Ed Moloney RFÉ 19 August 2017

Radio Free Éireann
WBAI 99.5FM Pacifica Radio
New York City

Martin Galvin speaks to the award-winning journalist, author and historian Ed Moloney via telephone about the British government’s first position paper on Brexit and about the FBI investigation of NORAID. (begins time stamp ~ 16:27)

Martin:   This week the British government issued its first position paper – and this is something that’s going to have to be negotiated – not with Ireland but with the European Community – and already I notice that there were complaints by the Daily Mail about having a back door to Britain, they’re worried about immigration controls and what of Britain’s wish to take back our borders, complaining about their own government proposals if it’s not a hard and fast border. Ed, could you tell us about that proposal and what the implications are?

Ed:    Yeah, essentially what the British have proposed, I suppose it’s come as a bit of a surprise to some people, which the proposal is that really then there won’t be what they call a ‘hard border’ between The South and The North or between The South of Ireland and the rest of it and Britain. There had been fears and predictions that they were going to return back to the 1950’s and the 1960’s where there were customs posts at every border stopping and everyone was held up and if you were carrying goods or freight across you had to have all sorts of documentation and stuff like that. That was something which was being opposed by the Irish government and being opposed by a lot of people in Europe as well who argued that this might serve to undermine the Good Friday Agreement and the peace accords in Northern Ireland and it seems that the British have been won over to that view. But, as you noted yourself there in your introduction, there are elements in British society who are very angry about this because they see the absence of border controls as a sort of ‘secret entree’ into Britain by jihadists and immigrants and people like that that would not be welcomed by the likes of the Daily Mail or The Sun and Rupert Murdoch’s papers so that has yet to be negotiated, of course, with the Europeans but it’s come as a bit of a surprise, and I suspect quite a welcomed surprise, although there are, you know, arguments and questions about how this could actually be implemented in practice.

And I’m beginning to see suggestions that there will actually be an electronic border – that people who cross over will be monitored, freight will be monitored, customs duties will be collected in due course etc – but that sounds like it’s going to be very, very difficult. So one of the predictions that’s being made is that if this soft border is introduced you’re going to see the resurgence of smuggling from places like South Armagh – which would be no surprise since they’ve been doing that for the most of the last hundred years or so. So it’s a development but it’s unsettled; it’s not negotiated and not agreed yet.

Martin:   Alright. And we should say when we talk about papers like the Daily Mail and some of the other papers that have said: What about our borders? those are papers that have a great deal of influence with the Tories, with the Conservative Party, which is the ones proposing Brexit, proposing its implementation, it has a big impact on them politically. And you also have the whole idea that this has to be approved by the European Community…

Ed:    ..Yeah…

Martin:   …and they don’t want to go out of their way to make it easy for states like Britain to leave because they’re concerned that other states might say: Well if the deal is so good for Britain I’ll get the same kind of deal and they’ll all start to leave the European Community.

Ed:   Yeah, but I think the Europeans have a ‘get out’ in this case by pleading special circumstances; special circumstances being the Good Friday Agreement, being the peace accord. And the argument, which I don’t actually buy into but it’s obviously been persuasive to certainly a lot in the media and politics in Europe you know that to have a hard border there is going to undermine the Good Friday Agreement and you know you could have a resurgence in violence. I think that’s based upon a misunderstanding of what The Troubles were really about but nonetheless, that’s what’s been widely accepted as being the conventional wisdom and the European authorities, the EU authorities, will be able to argue to other states: Look, this was very much an exception to the rule that doesn’t apply elsewhere.

Martin:   Okay. Now Ed, I should mention you have a blog, The Broken Elbow – there are new posts put up very frequently, almost daily – and recently you obtained and released some more of the FBI files regarding Irish Northern Aid (NORAID) although the files themselves went much further than Irish Northern Aid – they went through many groups in the Irish community. And one of the first things I spotted: The Irish-American Unity Conference (IAUC) was founded by Jim Delaney. He was a prominent, wealthy business man originally from Chicago, moved to Texas, invited a number of organisations to come together and form the Irish-American Unity Conference, that organisation still exists. And one of the files that you had relates to a letter that, or an advertisement, that he had of the Irish-American Unity Conference and how as simply as a result of posting this advertisement asking people to join he was visited by the FBI, they were worried that he might harbour some kind of anti-British feelings, harassed him that way. Could you tell us about that?

Ed:  Yeah, well first of all these aren’t my files. These are files that were actually collected by a journalist called Nate Lavey, who’s a cinematographer, he makes documentaries and stuff, he had collected these, or asked the Freedom of Information people at the FBI for documents or their files on NORAID and basically had forgotten all about his request and then one day in the post came this big bundle. He really didn’t know what to do with them and he asked me if I would take care of them and see if I could find anything of interest so these are really Nate’s files, not mine so I don’t want to claim credit for something that I didn’t actually dig out myself. But there are lots of files, and there’s a lot more to come yet, and this one is interesting as you say for that and other reasons as well, just the scope of the investigations that the FBI were undertaking into Irish groups were underneath the umbrella of NORAID. And I suspect that if you put them up against a wall, if you can ever do that to an FBI man, and say: Why did you include this Irish-American Unity Conference which really appears not to be associated with the Provos or IRA gun running etc – why did you do that? And the answer would be: Well, actually NORAID were involved in the foundation of the group and, as I understand it, were one of the member-groups invited along to the first meeting of the IAUC. So that’s why, I suspect, and that’s the justification, I suspect, that they would give if they were pressed for doing this. But it does show that you know they had a very, very broad remit in terms of the Irish community – anything which smacked of an attitude out of kilter with the American policy on Britain and Northern Ireland was bound to attract their attention. And I have to say, as well, you know just looking at what Nate was able to get and what he gave me, was that we’re only getting a fraction of what the FBI had on NORAID, I’m sure, you know – there’s an awful lot that’s being withheld because it’s hard to believe…

Martin:  …Well one of the things, Ed, that I thought was interesting: There’s documents which show there was great attention to protests of British regimental bands. Now what would happen is British regimental bands would come to the United States on tours, they’d play at places, the Nassau Coliseum, Madison Square Garden, different venues across the country and Irish Northern Aid would organise protests and we would say that, you know, if the Grenadier Guards or other regiments are in The North of Ireland they shoot down people, they oppress people – they shouldn’t be allowed just to play here and pose as entertainers. And these were legal protest, there would be permits, and in fact one of the first things I checked into they had – very concerned about Nassau Coliseum. The person who led that protest and would have been a speaker is Peter King, who’s presently a member of Congress, very much involved within the upper echelons of the House, Republicans, and you had people like that with legal protests, they would notify the government, they would keep to what was required of them and they would have clear First Amendment activity of protesting against British bands but yet this was spied on, this was attempts to infiltrate those protests and there seemed to be a great deal of effort by the FBI for these legal protests which never had any problems – any violations of the law.

Ed:  Yeah, but you can hardly be surprised that the FBI would follow such events because the rationale and the reasoning that they would follow would be something like this: People who are bothered enough about the situation in Northern Ireland to go along, maybe traveling many miles away to a place where an obscure band of the British Army is playing, are likely to be the most extreme and the most fanatical supporters of NORAID and the Irish Republican cause and therefore we ought to keep an eye on them and see who they’re meeting and who they’re talking to and stuff like that. From a policeman’s point of view, from an intelligence gatherer’s point of view, something like those sort of meetings would be an opportunity they would not want to miss – notwithstanding all the objections you would have on First Amendment grounds – but they wouldn’t really care too much about that they would say: Well you know there may be people meeting here, using this as a cover to arrange this or that – we need to keep an eye on these people. And as for Peter King: Peter King was under FBI surveillance and RUC (Royal Ulster Constabulary) Special Branch and MI5 surveillance for many, many years until he became a respectable anti-terrorist politician up in Congress. You know, he was persona non grata in the Republican Party, in large elements of the Republican Party. When Reagan went to Long Island, you know, his itinerary was carefully vetted to make sure that there was no chance that Peter King would ever cross his path, and so on and so forth. It’s hard to believe that now when you see Peter King on Fox News you know rounding on about jihadi terrorists and what have you. It wasn’t too long before or long ago that Peter King was consorting with people who were not very dissimilar, in many respects, but that’s all now forgotten, of course.

Martin:  Well, we could argue about the difference between the IRA and those groups but going on: One of the things that you cover is how we had an Irish People tour actually – it was not the Irish Northern Aid tour but it was the Irish People tour – it was the idea of Tom Hartley to bring, invite, Americans to come to Ireland, see The North themselves first hand what’s life is like under British rule and, of course, I led the first one and was banned from going back – but that’s another story – it was back to the ’84 and some of the other tours – but the FBI tried to put, or did put according to the files, people on each tour. And there were people that we kind of surmised were involved and they were all supposed to come back, and they had all this surveillance and all of this number of people involved and it was all with the idea that they were going to discover some kind of monies raised by Irish Northern Aid that was given to the IRA so that people could be arrested or charged or found out and yet, despite all of that, none of that ever happened. They were not able to ever point to an incidence where Irish Northern Aid monies were, in any way, spent other than ways they were supposed to be – for the families of political prisoners or publicity or education or organisational purposes. I just thought it was interesting – they note so many reports by so many people who were agents and yet they weren’t able to come up with one person who indicated that he saw what this activity was designed to discover: Money being transferred from Irish Northern Aid to the Irish Republican Army…

Ed:  …Well, that we know of, Martin. You know, my earlier point, I think, is relevant here which is that I don’t think we’re getting the full picture and full access to all the NORAID material that the FBI collected. I mean if the files I have represent the total of what the FBI did in terms of monitoring and surveilling NORAID then it’s a pretty poor operation because you know there’s not an awful lot of paper there and common sense tells me that there must be a mass of stuff that they are not disclosing and that they will probably never will disclose, you know, to journalists or to the public. So you know – yes, you’re right, in terms of what they have handed over to Nate Lavey – no, there was nothing there that shows that – that there was any type of that activity – but they clearly presumed or had reason to suspect or imagined or whatever verb you want to use that these NORAID trips presented an ideal opportunity for people to bring over messages, money, contacts, what have you from America to the Provos in Ireland – that’s the way the police think – that’s the police mind. I mean…

Martin:  …Right, but if they had discovered…

Ed:  …you must expect that. And you know – no, whether they had intelligence doesn’t mean to say they’re going to act on it.

Martin:  …wouldn’t they arrest people who were involved in it? Just – they could have brought down the whole organisation by doing so.

Ed:   Well maybe they had very, very you know important agents either in the IRA or on the American side of things which they – whose activities and whose preservation were of paramount importance to them – it came way ahead of you know putting people in court on trial on offences of one sort or another which might be, at the end of the day, might be almost impossible to prove. I mean you right – you could have evidence that  Person ‘X’ handed over fifty thousand dollars to Person ‘Y’. Person ‘X’ is from Detroit and Person’Y’ is in Crossmaglen but how do you know, how can you prove what that money was spent on? You know, you can’t. It’s very, very difficult to do. So I suspect that they, if they did that, if they were – if I’m right and that there’s material there which we’re not being told about – then it stands to reason that that type of logic may have applied but we don’t know because we don’t know what’s the sum of the FBI material. All I’m saying is that the files that Nate Lavey got, and he asked for everything, if this represents ‘everything’ then it was a very, very small surveillance operation by the FBI over all of these years and that doesn’t make sense to me given all the resources and the priority that they gave to the Irish situation in America.

Martin:   Alright. Ed, we just want to ask one more quick question before we have to go on to our next guest: We’re now at the end, next week will be the end of the marching season. Sinn Féin, the DUP (Democratic Unionist Party) had said they would negotiate again when the marching season was over – that’s due to stop next week. What’s your prediction as to whether we will get Sinn Féin and the DUP back in partnership, or coalition, however you want to characterise it at Stormont? Will that happen, do you think? Or, will it remain as it is with Stormont having collapsed and being not in session?

Ed: Well the only prediction I think that is safe to make is that at some stage they will get back together and they will recreate, or re-form, the government at Stormont – doesn’t mean to say it’s going to happen this year or even next year because British politics is in the state of flux, the May government may collapse at any moment and then there’s a whole new ballgame – the deal that they had with the DUP will be up in the air and so on and so forth – but in terms of what the endgame is going to be I don’t think there’s any doubt that eventually, whether it takes two months or a year or whatever – those people who were involved in the Assembly up to its collapse a year or so ago will convene again and get the act going because, from everyone’s point of view – you know, these are politicians, these are professional politicians, and they have this place up on the hill and it’s a very comfortable place and they’re paid lots of money, a lot of them are allowed to employ their relatives, they have huge expenses, they have a status you know which is like totally out of proportion to the true importance of what they do and they also have lots of money to spend. And the idea that, for example, the DUP are going to give that up is just – I can’t accept that. And equally, I think there are even more pressing reasons why the Sinn Féin side will want to get back into Stormont and that is that: What else are they going to have to show, if they don’t go back into Stormont, for ending the IRA’s campaign for the peace process? I mean they gave up their weapons, they’ve accepted British rule, they’ve accepted the Principle of Consent and in return for that they get direct rule? Sure, they could have had direct rule for nothing a long time ago. They didn’t have to do all that. And it stands to reason, again, you know they’re an ambitious political party now, they’re morphing, increasingly, into the SDLP (Social Democratic and Labour Party) and becoming more and more constitutional as time goes on – it stands to reason that they would want to get back into to do what a constitutional politician does which is to govern and take seats in Parliament and so on and so forth. So eventually I think it will happen. They may squabble and argue the bit for a while yet until we’re really clear about what the future is – what the future is in relation to Brexit, what the future is in relation to is there going to be a stable Tory government there or not? But eventually a deal will be done.

Martin:  Alright. On that note, Ed, we want to thank you. We’re going to have to go on to our next guest, Mark Thompson. Again, thank you. That was Ed Moloney…

Ed:   …No problem. Bye…

Martin:  …author of A Secret History of the IRA, award-winning journalist with the Irish Times and the Sunday Tribune and political commentator extraordinaire. (ends time stamp ~ 36:19)

Robert White RFÉ 22 July 2017

Radio Free Éireann
WBAI 99.5 Pacifica Radio
New York City

John McDonagh and Martin Galvin speak to Professor Robert White via telephone about his new book, Out of the Ashes An Oral History of the Provisional Irish Republican Movement. (begins time stamp ~ 20:16)

Martin:   Professor White, welcome back to Radio Free Éireann and congratulations on the book.

Robert:  Well thank you very much, Martin. And hello, John, I hope all’s going well.

John:  Hello, Robert. Yep.

Martin:  And this is a book – John said it’s a ‘coffee table book’ – it’s four hundred and eighty-eight pages. It goes through everything and I should ask you first: How long have you been working on this book ’cause I know I met you, I don’t know, it was somewhere around 1990, the early ’90’s…

Robert:  …Yes…

Martin:  …you were going in…

Robert:  …It would have been…

Martin:  …Yeah…

Robert:   …It would have been ’96, I think, is when we met – up in Monaghan and…

Martin:  …That’s correct. You were going in to interview Brian McDonald who was the former Sinn Féin head of publicity. You were doing a first party interview with him, an original research with him, and I don’t know if – we can talk about it in a bit about you had been there in 1984 on the Falls Road, along with John and I, when that was attacked but how long have you been working on this book and how long have you been doing the research that led up to these four hundred and eighty-eight pages?

Robert:  Well the research started formally, in terms of interviews, in 1984 when I first arrived in Ireland that January and went to the Sinn Féin head office in Dublin and met a few people. Joe Cahill was very supportive, went up to Belfast, met a few people and pretty much it was from that point on – the journey has not ended. I’ve gone back goodness knows how many times – had a sabbatical leave there, spent extended – I think it was the summer of ’95 – much of that over there, etc…

Martin:  …And now…

Robert:  …And so, in a sense, since 1984 but to more formally answer the question, I suppose, like in ’96 when we met I would have been doing follow-up re-interviews from the ’84 and that led to a paper that was ultimately published. I did the Ó Brádaigh biography that you’re familiar with; that came out 2006. And then I did a documentary. I got interested in video things and on the Irish Republican Movement Collection there’s the video, Unfinished Business: The Politics of ‘Dissident’ (in quotations) Irish Republicans and that’s open access. And it was around 2012 that I’d realised I had just all this information from all these different perspectives, RSF, (Republican Sinn Féin) 32 County Sovereignty Movement, people who had left plus people who’d stayed with the Provisionals so really I started writing, roughly, 2012 but the research has been going on for a long time as you mentioned.

Martin:  Okay, now the book title is Out of the Ashes An Oral History of the Provisional Irish Republican Movement. And of course there’s a famous expression: Out of the ashes of ’69 arose the Provisionals – an area in Belfast was attacked, many homes burned down by Loyalists. The British, the RUC (Royal Ulster Constabulary) did not intervene to protect them and there was a feeling that the IRA had not been there to defend the area and that’s what led to the Provisionals – that’s the title. But when we spoke that it’s actually – the story of how the Provisionals started is much broader than that.

Robert:  Yeah, in some way ‘out of the ashes’ is sort of the myth of the Provisionals – now that might not be the right word – but there were Provisionals, people like Joe Cahill who I mentioned, Billy McKee, who I think you mentioned earlier, Ruairí Ó Brádaigh – people like that – they were around long before August of 1969. So what happens in August of 1969 is a major confrontation, major rioting, that leads to a split in the movement and you get the Provisionals vs the Officials but the reality is that the people who created the Provisionals were there for a long time and the younger people, as far as I know, the younger people weren’t in the room, or the rooms shall we say, when let’s say when the Provisional IRA was founded – it was a bunch of middle-aged men.

Martin:  Okay. You have a struggle, you talked about it – Seán Mac Stíofain, who was one of the first Chiefs of Staff, left a good job, as you describe it in the book, with the Gaelic language – he had a good job. McKee actually was working – came back to the movement. Other people came forward. What was it – you had a struggle from 1969 to 1998. You had people joining this movement, fighting the British on a massive scale, despite internment, despite being put in jail, despite seeing civil rights marches shot down, despite shoot-to-kill policy, despite – gave up economics, certain jobs and stuff – what is it that sustained that struggle?

Robert: 

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Well you had people like Seán Mac Stíofain, as you mentioned, Joe Cahill, Billy McKee, who returned – and some of them – Mac Stíofain was there the whole way through. I would argue that there was going to be a split in the movement whether or not August of 1969 happened. The Officials, led by Goulding, Cathal Goulding, Tomás Mac Giolla, were going to go their direction and Ruíari Ó Brádaigh, Seán Mac Stíofain, that group, were going to go their direction. And as Ruíari told me once in the middle of that disagreement, political disagreement, The North just, The North blew up and changed everything. And what happened was with August of ’69 – then you get the Falls Road Curfew, the attack at St. Matthew’s – I think the same summer, 1970, then internment in ’71 and especially internment followed by Bloody Sunday – that just sends people to the Provisionals in flocks of them, droves, however you want to say it. And my argument would be that the Provisionals, shall we say, they would have gotten off the ground but they wouldn’t have gone very far without internment and without Bloody Sunday. And what those two events did was they legitimised, or validated, what people like Seán Mac Stíofain and Billy McKee and Ruairí Ó Brádaigh and others were saying which was that: We’re not going to get justice from the British. We’re not going to get justice in Northern Ireland. We’re gonna have, you know, we’re gonna face oppression and lo and behold! what happens with internment was they started arresting people and locking them up and throwing away the key, not charging them and it validates the perspective of the senior people. And as I understand it, I mean, after Bloody Sunday the Provisionals were literally signing people up on clipboards.

Martin:  Now you are a sociologist. You write about the differences between social movements versus terrorism and you show a lot of statistics, you do a lot of research to say that the Provisionals – that this was a social movement, it’s very different, not terrorism – that label just doesn’t apply. Why is that?

Robert:  Well my view would be that if you’re going to call people terrorists then you pretty much need call everybody who engages in that kind of behaviour a terrorist. And as I mention in the first chapter of the book in I suppose it was 1940 Churchill, the Prime Minister Churchill, in response to, I think it was the bombing of Coventry, he, they had come up with a war plan where they’re going to bomb German cities and they want German cities with narrow streets so that would, the rubble would hinder firefighters from putting out fires and you’d cause more damage, kill more civilians, etc. Well is that terrorism? Okay? If you look at what President George W. Bush did with the Shock and Awe treatment of Baghdad – they knew there was civilians there and they dropped all kinds of bombs on them in 2003. So what’s terrorism then? And my issue would be, my issue with many of the terrorism experts or ‘terrorologists’, however you want to describe them, would be that they focus on groups like the PLO (Palestine Liberation Organisation), Hezbollah, Hamas, the IRA, etc and they don’t focus on state terrorism. And by doing that they miss the fact that state oppression, state repression, state violence, really, is a key factor for getting people to engage in what I call ‘small group political violence’. And instead of the use – instead of the term ‘terrorism’ – I would much prefer ‘political violence’ which can be done by pretty much all kinds of groups – from the United States to Israel to Iran to the Provisional Irish Republican Army. It’s all violence. And I think we do a great disservice to understanding why people engage in violence if we throw in that word ‘terrorism’. It’s, to me, a useless concept or pretty much close to a useless concept.

John:   And Professor White, I mean you were talking about the ‘splits’ and about the definition of terrorism – depends on I guess on who’s broadcasting it – but a lot of stuff we do here at Radio Free Éireann is just trying to correct some of the re-writing of Irish Republican history going on particularly now with Gerry Adams – he’s taking a court case that he never really tried to escape from prison – whereas people like Brendan Hughes used to brag and they’re making movies about escapes. How did you find Gerry Adams psychologically? And how was he able, at one stage of his life, be in the IRA and say:  We have to bring down the state. We have to smash Stormont to evolving to say: No, in order to get a united Ireland we have to bring back Stormont and not only that I have to administer British rule in Ireland. How was he able to do that psychologically and bring the majority of the movement along with him? I mean you’ve interviewed him and you’ve seen the process and how it’s evolved. How did it all happen? ‘Cause that’s why we’re sitting here – how did it all happen?

Robert:  Well I’ve met Gerry Adams and, in fact, and I’ve seen him in action in the sense that one of my most revealing situations watching him was when he introduced you in 1984 at the anti-internment march. I’ve met him a couple of times, etc, seen him in action, shall we say, but I have to point out that I never interviewed him formally. Now, having said that…

Martin:  …Just – Professor White, this is Martin Galvin – You do have, for example, quotes from Martin McGuinness let’s say…

Robert:  …Sure! Oh yeah, I…

Martin:  ….And you start out: ‘I’m a member of the Derry Brigade of the IRA. I’m very proud of it.’  Then: ‘Our position is clear. It’ll never, never changed. The war against British rule must continue until freedom is achieved.’ And then he ends up talking about multi-national companies and the New York Stock Exchange and it’s about jobs and contacts etc which is pretty much the same thing.

Robert:   Sure! Martin McGuinness, I would say, changed, okay? In my, from my perspective, having seen him at the 1984 Ard Fheis, seen him do a meet and greet with secondary school students, they looked like, in the Great Hall at Stormont to following him on the presidential campaign trail in, I guess it was 2011. In my opinion the man changed. Going back to Gerry Adams – that’s a really interesting question because if Adams changed – when did he change? And given part, some of what you asked, obviously the guy is just a brilliant strategist and the question really is: At what point did McGuinness and Adams decide that they could get more by disavowing political violence? And arguably it was in the 1990’s but if you look back in the letters, like Alex Reid’s famous letter I think it was 1987, I mean this stuff started much earlier and it may go back all the way to the hunger strike and it’s a really good question. And the issue is: Did Adams change or is he just a very strategic, very political thinker who pretty much everything is on the table all the time? And that’s a hard one to answer.

Martin:  Alright. One of the things – Professor White, this is Martin Galvin, again – we had a question from John – one of things that interested me, in your book, in the preface, you actually said that when doing your research you were referred to Denis Donaldson and…

Robert:  …Yeah…

Martin:  …and your contact information was given to him. And then you later found that, you didn’t contact him at that time, but Denis Donaldson was, of course, sent out here – you later found that you were investigated by the Feds, you found that out through a Freedom of Information Act request that you were investigated by the Feds because he had apparently given your information, your name and information, to him. Now he was somebody – came out here, turned out that that he was a spy and a traitor and had given your information to the federal government and as somebody – I originally just thought he was bad for, just wrongheaded about what he was doing but through a couple of things – what happened after Hugh Feeney was arrested at the Irish People office and one night with him drinking and federal FBI agents coming into The Phoenix – I had actually begun to call Ireland about him and say that I thought he was an agent. But what was your experience with him?

Robert:   Well I met him the one time, it was actually in Belfast when I met him, and I think it would have been the mid-90’s and as I said in the preface he just had this sort of wry, snarky, however you want to describe it, grin on his face and at the time, you know, it didn’t click but I did the Freedom of Information request – I got stopped, we missed an airplane and because of it flying into Newark they wouldn’t – customs held us up – and it turned out I had been flagged for and so I started asking questions and sent letters to everybody under the cousins saying: What’s the deal here? And finally (it takes forever as I’m sure you know) you get this information – and I’d been investigated and cleared evidently. But and then when it comes out that Donaldson was an agent it all starts to fit together. I don’t know for sure if he passed my name on but my guess would be that he did because that sort of was – that’s what his job was, right? And I found the whole thing very curious and you start putting two and two together and you wonder if maybe you got four. And clearly, I mean in retrospect and in speaking to you and others about him, there were all kinds of signals being sent and the people in the Belfast leadership apparently knew of those signals, right?  You mentioned it, I quote you in the book, you were making phone calls. And nothing was done about it.

Martin:  Well, they told me he had impeccable credentials. Okay, why did…

John:  …He certainly did.

Martin:  That’s what they said. He had impeccable credentials and it must be – you have to work with this guy. Alright. Why do you think this whole peace process began? Why, how did the Provisionals turn out they way they did? The last thing you do in your book is talk about decommissioning.

Robert:  Yeah well I think what happened was by 1990 and especially the early – I think there was an election in ’92, a Westminster election, which went very poorly but by 1990 – I have a quotation from Mitchel McLaughlin who’s talking about how much more open minded they were – and I think by that point they were starting to realise they weren’t going win. You’d had disasters like Enniskillen, you had the arms shipment captured from France and they realised, my guess is, that they could go on forever with this small scale war but it wasn’t gonna go anywhere and, in the meantime, their families were suffering. And at the ’86 Ard Fheis John Joe McGirl makes this comments about not wanting to turn the struggle over to yet another generation and that’s what was happening. And I have a quote from a woman who ended up getting arrested and she had like two, single mother – two children – and you know her life is now seriously – is facing serious difficulties and this would have been, I suppose, the third generation if you think Joe Cahill’s group being the first and then Adams and McGuinness and company being the second so it’s being passed again and there were all kinds of things and so there was no single thing but at some point they started checking into, you know: What kind of deal can we get?…

Martin:  …Okay, and…

Robert:  …and it leads, well it leads to the first ceasefire and I thought, personally, that the British played that very poorly so then you get Canary Wharf and then there’s another couple of elections and you bring in Tony Blair, who’s much more serious, and then then Fianna Fáil comes back and you get the second ceasefire and to me, ultimately, decommissioning. Once you do have the Good Friday Agreement and you have somebody like David Trimble who was willing to…

Martin:  …Right. You say in the book David Trimble won the Good Friday Agreement – that’s almost a quote – I took it out. And I’m just coming near the end but why do you think that David Trimble, who was an Official Unionist Party – his party actually went down in terms of the Unionist vote and they’ve now been surpassed by the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) led today by Arlene Foster – but why do you think that David Trimble and the Unionists, you know, in the end, won the Good Friday Agreement?

Robert:   Well I think he’s the winner of the peace process in the sense that by the time he leaves the stage the stage has been set for Sinn Féin to make some major compromises and fully, become fully constitutional – no army, accepting policing, etc – and it’s because he kept dangling, if you will, or I don’t know how else – there are other ways to phrase it – but he was not going to go into Parliament as long as they had guns and then of course he makes compromises and then you get the – I guess it’s February of ’99 – when it turns out the IRA hadn’t even bothered to consult with the International Arms Commission etc but by doing that dance of ‘no guns no government’ – and then well, maybe a little bit and then no again – he brings them further and further into constitutional politics and the presence of the Provisional IRA becomes more and more of a liability and eventually it became very clear that, you know, the IRA had to go and politics was the future and I would say much of that is because of David Trimble. Because he was willing – if he had just said ‘no’ then nothing probably would have happened, okay?  The fact that he was willing to try opens the door to all kinds of political outcomes that would not have been available. And he also, and as a by-product of that, the DUP also gets involved and they also go into Stormont of the Northern Ireland Assembly and so on. So to me, David Trimble is sort of the key person who allows all of this to happen, sets the framework and then, ironically, he gets pushed aside by Paisley and the DUP.

Martin:  Right, but his goal of preserving British rule – that’s seems secure and certainly…

Robert:  …Exactly!…

Martin:  …the goal of Republicans of getting a united Ireland – it doesn’t seem to be any way – we’ve had ten years, for example, in coalition, didn’t unlock Unionism, they’re feeling as strongly as ever so certainly David Trimble’s goal of not having a united Ireland, of continued British rule seems secure. He won in that sense…

Robert:  …Oh, yeah…

Martin:  …I know that from a Republican perspective. Okay – We’re going to have it quickly: How can people – if you don’t pledge the hundred dollars (Martin provides telephone number for donations). – if you don’t do that how can you get copies of the book?

Robert:  Well in the US it’s available at amazon dot com – twenty-six dollars and thirty eight cents apparently and seven ninety-nine as an eBook. If you’re in Ireland apparently it’s available at bookstores all over the place…

John:  …Oh! Just walk into Eason’s on O’Connell Street. It’s on the front table, walking in.

Robert:  Well that’s very nice to know. I plan to be over later next week and I will definitely do that. If you want to buy it online Irish Academic Press has it for twenty-four ninety-nine euros and amazon dot co dot uk has it for nineteen ninety-nine sterling or six seventy-one Kindle. There are all kinds of ways to get it and you know I very much appreciate the time and I hope everybody enjoys the book.

John:  Well, alright. Thank you. (ends time stamp ~ 41:28)