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Left Archive: No Hanging Here: The case of Marie and Noel Murray, Murray Defence Committee, c.1976/7 January 31, 2011

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Irish Left Online Document Archive, Murray Defence Committee, Uncategorized.
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To read this file please click on the following link: MURRAYS77

An interesting document [and many thanks to the person who forwarded it to the Archive] that serves as a companion piece in some respects to the pamphlet in the Archive on the Sallins Train Robbery and the subsequent arrest of members of the IRSP.

This was issued by the Murray Defence Committee in 1976 or early 1977. It concerned the possibility that Noel and Marie Murray might be hanged for the murder of Garda Michael Reynolds after the Death Sentence was passed during their trial.

Noel Murray had been a member of Sinn Féin from 1966 and had gone with Official Sinn Féin in 1970. Marie Murray had been active in the Housing Action Committee in Dublin in 1969 from which she had joined OSF the following year. Both had left OSF in 1973 but remained politically active – apparently on the anarchist left. Some sources suggest they were part of the little known anarchist splits from OSF – Dublin Anarchist Group and New Earth.

As noted in The Lost Revolution, The Murray Defence Committee was not supported by Official Sinn Féin.

The pamphlet here is very much focused on the Death sentence which was initially handed out [and only later on appeal was set aside because they could not have known that it was a Garda that was shot, since he was off-duty] and reporting the trial and refers almost not at all to issues of guilt. It gives considerable space to the conduct of the trial and the situation leading up to it subsequent to their arrests.

Interestingly it positions both of the Murrays as being ‘politically active’ and ‘continuing to fight for…an independent socialist Ireland’.

As was noted to me by the person who very kindly donated it to the Archive:

On the photo on P.3 – carrying the banner on the left is Tony Gregory. Marching behind him are Mick Ryan and Seamus Ó Tuaithail.

There is also some literature relating to this case here on the Irish Election Literature Blog.

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1. Tweets that mention Meanwhile let’s consider an example of what Conor Lenihan characterised as ‘…very courageous decisions…difficult measures taken…’ « The Cedar Lounge Revolution -- Topsy.com - January 31, 2011

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2. Starkadder - January 31, 2011

Does anyone know what the Murrays are doing nowadays?

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3. Captain Rock - February 1, 2011

They’re out anyway. They were never granted the right to try and have a child.

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4. Neues aus den Archiven der radikalen (und nicht so radikalen) Linken « Entdinglichung - February 2, 2011

[...] Murray Defence Committee: No Hanging Here: The case of Marie and Noel Murray (~ [...]

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5. Jim Monaghan - February 3, 2011

This was a very important campaign. If one of them was hanged and it was a real possibility it would have opened up a floodgate.
The difficulty was persuading people to move beyond a “solidarity” campiagn to a single issue one of just being against hanging.
Funnily I did not recognise Maire until I saw a different photo in this booklet. I remember her at an Official SF Dublin aggregate. She was very passionate on an issue concerning women. (long time ago I am afraid).
I also remember a Dublin leader referring to certain pubs as being filled with touts and informers.
The Provos ignored the campaign, very stupid as their members were next in line.

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Seán Ó Tuama - February 3, 2011

To be fair, the SF Ard Fheis adopted a motion from its Inchicore cumann supporting this campaign and the Inchicore cumann along with members of the Irsp and others, got a quite active local campaign going, in which I was quite actively involved.

This ccoperation also partly laid the basis for a very active H-Block campaign in the area a few years later. A H-Block prisoner was nearly elected in the constituency, despite, on this occasion, a very sectarian attitude from SF.

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6. Jim Monaghan - February 3, 2011

Yes Sean. Then SF was then quite an open organisation where not everyone had to sing from a single hymn sheet. Funny, how a traditional republican party had a certain spectrum and was not narrow.
A terrible time with the heavy gang having been let loose.

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7. Alan MacSimoin - February 3, 2011

This reminds me of how much some things have changed. At the time Labour and Fine Gael were presiding over a legal ‘state of emergency’, worried about a possible ‘overspill of the northern troubles’.

There was a fair chance of having your name taken by the cops if you attended a public meting of anything more left wing than the Labour Party.

The Student Christian Movement were brought before the High Court for writing a letter to the old Hibernia magazine (nothing to do with the more recent Catholic right one of the same name) which criticised the non-jury Special Criminal Court. If I remember correctly, their contempt was to put the word ‘trial’ in inverted commas.

The Heavy Gang, a special unit of the cops tasked with getting ‘confessions’ from both criminal and republican suspects by any means necessary, were working overtime. Even the Labour Party, the junior partner in government had its head office phones tapped.

It was in this atmosphere that the Dublin Murray Defence Committee was formed. The initiative was taken by members of the Red Republican Party (a small militarist split from Peoples Democracy) and they got the support of the IRSP, Movement for a Socialist Republic (USFI trotskyists), some older independent republicans, the Socialist Workers Movement (though they were not very active on the issue) and the couple of teenage anarchists who were the active anarchist movement in Dublin at the time.

I think our biggest demonstration was no more than 300 strong, often more like 150. Generally there were as many cops as marchers.

Having a 50% chance of being arrested and kept in for24 hours every time you went postering, or having your workplace visited by the Special Branch, were not unusual things. One of Fine Gael’s more liberal branch officers, Martin Reynolds, even had his architecture practice raided by armed cops after he spoke out against the death penalty.

As Jim said, only a few of us disagreed with the dominant view in the Committee that support for the Murrays would primarily come from others suffering state repression, particularly the Provos and the IRSP/INLA. This meant the campaign was orientated almost exclusively towards supporters of republican armed struggle.

No real attempts were made to have the Murray’s case brought to a wider audience. Maybe the worst example of where this narrow focus on the ‘most militant’ could lead was the occasion, at a time when support for the legalisation of contraceptives was growing rapidly, the Committee invited the right wing Catholic Priest Denis Faul to speak at a public meeting in Dublin’s Mansion House. He was invited because he had done a lot to expose torture of republican suspects in Northern police stations. But no surprise (to some of us anyway) when Faul told the audience he was against all murder, whether it be a state hanging or the use of a contraceptive!

Anyway, the Belfast Committee was pretty much the same mix but with a few more anarchists. As well as Miriam Daly another person who did a lot and was also later assassinated by loyalists was Noel Little of the Red Republicans, and later the IRSP/INLA.

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Budapestkick - February 3, 2011

Interesting stuff. It’s a long shot but do still have any material from the red republican party? It’d make a great addition to the archive.

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8. Alan MacSimoin - February 5, 2011

I don’t but maybe someone else does (or the Linen Hall Library?). All I ever saw from them was a short pamphlet outlining their programme and about a half dozen issues of ‘Heads Up’. This has to be the smallest political paper ever published. It was a single sided A5 sheet.

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9. Jim Monaghan - February 5, 2011

Excellent contribution and memory Alan.
It marked a stage where the RMG/MSR broke with this type of ultraleftism.We put out our own leaflets and I remember distributing them at the recently formed ICCL.It was dark days and there appeared little possibility of it getting any better. The ultraleftism did not represent exaggerated ideas of a possible revolution but rather a despairing analysis.The Faul thing was amusing, not that there was anything wrong with having him on the platform. The basis should have been opposition to Capital Punishment from whatever viewpoint.Faul deserves an autobiography. He was the most effective at raising civil liberty questions in the North and the most effective opponent of the Provos. A friend on mine (RTE journalist), sent North to investigate Republican links with racketering in the building industry, interviewed him.Faul would only agree provided it included Official IRA connections with same.
The Red Republicans split from PD before we merged with them. Ironically I thing their founding document was based on an abortive earlier effort at unity between the 2 orgs. when they were both ultraleft.
I think the RRPers ended up in the IRSP

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10. Posters from the Murrays Defence Campaign (1976-77) | Come here to me! - September 26, 2013

[…] From Cedar Lounge Revolution: […]

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