Friday, 8 June 2012

The IRA Man and the Nazis

Hugh Jordan had an interesting article in the Sunday World (3 June 2012) entitled 'The IRA Man and the Nazis'.

It was about Frank Ryan and was prompted by the recent showing of the film The Enigma of Frank Ryan at QFT in Belfast.

Jordan commented on the relationship between the IRA and the Nazis and wrote:
As a result of seized IRA documents given to this newspaper last year, we now know that in the event of a Nazi invasion of Northern Ireland, the IRA in Belfast was planning to hit the street in support of the German army.  It was even prepared to shoot members of the Fire Brigade engaged in saving property.
I have posted on several occasions about the relationship between the IRA and the Nazis and so it was interesting to have that additional piece of information.

However the main thrust of the article was about Frank Ryan (1902-1944), an Irish republican, an Irish language teacher with Conradh na Gaelige and a prominent left-wing member of the IRA.  In the 1930  s he supported the Republicans in Spain, at a time when the Roman Catholic Church and many others, including the Blueshirts, were supporting the Spanish Fascist leader General Franco.

Eventually Ryan went to Spain to fight on the Republican side in the Spanish Civil War and he commanded his own Connolly Column.  However he was captured and charged with murder.  Ryan was later sentenced to death but this was commuted to thirty years in jail.

At that time he condemned the IRA bombing campaign in England.  However the departure of Ryan and some other left-wing republicans to Spain had left the IRA in the hands of right-wingers, such as Sean Russell, who believed that it was time to bomb the British out of Northern Ireland by means of a bombing campaign on the mainland  One of the key figures in that terrorist campaign was Dominic Adams, an uncle of Gerry Adams, and in January 1939 he helped manufacture  a bomb which exploded in the centre of Coventry, killing five entirely innocent people.

Meanwhile Ryan was released from prison in Spain and ended up as a guest of the Nazis in Berlin.  There he held meetings with Sean Russell, the man who masterminded the IRA bombing campaign in England and who was in Germany to secure Nazi support for the IRA.

Frank Ryan died in Germany on 10 June 1944 and was buried there but his body was brought back to Ireland in 1979 and buried at Glasnevin.

This was a very good article by Hugh Jordan but someone in the newspaper made a mistake by illustrating it with a picture with the caption 'Gerry Adams carries the coffin of IRA man Frank Ryan.'  In fact the picture showed Adams carrying the coffin of an entirely different Frank Ryan, an IRA man who was killed in November 1991, along with Patricia Black, when a bomb they were carrying exploded prematurely outside a theatre in St Albans.  It was a case of the right name but the wrong person.

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