On Friday 2nd June in Droichead Nua Community Library, Dr. Ruán O’Donnell will give a talk on the history of two lesser-known republican groups Saor Uladh and Saor Éire. The authorities believed such groups, dominated by radical and left-wing elements, to be a front for communist, physical-force republicans.

Saor Uladh, a left-wing republican organisation, was founded in County Tyrone by Liam Kelly in 1953 after he was dismissed from the IRA for his involvement in an operation in Derry without GHQ approval.

Saor Uladh forced its way into the headlines in November 1955 with a daring raid on the Royal Ulster Constabulary barracks in Roslea, County Fermanagh, wherein volunteer Connie Green was killed. In December 1956, they joined forces with large number of former Dublin IRA volunteers in the breakaway Joe Christle Group, performing attacks on customs posts, telephone exchanges and bridges.

In 1953 Kelly was elected to Stormont from Mid-Tyrone for The Irish Anti-Partition League and was also elected to the Irish Seanad in June 1954, due mainly to the efforts of Seán MacBride from Clann na Poblachta. Saor Uladh recognised the Constitution of the Republic as the legitimate authority in Ireland, which was unusual for republican groups during that time.

Though often overlooked, the membership of Saor Éire, established in the late 1960s, included former Kelly/Christle volunteers from the 1950s border campaign such as Liam Sutcliffe, Charlie O’Neill and Liam Daltun. They availed themselves of every opportunity to become involved in an agitating policy on social and economic questions.