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John McDonagh (JM) and Martin Galvin (MG) speak to Anthony McIntyre (AM) via telephone from Drogheda, Co. Louth about the controversy raging in Ireland over an email Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams sent to An Garda Siochána naming Sinn Féin members who may have information regarding the 1983 murder of prison officer Brian Stack. (begins time stamp ~ 30:30)
JM: And now we’re going to be getting into Irish Republicanism. And a scandal that is I don’t want to say brewing because it’s blown up. While Gerry Adams was away in Cuba, he’s there for the funeral tomorrow of Fidel Castro, an email was sent by him telling An Garda Siochána that four of his member of Sinn Féintology, as I said he runs a cult over in Ireland that actually has a branch here in New York called Friends of Sinn Féintology, and that he said four members of Sinn Féintology might have been involved in a shooting that happened back in 1983. And the four people that were mentioned in Gerry Adams’ email all have now written to the news media saying: No, we had nothing to do with it. Although we can’t name them and they won’t name them – it’s a bizarre situation. But when Anthony McIntyre did an academic study on behalf of Boston College, going out and talking to the individual about what they did in their life, he didn’t email the Gards or the PSNI (Police Service of Northern Ireland). All these tapes were supposed to be released when that person died.
But we’re going to play a song now. It’s from the album, Irish Catholic Boy, by Seanchaí and The Unity Squad and it’s called Gypo and the song is about Gypo Nolan from a very famous movie called The Informer and Victor McLaglen was the informer. So this is a big shout out to the man down there in Havana – it’s called Gypo.
Audio: Portion of the song, Gypo, plays.
MG: Anthony, welcome back to Radio Free Éireann. We just heard a song, Gypo, that was played by Seanchaí and The Unity Squad dedicated to the famous film, The Informer, and the Victor McLaglen character. Now during the week there was an email that was released or showed that Gerry Adams, the president of Sinn Féin who’s currently in Havana, had given the names of four individuals who were identified – three of them as senior Sinn Féin elected officials, one as a senior Republican – none of the names were released but that has caused a controversy. They were released as people of interest or who may have been involved or would have knowledge about a killing that occurred in 1983 of a prison officer of Portlaoise Prison named Brian Stack. Anthony, why is that raising so much controversy in Ireland?
AM: Well it’s raising controversy because Mr. Adams has given the indication that he’s in possession of information about the death of Brian Stack which Brian Stack’s son, Austin Stack, has said he did not give him. Mr. Adams says that he got these names from Austin Stack. Austin Stack has been campaigning for truth and closure, he doesn’t want prosecutions, but truth and closure regarding his father’s death. Now Mr. Adams said has said that he got the names from Austin Stack during a meeting. Austin Stack has vehemently disputed this. And the safe money in Ireland is on Mr. Stack’s account being the more genuine by far. Basically the joke here: Ten out of nine people don’t believe Mr. Adams about anything.
MG: Okay. And we should tell our listeners that Portlaoise Prison is a prison in, well it’s in Co. Laois right in The Midlands, and it is a place where Republican prisoners were and are kept – when they were arrested as part of the conflict certainly or there’s still Republican prisoners there. There have been times when the conditions there have been very difficult – there was hunger strikes there on a couple of occasions and one prison warder or prison official, Mr. Stack, was killed. The IRA was accused of it. They denied responsibility up until 2013. Now, was there any information, was there any information, Anthony, given to these individuals whose names – and again there’s all sorts of colourful descriptions and you can fill in the blanks and probably figure out who at least three if not four of them were – but is there any information that these individuals were consulted about whether their names should be passed to the Gardaí, to Irish authorities in the Twenty-Six Counties, for possible questioning or whatever other action should be taken?
AM: Well Mr. Adams has said that he consulted with three of them. He didn’t mention the fourth. There is a claim by the Irish Independent that Mr. Adams did not, the Irish Independent claims to have contacted one of the people whose name was passed to the Gardaí by Mr. Adams and The Independent claim that that individual stated that he was quite unhappy with what Mr. Adams has done. Mr. Adams himself has denied this but again it’s a question of who do we believe in these matters? And I mean Portlaoise Prison could, at times, have been a very violent place and I think Austin Stack, Mr. Stack’s son, has said that he was aware of accusations having been made by Republican prisoners against his father although Austin Stack didn’t try to legitimise or say that these allegations were true – he merely commented on them but there was a lot of resentment within the prison against Brian Stack – many, many prisoners spoke in very harsh terms about him and I mean, his killing, while not seemingly part of any wider IRA strategy against prison officers in The South, unlike IRA strategy against prison officers in The North at the time, which could be quite concerted and violent, there was no policy in The South like that but I think on this occasion the IRA decided that it would take action and it was very much responsible for this killing in Dublin.
Now, it has also created controversy because many Republicans would regard this as an act of informing. You know, if people are giving information about the IRA directly to law enforcement agencies so that people may be investigated and prosecuted they very much see that as informing. And Kenny Donaldson today, or yesterday, in the News Letter had said that Mr. Adams had broken IRA rules and he cited the Green Book. We recall Bobby Storey speaking out after Brendan Hughes’, the book on Brendan Hughes and David Ervine by Ed Moloney that was published, Voices From the Grave, and Bobby Storey would gain front page headlines in the Andersonstown News as saying: Don’t break the IRA code. So I mean, and the IRA code – I mean Brendan Hughes wasn’t breaking the IRA code although he certainly wasn’t breaking it in any serious sense by speaking and giving his memoir. The real breaking of the IRA code, the penalty for breaking the IRA code, the only – the death penalty, as Martin McGuinness often referred to it and Gerry Adams referred to it, was always handed out for informing. And I mean I can see, every way I look at this, Mr. Adams here has informed law enforcement on his colleagues in relation to IRA activity in the 1980’s and it is my view that he is trying to deflect much of the flak or responsibility by shifting responsibility for providing those names onto Austin Stack and what has, in fact, happened is Mr. Adams himself – because he was on the Army Council at the time Brian Stack was killed – Mr. Adams himself, having been on the Army Council, had probably known, after the event anyway, about the inquiry about, the discussion that must have taken place in the IRA at this time. I mean he must have known about that and it may well be that he is talking on the basis of information that he gleaned as a member of the IRA because Austin Stack says he certainly told him nothing.
MG: Alright now, I’m reading from the Irish Independent. I’m not going to ask to speculate on the names or to name any individuals, but according to the descriptions one is:
‘Politician A’: Rural-based. A veteran individual. He’s had prior convictions and he’s described as a ‘household name’ in terms of politics.
‘Politician B’: A city-based, what I assume is a Dublin-based figure, who said on two occasions he had nothing to do with it.
‘Politician C’: Highly senior Sinn Féin figure who plays a major role in devising some of the party’s key strategy.
And a fourth one is a former IRA boss who held a senior role in the organisation in The South and was highly placed in the IRA during the killing. Why would Gerry Adams give names of individuals like that, who seemingly have some Republican rank, why would he do this just prior to the election, which is when this email was sent? Why would he do it just prior to the election that occurred last February?
AM: Well one can only speculate as to why he decided to inform. I mean Gerry Adams, has never at any time – and he has been remarkably consistent on this – he has never allowed Republican principle or Republican codes to stand in the way of his political career. So one has to imagine that there was a political career motive for doing what he did and I mean exactly why he did it at that particular time I do not know but I would suspect that there was a certain amount of criticism coming his way as the result of the toing and froing that had been going on between the Stack Family and the IRA. I mean these people were put into blacked-out vans and taken to meet IRA people, or Mr. Adams described them as former IRA people. And I think there was a view that Mr. Adams was not coming completely clean or at least he felt vulnerable on it and then he opted to – and he says this himself in his own writing – that he decided not, and he didn’t do it for any good reason, but the reason he gives was that he decided that it would be better not to allow people like Micheál Martin or Taoiseach Edna Kenny to criticise him on the grounds that he was withholding information. And I don’t think that’s a genuine excuse. I think there’s something beneath the surface, something more egregious, but I’m not in the position to work it out exactly why he did this at the particular time that he did.
JM: (station identification) And what we have on from Dundalk is Anthony McIntyre, former member of the IRA who spent eighteen years in Long Kesh. Anthony, I want to talk about the reaction of you doing an academic study on behalf of Boston College and what happened to you in Belfast with the wall graffiti, the intimidation of your family, the demonstration at your house in Belfast where you had to move out – do you foresee any of that happening to Gerry Adams – demonstrations or wall murals going up about him?
AM: No, I don’t. I actually – we have been joking that they will be putting up murals ‘touting for peace’. What I can say is that when the Boston College project became pubic knowledge I mean Danny Morrison, who performed a role very similar to Denis Donaldson who your people in America have sort of a negative experience of, Danny Morrison had begun to smear, just as Denis Donaldson had often smeared people who were said to be opposed the leadership or the peace process, and Danny Morrison began a, he was the main person behind a campaign to call those associated with Boston College – he coined the phrase ‘Boston College Touts’ and he has often called me ‘Anthony McIntout’ rather than Anthony McIntyre. And there was a campaign of, I mean particularly after Mr. Adams’ arrest, there was a campaign of vilification, smearing, constant harassment, innuendo, veiled threats – the whole of the Falls Road was smeared with graffiti ‘Boston College Touts’ and myself was named, other people were named, there were briefings to the press. There was a widespread campaign on the internet which Morrison was involved in and others. I mean, Morrison, as you know was a very close ally of Gerry Adams and often did his dirty work and I mean I haven’t seen him out yet saying that they should be writing ‘peace process touts’ on the wall about Gerry Adams or anything. But so there will be a very muted response.Sinn Féin activists and supporters will try and do the usual intellectual somersault and justify it.
You know, I mean, I think continuously people sometimes look at me quizzically but I think continuously that were there to be a parade down the Falls Road with banners proclaiming Bobby Sands a criminal and bomb Gaza all the same people in Sinn Féin would go out and attend it. It would not be an empty parade. It would be packed and they would be telling you that: There’s a strategy here. You have to see the big picture. And we know it’s all nonsense and they don’t believe in anything any longer. And I am of the view that internally Mr. Adams will ride this out. Although I mean my wife pointed out to me, and I think there’s something to be said for it, that the – I mean the Gards are in possession of this email for quite a long time I mean since Mr. Adams sent it a while back. It’s only released now while he’s in Cuba and my wife made the observation that it’s quite possible that somebody in Sinn Féin released it as a means to try and cause some problems for him because of his refusal to move across or allow anybody to contest a leadership position. And I mean, if we look back over the histories of coups quite often they have occurred or attempted coups have occurred when the leader of a country was out of the country on foreign business so actually there may well be something to be said for that but will he get any flak, real serious flak openly, internally, for deciding to inform? No, I don’t think so. I think that there’s really nothing that can happen. He can do what he wants within that party. I mean the old ink, the old cartoon once, and if I’m right the late Brian Mór done it: ‘It’s my party and I’ll lie if I want to’.
MG: Anthony, this week, just following what you just suggested about somebody from Sinn Féin sending that or leaking that to the press: This week in the Irish News there was a column done by Denis Bradley who lives in Doire, is very close – has had some appointments to positions through Sinn Féin, is said to be very close to Martin McGuinness – and that column was about time for Mr. Adams to go, which is something that surprised me – you don’t see people close to Sinn Féin writing columns – that’s the largest, the Irish News, is the largest selling paper in The North, Nationalist or Unionist, they say they have the largest sales of all – and to have a column from somebody placed like that, close to people, close to Doire Sinn Féin, close to Martin McGuinness, writing a column like that it was just something that very much surprised me that I didn’t expect to see, wouldn’t expect to see and it seemed to be something with a lot of implications. What do you think?
AM: Well yes, that has been suggested but I mean I think it’s important to clarify Denis Bradley’s position. I mean Denis Bradley is, he might be close to Sinn Féin in the sense that he has relations with them but he also has relations with other political parties and Denis would put himself around a bit in order to make the type of, to establish the type of networks that he does. But ‘close to Sinn Féin’? He’s certainly not a shill of Sinn Féin or a shill of anybody in Sinn Féin and he’ll not do their dirty work or their bidding. But I think – so I don’t see it as being a plot by people in Doire and it may be suggested that Martin McGuinness – I just don’t see it as a plot by Doire people or people in Sinn Féin to get Denis to write this because I don’t believe Denis is that sort of guy. I quite like him and I believe he’s very independent in what he thinks and he just doesn’t go out and put things out at the behest of other people. But I think he’s observing the continuous flak that Mr. Adams brings to the party. The continuous bad publicity and he’s hanging on like a bad smell. And to many people it’s the smell of secret graves and decomposition and it doesn’t do the party any good. And Mr. Adams is not the sort of leader that’s really going to take Sinn Féin any further than it is at the minute. And there are some very capable Sinn Féin public representatives who do quite well on media. Pearse Doherty on economics far outshines Gerry Adams. Eoin Ó Broin in detail and media presentation has been very, very savvy – completely outshines and outperforms him.
And I am of the view that people like Denis Bradley who don’t wish Sinn Féin any harm but probably would like to see them democratise and do something useful for people because Sinn Féin have an awful lot of good workers, particularly in the Republic, or in The South, who are not – don’t buy into all the rubbish that has been sold them. And I think that Denis Bradley probably sees Adams as a brake on Sinn Féin’s serious progress in The South of Ireland and has said: Look, this is like a tinpot dictatorship. No democratic party can really function for over three decades without one leadership challenge and I mean can the party think so poorly of itself, is it so talent-less that it is incapable of producing another leader? That it thinks the only person who can lead them is a man who, by common consent, is economically illiterate and that’s an observation, not a criticism because I’m pretty dumb myself when it comes to economics but I mean at least one dummy can recognise another….
JM: …Well, Anthony, yeah – we just wanted to start wrapping up. Last week we had on Dixie Elliott from Doire and we were talking about the film that’s now here in New York called Bobby Sands: 66 Days. And we know that you did eighteen years in Long Kesh, which is now being turned into a heliport, thanks to the Unionists and Gerry Adams’ brilliant strategy, but did you see the movie and what’d you think about it?
AM: No, I didn’t see the movie. I had intended to go and for some reason or another I didn’t. I want to sit back a bit anyway now and wait until the hype has died down and stuff so I’m not able to comment on it. But Richard (O’Rawe) has watched it and Dixie Elliott has watched it and they have made some very interesting commentary on it. But at some time I will watch it and review it, John.
JM: We’ll have to have you on when you do that and we’re going to…
MG: …And Anthony, before we go we just want to tell people about your blog, The Pensive Quill. I know you cover or carry a lot of the transcripts that we have on Radio Free Éireann because they’re important not just to listeners here but to readers in Ireland. And that is the place to go to if you want to get dissenting Republican opinion – there’s a big collection, it reaches a lot of people, you allow a lot of different viewpoints and sometimes even letters from me that I’ve had in the Irish News as well as our columns and we want to recommend everybody to The Pensive Quill – in addition you advertise our broadcast.
AM: Well in that, Martin, it has to be said that the transcriber who has put together the rfe123.org transcript site has done a tremendous job, works so hard and I think the credit has to go to that person. Because without that person doing this work, and the person wishes to remain unnamed, but without that person doing this very valuable work for the rfe dot 123 or rfe dot rfe 123…
MG: …rfe123.org, yeah.
AM: Whatever the – I’m just getting confused here – it’s my old age – that person does a brilliant job in providing a service. And people really value the transcripts. The transcripts are always so well read and the reason for that is it makes life very easy – there’s no trying to decipher accents or having to labour through to get a point. And as the transcriber pointed out to me quite often for researchers and journalists copying and pasting works a treat. It’s a invaluable service and long may it continue.
JM: Alright. Thank you. And that was Anthony McIntyre speaking about the hullabaloo that’s going on while Gerry Adams is down in Cuba about him informing on four of his members of his own party.
MG: John, we were in a debate a long time ago in 1998 I think and somebody raised a question about would members of Sinn Féin ever cooperate and give names, if they were going to endorse the PSNI or RUC, would they be cooperating with the authorities and give names? And Martin Ferris, I think, told someone in the audience that that was disgraceful – that it would never happen.
JM: That was Rob O’Sullivan (the audience member). He (Martin Ferris) said: I wouldn’t dignify that with a response. (ends time stamp ~ 55:04)