Newly-Formed Cathal Brugha Society Hold Successful Launch And Debate In The Teachers Club

The Cathal Brugha 1916 Society, Kilbarrack/Donaghmede, launched an event in memory of Tony Catney.

The Panel

The Cathal Brugha 1916 Society, Kilbarrack/Donaghmede, held a successful debate to launch their Society based in the north-east of Dublin. The day’s events were held in memory of Tony ‘TC’ Catney, a lifelong republican and popular member of the 1916 Societies, who loved nothing better than a debate on the goings-on within republicanism. It was apt then that a Society with such a youthful membership, ranging from only 16 to 20, should honour a man who himself put great emphasis on the role and development of young republicans.

What was a well-attended meeting, in the Teachers Club in Parnell Square in Dublin’s city centre, began with the invited panel, consisting of the 1916 Societies’ Dee Fennell, ex-Vice President of Republican Sinn Féin Cait Trainor, and the Pensive Quill’s Anthony McIntyre, all giving their respective addresses to the assembled guests.

It was considered only fitting, as a life-long friend and comrade of TC, that Anthony (or ‘Mackers’ as most of us know him) would give the first talk. Evoking the memory of TC, with a legion of humorous, anecdotal tales of his legend – which anyone who knew him would have recognised as on the button time-and-time again – Mackers made many insightful points on the present state of republicanism. Key among them was his argument against the further use or need of secret armies, the case being made that when secrecy becomes norm, rot will eventually set in – no matter the movement. Known as an arch-critic of Sinn Féin needless-to-say they failed to escape his wrath, a particular point of note being how their representatives are kept subservient to the party leadership, their wage depending on not rocking the boat rather than to exercise critical thought.

Cait Trainor used much of her talk to focus on a federal solution in Ireland, arguing it would be easier to absorb the Unionist population into new constitutional arrangements by offering them meaningful power within the framework of a nine-county Ulster. Dee Fennell, a community activist and independent republican, known for his work within GARC and the stopping of the return march through Ardoyne last summer, gave a passionate address, identifying the need for work on the ground within our communities as the way forward. Defending the ‘One Ireland One Vote’ strategy of the 1916 Societies, he argued the need for realism, that there would be no change to the constitutional status of the Six Counties without a referendum – a referendum held to be undemocratic and devoid of legitimacy unless done on an all-Ireland basis.

The panel having had their say, discussion then moved to the floor. A steady stream of hands, with numerous points thrown up for debate – from the continued use of armed struggle, to the issue of criminal involvement in republican groups, to the lack of education for young people in republican circles, to the lack of females coming into republicanism – ensured a comradely debate was had by all. We hope all who came took something from the event. As was stressed on the day, to get republicans from across the spectrum into the same room was an achievement in itself.

The debate was eventually brought to an end, after two and a half hours, with hands still in the air, time constraints on the part of venue management dictating things be wrapped up forthwith. Indeed it was only proper that an event to honour TC went well into overtime, with discussion still ongoing. Anyone who’s worked with him down the years would no doubt agree he’d a roguish skill and knack of causing meetings to run well past time with his talking and debating and arguing the point – he had it down to a fine art! In a way then it was a fitting tribute. All-in-all we hope we did the name of Tony Catney justice and we’ve no doubt if he could have been there himself he would have revelled in such an atmosphere. The privilege was all ours, rest in peace a chara.


  1. Tony Catney was named in a letter sent to a newspaper by a ex special branch officer as a police informer. Same letter said Massereene attack should have been prevented. Surely the most important thing for NI would be to expose the links between 'terrorism' and the intelligence agencies.

  2. What a sickening remark from this 'alwayssunny', again we see people abusing the cover of a moniker for the purpose of insinuation and innuendo. If someone has a comment like that to make they should be prepared stand over it, either that or it shouldn't see the light of day. Anthony, I know the site is against censorship but casting aspersions from behind a fake name - against someone who can't even defend himself - well its questionable whether it should be permitted. Yeah I did notice he put the point indirectly and had a feeling that's why you let it slide but it still looks to me like a devious move. It's your call, as I say it's your site, but for nameless people to be afforded the opportunity to cast aspersions like that is dangerous. I know you say you've been accused in the same way by faceless trolls but that's different, it's to do with those interviews rather than someone saying you were a police informer and you're alive to defend yourself. It's old hat anyway and not the first time it's been said but regardless, it wouldn't be nice for anyone belonging to him reading that article to see. I suggest it should be taken down and my comment with it. Have a debate by all means on 'the links between 'terrorism' and the intelligence agencies' but not to besmirch the legacy of a good man as this rat is attempting to do

  3. Sean,

    the column tells us nothing about TC and a lot about the poster. I haven't yet heard since the comment anyone say TC was culpable, but plenty say the poster was spineless. So rather than undermine TC this sort of thing undermines anonymous commentary.

    Moreover, plenty of similar anonymous comments are directed the way of McGuinness and Adams and we are not asked to remove them.

  4. Its an anonymous commentator on the subject of an anonymous letter writers claim, nobody is prepared to stand over it, so thats the sum of its importance.
    However,the difference with the McGuinness/tout comments are that they were in the "Martin Ingram" book, plus (and I know he has denied it in intention) but the strong implication in the Moloney book. Obviously both those authors have been verified correct in other crucial areas.

  5. Alwayssunny could be more than a tad shady, how are we to know?
    Pseudonyms are the entitlement of the writer, even if the rest of us feel such a veneer gives that person more leverage.

    The diversity of the panel made for an interesting exchange and provoked great debate from the audience.

  6. Nuala,

    I am not sure I agree that it is the entitlement of the writer. I think the old maxim applies: invisible people have invisible rights.

    Anonymity should be used as a sail to float an idea, not as a cloak to hide behind and smear others.

    I have heard quite a few explanations put forward as to why people use anonymity to hide behind but it always has the ring of an excuse and not that of a reason.


    Ingram's critique of McGuinness was a very weak one

  7. Thanks AM, I have read that peice, its quite compelling. More recently your comment (and I paraphrase) he couldnt of been a tout because a freind of yours wouldnt of been alive if he was, appeals to a reasoning I like to use,its a kind of ‘unseen’ data to test our theories on. So i no longer call him a tout.
    Actually reading my initial comment back is weird, it doesn't make sense in the context of the other comments.

  8. I did a bit of nosing about looking for a letter that according to sunshine is in the public domain but came up empty. I could be looking in all the wrong places my imagination is limited.

    Reading the comment itself sounds respectful with “an ex special branch man” and “informer” instead of a branch man and a tout. An unnamed ex cop and a nameless paper amounts to the grand sum of negative zero with no time frame and no mention of this from any other quarter leaves sunny in the shade.

    Any chimp with a pencil can write a letter and certainly, any peeler or ex peeler could do the same.
    It would not be a stretch for a bitter ex-cop to pen a letter, the only place that would hold up is in a diplock court.

    Although accidently, sunny does show how British State terrorism works, randomly name someone as a tout, and let republicans sort it out, in this case, there is nothing to be sorted apart from the issue of flyby smearing.

    Sunny, not everything in the rags or on the interweb is true and a story that has no legs is destined to sit on its arse.

  9. DaithiD,

    this discussion is a regular one. A lot of republicans think it impossible for him not to have been one. Yet I am drawn back to what can be made to stand up: evidence rather than belief. There is of course the possibility of a double bluff but I always wonder where it ends. I think his value lay as an asset not as an agent. The British felt he was more conducive to the furtherance of their strategies in a key leadership position than whoever his replacement might have been had they removed him.

  10. Tain, the newspaper in question was that bastion of truth the Sunday World. Enough said

  11. Thanks Sean, I hadn’t a baldy about that article for the obvious reason I wouldn’t wipe my arse with that rag.
    It does not help sunny in fact it closes of any realistic debate on the tout angle. It is a sad commentary that some would smear any republican on the basis of what they read in a paper that is better known for its incompetent reporting than any semblance of ethical journalism.

    Agreed, enough said.

  12. AM, in terms of the British molding a insurgencies leadership, and observing Iraq/Libya/Syria etc, the North must be the only case where it hasnt morphed into a bigger beast out of their control. Trust the Irish not to get that one right either!

  13. Interesting comment David. I'd say the difference in the Provos and groups like ISIS is that the former was an indigenous response to British occupation and repression in Ireland while the latter are the creation of British intelligence and their peers in the Mossad and CIA. Thus why the IRA did not morph into something beyond their control, it was never under their control. They may have been able to shape and influence its strategic direction over time but ISIS and the terror groups in question are a completely different matter. They are sponsored, armed and funded by Western intelligence agencies to meet specific strategic criteria - i.e. to destabilise non-compliant regimes who wish to remain independent of their 'end of history' new world order. The IRA was never given anything by these people and developed its own military capabilities through their own resources, finances and contacts. The comparison does not stand up and thus why the Provisionals, although manipulated at the high-end by Brit Intelligence, did not morph into a crazed, bloodthirsty gang beyond control. Unlike ISIS proxy-thugs they were an indigenous, self-sustaining paramilitary army born of the people not Western intelligence. The key point is that the strategic objectives of the intelligence community in both instances here are polar opposites

  14. Sean, there are different ways of shaping a leadership. In the middle east, its quite overt in terms of arms to prefered groups. In Ireland, it was more removing obstacles to their prefered leaderships ambitions (I think AM uses the analogy of sweepers in ice curling). With the advent of Johnny Adairs grouping, the UDA/UFF very nearly span out of control of British inteligence too after intial support. I think the key difference with the IRA and the rest of the groups is a static leadership, especially in Northern Command, regardless of efficacy, and one that violently opposed other Republican groupings who would aspire to their mantle. The other groupings are dynamic, and because of market forces, can compete to out do their incumbent leaderships, or other rival groups, thus the spinning out of control is probably inevitable. Interesting stuff i agree.

  15. Yeah, I definitely agree with the static leadership point and the removal of obstacles to the leadership so that it might be kept in place. I've said this before but I remember discussing this with Anthony as part of a project I was working on at the turn of the milenium (the ideological consistency of the republican movement either side of Good Friday) and he spoke about the British 'moulding a leadership' to serve its strategic purposes. It was the first time I'd ever heard of such a concept but it was striking when I thought it through. I've no doubt this is what happened, not then and not now. Beyond that, what I'm saying here is that unlike Adair and the UDA there was no initial support for the Provisionals - or any support for that matter at an organisation level: militarily or politically. This is why the loyalists threatened to spin out of control (although this in itself is an arguable point - I'd say like ISIS they done exactly what was required off them by those manipulating them) while republicans remained in check so-to-speak. They were polar opposite processes. One was designed to bring a violenct campaign to an end, the other was designed to employ violence by proxy as part of the war effort. Where they overlap is they were both counter-insurgency strategies which derive from the same source - British Military Intelligence. No doubt though there was manipulation on all sides. How the fuck do you deal with such an adverary eh? The mad thing about it is despite their infinite resources and centuries of experience a crowd of redneck farmers from South Armagh and East Tyrone near-brought the might of this sophisticated military-indiustrial machine to its knees. Imagine if a different leadership had been in charge when the ability to gut the heart of the financial district came into play. Make no mistake this was a major chip which was cashed in by a crowd of overrated fools (the leadership not the fighters) who in fact were being manipualted by those the IRA were fighting. To me this is now as clear as day and its saddening when you sit down and look at it. We had basically won but this greatest leadership ever assembled threw it all away for a pat on the back from the enemy. The fools, the fools, the fools! Enough to break your heart, especially that we're now further away than ever. It's no wonder many Volunteers like Anthony and others are wondering what the fuck as it all for

  16. Thanks Sean, what I mean specifically with the Adair grouping is : there was a time before his recall to jail where his battalion was the only active one in the UDA/UFF, and he nearly enacted a coup against the other Brigadiers to continue killing Catholics just at the time the British were sure of the Republican surrender.It was a tap they struggled to turn off.
    I dont think cities, with their grid systems allowing wide arcs of fire, and rapid troop mobilisation suits guerilla warfare as much as the countryside. Its the lesson the world over, and learned best by the A-Team and S.Armagh brigades!