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John McDonagh, Martin Galvin and Mary Ward, of Republican Sinn Féin, speak to Anthony McIntyre via telephone from Co. Louth and get his analysis on the call for a general election in Great Britain and on the continuing fallout from the BBC Panorama programme about Freddie Scappaticci. (begins time stamp ~ 21:10)
Audio: Clip from the BBC Panorama programme, The Spy in the IRA, is played. (audio ends)
John: And welcome back to Radio Free Éireann. And we’re hoping to have on Anthony McIntyre to talk about that documentary which aired last week on Panorama and Anthony played a major part in that in doing an analysis of what’s going on and I particularly like McIntyre’s take on it – it said – here’s from his website, The Pensive Quill:
The IRA should issue posthumous pardons to all those killed by its security department on the watch of the British agent, Freddie Scappaticci, a former Republican prisoner, he said. Anthony McIntyre last night said it would be hypocritical for Republicans who campaign against other miscarriages of justice to continue to rely on the corrupted and contaminated evidence. And he accused the IRA and Provisional Sinn Féin leaders of engaging in a massive cover-up when Scappaticci was identified in the media as the top British agent, Stakeknife.
So Anthony’ll be telling us – because in the documentary it talks about Scappaticci when he’s recorded – about how he would break these Republicans. And let’s face it: They were all Republicans that were killed by him. He was the Internal Security of the IRA and if people thought another Volunteer was an informer he had to deal with them and how he dealt with them was just horrendous. And he said every man has their breaking point so people were confessing to things they didn’t do and then he would have them executed. So this is the way they were dealing with informers and like McIntyre’s saying, you’re going around condemning the British government and the kangaroo courts that they had – look what was going on in your own backyard and innocent Republicans were executed of course on behalf of the British intelligence units that were running that. But with us in the studio, before we get McIntyre on, is Mary Ward, she’s a member of Republican Sinn Féin, she’ll be speaking tomorrow up at Rory Dolan’s. Mary, a lot of people know about Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness – about Provisional Sinn Féin. Can you give us a quick history of Republican Sinn Féin?
Mary: Republican Sinn Féin was founded in 1905. We’re the only political organisation still committed to the undiluted gospel of revolutionary Irish Republicanism and the re-establishment of the all-island republic of Easter Week. It is our duty to ensure that the message of Easter Week is carried forward and acted upon. The forces of reaction and revisionism are attempting to rob us of our history, of its meaning and relevance to make our people compliant and subservient to the present day forces of political and economic imperialism. But far from looking inward we, as Irish Republicans, are looking outward and into the future. We have a vision for the type of Ireland we wish to create. We believe Éire Nua provides the framework within which such a new Ireland can be constructed by all sections of the Irish people. We do not believe that the political and economic liberation of the Irish people can ever be delivered by participating in either Stormont or Leinster House. We believe there are no shortcuts to full freedom of Ireland. Our goal can only be achieved by adherence to fundamental principles and wholehearted commitments. One hundred and one years after the heroic 1916 Rising the continuity of Irish Republicanism, proclaimed in Easter Week, is unbroken by Republican Sinn Féin. We can trace our links back all that time.
John: And that’s Mary Ward from Republican Sinn Féin. She’ll be speaking up at Rory Dolan’s tomorrow. I would recommend – go to irish freedom dot net if you want all the information about Woodlawn Cemetery and that. But I played a little clip of a documentary that aired about ‘The Spy in the IRA’ when it really should have been ‘spies in the IRA’ and Anthony McIntyre, longtime guest here at Radio Free Éireann, was featured prominently in it and you have Provisional Sinn Féin a lot of times condemning the British government about what’s going on, they condemned the American government about Guantánamo Bay, about black holes around the world where torture is going on where Sinn Féin hasn’t come clean about the torture that Freddie Scappaticci, under the direction of the British government, was committing torture that was just horrendous. And Anthony, in part of the clip we played Freddie Scappaticci says every man has his breaking point and I say: To what end? A breaking point? What? To confess to what you want him to confess to? Or actually confess that they were informers? And how there was a hierarchy in the IRA that some informers were allowed to walk away, like Denis Donaldson and Freddie Scappaticci, but some people who weren’t even informers were executed! Anthony?
John: Yeah. I know you were talking about it’s hypocritical of Sinn Féin to be condemning the British government for miscarriages of justice when you had Freddie Scappaticci upwards to, you could say, thirty Republicans that were executed.
Anthony: Well that’s very true – can you hear me, John?
John: No, no – we can hear you clear. Yes.
Anthony: That’s very true I mean the sort of absurdity of all this came out in the excellent John Ware Panorama broadcast two weeks ago where we were exposed to this – I mean what we may describe as an appalling vista – and we now have a situation whereby many people, we have to say, are lying in graves up and down the country, sentenced to death by the Army Council of the IRA based on a trial and evidence provided by a British agent, Freddie Scappaticci. So while the British are absolutely up to their necks in this the IRA leadership have an awful lot to answer for.
Martin: Anthony, one of the things that came out in the documentary – I know when your role in Voices From the Grave came out there were pickets in front of your home, there was a lot of intimidation – what happened – when Freddie Scappticci was revealed – there’s some sort of a press conference that goes on (just like Denis Donaldson) and then supposedly you know with Denis Donaldson, he was told to leave, but Freddie Scappaticci? There was an attempt to back him up and disclaim any problems that he had been an informer or denied that he was a spy. How did that come about?
Anthony: Well that’s very true although the pickets at my home took place after the killing of Joe O’Connor and not after Voices From the Grave. When this guy, Fred Scappaticci, was exposed Danny Morrison and others, but Morrison was to the fore in covering for him, and saying that they didn’t buy into the allegations.
And years later we have Morrison saying that he knew in 1990 that Scappaticci was an agent because he had been told by the IRA who had sent word into the prison where Morrison was. We had also a Dublin journalist, who is a lecturer – a senior lecturer of journalism, a man called Niall Meehan writing under the pseudonym Adam O’Toole in the Republican News, and he was also covering for Scappaticci and the whole Stakeknife – trying to rubbish the whole Stakeknife story – and accusing myself and Ed Moloney of having fabricated the whole thing and falling for the Brit line. Now in my view there was a reason for the cover-up and it was not so much that the Sinn Féin leadership had a great deal of sympathy for Freddie Scappaticci – I don’t believe they had any – but they wanted to cover up for him because a failure to cover-up for him would have meant a failure to cover-up for themselves and for their role in allowing this thing to continue for so long. And now we have the bizarre situation where they have colluded with a British agent in the deaths of Irish citizens and they – I mean I’m sure the Army Council unknowingly told Scappaticci to carry on – and what I mean ‘unknowingly’ they weren’t aware that he was an agent – but we have a situation now that they must have learned from and yet no moves have been made to exonerate the people from guilt and from carrying the terrible mark of informer and for their families who have suffered such an indignity to walk the Republican communities carrying the mark of Cain. And the word ‘informer’ that’s attached to anybody is a very powerful, derogatory term, a very negative symbol, and people simply must be given the benefit of doubt and there has to be an enormous amount of doubt in any situation which Freddie Scappaticci was involved in.
John: Anthony, we always we have you on because the re-writing of Irish Republican history is going a lot faster than we can cover in the one hour. It was reported in the papers that Freddie Scappaticci reported directly to Martin McGuinness before they did these executions of Irish Republicans whether they were informers or not. But the re-writing of Martin McGuinness’ life is now getting into the bizarre range. There was a banner that was carried at his funeral saying: Martin McGuinness – Irish martyr. He did not go to war – war came to him. Blessed be the peacemaker. And then you have Martina Anderson stating in the European Parliament: ‘…my generation went to war over discrimination, inequality, lack of civil rights and the denial of human rights.’ No where in there does it say anything about a united Ireland – that people were taking up guns and bombs to get fair housing and to get away from discrimination – and now during the week they unveiled a tombstone to Martin McGuinness and it said on it ‘Óglach na hÉireann’. Now I’m a veteran of the United States Army and when I die it’ll have ‘United States Army ’73 to ’75’. If you go to Dublin they give the years that you were in the IRA – you know, 1916 to 1918, 1921 but on Martin McGuinness’ there’s no dates when he was in it and there’s no dates when he left it. I mean even in death now they’re just putting out this mythic ‘Óglach na hÉireann’.
Anthony: Well, that will be for internal consumption and I mean I simply don’t take Martina Anderson seriously when she makes these types of statements. I mean in a sense her generation, but not the IRA’s to which she belonged, but her generation did arise against the behaviour of the British state but I mean herself and others, myself included, over the years always argued that it was to get the British out of Ireland not to modify British behaviour while in Ireland even though the population did arise for largely different reasons and I think Ed Moloney has gone some way to explain this on your programme before. But the notion that Martin McGuinness having on his headstone ‘Óglach Martin McGuinness – Óglaigh na hÉireann’ – meaning really that Martin McGuinness was a Volunteer in the IRA – and for them to have said from 1970 to his death would have pointed out that firstly the IRA was still in existence but secondly that Martin McGuinness had been lying for decades in relation to it. And I notice that Shane Paul O’Doherty, who’s a fellow brigade officer on the Doire Brigade Staff alongside Martin McGuinness, has said that Martin did tell one ‘whopper of a lie‘ in relation to his involvement in the IRA and having claimed to have left it in 1974. So they’re not going to put up something on a headstone that would allow them to be openly mocked and ridiculed for basically saying Martin McGuinness was a liar but here we’ve buried him anyway. That’s more for internal consumption. And they’ve been going round whispering to their grassroots that basically Martin was an IRA Volunteer and he got all this Stormont thing up and running and really it’s an Army initiative – it’s not all a party initiative and people should keep faith in the programme and the project and that basically they will be telling people that they tricked Bertie Ahern and everybody else, Bill Clinton and Enda Kenny, into going to an IRA Volunteer’s funeral. And they’ll spoof things – like they put the gloves and the black beret inside the coffin – all nonsense for a gullible grassroots that’s prepared to swallow it. They’re prepared to swallow anything.
John: Mary, go ahead.
Mary: Good Morning, Martin – sorry, Anthony – I have a cold here. Coming back to your original point about Martina Anderson’s joining the IRA because they were – for whatever reason she said: I, as president of Cumann na mBan back in the mid-’70’s, would have worked very closely with Martin McGuinness and I would have spoken to him quite a bit and he would have always said when I would have been proposing things or did things that I didn’t ask permission for and then had to go to apologise for doing – one of Martin McGuinness’ favourite sayings was: Why must our people always suffer? Why have we always to be on the outside? Well, I was on a different track and my late husband, Pat Ward the hunger striker, we were fighting for a united Ireland. Martin was fighting to be on the inside and all I can say is: Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis (May he rest in Peace or literal meaning: May his faithful soul be at God’s right side.) but he was hugely successful at that if one looks at the attendees at his funeral he was very successful on getting on the inside. Unfortunately, it was inside the British empire that he was – not in a united Ireland.
John: Well as Ed Moloney brought up, or it might have been either Anthony McIntyre, that he was a failure with the Irish Republican Army because their basic goal was a united Ireland – that failed. He had the weapons surrendered to the British government and also politically he’s the one that organised the peace process, brought up Stormont, and that had to collapse because, politically, it just collapsed – yeah, Martin?
Martin: That was Anthony McIntyre, who we have on the line, who made that point on this show. Anthony, I just want to ask you about something else: This week Theresa May, the British Prime Minister, announced that there’ll be a British general election on June 8th. It was immediately said by almost everybody that the talks between Sinn Féin, the DUP (Democratic Unionist Party) whatever, are sort of – they’ll continue but nobody expects anything to happen until – well, after that election. I think now there’s a new deadline of June 29th that’s been put there by the British minister for The North of Ireland, James Brokenshire. People are being told that if they vote on the election, in Ireland in The Six Counties, that it’ll somehow have an impact on whether Brexit occurs. That seems to be just totally absurd. I just – there’s going to be almost an equal division between the DUP and whoever else, Sinn Féin, the SDLP (Social Democratic and Labour Party), Unionist and Nationalist parties. What do you think this election will achieve in terms of the North of Ireland in terms of Brexit?
Anthony: It will make absolutely no difference to Brexit whatsoever. That’s the North of Ireland where people, politicians in the North of Ireland, feeling important about themselves again – their own inflated self-importance – and I mean they use issues like the peace process and they use the peace process like a begging bowl which they shake and ask people to put lots of political time inside that bowl – I think people are sort of largely fed up with the type of guff that is expressed in those sentiments. I’ve just noticed that the Brexit coordinator in the European Parliament, the former Belgian Prime Minister – a man called Guy Verhofstadt, has said that Theresa May even arguing that the general election will strengthen her hand in relation to Brexit negotiations is a total fallacy and that people simply shouldn’t believe her – that it’ll have no impact whatsoever. So if the whole Westminster Parliament being disrupted and reconfigured in the general election will have no impact it’s highly unlikely that we’re going to see that little place in The North having any impact. It’ll be a polarised election, a divisive election, whereby they’ll go out and shout about how Brexit is undermining democratic values and that The North’s democracy, as they term it, will have been undermined, has been undermined, by Brexit and now it’s time to put it right. All we’re going to have again is a sectarian headcount. Brexit does absolutely nothing. Nothing will happen as a result of that election in The North anyway in respect of Brexit. But it’ll stir up sectarian tensions and it will also put some wind in the sails of the Sinn Féin call for a border poll which will not happen until such time as the British decide, not Sinn Féin, that there will be a border poll – and even when we do have a border poll there’s no indication whatsoever that a majority of people in The North are going to vote in favour of pulling out of the British state and opting to become part of an inclusive united Ireland. So, all the same here, John. No change! (Or Martin, sorry.)
John: Yeah well listen Anthony, thanks for coming on. We’re going to go to our in-studio guest but thanks!
Anthony: Thank you very much.
John: And that was Anthony McIntyre over in Dundalk. (ends time stamp ~ 41:34)