23 Sunday: I spent today also at the CPI meeting. To my surprise, towards the end I heard Michael O’Riordan pay a pleasant tribute to myself, saying that he could not find praise high enough for my forty years’ stand for Irish independence in Britain. Jimmy Stewart was very forthcoming too, and it looks as if the days of division are over, another reason that sets my mind towards moving to Ireland, if other problems can be solved.
After the conference Betty Sinclair and Margaret Murray and I had a drink. I then rang Cathal who came down and took Betty Sinclair home, bringing me on to 24 Belgrave Road.
March 24 Monday: I went to Bord Failte to see about films for our summer school, spoke to O Snodaigh on the phone, and then called in to Sean Nolan. Michael O’Riordan and I had a drink on “some funds earmarked for the entertainment of fraternals”. He thought I had not had my share. He thought the Czech thing had been settled on the basis of “agree to differ”. Of Betty Sinclair he said she was lonely and wanted to get away. She would spend two months in Prague, and then each year the time would be increased. I was not really impressed with the wisdom of this. But if she wants it, there it is. Later Cathal and Helga drove me to Dun Laoghaire. One other thing – Joe Deighan has pulled off the CPI Executive as he has his hands full with the shop [ie. running his pharmacy].
March 25 Tuesday (London): I went to Liverpool first and then on to London. Irene Brennan rang up, full of implied righteous indignation. She had been speaking to Madge Davison. What had I said about the delegation going to see Unionists. “Nothing,” I replied. Or to Dromey (I had let Betty Sinclair do the telling quite deliberately). She repudiated with indignation the suggestion that Dromey had excluded the Connolly Association. He had twice proposed it, but Irene Brennan had opposed. Why? “Tactics,” said she. “We don’t want anybody who is committed to a United Ireland.” “But the Communist party is.” “The Irish party,” she replied with a slight touch of contempt. This referred to the “Declaration of intent.” “But the British party has stood for it for years. It’s in the British Road to Socialism.” Now she brought out the same red herring that Jack Woddis had produced, “Not with a date attached.”
“But there’s no date attached. It’s just a damned lie to say there is.”
Now I had a drink on the train and I let her have it hotter and stronger than would usually be the case. “You ought to remember anyway that you’ve broken party discipline,” she said mounting her high horse. “Oh?” “You said to Dromey, ‘I blame Irene Brennan more than you.’’’ “In heaven’s name,” said I, “and wouldn’t I be right on your own admission. I’m complaining to Dromey, and I’m told you’re the one responsible!” “But,” she went on slightly petulantly, “I’m not just an ordinary party member. I’m a member of the Executive.” (Another London discovery – they sponsored Brian Behan against my written advice and consulted me no more!). “Well, Dromey says he’s prepared to send a CA member as one of the NCCL team.” “We don’t want anybody to visit Long Kesh. We want to be on the sponsoring committee, because we believe that our experience will be useful and may help to prevent mistakes.” “Mistakes? I can assure it will be well organised.” I dare say it will be, but what.
I realised of course that there was nothing to be done, and I told her that the Connolly Association would not press things to an issue as long as it didn’t happen again. I detected a note of fear in her voice when I said I had been to see Woddis. She said she, I and Woddis should meet to discuss “strategy”. “Yes,” said I, “but we must have Myant as well.” She didn’t like this. So there are no actual hostilities yet. But what a way to be wasting your time! She is pressing hard for a Vietnam campaign type of umbrella committee, but at least on this Woddis is holding firm. Of course her trouble is that she doesn’t know what she is doing and thinks she does.
March 26 Wednesday: I worked on the paper all day and addressed the branch at night. There were two new youngsters from Waterford. Brian Crowley had brought them in.
March 27 Thursday: I was again busy on the paper and got the final copy off to the printer.
March 28 Friday: When I went into the office for a meeting of the Standing Committee, which neither Toni Curran nor Pat O’Donohue attended, who should be there beside Pat Bond but Lenny Draper, dressed in an outlandish military swagger coat and his hair and beard more bizarre than ever. I was not impressed. He says that every hand in Manchester was turned against him. As quick as he did things, others undid them. And of course it is right to blame the monstrous sabotage of Ainley and Arnison, in which they admit they consulted nobody even if they only carried out the evil intention of others. He said he left Manchester on his bicycle and rode to Paris to see Rushe. There he got a job teaching English. He joined the CPF [ie. the French CP] and proposes to spend two years getting a “degree” in “Marxism – Leninism” which will be “internationally recognised.” He doesn’t want to be a plumber any more. And talks of the danger to his health. If he works in London in the summer he will change his name because of the threats to his parents. Probably that is the main factor. “You used to talk about the movement,” I said to him. “Now you only talk about yourself.” We had to lend him £10 to go to Manchester and Belfast. He had not been able to change his francs. When he had gone I asked Charlie Cunningham what he thought of him. “It used to be ‘We, We’; now it is ‘I, I’.” And that’s the summary. He has run away and will probably go on running. Yet but for Ainley and Arnison he would have held.
March 29 Saturday (Liverpool): I felt a cold coming on, so decided not to take part in the sales but came straight to Liverpool. There was a letter awaiting me from Betty Sinclair. It ran, “I do hope, after the last week-end, that you well know of our appreciation of your work and dedication. Michael O’Riordan, like myself, know of your unselfish support for the Irish working- class cause, and he paid tribute to it during our 16th Congress. I was so pleased to hear what he had to say . . . Gordon McLennan’s statement was the most forthright one made by, and on behalf of, the CPGB, and you must, in all consciousness (sic), assert yourself in the matter? . . . The door of No.16 King Street should be knocked hard and loud. Last night I stayed with Margaret Murray. She is in a pitiful state. Her memory is nearly gone…”
This is the third time in a fortnight she has urged me to “assert” myself. I have never noticed much attention being paid to my assertions in the past. But as Billy McCullough said when Joe Deighan asked him to do something about civil liberties: “I think I’ll fire a shot.”
March 30 Sunday: I am getting the days mixed (this is Monday). I called at Birmingham on Saturday and saw Mark Clinton. Then came on. The elder is in near full leaf. All the Tropaeolum leaves have withered, but last year’s poppies are as large as life. Daffodils are in full bloom. The damson and Victoria plum likewise.
March 31 Monday: My cold was a little better. I have never had such a year for colds, despite the mild winter up to March 3rd. The last month has been on the cold side but hovering above freezing point – a very unhealthy temperature.
April 1 Tuesday: The weather is not fit for gardening and we seem to be having our winter in spring. I only pottered about, still with a bad cold and somewhat listless and depressed.
April 2 Wednesday: Another day spent reading and pottering. Tony Coughlan rang to say that the ISM [Irish Sovereignty Movement] conference falls on May 11 and that Micheál O Loingsigh may therefore not be able to come to ours. I suggested that he should postpone it until after the British referendum, as that bears directly on his work [ie. the impending referendum on UK membership of the EEC].
April 3 Thursday: The refrigerator has stopped refrigerating. I spent the whole day in the house waiting for a gas company fitter who did not materialise.
April 4 Friday: Now the immersion heater has ceased to function. We only want the ballcock on the lavatory tank to go and all will be complete. I rang Ashford, who promised to come tomorrow evening.
April 5 Saturday: I went to Manchester and saw young Michael Murray (Manchester Scottish) who has taken over the bookshop from MJ. I bought a pamphlet on Ireland by a Manchester NCCL man called Cohen. Murray told me that he was an “International Marxist” but his paper was “very good”. I was not so sure when I read it. His Trotskyism was revealed only in a single stab at the Soviets. But the whole tone was defeatist and leftist and gave the impression of the NCCL as a part of the campaigning “left” rather than as an important defender of democracy. This was more evident in the style than otherwise. When I got back to Liverpool Ashford has been here and left a note.
April 6 Sunday: Ashford came and replaced the immersion heater. The weather is still cold and nothing can be done in the garden.
April 7 Monday: I telephoned the gas people. They were apologetic and promised to send a fitter tomorrow.
April 8 Tuesday: The fitter came and said a half-inch pipe was corroded and blocked. It would take ten days to find out if there was a new one available. If necessary I will get Charlie Cunningham to make me one.
April 9 Wednesday: The weather was slightly milder and in the afternoon I repaired a fence and cleared some ground. It is the oddest season – flurries of sleet falling between last year’s roses, with this year’s loganberries already in bud, and annual poppies behaving like perennials.
April 10 Thursday: I was at home all day. Before the rain started I managed a little more in the garden, but the work is as far behind as the growth is advanced.
April 11 Friday (Birmingham): I got very little done today. I had thought of going to London but instead went first to Manchester to try to get a social before the referendum. There was a new man there who was very amiable, but whether anything will be done is doubtful. I then went on to Birmingham and met Mark Clinton. We did a little selling in Sparkbrook. Then I stayed with him at Erdington. He has extraordinary notions. For example, he says he saw “levitation” with his own eyes. They were all kneeling in some kind of prayer when he was training for the priesthood. The man who “levitated” was a “schizophrenic” afterwards and came to some kind of bad end. Mark has been taught no science and has no awareness that P=mg [the physics formula for weight, indicating the pull of gravity on the body]. I was very surprised at his believing this nonsense. The old woman, Malachy’s mother-in-law, said very firmly, “It’s all imagination,” but then showed herself equally unscientific by saying, “It might have happened hundreds of years ago, but not today.”
April 12 Saturday (London): I went to Nottingham to the NCCL Conference. John Hoffman was there and Jack Dromey, quite affable despite the disputations. He was chairman at a “workshop” or “work-in”, the main feature of which was that amendments were discussed before resolutions. We had put in the main resolution. Finbarr O’Doherty put an amendment from Manchester Polytechnic for immediate withdrawal of troops. I had to leave before the vote, but John Hoffman told me on the telephone that the resolution was passed. I reached London at about 7 pm. and was out with Chris Sullivan. He is having difficulty upon difficulty with his “project” and will soon have to face realities.
April 13 Sunday: It struck me that no balance sheet was distributed at the NCCL (as indeed there was no sign of NICRA, and all the branches of Clann na hEireann we were told about). I asked Amphlett-Micklewright if he had had one. He had not. Neither had John Hoffman. We had a Standing Committee to discuss finance and Pat Bond told me that Irene Brennan had drafted the London District Committee circular to carry out the conference decision to recommend the “Irish Democrat”. She had included with the “Irish Democrat” the “Irish Socialist” and Rosc Catha, the splitters’ monthly. There was, however, a letter from her which was quite amiable. Toni Curran told me that the “Morning Star” published our press statement several days late – after Fred Riley had telephoned to ask why it was not in.
April 14 Monday: The “Sunday Press” had a statement that the NCCL was calling a conference of “all Irish, social, welfare and cultural organisations” to discuss the Prevention of Terrorism Act. The Connolly Association has received no communication. I therefore wrote to Patricia Hewitt, addressing her as “Dear Madam” and demanding the right of representation. Apparently Dromey, Patricia Hewitt, Cass Scorer and Tansey are the speakers, plus Tom Walsh of the Liverpool Irish Centre. Amphlett-Micklewright is very suspicious of Tansey, says he is an International Socialist and playing a curious and probably dirty game. I had a brief word with Madge Davison on the phone. She said that the NCCL had “made a mess of their delegation”, as they did not get into Long Kesh.
April 15 Tuesday: Toni Curran told me that Molloy has gone Anti-EEC, she suspects to help to wash off the stain of Stonehouse [John Stonehouse, a Labour MP and Minister who faked his own death and disappearance in 1974 to cover up financial troubles; later established to have been a spy for Czechoslovakia]. A young man called Atkinson came to say he had been commissioned by the Northern Ireland Committee of the ICTU to prepare an exhibition on the Bill of Rights. He told me that both NICRA and the UDA are drafting bills. I had been told this by Dromey already. The silly fools. If NICRA had, having appropriated ours, left well alone, they could confront the UDA with Labour’s Bill. As it is, we don’t know what the Republicans will put into it!
I went out to spend the afternoon with R.Page Arnot. I wanted to know what arrangement he made with the NUM over the History he did for them. He was upset at Clemens Dutt’s death. I had not realised that R.Palme Dutt was the youngest. He showed me a photograph of a sister who lives in Switzerland and is non-political. She is the eldest. “My reserves are running out,” said Robin who is nearly 85, but he can be lively enough when he gets going. His wife, however, is mentally failing. She must be 87.
I was in the office in the evening where Jane Tate arrived.
April 16 Wednesday: A letter came from Cass Scorer of the NCCL inviting us to the conference. Incidentally, lrene Brennan called on Monday, very much chastened I thought, and running into all manner of difficulties we could have warned her about, but she “knew it all”. I had helped her with a women’s question too. And it struck me that she is running out of ideas – so far all she has done has been to imitate the CA under other auspices and split the front we built up. But if she can be brought to see reason, well and good. There was no branch meeting. Charlie Cunningham had not sent out the proper notices and as he was unwell we let him go home. He works very hard indeed, but in a strangely disorganized way.
April 17 Thursday: Tony Coughlan rang and said he had received from Con Lehane a cheque for £1,700, which he was sending to me. Dermot Smyth rang. He used to sing doleful songs at Pat Kearney’s socials, where Ebbs used to perform the remarkable feat of standing on his head, singing a song and drinking a pint of beer. “The Old Bog Road” was Smyth’s party piece and I never remember hearing it sung so lugubriously. He told me that he was now disabled and confined to a wheelchair. So much twenty years has done. But he is working hard for the “Get Britain Out” movement. I told him what we were doing and he rang them, and they rang me. Peter Clarke is the man’s name. Clarke told me that at a meeting in Liverpool University the “Provisionals” had latched themselves on to the anti-EEC campaign and caused trouble. Jimmy Stewart is over for a meeting in West London and is staying with Toni Curran. He promised to call in to me in the afternoon tomorrow. In the evening I spoke to Balham CP. DmL. was there, and young Andy Barr, with Minnie Bowles and a shadowy visitor – probably a “Provisional” detailed to keep everything Irish under observation. He was friendly enough but told me afterwards that he had not said anything, but for himself held the view that “it can only be done with the gun.” As if the whole place wasn’t bristling with guns for five years and the situation worse now than when the shooting started!
April 18 Friday: I worked on the paper and rang up Irish Trade Unionists to get a statement against the EEC. Then in the evening I was out on the sales.
April 19 Saturday: With young Jim Cosgrave I went to the NCCL conference. When we arrived at l pm. the brilliant platform was arranged – Cass Scorer, Jack Dromey, Patricia Hewitt, Tansey and Tom Walsh – before an audience of four, one of whom was Michael Keane, who had seen the report on the “Irish Press”. A few others came in later, making about ten in all. I tackled Walsh in the bar about banning CA members from the Liverpool Irish Centre. He disclaimed giving it any support and said, “Anyway Barney Morgan comes in every week.” He claimed to have set Barney Morgan up in business, arranged credit for him from Bank managers, and facilitated him in every way. He said that proposals to ban any Irish organisation would never pass now. As for the conference, it was useful enough. But some of them are just beginning to realise the difficulties. Only one county organisation was represented. I was not surprised. I could have told them. But the grand imperial English with their organising mission cannot be expected to consult the lesser breeds without the law!
April 20 Sunday: I continued on the paper and in the evening was out with Charlie Cunningham. That is three nights this weekend [ie. selling the “Irish Democrat” in the pubs of the Irish districts].
April 21 Monday: The “Morning Star” had a big advert for the Troops Out Movement conference a fortnight after ours. Jack Woddis was away and I rang Gordon McLennan. I did not get much satisfaction. They are over-faced, also perhaps a little over-impressed with their own rightness, which is there all right, but that they can convince insufficient others of it. They do not want to do what I told them – transfer forces into this field. So they will “look into the matter and work something out.” I do not believe the “Morning Star” should accept such advertisements. But they do. The worst is that they have got Stan Thorne, Sid Bidwell and Michael Mullen to sponsor. I rang Tony Coughlan, who knew nothing about this. Then I rang Jock Stallard who said, “They’ve a banner with ‘get out’ painted on it, and a slot to put in Vietnam, or Chile or Cyprus or Kurdistan, so as to have something to parade about.” He blamed the “Tribune” group. He said Gery Lawless had sent him a request, which was innocuously worded. But he knew whom he was dealing with and would not sign it. “I suppose I’ll be attacked for that,” he said.
I then came to Liverpool after ringing trade unionists all day. I found a cheque for £1,750, which will mean a year’s safety for the paper, or should do.
April 22 Tuesday: I spent the day on the paper, apart from banking the £1,750. I am proposing to draw from this at a rate of £155 a month for eleven months. This will not be subject to tax, whereas what I would draw from Connolly Publications would be so subject.
April 23 Wednesday: I continued on the paper. From Charlie Cunningham I hear that preparatory work for our conference on the 11th is not going well. The response is poor. But I secured Merrigan’s services as a speaker [Matt Merrigan, official with the ATGWU in Dublin]. This Tony Coughlan arranged.
April 24 Thursday: The same thing – telephonings interspersed with typing and laying out the paper.
April 25 Friday: Yet more of the same from morning to night.
April 26 Saturday: I went to the Builders Charter Conference in St George’s Hall [ie. in Liverpool]. Roger O’Hara was there early and other people I knew. Three young men of Trotskyist appearance were handing out sealed envelopes to the delegates as they arrived. They were invitations to their conference. I saw that Michael Mullen was listed as a speaker, together with Leo Abse and Eamon McCann! I had a talk with Larry Fennel and we tackled Jack Henry and told him how to introduce the Irish question, which he did. And Tony McClelland of Liverpool did so also without any prompting. I also spoke to Pete Carter, who was elected editor of their paper. A character called Glenholmes from Birmingham said to me, “What d’you think of the party reversing its policy on the Troops Out Movement?” “Well”, said I, “I can’t give an opinion on what I’m not aware of.” When I pressed for evidence he said, “Well – it’s a group of party members in Birmingham who say let’s go in with the mass movement.” I dare say some are using those words, but what reality they correspond to is another matter. Mark Clinton does not have a high opinion of this man.
April 27 Sunday: At last a really fine day. I cut part of the front lawn and got leeks and garlic planted out.
April 28 Monday: I went to Ripley. Terry Rynolds and a youngster were obviously worried about the EEC referendum. “I know everybody’s against it – but what will France and Germany think if we break our word?” “I couldn’t care less,” said I, “what France and Germany think; let them worry about that.” Now I detect confusion and fear – fear of taking a decision against the advice of their natural leaders. I called at Manchester on the way back and had a word with Belle Lalor at her house. She said Lenny Draper had called and said he was going on to see me, but he never arrived. She thought he looked unwell and impoverished. But he insisted on going back to Paris. Belle is now well, and she will undertake a social on May 31st. We thus make a further attempt at recovering.
April 29 Tuesday: News came that Liam McMillen has been assassinated [Liam McMillen,1928-1975, was a leading Official Republican in Belfast who was assassinated by a member of the breakaway Irish National Liberation Army, led by Seamus Costello]. I was sorry about this. When I took Marcus Lipton to Belfast in 1962, Art McMillen [ie. his brother] arranged for us to meet some of the republicans, and Liam was one of them. There was nobody less like a “gunman”, and they got on with Lipton well. Of course they treated Lipton with extra respect because he was a Colonel. Goodness knows what ranks they give themselves – nothing lower than General, I am sure. I recall well how Lipton got excited and began to drop into a kind of Yiddisher. “I can understand, if you’re looking for independence, there might be a bit of rough stuff. But you should go into Parliament. Parliament is the shop window. Put the goods in the window where the purchasers can see them!” But they did not take his advice.
April 30 Wednesday (London): I went to London in time for the branch meeting. Our conference on May 11 looks like being a “flop”.
End of Volume 26 (1 April 1974 – 30 April 19
GREAVES JOURNAL, VOLUME 26, INDEX
1 April 1974 – 30 April 1975
Greaves, C. Desmond
Aesthetic and cultural matters: 10.17, 10.27, 11.1
Assessments of others: 4.2, 4.4, 4.7, 5.11,5.31, 6.2, 6.11, 8.2-3, 8.26, 8.29, 9.11, 9.15, 9.21,11.2,11.12,11.25,12.11,1.9, 1.26, 2.20,
Britain, public attitudes and assessment of trends in: 2.3, 4.2, 4.7, 5.11, 8.6, 9.8,11.28, 1.5, 1.23, 4.19
Civil Rights Campaign on Northern Ireland: 4.7, 5.1-2, 3.13
European supranational integration/the EEC: 4.2, 6.11, 7.7, 4.4, 1.23, 3.17,
Family relations: 8.27-28, 9.11,9.20,10.11,10.31,11.2,11.25,12.20,12.26, 12.31
Holidays/cycle tours: 5.31,6.4-6, 7.14, 9.14-18
Mellows research: 4.7
O’Casey research: 8.15, 8.95, 2.6, 2.25
Self-assessments and personal plans: 5.15, 5.28, 6.2, 6.15, 7.8, 8.15, 8.19,
8.29, 10.7, 10.15, 11.22, 11.26, 11.28, 12.9, 12.18, 12.30, 3.17,
3.19, 3.23, 3.29
Organisation Names Index
Anti-Internment League: 2.21, 11.24
Belfast Trades Council: 5.2
British and Irish Communist Gorup (BICO): 6.25
British Peace Committee: 6.15, 8.26, 9.5, 10.9,1.9
Campaign for Democracy in Ulster (CDU): 4.26, 11.18
Clann na hEireann: 9.6-7, 9.21,11.3-4,12.4-5,12.7-8, 12.10-11, 1.9, 2.5, 2.21, 2.27, 3.4,3.8, 4.13
Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB): 4.7-8, 4.24, 5.2, 6.6. 6.11, 6.15,
7.8, 7.18, 7.28, 8.3, 8.5, 8.22, 9.5-7,11.12-14,11.17,11.19, 12.4-5,
12.7-9, 12.11, 12.18-19,12.21,12.29,1.9, 2.20-21, 2.27, 3.4, 3.8,
3.25, 3.29, 4.13, 4.26
Communist Party of Ireland: 4.7, 6.6, 6.25, 7.18, 7.28,12.11, 2.18,12.21,
Connolly Association/Irish Democrat: 4.2, 4.7, 4.28, 5.2, 5.13, 5.15, 6.2,
6.15, 7.15, 7.18,7.24, 7.28, 8.3, 8.5-6, 8.22, 9.7, 9.21, 9.23,
9.29,11.12,12.19-20, 1.3,1.9, 2.21, 3.16, 4.16, 5.28
Irish Sovereignty Movement: 5.1, 5.20, 7.3, 7.5,4.2
Labour Party (British): 4.2, 4.15
Movement for Colonial Freedom (MCF) /Liberation: 8.22, 9.7,12.28,1.9,1.31
National Assembly of Women: 9.21
National Council for Civil Liberties: 4.4, 4.6, 9.21, 1.9, 1.29, 3.13,
National Union of Students (NUS): 8.10, 11.21, 2.17, 2.20
Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association (NICRA), including support groups in Britain: 4.4, 4.7, 5.2, 7.2, 7.13, 7.15, 7.24, 8.6, 9.27, 4.15
Sinn Fein/IRA-Officials: 7.5, 7.19, 7.28, 9.6, 11.25, 12.10, 1.18, 2.21, 2.27,
Sinn Fein/IRA-Provisionals: 7.5, 7.19, 7.28, 9.6, 11.22, 11.25, 11.28-29, 12.18, 1.18, 2.23, 4.17
Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP): 12.10
Troops Out Movement: 5.15, 8.26, 9.5, 10.7, 12.8-10, 4.21, 4.26,
Trotskyite and far-left organisations:4.6, 4.26, 5.15, 5.24, 6.11, 6.13,
6.17,6.25, 7.16, 8.2, 8.26, 9.5,10.7, 11.4, 11.24, 12.8 , 4.21
Personal Names Index
Ainley, Ben: 6.15, 9.5, 11.13, 1.11, 1.19, 3.28
Amphlett-Micklewright, Rev.: 5.12, 7.17, 9.21, 12.9, 2.16, 4.13-14
Arnison, J.: 6.15, 7.2, 9.5, 11.6, 11.13, 1.11, 3.28
Arnot, R. Page: 4.15
Askins, Jack: 6.15,9.5
Anthony, George: 6.19, 9.5
Asmal, Kader: 4.20
Barr, Andy: 4.7, 8.6, 11.11, 12.10, 2.20, 2.28, 3.17-18
Beauchamp, Kay: 9.7, 11.17, 1.31
Behan, Brian: 2.21, 3.25
Bennett, Jack: 5.13, 6.2, 7.25, 9.21, 11.24, 12.10
Bidwell, Sid MP: 12.10, 1.31, 4.21
Bond, Patrick (Pat, Paddy): 4.2, 5.31,7.28, 11.17, 11.26, 12.8, 1.9,
Bond, Stella: 6.19, 2.18
Boyle, Kevin: 3.13
Brennan, Irene: 9.21, 11.12, 11.19, 11.24-25, 12.5, 12.11, 12.19, 1.9-10, 1,15, 1.30, 2.7, 2.21, 2.27, 3.8, 3.17, 3.19, 3.25, 4.13, 4.16
Brockway, Lord Fenner: 10.7, 11.28, 12.10
Byrne, Cllr. Paddy: 4.26, 11.16,5.15
Campbell, Flann and Mary: 7.14
Carmody, Paddy: 11.11, 3.9, 3.22
Chater, Tony: 4.23-24, 4.26, 5.15, 6.11
Clinton, Mark: 4.2, 4.6-7, 4.28, 5.18, 6.1, 9.28, 10.8, 11.22, 12.23-24,
12.27, 1.5, 4.11
Cohen, Gerry: 7.28, 11.10, 11.19, 12.8
Cole, Stan: 11.13, 11.25
Comerford, Maire: 5.29
Connolly, James: 2.2
Cook, Dave: 6.30, 9.21
Cooper, Joe: 5.2, 1.31
Cornforth, Maurice: 8.19
Cosgrave, Jim: 11.16, 4.19
Costello, Fergal: 4.18
Costello, Seamus: 2.27
Coughlan, Anthony (Tony): 4.19-21, 5.1-2, 5.20, 5.31, 6.1, 6.7, 7.3, 7.5, 7.7, 7.19, 7.28, 8.7, 9.21, 9.24, 10.7, 11.25, 12.15,12.18, 12.27,
1.23, 2.10, 2.28, 3.1, 3.19, 4.2, 4.17, 4.21, 4.23
Crowe, Michael: 4.2, 11.4
Crowley, Brian: 6.11,12.20, 2.21, 3.4, 3.26
Cunningham, Charlie: 8.5,9.5, 10.4, 10.6, 3.4,4.16
Curran, Mrs Antoinette (Toni): 4.2-3, 5.31, 6.15, 7.18, 10.8, 11.12, 12.9
Curran, Gerard: 10.9, 11.12
Daly, Lawrence: 4.2
Davison, Madge: 4.4, 4.7, 6.2, 7.2, 9.27, 12.18, 4.14
Deighan, Joseph: 5.2, 5.12, 1.3, 3.24, 3.29
Devlin, Paddy MP: 12.10
Donaghey, Tony: 9.5, 11.3, 2.22, 3.3, 3.7
Draper, Lenny: 5.21, 6.8, 6.15, 7.2, 7.29, 8.10, 9.5, 9.11, 10.8, 1.19, 3.28
Dromey, Jack MP: 4.6-7, 5.15, 6.25, 1.29-30, 3.13, 3.17, 3.20, 4.12
Durkin, Tom: 12.11, 1.30
Dutt, R.Palme: 5.31, 6.15, 6.22, 6.29, 12.21,12.27-28
Eddisford, Vic: 6.15, 7.2 11.13
Egelnick, Max: 4.23, 4.25, 6.11, 2.21
Fitt, Gerry: 3.19
Flannery, Martin MP: 3.19
French, Sid: 11.18
Furlong, Sean: 12.28
Gallacher,Willie MP: 8.19
Gilbert, Tony: 11.17
Gilmore, George: 4.20-21
Glendenning, Leo: 11.10
Gollan, John: 4.7, 5.2, 7.28, 12.9, 12.11, 12.18-19
Goulding, Cathal: 7.5, 7.19
Guilfoyle, John: 12.9
Hamling, Bill MP: 7.3, 12.20, 1.3, 2.27-28, 3.10-11,3.15, 3.17, 3.20
Harris, Noel: 5.1,12.18, 1.31
Hart, Stephen: 11.24, 1.10, 1.13, 1.15
Haxell, Frank: 11.12
Heatley, Bobby (Robert): 5.2
Henry, Jack: 9.5
Hensey, Pat: 11.16
Hewitt, Patricia: 4.14
Hobsbawm, Eric: 1.9
Hoffman, John: 4.28, 6.12, 4.12
Hostettler, John: 11.24, 12.10
Hope, Ann: 5.2, 11.25
Jackson, TA: 8.19
Jay, Douglas MP: 4.2
Jeffares, George: 3.9, 3.22
Jenkins, Clive: 1.9
Jenkins, Roy MP: 12.10, 1.20
Johnston. Mairin, née Mooney: 3.22,4.5, 4.18
Johnston, Roy: 5.3, 3.22
Keable, Ken: 6.16
Keating, Justin TD: 7.5
Kelly, Dalton: (See O Ceallaigh, Daltún)
Kelly, Jim: 5.18-19, 10.6
Kenny, Sean: 5.18
Klugman, James: 1.9
Latham, Arthur: 10.7
Lawless, Gery: 4.21, 5.15
Lehane, Con: 4.20, 9.21, 12.21
Levenson, Sam: 7.16
Lipton, Col. Marcus MP: 4.29
Litterick, Tom MP: 1.20, 2.7, 3.19
Logan, Desmond: 4.5
Loughran, John: 3.7
McCann, Eamon: 5.15
Macardle, Dorothy: 4.7
McCaughey, Rev. Terence: 8.26, 9.20, 9.24, 2.19
McClelland, John: 4.6, 5.2
McCorry, Kevin: 7.7, 7.15, 7.24, 9.27
McCullough, Billy: 3.29
McDonald, Jim: 6.16, 9.30, 10.4,10.6, 12.28, 2.22
McGahey, Mick: 4.2, 4.23, 5.15
McGill, Jimmy: 9.11, 10.23
MacGiolla, Tomás: 7.5, 7.19
McKeever, Jim: 4.2
McLennan, Gordon: 4.2,4.8, 11.13, 3.22, 4.21
MacLiam, Cathal and Helga: 4.21,7.27, 12.18
McMillen, Billy (Liam): 4.29
MacSwiney, Mrs Muriel: 1.9
Mallon, Kevin: 11.25, 11.29
Menzies, Edwina: (See Stewart, Edwina)
Merrigan, Matt: 4.23
Milne, Ewart: 1.9
Morgan, Barney (Bernard): 1.18, 4.19
Morton, Alan G. Prof. and Mrs Freda Morton: 4.1,4.29, 8.26, 9.28, 10.10, 10.15,10.24,10.29, 1.27
Morton, Alisoun: 4.1,6.6, 8.25-26, 9.20, 9.24, 9.27-28,10.2, 10.24, 10.29,
11.2, 11.10, 12.15-16, 1.27
Morton Vivien: 7.18,8.19, 11.10
Mulcahy, John: 9.23,11.25, 12.6, 12.9-10,
Mulally, Liam: 11.20
Mullen, Michael: 1.31, 2.27-28, 3.1, 3.19, 4.21
Mulligan, Peter: 6.13, 7.28
Myant, Chris: 5.12, 6.25, 7.2, 12.19, 1.9, 3.13
Newens, Stan MP: 12.10
Noakes, Lance: 5.2
Nolan, Sam: 11.11, 3.9
Nolan, Sean: 4.20, 12.21
O’Brien, William (Bill): 4.19
O Ceallaigh, Daltún: 7.22, 8.25-26, 11.25,12.15, 12.18, 1.22
O’Connell, David (Daithi O Conail): 11.25
O’Connell, Joan: 5.2-3
O’Connor, Joe: 9.6, 2.21
O’Doherty, Finbarr: 4.12
O’Donohue, Pat: 4.2, 5.31, 12.20
O’Dowling (née Timbey), Elsie: 4.2, 6.24,12.11
O’Flaherty, Pegeen (Mrs Chris Sullivan): 4.2, 3.9
O’Hagan, Desmond: 5.2
O’Hara, Roger: 11.14
O’Herlihy, Cal: 5.31
O’Leary, Michael TD: 4.18
O Loingsigh, Micheál S.: 7.5, 7.19,12.15 4.2
O’Neill, Patsy and Andy: 11.12
O’Neill, Siobhan: 1.26
O’Riordan, Michael: 5.3, 5.12, 7.19,11.11,12.11, 12.18, 12.27-28, 2.19,
3.9, 3.22, 3.23
O’Shea, Fred: 11.12,12.28
Orme, Stan MP: 4.2
Parrish, Margot: 6.15
Pollitt, Harry: 8.19
Powell, Enoch MP: 11.28
Prendergast, Jim: 6.2, 6.9
Price, Marion and Dolours: 5.29, 6.8, 12.10
Purdie, Bob: 4.6-7, 1.11, 1.16
Ramelson, Bert: 4.7, 9.5
Redmond, Sean: 5.1-2, 5.31, 6.2, 11.25
Redmond, Tom: 7.28,11.13,11.25, 3.22
Rees, Merlyn MP: 5.12, 7.2, 12.10, 1.31
Reid, Jimmy: 2.11
Riordan, Barry: 4.26
Robson, Peter: 11.12
Rothstein, Andrew: 12.9, 1.9
Scorer, Kath: 4.6, 4.8, 4.26, 5.11, 6.11, 7.2, 4.16
Silverman, Julius MP: 4.2
Sinclair, Elizabeth (Betty): 4.6-7, 5.2, 6.11-13, 6.15-16, 7.8, 7.12-13, 7.15,
7.24, 7.28, 10.5, 10.7,11.4-6, 11.11, 12.9, 12.11, 12.25, 12.27,
1.20, 2.8,3.9, 3.12-13, 3.22, 3.24, 3.29
Smullen, Eamon: 5.21
Smythe, Tony: 4.6
Snoddy, Oliver (see O Snodaigh, Padraig): 4.1
Stallard, AW “Jock” MP: 4.2, 4.25, 5.12, 7.3, 12.10, 1.31, 4.21
Stewart, Edwina (née Menzies): 4.4, 4.7, 5.2, 6.25, 7.2, 7.15, 7.18 7.24, 10.7, 3.22
Stewart, Jimmy: 4.7, 5.2, 6.14, 6.25, 7.15, 7.18, 7.24, 7.28, 10.7, 11.6,
Stowell, Brian: 5.21
Sullivan, Chris: 4.2, 4.13, 6.21, 8.9, 9.21, 1.8, 3.9
Sweet, Colin: 6.11, 8.5, 8.26, 9.5, 9.21,10.7,12.9, 1.9, 3.17
Tate, Jane: 5.31, 7.12, 12.11
Thorne, Stan MP: 12.10, 3.19, 4.21
Wainwright, Bill: 12.28
Ward, Alf: 4.26, 4.28,
Watters, Frank: 4.7, 12.11, 1.20, 2.8, 2.14
Wilson Harold, MP: 12.10, 2.28, 3.17
Woddis, Jack (Hillel): 4.23, 7.22, 8.22, 8.26, 9.5, 9.21,10.7, 11.19,12.5,
12.8-9, 12.11,12.18-19, 12.21,12.28, 1.9,2.11, 3.17, 3.19, 3.25