Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Student's Revelations of Home-Grown IRA Group

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Student's Revelations of Home-Grown IRA Group

Article excerpt

Byline: Tony Henderson Environment Editor tony.henderson@ncjmedia.co.uk

THE little-known activities of a home-grown Tyneside IRA organisation has been uncovered by student Becky MacDermid. The IRA network, which at its peak in the early 1920s had 480 members across the North East, carried out operations such as setting fire to farm buildings, blowing up gas mains and disrupting communications.

Becky, 20, who is a politics and history student at Newcastle University, will be presenting her findings at a public event on Wednesday.

At the event, students who have been supported by the university's research scholarship and expeditions programme will be revealing the results of their projects.

Becky decided to take advantage of the Decade of Centenaries programme in Ireland. This aims to raise the profile of events from 1912 into the 1920s which helped shape modern Ireland and was a time of growing tensions in Anglo-Irish relationships.

Becky travelled to Dublin to spend time working with Century Ireland, an online Irish history newspaper.

She found that the Tyneside IRA group had its origins in 1919 in South Shields, with local man and demobilised soldier Gilbert Francis Barrington acting as quartermaster.

Many men with Irish origins had fought in the First World War with the Tyneside Irish Brigade, which was part of the Northumberland Fusiliers.

Becky said: "The common memory from that time is of the Tyneside Irish Brigade and the role they played fighting as part of the British Army. So it's intriguing that just a few years later some of these men were compelled to take action against the British.

"The Irish migration to Tyneside had generally been one of successful integration but there seems to have been a conflict of identity for a group who had a different outlook, but this has not been documented or remembered."

Becky discovered members in places such as Consett, Newcastle, Wallsend, Jarrow, Bedlington and Stockton. …

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