Cumann na Saoirse Náisiúnta

National Irish Freedom Committee

FOUNDING MEMBERS

NIFC's FOUNDING MEMBERS

Michael Flannery, George Harrison, Joe Stynes and others founded The National Irish Freedom Committee in 1987. They did so out of concern for what they believed to be a betrayal of traditional Republican principles and values after the Sinn Fein convention was highjacked and the sitting leadership ousted. Their fears were well founded. It turned out that the agenda of the new leadership had more to do with maintaining the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland that with achieving a united Ireland.  

In supporting the British initiated Good Friday Agreement (GFA) the new leadership of the reconstituted Provisional Sinn Fein (PSF) acknowledged and accepted the British occupation of six-counties as a fait accompli. In furtherance of that acceptance they proceeded to work within the existing  political, military and security institutions, the same colonial era institutions that bedeviled the native Irish for centuries. 

For their part the British rewarded PSF with legislative and ministerial positions in the reconstituted Stormont government, personal protection by British security forces, and a free hand to control opposition to the GFA, thus, the continued British presence in the six occupied counties. In pursuit of this British mandate, PSF thugs resort to beatings, knee cappings, and murder.

In founding the National Irish Freedom Committee the intent of the founding members was to build an organization that would safeguard and ensure that the traditional Republican principles and values would continue to be represented here in the United States of America. defined by Wolfe Tone and sanctified by the blood of countless thousands of patriots down through the centuries including Tone himself, Emmet, Pearse and more recently the martyrs of 1981,

The leadership of National Irish Freedom Committee takes this responsibility seriously, has and will continue to abide by the intent of the founding members and by its charter. In so doing, the leadership has set forth clear and achievable objectives and has developed an action program to pursue and achieve those objectives in strict adherence to the founding members dictum.

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MICHAEL FLANNERY  (1902 - 1994)

Michael Flannery, a life long contributor to the cause of Irish freedom and the founder of Cumann na Saoirse was born in Co. Tipperary in 1902. He was the youngest of seven children. His family was staunchly Republican with a long history of opposition to the British occupation of Ireland. Mike's life was marked by acts of bravery, patriotism and compassion. He believed deeply in a united Ireland and had a great love for the country of his birth.

At the age of 14, while attending Mount St. Joseph's Monastic School in Knocksheegowna, he was forced to flee to avoid being arrested by the Royal Irish Constabulary who had begun a campaign of incarcerating family members of Republican activists at the behest of the British. After evading capture, Mike joined the North Tipperary Brigade of the Irish Republican Army. Before his fifteenth birthday he took an oath of allegiance to the Irish Republic and fought in the Irish War of Independence.

After the infamous Treaty of 1922, which partitioned Ireland into two sectarian states, Mike took up arms again, this time against the forces of the Irish Free State. He did so as he was unwilling to break his oath of allegiance to the Irish Republic and accept anything less than a free and united Ireland. He was subsequently captured and imprisoned by forces of the Irish Free State. After two years in Mountjoy Jail, he and his comrades went on hunger strike seeking political prisoner status. He was subsequently freed in 1924.

In 1927, Mike immigrated to America, as there was little or no work in Ireland, especially for opponents of partition. In America, he was employed by Metropolitan Life where he worked for the next four decades. During his early years in America he met and married his wife Margaret "Pearl" Eagan who was also involved in the fight for Irish freedom. Down through the decades, Mike assisted Republican activists who sought refuge in America including Ernie O'Malley in the late 20s, Andy Cooney in the early 50s and others in the 70s and 80s.

Mike was a member of several organizations including the Tipperary Men's Association, the Gaelic Athletic Association and Clann na Gael. In 1970, after the present phase of the struggle started, he founded the Irish Northern Aid Committee to raise money to support the dependents of Irish Political Prisoners. As a result of his leadership role in the struggle for Irish freedom, Mike made many powerful and determined enemies here in America as well as England and Ireland. Despite that he was elected Grand Marshall of the St. Patrick's Day Parade in New York in 1981.

Throughout his life Mike sent aid and encouragement to those refusing to accept the British occupation of Ireland or acknowledge the legitimacy of two sectarian states-the products of partition. Not only did Mike rebuff those who abandoned Republican principles in the 20s, 30s, 40s and 60s; he, together with George Harrison, characterized the 'Provos' abandonment of Republican principles in 1986 as the "same old departure". After returning from a visit to Ireland in 1987, Mike along with George Harrison and Joe Stynes founded Cumann na Saoirse Naisiunta - The National Irish Freedom Committee to carry the torch of Irish Republicanism in America.

Mike passed away on September 29, 1994. He was a true son of Ireland and a worthy citizen of his adopted country, the United States of America. Mike's legacy lives on and the torch of Irish Freedom that he carried throughout his entire life continues to burn brightly.

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GEORGE HARRISON  1915 - 2004

George Harrison was born May 2, 1915, in Shammer, Kilkelly, County Mayo, in an Ireland oppressed and impoverished by British occupation. A year after his birth the Easter Rising, which was crushed by British troops, took place. Its executed leaders James Connolly and Padraic Pearse would become Harrison's heroes.

As a young man Harrison worked as a wheelwright and a stonecutter. At age 15, he enlisted in the East Mayo Battalion of the Irish Republican Army.

The Depression forced Harrison to leave Ireland. He first went to England, where, like many Irish emigrants, he picked crops and labored on building sites. In 1938 he came to New York, working first as a bartender and then on the docks. He served in the U.S. Army during World War II and later became a security guard for Brinks Armor. Working at Brinks for 30 years, he fought for justice as a shop steward and union organizer.

Over the years, George developed a relationship with the legendary transport workers' leader Michael Quill who would on occasion pass money to George to assist in George's life long commitment to supply the resistance in Ireland with the means to resist. Quill knew how the money might be spent and gladly gave it anyway.

George supported freedom movements worldwide. Of George it was said, "Never met a revolution he didn't like." and to paraphrase the old ballad, "God grant you glory, old George, and open heavens to all your men, the cause that called you may call tomorrow in another cause for the Green again."

To George the fight for Irish freedom was one with the world struggle against imperialism and racism. He stood vigil every week outside the British Consulate in New York to support the Irish people. And he was at every march against war and racism or in solidarity with the people of South Africa, Palestine and Latin America.

In 1981 the Reagan regime prosecuted George, Tom Falvey, Michael Flannery, Paddy Mullens and Tommy Gormley for arming Irish freedom fighters. The "IRA Five" refused to deny the charges but waged a political defense. Witnesses on George's behalf included Irish leader Bernadette Devlin McAliskey and Sam Gulabe, United Nations representative of the African National Congress. (Dr. Gulabe, then known as David Ndaba, is today a colonel in the South African army and physician to Nelson Mandela.) The five were acquitted.

George remained an Irish republican because he was an anti-imperialist and a socialist. Consequently he was the Patron of Republican Sinn Féin and an implacable foe of the Good Friday Agreement.

Unfortunately, the fruits of George's and his friends' labor is now being bartered as the price of admission for revisionist former Republicans to participate in British direct rule of the six occupied counties in the north of Ireland. Adams and his purloined posse are swapping semtex for summer homes, guns for governmental positions, and they are cementing over arms dumps to secure their status as second class citizens in their Loyalist controlled state - not what George and his compatriots had in mind when they set about their clandestine weapons quest.

But he never stopped thinking of the struggle. On the day he died, Harrison penned a verse for the newspaper Saiorse: "May the spirit of those who suffered in the torture chambers of the Empire of Hell animate us with enough strength to free the land of our heart's desire. In dedication to all my comrades--the living and the dead."

George was in his ninetieth year and his passing leaves a huge gap in the ranks of Irish American supporters of the Republican Movement in Ireland. 

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JOE STYNES

Joe Stynes was born in Newbridge, Co. Kildare, Ireland on January 15, 1903. Athlete, patriot, father and friend are words synonymous with Joe Stynes, the renowned Clan na Gael leader of the latter half of the 20th century.

Around 1927, Stynes emigrated to the United States, settling in New York City. He remained active in both North American GAA and emigrant Irish Republican groups.

He regularly returned to visit Ireland, and represented America in football internationals against Ireland at the Tailteann Games in Dublin in both 1928and 1932. During his 1928 trip, he turned out once more for Dublin in their Leinster Final defeat to Kildare He also represented New York in challenge tour matches against Mayo in 1932and Kerry in 1933. In December 1932, he won a Dublin junior club title with Sean McDermotts. He won New York state championships with Kildare in 1938[ and with Kilkenny as late as 1947.

Stynes was politically active in Clan na Gael, and after 1948 was leader of the few branches that had remained loyal to the rump of the IRA.In 1938, he signed on behalf of the American GAA an Irish-American petition for the release of Frank Ryan, the IRA leader imprisoned by Franco's Nationalists during the Spanish Civil War for fighting in the International Brigades. After the decline of Clan na Gael, and the outbreak of the Northern Troubles, he was sympathetic to NORAID. He sided with Republican Sinn Féin after its 1986 split from Provisional Sinn Féin, and in 1987 he co-founded the National Irish Freedom Committee (NIFC; Irish: Cumann Na Saoirse Náisiúnta) for its American supporters

Joseph Andrew Stynes married Bridget Mahon 06-Jan-1930 in St Stephen RC Church at New York, New York. Joseph was born 15-Jan-1903 at Newbridge, Ireland. Joe was very active in the IRA which he joined in 1920. He was a friend of Michael Collins but after the treaty of December 1921 he sided with DeValera and the anti-treatyites. At Joe's death, Gerry Adams the Sinn Fein leader sent a message to the mourners. Seeking more details of Joe's descendants. Joseph died 29-Jan-1991 at New York, New York; Remains: Woodlawn Cemetery

Joe was #1 to all of us who worked with him in the Clan over the last twenty or more years of this (now betrayed) campaign, and although I miss his guidance and experience, at times I am grateful that he missed the full extent of the current treachery.

Joe was no novice to failure and betrayal. He witnessed the establishment of the Free State and with his brothers rose again in arms against the Treaty and the traitors who betrayed the Republic, for which they had fought and bled. He was jailed for his part in the Civil War and upon his release he left a divided Ireland and sailed for America.

He joined the Clan upon his arrival in New York and remained faithful for life to the precepts of the Clan's Fenian legacy.

My years with Stynes and Sheehan as my mentors opened for me a connection with a veritable Who's Who of Irish Republicanism stretching back to the Black and Tan era and the Civil War.

Cosgrove, Healey and 0 Higgins were judged and found wanting as were Mac Eoin, Collins and Lemass. The arch fiend de Valera was skewered each and every week, as was Sean McBride, who deserted the Movement in the dark days before World War 11, and de Valera's programs of the 1940s (that lasted past the death of Sean MacCaughey in 1946).

The heroes of the long struggle came alive once more. Cathal Brugha, Maire McSweeney, Sean Tracey, Dan Breen, John Joe Sheehy, John Joe Rice, Sean Russell, Liam Lynch, Liam Mellows, Harry Boland, Peadar 0 Donnell, Frank Ryan, Joe McGarrity, George Plant, Harry White, Joe Crystal, the three Mac's, Charlie Kerins and Richard Goss. South, 0 Hanlon and the Edentubber martyrs were remembered with pride tempered with regret.

But it wag the martyrs of this campaign that brought the struggle full circle and unbroken. The Hunger Strikers, Loch Gall and the Gibraltar Martyrs were spoken of by younger members of the Camp who had known or served with many of the martyrs. But it was the murder of our fellow camp member Liam Ryan in 1989, that brought it back home to all of us. In old Joe's own words; "A shame and a waste of a brave Irish Patriot."

Now before we create the image of Joe Stynes as a single faceted individual, we must remember that this great Fenian was also a repeat All Ireland Champion, a stalwart of the New York GAA and the father and grandfather of a large and loving family, and a man who followed baseball, football and other American sports, and I would be remiss if I didn't mention his keen appreciation of the French art of cognac making.

 


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