[Chapter excerpt from AFA's book 'Undertones: Anti-Fascism and the Far-Right in Ireland 1945-2012'. A few copies are left and are available to buy here.]
The simply named National Socialist Irish Workers Party (NSIWP) was founded in 1968 in Dublin by 26-year-old Terence Allan-Byrne , a self-employed decorator who lived with his mother at 6 St. Brendan’s Cottages, Ringsend. The founding of the organisation coincided with a ‘huge black swastika’ and the letters NSIWP daubed on the monument to Dr. William Ashford at Irishtown Square, Dublin.
This organisation, though never involving more than two dozen or so members, would be active for the next twenty years. It also played a vital role in the production of neo-Nazi paraphernalia for the European movement.
Byrne, who was born in 1942 and supposedly died in unknown circumstances in the early 1980s, insisted on being addressed as ‘Commander’ Byrne throughout his career in National Socialist politics. Other early members of the NSIWP included Pat Webb (Head of Propaganda), James Moore  (Head of Security), Colm Tarrant, Jos Mussche (former Dutch SS), P. O’Flaherty , Ann Flynn and two ‘leaders’ of the NSIWP’s Stormtrooper paramilitary units F. Radcliffe and Brent O’Brien. John T. Kane was a pseudonym used by several NSIWP members, originally Byrne.
Webb, an ex commando originally from Wolverhampton, was active with Colin Jordan’s National Socialist Movement (NSM) in the early 1960s and heavily involved in gun running for the far right. He went on to plant a bomb in the basement of a black family’s home in the 1970s, which exploded killing a visiting teenage relative. The rest of the family escaped injury as they were attending church at the time of the explosion.
There are also persistent rumours that both 1916 veteran Commandant W.J. Brennan-Whitmore, who was attached to the National Movement, and Alfred E. Day a former Mosleyite from Bristol who ran Carraig Books in Blackrock, were members of the NSIWP.
Throughout its existence militant anti-fascists in Dublin and elsewhere kept a close eye on the NSIWP and launched several unpremeditated, as well as pre-organised attacks, against NSWIP members and property. Commander Byrne was particularly sought out for ‘reasoned political debate’. The intensity and viciousness of these attacks does, to a degree, give credence to the long-standing rumour that Byrne had also “perved” on local kids.
In October 1970, he was shot and critically wounded. In May 1973, anti-fascists raided an isolated farm in Arklow, which was leased by James Moore, to steal NSIWP internal documents. A few hours after the operation, Byrne was attacked again and hospitalised for several months.
NSIWP ‘Free Rudolph Hess’ stickers. (Private Collection)
In March 1977, while out walking, a car pulled up beside him and a man ‘leapt out’ and stabbed him in the hand. That same week, a gang of four men attacked him and stabbed him in the stomach with a bayonet. In September 1977, the NSIWP’s HQ (6 St. Brendan’s Cottages) was petrol bombed.
In 1979, Byrne had a ‘wound in the shape of a back-to-front Swastika’ carved into his chest. He refused to allow a ‘greasy, slimy Indian’ doctor treat it and as such was referred to another hospital. Here, a different doctor refused to treat him and ‘remarked that the wounds he was receiving were costing the tax-payers a lot of money’. In another attack in the same time period, Commander Byrne ‘suffered severe lacerations to the leg and right arm’ which needed 26 stitches.
In the 1977 Sunday Independent interview with Byrne, his mother had remarked that he had been shot at three times. In another incident, Byrne had acid thrown over him and one night, when anti-fascists could not find Byrne at home they removed all the tiles on his roof and left them in a neat pile outside his front door.. Byrne always insisted that his dog had been poisoned by the ‘reds’ as well.
As one can imagine, Byrne was known to the Gardaí and at least on one occasion, March 1976, he was arrested and held for twenty-four hours under the Special Powers Act.
The NSIWP published three periodicals – The Phoenix, a monthly magazine from 1972, The Irish Worker, a monthly newspaper that was wound down around 1977 and N.S. News, an internal bulletin. These were amateurish, shoddily produced products filled with articles and images espousing Holocaust denial, racism and anti-Semitism.
The Irish Worker, 1970 (Private Collection)
In April 1970, Byrne tried to get involved with a Sinn Fein led protest campaign against the proposed building of a road through Ringsend Park. However, local activist Mairin de Burca told The Irish Times there would be absolutely no joint action between the groups as Sinn Fein had strong ‘ideological objections to fascism’.
In 1971, Mr. Maurice Abrahamson, a leading member of the Jewish community in Dublin spoke to the Sunday Independent about ‘scurrilous anti-Semitic literature’ that was being circulated from a ‘small cottage in Ringsend’. Abrahamson admitted that the Jewish community had been aware of this man’s (i.e. Byrne) activities for a number of months.
Bizarrely captioned picture of alleged NSIWP member getting attacked by Communists in Dublin in 1973. (Credit – Dublin Opinion)
In July 1973, the NSIWP made its first and only known public appearance at a Anti-Apartheid Movement protest at the Portuguese embassy in Ballsbridge, called in response to the massacre in Wiriyamu in Mozambique at which 400 villagers had been killed by Portuguese troops.
Alan, a young Official Sinn Fein member at the time, remembers what happened next at the 50 or 60 strong demo:
…two lads turn up, brown shirts, jackboots, brown trousers, swastika armbands, real Hollywood Nazi stuff carrying signs “Stop hate against white Portugal!” People were a bit sort of stunned, not the sort of thing you usually saw in Dublin, certainly not in those days!
Some people wanted to sort them there and then. But maybe wiser heads prevailed saying “no, that would become the story in the media rather than the massacre in Mozambique “. So when the protest was over about a half of dozen of us followed them up the road and they got, eh, quite savagely beaten and thrown over the wall of another embassy into their garden.
We then turned around to see half a dozen Garda stood in a line looking at us. We almost put our hands out, and said ‘ handcuff me, take me away’ but the Garda were all “fair play lads, good on ya” and they walked off.
We had gone through (the Nazis) pockets, one of the guys had his address on him in Clonskeagh and some people visited him later. Nothing physical that time, just letting him know that people knew where we lived. And as far as I know, neither of the two were ever seen again at any public fascist activity.