By Jeffrey Dudgeon
ONLY hours after landing in Kerry from a German submarine on Good Friday
1916, Roger Casement was captured and transported straight to London.
Major Frank Hall was a classic Ulster imperialist, whose family lived at Narrow Water Castle near Warrenpoint.
Educated at Harrow, Frank joined the Army in 1895. Retiring in 1911 he was soon involved in politics, being appointed to reorganise the Ulster Clubs, "to bring in the staunch Unionists who are not Orangemen" as Carson instructed him.
Hall was the organiser of the Ulster Day demonstrations of September 28, 1912, which climaxed in the signing of the Solemn League and Covenant.
Craig wanted a political demonstration, Hall a smuggling operation. He also feared sectarian trouble so he went to see Carson and get the landing points moved from Belfast.
Hall later explained: "I never fell in with Craig. He had no use for me because I wasn't an Orangeman." Thereafter he and Craig conversed in shouting mode. During the landings in Larne and Bangor, Hall played an intelligence role, diverting and confusing the RIC and the Army as well as "short-circuiting" telegraph and telephone lines.
The nephew, he said, had turned his own mother "out of Narrow Water", drinking himself to an early death in 1939. The estate was then put in trust to minimise the perceived damage of a Catholic heir. The trusteeship repercussions rumble on to this day.
Hall had another row with Craig when the UVF was merged with the British Army. He offered him the job of Assistant Paymaster at Newtownards in the Ulster Division. Duly enraged, Hall "cleared out" and went to England to join up, only to be offered a job in Military Intelligence by a top Army Unionist.
He recalled that "MI5 issued a Q report" disclosing that "three men would land at midnight on such and such a date." He was still peeved since "Dublin Castle refused to believe his Q report" being "well known to be controlled by the nationalists."
Hall continued with "an outburst against homosexuals" saying that "Casement arrived 'with his two boyfriends' on the beach".
No forgery operation was suggested. Given the confused state of his mind, and the imminence of his death, it would be reasonable to assume a fragment of such an operation would slip out. None did. Forging Casement's diaries without Q's involvement is highly improbable.
Enough was properly made of the trial prosecutor, the Attorney-General F E Smith, being Carson's crony. Another such involvement could have proved that the case was little more than one set of 'disloyalists' persecuting another.
They operated in a political manner, choosing to encourage the Rising. Extracting Casement from Ireland did untold damage to Dublin Castle's knowledge and thus ability to respond. The cost was some 500 British and Irish lives, ensuring Ireland (or 26 counties thereof) left the UK. Hall foolishly preferred to see what would happen if there was to be an uprising, and the separatist boil lanced.
Thomson diaried: "I described my interview with Casement and detailed the Sinn Fein plans. Birrell remarked: 'In my long term of office I have never had a bit of fun like that . . .' He laughed at the idea of a rising taking place on account of Casement's arrest, saying that the Irish were secretly ashamed of Casement. He was just off to see Mr Redmond."
Shortly afterwards there was a cessation of telegrams from Dublin. The GPO had been seized.
-Extract from Roger Casement: The Black Diaries - with a study of his background, sexuality, and Irish political life, by Jeffrey Dudgeon (Belfast Press, £25 hardback).