SF Euro-hopeful commemorates Nazi collaborator
JIM CUSACK SINN FEIN'S Dublin candidate in next year's European elections spoke alongside a leading IRA figure and convicted bomber at a republican commemoration last week for the Nazi collaborator and IRA Chief of Staff, Sean Russell.
Russell died of a perforated ulcer while being transported back to Ireland on a German U Boat in 1940.
He was notorious for his expression during the war that: "England's difficulty is Ireland's opportunity."
At the time Russell was in Germany, the Nazis were fully engaged in their efforts to ensure the extermination of the Jewish people and had established the death camps in which six million Jews were murdered. Russell had gone to Germany to encourage a Nazi invasion of Ireland and seek support for the IRA's wartime bombing campaign in Ireland and Britain. The IRA was pro-Nazi and Russell was planning to prepare the way for a Nazi invasion of Ireland prior to the conquest of Britain.
Sinn Fein held a commemoration for Russell last Saturday in Fairview Park in Dublin where there is a controversial statue of the IRA man with his right arm raised in what opponents in Dublin at the time of its erection in 1950 said resembled a Nazi salute.
Speaking at the commemoration were the IRA figure, Brian Keenan, from Belfast who was involved in the bloody IRA bombing campaign in Britain in 1974 and the Sinn Fein candidate for next year's European election, Mary Lou McDonald.
The commemoration, according to Sinn Fein newspaper An Phoblacht, was to "pay tribute to a native of Dublin who played so important a role in the IRA in the first half of the last century".
The report stated that McDonald, "spoke articulately about the importance of the party's election strategy over the coming year".
Sean Russell made contact with the German intelligence while on a fund-raising mission in the United States and was brought to Germany in May 1940 - at the height of the invasion of the rest of Europe.
German intelligence was keen to encourage the IRA's campaign which, at that stage had involved over 300 bomb attacks in Britain and Northern Ireland and several deaths. The worst atrocity was the killing of five people in a bomb left in shops in Coventry. The IRA also killed a garda and three RUC officers and stole more than a million rounds of ammunition from McKee Army Barracks in the Phoenix Park in December 1939. Internment was eventually introduced on both sides of the Border and the campaign wound down.
The IRA campaign was deeply unpopular outside republican circles and 43,000 men and women from the Republic joined the Allied forces along with a further 38,000 from Northern Ireland.