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Follow up on Saor Eire


Liam O Ruairc • 20 January 2005

I read with interest Bob Purdie's comments about my article on Saor Eire. There is so little information available about the group, so I thought it would be useful to write about the history of the organisation. It would be very worthwhile if Bob Purdie could one day, as a professional historian, write about Saor Eire.

The source of most of my information about Saor Eire comes from Roger Faligot. And it was Bob Purdie who introduced Roger Faligot to Ireland in March 1972. (They actually spent a whole night drinking and talking about the situation on the boat to Dublin.) He was also in contact with Gerry Lawless. Faligot had been sent by the French daily newspaper Liberation to report on Saor Eire and the assassination of Peter Graham. As far as I know, Faligot is the only one to have written a history of the organisation, though Bob gave some coverage to Saor Eire in his 1972 booklet Ireland Unfree (a publication dedicated to Peter Graham). In Ireland Unfree, Bob Purdie was already critical of the group. Tim Pat Coogan, in his history of the IRA, also has one or two lines about Saor Eire and the killing of Larry White.

In the meantime, the book 'Final Beat' (Dublin: Gill and McMillan, 2001) by Liz Walsh has been brought to my attention. The book has a chapter about the killing of Garda Fallon by Saor Eire on 3 April 1970. According to Liz Walsh, in the two years period 1967-1969, 18 banks had been robbed in the South, Saor Eire being behind the majority of those robberies. In March 1969, it carried out the biggest robbery in the country until then, when an eight men unit simultaneously robbed two banks in Newry with military precision. They escaped with £22,000, a fortune in those days. In February 1970, Saor Eire carried out its seventh raid in two years and most important operation. The group took over the village of Rathdrum in county Wicklow. Militants stopped all traffic (including a Garda car), cut off all phone lines to the village, and robbed the local bank. There were also allegations of links between Saor Eire and Neil Blaney. Neil Blaney was a friend of Liam Walsh, who was killed on 13 October 1970 in a premature explosion in Dublin. Also injured in that incident was Martin Casey. In November 1969, Casey and a member of Fianna Fail went to London to buy arms in the context of the 'arms crisis'. There were rumors that Garda Fallon had been killed with one of those imported weapons.

It was Ernest Mandel himself to told me in Brussels in in May 1993 that he had met leaders of Saor Eire during his November 1972 trip to Dublin. It is possible that after twenty years he confused them with the Officials. Mandel's group in Belgium, the Ligue Revolutionnaire des Travailleurs, had a shaky knowledge of Irish politics. For example, in January 1972, they invited Gerry Lawless to a meeting in Brussels. He was presented as a spokesperson of the IRA, which he wasn't. A couple of weeks later, they published a pamphlet in French called 'Irlande: Revolution en Marche'. That publication (with essays by Ernest Mandel, Bob Purdie, Nathan Weinstock and others) is littered with factual mistakes, so it is most likely that the United Secretariat of the Fourth International was ill informed about Saor Eire.

Finally, the Saor Eire interview mentioned by Bob Purdie was translated into a number of languages. This gave the organisation probably more importance at an international level than it had in Ireland.






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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent



All censorships exist to prevent any one from challenging current conceptions and existing institutions. All progress is initiated by challenging current conceptions, and executed by supplanting existing institutions. Consequently the first condition of progress is the removal of censorships.
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Index: Current Articles

22 January 2005

Other Articles From This Issue:

The End of the Road
Mick Hall

Reiss Pressed on Mark Thatcher Cautioned on Damage of Another Double Standard
Fr. Sean Mc Manus

Follow up on Saor Eire
Liam O Ruairc

Strong Resistance Felt at Bush's Second Inauguration
Christian Roselund, Patsy Crocker

An Old Friend from the Blanket
Anthony McIntyre

17 January 2005

Fed Up With the Lies
Michael Benson

Dolours Price

Brian Mór

Strategically induced crises pay rich electoral dividends for Sinn Fein
Anthony McIntyre

Old Foes Discover New Ideas
David Adams

Celebrate 100 Years by Undoing Betrayals
Dr. John Coulter

Saor Eire
Bob Purdie

‘At No Costs to Prisons': Three Books on Beckett
Seaghán Ó Murchú



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