Articles from The Workers' Republic, 1938

This is part of a collection of articles from the Irish Left papers in the 1930's on the Spanish Civil War. The first section, from The Worker in 1936-7 is available. The second, and largest section, the articles from the Irish Democrat from March to December 1937 is also available.

  • May 1938 Jack Nalty sends a letter from Republican Spain.
  • May 1938 With the Irish in Spain by James Prendergast.
  • May 1938 Ben Murray: An Appreciation by W H McCullough.
  • May 1938 Roll of Honour.
  • June 1938 Irish Friends of the Spanish Republic (Womens's Aid Committee).
  • June 1938 Send Cigarettes to Spain. A letter from Tommy O'Brien
  • July 1938 Italian Warships in Dublin Bay - Answer Fascist 'Friendship' with demand for Frank Ryan's Release
  • July 1938 Doctor Catherine Lynch Takes on a noble task - by Terry Flanagan
  • July 1938 Charlie Donnelly: An Appreciation by Frank Ryan
  • July 1938 Prominent Irish-Americans demand Frank Ryan's release
  • July 1938 Irish Friends of the Spanish Republic
  • August 1938 Belfast Workers Support for Spanish Republic
  • August 1938 Spain's Two Years of Glorious Struggle (I've added the last few paragraphs, cc, 26/02/04)
  • August 1938 On Guard for Liberty
  • August 1938 Republican Spain fights for us all, says Father Michael O'Flanagan
[Added 27/2/4]

A letter from Republican Spain

Jack Nalty writes from Spain:

Pat Duff and myself have, at last, joined the Battalion, and though they have got it a bit rough lately they are in good spirits, and living a good healthy life in the open air, twenty-four hours out of the twenty-four. We are not sure about Frank yet, but hope he is all right. News about Spain at home looks bad, but things don’t seem so black here. Everybody has their coat off now in real earnest, and it will be no walk through for the Fascists. Bill Rust is here and visits the Battalion often. Just now are expecting to have a talk from him at any moment.

At present among the Irish with is here are Johnnie Power, Waterford; Tom Murphy, from Antrim; Jones, from Wexford; Tighe, from Mayo and O’Regan, from Cork.

Pat and I wish to be remembered to all the comrades at home, and hope that they are not meeting with reverses in the course of their activities at home. If they could see how the people here take their reverses it would hearten them. No matter what they go through they still come up smiling.

Good luck all round.


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Workers’ Republic May 1938

With the Irish in Spain

By James Prendergast

On the far fields from Dunkirk to Belgrade Lie the soldiers and chiefs of the Irish Brigade

Once again the Irish Unit of the International Brigade is receiving heavy blows in the desperate fight against the invading Fascist forces.

Frank Ryan, officer of the famous 15th Brigade, always with the Irish Unit in heavy engagements, has been captured by Franco’s forces. While leading a battalion Frank was cut off and fell into the hands of the Fascists. Such a blow is a severe one for our Irishmen in Spain. Anxiety for the safety of Frank grows when we realise how Franco usually treats his prisoners of war.

The Irish section of the International Brigade is rendering priceless service to Ireland and the principles for which the Irish people have fought.

Why did the Irish Unit go to Spain in the first place? Because each volunteer firmly believed that the fight for Irish freedom extended beyond the shores of Ireland, to the battlefields of liberty all over the world. They saw that a victory for Fascism in Spain would be a decisive victory for fascism in Europe - including Ireland. There was no boggy confusion in the minds of these sincere fighters to prevent them from seeing clearly the unhappy alliance of powerful nations ranged against Republican Spain.

Hangdog dictatorships, like Fascist Germany and Italy, actively intervened to assist monarchist Franco, his Moors and degenerate Legionnaires. The Chamberlain Government of Britain deliberately creating a siege under cover of her 'Non Intervention' farce, in order to completely strangle the Spanish people. for what? because the English Tories, despite their love quarrels with Fascism, hate freedom and true democracy no matter where it raises its head. The nature of this 'unholy alliance' against Spain was borne out by the events in our own country. everything mean and treacherous in the country was drawn, as if by a magnet, to the cause of Franco. The smokescreen of 'Christianity' thrown up gave the discredited bodies or reaction here a new lease of life. Belton, O'Duffy, Mulcahy, the pro-Cosgrave section of the Irish Hierarchy, trying to rouse support for the 'Patriot' Franco and incidentally to begin a new and sinister attempt to muzzle Ireland under the yoke of Fascism. Was it an accident that Hitler, Chamberlain, Mussolini, Belton, O'Duffy and Mosley, all should find themselves in open support for Franco? How long will some Labour and Republican leaders believe this to be an accident? At any rate the men who went to Spain went with the conviction based on fact, that a battle was being fought that would have profound significance for Ireland.

And they had not created any precedent in Irish history. They had not learned from 'foreign agents' that Ireland's destinies were, and always will be, linked up with the destinies of Europe and the world. In fact they learned it from the greatest leaders of Irish Republicanism in the past, from Tone, Mitchell and Davitt, from Connolly and Mellows. From the romantic figures of early Irish history known as the 'Wild Geese' - Sarsfield, Owen Roe O'Neill, who found allies against English tyranny on foreign battlefields.

And so to the close of 1936 this band of Irishmen assembled under their leader, Frank Ryan. Already Irishmen had been fighting. In the autumn at Aragon, and later at Madrid, a small band of Irishmen anti-dated the later batches. Two of these are under Spanish soil, Barry and Patton, first Irishmen to die in action for the Spanish Republic. Bill Scott - the survivor - was the first Irishman to reach Spain.

History will record the many deeds of heroism in the annals of the Irish Unit. Coady, Woods, May, Fox, at Cordoba; Charlie Donnelly, Bill Tumilson, Leo Greene, at Jarama; Mick Kelly and Will Beattie, at Brunete. The gallant Commandant of the 16th Battalion, Peter Daly, of Co. Wexford, twice wounded in action, fell for the third and last time storming the Fascists stronghold at Belchite.

'Kit' Conway, ex-IRA leader of Aherlow, Tipperary. 'Kit' was Frank Ryan's second in command. When he was leaving his job he addressed a meeting of his workmates and told them sooner than let the fascists win 'I would rather become manure for the fields of Spain.' With reckless daring 'Kit' held true to his motto until a bullet laid him low at Jarama.

The Irish Unit symbolises what is noblest in the heart of the Irish people. just run your eyes over the roll of honour (printed elsewhere) and see if the claim is false that the four corners of Ireland were not represented in the ranks of the Irish Brigade.

Unity, more complete than ever existed in Irish history, prevailed in this anti-fascist Unit. The Unit was a most forcible prototype in miniature of what a People’s Front could achieve in Ireland. Catholic and Protestant, Republicans and ex-Staters, Labour and Communist. Men from the Falls Road, fighting with men from Shankill Road. Teachers and navvies, clerks and carpenters, even a clergyman; all fought together in a perfect and comradely unity. This, indeed, was the true pulse of Ireland feverishly throbbing in a grand effort to stem Fascism. The lesson must – and will be – learnt, but how many more good men must lay down their lives before it sinks home in the mind of all Republicans and Labour workers everywhere.

Just now reaction, once again, threatens to overwhelm the Spanish people. The very spirit of their resistance screams to the heavens for the justness of their cause. If labour and Republican leaders still fail to see this it is worse than confusion. It is sheer stupidity. In face of the threat to the Spanish Republic, the men and women of the Left Wing, at least, have begun a new effort on behalf of Republican Spain. Steps have been taken to strengthen the Irish Unit. Jack Nalty and Paddy Duff, two well-known Dublin Republicans, have headed a batch of volunteers to reinforce the Irish Unit. Nalty, Duff and Michael Lehane, from Kerry, have all served with the Irish brigade and were returned to Ireland wounded. Their decision to return makes written testimony an inadequate way of paying tribute to these men. Amongst those who went with this batch were Willie McGregor, Secretary, Dublin CPI, and Alec Digges, [a] leader of the Left theatre movement in Dublin, Tommy O’Brien and others.

In face of this, can the official Labour Movement continue to remain silent on the question of solidarity with Spain? Are the local officials of the Irish Labour Movement going to continue to accept a shameful silence in their movement when every other Labour movement in the world is actively assisting the struggle against Fascism? Would James Connolly have remained silent? No, he would be in the front of the struggle, regardless who it pleased or angered, scornful of the miserly huxtering considerations which paralyse so many in the top ranks of our Movement today. What are those in the more Left ranks of Labour, who follow the teachings of Connolly, doing in this critical hour? Are they, too, to continue tongue-tied and inactive, while a brother Labour movement is being murdered, before their eyes, by Fascist assassins? It is high time all who believe should act, for faith without goods is useless.

Let all believers in freedom – national and social – muster together around the principles of Frank Ryan and our own countrymen now in Spain, some above, some below ground, and let us guide the democracy of this island along in the true road to its own emancipation – the road of the gallant people of Spain, the road of Ryan, Conway, Nalty, Duff and the others.

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Workers’ Republic May 1938

Ben Murray: An Appreciation

By the death of Ben Murray, killed in Spain in defence of Democracy, the Communist Party of Ireland and the working class of Belfast, have lost one if its best fighters.

Ben, a native of Armagh, came to our Movement in 1934. Prior to that he had been for a number of years in Canada and had soldiered in a crack Canadian Cavalry Regiment during the Great War. He was a gifted speaker and was always sure of an attentive audience when speaking at Custom House steps or elsewhere in Belfast on behalf of the Communist Party of the unemployed.

As a salesman of Party literature, Ben had no rival. He readily recognised that this form of propaganda was easily the most effective and his enthusiasm for this type of work was simply terrific. He did not simply talk about it but spent hours and days going from door to door on the Shankill and Falls Roads, canvassing and selling the 'Irish Workers Voice', the 'Daily Worker'. and other Left papers. The results he obtained were a sure indication of the enthusiasm he put into his work as, where previously comrades on this class of work thought they were doing well when they sold a few dozen copes, Ben was selling in numbers of 20 dozen.

Unfortunately the pogram of 1935 interfered with this class of work and Ben began to get restless at the restricted activity and he asked permission of the Party in Belfast, to go to England. He was a big loss to our Party but a very big gain to the British Party as his work there on behalf of the 'Daily Worker' proved.

I had not known that Ben had gone to Spain until one day I read in the 'Daily Worker' of three members of the International brigade planting a flag in 'no man's' land to commemorate the anniversary of the Spanish Republic. and one of them was Ben Murray.

Ben is dead and I believe that he would not have wished to die any other way. He once informed me in private conversation that his life did not really commence until he joined the Communist Party and that he had an interest now that was worth living and dying for.


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The Workers' Republic May 1938

Roll of Honour Irish Unit, International Brigade

  • J O'Shea, Waterford
  • Thomas Morris, Boston, USA
  • Rev. R Hilliard, Killarney, Co. Kerry
  • Jim Woulffe, Limerick
  • T Patton, Achill, Co. Mayo
  • Michael Russel, Ennis, Co. Clare
  • Hugh Bonar, Donegal
  • W.H.Fox, London (Dublin)
  • William Barry, Melbourne (Dublin)
  • James Foley, Dublin
  • John Scott, Liverpool
  • Thomas Morris, Liverpool
  • David Walsh, Ballina, Co. Mayo
  • Ben Murray, Armagh
  • Joseph Kelly, New York, USA
  • Samuel Lee, London
  • Frank O'Brien, Louth
  • Patrick Glacken, Donegal
  • Stuart (Pat) O'Neill, Vancouver, Canada
  • Charles Donnelly, Dublin
  • Michael Nolan, Dublin
  • Peter Daly, Enniscorthy, Co. Wexford
  • William Beattie, Belfast
  • Richard O'Neill, Belfast
  • William Davis, Belfast
  • William Loughran, Belfast
  • Michael Kelly, Ballinasloe, Co. Galway
  • William Tumilson, Belfast
  • Tommy Woods, Dublin
  • James Meehan, Galway
  • William Henry, Belfast
  • Michael May, Dublin
  • Anthony Fox, Dublin
  • Maurice Quinlan, Waterford
  • Eamon McCrotty, Derry
  • Denis Coady, Dublin
  • Leo Greene, Dublin
  • Christopher ('Kit') Conway, Aherlow, Tipperary
  • Thomas T O'Brien, Liverpool
  • Frank Conroy, Dublin

(The Editor has compiled this list of men killed in action in Spain, from reports that have appeared, from time to time, in various papers. Should any name be left out, I would like to be so informed.)

[Website Editor, 5th Nov. 2003: This list of 40 names contains some errors. Samuel Lee of London and Thomas Morris, Boston, USA were not Irish. Lee was an English-Jewish volunteer, Morris a Welsh-American.]

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The Workers' Republic, June 1938

Irish Friends of the Spanish Republic Women's Aid Committee

The above Committee was set up two years ago to provide aid and comforts for the Irishmen serving with the International Brigade in Spain, in the war to maintain Democratic Liberty against the Fascist invasion.

Through the generosity of the Irish people – mostly subscriptions form workers – this Committee has been able to give financial aid to the men invalided home, and to send comforts to the men at the front.

The Committee appeals once more to friends and supporters for contributions to enable it continue the good work.

At present we appeal for two purposes. Frank Ryan – the well-known Republican fighter and the leader of the Irish Unit of the International Brigade – is now a prisoner in the hands of Franco and is confined in a fascist concentration camp. A Defence Sub-Committee is being set up to render him whatever assistance possible, The International Red Cross has undertaken to convey parcels, etc., and to be the link for information as to his condition.

We are confident that our appeal this time will meet with an even greater response than previously, thus making it possible for us to do all in our power to aid Frank Ryan and to send comforts to those many other Irishmen still serving with the forces of Spanish Republican liberty.

We have no doubt but all Irish democrats will recognize they have a duty to perform so long as Republican and democratic liberty in Spain s menaced by the Fascist invaders and fellow-countrymen of ours are there to defend that liberty. Respond to our appeal by sending all subscriptions to the treasurer, Miss A Walsh, 28 Belgrave Square, Monksotwn, Co. Dublin.

H Sheehy-Skeffington,


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The Workers' Republic, June 1938

Send Cigarettes to Spain

Tommy O'Brien, known to many workers in the Left-wing movement in Duiblin, who recently went along with a number of others, to join forces with the International Brigade in Spain, writes to one of his friends.

"I am very glad I came out here. You have no idea of the strength of our movement until you have seen seven or eight groups of different nationalities, all singing the 'International'. But that's only a small thing. On our way to Spain we met a 19-year-old German in France - a machine-gunner. He'd been in the fighting at Toledo. He couldn't go back to Germany. He knew this before he set out, but it didn't stop him. Meeting this sort of thing impresses more than speeches.

"I don't know much about the general military position here but one thing I do know is that the people here are in no defeatist mood. Franco's drive to the sea has stiffened the back of everyone and greater co-operation with the Government to defeat Franco is now evident everywhere. Franco is going to get no speedy victory, as he has been forecasting. As soon as our forces can get sufficient material the position will be altered.

"Alec Digges, Willie McGregor and the other lads are all in good health and doing excellent work. All of us now would like to get letters from our friends at home, giving news of what's happening inside and outside the movement. No one need be afraid to burden us with detail news. And a most important point to our friends should remember is, that we can always find time to smoke cigarettes. They are very scarce here, and at times we are compelled to resort to all sorts of 'choice' blends, herbs, coffee and even onion leaves! if a few packets of Woodbines are enclosed in each letter they will reach us and what a welcome they'll get!"

TWR Editor's Note: All friends of Tommy O'Brien, Jack Nalty, Alec Digges, Paddy Duff, Willie McGregor, Jonny Power of Waterford, Mick Lehane and the other Irish comrades too numerous to mention, should make it a point of writing regular to these comrades. In each letter enclose a few cigarettes, they will be appreciate, as Tommy O'Brien's letter makes clear: news will also be greatly valued. Send all letters to SRI, 270, GP, Barcelona, Spain.

We would also like to draw the attention of readers to the appeal of the Women's Aid Committee of the Irish Friends of the Spanish Republic which we print in this issue. To get to the Start of this List of Articles

The Workers' Republic, July 1938

Italian Warships in Dublin Bay Answer Fascist 'Friendship' with demand for Frank Ryan's Release

Ireland in recent times is entertaining strange friends. Some time ago a Nazi training ship made its appearance in Dublin Bay. No protest was made notwithstanding the record of the Nazi Government in the persecution of all opposition forces, particularly the Catholic population. On the contrary, a most cordial welcome was conceded to the forces of Hitler.

Now we are to have a visit from Mussolini in the form of cadets in a training ship. The friendship of these two regimes is universally known and the rebut which His Holiness the Pope delivered to this friendship on the occasion of Hitler's visit to Rome is equally well known.

That Ireland, which has such a record in the fight for liberty, should permit these visits with equanimity, is altogether surprising.

The visit of Mussolini's ship to this country takes on a special meaning for us, since, at the present moment, a valiant fighter for Irish freedom, Frank Ryan, is held prisoner in Spain at the behest of Mussolini's Generals - who are now directing the war in that country.

Now is the opportunity for all the people in Ireland who have expressed concern for the safety of Frank to make the demand for his release coincident with this visit.

Meanwhile we print below an article by a prominent Italian revolutionary on the activities of the Italian forces in Spain.

The people of Italy are following with great concern the activities of the air pirates of the Italian Government against the Spanish Republic and against all countries who maintain trade relations with the Government, especially against England and France.

The working people of Italy, who have an instinctive feeling of solidarity with the Spanish people who are fighting for the common cause of peace, bread and freedom, are naturally extremely indignant at this intensification of the much hated and bloody intervention in Spain, the cost of which had to be borne by them. These methods of piracy and the cold-blooded slaughter of the civil population and sailors of the trading fleet, of which the Fascist regime if guilty, and with which it dishonours the name of Italy and exposes it to the contempt of the whole world, is condemned not only by the workers, but by other sections of the population, including the Catholics. The attitude of the latter forced the organ of the Vatican, 'Observatore Romano' to express an opinion against air piracy, even though timidly. And even a large section of the fascists condemn these crimes.

We must also remember that the Italian Government even though it has admitted intervention in Spain for almost two years now, and has boasted of it, has not until now declared publicly that it has ordered systematic acts of war against the democratic Powers, and is continuing to do so. And in September last year, when submarine piracy reached its height, the Italian Government denied its responsibility for the sinking of ships, despite overwhelming proof. Now, however, the fascist Press has been declaring cynically that the air force of the Italian legionnaires has bombed British and other ships, which were proceeding to Valencia, Alicante, etc. and that it will continue to do so. And the fascist Press even boasts of having taught the friends of Republican Spain a 'lesson'. Up to now the fascist Government has always declared that its aim if not to gain domination of Spain and the Spanish Islands and colonies: this was even entered into the Anglo-Italian agreement. The fascist Press of Italy, in its answer to the Spanish Government's declaration of possible reprisal against the destroyers of open towns, declared that 'any action against Majorca would be synonymous with an action against Italy, and that Rome would not take this lying down'. In saying this, the fascist Press not only admits the presence of Italian forces on Majorca, such as there are in Tortosa, Teruel, Tremp, etc. but also the complete annexation of Majorca by the fascist Imperium.

The Italian people would gain nothing from the annexation of Majorca, such and annexation, even it if carried out with the consent of the British Government, would mean for the Italian people only heavy taxes for military purposes. The Italian people has everything to lose from an annexation of Majorca, which would bring with it the permanent danger of a terrible war against France, Britain and their allies. The same is true of the other aims of the fascist air pirates.

In the political sphere, the Italian tragedy finds expression in the growing demonstrations of discontent among the people, such as took place during the last weeks in Milan, Turin, Naples, and other smaller centres. There is an increase in the demonstrations against Hitlerism and Pan-Germanism, which are taking place throughout the whole country, and which make themselves felt even in Rome, in certain circles in the Fascist party, and among the Fascist students. The repercussions of the crisis are showing themselves even in the highest leading circles of the fascist party and in the Government. An open conflict has broken out between Minister Bottai and other prominent persons of the regime: whereas Bottai and others prefer Chamberlain to Hitler, the Ministers Ciano and Alfieri support Hitler. There is a possibility that the Cabinet and the leadership of the fascist party will be reconstructed. Farinacci himself, in his paper 'Regime Fascisca' was forced to admit a few days ago in a polemic, that in Rome, in some of the Ministries, people were talking of nothing but of a far-reaching reconstruction. We can have no illusions as to the nature of these proposed changes, Mussolini will carry on with his catastrophic policy.

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The Workers' Republic July 1938

Doctor Catherine Lynch Takes on a noble task

Once again a splendid display of that spirt of serice to a cause that has brought fame to many of our women folk has been made by another outstanding friend of democracy.

On Saturday, July 1, Dr. Catherine Lynch packed her bags and left Ireland for Perpignan, in the South of France, to render her valuable service to the men wounded on Spanish soil while defending that country against the barbarous onslaughts of International Fascism.

She had received a letter a few days previously from an American friend at Perpignan, serving with the Foreign Aid Services, saying that an osteopath would be of great use there, and despite the fact that Dr Lynch was sailing for a much earned holiday with her family in the US she immediately cancelled her trip there, and set off for a place where she knew her great skill would be beneficial to the wounded lying at the foot of the Pyrenees.

We, who are her friends, are not surprised at her sudden and quietly-made decision to go where her heart has been since the outbreak of the Fascist attack on the lawful Government of Spain.

In company with such heroic Republicans and lovers of democracy and justice as Mrs H Sheehy-Skeffington, Ailenn Walsh and Mrs Farrell, Catherine Lynch from 1936 devoted her time and energies to spreading the truth about Spain, raising funds for the Spanish Aid Fund and organising receptions and meetings for those who came here to speak on behalf of the Spanish people.

Latterly, since several of the wounded of the Irish Unit returned with limbs stiff and almost useless from Fascist bullets, she brought her years of experience in the field of science to the aid of these comrades.

So many have given their all, so many are hourly risking their lives now, cannot you and yours do something for your love of things that so many Irishmen have died in Spain to defend. Why not subscribe now, and distribute far and wide the books and pamphlets on Spain's great fight.

Terry Flanagan.

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The Workers' Republic, July 1938

Charlie Donnelly: An Appreciation

Appreciation of Charles Donnelly by Frank Ryan, written to Paul Burns of the Lincoln Battalion (USA) International Brigade now commanding the Veterans of the Abraham Lincoln Brigade.

"I am enclosing copies of two poems by Charlie Donnelly, his death is one of the tragedies of those breathless days just a year ago when men just had to fling themselves across the path of the fascist advances. Today we are in a better position to utilize men of Charley's calibre in their proper sphere. It's not the death of the poet I lament - for I never thought of him in that role: modern poetry is something I generally prefer to see written as prose, it is the revolutionary thinker I mourn. With a few more years experience. For he was still too much of the student, Charley would have been invaluable to us. I always wanted to pull him out of the Battalion but as you may recall the circumstances in January, that I didn't [get] my chance. Charley and I used to be on opposing wings when he first came into the movement in Ireland. He was all theory then and had little use for my [stance] as he called it. He went to work in London - dishwashing for a while - for a year and then wrote me to agree that there was a lot in my point of view. In fact he made the mistake of swinging temporarily too much under away from internationalism. But, after that year, what as asset he would have been to the Irish revolutionary movement."

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The Workers' Republic, July 1938

Prominent Irish-Americans demand Frank Ryan's release

The latest news to hand about Frank Ryan is that he was seen by representatives of the International Red Cross in a prison at Burgos, where he is held in captivity by the Fascist insurgents. His health was mood and his spirits, as usual, high.

Along with the many calls from organisations in the homeland for his release and treatment as a prisoner of war, a large number of prominent people in Irish-American circles have signed a petition asking for his release.

His capture caused widespread concern in America not only among his comrades in the Irish Republican Army, but also among those who knew of his splendid service in the Irish struggle. Committees have been formed in several cities to work for Frank's release. Petitions have been circulated and the signers include practically every prominent figure in Irish-American life, including Frank P Walsh, chairman of the New York State Power Commission; Councilman Michael J Quill; peter M MacSwiney, brother of the martyred Mayor of Cork; Thomas P Knowles, vice President of the United Irish Counties Association; Joseph A Stynes, Gaelic Athletic Association; Michael J O'Connor, National President Fianna Fail; Patrick J Gillespie, former vice-president American Association for the Recognition of the Irish Republic; Charles F Connolly, editor 'Irish Echo'; Pearl O'Connor, 'Irish Advocate'; Felix O'Byrne, Clan na Gael; Anna W Smith, collector of Gaelic folk songs and lecturer; Neilie Murray, Los Angeles Branch of the American Association for the Recognition of the Irish Republic, and many other active Irish-Americans too numerous to mention.

A gentleman, by the name of Gunning, former editor of the Catholic 'Standard', Dublin, who became General O'Duffy's publicity secretary, when the Blueshirts were started, and went to Spain with O'Duffy's 'heroes' has, we learn, being interested himself in Frank Ryan.

This man Gunning, like the rest of O'Duffy's 'heroes' didn't see much of the front line, but he has remained in Franco's Spain, having dug himself into a good job - in the service of Christianity, no doubt, he would call it.

Mr Gunning has kept himself very busy in trying to influence the Franco junta about Franks activities as a Republican in Ireland (a 'Red' Gunning would describe him). Gunnings purpose is to see the worst happen to Frank and this must spur all workers and Republicans to redouble their efforts to swell the protest movement for his release and for those other Irishmen held in Franco's jails.

Trade Unionists and Labour Party members particularly should see that their branches add their voices in the demand for his release.

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The Worker's Republic July 1938

Irish Friends of the Spanish Republic

The Spanish Aid Committee asks us to announce the receipt of £30 contributed by a well-wisher who desires to remain anonymous and because of the circumstances and spirit in which it was given we quote from the letter accompanying the donation.

"A friend and I have been looking forward for more than a year to a tour in the USSR, but we have been weakening in our intention during the past few months, and now have decided to abandon the tour.

We believe we have no right to spend so much upon our personal enjoyment when our comrades are fighting for us in Spain.

The culmination was reached when those three gallant comrades, Nalty, Duff and Lehane, went once more to face the horrors and dangers from which they had suffered already, and those three equally gallant comrades, McGregor, Digges and O'Brien, followed them as new recruits in the service of mankind. All these men took their heroic decision at the moment when the darkest hour for Spanish and universal freedom seemed to have come.

It became unthinkable that we should spend so much money on our personal enjoyment, but it was evident that we had the money to spend, and therefore, would not be justified in merely making a gesture of self-denial without backing it positively and materially.

We decided, therefore, to send the major part of the tour money to the Spanish Aid Committee."

All our readers will agree that this is a splendid example of self-sacrifice in the interests of the struggle in Spain.

In making an appeal for further donations we commend this example of all those who can afford to give but have in recent times neglected to do so.

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The Worker's Republic August 1938

Belfast Workers Support for Spanish Republic

The Labour Movement in Belfast demonstrated in support of the Spanish republic's fight against Fascism on July 24, at a huge meeting at the Custom House Steps. Alderman Harry Midgley, (Labour Party), Sam McVicker (North Belfast Socialist Party) and Betty Sinclair (Communist Party), were among the speakers.

Mr Midgley again vigorously expressed his detestation of Fascism and his support and admiration for the heroic Spanish fight against it.

"We intend," said Mr Midgley, "to redouble our efforts to inform the people of Northern Ireland of the true facts regarding the Spanish conflict, and ninety percent of public activity in the future will be devoted to furthering the cause of the Spanish people." He appealed to everyone in his audience of 2,000, to make himself fully acquainted with events in Spain, and atop assist in spreading a desire amongst the workers in Northern Ireland to assist in the struggle of loyal Spain. "Some say that the Spanish struggle is not our affair," said Mr Midgley, "but these individuals are mistaken. The Spanish people are fighting for the cause of democracy throughout the world. They are fighting for the rights of the Belfast workers."

Describing conditions in Spain prior to the establishment of the Republic, and commenting on the mild but necessary reforms which the Government endeavoured to introduce, he ridiculed the idea that the outbreak was the result of 'Communist agitation.' This was only the excuse of the reactionary element in their attack upon democracy. The Spanish War was not a Civil War. The resistance of the Government was only possible because the masses of the Spanish people are fully in support of the Government. In an eloquent appeal Ald. Midgley asked for support for the starving women and children, and for the restoration of Spain's right to buy arms.

Mr Sam McVicker stressed Chamberlain's apathy towards the bombing of British merchant ships and the murder of British sailors. "It is only when the vested interests of the ruling class are in danger that they will take action to protect shipping," he said.

Miss Betty Sinclair said when England was in a state of war in 1914-1918 those who carried food to her shores were acclaimed heroes. Today those who carry food to Spain are abused by Chamberlain, who says they are out to make large profits. The people of Dublin had shown their detestation of Italian fascism. The whole Irish people would show their determination to resist fascism. She called for vigilance for the safety of two Northern Ireland comrades now captured by Franco**, and also for Frank Ryan, famous anti-fascist fighter from the South of Ireland.

Resolutions .....[giv]ing support for the Spanish people and a fair treatment of Irishmen in Franco's jails were passed enthusiastically.

[Web Editor: There is one unreadable line after the word 'resolutions', I checked the Belfast Central Library microfilm and couldn't read it. Could anyone with access to the original or a better photocopy I'd appreciate the wording. Ciaran Crossey 2nd Dec. 2003]

** Note by Ciaran Crossey, 12th Nov. 2003

The two captured Northerners were Archie Bailie and Victor Barr.

Archibald (Archie) Bailey was 25 when he went to Spain from London, arriving there on October 2nd 1937. He was quickly into action and was wounded at Teruel on 20th January 1938. After his treatment Bailey was quickly back into action, but this was only for a short period as he was captured by the fascists on 31st March 1938 and held until February 5th 1939 when he was released and sent back to the UK. A member of the CPI who'd also been in the Amalgamated Transport and General Workers Union.

Victor Barr was born in Belfast in 1916, living at 39 Swift Street before moving to live with his brother Billy in Birmingham when he was 18 in 1934 to work as a labourer. Member of the Nat. Union of General and Municipal Workers. A Birmingham address is given as 92 Victoria Road, Aston. He was a member of the Young Communist League while in England.

Having left for Spain in late 1937, he arrived on January 16th 1938 with the British Battalion so he saw service for a few months before he was captured on March 31st 1938 at Calaceite. He was imprisoned at San Pedro jail and held until 5th Feb. 1939 when he was released and sent back to the UK.

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The Worker's Republic August 1938>

Spain's Two Years of Glorious Struggle

The Spanish republic enters on the third year of its heroic struggle against the German and Italian Fascist invasion supported by the traitorous Generals. The letters which we here publish from our Irish comrades on the Republican front show the determination which inspires the defenders of Madrid, Catalonia and Valencia. The Spanish government through its Prime Minister, Negrin, has put out the watchword, 'To resist is to conquer.' And behind this is now mobilised the fighting manhood of Republican Spain. 'Our way home is through Fascist territory' is the equally significant watchword of our gallant comrades of the International Brigade.

Let it be an inspiration to every man and woman in the Labour and Republican movements in Ireland, this epic battle of the Spanish people against fascist enslavement. Despite the open military intervention of Fascist Germany and Italy, despite the scandalous betrayal of every principle governing the relations of nations to one another by the imperialist government of Great Britain, the third year of this brutal Fascist war on the Spanish people finds the Republican flag flying over the chief cities of Spain, Madrid, Valencia, Barcelona. But let there be no mistake; the valour and resolve of the Spanish people to be successful in this war urgently needs the fullest support from the friends of liberty in all countries, particularly Great Britain and Ireland. 'The liberation of Spain from the oppression of the Fascist reactionaires,' in the words of Comrade Stalin, 'is not the private affair of the Spaniards, but is the common cause of all advanced and progressive mankind.'

Despite the murderous propaganda of the Fascist ‘Independent’, the hounder of Connolly to his death, the mass of the Irish people are in sympathy with their Spanish brothers. It is the duty of all who stand for Labour and Republicanism to see that this sympathy is organised into active help. The first and most elementary step is to being greater support to our own comrades now on the republican front, to show our solidarity with Frank Ryan – now a prisoner of Franco – to press the Labour and trade Union movements to boldly enter into the spirit of the fight against fascism at home and abroad, especially at home.

The words of George Dimitrov, General Secretary of Communist International, sound the call to action by all men and women who value freedom and hate Fascist slavery and barbarism: ‘It must be said outright that during these two years, the Spanish people have done more for the defence of the cause of world peace and progress than there has been done till now by the working people of the capitalist countries in support of the Spanish people…. He who desires really to see the end of the destruction of peaceful towns in Spain, of the murder of women and children, who desires to have the Fascist violators driven out of Spain and see the establishment of a firm barrier against the outbreak of a new world Imperialist war, must take action.”

Mick Lehane:

The war still rages unabated. Franco realises the seriousness of his position and is throwing all the resources of Hitler and Mussolini into the conflict to endeavour to gain a speedy victory. But he is as far away from that victory today as he was in July 1936. The impossibility of securing his military objective drives the Fascists to bombing of open towns and inhuman destruction of the lives of women and children and non-combatants. I have seen some of these towns’ miles behind the fighting zone and the loss of life and destruction of property is appalling.

It is the duty of everybody claiming to be human, let alone Christian, to protest against and denounce such outrages. Those who remain silent morally share the guilt of the Fascists. The women of Spain are in the forefront of the struggle today and they certainly have a claim on the sympathy and help of peace loving women the world over.

Please tell the boys and girls to write often and enclose some cigarettes. We here will be counting the days until we get a reply to this. The lads here are all well with the exception of O’Brien who is in hospital. Wounded comrades returning from hospital inform me that Johnnie O’Shea is OK.

Alex Diggs:

I have just been transferred to a machine-gun company. Jack Nalty is Company Captain and Paddy Duff is next in command. There is no scarcity of Irish fellows here in the ranks of the Canadian, American and British Battalions. Most of the chaps from home who have been here any time hold positions from Company Commanders (Paddy O’Daire, Paddy Sullivan and Jack Nalty) down to Corporals. We get endless queries about Frank Ryan, from all nationalities. We were tremendously cheered to read that he was seen in good health in one of Franco’s prisons.

Thanks for the ‘Workers’ Republic’. We received two issues and are anxiously awaiting the July number. I hope it is getting the support it should, that Party members are pulling their weight!

Give my regards to all friends. Tell them there is no pessimism here as to the results of the war. Day by day our troops are becoming better. Training all the time, until we begin for efficiency to be a second Red Army of china, and all-round experts on all guns and their use. This with the assistance of the democracies of the world will win the war.

Bill McGregor:

I am trying to compile a list of all the Irish there are in the Brigade which would then be of use for the future and show the part by the Irish workers in this aspect of the struggle against Fascism.

Jack Nalty gave a talk to our Company a few days ago on Ireland. He spoke about the National movement, particularly from 1911 up to 1923. We are arranging other talks in the Battalion on the Irish question and have three on the horizon for various companies.

Plenty of letters and cigarettes please. They are a help to winning the war.

Jack Nalty:

We are training here very hear. One can never know enough about this game nowadays. All the chaps are in good form, ready to do anything they may be called upon to do. The morale is very good and reminds me very much of that of the IRA in the old days. The military standard of efficiency is very high.

So Labour received as set back in the election. it is due to bad leadership. That is the opinion here. But it is as likely as not that the leaders will blame the people. It will take a different attitude to create a party worthy of Connolly. to create such a party is the big task facing them men and women who really and sincerely follow the teachings of Connolly.

Eugene Downing:

I suppose you have heard of this withdrawal of volunteers talk. It was discussed here among the men, Bob Cooney, our Battalion Commander, gave a good exposure of it as another non-intervention wrangle. Out watchword is: 'Or way home lies through Fascist territory.'

I greet all friends at home and urge them to even greater efforts in their work of building up the movement.

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The Workers’ Republic August 1938

On Guard for Liberty

(This poem has been sent to us by Tommy O’Brien, of Dublin, from Republican Spain, where he went some months ago to join the International Brigade).

Those who have been close To fell the deed like hot blood flowing Are apart and silent in the heart of it They cannot speak full words – There are no words to make a living man Live on again through this, No words to make one die again As one has died. To the blood and bone of future races This heart will beat, Children born in the strength of it Hardly knowing what it is that makes them free And we close circled by our little fires Waiting night to take these last few friendly shadows In a quiet sector of this Spanish war zone Breathing with these men Send back messages of faith in the future. To get to the Start of this List of Articles

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The Worker's Republic August 1938 -

Republican Spain fights for us all, Says Father Michael O'Flanagan

On July 19, 1938, Madison Square Garden, New York, was packed full for the great meeting to celebrate the 2nd year of Spanish democracy's heroic fight against foreign fascist invasion. The meeting was sponsored by the Medical Bureau and North American Committee to aid Spanish Democracy and the Confederated Spanish Societies to Aid Spain.

The Spanish Ambassador to America, Senor Fernando de los Rios Father Michael O'Flanagan, Dr Riuz Vilanlana, Spanish jurist and author of Burgos Justice; Powers Hapgood, General Director of the United Shoe Workers of America; Joseph Curran, of the national maritime Union and Mordecai Bauman, baritone, were the speakers.

We are glad to be able to print the report of Father O'Flanagans speech, as reported in the weekly New Masses.

I have come across the Atlantic Ocean to raise my voice on behalf of the cause of humanity in Spain. The fight that is being waged in Spain today is like the fight that was waged in this country at the time of the American Revolution. The American Revolution was carried out by George Washington and the patriotic rank and file of the American people. They were opposed by the wealthy, privileged classes of the country supported by a foreign army. The part hat General Franco is playing today was played by Lord Cornwallis at the time of the American Revolution. Those whoa re on the side of General Franco today would, if they had been alive at that time, be on the side of Cornwallis and King George III. All the hard, stupid, lying things they are saying today about the forces of the Spanish Republic, they would be saying them about the forces of the young American republic.

The fight in Spain today is like the fight in Ireland in 1798. The men who are fighting for the liberty of Spain today are like the men who fought for the liberty of Ireland then. General Franco, the butcher of Spain today, is like Lord Castlereagh, the butcher of Ireland in 1798. General Franco in Spain today is like Oliver Cromwell in Ireland three hundred years ago. Just as Cromwell butchered the women and children in Drogheda and Wexford in 1649, so Franco butchers the women and children of Guernica and Durango. He has kept butchering them until his friend and all-powerful supporter, Pius X1, has been compelled to utter a word of approach.

If you were alive in 1776 and if you had taken the side of England in America, would your descendents today be rightly ashamed of you? If you had a great-grandfather who had endured the winter at Valley Forge and crossed the Delaware with George Washington, would you not be proud of him today? If you had one who was a traitor like Benedict Arnold, you would be ashamed of him today.

I did not come here in any light mood. I knew what I had to face. I was here a year ago on the same mission. I know what I had to face then. I expect to meet with more or less the same thing now. I do not face it without a grave sense of responsibility.

My coming is not entirely due to my love and admiration of the heroic defenders of the liberty of Spain. This war does not concern Spain alone. It concerns Europe as well and indeed the world as a whole. But the most intimate reason why I have come is concern for the good name and the welfare of my own Irish people. The Irish people have proved themselves great lovers of liberty in all parts of the world. At home, In Ireland, they have fought for liberty. Here in America they played a noble part in the fight for liberty. They gave considerable help to more than one of the republics in South America. You can imagine what a source of humiliation it is to an Irishman to see the great bulk of his race in America manoeuvred into such a position that they are a bulwark of tyranny in Spain. Not merely that, but they are in danger of becoming the very spearhead of tyranny in America itself. How is it possible that a race that has shown such devotion to liberty in their own land of Ireland are now becoming the enemies of liberty in this land of America? It is all due to want of knowledge of the doctrines of the church to which the great majority of them belong. It could be remedied by another question in the Catholic catechism. That question should be: Is a Catholic bound to accept his politics from the Church? And the answer: No. A catholic is not bound to accept his politics from the Catholic Church. I say then to the Catholics who have come here to listen to me tonight, you are not bound to follow the leadership of your pastor than you would to the views of another man of equal political intelligence. It is also you duty to resent the introduction of political discussion into your church and to refuse to buy at or near the door of the church any newspaper or other publication that dabbles in political propaganda. God's house is a house of prayer and should never be degraded into a conventicle of secular ambition and political intrigue.

I say to the priests who have come to listen to me: you are not bound to follow the leadership of your bishop in political affairs. Rather it is your duty to form your own mind and pay no more attention to the views of your bishop than the views of any other man of equal political acumen or the reverse. You may wonder why I say 'the reverse.' But look at what the bishops did in Austria. They acted with about as much political gumption as a pet rabbit/ Many times during in the history of Ireland we have had an exhibit in of the same type of ecclesiastical mentality that has recently been displayed by Cardinal Innitzer and the hierarchy of Austria. I say then to the Catholic priest; you too are a citizen. Do not allow your citizenship to be impaired or distorted. In the exercise of the duties of your citizenship prove yourself worthy of the freedom of the country in which you live. Remember the rule laid down by St. Augustine; 'In things that are necessary, unity; in things that are doubtful, liberty; in all things, charity.' Religion is one of the things that is necessary. When you speak in church, whenever you speak in your official capacity as a priest, confine yourself to an exposition of the truths of revealed religion. Keep politics far away from the sacred precincts of the church; not merely the whispering politics of the sacristy and the hinting politics of the pulpit, but also of the stammering politics of the porch.

I say to the bishops of the Catholic Church, you are not bound to follow the political leadership of the Pope. If you consider yourself bound to follow the leadership of the Pope in political affairs, you are unworthy of citizenship in any country in the world except Vatican City. If you wish to engage in political discussion, let it be on the same ground as any other citizen. You have no right to use your ecclesiastical authority as a means of imposing your views upon those who are subject to you. The subjection to you does not extend beyond ecclesiastical affairs. They are bound to resist you as a tyrant should you stretch the limits of your authority beyond its legitimate sphere. If your intelligence is so dim, or so warped, that you wish to pray for the success of Franco, do so in all humility in the secrecy of your own heart and in the privacy of your own chapel, for the history of the Church is full of examples of bishops and of cardinals who took the wrong side in times of doubt and of crisis.

To the pope, I say: remember that you are the infallible head of the Church. When you make a solemn pronouncement on matters of faith and morals addressed to the whole church, there are three-hundred-millions of people all over the world who listen to your voice as the voice of God Himself. Be careful not to abuse that position as some of your predecessors have abused it in the past. You have no infallibility in political affairs. When you take sides in the Spanish war, you have nothing to guide you except you own natural intelligence and whatever advice you may get from your cardinals, some of whom, like the cardinal primate of Spain may come to you with all the fanatical partisanship that comes from taking sides in a civil war, and others who can hardly fail to be under the influence of Mussolini. Do not forget that some of your predecessors in the past took the wrong side. A Pope took the side of England at the time of the American Revolution and by his influence on the minds of the French Catholics of Canada deprived this country of half of the continent of North America. A long line of Popes took the side of England against Ireland. For four hundred years every Catholic archbishop appointed by the Pope to rule the See of Dublin was an Englishman. Not merely was he an Englishman, but in every instance he took an active and important part on the side of the invaders and against the rights and liberties and often against the very lives of the faithful, patient, and long-suffering people of Ireland. In our own day a Pope condemned by name the patriot Fenians of Ireland and another Pope took the side of the landlords against the downtrodden catholic rural population of Ireland.

If the political influence of the church can be thrown into the scale son the wrong side in America and in Ireland, why must we take it for granted that it is on the right side in Spain? Should we not rather suspect that being on the side of the tyrant in America and in Ireland, it is more than likely that the side it is on in Spain is also the side of the tyrant?

The Catholic Irish people of America must feel very unhappy at finding themselves compelled to be on the side of Franco in Spain. It places them in strange company indeed. For if they are on the side of Franco in Spain, they must also be on the side of Hitler in Spain. If they are on the side of Hitler in Spain, how can they avoid being on the side of Hitler in Austria? If they are on the side of Hitler in Austria, then they must also be on the side of Japan in China. Every victory for Mussolini in Spain will encourage and strengthen the attack of Japan upon China. The one great argument upon which the enemies of the Spanish Republic rely is that Russia is on the side of the Republic.

If that is a sound argument in reference to Spain, it must also be a good argument in reference to China. If Russian help proves that the Spanish Republic is in the wrong, then Russian help must also prove that the Chinese Republic is in the wrong. If Russia is on the right side in China, is that not an indication that the side Russia is on in Spain is also the right side? Russia it is said has turned its back upon God. If that is so, what has caused Russia to turn against God? Is it not the distorted image of God that was presented to the people of Russia by the type of Christianity represented by the Czarist Orthodox Church of Russia? In the days of the Czar I never heard one good word said about that Church. Today Russia is doing the work of God in China and Spain.

I believe that the real God who rules the universe will smile upon the people of Russia who are doing his will, even though they have been shocked into infidelity by the evil deeds that were done in His name, rather than upon those who prate about His name in order to cover up the iniquity of their actions.

Other local newspaper reports here.

Extracts from the Left press of the period

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