Founding member of Youth DefenceMaurice Colgan pictured here in the middle with black jacket and hands crossed. He has been campaigning since the early 1990s against homosexuality, divorce, abortion and the teaching of “godless” sex education in secondary schools.
Irish-American Scott Schittl (far-right), former director of Life House Ireland and campaign co-ordinator for Cóir. He acted aggressively at a protest outside the-then Youth Defence HQ on Capel Street in July 2013.
Dr Eoghan de Faoite of Youth Defence, a first-cousin to Youth Defence founding member Niamh Uí Bhriain (formerly Nic Mhathúna).
Maria Mhic Meanmain (far-right) of the Life Institute who acted aggressively at a protest outside the-then Youth Defence HQ on Capel Street in July 2013. As did her husband Manus MacMeanmain who ran for the Christian Solidarity Party in the 2011 General Election (Meath West) receiving 234 votes (0.58%).
Lorcan MacMathuna (second from right) of Youth Defence and former editor of the conservative Irish Family newspaper (2006-08). He is married to Emma Quinn, another Youth Defence activist, who is the daughter of neo-Nazi white nationalist Michael Quinn.
This article was written in November 1992 by Youth Defence member Cliona Ni Mhurchu (probably a pseudonym). It was published in the Sep-Nov 1993 issue of Candour, a British, Catholic far-right and anti-Semitic journal.
The piece was also re-published in Catholic Action, another periodical associated with the International Third Position (ITP).
It rallies against abortion, contraception, divorce, pornography, liberal and socialist propaganda, the mass media, humanism, progressive catholics and money-lending while also making thinly veiled references to a hidden control of finance (read Jewish).
The author invokes doomsday-like religious language and talks about entering the “crucial stage” in the “long war” between “Satan” and “God and His Order”.
It statesthat Youth Defence have been working “closely with the like minded, and experienced groups like the Family Rights Council and the Housewives’ Union.”
The Family Rights Council was formed in the early 1980s and consisted of three groups : Parent Concern, the Family Rights Association and the Irish Housewives’ Union. Long-time conservative campaigner Una Mhic Mhathuna was the secretary of the Housewives’ Union.
When her daughter and Youth Defence founding member Niamh Nic Mhathuna ran for the General Election in November 1992, the Family Rights Council and the Housewive’s Union were listed as supporting her campaign on her leaflet.
She also used the same address (131 Thomas Street) and the phone number (01 6790840) as is listed in the piece below. Youth Defence had offices above The Piper’s House pub at 131 Thomas Street during the 1992-3 period. Letters to the newspapers by Youth Defence members Sean O’Domhnaill, Peter Scully, Maria McCluskey and Cliona Nic Aodh (sic) used this address during those years.
The article was written specifically for a non-Irish audience and it is important to note there is a financial appeal at the end – “we have no choice but to appeal to anyone reading this to please give us moral, financial and spiritual help in our struggle for the soul of Ireland”.
For the first time, here it is online in full:
‘A Breath of Fresh Eire‘
Cliona Ni Mhurchu outlines the campaign against abortion undertaken by the Dublin-based Youth Defence League (sic).
Abortion, contraception, divorce, pornography : these are a few of the sickening items at the top of the humanist and atheist agenda for Ireland. With such things in mind a small group of young people came together around February 1992 with the aim of defending and inspiring the Youth of Ireland to stand up and fight for the Moral Order, for Irish Tradition and for the future of our country and her young people.
Led astray by the constant saturation of liberal and socialist propaganda in the media, through modern ‘culture’ and even within the Church, we hope by means of this social struggle for the life of Ireland to be able to bring back her young people to the Faith of our Fathers.
Outraged by the case of the young girl who was eventually allowed to travel to kill her baby, YOUTH DEFENCE was formed and at short notice decided to call a rally demanding that a definitive and unambiguous pro-life clause be added to the Constitution. Not surprisingly, we were totally ignored by the mass media but after phoning Father Michael Cleary’s late night radio show we were invited into the studio to air our views. We received overwhelming support from callers throughout the programme and Father Cleary allowed us announce the rally for the following Tuesday night.
On the Tuesday over 1,000 people turned up outside Dail Eireann (Irish Parliament), at short notice and in the freezing cold, to support our demands. This was the beginning of our struggle, a struggle that by the grace of God has continued to gain momentum, even though we are continually being stabbed in the back by people who should have been helping and supporting us. We have had to put up with the morally crushing blows of Catholics who not want to get involved and think it enough, merely enough, to pray, but not act; so-called pro-lifers who tell people not to get involved with us and who sabotage our actions and also priests and a hierarchy who allow them to continue in their blissful ignorance, who will not preach the crusade, and who will not open up the coffers of the Church in order to fulfill an essential part of the Church’s role.
We know that presumption is a sin and we know that Our Lord is not going to work any miracles when some Catholics cannot be bothered to act as His instruments in the Divine Plan. We know that the liberals and the socialists hate us. We know that so-called ‘respectable’ Catholics hate us. But we also know that Our Lord told us to take up our crosses and follow Him and to share in His Passion. We know that Our Lord told us that if we were to serve Him we would be hated by the world for His sake. And because of this we will not give up, we will not go away and we will not silenced by anyone.
From the beginning we have sought to create a high public profile. Their media will not give us any coverage out of sympathy for our aims so we have played upon the shock value that they love so much. (It boosts viewing figures and sells newspapers).
We also firmly believe that being loud and vociferous, controversial, militant and innovative in our actions is the only way that we can win this and other battles. We are at a crucial stage in the history of the world and our struggle — spiritually and socially – is merely a reflection of a higher struggle, the supernatural combat unleashed by Satan upon God and His Order. It is a long war that seems to be coming to its most crucial stage. Catholics and people of good disposition can no longer sit quietly on the fence in the social area, not that anyone ever had a right to do so.
As the forces for good and evil in the world become more and more obviously polarised there can be no room for indifference. Through our actions we aim to awaken that realisation in people’s minds and make them look deeply into their hearts. One side or the other, but everyone must make a stand and enter the combat for the Faith, for the Moral Order and for Justice.
In terms of action we have held a number of rallies, mobilising up to 10,000 people in Dublin. As well as the usual leaflets and posters our everyday activities and for the past few months have included widespread door to door canvassing, hanging large banners with hard-hitting messages at highly visible points during heavy rush-hour traffic, and pickets and demonstrations outside the Dail, pro-abortion meetings and the home of pro-abortion TD’s (Members of Parliament).
We have Youth Defence groups set up all over Ireland with 3,000 members, and the Youth Defence Roadshow that travels about the country pushing our message with graphic displays and recruiting new members. In some places our members have been arrested for terrible ‘crimes’ like handing out leaflets, displaying ‘obscene’ material (photographs of murdered babies) and daring to breathe in public! But we do not care, we will carry on because we have an obligation to do so.
At the time of writing [November 1992], we are not hopeful for the outcome of the referendum. In an effort to confuse the issue the government has designed three referenda to be voted upon : the ‘right’ to travel abroad for an abortion; the ‘freedom’ to promote abortion services and information; and abortion where the physical and or mental of the mother ‘demands’ it – in other words abortion on demand dressed up as limited abortion.
And to confuse the issue even more, a General Election has been manoeuvred for the same day as the referendum. The media has been full of lurid and emotional stories of rape (very rare in Eire), unwanted children (another big lie), and the moral shortcomings of the clergy like the Bishop of Galway and his now grown up child. This scandal was obviously known about in certain circles for many years but they have cleverly waited for the right moment before making it public. Such scandals help to destroy people’s faith and belief and adherence to the moral and social teachings of the Church.
On top of all this the Irish Bishops recently issued a statement saying that Catholics are free to vote in whichever they want in the referendum as long as their consciences are clear. It is for this last reason that we will come to see unborn Irish children murdered on Irish soil.
Throughout our fight against abortion we have been working closely with the like minded, and experienced groups like the Family Rights Council and the Housewives Union. A growing pro-life register of over 40,000 signatures has been collected. People signing the register promise not to vote for pro-abortion TD’s.
Whether we win or lose the referendum for the unborn we will not give up or go away. We will not keep quiet about abortion, divorce, pornography or anything else that affects the young people and children of Ireland.
We have over 20% unemployment, constant emigration and all sorts of social and economic injustice. We know that usury is the cause of these ills and many more. We know that people who control finance are the real power behind the moral and social destruction of our land. We know that these people are the real government, hidden and unelected rulers of this country and of every country. And we know that the answer to these problems can be found in the traditional social teaching of the Church, best expressed in the encyclicals Rerum Novarum  and Quadragesimo Anno .
We are steadily building Youth Defence and plan to create our own media to get plan to create our own media to get across our message more effectively. But all of us are studying, on the dole or in low paid jobs. The money that we do raise from our members and sympathisers is quickly swallowed up by constant campaigning costs, so we have no choice but to appeal to anyone reading this to please give us moral, financial and spiritual help in our struggle for the soul of Ireland. And we especially want to make contacts in Irish communities in other countries. Ireland definitely needs the help of her people and friends at home and abroad.
According to the ‘official’ history of Youth Defence, the foundation of the group can be traced to a phone-call made by the-then 20-year-old Niamh Nic Mhathuna to Fr. Michael Cleary’s 98FM radio show in February 1992.
Enraged by the state’s decision to allow the 14-year-old girl at the centre of the X case to travel to England for an abortion, she phoned Fr. Cleary expressing her belief that there should be a further tightening of the abortion laws in Ireland. This spurred Niamh and a number of other concerned teenagers to form Youth Defence.
Niamh and six other young conservative Catholics, the core of Youth Defence‘s early leadership, were then invited by Fr. Cleary to appear on his show on 27th February 1992. On air, they announced their first public protest and around 1,000 people attended the first Youth Defence rally outside Dail Eireann on 3rd March 1992.
This timeline is popularised on the history section of the Youth Defence website with the very first archived newspaper article being the above ‘Youth Defence born on a radio show‘.
However, as we can exclusively reveal, the origins of Youth Defence actually date back to the Divorce referendum of 1986.
A small piece in The Cork Examiner (26 June 1986) described a “recently-established organisation, campaigning against divorce” called Youth Defence. Claiming to have sixty members in Dublin and Cork, the group circulated 50,000 leaflets with the heading “We Want Jobs Not Divorce”.
Their spokesperson was none other than Niamh Nic Mhathuna who was quoted as saying that most women in two salary households “don’t need jobs” and should give them up.
The article also noted that “most” Youth Defence members were “children of Family Rights Council”.
Niamh would have only been 15 or 16 years of age in 1986. Her mother Una was secretary of the Irish Housewives Union at the time. One of the three groups – along with Parent Concern and the Family Rights Association – who came together under the umbrella group Family Rights Council.
There are no other further references to Youth Defence or Niamh Nic Mhathuna until early 1992 when Youth Defence re-emerges during the X Case.
The fact that the real origins of the group lie in the campaign against Divorce six years previously is seemingly something they do not want to promote.
During the 1990s, Justin Barrett and Michael Quinn were leading members of the militant anti-abortion group Youth Defence.
They were arrested together, along with six other Youth Defence associates, during a violent picket in May 1998 outside the Adelaide Hospital in Dublin.
Both men, while retaining links with Youth Defence, went onto become dedicated and committed far-right activists.
Though the two have dropped out of public activity, it is still useful to trace their political careers. Also pose the question as to why such a number of leading Youth Defence members have become active in right-wing politics ranging from Catholic Irish Nationalism to White Power neo-Fascism.
This is especially ironic in the wake of the recent video from Youth Defence (23 September 2016) that links the slogan and campaign to ‘Repeal the 8th Amendment’ to slavery, the Holocaust and segregation in the United States.
Justin Barrett was born in Cork city in 1971. He was fostered when he was two and adopted at the age of five by the Slevin family in Milford, Borrisokane, Co. Tipperary.
As The Irish Times (5 October 2002) explained:
Barrett was his mother’s family name and the one on his birth certificate, but his adoptive family’s name was Slevin, so for years he was known as “Barrett Slevin”, as though Barrett were a Christian name. He eventually opted for Barrett, and dropped the Slevin.
Barrett attended Borrisokane vocational school and later Athlone Regional Technical College (RTC), where he took a diploma in business studies. He went on to study accountancy but has only took about half of the required examinations.
In his late teens, he became active with Family Solidarity, a group opposed to abortion, contraception, gay rights and divorce.
From May 1987, he began writing letters on topical political issues to The Nenagh Guardian. The following year, he got into a mud-slinging match with the Nenagh Nicaraguan Support Group in the letters page of the newspaper.
His letter to the newspaper (23 April 1988), aged just 17, derides “secular humanism” and describes the government of Ronald Regan as a “grand statemanship”. Describing himself as a “humblest representative of the Right”, he signs off with the slogan “We will bury Communism!”.
In this period, he joined Young Fine Gael and was listed as the Public Relations Officer (PRO) of the Borrisokane branch in The Nenagh Guardian (16 March 1991).
Fine Gael of the 1980s had many prominent, hardline Catholic conservatives such as Oliver J. Flanagan and Alice Glenn and so would have been a natural home for Barrett.
As a third-level student in Athlone RTC in 1992, he contested the election for the Presidency of the Union of Students in Ireland (USI) but dropped out of the race halfway through due to lack of support.
Barrett first became involved with Youth Defence in June 1992 during the Mastricht referendum when he distributed the group’s leaflets calling for a ‘No’ vote in Athlone.
In October 1994, Barrett and eight other members of Youth Defence were arrested at a picket outside constituency office of Labour TD Brendan Howlin in Wexford. Seven of the protestors had travelled from Dublin while Justin and his future wife Bernadette travelled from Galway.
Justin Slevin, River Street, Ballinsaloe, Galway
his future wife Bernadatte Carolll, Latoon, Caltra, Ballinsaloe, Galway
Niamh Nic Mhathuana, 57 Barton Road East, Churchtown,
her sister Una Nic Mhathuana, ” ” “
their brother Seamus MacMathuna, ” ” “
Ciara Ni Aodain, 137 Gracepark Heights, Drumcondra, D9
her mother Deirdre Hayden. 132 Gracepark Heights, Drumcondra, D9
Peter Murphy, 34 Pineview Rise, Tallaght, D24
John Heaney, 33 Bawnville Road, Tallaght, D24
They were all fined £75 and bound to keep the peace for 12 months.
A year later, these charges were dismissed and Circuit Court Judge Sean O’Leary removed the District Court conventions.
During the 1995 Divorce Referendum, Barrett helped formed Youth Against Divorce which was a front organisation for Youth Defence.
He was quoted at the time in the newspapers as saying:
If the referendum is passed, in 20 years time, at the outside, Ireland will be choking on this liberal agenda, this divorce culture.
As a representative of Youth Defence, he spoke with Peter Scully of Family and Life at a special pre-election public meeting in Tralee as advertised in The Kerryman (25 April 1997).
In The Irish Times (28 March 1998), he was listed as PRO of Youth Defence and warned of “civil unrest” if the Government introduced legislation that permits abortion in any circumstance.
As mentioned at the start of this piece, Barrett was arrested with eight other Youth Defence activists during a violent picket in May 1998 outside Adelaide Hospital in Dublin.
Michael Quinn (35), Big Stone Cottage, Ballyraggan, Rathvilly, Co. Carlow
Maurice Colgan (25), Mountjoy Square, Youth Defence HQ.
Christopher Palin (24), Fairview Strand, Dublin
Ciara Ni Aodain (24), Gracepark Heights, Drumcondra, D9
her sister Aoife Brid Ni Aoidan (20), ” ” ” “
Esme Caulfield, Brookfield Avenue, Artane
her daughter Maria Caulfield (26), ” ” “
Dennis Meehan, Tydavnet, Co. Monaghan
Aidan Kavanagh, Ballygall Place, Dublin
The eight were convicted and fined for obstructing Gardai and assault.
Two years later, the court allowed appeals by Quinn and two others on charges of obstructing Gardai but dismissed appeals by Barrett, Colgan and another. It also dismissed Quinn’s appeal against breaching the Public Order Act.
In 1998, Barrett spoke on behalf of Youth Defence at the ‘Ontario For Life’ conference in Canada.
In the February 1998 edition of the Youth Defence magazine Solas, he wrote a blistering attack on two socially-liberal Jewish TDs Alan Shatter (Fine Gael) and Mervyn Taylor (Labour) and Fianna Fail for their part in legalising contraception and divorce:
There are some characters on the landscape of Irish public life who are clearly repugnant, their words and actions betray a venomous hatred for everything that passes close enough to decency to bear any resemblance and they are not at all shy in utilising every opportunity to let us know it. TD’s like Alan Shatter and the now unlamentedly departed Mervyn Taylor are electable insofar as they have been elected though I cannot fathom how … If anyone can show me a substantial difference between Fianna Fail today and Fine Gael ten years ago I’d be interested to hear it … It was Fianna Fail who legalised contraception in the first instance and extended it to being available for children. It was Fianna Fail who first began the state subsidy to the Irish Family Planning Association which to my knowledge has never been condemned as it ought by any TD. It was Fianna Fail who financed the X case, it was Fianna Fail who attempted the three card referenda on abortion, it was Fianna Fail who were in power for the Treaty of Rome, the Single European Act and Masstricht and it now appears likely the Amsterdam Treaty; it was Fianna Fail who introduced the Public Order Act and it was Fianna Fails support which finally facilitated divorce.
In September 1999, Barrett and his wife Bernadette visited schools around the country to deliver a pro-life lecture called ‘Just the Facts’:
In The Irish Times (1 June 2000), he was described as “legal advisor” to Youth Defence and asked whether the group wanted new legislation as well as a constitutional amendment against abortion, Barrett was quoted as saying:
Absolutely. The 1861 legislation is inadequate. Its language describes a ‘felony’ unlawful abortion, which would imply there can be a lawful abortion.
In May 2001, he joined other right-wing Conservative campaigners in the ‘No To Nice’ campaign.
He received a lot of press coverage including this feature in the Longford Leader in May 2001.
It was revealed towards the end of 2002 that in the late 1990s and early 2000s, Barrett spoke and met with a number of neo-Fascist groups in Germany and Italy.
In 1999, he attended a conference of the Young National Democrats, the youth wing of the German neo-Nazi National Democratic Party of Germany (NPD).
On 27th May 2000, he spoke at a rally of the NPD in Passau, Bavaria. Other honorary guests included neo-fascist icon Florentine Rost van Tonningen from the Netherlands, Derek Holland of the International Third Position and a former Nazi SS officer who received a standing ovation.
A video of the rally was seen by journalist Derek Scally and was described in The Irish Times (11 October 2002):
Anti-semitic speeches are peppered with quotes from Adolf Hitler. There are claims that “Germany was the biggest victim of the second World War”. Hundreds of skinheads give standing ovations to elderly Nazis.
Mr Holger Apfel, the deputy leader of the NPD was quoted in the same article confirming links between his neo-Nazi group and Youth Defence:
Justin Barrett was an honorary guest at our event in Passau. I invited him. He sat with the delegates. We have been in contact with his group since 1996. We are friendly with his Youth Defence organisation.
The same article also revealed that Barrett had a long-standing relationship with the party’s youth organisation, the Young National Democrats (JN). Sascha Rossmüller, leader of JN, said he had been in contact with Mr Barrett “for several years” and that Youth Defence “shares many important interests” with the JN and was “an important part of our international network”.
In November 2000, he attended a conference of the Italian far-right Forza Nuova group in Milan. This was first revealed by the Irish edition of the Sunday Mirror (29 September 2002).
On 20th and 21st July 2001, Barrett spoke at a Forza Nuovarally at the Hotel Miramar in Civitanova, central Italy. Other speakers included Mario Di Giovanni, Gianni Correggiari, Giacinto Auriti and Roberto Fiore who fled to Britain after his involvement in the 1980 Bologna railway bombing, which killed 85 people.
An Italian email listing the details of these events can be read here.
At the rally, as reported by the Sunday Mirror (29 September 2002), Barrett and Mario Di Giovanni (Youth Defence’s Italian representative), “voiced their support for Catholic fundamentalist revolution.”
The same Sunday Mirror piece revealed that in 2001 a group of Forza Nuova students, led by the 24-year-old Marco Gladi, visited Ireland to ‘study’ with Youth Defence.
The first Nice referendum was rejected by the Irish public in June 2001.
During the second Nice referendum in 2002, Justin Barrett spoke with former Youth Defence National Organiser Maurice Colgan at a public meeting for the right-wing No campaign in the Ardboyne Hotel, Meath. Barrett and Quinn had been arrested together at the Adelaide Hospital picket in May 1998.
The second Nice referendum was passed in October 2002.
During the 2002 Abortion referendum, he was the main spokesperson for the Mother and Child campaign. This has been described as the group Youth Defence members join when they turn 28 years of age.
In October 2002, it was revealed that Barrett had self-published a 191 page book called The National Way Forward four years previously. It was described by The Irish Times as a “strident attack on refugees, politicians, liberalism and the Belfast Agreement”.
Barrett wrote in the book:
“The refugee advocates are, almost to a man and woman, the abortion advocates, the contraception advocates, the Europhiles, the anti-Catholic bigots. In other words, the whole rotten cabal of the left … In engaging in child abuse, a Catholic priest is acting so contrary to Catholic teaching as to make such a mild description as hypocrite entirely redundant. However, as a homosexual, his actions are consistent, and might lead the general public to draw certain conclusions concerning that so-called ‘sexual orientation’.”
Positive feedback came only from the neo-Nazis and racists within the world of the Irish far-right. A user of the white nationalist online forum Stormfront called ‘Mythos’ described the book as follows:
“The Book is Brilliant, a must for any true Irish white nationalist, the chapter “a country of our own” focus on the bad effects on non-white immigration to Ireland. All i can say is buy it and read it, its is brilliant” (Stormfront, 17th August 2003)
After going to ground for a year or so, Barrett emerged to run as an independent on an anti-Immigrant ticket in the 2004 European election.
Former Sinn Fein turned Catholic right-wing activist Gerry McGeough campaigned with him on the election trail in Drogheda and Longford. McGeough told The Irish Times (7 June 2004) :
Like hundreds of republicans, I’m very disillusioned with the current leadership … I don’t believe the ordinary decent rank-and-file supports the radical pro-abortion stance Sinn Féin now adopts. There’s a big disenfranchised community out there. It’s Catholic, extremely nationalist, pro-life, EU-sceptic, and disgusted by the sleaze in Irish politics. Justin Barrett is the only man to represent that at the moment.
Barrett’s election leaflet demanded “all illegal immigrants be sent home” and that “Irish people are given priority in all new jobs”. He also demands the end of “the abuses of our social services by bogus asylum seekers” and that Irish jobs be protected “by restricting mass immigration from new EU states”.
He received 10,997 first preference votes which equaled to a 2.43% share of the total count.
Youth Defence gave him ample press in their magazine Solas and included a report from Charles Byrne (Cathal O’Broin), later to co-found The Hibernian magazine with Gerry McGeough, in the July 2004 issue:
All in all 2,000 posters were put up, 200,000 leaflets and 800,000 postcards distributed by the Barrett campaign. Despite this great effort, the huge spending by the political parties could not be matched, and Justin’s 10,997 first preference votes were a long way off target – but don’t think that this is the end of the story – Ireland’s patriots will march on!
This cause is about more than just one battle. For as long as there are people who threaten to undermine the right to life of unborn children or the sovereignty of the nation, there will be this small but incredibly stubborn band of youthful patriots, ready and willing to fight Ireland’s cause. Éire go brách!
In October 2004, Barrett was prevented from speaking at a debate in University College Dublin (UCD) by members of Anti-Fascist Action (AFA).
On 27th April 2005, Barrett and two colleagues Sinéad Dennehy and Denis O’Connor representing a group called Right Nation gave a presentation on ‘Family Issues’ to the Oireachtas Committee on the Constitution.
That was the last known public appearance by Barrett.
Michael Quinn was born in 1960 in Dublin.
In the General Election of 1992, he ran unsuccessfully as a conservative, pro-Life independent in the Dun Laoghaire constituency gaining 1,705 votes. His leaflet can be read here.
Around this time, he attended many Youth Defence protests acting aggressive towards pro-choice activists.
He moved to Carlow with his family in 1995.
In 1997 General Election, he ran unsuccessfully for the National Party in the Carlow-Kilkenny constituency receiving 870 votes.
In 1998, he was featured in the April edition of Youth Defence‘s magazine Solas. The then 38-year-old (!) organised leafleting sessions and meetings in Carlow, Naas, Wicklow, Kilkenny, Clonmel in December 1997.
The editor of Solas wrote:
“Mick Quinn is a shining example of the pro-life activists all of you can be. I strongly encourage you to follow his example in your own area. With six young children he could hide behind the excuses that many of us use in failing unborn children but he doesn’t. Please pray for the success of Mick, his wife Pauline and their family in their work for the unborn.”
In May 1998, he was arrested with Justin Barrett and five other Youth Defence activists during a violent picket outside Adelaide Hospital in Dublin. We covered this earlier in the piece.
In the July 1998 issue of Solas, he was pictured at a Youth Defence picket with one of his sons:
In the October 1998 issue of Solas, he was pictured at a Youth Defence social event. The editor also made note of his appearance at a leafleting session in Mullingar: “We were joined by the brave Quinn family of Carlow who received rough treatment from the Gardai at the peaceful picket which was held outside the Adelaide Hospital recently. “
During the 2000s, at least three of Michael’s children – Emma, Nathan and Michael Jr. – were active with Youth Defence.
His daughter Emma Quinn wrote in Solas (April 2005) on the topic of ‘Opposing Pornography’.
She was involved with the right-wing Catholic conservative campaign group Coir that was launched in early 2008 and can be seen pictured here:
In 2008, Emma Quinn married Lorcan MacMathuna, a sister of Youth Defence founder Niamh. Lorcan took over from Gerry McGeough in 2006 as editor of the conservative Irish Family newspaper which wound down in August 2008.
In March 2010, Michael Quinn posted up a rambling manifesto online on a number of websites asking “native white Christian(s)” to get in contact with him with the intention of organising a new right-wing nationalist group in Ireland
In this incoherent declaration, Quinn outlined the basic principles of his personal politics and that of the new “political movement”. These included being against immigration, homosexuality, mixed race marriages, and same-sex marriages, Islam and the E.U.He also gave his support to far-right, nationalist groups around Europe including the British National Party (BNP), the French National Front and Jobbik from Hungary.
This led to the establishment of the neo-Fascist Democratic Right Movement (DRM).
He was featured in The Sunday Independent (15 August 2010) and was interviewed for a TV3 ‘documentary’, broadcast on 15 August 2011, looking at the issue of Roma gypsy beggars in Dublin.
Quinn told the Sunday Independent journalist:
“But I’m definitely not a republican; I have no time for republicans. Sinn Fein have gone with homosexuals, they’ve gone with lesbians, they’ve gone with homosexuals adopting children .. It’s only in the last year or so I started to become aware of what was going on in Europe, the liberal agenda, the mass immigration, the decline of the white race.”
Quinn held a number of small gatherings in his house with Irish and international neo-Nazis. This one shows John Kavanagh (grey top), Michael Quinn (striped top) and Sean Canty wearing an ’88’ t-shirt. 88 is a white supremacist numerical code for “Heil Hitler.” H is the eighth letter of the alphabet, so 88 = HH = Heil Hitler.
His second command John Kavanagh, a web-designer based in Shanagolden, Limerick, used his online pseudonym ‘Europe United’ on the Stormfront forum, to make vile racist outbursts:
“I hate black people in my country, I hate indians, paki, muslims and all that other crap in my country. I want to take the fight to them directly.” (24 July 2009)
“Blacks, muslims, pakis etc, I’d round them up and shoot them all for invading my country – that’s the difference. Don’t worry about the tidy up, I make them dig their mass graves first. And I think a lot of people here feel the same” (7 August 2009)
Around 2011, Michael Quinn was pictured with former Youth Defence national organiser turned Dominican priest Maurice Colgan. The two friends along with Justin Barrett had been arrested together at the Adelaide Hospital picket in May 1998.
In July 2011, Quinn was pictured acting aggressively on Youth Defence‘s ‘Rally for Life’ in Dublin.
In April 2012, Quinn and three other DRM members traveled to Larne, Co. Antrim to meet with Ulster loyalists and members of the British Nationalist Party (BNP). The then leader of the party, Nick Griffin, lauded the “historic meeting”.
The group split in January 2012 into Michael Quinn and John Kavanagh factions. Kavanagh launched his own group the Nationalist Movement while Quinn kept the DRM name for a time until he rebranded himself as the Irish Nationalist Brotherhood in October 2012.
Quinn’s last Twitter post was in June 2014 and the page has since being deleted. There has been no online trace of him since then.
Justin Barrett, Michael Quinn, Maurice Colgan and Peter Scully were all early members of Youth Defence in the early 1990s. They cut their teeth on the same demonstrations, pickets, leafleting sessions, brawls and pro-life conferences.
While Scully went his separate ways from Youth Defence in the mid 1990s, he never strayed from his right-wing conservative catholic politics and was active publicly until at least 2013.
Colgan, now a Dominican priest, has remained a close supporter and friend of Youth Defence to this day.
Barrett’s links with fascist groups in Germany and Italy in the early 2000s exposed Youth Defence‘s strong ties to a European network of pro-life, extreme-right groups. His flavour of Green catholic nationalism, similar to Gerry McGeough’s, fit comfortably with many of Youth Defence‘s early core membership. Though it was rumoured he played a backseat role in the Coir campaign of 2008-09, he has not been publicly heard of since 2005.
Quinn’s journey took him further to the Right than anyone else. A relatively clean-cut pro-Life ‘family man’ and hopeful politician in the 1990s, his reemergence in 2010 as an explicit racist White Nationalist possibly even shocked some of his old Youth Defence chums. However they did seem fine with him attending Rally for Life events in 2011 and 2012 when he would have been well-known and easily identified by both people in the pro-choice and anti-abortion crowds. He has been offline since 2014.
The links back to the Mac Mathuna family are, as always, interesting. Peter Scully married Una Nic Mhathuna while her brother Lorcan Mac Mathuana wed Michael Quinn’s daughter Emma. Barrett and Colgan remain close friends of the clan since the early 1990s.
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In the Irish LGBT history documentary Did Anyone Notice Us? (2003), there is an extended clip at 1hr 8mins from a RTE Prime Time debate on homosexuality. It was broadcast on 29th April 1993 just two months before the passing of the decriminalisation Bill.
In a heated war of words, two angry, young Dublin men speak fervently against “buggery” and “sodomy” in Ireland.
They were Maurice Colgan, a founding member of Youth Defence, and Peter Scully, who became spokesperson for the group a month after they were founded.
Both have been in one way or another active in reactionary politics in Ireland for the last twenty-five years.
They have rallied against homosexuality, divorce, abortion and the teaching of “godless” sex education in secondary schools.
Today, Maurice Colgan is a Dominican priest based in Cork City who still regularly attends anti-abortion protests.
Peter Scully, certainly up until a couple of years ago, was a leading campaigner within the Catholic right. There is no online trace of him since 2013.
In February 1992, the militant anti-abortion group Youth Defence was founded in Dublin by several young people in the wake of the X case.
Early members included:
– Niamh Nic Mhathúna (now Uí Bhriain)
– Una Nic Mhathúna (now Una Ui Scolai) and future husband Peter Scully
– Fionnuala Nic Mhathúna (now Ni Dhomhnaill) and future husband Sean O’Domhnaill
– Maurice Colgan
– Peter Murphy
Scully was listed as a “spokesperson” of the group in The Irish Times (27 April 1992) and later as “public relations officer” in the same newspaper (13 October 1992).
As mentioned at the start of the piece, Youth Defence activists Peter Scully and Maurice Colgan were guests on Prime Time on 29th April 1993. The topic was homosexuality.
Maurice Colgan (Youth Defence) told the audience:
The man over there is wrong when he states that hetrosexual people are allowed to commit any acts they wish to commit. In the law, it is not an anti-homosexual law. It’s a law against buggery and indecency … If a man and a woman want to commit buggery that is against the law at the moment. Or if a man and woman want to commit oral sex, it is against the law at the moment .. That’s what we’re against, that’s what these people are trying to bring in.
Peter Scully (Youth Defence) questioned:
What we’d like to know is what exactly Máire Geoghegan-Quinn is legalising? Is she legalising buggery? Is she legalising bestiality? Is she legalising sodomy? Is she legalising gross indecent acts between male consenting people? Is that what she’s legalising? Is that what she wants the people of Ireland for their children? Crazy.
Kieran Rose (Gay rights activist) :
I’ve listened to these kind of words a lot. One part of me gets very angry. Because that man is talking about me and people who I hold very dear and I get very angry about that. But I also feel very sad for that man.
Peter Scully :
I feel very sad for you! Having to do what you do.
Kieran Rose :
What is it, which is eating him up that he feels like attacking me. I have no desire to attack him. I have no interest in his sexual life. I hope he has a great sexual life but I’m not interested.
Peter Scully :
I want my children to grow up in a proper environment. Free from buggery and sodomy.
These vocal and deep-rooted homophobic views amongst leading Youth Defence members was common in this early period.
In 1994, Scully left Youth Defence to become “executive officer” of the new Irish branch of the American-based Catholic anti-abortion organisation Human Life International.
After Youth Defence picketed the constituency office of Health Minister Brendan Howlin, Maurice Colgan was listed as the spokesperson for the group in the Irish Press (10 November 1994)
During the bitter divorce referendum of 1995, Scully was a “spokesperson” (The Irish Times, 14 September 1995) and “campaign manager” (The Irish Times, 27 October 1995) for the No Divorce Campaign.
Other leading lights of this group included Dr. Gerard Casey of the Christian Solidarity Party and Niamh Nic Mhathúna of Youth Defence. Scully was responsible for coming up with the wording for the infamous ‘Hello Divorce, Goodbye Daddy’ posters.
The campaign to remove the constitutional prohibition of divorce narrowly won the referendum.
It was observed in the Irish Independent newspaper (17 June 1995) that Scully was engaged to marry Una Nic Mhathuna, the eldest daughter of the Mathuna family.
Colgan and Scully were pictured together on a Youth Defence delegation to Rome in October 1995:
Scully then went onto co-found the group Family and Life, which was set up by the disgruntled Irish directors of Human Life International, and is still active to this day.
The company’s first directors included his fiance Una Nic Mhathuna, his uncle Fr. Anthony Scully, Maurice Colgan, David Manly, Eamon O’Scolaidhe and Michael Hogan.
Maurice Colgan was quoted in the newspapers in 1996 and 1997 regarding complaints from Youth Defence that their Christian songs were not getting radio airplay. In The Irish Times (21 November 1997), he was described as the “national organiser” of the group.
In May 1997, Scully led a campaign against the Relationships and Sexuality Education (RSE) programme in schools. The Irish Times (14 May 1997) revealed that a significant number of schools had received anti-RSE material. These included Vatican documents on sexuality, a booklet and a taped speech by Dr Gerard Casey, with a covering letter signed by Peter Scully. Dr Casey wrote that the RSE programme is part of the “cultural war between the Christian and secularist views of human development.”.
In November 1997, a 13-year-old girl was made pregnant by a brutal rape and was taken into care by the Eastern Health Board. The parents of the girl said they wanted their daughter to have an abortion. But their minds changed and anti-abortion activists Peter Scully and Úna Bean Mhic Mhathúna accompanied the girl’s parents to court. Their appearance in the case came at the same time that the Father told the court he did not believe an abortion was the right decision for his daughter.
On 16th May 1998, Youth Defence picketed the Adelaide hospital after it made a submission to the government on abortion.
According to The Irish Times (8 April 1999), the picket turned aggressive and a “mini-riot” developed with Youth Defence activists kicking and punching Gardai. Eight leading members of YD were convicted and fined for obstructing Gardai and assault. They included Maurice Colgan (25), Justin Barrett (28), future far-right activist and No to Nice campaigner, and Michael Quinn (35), who later went onto found the neo-Nazi ‘Democratic Right Movement’.
Two years later, the court allowed appeals by Quinn and two others on charges of obstructing Gardai but dismissed appeals by Barrett, Colgan and another. It also dismissed Quinn’s appeal against breaching the Public Order Act.
In March 1999, members of Youth Defence with the support of a large group of Americans “forcibly occupied a Dublin family planning clinic and filmed, threatened and intimidated staff and customers”.
Ms. Justine Macken, as reported in The Irish Times (9 March 1999), granted an injunction for the Irish Family Planning Association on Cathal Brugha Street against Maurice Colgan and Niamh Nic Mhathúna of Youth Defence and Rev. Patrick Mahony of the the US-based Christian Defence Coalition.
In March 2000, Scully led a controversial anti-abortion campaign that targeted politicians with personal posters. Family and Life erected large posters near the homes of nearly all of all the politicians who sit on on the All Party Oireachtas Committee on the Constitution. Calling on a new referendum on the status of abortion in Ireland, each poster was personalised and mentioned the name of the politician. In the Irish Examiner (16 March 2000), Scully defended the campaign claiming that was completely above board and democratic.
In July 2002, Family and Life began a campaign to halt certain sex education in programmes in irish Schools which he described as “smutty” and “godless” in The Irish Times (10 July 2002). He was quoted in The Sunday Independent (14 July 2002) as saying
Family experts throughout the world know that when the abortion promoters move into a school with their propaganda, they corrupt innocent young people, contributing to an increase in promiscuity, venereal disease, out-of-wedlock pregnancy and abortion The godless sex educators’ agenda is evil. It’s rotten. It must be opposed.
The group were seeking to raise €36,075 to fund the creation and distribution of its information pack, “Education for Life”, to 763 secondary schools.
During the second Nice referendum in 2002, Colgan spoke with his old-friend Justin Barrett at a public meeting for the right-wing No campaign in the Ardboyne Hotel, Meath.
Barrett became the centre of a controversy after it was revealed he had spoken at conferences of the neo-Fascist NPD party in Bavaria, Germany in May 2000 and the extreme-right Forza Nuova party in Civitanova, Italy in July 2001.
In the April 2003 edition Solas (Youth Defence magazine), Colgan was pictured with veteran American anti-abortion Joe Scheidler:
In the October 2003 edition Solas (Youth Defence magazine), Colgan was pictured with Scott Schittl, Niamh Uí Bhriain (formerly Nic Mhathúna) and Javier Silvestre:
In 2004, Colgan was pictured with conservative and Independent pro-life politician Kathy Sinnott on the election campaign trail in Fethard, County Tipperary.
In 2009, Peter Scully’s uncle Fr. Anthony Scully was widely critised for a leaflet he signed that said a “vote for the Lisbon Treaty is a vote for the culture of death”. It also said :
If Europe recognised homosexual couples as equal to marriage, for example, it would go against its own history. And it would be right to stand against it.
In September 2011, Maurice Colgan was ordained as a Dominican brother by Dr. Diarmuid Martin (Archbishop of Dublin) at the Church of Saint Saviour, Dominic Street.
One of the great blessings we’ve had this year will also help us to prepare for the year ahead. Br Maurice Colgan, a founding member of Youth Defence, and an extraordinary pro-life activist, was ordained a priest … It was a hugely uplifting celebration for the many pro-life volunteers who have drawn inspiration and courage from Fr Maurice’s tremendous leadership throughout the years.
Fr Maurice, commenting on how his pro-life work with Youth Defence helped him discern a vocation, said: “Working with Youth Defence gave me the opportunity to meet young people with an integrated faith – a relationship with God that was just a normal part of their lives – and a group that has a deep sense of justice. This combination of faith and action tends to nurture in one a desire to know God’s will”.
We are further blessed that Fr Maurice will be Chaplain to all our pro-life endeavours in the Life House. We have much cause to count our blessings!
Maurice Colgan was pictured on thejournal.ie on a Youth Defence open top bus at one of their rallies July 2011.
Maurice Colgan was pictured with neo-Nazi and former Youth Defence buddy Michael Quinn in about 2011. This came a full year after Michael Quinn announced the launch of his racist extreme-right group ‘Democratic Right Movement’.
In February 2013, ‘Family and Life’ published a photograph of Fr. Maurice Colgan with Youth Defence stewards at their Vigil for Life:
He was listed in the run up as the official chaplain for the ‘Rally for Life’ 2013.
According to The Irish Times (20 April 2013), Peter Scully on behalf of ‘Family and Life’ hosted an intimate anti-abortion dinner in the private members club St. Stephen’s Green Club attended by 10 political guests. They included the-then Fine Gael Senator Paul Bradford, who is married to Lucinda Creighton, and the-then Fine Gael TD Terence Flanagan. Both Bradford and Flanagan joined Renua Ireland but failed to win seats in the 2016 General Election.
In 2014, Colgan released a CD entitled ‘Hymns of Passion and Resurrection‘ telling the “story of Easter using old and new Irish hymns”. Artists on the compilation included Youth Defence founding member Niamh Uí Bhriain (formerly Niamh Nic Mhathúna), her sister Ide Nic Mhatúna and her brother Lorcán Mac Mhatúna.
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