Ireland:When the bishop's blessed the blueshirts
"To abolish, without compensation, landlordism in lands, fisheries and minerals"
"To make the national wealth and credit available for the creation and fullest development of essential industries and mineral resources, through Industrial Workers Co-operatives, under State direction and management, workers to regulate internal working conditions" (1)
As Blueshirt James Hogan put it:
"It was the growing menace of the Communist I.R.A. that called forth the Blueshirts as Communist Anarchy called forth the Blackshirts in Italy" (2)
However mostly when they thought of the Red Menace they were simply believing their own exaggerated propaganda. Now who was responsible for this Red tide? Why the international Jewish/Communist/Banking conspiracy of course. As a writer in the Blueshirt journal put it: "The founders of Communism were practically all Jews. This can scarcely be a mere coincidence. It may appear singular that Marx, Engels, Lasalle and Ricardo were all Jews" (3)
The Blueshirts saw themselves as part of the European Fascist movement, as a leading Cumann na nGaedheal member John A. Costello, who was later leader of Fine Gael and Prime Minister of the Irish Republic said in the Dail:
"The Blackshirts have been victorious in Italy and Hitler's Brownshirts have been victorious in Germany, as assuredly the Blueshirts will be victorious in Ireland." (4)
This was not so and much of the credit must go to the people who fought them tooth and nail. O'Duffy planed a Mussolini style March on Rome for Dublin in August 1933 ostensibly to commemorate Michael Collins, Arthur Griffith and Kevin O'Higgins. The Government banned the march and units of the I.R.A. lay in wait to ambush it as it passed over O'Connell bridge. O'Duffy backed down and cancelled the march. The Blueshirt movement was now marginalised, O'Duffy had failed to live up to his hard man rhetoric. Later that year the Blueshirts merged with Cumann Na nGaedheal, the Farmers Party and the National Centre Party to form Fine Gael with O'Duffy as it's leader. O'Duffy was ousted from the leadership after making a speech in which he proposed to invade Northern Ireland.
O'Duffy re-emerged onto the national stage in 1936 to form a seven hundred strong Irish Brigade to fight for Franco in Spain's Civil War, this effort was vigorously supported by the Catholic Church. The Dean of Cashel endorsed it stating that:
"The Irish Brigade have gone to fight the battle of Christianity against Communism. There are tremendous difficulties facing the men under O'Duffy and only heroes can fight such a battle" (5)
The aforementioned Saor Eire had by contrast been condemned by the Bishops as:
"a sinful and irreligious organisation" (6)
They pressurised the Government into outlawing it.
Cardinal Macrory Archbishop of Armagh and primate of all-Ireland, while addressing seven thousand pilgrims in Drogheda at the shrine of blessed Oliver Plunket - a preserved, severed head with reputed magical powers, nailed his colours to the mast and expressed his support for Franco:
"There is no room any longer for any doubt as to the issues at stake in the Spanish conflict. It is not a question of the Army against the people, nor the Army plus the aristocracy and the Church against Labour. Not at all. It is a question of whether Spain will remain as she has been for so long, a Christian and Catholic land or a Bolshevist and anti-God one" (7)
Newspapers and in particular the Irish Independent took a pro-Franco line:
"It is well that the line of demarcation in Spain should be made clear. On the one side is a so-called Government which has abandoned all the functions of government to a Communist Junta bent upon the destruction of personal liberty, the eradication of religion, the burning of churches, and the wholesale slaughter of clergy. On the other side are the Patriot Army gladly risking liberty, property, and life, in defense of their faith-Fighting the same fight that our Irish ancestors fought for centuries for the same cause" (8)
Unsurprisingly the multitude of widely read Church based publications were even more vociferous in their praise for Fascism.
The main body organising support for Franco was the Irish Christian Front ( I.C.F.) a broad based pressure group which , in the early months of the civil war , organised massive demonstrations and had , initially at least , more widespread support than the Blueshirts . The Front's founders were Patrick Belton , who was formerly a T.D. for both Fianna Fail and Fine Gael as well as being an ex-Blueshirt , and Alexander McCabe , formerly elected for both Sinn Fein (pre-1922) and Cumann Na nGaedheal and later to be a member of Eoin O'Duffy's pro-nazi People's National Party. At one I.C.F. rally in Cork in September 1936 40,000 people assembled to hear Monsignor Patrick Sexton , dean of Cork , blame the civil war on "a gang of murderous Jews in Moscow" (9) while beside him stood Alfred O'Rahilly , the future president of the University College of Cork and Douglas Hyde , the future president of the Irish state who currently has his head on the £50 note.
In 1943 elected as an independent to the Dail for the Laois-Offaly area was one Oliver J. Flanagan . In one of his earliest parliamentary speeches he said:
"There is one thing that Germany did and that was to rout the Jews out of their country. Until we rout the Jews out of this country it does not matter a hair's breadth what orders you make. Where the bees are there is honey, and where the Jews are there is money." (10) He was soon to join Fine Gael and remained a T.D. for them until 1987 briefly becoming Minister for Defence in the late 1970's .
Fianna Fail's members of the European Parliament are part of the same group, the Union for Europe of the Nations, as the neo-Fascist , post-Fascist, or just plain-Fascist Italian party the Alleanza Nazionale (National Alliance).Gianfranco Fini , leader of the National Alliance , describes Mussolini as his "political master" and as "the greatest Italian politician".
(2) Quoted in 'Fighting Talk' issue 6 pages 16 and 17.
(6) Quoted in 'Ireland since 1870' by Mark Tierney page 293.
(7) Quoted in 'Frank Ryan' by Sean Cronin page 79.
(8) Ibid. page 77.
(9) Quoted in 'The Spanish Civil War and Irish Politics' by Mick Cronin
(10) Quoted in 'This Great Little Nation' by Gene Kerrigan and Pat Brennan page 107.