Richard O’Rawe RFÉ 17 June 2017

Radio Free Éireann
WBAI 99.5FM Pacifica Radio
New York City
listen on the internet: Saturdays Noon EST

John McDonagh and Martin Galvin speak to author, political analyst and former PRO during the 1981 hunger strike, Richard O’Rawe, via telephone from Belfast, who provides his analysis on the results of the general election in the United Kingdom. (begins time stamp ~35:49)

Martin:   And on the line we have the author and a great political analyst, also – it’s one of the people that I turned to just for ideas or analysis – that’s Richard O’Rawe. He is the author of Afterlives, which was about the secret offer made during the hunger strike. He’s the author of Blanketmen, about what it was like in the H-Blocks of Long Kesh. And also he is the author of a book that will be published soon, hopefully in September, In the Name of the Son, it’s about Gerry Conlon – somebody who was up in these studios and I believe it also includes a lot about Sandy Boyer, former co-host of Radio Free Éireann, and John McDonagh and some of Gerry Conlon’s work with Sandy and with Radio Free Éireann on behalf of other political prisoners and on behalf of other causes. Welcome back, Richard.

Richard:   Thank you so much, Martin.

Martin:    Okay. (station identification) Alright, Richard – last week we talked briefly about the results of the British general election and how Theresa May was short of a majority to go back as British Prime Minister – her party got three hundred and seventeen votes – and in order to put her over the top she needed the ten votes of the DUP, the Democratic Unionist Party, led by Arlene Foster, founded by Ian Paisley, formerly led by Peter Robinson, and that deal seems to be about to materialise behind what’s called ‘the Queen’s Speech‘. But I didn’t realise at the time – there were cartoons that we talked about last week in which Theresa May bends the knee to Arlene Foster and says ‘Your Majesty, can I form a new government’ and Arlene’s there with a crown – but I didn’t realise the way in which that deal would be viewed in England.  The Daily Mirror, for example has a front page picture of Theresa May with the headline, ‘Coalition of Crackpots’ – and you see pictures of – I believe it’s Peter Robinson wearing a beret and other members of the DUP. There was a cartoon in the London Times – ‘A Victory Parade’ – and you see a number of Orangemen with bowler hats and they hoisted up Theresa May being hung on a banner pole. The Independent said these are – they have a profile – these are the terrifying views of the party now propping up Theresa May.  There was a ‘Changes at Downing Street’ – it was put out by a DUP Councillor, where you have a UVF, an Ulster Volunteer Force, the Loyalist paramilitaries, in front of Downing Street and the kerbstones in front of Downing Street painted red, white and blue – not for the United States but for Britain. And finally there was another Twitter post that was put up: You see Theresa May out in front of Downing Street, behind her in view of the religious fundamentalism that many members of the DUP have – you have Moses with the Ten Commandments pointing at her and saying what to say. Richard, how is the DUP really regarded? I didn’t realise – I know how Irish Nationalists and Republicans think of them – but I didn’t realise how the British public would think of them. In fact, there’s already been a petition with hundreds or thousands of signatures, there was a big demonstration, Theresa May actually went to the scene of a tragic fire that occurred in London and was told to go back to the DUP – how is the DUP regarded now in England by some of the people who are going to see her in co – well, if not in coalition in a side deal with Theresa May to prop up Theresa May as Prime Minister?

Richard:  Well, the thing is – it’s very interesting, Martin, the revelations that have come out – and particularly what you were actually saying there, the fact that these guys, the DUP, are religious fundamentalists, right? Religious Christians. They believe in creationism, for example. They don’t believe in gay rights, right? They don’t believe in abortion. They have an ultra-right wing take on everything and the interesting thing that I have noticed is, just exactly what you said, all of a sudden simply because they’re talking to May about doing a deal to keep May’s government propped up they are an item of interest. And the item of interest that the British people are seeing they don’t like. And it begs the question: Did they never, ever, prior to this elevation of the DUP, did they never ever look into them properly and see the type of people they are…

Martin:  …and the type of people that the British government has always propped up and supported and used – just bowed to their influence where ever they could in terms of The North of Ireland.

Richard:   Absolutely! But here’s the point, Martin: Supposen they do do a deal, the DUP and the Tories, and the idea behind this deal is that there’ll be a pot of gold for Northern Ireland – that there will be extra money coming from the British Exchequer to the Northern Ireland Assembly. Even if they do do that deal the fact of the matter is, without an Executive, the DUP will not be able to disburse that money. They will have no control over because it will be disbursed, if there is no Executive, by civil servants and a British Tory minister and that is the key element in all of this. There is no Executive and, therefore, whatever deal they get is totally at the discretion, in terms of its disbursement, of British ministers.

Martin:   Okay, John McDonagh wants to ask you the next question, Richard. John, are you with us?

John: Yeah, Richard – I wanted to tackle it now even from the Sinn Féin point of view – now they have Members of the British Parliament and you know representing you know slash Derry/Londonderry – and to let our audience know that with these MPs of the British Parliament – that Sinn Féin has offices in Westminster, they collect the Queen’s shilling. But I thought it was a joke during the week when I was looking on Facebook and there was a picture of the representative of Sinn Féin from Doire – when she put up a picture of the hotel room saying just to show you people in Doire – you know we’re not living high on the hog – look how small my hotel room is and that this is like – it’s a disgrace – at this stage. And Richard, I can tell you when people in the Republican Movement came to New York they were staying on couches up in The Bronx, out in Queens and where ever they were being sent around the country. You know, people were driving them – they weren’t certainly going first class and now the attitude of Sinn Féin members complaining that they have to fly first class to Australia because it’s a very long trip. And now they’re complaining about hotel rooms in London and maybe you could explain to us the room that was that was given to Her Majesty – gave to you – when you were in Long Kesh – but it beggars belief that this is the complaint that Sinn Féin now has – is the size of their hotel room!

Richard:  Well, here’s the point, John: At the end of the day that is very succinct – this whole business – Oh! Look at the size of my hotel room! And what she’s trying to do there is to say: Look, I’m still ‘of the people’. I’m still working class. But the fact of the matter is they’re now of the political class. The fact of the matter is that her life has changed irrevocably and the whole Sinn Féin thrust in all of this, as far as I can see, is to make money. I don’t really see any reason why, John, they’re not taking their seats in Westminster. I mean, they take their seats in Stormont. They take their seats in Leinster House – what is the big deal with not taking them over in Westminster? And you know, there’s a, there’s a like a charade going on here where these guys portray themselves as working class and they’re not. I mean, they’re all on good money. They’re all on extremely good money. And their friends is on good money; their acolytes is on good money. There are people – the working class, by and large, have been left behind by them – they have moved on in terms of their own monetary value while people in The North are still – have the yolk of austerity around their necks, you know? And for Republicans, I mean for Republicans of any hue, Sinn Féin – a cornerstone of Sinn Féin’s whole ethos is that there are no principles and there are no principles that should stand in the way of progress – that was one of the things that came out of the 1986 Ard Fheis – Tom Hartley actually said it – and Martin McGuinness actually said at that time: ‘The war against the British must continue until freedom is achieved’, right?  He said we have no intention of going into Westminster or Stormont.  They’re in Westminster – sorry – they’re in Stormont. They’re in Leinster House. I don’t see no reason why they’re not in Westminster and whether they should or shouldn’t take their seats it’s a matter for them but I mean, I just don’t understand their position in all of this. And it’s not because it’s a ‘principled position’ because they really have no principles.

Martin:   Alright. Richard, Gerry Adams, during the week said – he was talking about going back to Stormont – and he said we think, strategically, that is the way to a united Ireland. And he also said that Theresa May is playing fast and loose with the Good Friday Agreement and he was supposed to have stood up to her to say that. Is there anything that Sinn Féin can do in terms of whether Theresa May makes this deal, number one, and number two, Sinn Féin was in coalition with the DUP for a number of years – how has that moved ahead any step forward towards a united Ireland? How is there any strategic way, out of any of this political success that you’ve talked about, that seems to be heading us towards, or leading us towards, a united Ireland?

Richard:   Well I don’t think there is to be quite frank with you. I mean what they have done is that they have replaced the SDLP (Social and Democratic Labour Party) as the dominant Nationalist party but other than that I don’t see much more that they have done in terms of a united Ireland. Gerry Adams said that Stormont is the way forward but he doesn’t explain how it’s the way forward. What is he talking about? Is he talking about Nationalists out-breeding Unionists and then coming to the position where they have more than fifty percent of the popular vote and then we’d have a border poll which’ll lead to a united Ireland? Or is he talking about trying to persuade Unionists not to be Unionists and to be Republicans? He doesn’t say.

And you know, I just keep coming back to the point that to me, there is a, there’s always a money aspect to this – I’m not saying that’s entirely the concept behind it all – but it is an element in this and there is, I mean there is no – Adams needs to explain to us, to the people who – to the Nationalist electorate – what he means by: ‘Stormont is the way forward towards a united Ireland’ because I don’t know how it is and I just don’t see – I just, I mean I can’t understand that statement at all.

Martin:    Okay. Now, originally or first, I think people are going to be looking at how much money – and the British are going to be handicapped because if they give money to The North of Ireland well, they’re going to have to turn around to people who voted for them in Scotland, they’re going to have to turn around to people who voted for them in Wales – they’re going to have to do similar things under British formulas, economic formulas, now to give any kind of money. But beyond that, they have re-appointed James Brokenshire to be May’s Secretary for The North of Ireland. James Brokenshire, one of those people from England, he gets to ‘audition’ for a job he’d rather have that would be located in some place he’d rather be by administering, or running, The North of Ireland for the British. He’s somebody who’s already come out on the side of no prosecutions for British troops, about the imbalance. He’s somebody, certainly, the Ballymurphy Families are very concerned about as they finally get a date for an inquest – their families were murdered by the British – shot down over three days – and how they finally have a date for an inquest – they’re concerned about that.

Quinn Brothers’ funeral 1998

People on the Garvaghy Road are worried about whether the British government, down the road – not up front, but might do something with the Parades Commission – allow Orange parades in areas such as the Garvaghy Road where they have been kept from for a number of years. What is it that, you know, you expect or what are some of the things we should be concerned about from this unholy alliance between the DUP and Theresa May as time goes by and Theresa May seems to, you know needs votes on certain issues, and needs to go back to the DUP for a supply of those votes?

Richard:    You’ve just highlighted one of the most contentious issues. And one of the most contentious issues in terms of the resumption of the Stormont regime is legacy. And both Theresa May has come out, and even before the election, and offered her support for an amnesty for British soldiers who were involved in, as you say, in Ballymurphy, the Ballymurphy Massacre and Bloody Sunday attacks and the New Lodge Road Massacre, etc – all these things and she supported that and the DUP most definitely supports it so I’d be very surprised if, after this process, after these talks finish that – maybe not immediately but certainly not long after – that you will find that there’ll be some indication that British soldiers are going to get an amnesty for the atrocities that they carried out – you know, the killing of young children with plastic bullets, etc, the mass slaughter in Doire on Bloody Sunday – I think that they’re going to get that, in honesty, for that. I also think that that in itself is going to be – if that were to happen – I think that again would, absolutely – well it should – but it could absolutely scupper any chance of resumption of the Stormont Assembly.

Martin:  Alright. Richard, after the last election it seemed that Nationalists were saying this shows there’s been a big surge forward, we’re a lot closer to a united Ireland – that was after the Assembly election. It seems as if Arlene Foster was on the way out in a very much weakened position. It seems now as if she has been in the strongest position of any DUP member for some time and it seems as if, now that the Unionist vote came out in response to those claims, that a united Ireland is as far away as it has been for many years. What’s your comment on that?

Richard:  Oh, I think that the person responsible for this is Gerry Adams. I think Gerry could not resist blowing his own trumpet when the Sinn Féin vote was so high and he made a statement that we’re now within sight – I’m paraphrasing him here – we’re now within sight of a united Ireland. And what he did, what he did – and by the way when he was doing that he was looking over his shoulder at the Ruairí Ó Brádaighs and the Mickey McKevitts and all those guys who split from the Republican Movement and formed their own movements over the last twenty-thirty years – and he was still like: I’m right. My strategy is right. Look where I’ve brought Republicanism – we’re on the thrust of a united Ireland. And what he did he woke a sleeping giant and that sleeping giant exercised itself at the last Westminster elections and you saw that the combined Sinn Féin-SDLP vote was only forty-one percent. It’s was about four percent for independence and all the rest was Unionist…

Martin:  …it seems like it…

Richard:  …and that is why Foster is in such a strong position now – that is why she got such a powerful vote – Gerry Adams galvanised their vote.

Martin:   Alright. John, I believe, has another question. John?

John:   Well you know what it is – Richard, it would be hard to explain to people here in America about the marching season that’s coming up – maybe when it’s finally here. Bundoren in Co. Donegal, they always said, looks like the Falls Road on July Twelfth. But maybe quickly explain what’s going to happen there, which probably wouldn’t be tolerated anywhere else in the United Kingdom, but how Nationalists will now be fleeing in the next week or two to The South, and particularly over to Donegal. What’s it like to live there on July Twelfth?

Richard: Well it’s pretty, John – it’s pretty harrowing to say the least. Not in the least because the Orange Order has traditionally walked through Nationalist areas – and that would be akin to the Ku Klux Klan walking through Harlem or some coloured area in New York – it’s exactly the same synopsis. And these guys on The Twelfth they, I mean – it’s very intimidating. Belfast City Centre, for example, is not a place on the Twelfth of July were you’d find too many Catholics – I mean it just isn’t because there’s hundreds of thousands of Orangemen and Loyalists and Unionists, etc on the streets marching and everything else. 

Bonfire on the Shankill Road

And then there’s the bonfires and then some of these of these bonfire are very, very big and they’re very sectarian – they burn effigies of the Pope, they would burn effigies of Gerry Adams, Gerry Kelly, Bobby Sands – all of this. I mean it is a real – it is a real intimidating environment and it is usually a pain when Nationalists, and traditionally it’s still the same – Nationalists keep their heads down. And if you do have a house in Donegal, if you’re lucky enough to have the money to have a nice place in Donegal – well, it’s the place to go to get away from it.

Martin:   Alright, Richard, we’re just about out of time – we could go on with this for a lot longer. I want to thank you for being with us.

Richard:   You’re welcome.

Martin:   We’re looking forward – you’re going to have that book, In the Name of the Son, about Gerry Conlon. I believe you make some references in it to Sandy Boyer, our former co-host, and to John and some of Gerry Conlon’s work – his appearances in this studio, Radio Free Éireann, how the work and the progress and the fight for Irish prisoners that he made in these studios – that that plays a part in the book – we’re looking very much forward to reading it and we very much appreciate your analysis today and the analysis you give me whenever I call for a question about what’s going on for events so I can present it to the audience and pretend it’s my own ideas. Alright.

Richard:   You’re more than welcome, Martin. And it’s good to talk to you and John again. (ends time stamp ~ 55:39)

Paul McGlinchey RFÉ 17 June 2017

Radio Free Éireann
WBAI 99.5FM Pacifica Radio
New York City
listen on the internet: Saturdays Noon EST

Martin Galvin speaks to Paul McGlinchey via telephone from Bellaghy, Co. Doire, about Paul’s new book, Truth Will Out, a memoir of his life and times as an Irish Republican political prisoner. (begins time stamp ~ 18:32)

Martin:   Yes, and with us on the line we finally have Paul McGlinchey in Bellaghy. Paul, welcome to Radio Free Éireann.

Paul:   Hello.

Martin:   Yeah, Paul?

Paul:   Yes. Hello, Martin!

Martin:   Yes, we were having some trouble getting through to you – we got your voice mail and I have an old tape – they actually played The Wild Colonial Boywhich was not a song that I had intended to play during this programme. Alright, we finally got you. We’re on the line with Paul McGlinchey. Paul, we had spoken on the commemoration for George McBrearty last month. You told me about the new book that you’ve written. I’ve read it. I told you we’d have you on at our earliest possible convenience so that people in the United States could hear about it. Welcome to Radio Free Éireann. And to start off I should say that you’re from one of the most prominent Republican families in the area, Bellaghy – it’s a very well-known Republican area – your brother, Dominic, from there – Francis Hughes, other great Republicans came from that area including – I happened to run into one of the people who was an Irish political deportee, Robbie McErlean, who I see around my neighbourhood all the time – I asked him if he knew you and he mentioned well he got to know you when you were up on charges in jail in the court together. But how did you happen to write this book, Truth Will Out. How did you come about to write it?

Paul:   Well I had this idea – how the book came about it actually started outmy brother, Dominic, had just been shot dead and after a few weeks I started thinking of my own mortality and I thought to myself if I should die as a young man I would like my wans to know where their father came from and how he made made the choices in life that he did – that made him join the IRA and end up in prison. So I wrote it for my children that if I should die a young man, in action or in jail, that when they grew up they would have a record of my life story and how I made the decisions I did in life and how I come about to join the IRA and end up in prison and whatnot.

Martin:   And how does it come about that you took these notes which you had prepared and decided now that you would publish it in a book form?

Paul:   Well I wrote it down on A4 sheets in Portlaoise Prison.

Philomena Gallagher with Paul McGlinchey (centre) Book Launch Ex-Pop in Doire

And there was a writers group come into the prison, to the Republican prisoners, to do an educational course with them and I happened to get talking to one of the women that was giving one of the courses and she asked me did I ever think about writing a book and I told her I wrote this manuscript for my children and she asked me: Could she read it? And I told her she could so I photocopied it for her and I gave her a copy and then she asked me could she edit and and do the corrections and all in it and I told her she could. And then she encouraged me to publish it back then. And I didn’t want to publish it back then and it lay gathering dust for over twenty-two years and then a letter arrived to Bellaghy addressed to ‘Paul McGlinchey – Bellaghy’ and my brother got it and gave it to me and she told me that she felt that my story should be told, that it was part of history and it would be a sin to lose it so I gave her the okay to go ahead and publish it especially when I’d been diagnosed with cancer. And my wans encouraged me to publish it as well…

Martin:   …Alright, Paul…

Paul:   …they thought it would be a sin for that to be lost.

Martin:   Paul, alright – you published the book. It’s entitled Truth Will Out. And I happen to read it very quickly and there are a number of things that I just want to go over very briefly: First all of you mention you were fighting, what you were fighting for, when you decided to join the IRA. People now say that this was a war for equality or for equal citizenship or something of that nature. When you joined the IRA in the early ’70’s what was it that you were fighting for? What was it that you and other IRA Volunteers were told the war was about?

Paul:   Well as I understood it, as I understood it then – Yes, we were fighting for equality for every citizen as envisioned in the Irish Proclamation delivered by Padraig Pearse on Easter Monday a hundred and one years ago on the steps of the GPO – not the equality envisioned by successive Tory governments and Arlene Foster’s DUP (Democratic Unionist Party) and the various British governments and Unionist party leaders before them who still want to treat us as second-class citizens. People volunteered their lives for three generations and wanted to help us to achieve Padraig Pearse’s Ireland of Equals – free from British and Unionist control – not to administer British rule in the British Occupied Six Counties of Ireland as was negotiated by Ian Paisley’s DUP in the form of the St. Andrews Agreement.

Martin:   Alright. Paul, just one of the things that struck me in the book you talk about your brother. Now, he was called ‘Mad Dog’ by the British – he was given a nickname – to talk about that he was only a militarist but in the book you talk about how he started off by going simply to civil rights demonstrations and trying to get equality that way. And you talk about how the turning point in your life in making you decide to take up armed struggle – you thought that one of the turning points was what happened in internment – and you talked about all of the discrimination. What was it like growing up in The North of Ireland – what was some of the reasons why people decided you couldn’t get civil rights out of a British government that you would have to fight to remove the British government in order to get justice and equality?

Paul:   Well when I was young – when I was a young fella growing up I wasn’t politicised at all and I didn’t see any difference really between me and my Protestant neighbours.

Paul McGlinchey in The Cages at Long Kesh

It was only when I witnessed the civil rights march that was re-routed around Bellaghy that I started seeing that there was a difference and I seen the way my Protestant neighbours from the town of Bellaghy and the outskirts of Bellaghy was treating the civil rights marchers that I realised there was a difference. And then I started following the news and all after that. And then I woke up early one Monday morning to our door, found our door been (inaudible) and having torches shone into our faces in bed and guns pointed at us by blackened faces of British Army soldiers and basically from then onwards I had a deep-seated hatred for the British Army – not the British people – the British Army and the British government and I couldn’t wait to join the IRA to drive them out of my country.

Martin:   Okay. When you were eighteen you were sentenced in a Diplock court. Now what this meant was – in March 1st 1976 Irish Republicans had special category – or the British words for political status – and they were allowed to wear their own clothes, they were allowed to – they were treated as prisoners of war – like from a prisoner of war camp. They said from March 1st 1976, the British government then said, everybody, from now on, we’re going to say that ‘you’re all criminals’ so that we can go to America and places like that and say we don’t have any political prisoners, special category prisoners, people interned without trial, people arrested, held as political prisoners – these are all criminals. Kieran Nugent was the first Republican who said if you want me to wear a criminal uniform you’re going to have to nail it to me. I think you were second or you were one of the first Irish Republican prisoners – what was it that made you and Kieran Nugent and Bobby Sands and Francis Hughes and so many others so determined never to wear a criminal uniform no matter what the British did to force you to accept it?

Paul:   Well from my own perspective, the way I looked at it was that I was an Irish freedom fighter, I wasn’t a criminal, and there was no way that I was going to allowed the British government to treat me as a criminal. So when I was sentenced and was taken down to Long Kesh and handed a uniform and asked what size boots I wore I told them I wasn’t wearing a uniform. So I was then threw into the back of a van and marched up onto the H-Blocks and threw into a cell and all I had was a blanket – I didn’t know at that time that there was even a blanket protest – it was just something deep within myself that told me that I was not going to wear a prison uniform. I wasn’t a criminal. I was a political prisoner. And I wrapped myself in the blanket and then I hear them rapping the wall to discover that there was a another POW in the next cell to me – who was Kieran Nugent.

Martin:   Alright. And Kieran was one of the first people who came out to the United States after his release to try and build support – support that would grow into rallies and demonstrations, protests all across the United States, as they did all around the world, in response, to support you and the other political prisoners particularly during the first and second hunger strike. Now you talk in the book about being in prison near Francis Hughes, who was a great singer, near some other prisoners who would go on hunger strike – what actually, what was some of the things that the British did to force you and other prisoners to wear a criminal uniform, to dress up the Irish struggle as just a criminal enterprise and which ultimately resulted in two hunger strikes by Irish Republican prisoners against that brutal treatment?

Paul:   At the very start when there was only a very few of us in number, like at the very start on the protest like, we were in wings where other prisoners were wearing the uniform and it was only much later as the numbers built up that there was enough blanketmen to fill a full wing. But at the start what they used to try and break us was just, you know, beatings – on a constant and daily basis and they used to try and find excuses to make you – to find excuses to beat you and in my case they used to try and get me to call them ‘sir’. And I never called my father sir in my life. And I refused to call them sir. So every time I refused to call them sir they got stuck into me and beating me black and blue basically – on a daily basis two or three times and mainly, the main reason, why I believe they picked on me at that time – my brother Dominic’s name was never off the radio – he was getting blamed for everything that was happening in The North at that time.

Martin:   Okay, now…

Paul:   …That was just you know at the very start and then later on the prison protest progressed – they brought in the mirror searches and the wing shifts you know and they used to beat us down over the top of the mirrors and do all sorts of degrading acts on us and they used to beat us during the wing shifts where we had to run a gauntlet of screws standing there with their batons – you know, beating us as hard as they could. You know, it was horrendous! You were living in fear all the time – so you were.

Martin:   Now, how important – or did you know about all the support that was there, not only across Ireland, but particularly in the United States where there were demonstrations each and every day during the first and second hunger strikes, where there were large numbers of people who came out. (When Prince Charles, for example, was here thirty thousand people protested at Lincoln Center.) Would you and the other political prisoners know of what was happening in support of you and the other blanketmen and the other hunger strikers? And how important was this support to you?

Paul:   Yeah well what people will have to understand is that for the first three and a half years while I was on the protest I had absolutely no contact whatsoever with the outside world – all I had was one letter a month which was heavily censored. And it was only later when we made the decision to wear the uniform only for visitation purposes that we started to get word to the outside what was happening and started getting word back in – you know, about the support that was gathering on the outside for us – that we realised how much support that we did have on the outside and it was great for morale to know what was going on in the United States and elsewhere throughout the world and at home.

Martin:   Okay. Now, this week you were also in the news because you’ve mentioned you have cancer and you have a law suit based on the fact that cancer – you believe it was caused by some of the substances that the British used on the prisoners during the time that you were imprisoned – and that that’s what caused this cancer. I know Aiden Carlin; he’s brought the suit. What is that case about? What is that case all about?

Paul:   Well basically how it all came about: When I was first diagnosed with cancer I started finding out about a large number of blanketmen that had died from cancer in their early fifties and others that were getting diagnosed with it. And as far as I’m aware, now from what I’ve been told there’s over a third of us has either died or been diagnosed with cancer in their early fifties, and during the protest on two occasions at night the screws just opened the cell doors and threw buckets of pure chemicals into our cells on top of us and we had to smash the windows to get breathing because we were spitting and choking and our eyes were burning and everything else. Then the chemicals that was used on the walls, to clean the walls – the screws had to wear protective suits and masks and whatnot while they were cleaning those cells – so we want to know: What was in those chemicals? We want to know: Were we used as guinea pigs? Did the screws put stuff in our food? And who authorised all this? For it didn’t come from the prison governor it had to come from the government. So we want answers. We deserve answers. We need to know.

Martin:   Okay. How – is there a website or some other way to contact you about getting the book, Truth Will Out?

Paul:   Yes, you can contact me on my website, Paul McGlinchey. Or you can contact me by email at pmcglinchey123 at outlook dot com. (That’s all in small letters.)

Martin:   Alright. That’s (Martin spells out the email address.) And what is that ‘at’?

Paul:   123 at outlook dot com.

Martin:   Okay, that’s pmcglinchey123 at outlook dot com.

Paul:   Yes, that’s right.

Martin:   Contact Paul if you want – we’ve only just scratched the surface but he talks about what was happening as hunger strikers were dying, what happened at the end of the first hunger strike, what happened as hunger strikers died, what it was like to go through that and what sustained – all the beatings, all the brutality – and what sustained you and other Irish Republican prisoners to withstand that, to win the hunger strike because at the end of it the world – Margaret Thatcher wanted to make you a criminal. She wanted to criminalise the struggle against British rule and in the end, in the United States, across Ireland and around the world people recognised that you and Bobby Sands and all of the blanketmen were political prisoners, that you were not criminals. Alright, Paul, good luck to you with the lawsuit. We hopefully will get some updates from you. The book is Truth Will Out. It’s pmcglinchey123 at outlook dot com. Get the information. He also has a Facebook page. And this is just one of a number of books that have come out recently that we want to profile and just – this is a period that should not be forgotten – the importance of the hunger strike, the importance of people like Paul McGlinchey who were on the blanket protest – what they had to go through to stop the British from branding them as criminals. Thank you, Paul, and thank you. We’re going to have you again at Radio Free Éireann and good luck with the book.

Paul:   Thank you very much, Martin, and I wish like to thank the people of America for the support that they’ve given us in the past. (ends time stamp ~ 34:52)

Eamon Sweeney RFÉ 10 June 2017

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Martin Galvin speaks to journalist Eamon Sweeney via telephone from Doire who provides analysis of the results of the recent general election in the United Kingdom. (begins time stamp ~ 38:00)

Martin:  And with us on the line we have Doire-based journalist, Eamon Sweeney. Eamon, welcome back to Radio Free Éireann.

Eamon:  Thank you, Martin.

Martin:  Eamon, on today’s Irish News there is a big cartoon on the front page and it has Theresa May, the British Prime Minister, and she is on her knees saying: ‘Your Majesty, I wish to form a new government’ and the person that is wearing the crown and that Theresa May is kneeling in front of is Arlene Foster, the head of the DUP (Democratic Unionist Party). 

Cartoon by Ian Knox.
Source: The Irish News

And I’m reading about how Theresa May will be quote unquote ‘in office not in power’, various other things – they’re talking about the DUP wagging the conservative – the tail being – that wags the conservative dog. How did we come to this? Theresa May did not have to call an election. She could have waited. This was supposed to be an election that she thought would bring in a bigger majority, give her a bigger say and now she’s, figuratively speaking, proverbially on her knees in front of the DUP making concessions to get their support. How did that come about? How did it happen?

Eamon:  Well to put it in context: Almost exactly a year ago we had a referendum that was brought about by the previous Conservative prime minister, David Cameron, based on the UK’s status within the European Union (EU) and their desire to either stay or to go. It was as simple as that. He promised an election (inaudible) himself and he didn’t believe, I think – and nobody would believe at that time – that the UK electorate would actually vote in favour of leaving the European Union but that’s exactly what happened. Now the ramifications from that were: Number One, Cameron had to resign. He was replaced by Theresa May as prime minister. She then initiated a process of departure from the European Union which is going to take around two years to complete. In order to push that through she went to the British electorate with the suggestion that there will be an election, I think she called it around two months ago, it happened on Thursday – and it was a gamble which spectacularly backfired for her. She and a lot of others thought the Conservative Party would win a landslide. In fact what happened was that she narrowly scraped by in terms of numerical superiority over the British Labour Party. In order for her to continue in government she has now had to go, basically cap in hand, to the Democratic Unionist Party here in Northern Ireland; they returned ten MPs on Thursday night. Effectively they are now in a massively strong position, the Democratic Unionist Party, because Theresa May has no option but to form some sort of association – it’s not being called a coalition by either the DUP or the Conservative Party at the moment – but she needs them desperately in order to retain power. So what they want basically will be given to them – I would imagine in terms of concessions – and that’s why we’re arriving today at the situation where you have that cartoon on the front of the Irish News. The negotiations behind the scenes are going on straightaway. The Chief Whip of the Conservative Party is actually in Belfast this afternoon negotiating with the DUP. (Negotiating might be a strong term for it – basically the DUP will be telling him what they want from this deal.) And that’s exactly where we are. It’s been a very strange two years in politics in the United Kingdom and in Ireland.

Martin:  And Theresa May, we should explain: The British system, it’s a parliamentary system as is the Irish system. It’s, for example, in the United States the head of the – the Speaker of the House – is elected separately based on the number of members in the House of Representatives let us say – it’s separately from the president. In Britain and in Ireland the head of the – the prime minister is the person – is like the Speaker of the House. It’s the person who can make up a majority of votes within the House. So Theresa May – she lost her Conservative Party…

Eamon: …Yes….

Martin:  …lost thirteen seats. Labour under Jeremy Corbyn gained thirty seats and they got close enough where Theresa May needed the DUP votes to make a majority to keep her in office. Now, some of the things that people are suggesting or think that they might be asking might include a statute of limitations for British troops for events like Bloody Sunday and other killings, it may be something like a change in the Parades Commission which puts regulations on parading, Loyalist and Unionist parades, it may be no special status in the European Community which would certainly affect you in Doire and other areas affected and make Brexit, the effects of it, much worse. What are some of the other things that we might expect the Democratic Unionist Party to demand and get from Theresa May in order to keep her in power?

Eamon:  Well, what you’ve just said I would imagine are the fundamentals of what they would desire to have on their list of demands. Interestingly, the talks to re-start Stormont begin once more first thing on Monday morning. I would imagine what’s happening this afternoon, with the Conservative Party representatives and the DUP, is that they are putting their demands along those very lines that you suggested to the Conservative Party. The ramifications of the coalition with the Conservative Party in the UK and the DUP for Northern Ireland could be huge. It could have serious bearings on whether or not Stormont actually comes back or not. Sinn Féin for example, the second largest party, as you know, in The North, withdrew from Stormont quite some months ago now and Martin McGuinness, before his death, actually triggered the fall of that. The fundamental, one of the fundamental parts of trying to get a lasting agreement at Stormont is, of course – you’re quite right, dealing with the killings. Nationalists, of course, want everybody, including state killers, brought to bear. Unionists say there’s a disproportionate amount of concentration on bringing prosecutions or attempted prosecutions against British soldiers, for example, who killed people whilst they were on service here. And it has to be said neither of those scenarios effectively help the victims in any way – either on the Unionist or the Nationalist side. So it’s been real turmoil for all the families involved on all sides of the conflict in Northern Ireland and it has been a real, real stumbling block between the DUP and Sinn Féin as to how to proceed.

If, I would imagine, that the DUP demands that the statute of limitations be enacted in order to give immunity from prosecution to soldiers, for example, I can’t see Stormont will be resurrected again. I get the sense from Sinn Féin that they’re not overtly concerned whether Stormont actually returns or not at the moment; they have other fish to fry both in Dublin and now they’ve got their seats – of course which they don’t take – at Westminster. They don’t sit inside the chamber because they will not take an oath of allegiance to the British monarch – that’s been a fundamental core principle of Sinn Féin politics for years. But locally in terms of what has happened in terms of Nationalism at this Westminster election, this British UK election, is that the Social Democratic and Labour Party, the SDLP, were effectively wiped out on Thursday night. They had three MPs, one of which was the local MP for Doire, Mark Durkan, and the other was Alasdair McDonnell you know and one again was Margaret Ritchie – all three of these personalities were former leaders of the SDLP.

So for the first time in many centuries, I suppose, the voice of Irish Nationalism has no representation at Westminster whatsoever in terms of people actually going into the chamber. Whilst there are seven Sinn Féin MPs elected to the British parliament as of Thursday night they don’t sit inside the chamber. So back and forward you have the argument there about abstentionism to Westminster – they say they won’t. In order for them basically to try and offset the hard Brexit that is being sought by Theresa May and offset the very serious economic ramifications that it will have for places like Doire and border areas in the North of Ireland – they can’t do so because they won’t go in and take their seats. Now, it didn’t seem to matter to the electorate that that would be the case because their eventual eclipse of the SDLP is now finalised – it’s complete. The SDLP – where they go from here, nobody actually knows. Will the SDLP, for example, ever bother contesting another election at Westminster? It remains to be seen because they’ve gone! You will vividly remember twenty-odd years ago, Martin, when the SDLP representatives at senior levels would have quite arrogantly said that Sinn Féin would never, ever eclipse them electorally and they have. They’ve totally decimated them in terms of Nationalist representation. It’s a strange one. For Doire itself and people, your listenership in New York, will would know very well the character of John Hume and his regular visits and just not to Washington (inaudible) has the electoral decline in the SDLP has been huge.

Martin:  Eamon, the peace process, one of the first steps in it was a statement by a British minister that the British government had no selfish or strategic interest in the North of Ireland and that was supposed to signal that the British government was going to be neutral and that by coming to a resolution, by coming, you know working in Stormont itself, you could have neutrality, you could have Sinn Féin working with the DUP or working with Unionist representatives gradually doing away with some of the injustices of British rule, gradually getting to a point where you could get to a united Ireland. This whole structure in which Theresa May is, figuratively speaking, kneeling to Arlene Foster to keep her in power, that is going to be exactly the opposite. You’re going to have Theresa May propping up, favouring, trying to use/introduce legislation which helps the DUP which does not work towards a united Ireland. Wouldn’t that be the case?

Eamon:  Well the statement all those years ago, I think it was (former Northern Ireland Secretary of State) Patrick Mayhew who made that, I always regarded that as something to coax Republicans in from the cold in order to take part in negotiations and help Sinn Féin convince the IRA, for example, that the peaceful, democratic route was the one to take. If anybody actually believes that the British don’t have any selfish or strategic motives for remaining in Ireland then they’re crazy. That’s been borne out by the actions of the British government since that statement was made all those years ago in terms of the open and transparent methods that they suggested have never taken place – especially with the examination or looking at the actions of their own British troops in Ireland so I always thought that was much more of a soundbite than a reality, as a matter of fact. But where we go from here? I mean it’s – the departure from the EU for Britain has brought a lot of things sharply into focus especially in Ireland – especially in the North of Ireland. We’ve had to take a step back and watch basically. The UK, as it was, in terms of a union between Great Britain, Northern Ireland, Scotland, England and Wales is crumbling; it is dissolving around them. The Scots, for example, are making great strides again towards demanding another referendum for independence which eventually will be successful. I mean it’s a matter of keeping going back there until the matter is resolved – in terms of Scotland. England, I think, is a place largely defined at the beginning of the evolution by Tony Blair all those years ago where he was only interested in basically creating a separated England for the square mile in London in terms of economics. He didn’t want responsibility in fact for Northern Ireland, Scotland or Wales – at all. All he wanted to do was keep them in terms of resources and taxation and that’s essentially what the three, peripheral Celtic nations mean to England – is to bleed them for more taxation and more money – as much as possible as far as I can see. It will eventually, I mean this British election that took place three days ago it was basically, in all but name, a border referendum in Ireland. It distilled the question about remaining or leaving the United Kingdom for Northern Ireland down into the basic tenet between Nationalists and Unionists yet again. Both those main parties that dominate the political scene in Northern Ireland, ie the DUP and Sinn Féin, are those who have been successful at the British election and that tells you that the argument delineated along those lines still exists the same way as it did thirty years ago but with the absence of a conflict. It hasn’t been resolved. All elections that take place in Northern Ireland (inaudible).

Dublin, as ever, are making great noises about representing Nationalist views in The North. As we both know that has often been a case of lip-service down the decades. The SDLP, for their part, where they go I really don’t know but it’s interesting to note that an old argument from Fianna Fáil, the Nationalist party in Dublin, where once both the SDLP and those in Fianna Fáil’ll want to merge into one party – that’s never happened. There’s now suggestions yet again that come the next local elections in Northern Ireland , which are due in 2019, that Fianna Fáil will cross the border and stand candidates at local level to test the water and that means, if that happens, the SDLP may completely disappear forever because people may opt to give Fianna Fail a vote because they think they will have a say-so therefore in Dublin after that. So it’s all very much up in the air. The likelihood of Theresa May being able to maintain what she kept calling a ‘stable government in Britain’ with the help of the Democratic Unionist Party is negligible. I honestly believe that before the autumn arrives there’ll probably be another general election. I also honestly believe that in the coming months in Belfast at Stormont there will be another assembly election as well. People…

Martin:  Alright, Eamon. Eamon, sorry, we just have to close there. We’re closing off. We do want to thank you. We have a lot of potential elections that’ll have to be covered. And again, that cartoon – just Theresa May bowing down to the Democratic Unionist Party and Arlene Foster – it seems to say it all. Alright, thank you, Eamon, and thank you very much for that analysis. Wish we had more time. (ends time stamp ~ 54:37)

Kate Nash RFÉ 10 June 2017

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John McDonagh and Martin Gavin speak to Kate Nash of the Bloody Sunday March for Justice via telephone from Doire about the Free Derry Museum’s decision to put up the names of those members of the Crown Forces killed in Doire during the ‘Free Derry’ era of The Troubles. (begins time stamp ~ 21:05)

Martin:   Okay, we’re back. Back in Doire with Kate Nash. Kate, it was great to see you at the commemoration or the mural unveiling, the formal unveiling, for George McBrearty and I know at that time you were very concerned about what was happening in Free Derry Museum. I couldn’t believe – I know we were angry when this happened in Dublin with the names of Irish patriots then but that this should happen in Doire is unbelievable. John is on the line. John is going to open up the questioning on this.

Kate:  Okay. Thank you, Martin.

John:  Yeah, the one great things now about technology is you get to see what’s going on in Doire and all throughout Ireland almost instantaneously and then I saw on Facebook that I’m friends with Kate Nash that she had discovered that the names of British soldiers and RUC (Royal Ulster Constabulary) men were up in the Free Derry Museum.

Artwork by Brian Mór. Donated to Free Derry Museum by Tim Myles.

So I know that Brian Mór had artwork hanging up there, I went and seen it twice at least myself when I was over in Doire, and I talked to people at the National Irish Freedom Committee and Brian Mór’s partner, Joan Messina, and I said: You know what? Bernie would not like this having his artwork displayed with the names of British soldiers who were actually shooting down the people to prevent ‘Free Derry’. So if you go to my Facebook – I put up the statement at Cabtivist dot com – or just Cabtivist on Facebook and it says:

Brian Mor O’Baoighill was deeply honored when his artwork was donated and displayed in The Museum of Free Derry. He would be horrified to learn that the Museum now includes a display honoring the RUC and British Soldiers who died during that same time period – giving them equal status to the innocent civilians who were murdered at their hands. While the concept of truth and reconciliation may have it’s place, the basic premise calls for honesty. A list to honor all people who died during the time period is neither honest nor honorable. Accordingly, the partner and friends of Brian Mor O’Baoighill who facilitated the donation of his artwork are requesting that until the list is removed, his artwork will be removed from the exhibit, and given to Kate Nash for safe keeping.

And I’d like to say: We sent this over, we called up Kate, she said send me the statement and I’ll head right over to the museum. And maybe, Kate, you can pick it up from there. Or, how did you find out and what is the feeling of the people in Doire that the names of the British soldiers who tried to prevent ‘Free Derry’ are in the exhibit?

Kate:  Well there’s a great deal of anger as you would imagine. Doire still feels the pain – it’s an open wound what happened here on Bloody Sunday. But of course, we’ve lost lots of other innocent people here – children among them. Friends of mine, who are still fighting – fighting to even have inquests. So of course there’s a great deal – well of anger really and I think puzzlement, too, at what the hell this museum is at. But I do think probably, I’m hoping anyway, but I do think that you giving me that letter to actually take to the museum I’m hoping will have a great deal of influence on what they’re actually doing or at least give them time to ponder. You know, I mean this is – it’s very hurtful. And it’s needless pain that’s inflicted on innocent people.

Martin:   Kate, this is Martin Galvin. Could you tell us or explain what the Free Derry Museum is and who made this decision? I believe it’s due to open next week but who made this decision to put the names of British troops, of the RUC – names which are so hurtful to you and others – who are victims of people who have never been brought before the courts for killing innocent Irish people in Doire?

Kate:   Well I could say straight out: just Sinn Féin. I couldn’t tell you who, particularly, but I do know Sinn Féin are in charge. This is a museum they run and the fact of the matter is any decisions made about it they would make. Now I was told there’s preconditions if you get funding. Now I know they got funding with the renovation of that museum. But however there’s preconditions and obviously they have agreed to some things and that would be it about soldiers and RUC being put up as well as UDR (Ulster Defence Regiment) being put up there alongside victims of the state. I couldn’t give you the actual person but the Bloody Sunday Trust runs this museum and I know the Bloody Sunday Trust would be Sinn Féin.

Martin:   Alright. And I know that in addition to the demand that you made for the return of Brian Mór O’Baoghill’s artwork there are other families who have asked that their different artifacts – clothing that they wore when they were killed – that other families have gone with you and protested and demanded that their items…(crosstalk; inaudible)

Kate:   …Yes. There were some families there with me. I don’t, I really don’t try to influence them; it’s not something I put out widely to tell let people know that’s happening, you know, because I kind of just let people make up their own mind. But definitely there were some families, I think six or seven, represented as well as wounded. And there was a lady there, and you know I’d rather not say her name over the airwaves, but there was a lady there and yes – she was saying if they didn’t remove that display that they would want, the family would want, her brother’s clothing taken back. (You know the clothing still has the bullet wounds – he wore that suit on Bloody Sunday so it means a terrible lot to that family.) But she was extremely hurt. Very, very emotional – you know, very, very upset – shaking – her whole body shaking – and crying when she was talking to the chairman of the Bloody Sunday Trust and very, very upset. But there you go. So far their decision, as they said they will be keeping it in place until after the official opening, which I suspect will be the fifteenth of June – because they do that, too – they try to memorialise the Cameron apology that happened on the fifteenth of June, so I’m not expecting them – well they said they won’t be doing anything until after the official opening and then they will ‘consult widely’ is what I read, you know? But to personally to talk to me or any other family – I’m not sure of that, you know? I’m not sure of that. They haven’t talked to me.

Martin:   Alright. John, you have a question?

John:    Yeah. You know what, Kate? The irony of all this is it shows they consulted with no one. There was an article in the Belfast Telegraph of a widow of an RUC man who wants her husband’s name taken out of the exhibit. So I mean not even the widow of an RUC man wants to be in the museum. Now can anyone even envision that an RUC museum, or the Ulster Defence Regiment Museum or a British soldier museum in Belfast or anywhere in the Six Counties anywhere would have the names of IRA Volunteers in that museum? This is the madness that’s going on with the Free State and with Sinn Féin saying: Oh! We have to put up these names, they’re all (crosstalk;inaudible)

Kate:   …Absolutely. Schizophrenic – the things that happen here – schizophrenic!

Martin:   Okay. So Kate, you’re going to have a meeting with them but this is not going to happen until after the museum opens, is that correct? I mean once people come in, the public starts to see it, how does it make any sense to have the consultation then instead of beforehand when you can do something to take down these names, to stop giving offence, before the museum opens?

Kate:   Well I have to clarify that: They haven’t said they’re going to talk to me and I would be very surprised if they did, to be honest. They may have tried to talk to some other members of my family and I would say I think the ones I was talking to just recently are not very happy with it, you know? I haven’t been able to talk to all of my family but the ones I’ve been talking to are not happy with it. Other than that I don’t think they will be talking to me. I’m not one of the people they would consult with, I’m afraid. Although I would have a perfect right, of course, to do so. He was my brother. He was my brother, too, and I should have a say in what goes on, you know? In fact, in saying that, Martin, we do not have anything personal in that museum. We simply have a photograph and it’s one photograph – it’s the only photograph we actually own of our brother because nobody in those days – nobody had cameras, they were expensive little things and nobody had them. So we only had one photograph of our brother – that’s the photograph they have. (We have copies. We all have copies.) Other than a statement of my father, a statement of my father’s which is public – it’s in the public sector, so it doesn’t matter, you know? We have nothing personal like other families have actual objects and clothing and things like that. I would certainly, if I had anything like that, I would want it out of there as I’m sure if they had something belonging to a police officer or a soldier or anything like that you can be sure it would be out pretty quick.

Martin:   Okay.

Kate:   I don’t believe they’ve consulted with anybody and you see therein lies the problem. They just don’t ask people – they just go ahead – same as they do with the Bobby Sands’ family – they just use their stuff and it doesn’t matter how the family feels or how the family are hurt. Thus is the way they behave.

Martin:   Okay. Now Kate, I did want to ask you: The last time you were on we were talking – there were no charges against troopers for Bloody Sunday for the people who were killed – fourteen people including your brother – and we’re at the point where we were very near to that decision being made. Now the DUP is – we’re going to cover this with Eamon Sweeney – but the Democratic Unionists Party – they are going to be involved very much – they supposed to be kingmakers for Theresa May as a result of the British general election.

Kate:   Yes.

Martin:   And one of the things that they have spoken about or they are expected to ask is for a statue of limitations so that the British troops who were never prosecuted will now never be prosecuted. What’s your reaction…

Kate:   …Yes, that’s very high on their priority list.

Martin:   Alright. Is there anything…

Kate:   …Well of course I would be…

Martin:   Go ahead.

Kate:   Sorry, I can’t hear.

Martin:   Sorry, go ahead, Kate.

Kate:   I would expect – I’m not exactly sure what you said there, Martin. I didn’t hear too well.

Martin:    Alright. What is your feeling about that – the idea that there would be a statute of limitations at the behest of the DUP, with the British government, proclaimed for the North of Ireland, so that British troopers who killed Irish people under circumstances which were unjustified and unjustifiable, which amounted to murder or manslaughter, where they, who would be shielded from the courts, would never have to face a court after all the campaigning that you and the Bloody Sunday families – after all the campaigning by other families for inquests, for truth, for justice for their family members who were killed?

Kate:   I would be absolutely devastated, Martin. I’m not sure, I’m not sure I could recover from something like that be honest. I have worked very hard, as everybody knows, to get prosecutions, to get justice for my brother and I simply couldn’t recover if somebody told me I wasn’t able to do it. I mean that would not – that’s a police state you’re talking about – that is not a democracy. The law must work. I know we’ve waited forty-five years but the law must work. A crime was committed here on Bloody Sunday – innocent people, lots of innocent people shot, fourteen died – many hundreds were brutalised, arrested and brutalised, by the same troops – there has to be justice for all of us. There has to be.

Martin:   Alright. And Kate, one of the things that we spoke about at the George McBrearty…by the way, Jim Sullivan is here and wants to say hello.

Jim:   Hi, Kate. It’s Jim Sullivan. It’s nice to hear your voice again.

Kate:    Hello, Jim. How are you?

Jim:   I’m pretty good. How are you feeling?

Kate:    I’m very well, thank you.

Martin:   Alright. One of the things that we spoke about at the George McBrearty commemoration was the idea why isn’t – why haven’t any of these troopers been charged with perjury? Judge Saville, after listening to their testimony, basically said that their testimony was obviously untrue – which would amount to perjury – it would contradict what they said at the initial – when a commanding officer now, when an officer named Mike Jackson took statements that make no sense, that were totally, physically impossible about the original shot (inaudible) – why is it that, at the very least, none of those British troops have been prosecuted for perjury, that they lied under oath, and not be brought before a court for that and use that to leverage them, to make them flip, to get information about who actually gave the orders – what was going on at the time that these people were killed on Bloody Sunday?

Kate:   Well apparently, and Michael Bridge as you know has great – he’s one of the wounded – Michael has great detail on that and that has been an on-going problem for him. He’s brought it up at every single police meeting with the families and he brought it up recently, too, with the Public Prosecution Service – just nobody’s been listening to him. Michael has pushed and pushed and pushed for this for years – years – and finally at the last meeting they did say that they’re going to be reviewing that. Look, what happened there was simply this: The PSNI (Police Service of Northern Ireland) made a deal with the Metropolitan Police to not do anything about perjury and to make it about the bigger crime – murder. So that’s really what happened there but it is now, it is now being – we think they’re going to deal with it so I don’t know how long this is going to take. I really don’t know. They said they would give us a time frame at the end of the summer.

Daniel Hegarty

Now it could be – there’s a family right now who waited four years to get a decision and Barra McGrory then refused. He said the soldier was just (the soldier doesn’t even say this by the way) but Barra McGrory said it, the Public Prosecutor, that the soldier thought he was defending himself – this was against a little fifteen year old who was the size of a twelve year old but they are now challenging that in the High Court on the sixteenth of this month.

Martin:   Alright. And we’ll have to leave it there. Kate, good luck with fighting Free Derry Museum.

Kate:   Thank you very much, Martin, for having me on.

Martin:   Oh, it’s always a pleasure. We want to thank you again and hopefully something can be done before that Free Derry Museum opens up so that British troops and members of the RUC responsible for victimising and murdering and brutalisation and oppression are not there alongside the names of those they victimised. Alright, thank you, Kate.

Kate:   Thank you very much, Martin. (ends time stamp ~ 36:27)

John McDonagh RFÉ 10 June 2017

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John McDonagh explains a controversy over a piece of Brian Mór O’ Baoighill’s artwork that was donated to the Free Derry Museum.  (begins time stamp ~17:12)

John:  The thing I wanted to bring up that – we had this problem when Brian Mór was alive. He designed a 1798 poster and when one of the Sinn Féin members became the Lord Mayor of Belfast he put it up on the wall there and we issued a statement on behalf of Bernie to say that he wanted that down – he didn’t want it to be up where British rule was being administered. And then – now all these years later Timmy Myles, AOH member from Nassau, had one of Bernie’s artwork from the Irish People newspaper of his drawing about Bloody Sunday in 1972. And Timmy thought instead of keeping it in his house he would donate it to the Free Derry Museum. So when this happened Kate Nash said they got word that British soldiers were up on the same all walls as the people that were killed by the British soldiers and we knew that Brian Mór would not want to be a part of a museum that was honouring British soldiers and the RUC (Royal Ulster Constabulary).

The friends of Artist Brian Mor O'Baoighill know that he would demand that his artwork be removed from the Free Derry…

Posted by John McDonagh on Tuesday, June 6, 2017

So I got in contact with people from the National Irish Freedom Committee, Bernie’s partner, Joan, and I said: Listen, Bernie would not like this. So we issued a statement. It’s on Facebook – at Cabtivist on the Facebook and I’ll be reading that out when we get Kate Nash on the show. But it’s just the high-jacking that Sinn Féin does – whether it’s the graveyard saying: If this guy was alive today he would support British rule in Ireland – but now it’s sort of the artwork saying: These artists support what’s going on now. And we wanted to put a stop to that. And we were going to have Kate Nash hold the drawing until the names are taken down and then bring it back to the museum – which, when we talk to Kate Nash, there has been movement on that and we believe a lot of that has to do with her going to the museum with a letter from us in New York to take down the painting that’s up there. (ends time stamp ~19:08)

Ed Moloney RFÉ 6 May 2017

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John McDonagh and Martin Galvin speak to award-winning journalist, author and historian Ed Moloney via telephone about documents obtained via the Freedom of Information Act that show the infiltration and surveillance of the Irish Northern Aid Committee by the FBI during the Irish Republican prisoners’ hunger strikes. (begins time stamp ~ 2:50)

Martin:   Ed, are you with us?

Ed:   Yes, I am, Martin. Yes.

Martin:   Sorry, I didn’t know you were on the line. Welcome back to Radio Free Éireann and Ed Moloney is the author of A Secret History of the IRA. He was involved in the book and the television show, Voices From the Grave, that involved the great Brendan Hughes, a great patriot. He is the person who has been an award-winning journalist with the Irish Times, with the Sunday Tribune. He is also the person who maintains a blog, The Broken Elbow, if you hit up his name, Ed Moloney and Broken Elbow you’ll get it. And Ed, just within the last few days you have published some declassified FBI files on Irish Northern Aid for the particular time of 1980 and 1981; 1980 was a hunger strike at the end of the year led by Brendan Hughes and we thought it was going to lead to an agreement. In 1981, there was another hunger strike led by Bobby Sands and ten men would die on that hunger strike. And Ed, what is there that you show, the documents that were released, what was the FBI doing in terms of the Irish Northern Aid who would have all those demonstrations? I was on TV all the time as the Publicity Director – they didn’t allow people into the United States to speak, to represent the hunger strikers because of censorship-by-visa-denial – what was our government doing in terms of Americans who simply wanted to exercise their First Amendment rights and support the hunger strikers, support justice, oppose what the British were doing in the North of Ireland?

Ed:   Well first of all, these documents were obtained by a New York based television journalist, called Nate Lavey, who got them for a particular purpose and decided that only one or two of these files were of interest to him and he passed the rest of them onto me so I’ve been sort of slowly releasing them, going through them, trying to summarise what’s in them and I think there’s about nearly twenty-five all together so I’ve only just started it, really, I think four. And as you said the last two files dealt with that period, 1980-81, and it’s clear that the FBI had launched what they call FCI, which is a foreign counter-intelligence investigation, into Irish Northern Aid, or NORAID as it was known, round about 1979 or thereabouts. And that enabled, because it was declared officially to be an FCI, a Foreign Counterintelligence Investigation, they were allowed to put NORAID and its various figures involved with it under the most intense surveillance and scrutiny which included electronic surveillance and physical surveillance. And if you go through the files you can see evidence, although a lot of the stuff is redacted, you can clearly see that they’re following them around and taking photographs at demonstrations and stuff like that and obviously there are references to electronic surveillance although none of the transcripts of conversations etc are reproduced in these files but one imagines that there’s lots of them there. And essentially what they were trying to do during this period was to link NORAID with arms smuggling to the IRA in Ireland. And this was at a time, if you remember I’m sure – we’re going back a long time now – but this was the time when Michael Flannery and George Harrison and other people were put on trial and that was followed by another trial, the Red Eye Missile trial as some people call it, in which Gerry McGeough managed to escape and traveled across the length and breadth of America to escape from the FBI and got back to Ireland. The Flannery and Harrison trial ended in their acquittal primarily because the jury believed a defence they put forward which was that they thought they were acting with the approval of the CIA because the arms dealer that they were having dealings with was also registered as a CIA source so they assumed that, their defence was, that they assumed that they were doing all of this with the approval of the United States government – the idea being that it was far better that the IRA get hold of American guns than they turn to the Soviet Union. Anyway, however far-fetched that argument might appear, it was successful and one wonders whether, in fact, this was a New York jury also delivering a verdict on the British handling of the hunger strike which was very fresh in people’s minds when that trial took place. But anyway, the files I’ve managed to read so far, and I’m reading them and then publishing them just after I’ve read them, the latest one actually shows a good deal of confusion on the part of the FBI. They’re not entirely sure, first of all, how much money NORAID is bringing in. They estimate the income in those years, prior to the – the normal years outside the hunger strike years because you probably remember the money going into NOARID during the hunger strike years like really increased quite dramatically – but normally they estimated it at around two hundred and twenty thousand. And because they got hold of NORAID’s financial accounts by virtue of a subpoena that had been served on the organisation, and it didn’t add up to two hundred and twenty thousand they therefore assumed that the missing whatever money was, a hundred thousand or thereabouts, was being used to buy weapons.

But what was their source for the two hundred and twenty thousand? It was a human source; someone inside NORAID had told them this. And that’s a pretty flimsy basis on which to then build this gigantic plot of arms smuggling, however credible it may have appeared to the outsider, and they based their subsequent investigations of NORAID on that. But in one of the documents there’s quite an extraordinary admission – they don’t really know whether NORAID is involved in arms smuggling. It may be, they say, that really the value of NORAID to the IRA is that it sends over money which is used to support the families of IRA prisoners and thereby releases IRA funds, which otherwise would have to be spent on that, to spend then on things like weapons and stuff like that. So they’re really not entirely sure and they’re proposing in this document a vast undercover operation inside NORAID which is going to take at least a year to bear any sort of fruit in which they will burrow someone in and he will try, or she will try, and find out as much as they can about any links to arms smuggling in NORAID and the grand jury will be set up and prosecutions will follow. Well we don’t know whether that recommendation was followed or whether it was rejected. If it was followed it clearly didn’t produce anything because there were no subsequent trials that, at least I’m aware of, which directly link NORAID in that sort of way. So what you get is like a – clearly the FBI – I would imagine as a result of pressure from both Dublin and London – are trying to discover what links there are between NORAID and gun running, essentially that’s what this is about.

Martin:   Ed, might – just a couple of things and I’ll just ask you to comment. Number One: If Irish Northern Aid had been involved itself in gun running or anything illegal – as you say with the amount of surveillance, electronic, individual, human surveillance – I would have been put in jail a long time ago. What the real concern that the British government had was that we could put thousands of people in front of buildings protesting. Politicians started to see just in – there are thousands of people now who will march the streets for the hunger strikers – well there’s a lot of them who might vote for the MacBride Principles, for an end of visa denial, for candidates who are as interested in Ireland and an end of British rule in Ireland as other voters are interested in say, supporting Israel, or supporting other countries around the world and that was what their concern was and they couldn’t undermine Irish Northern Aid by saying: Gee, they’re just too strong an influence against the British. They’re doing too much to expose what the British are doing in the North of Ireland, they’re contributing to the families of Irish political prisoners – we’ll say they must be involved with gun running and try and prosecute people and spy on them on that basis. What’s your feeling about that comment?

Ed:    Yeah, I mean I think clearly they were concerned, particularly in those hunger strike days when NORAID had the potential to bring out like tens of thousands of people and you had Michael Flannery being chosen as the Grand Marshal of the Saint Patrick’s Day parade, you had Peter whats-his-name from Long Island…

Martin:   …Peter King.

Ed:   Peter King in I think it was ’84 or ’85 was made Grand Marshal as well and he sort of gave a respectable face to Irish Republicanism in New York. I guess they were deeply concerned – but I suspect at the end of the day they were under pressure from their allies in Dublin and particularly in London to try to move against NORAID and try to put it out of business if only just to win a battle against them and to get the Americans on their side in the ideological argument as much as anything else about what was happening in Northern Ireland.

John:    Ed, I know you don’t have – the years you’re looking at is ’80 and ’81 but when I was the editor of the Irish People newspaper they raided the offices to arrest Hugh Feeney, who was convicted of the bombings in London along with Gerry Kelly, but you know years later we find out it was orchestrated really to get rid of him because the IRA or the Republican Movement always had someone in New York, when they got rid of him the Republican Movement sent over Denis Donaldson. So it looks like they were coordinating with British intelligence to make sure that they could get one of their agents into New York to get the intelligence they needed so even went beyond the surveillance and beyond that now…

Ed:   Oh! I would be amased, John, if there wasn’t like operational coordination of that sort between FBI, MI5, the Irish Special Branch and the security authorities in Northern Ireland over, you know, operational basis, you know? On like who are we’re going to arrest and who we put under surveillance – there would be a joint committee I’m sure. I mean a lot of this stuff is going to remain hidden forever but I would imagine that the structures existed, the bureaucratic structures existed, to facilitate that very detailed type of cooperation, operational cooperation, which they wouldn’t want the public to really know about – it would be embarrassing to have that sort of stuff revealed but common sense says there had to be that type of cooperation. Wouldn’t you think?

Martin:   Yeah Ed, this is Martin Galvin, I had the opportunity to review files that were released under the Irish People case – there was a case brought to try and force the Irish People newspaper to be registered as a foreign agent. We, the Irish People newspaper, won that case – thank you to Chuck Simms of the American Civil Liberties Union – but there were thousands of documents that were released at that time as part of the discovery that they had to go, having begun that case a federal judge demanded, required them, to turn over discovery as they would in any other case. And document after document was cc’d – the British embassy in Washington, British (legation) in London, Irish Em…all of that – everything was sent around to the various governments and it was particularly embarrassing for them that they were doing this – trying to put an American-produced newspaper out of business, undermine it, undercut it, have it registered as a foreign agent, maybe deny it post office facilities and subscription facilities, and they were dong this, it was obvious from these documents, that they had to report on this at every stage to the British government – not just in Washington, not just in the New York office – but they had to do it in London, they had to do it in the Irish government and how much they were being asked to do by these two governments as you say.

Ed:   Hmm, yeah – well it makes sense. I mean it would be extraordinary I would think if it didn’t happen that way, you know, given their relationships so none of that is a surprise but it’s nice to have the detail that occasionally comes to light to sort of confirm this sort of stuff and historically it’s important, I think, to have these documents there and for people to make a study of this. Interestingly, I don’t know whether the FBI had separate files on Clann na Gael but Clann na Gael doesn’t, as far as the files that I have read (and I add that because you know there’s a lot more for me to read before I can make a definite statement on this), but there’s no mention so far in any of these files of Clann na Gael which I found quite extraordinary. I mean if you’re looking at militant Irish Republicanism in the United States and the sort of areas that the FBI was probing you would imagine that they would at least rate a mention if not more than that but they don’t.

Martin:   Right. And Michael Flannery was an officer, for example, in Clann na Gael for many years so some of the people involved in these cases were never involved with – such as George Harrison – was never a member of Irish Northern Aid but that is one of the reasons why – well, it’s another piece of evidence that supports my view that they were concerned about the publicity, about the lobbying, about more congressmen getting involved, about more public officials getting involved, about negative publicity about British rule in Ireland that that was really what was the worrisome thing – that the British government is putting pressure, the Irish government at that time putting a great deal of pressure and the FBI started to respond to that and if the rights of American citizens, First Amendment rights, to this information had to be violated they were prepared to try and do it. I want to ask you…

Ed:   …And also you know it’s a, we’re often sort of over-awed by these people. We imagine you know that because they’ve got all these powers and all this money and reputation and history and what have you you imagine that they are so much better than they actually are. I mean for example I’m sure it will come as a huge surprise to people who were active in NORAID right through The Troubles in Northern Ireland to find out that where they had their annual dinner was actually a place called the Astorian Manner (Ed spells manner) in Brooklyn! Now I mean that’s in an FBI document, alright? So like if you’re an FBI agent and you’re looking, you’re researching NORAID, you’ll think: Oh, right – they meet in the Astorian Manner in Brooklyn. I must find out where that is and go along to the next meeting – everyone knew – I mean basic stuff – it’s the Astoria Manor (Ed spells manor) in Queens which is an entirely different borough. I mean, if the FBI got very simple details like that wrong you know what does that say about their ability to really track things like arms shipments and who was doing what and when, etc?

Martin:   Which would have been advertised…

Ed:   Yeah.

Martin:   …pages, photographs in all the newspapers –

Ed:   …absolutely, absolutely…

Martin:   …exactly the politicians that were there. Ed, during that period – John McDonagh and I were laughing – during the demonstrations for the hunger strike I was approached on an almost weekly basis by people who said they wanted to sell arms and they would hand me their numbers or they would pass on phone numbers to me and would even say you know, when I refused to take it or say I’m not involved in anything like that, that if I really cared about Ireland I would get involved and work with them in buying guns which seemed to me to be so obvious an FBI plot – you’re talking about ability – it was just so ham-handed a way of going about things that even if I had been involved in something like that, which I was not, anybody would have seen through what they were trying to do, anybody would have rejected those overtures but that’s the level of activity, the level of ability, the level of the coordination that they had or perhaps it’s the level of desperation about how that they had to do something to support the British and that’s the lengths to which they were prepared to go – First Amendment or un-American activities like that.

Ed:   Or also, Martin, maybe not everyone was as clever as you were and responded differently, you know? I mean, you don’t know. Maybe they were just hoping that someone would say ‘yes’ at some point because they maybe – they were going to you, they might have been going to other people as well that you didn’t know about, you know? You don’t know.

John:   And you know, Ed, but you know the FBI weren’t looking for where the money was coming – because it definitely it had to be coming from somewhere because there were enough trials going on here with arms shipments going over to Ireland – and then you had the cases up in Boston where you had Whitey Bulger and that crew and people in Irish Northern Aid up there and sending over a huge shipment of guns so there was money in this country that was going to arms shipments…

Ed:   …Of course…

John:   …because we knew that…

Ed:   … well read Brendan Hughes’ interviews and he came over for that tour and the reason for that, it was an IRA tour, and it was to raise money to buy weapons and what have you.

You have the whole business about the smuggling of the Armalites – and clearly there was an awful lot of arms smuggling going on but you know, at the same time, the idea that – and it became part of the mythology and I think that’s probably one of the reasons why the FBI was under so much pressure to do something – that America was the major source of weapons for the IRA whereas in fact we know now that it was Libya and other places in the Middle East which were much more important. You know obviously we know the George Harrison linkage at the very start was extremely important but by the 1980’s I think that had been overshadowed by linkages to places like Libya, you know?

Martin:   Ed, I just want to clarify: The Brendan Hughes tour, which was tremendously successful, that was separate – people contributed to him saying this is not Irish Northern Aid money, this is not for the families of political prisoners, this is money that is going to go directly to Ireland. But even in the Flannery trial, he was actually inquired – Frank Durkan showed me the transcript – called me to ask me about it – they were asking him was it Irish Northern Aid money involved, in that trial – that arms trial – and where it was kept and he had to go through, at length, how there was money indeed in the United States that was collected for arms that went to him or George Harrison and others but it was separate and distinct, it was nothing to do with Irish Northern Aid. When people said if you give us money for the families of political prisoners or for publicity or for political lobbying that’s where it would go. We kept faith with people to contribute. If you wanted to contribute to one thing you would do it. There were people certainly contributing who wanted to do something more direct and send weapons back for people to defend themselves against British forces, but that was separate and that’s why the FBI had such trouble in terms of Irish Northern Aid. I do want to say though, the documents which you have, it relates to Colorado – Chicago was the area of the Irish Northern Aid Committee which was trying to organise in Colorado and it seems a particular problem in Chicago – there were a couple of cases – there was a guy named Tuttle – Dave Rupert would emerge from Chicago, I don’t know if he was involved in Irish Northern Aid at some point – but it seemed that that particular office did a great deal to try to get surveillance, to try to get infiltration. They didn’t have the success there in terms of Irish Northern Aid and I think that that’s why you ended up with Denis Donaldson coming to the United States and trying to get the surveillance that they couldn’t get otherwise.

Ed:   Well they seemed to have someone in Colorado on the organising committee for the – you know they were trying to create a chapter of Irish Northern Aid in Denver – and clearly this guy was attending the meetings and the reports show that, I think, pretty clearly, you know?

Martin:   No, I would agree with that. I have seen reports in Irish Northern Aid documents or Irish People documents where there were accounts of meetings that were completely accurate, that indicated that there was somebody in the meeting who – which were public meetings – who would have attended, who would have given information. Chicago, the Midwest Region, did not have a big say in terms of the organisation as a whole, they weren’t represented on the national executive, they didn’t have people coming to New York or where ever the national executive meetings would be – they wouldn’t have had that leadership level involvement or insight – just other areas around the country did not – that only came when they got Denis Donaldson. Ed, we are coming to the end of the first half hour. We do want to thank you…

Ed:   ….No problem.

Martin:   …there’s a lot more we could go into. We want to thank you for coming on today. (ends time stamp ~ 25:29)

Note: Since the airing of this interview Ed Moloney has published Declassified FBI Files on NORAID Parts 5 & 6 (1982-1984) here and here.

Kate Nash RFÉ 6 May 2017

Radio Free Éireann
WBAI 99.5FM Pacifica Radio
New York City
listen on the internet: Saturdays Noon EST

Martin Galvin speaks to Kate Nash of the Bloody Sunday March for Justice via telephone from Co. Doire about how the British government may invoke a statute of limitations to protect former British Army soldiers from prosecutions. (begins time stamp ~ 31:45)

Martin:   We’re sorry. We didn’t know you were with us. Welcome back to Radio Free Éireann.

Kate:   Well, thank you very much!

Martin:    Kate, since we’ve had you on – the last time you were on you were giving us an update and you said there was just on the eve of a decision from the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) all of the evidence was in, the Constabulary investigation was completed and it was imminent whether and which British troops would be charged for the unjustifiable and unjustified killings of your brother and others on Bloody Sunday. Where are we at now in terms of that decision?

Kate:   Well we did have a meeting with the Public Prosecution Service a couple of weeks ago and at that meeting they had told us that although they made no significant progress they actually just wanted to introduce themselves. They did say by the end of the summer they would be able to, they think they would be able to give us a time frame for when they might make that decision. But I’m afraid I rather got the impression that we could be talking a few years yet.

Martin:   Now these are an incident which was the focus of the Saville Inquiry, it was the focus originally of the Widgery Report whitewash, you had the whole Saville Inquiry, you had a full Constabulary investigation since that – all of that information has been out there, it’s been completed a number of years ago. You know, usually when the police make a decision or present evidence to a prosecutor you can make a decision right away. You’ve had enough where a British Prime Minister could say that those killings on Bloody Sunday in 1972 were ‘unjustified and unjustifiable’. What more, at this point, do they need?

Kate:   Well they have everything they need. What they don’t want to do is they don’t want to prosecute soldiers. That’s the, I’m afraid that’s the bare facts. They simply don’t want to prosecute soldiers because, I think, that if that begins, if prosecuting soldiers becomes the norm then, a lot of what they did during this dirty war in Ireland will be exposed. Obviously these soldiers will get angry and start talking. There’s a big, there’s a big – the British propaganda machine is very much at work at the moment and has been for a number of months. We have it coming from different sources about amnesty for soldiers, about how these soldiers were only doing their duty over here protecting people and defending our country and now all these years later there’s a ‘witch hunt‘, that people are looking to prosecute them even though the IRA are not saying what they did. So in effect, are making out these soldiers actually did nothing. But of course, the IRA actually, the IRA actually go through the courts – twenty-five thousand of them have gone through the courts and a great many thousand of Loyalist paramilitaries have gone through the court, too. But only a handful of soldiers over all these years of deaths. They simply don’t want to admit to the state killings and how many they actually did.

Martin:   I’m going to read from a report by Connla Young in the Irish News. He quoted a chairman of a Westminster defence committee, a Dr. Julian Lewis, who said:

To subject former soldiers to legal pursuit under the current arrangements is wholly oppressive and a denial of natural justice. The Parliament has it entirely within its power to enact a statute of limitations in this matter.

Now what would that mean if Westminster enacted a statute of limitations and said you couldn’t prosecute British troopers or members of the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) for any acts that occurred more than twenty years ago? What would that do to all of the fight that you’ve had for justice for your brother, for the others killed on Bloody Sunday and for many people been killed by British troops or by people hired by British troops or by the Royal Ulster Constabulary?

Kate:   Martin, if something like that happened it would be truly shocking. After all the years we have struggled – forty-five years we have struggled for justice – to think that these killers could get off – people who slaughtered innocent people on the streets of Doire – and we’re talking about people who were running away – unarmed people. We’re talking about Ballymurphy. What about all the children that were killed by rubber bullets at point-blank range?

Manus Deery Photo: The Derry Journal

My own friend, my good friend who’s in my sitting room at the moment, her brother, fifteen year old brother was shot from the Doire walls for nothing – he was doing absolutely nothing. She just has had an inquest, just recently, where they said that the death was – well it was unjustified although the soldier responsible is dead but he apparently – you know the way soldiers have these ‘yellow card rules’ and he broke those yellow card rules about how and when you would use a gun. But that was to kill a fifteen year old boy. I know many other children who were shot at point-blank range by rubber bullets and gas canisters deliberately. Are you telling me that all these men can actually walk away?

Can I also say about Bloody Sunday, for instance? One of the soldiers there actually is believed to have killed up to five people! He’s actually meant to have killed up to five people! How can you let somebody like that walk away who shot all those unarmed people deliberately? It’s just – it would be unbelievable. It would be the most utter disgrace if that was allowed to happen – these soldiers were allowed to walk away.

Martin:   Well for years we’ve heard British officials say – in fact Doug Beattie was on a radio programme with me talking about Gerry McGeough, it was on a few months ago on BBC Talkback, and you always hear them say: If anybody committed a crime, whether they’re British trooper, member of the Royal Ulster Constabulary, Ulster Defence Regiment – they should face a court and have evidence presented. And what happened was they were saying that for years when they knew there’d be like a Widgery Tribunal where they knew the British royal military police would just whitewash it or a Widgery Tribunal would whitewash it and because you pushed them through the Saville Enquiry, because other families have pushed through – like Ballymurphy Massacre Families have demanded inquests or like the person in your sitting room demanded an inquest – there now is coming out, when these inquests, when these proceedings do happen, you see that the killings were unjustifiable, you see that people were murdered, and you see that there is real evidence that British troopers, members of the Royal Ulster Constabulary, members of the Ulster Defence Regiment (UDR), should face a court. These are their courts that they support, that they believe in, that they think bring justice – why is it that they’re so afraid to put their members before a British court? If they think they’re innocent of murder why not let them be exonerated and prove them right under British rule?

Kate:   Because there’s too much evidence against them. Can I tell you about Doug Beattie? Doug Beattie is an MLA, a Unionist MLA. The man spent his life in the Army. He joined the Army in 1980. Before him his father was in the Army and when he left the Army, when he was pensioned out of the Army, he actually joined the UDR. This man is not objective. He’s simply not objective.

Martin:   Well I don’t know how he can march in front of Belfast City Hall talking about ‘Frankenstein justice‘ and how people who, British troopers, should not face courts and then at the same time he’s going around talking about how great British justice is, how great British courts are, how anybody who’s guilty of anything should face a court and not realise that it’s total hypocrisy.

Kate:   Well that’s what he is. He’s a total hypocrite and a sectarian – a sectarian one at that.

Martin:   What do you think in terms of will there be a statute of limitations? You now and even – someone told me a long time ago if you ever doubt that the British have a great sense of humour – the English have a great sense of humour: Just look at the way, the titles, they’ve put on legislation they used in Ireland. They’ll abolish Diplock courts, the non-jury courts, which means they use them now in civil proceedings as well as criminal proceedings. They used – they want to terrify everybody in England, or they want to terrify people they’ll say it’s the Prevention of Terrorism Act. Now if you want something to last for thirty or forty years called it a Temporary Provisions Act. They’re saying: We’re not going to have an amnesty, we’re not going to have a blanket immunity but we’ll have a statute of limitations. What would that statute of limitations mean in view of the people that you’ve been fighting to bring to courts for Bloody Sunday for so many years?

Kate:   I would imagine that that would just – the slate would be wiped clean for them. They’d be able to walk away. That’s exactly what would happen. And I think that’s what they’re attempting to do at the moment. They’re trying to have it that these soldiers can actually walk away. The British have an awful lot to cover-up – the stuff they did here in this country – and they just don’t want it known. And the soldiers, if they go to court, the soldiers may become angry and it affects morale with the Army today if they would see soldiers, former soldiers, going to court and that’s what it’s really all about – you know, to cover-up what the British themselves did in this country.

The Iconic Image by Fulvio Grimaldi

And they committed some terrible acts. They had the Military Reaction Force (MRF) they had FRU (Force Reaction Unit), they had all these undercover units that actually I always believed perpetuated the war in this country. I believe they kept it going. This should have ended at least 1974. We should have had justice then. These soldiers should have been taken to court then or whatever but you may know also, Martin, we know these soldiers didn’t act on their own. We know their officers sent them in and we know that. We know for a fact that that came from government level from the office of the Prime Minister himself, Ted Heath. We know that. And these people obviously, The Establishment, never get touched when you’re talking about criminal charges. But these people all should be standing in court. Every one of them – with these soldiers. We are determined, we are determined that they will go to court. We will keep the fight going. I don’t know what we’ll do if this statute of limitations come in. I don’t how how that’ll work. We’ll probably have to look into it…

Martin:   …you’ll probably have to the European Court if they’re still involved with the European Bill of Rights you may be able to have some way to get…

Kate:   …well there is – I mean they’re signed up to certain things in Europe and even if Brexit, even if they leave Europe, there’s still some things that they’re actually signed up to even outside of that that they still have to adhere to.

Martin:    We’re talking to Kate Nash whose brother was one of the people killed on Bloody Sunday – her father was also wounded at that time. Kate, we have to leave you in a few minutes…

Kate:   …I can’t hear, Martin.

Martin:    We have to close this down. We have we’re – in this programme we’re raising money to keep us, this station and this programme, on the air. The station’ll be on the air but we have to show the station managers how important our programming is to listeners so people, while you’re on the air with us, are calling in pledging money, donations to the programme, to keep us on the air. And I just want to ask you before you leave: How important – I know you listen to Radio Free Éireann as well as being interviewed by us – how important is Radio Free Éireann, the interviews that we have, to you in Doire, to other people in the North of Ireland, to other people throughout Ireland to get views on Ireland, to get the truth about British rule which you don’t usually or may not get very readily in other news outlets in Ireland?

Kate:   Can you hear me, Martin?

Martin:   Yes.

John:  There’s something wrong with the line.

Martin:   I’m sorry. We didn’t hear you for a second.

Kate:    No, I think it’s very important, Martin, and I do hope lots of people pledge money to keep that show on the road because it’s so important to us. Personally I had a conversation with Sandy Boyer a number of years ago, God rest his soul, and I told Sandy – I remember there was a story connected with the Bloody Sunday thing at that time and I said; You know, my local radio station isn’t even running with this story because of censorship here, you know, media censorship. That show, your show, is so important to me. Because it gives our side – it’s not just the British narrative. It gives our side – the victims’ families and you hear that and it gives us an opportunity to speak the truth to the American people, to Irish-American people, who hopefully would ring up their or email their governors and stuff like that and try to do something to help us but it’s so important to keep that show on the road because of that – because it gives us an opportunity to speak. It gives us a voice.

Martin:   Alright. And Kate, we want to thank you for that endorsement. (ends time stamp ~ 45:36)

Willie Gallagher BBC Radio Foyle 8 May 2017

BBC Radio Foyle
The News at One

Amanda Williams introduces a report filed by the BBC’s Northern Ireland Political Correspondent, Enda McClafferty. Enda speaks to Willie Gallagher, spokesperson for the Irish Republican Socialist Party, about pinpointing the location of the remains of Seamus Ruddy, one of The Disappeared. Seamus’ sister, Anne Morgan, makes a statement as well. (begins time stamp ~ 12:00)

(Note: The audio cannot be downloaded. You can listen along by clicking here.)

Anne:   You know at this point I’d like to thank those people who were involved in that process, you know members of the IRSP (Irish Republican Socialist Party) and the INLA (Irish National Liberation Army) and you know and maybe former members. You know, I have to acknowledge that without their information and their courage to come forward we would not be in the place we are today.

Amanda:   Well that was Anne Morgan, the sister of Seamus Ruddy, who was a member of the INLA who was kidnapped, tortured, murdered and secretly buried by the organisation in France thirty-two years ago. The family of the Newry-born teacher believe that remains found in a forest near Rouen are his but – why has it taken more than thirty years to pinpoint the spot where his killers buried him in 1985? Well our political correspondent, Enda McClafferty, has been speaking to one man who knows the answer to that question. So Enda, who have you heard from and what exactly did he have to say to you?

Enda:   Well this morning, Amanda, I’ve been speaking to Willie Gallagher from Strabane, a prominent member of the IRSP, and back in 1999 he was appointed as a go-between, essentially, between the Ruddy Family and the IRSP – the man that was most tasked to try and find the information that would ultimately lead to the discovery of Seamus Ruddy’s remains. Now he’s been involved in this process since then. He’s been liaising with the Commission of course which has been set up to search for the bodies of The Disappeared and also been talking, at length, to the Ruddy Family. So I have been hearing from him because he is the man who provided this information which has led to this discovery at the weekend. And a lot of people are asking that question today: Why has it taken so long? If the information was there why was it not provided more sooner and why have the Ruddy Family had to wait thirty-two years now to reach the point where they are at today? And I asked him that question and he explained it around information which had previously been discounted by them which then was re-assessed and then that provided the breakthrough, as he said, to reach the point we have today. So this is what he had to say, Amanda, in explaining how we’ve arrived at where we are now today.

(Ed. Note: 16 May 2017 – The IRSP has made a clarification on this point.)

Clarification provided by the IRSP:
It is stated above that the Republican Socialist Movement (RSM) had re-investigated a previously discounted rumour.  This is a misreading of what Willie Gallagher said. During its re-investigation into the precise whereabouts of the location holding the remains of Seamus Ruddy, the RSM came across a rumour that was new to it, not a rumour that had been previously discounted.  It is also pure speculation that this rumour centred around an arms dumps. The RSM has never discussed the nature of the rumour with anyone outside of its own investigative team and the ICLVR.

(transcript continues)

Willie:   We came across what seemingly seemed an insignificant rumour which we pursued and eventually that insignificant piece of information provided the key to unlock a door in regards to more precision where the body was and basically we were successful in the recovery.

Enda:  What can you tell us about that rumour?

Willie:   Well I can’t go into detail in telling you what the rumour was because I’m very conscious of the confidentiality of the whole process but what I can say like is whenever we first came across it did seem insignificant but we chased down every single lead possible. And some of those leads like came to dead-ends and actually involved a number of us traveling us over to France, Belgium and Spain. But eventually we chased that particular rumour down and, as I said, it provided the key to unlock a door to precision.

Enda:   So is that rumour then about the location basically: We believe the body is here, essentially?

Willie:   Yes, essentially. As I was saying I was over a number of times with the disappeared body like, along with other people – we went through the whole forest and down that particular path and we were always in the right area but we didn’t have the exact precision. This time we had more precision. And I don’t know how close the actual body was found to where we marked ‘X marks the spot’ but it was pretty close – we’re talking about yards and I think, if my information is right, that the last dig in 2008 maybe fell short of approximately forty yards from where the body was – that’s how close.

Enda:   And how detailed was the information that you provided this time? What exactly did you tell the Commission?

Willie:   We told the Commission everything we that knew. We actually we able to provide the Commission with ex-INLA members, current INLA members and anybody who had information and one of the reasons why we were able to do that like was we were able to relay to these individuals like how confidential the whole process was, the integrity of the process itself and the integrity of the Commissioners and we were able to convince people to actually go and meet them and talk to them.

Enda:   So you actually liaised with the people who killed Seamus Ruddy? Is that right?

Willie:   That’s a road I’m not going to go down in relation to who did what. Our main focus was on the ‘where’ not the ‘who’ or the ‘why’.

Enda:   But surely does not that put you in a compromising position to be involved in such discussions because the police might come knocking on your door to say: What do you know about what happened to Seamus Ruddy and who was involved?

Willie:   Not really because there’s legislation put in place and that legislation covers and guarantees confidentiality, secrecy and also immunity in regards to anybody who may have been involved in the disappearing of any of the bodies and that’s why I would like to publicly call for anybody who has any information whatsoever, regardless of how insignificant they may think that is, because it’s the main reason why I’m giving this interview today is because we came across an insignificant rumour which opened the door to more precision and opened the door to actually finding the body. So there could be people out there who may think that they might have insignificant information which may be the key to unlocking the door for the other bodies, the other three bodies, which have yet to be found.

Enda:   Now you’ve been in regular contact with the Ruddy Family. What have those conversations been like given the fact that you are connected to the organisation which murdered their loved one?

Willie:   Well when I say that I feel disconcerted having facing the Ruddy Family face-to-face because at the end of the day, like I’m an ex-INLA prisoner, and even though I had been in prison at the time of Seamy Ruddy’s disappeared there is, perhaps, the feeling of corporate responsibility. But as time went on like we did strike a very good relationship.

Enda:   And did the family ever ask you why Seamus Ruddy was murdered?

Willie:   Again, the family were not interested in prosecutions, whos, whys – they just wanted the body so that’s what we totally focused on.

Enda:   And at any stage during all of this process did those who killed or buried Seamus Ruddy visit the site with you to point out where he was buried?

Willie:   Again, it’s locked into the confidentiality of the process and I don’t want to damage the integrity of the process in any shape or form. I want to encourage others to come forward – to have that confidence.

Enda:   Has this been a source of shame for the INLA that this case has been outstanding for so long and the family have waited for so long to get this body back?

Willie:  Well it’s been a sense of frustration all those years. We put a lotta, lotta work into it and again, I would be just a figurehead but a lot of people behind the scenes in regards to the IRSP and as I said in Rouen there like we chased down rumours – we went to Spain, we went to Paris, we went to Rouen, we went to Belgium. In fact at one point in time like we would have went to Paris, up to Rouen, back down to Paris again and onto Brussels – all in one day – so that’s the type of work we were involved in. And again, at the end of the day it was more than worthwhile – putting a lot of effort into it. And again, what did encourage us was the dignity of the Ruddy Family themselves. Even when we came against a brick wall they were still very hopeful and their dignity actually inspired us to go on.

Enda:   So there you have it, Amanda. Willie Gallagher there talking about the information that he passed onto the Commission at the weekend which then led them to begin this search and ultimately to find these remains which the family believe, of course, is Seamus Ruddy. And just to clarify he didn’t want to talk about, Willie Gallagher, about the rumour, the substance about this rumour that they had previously discounted. Now I understand it involved arms dumps in that particular forest – there’s a network of paths – there’s a number of INLA arms dumps, or there were and it was about which arms dump were, essentially, where Seamus Ruddy was buried. So that’s what the rumour was – they previously discounted it then re-examined it and then they came up with the new information and the new site and hence, we’re in the position we are today.

Amanda:   Enda McClafferty, thank you very much indeed. (ends time stamp ~ 19:59)

Anne Morgan BBC Radio Ulster 8 May 2017

The Stephen Nolan Show
BBC Radio Ulster

Vinny Hurrell speaks to Anne Morgan via telephone from Paris, France about the possibility of finding the remains of her brother, Seamus Ruddy, one of The Disappeared.

(Note: The audio cannot be downloaded. You can listen along by clicking here.)

Vinny:   So as we’ve been hearing in the newspapers human remains have been found in France in search for the body of Seamus Ruddy, one of The Disappeared. His sister, Anne Morgan, is in France and can talk to us now. Good Morning to you, Anne.

Anne:    Good Morning, Vinny.

Vinny:   A difficult question to answer, I’m sure, but can you put into words what this will mean if it is confirmed to be Seamus’ remains?

Anne:   It will just be absolutely wonderful to be able to take his remains home and to give him a Christian burial. And we’ve thought about this and dreamt about this day but it has now come, hopefully, when the remains are identified, and we will be ready to take him back to Newry.

Vinny:    He was thirty-two years old when he went missing teaching in Paris in 1985 – shot dead by the INLA (Irish National Liberation Army). It must feel, for you and your family, like this continual nightmare that never seemed to end.

Anne:   Yes and I think in Seamus’ case, because he was here in France, we had a more difficult task through the years because it is not easy, you know, going through all the bureaucracy of the French system and to get a search carried out. So it has taken a lot of effort on behalf of the ICLVR (Independent Commission for the Location of Victims’ Remains) who have been with us all the way since the peace process began in 1999.

Vinny:   Did you ever give up hope that you’d get to this point, Anne, that you would find him?

Anne:    Well no. No, no. Through the years I’ve always been hopeful. I probably gave up hope on Friday because I was leaving Rouen and I had boarded a train to go back to Paris and then to continue home when I got the phone call to say that remains had been found.

Vinny:    And how do you feel after so many years, thirty-two odd years, when you hear that?

Anne:    Well I was just completely taken by surprise. I was just very, very emotional and I could hardly speak and I was not as controlled as I am today and it was just overwhelming.

Vinny:   This is, is obviously, a bit of a bittersweet time for you and the family. You’ve got closure for the family but then this new phase in the grieving process will begin between now and, this is once again assuming that they do confirm they are Seamus’ remains, to the point where you get to give him that burial that you’ve wanted for so long.

Anne:    Yeah, I think that the grieving process has, we’ve come through it a certain degree, over the years and whenever a search was taking place here in France you know that grieving process was being, it was being rushed if you know what I mean. And then now, things now will slow down and the family, who are all in Newry, will be patiently waiting for him to return so we’ll be – you know we’re strong, Vinny.

Vinny:   This isn’t the first time, of course, that there has been a search – they’ve attempted to try and find him so obviously that would have been in the back of your mind when this was happening, when you out there, when you made the journey to France.

Anne:   That’s right. You know, I had been here in 2000 when the first search took place and that lasted six hours. Then I came back in 2008 and the forensic team were in charge of that particular search and that search took four days. And then so on two occasions I’ve been present in France when the results were negative and I had to return without him. But this time now it’s more joyful in one respect because I will be able to take him home at some stage.

Vinny:   Can you put into words, Anne, what this ordeal, which has lasted for over thirty years, has done to you and you family – going through that – that constant search on a daily basis?

Anne:    I think it was very, very difficult for the family from the very beginning and then as it was the case The Troubles were still going on at the time and whenever Seamus first disappeared and we began to ask questions that was the time when we were given a death threat and we were told we were not allowed to speak about it and the family had to be quiet and…

Vinny:   …And where did that death threat come from?

Anne:   The death threat came from the INLA and it just meant that we had to – we had to be quiet. And probably people were wondering why we weren’t talking about it but we were under the threat and you know so those first ten years were very, very, very, very difficult but the peace process came in and Seamus’ name was on the list of The Disappeared and then that’s when it came out really into the open as such, you know the…

Vinny:   …When did you find out, Anne, that he was dead in terms of in 1985 when he disappeared and when did it move from becoming hoping that he would re-appear, that he would come home one day, to knowing that was never going to happen?

Anne:    Yeah well in 1995 there was a news report, it was from a member of the INLA who released a statement, and then in that statement he said that Seamus was dead and it was the first time, the first confirmation we had…

Vinny:   …Did you know – had you suspected that he was gone? Had you any doubt after the initial few days passed when he disappeared in 1985?

Anne:    Yeah, well it was quite difficult because we were in Newry and he was in Paris and he was teaching in Paris and it was his colleagues in Paris who informed us that he hadn’t turned up for work and then they’d gone to his flat and he wasn’t there you know so – and his passports were still in the flat and you there were signs that he had just gone out you know, for whatever for and never came back.

Vinny:    But you live in hope?

Anne:   Yes, definitely. Definitely. I was always hoping. And I was always searching for him in a sense. When I would go out you know in crowds I was always looking for his face and that may sound strange to people but I never sort of gave up hope, you know – I was always was – you know maybe – there’s always a maybe. Maybe he’s still around. Maybe. I wasn’t convinced of the fact that he was dead, if you know what I mean? The brain, I suppose, just plays tricks with you, you know? And then even on one occasion I was in a bar and a fella came in and he was standing with his back to us at the bar and I thought: That looks very like him – same set as him you know – he wasn’t that tall and dark hair, curly hair and I thought: My God, that looks like him! So in the end I did go up to this man and I said: Excuse me, (and I just said) have you any relatives living in Northern Ireland?  I didn’t know what really to say to the man. And he said no, no – he was a southern Irish man and I said: He looks very, very like you – you must be his twin. You know so those occasions did happen you know where – and I’d say that the rest of the family were the same.  There probably were times when they looked at someone and thought: Well maybe that is him, you know?  The passage of time does a lot of strange things to you…

Vinny:   …Yeah, it doesn’t necessarily make it any easier for you, Anne?

Anne:    No, it never made it easier. Definitely not. And sort of entering into the grieving process you know away back in 1985 it has been struggle really to remain positive and to have hope you know so it has been – it has been a very, very difficult thirty-two years really.

Vinny:   We – quite often it pops up in the news now and again, Anne, when we hear about The Disappeared, whatever update or investigation is underway, and it can be easy to forget about the people, the people that have gone, to become just a name or just one of the number and the people that are associated with them so what was Seamus – what was he like?

Anne:   Seamus was a happy-go-lucky fella who would have been very passionate about politics – you know he would have been able to talk to anyone about any of the international affairs that were going on. He was very bright and he had gone to Trinity College and you know he was an intelligent and happy-go-lucky young man.

Vinny:    And do you remember that last time you saw him, Anne? It’s a long time ago but I’m sure that’s something that sticks out in your mind.

Anne:   Yes. Yes, yes, I do remember vividly because I was here in Paris with a group of school children from my school – I taught in Saint Mary’s School in Newry and we were on a French trip and Seamus came with us while we were touring around Paris and he came on the coach and he took us to some very interesting places that he had found out about and on the last night that I saw him I met him at the SacréCœur Church in Paris and we went back to his apartment and we sat ’til the early hours of the morning talking and laughing and you know, carrying on. And then the next morning he got up and he went to work and he just left me a note – and I still have the note – explaining to me how I could get back to the school group – I had to go back and meet up with the school group and that was the very, very last time that I spoke or seen Seamus alive.

Vinny:   There will be people, Anne, listening this morning that will say that Seamus was involved in Republicanism and his murder was by former associates in the INLA.  How do you feel about that when you reflect back on his life?

Anne:   Well it really is: Seamus lived his life the way he wanted to live his life and what he did he did it in a private manner. The family were totally unaware of anything that Seamus was doing.

Vinny:   I guess the reason, the reason I ask is: Do you ever feel frustration towards him because you loved him dearly, he was your brother, and the situation that he ended up in at the end?

Anne:    No, no, no. Seamus lived his life the way he wanted to live his life and he was committed to that life. And you know it ended tragically in a forest in France. We would prefer him to be here, of course, but that wasn’t the case. And then it meant that we just had to get on with it. It was only after Seamus died that we then began to realise about his other life which we had no control over and during this time, during the thirty-two years, I have always said, even to you know the INLA or whoever: I am looking for my brother.  And I maintained that because that’s the reason that I looked for him. he was my brother. He wasn’t a member of an organisation, he wasn’t this other person because we did not know about that.

Vinny:    Many victims’ families, Anne, they want their day in court. They want to see the killers prosecuted for taking their loved ones.

Anne:   Well in 1999 the families of The Disappeared agreed during the peace process that we would give that side of our recovery – just leave it there. Our justice is not being looked at in the court. We are not going to court to prosecute anyone who’s carried out these offences. We are not going to try and get them to you know apologise or anything else. We are not doing that. And the families of The Disappeared have stood by this commitment that we want justice and the justice for us is not in a court room but it is to get the remaining bodies back home and give them a Christian burial.

Vinny:   Is there not a little part of you, Anne, that would like to see whoever is responsible for taking your brother – prosecution – some kind of punishment in some way?

Anne:    No. No, no. I mean being a member of The Disappeared is a very complicated area and I would never have got Seamus back if I had been looking for prosecution. I would never have got him.  And I…

Vinny:   …A difficult compromise to make.

Anne:   Very, very difficult – very difficult – but it was the best way for the families of The Disappeared to get their loved ones home. We needed to let the men of violence know that we are not out to take them through the courts. We do not – we don’t want that and we’re not going to do that. We’re not. But we were just – and the people who came forward and gave the information about where Seamus was they’re the people, really, that I would thank – you know, that they came forward and I would also appeal to those who know, or may know, some details about the remaining three disappeared who are still waiting – there’s three families still waiting – to come forward and to give the information.  And the information will be given in a confidential style. Nothing will be leaked out. And though this process, since 2005-2006, no information has ever gone back so it is water-tight. I would encourage anyone to come forward with information concerning the others.

Vinny:   And yet they find at the weekend, we are assuming it’s your brother, is Seamus, this came after new information was passed to the Commission and of course that information then is protected from prosecution. Did you have any unease with that or is that just a means to an end – this is what – a price worth paying to get Seamus home?

Anne:   That’s exactly right. We wouldn’t be taking Seamus home if I had said that you know I’m going through the courts and I want these people prosecuted. That is not the way of it. That is not the way of it. And I feel that we should be you know working towards this and I think, you know with regards to the peace process in Northern Ireland, you know that the families of The Disappeared need to be given some relief and that they need their loved ones home and we need – you know as a society in Northern Ireland I think we need to be working towards more reconciliation and helping those who have information to come forward.

Vinny:    That’s what some people might find difficult this morning, Anne. Earlier, a few minutes ago, you said that you would thank the people that passed over information that has led to the hopeful discovery of your brother’s remains and they might say well there’s a good chance, there’s a possibility that those people, the people with that information are, in some way, connected to the death of your brother and then in a round about way you may be thanking the people that led your brother to his death.

Anne:   Yeah well that’s just – that’s the paradox of this. We had to allow – we had to enter into this process and encourage those who had the information to come forward and give it to us. You know I wouldn’t be talking about remains in a forest being found if we hadn’t entered into that process and that process has been instrumental in finding these remains. And you know this will be the eighth body that has been found by the forensic team since 2006. So the process is there. The people are there. The experts are there to recover these bodies. They’re the ones that we need to be encouraging and this is why you know we need to keep appealing you know to those you may know something about the other disappeared to come forward.

Vinny:    Well what would you say, Anne, because obviously you come from a point of unfortunate experience in terms of those three families, the families and friends of those people that are still ‘unfound’.  You know what they’ll be going through so what would you say to them to try and encourage them to keep hope?

Anne:   Well I would say to keep the hope in their hearts and then, if need be, if they have to go and talk to people who may have information or you know, that people that may be able to influence others to go to them, you know, and try and get this information. I think you know we have to support them, we have to support those three families because I can appreciate the support that I received through the years and a lot of that support came from the other families and also the WAVE trauma group and they were instrumental in keeping our spirits up. And the other families that are still waiting, they will appreciate that we who have had or who are going to have our loved ones back, that we will still be with them in spirit and encouraging them to keep going. (ends)

Note:   On the date of this transcription, 10 May 2017, the ICLRV has confirmed the remains found in France are indeed Seamus Ruddy’s.   May he (finally) rest in peace.

Malachy McCourt Talkback NY We & Thee Edition 3 May 2017

Talk Back New York, We & Thee Edition
WBAI 99.5FM Pacifica Radio
New York City
listen on the internet: Wednesdays 10AM-Noon EST

As a ‘Thank You’ to our listeners and supporters and to, most especially,  those who made a donation in the name of Radio Free Éireann during the WBAI Spring Fund Drive show on 6 May 2017 we have Malachy McCourt reading a bit from his soon-to-be-released book,  Death Need Not Be Fatal,  and then singing ‘Barefoot Days’.

It is priceless.  Enjoy!

(begins time stamp ~ 1:25:11 and ends ~ 1:28:14)

PS:  This was a great show. Malachy was in full flow. You can listen to the entire show by clicking the hyperlinked title on this post or, even better,  watch the livestream from The Brooklyn Commons by clicking here.


Anthony McIntyre RFÉ 22 April 2017

Radio Free Éireann
WBAI 99.5FM Pacifica Radio
New York City
listen on the internet: Saturdays Noon EST

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?

Anthony:   Hello.

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.

Artist: Brian Mór

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)

Mary Ward RFÉ 22 April 2017

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John McDonagh speaks to Mary Ward of Republican Sinn Féin in studio about her memories of Martin McGuinness and Republican Sinn Féin’s stance on issues facing Ireland. (begins time stamp ~ 41:33)

John:   And with us in the studio is Mary Ward or, as she’s known in Donegal as ‘Corcaigh Mary’, because no matter how long she lives in Donegal she’s from County Corcaigh and she’ll be ever known as that. You were talking about Martin McGuinness – when you reported to him did you report to him as a member of Sinn Féin or as an IRA man?

Mary:   Well I was reporting to him as an IRA person because I was reporting on behalf of Cumann na mBan.

John:   And what years are you talking about now?

Mary:   I’m talking right up until 1978.

John:   Hmmm…that’s strange. He said he left in 1974.

Mary:   Well I met with Martin McGuinness and other people that I assumed to be members of the IRA.

Mary Ward

They approached myself and Geraldine Taylor, as president and adjutant of Cumann na mBan, when they wanted to dismiss Cumann na mBan. They wanted Cumann na mBan to stand down which we refused to do as did the women of 1916, refused to stand down. And at every split throughout the history of Irish Republicanism in the twentieth century Cumann na mBan were always to the fore and always went their own way when it came to the Irish Republic but that night I can still remember and hear Martin McGuinness to this day. He wanted to take of all them – they had a new structure within the IRA where they were setting up cells and he wanted to take the Cumann na mBan volunteers, the active Cumann na mBan volunteers, into their cells and for the Executive of Cumann na mBan to stand down and when I refused this he turned around and he said to myself and Geraldine Taylor: What are ye afraid of? Losing your stripes? So that was in I would say the Winter, the early Spring of 1978.

John:  And Mary, you’re talking about 1916 – Republican Sinn Féin was very active in the commemorations and we covered it here on Radio Free Éireann but one of the biggest disgrace that the Free State government did – they put up a wall of all the people that were killed in 1916 – I was surprised they didn’t put up on the wall people that were killed jaywalking at that time on O’Connell Street. But anybody that was involved, they said it could be the IRA, it could be the British. How did you feel about it? And what is it called, this wall?

Mary:   Well speaking on the day that it happened at the protest our president, Des Dalton, described it as a ‘wall of shame’ and on that day Des Dalton asked the question: Could anybody possibly see the Algerians honouring the French who tried to quash their revolution? Or indeed could anybody see the French honouring the German forces that killed Germans, you know? So why should Irish people be ashamed of honouring their dead? Why had The Rising to be linked into the Second World War and why should we, as a proud nation of long-standing, a thirty-two county ancient nation, honour those who we oppose to their occupation of our country?

John:   Mary, one of the other topics that was brought up by Anthony about this vote that’s coming on now in June, is Brexit. Brexit affects particularly the border counties and being my mother’s from Donegal and I’m up there all the time (I’ll be going over now in May again) the effect that this border has and the Free State government will have no say on what type of border – hard border – soft border. Brussels will be directing the Dublin government – this is how you’re going to patrol that border and then the British government is going to dictate to everyone in The Six Counties – this is how you’re going to patrol it. So the Free State government’s going to have no say in this border that’s coming up. And maybe talk about some of the hardships of living on the border and Donegal being so isolated.

Mary:   Well first of all I would say from a Republican Sinn Féin point of view: We welcomed the Brexit result in Britain because firstly – we welcomed it on two levels: Firstly, it exposed the inherent fissures within the so-called ‘united kingdom’ and from our point of view it will, hopefully, hasten its demise. Secondly, we welcomed the likelihood of a referendum on Scottish independence and secondly it strikes a blow against the EU project and gives encouragement to other progressive forces throughout Europe. Unfortunately, we regretted, that the whole debate was taken over by the alt-right and the right in Britain because their bluster, jockeying for positions within the British Conservative Party, blurred what was the thing. But where I live in Donegal we never benefited, we never benefited from EU membership, you know? So Brexit isn’t going to really – in some ways it will affect us. But we live in an area that was designated by the EU – the BMW Area, that was the border, Midlands and western area and we were disadvantaged – we were classed as a disadvantaged area in the area that I, myself, come from it has been decimated by Ireland’s EU membership because I live within a fishing community and the fishing industry in Ireland has been completely decimated. And like from the very beginning the successive Irish Free State governments, Twenty-Six County governments, were prepared to let the fishing go in favour of agriculture – that was from the beginning. It was one of the things I remember on the pier in Killybegs with the late Joe O’Neill back in 1972 telling the fishermen in Donegal this like, you know? Now another thing is: In Monaghan area, border area, over the last number of years would have had a thriving mushroom industry where they exported their mushrooms to Britain predominantly and it was a huge trade. Unfortunately now, with the fluctuations in the sterling – and this is probably the only way that it will be affected, with the fluctuations in sterling – that industry has gone to the wall. Now the Free State Twenty-Six County government, they have spent billions upon billions attracting foreign inward investment into Ireland and it’s estimated that for every job created by an American or a Dutch or Chinese company in Ireland that it will cost the Irish taxpayer something like a hundred thousand euros and yet they will not invest in indigenous industries. They will not save the mushroom industries. But they will come running out here to Boston Scientific offering them all kinds of inducements, all kinds of – you know all about their problem with the previous American government in collecting tax on multinationals who use Ireland as a kind of a tax haven for laundering their money. Now having said that, the ordinary people will rise to the occasion and they’ve already started to do so in places like Dundalk where they have started local coupons they call them, like you know, to attract business to stay local and that people will earn dividends – instead of running off to Newry if they work in Dundalk. But like most of the people along the border – will say they’ll survive. Now the big question, and the big question for the Irish government and for the Provos and everybody else is: They don’t want to see a return to custom posts on the border because that will give lie to the united Ireland in everything but name. It will show up that there actually is a border, there is a border there since 1922 and there will continue to be a border whether Britain is in or out of the EU – there is a border because you do not have a thirty-two county united Ireland.

John:   And that’s Mary Ward from Republican Sinn Féin. (ends time stamp ~ 50:04)

Chris Fogarty RFÉ 22 April 2017

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John McDonagh speaks to Chris Fogarty via telephone about the launch of his new book about the Irish holocaust. (Mike Costello of the National Irish Freedom Committee is also in studio.) (begins time stamp ~ 06:41)

John:  With us on the line is Chris Fogarty. Chris, if you could tell us quickly – people might want to come hear you speak, you’re out of Chicago, and if anybody knows about FBI surveillance it is definitely you but we won’t be talking about that today. But what is your book about and people can come see you tomorrow at Rory Dolan’s.

Chris:  Alright, the title of the book speaks for itself: Ireland 1845-1850: The Perfect Holocaust and Who Kept It ‘Perfect’. And the holocaust dates from 1847 itself when writers, including people like Michael Davitt in his published works in the Cork Examiner newspaper and others, wrote about it as ‘holocaust’ so we’re not treading on anyone’s toes – that’s what it was called in public at the time. But it describes how something over five million people were murdered by the British government when it sent in sixty-seven regiments of its Army into Ireland to remove Ireland’s abundant food crops at gunpoint. And those sixty-seven regiments were more than half of the British Empire Army at the time. This has been the greatest covered-up genocide in the history of man. We call it An t-Ár Mór as well for those who speak Irish and we should actually promote that. So we’re very grateful, by the way, to the National Graves Association of Ireland and to The 1916 Societies and to the Irish Republican Brotherhood all of whom have been constructively putting out the word about this book.

John:  Well Chris, thanks and if that doesn’t whet your appetite you can get up and hear Chris speak longer about the book and he’ll be signing books up at Rory Dolan’s. And Mike, just quickly once again, and then in Irish.

Mike:  (makes announcements)

Chris:  See you this evening – see you this afternoon – or tomorrow afternoon!

John:  Alright, Chris, we’ll see you then. (ends time stamp ~ 8:59)

Ed Moloney RFÉ 15 April 2017

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Martin Galvin speaks to award-winning journalist, author and historian, Ed Moloney, via telephone who provides analysis on Freddie Scappaticci in the wake of the BBC airing the Panorama special entitled ‘The Spy in the IRA‘. (begins time stamp ~ 38:44)

Audio:   Clip of the BBC Panorama special, The Spy in the IRA, is played. (audio ends)

Martin:   And welcome back. Ed, welcome back to Radio Free Éireann. We’re talking to Ed Moloney. He is an author and award-winning journalist with the Irish Times and the Sunday Tribune and also – Ed, you’re an author of a couple of books, A Secret History of the IRA, and after watching the documentary from Panorama it seems that the history, or the secrets, were only secret from people like me who were supporters or people who were members or people who were sympathisers – it didn’t seem like there were any secrets from the British Army.

Ed:   Well, yes. Sure, they would have known an awful lot about what was going on inside the IRA thanks to Freddie Scappaticci but there would still be a limit to what they would know. I mean they wouldn’t necessarily know what the deliberations of the Army Council were and what the policies were going to be unless, somehow, Freddie Scappaticci had been made privy to that. My own view about the value of Scappaticci rests on the powers that the internal security department were given when it was set up the late 1970’s which was basically to investigate every IRA operation that went wrong to see if there was a traitor in the ranks and that meant that – so they had a brief which extended and expanded right across the entire organisation in terms of the Active Service Units (ASU) and would know who was who in the IRA and with that information the British Army and the intelligence services would have full knowledge of the IRA’s battle order and would have a very good idea of what the weaknesses and vulnerabilities of individuals were perhaps, thanks to Scappaticci, and would therefore be able to really infiltrate and recruit informers on a much wider basis and from that, maybe, they would then learn about plans like, for example, the Eksund shipment of arms, which was betrayed by a traitor somewhere in the ranks. So that was the value, I think, of Scappaticci – is that he opened a door to the British which they clearly were eager to facilitate and that way they, I think, got in deep into the IRA.

Martin:   Okay. How did this man from The Markets, somebody whose father was an Italian immigrant, that’s the name ‘Scappaticci’, get into this position where – again he was called, there might be some hyperbole in the trailer for the programme, but he was said to be the most important British spy since World War II. How did he rise up and get into that position?

Ed:   Well we’re not entirely sure because there are conflicting accounts of how he became an informer in the first place.

Cumann Scían Stéig by Brian Mór

I mean I count three different versions and not all of them can necessarily be correct. One is that he was what they call a ‘walk-in’ – that he decided to volunteer his services to the British because he had been badly beaten up by a member of the IRA, senior member of the IRA, and this was his way of getting revenge – that was the account which, or the version of his recruitment, which was current for many, many years. Then we had another account which came, more authoritative I think, came from a former GOC (General Officer Commanding), British Army commander of British troops in Northern Ireland, in the early 1990’s – a character called Sir John Wilsey, who wrote about, in a very heavily disguised way, wrote about Scappaticci in a book of reminiscences of his time in Northern Ireland as a serving soldier and he devoted an entire chapter to the handler who he says recruited and ran Scappaticci for many years – a guy called Peter Jones who, you know, is traceable – you can find him on the internet, etc – and according to Wilsey this was the man who was responsible for getting Scappaticci to work for the British. And then you have this latest version, which I think is really – I have difficulty with it – it’s from John Ware on Panorama in which he says that the RUC (Royal Ulster Constabulary) Fraud Squad initially had Scappaticci on their books and they handed him over to the British Army – that is not plausible because there was a huge rivalry between the RUC Special Branch and British Intelligence (and it was a major obstacle to the functioning of intelligence down the years) and the idea that the RUC would hand over an agent like that to the British Army rather than give it to the Special Branch – who would know all about him, incidentally, because everything that happens in the RUC would have been known by the Special Branch – I don’t find that terribly plausible. Maybe I’m wrong – we’ll wait and see what the evidence is – so how he became a spy like that is really a matter of at least three different versions, three different theories – so which one is correct we don’t know yet.

Martin:   Okay. And how did this Internal Security Unit (ISU) come about and how did Freddie Scappaticci come to head it – to get at this key area where he could be the crown jewel of British intelligence during the struggle?

Ed:   Well you know, the function of hunting spies and traitors in the ranks was really not something that the IRA prioritised in the early days of The Troubles. And my own theory for that is that they sort of half-believed that The Troubles wouldn’t last long enough – that they’d overwhelm the British – and we’re talking about the early ’70’s when that was a plausible thing so they really left that to individual intelligence officers, at company level mostly, to see if there was anything going on and if they discovered something suspicious follow it up but they didn’t have a systemic or systematic way of tracking possible informers and infiltrators. When it became clear to the IRA that this was now going to be a long war then the notion of protecting themselves against infiltration became very important and the Internal Security Unit evolved out of the various discussions that took place inside Long Kesh during the mid-’70’s, during that ceasefire, during which the same leadership – the Adams, Brendan Hughes, Ivor Bell leadership, you know – also charted the re-oraganisation of the IRA and the Long War was born out of that and also one product of it was this Internal Security Unit, which came into being in the late 1970’s; the date I’ve heard is 1979. Now how Scappaticci became head, or became first a senior member of it and then eventually the head, is again one of these mysteries that we really don’t know much about. Obviously one question is that: If John Wilsey’s, the GOC’s, account of his recruitment is correct then he was working for the British Army two or three years before the Internal Security Unit was set up. Was he then steered towards it by his handler – which is the sort of thing of course you would do – you would want to place an agent, a valuable agent like that, in the most important place and, as Anthony McIntyre described there, the Internal Security Unit was a junction box in the sense that everything that happened in the IRA had to be investigated for potential informers would be known by the Internal Security therefore their knowledge would be huge so you would try to put him in there. But whether that happened or whether he was talent-spotted by the leadership – we just don’t know. That is one of the unknowns.

Martin:   Alright. Now Ed, one of the things that you wrote about on your blog, Ed Moloney, The Broken Elbow, is how far up Scappaticci’s activities had to be approved by the British government. And again, John talked about there are people now who, it appears, were totally innocent who were killed as informers just to cover Scappaticci’s tracks, there are ways in which he was involved with people that he knew, friends – or would laugh about it – there just seems to be some kind of psychological difficulties that he had – he was able to use torture to get some people and then say ‘they confessed’, how high – and he’s now under investigation for something between minimum of eighteen might be as many as fifty murders – how high up within the British government would he have to have been approved?

Ed:   At Prime Ministerial level. There’s a part of the British bureaucracy known as the Joint Intelligence Committee (JIC) which brings together all the intelligence services, MI5, MI6 GCHQ, Military Intelligence, etc and they sit and they have a vast bureaucracy of their own of committees and sub-committees and what have you and they basically run British intelligence. And what the Joint Intelligence Committee essentially does is to develop policy options for the intelligence agencies which are then submitted to the British Prime Minister and whatever relevant cabinet minister would be involved – let’s say you know, Foreign Minister or the Home Affairs Minister or whatever – and based upon the policy options put forward by the Joint Intelligence Committee a decision would then be taken about particular intelligence operations and that is – I mean there’s absolutely no way that that did not happen with Scappaticci – he was such as an important agent that it would go as high as the Joint Intelligence Committee. They would devise policy on how to use him and implicitly, either by default or – and I don’t think, and given the caution that these bureaucracies are imbued with, I think it’s unlikely that they said: Yeah, were going to authorise him to murder – because you can’t do that. They would just not take a decision I think is the most likely option and allow that to happen but don’t talk about it – but that’s the same thing as approving, of course. And…

Martin:   …Ed, one very important thing I want to get to that’s featured in the documentary, it’s also involved with people who’ve been interviewed on this programme: When Steak Knife came to light, and you document this 0n your blog, we had also, Radio Free Éireann, had interviewed Ian Hurst, who’s one of the people on the documentary who’s involved – his reaction was to go in, conduct a press conference, there was an agreement made that he could go in and that’s shown on the documentary – he gives a press conference and just says: Oh, I had nothing to do with the Republican Movement for fourteen/thirteen years and I have nothing to do with this and that was put through, that version, it was hosted at the Sinn Féin offices and that version was actually put forward to protect, to cover in some way, or consistent with defending Freddie Scappaticci from the idea that he was an agent and a spy, which is very different than many of the – anyone else would have happened. How did that happen? How as able to remain? And why was he protected at that time?

Ed: Well one could only guess about this but first of all: There was no press conference as such. A press conference is something where you invite all the media to come to a particular location and something will be announced and questions and answers will follow. That did not happen at this event which was I think actually hosted in Andersonstown News‘ offices rather than Sinn Féin’s offices. Only two journalists were invited; both of them – one of them was Brian Rowan of the BBC who was a sceptic about Steak Knife and Scappaticci so he was essentially someone who was almost ready to believe there was no such thing and the other one was Anne Cadwallader who you know is pretty friendly towards Sinn Féin as well but no other journalists were allowed there. And then when they start to ask questions, I think after two or three questions the thing ended, and the impression I get – and I wasn’t there at the time when this happened so I’m going very much by second-hand, is that this was something that was set up between Scappaticci and Sinn Féin – the idea of minimising the damage. Scappaticci had been sacked from the IRA in about ’92 or ’93 when he attempted to interrogate members of the Army Council and he was sacked by the then Chief of Staff and he returned to Belfast and resumed a quieter life. I mean, there is this idea that he was discovered as a spy way back then. He wasn’t. It was when, thanks to Ian Hurst and everything that followed from Ian Hurst, that Sinn Féin, like the rest of us, discovered that there was this spy – Scappaticci was at his work or had been at his work for such a long period of time – that’s when Sinn Féin discovered him. When then his name was published, in I think it was a Scottish Sunday paper, it hit the proverbial fan and Sinn Féin reacted – I think there are reports that there was a meeting between Scappaticci and people from Sinn Féin and one of the outcomes of it was that there would be this press conference and then Scappaticci would slowly fade from the scene and…

Martin:  … Alright Ed, I’m sorry, we’re – this is a story we could go with for a long period of time…

Ed:  …I know, forever.

Martin:  We are out of time. (ends time stamp ~ 55:16)

Joe Barr RFÉ 15 April 2017

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Martin Galvin speaks to Joe Barr, the National Organiser for the Irish Republican political party, Saoradh, via telephone from Doire about the British veterans’ march in Belfast City Centre yesterday, Good Friday, 14 April 2017. (begins time stamp ~ 19:32)

Martin:   And well I’ll say welcome for the first time to Joe Barr from Saoradh. He’s the National Organiser. He’s based in Doire. Welcome to Radio Free Éireann, Joe.

Joe:   Thank you very much. Thank you for having me.

Martin:   Okay. Joe, the reason we invited you on – we are going to talk about Easter and Easter commemorations but yesterday there was a demonstration by former British troopers who are concerned they support British rule, they support British courts, they support British justice – but they’re protesting that they might have to face British courts and British prosecutions over people who were killed during The Troubles, 1968 to 1998. Now Joe, we’re going to talk to you about that demonstration but just to introduce you to the audience: What is your position with Saoradh? And tell me, you’re a young man, why did you choose – you live in Doire – why did you choose to join them rather than say Sinn Féin or the SDLP (Social Democratic and Labour Party), established political parties which have a prominent role in Doire City and might have made it for a much easier career path for you?

Joe:   Yeah, well I am – I’m twenty-eight years of age and I’m the National Organiser for Saoradh as you stated there. The reason that I joined Saoradh in the first place – Saoradh, they were essentially organised to repair the damage a decade of reformism and I want to advance the pursuit of a thirty-two county socialist republic that is free from any interference of England or any other foreign government. I was an active Irish Republican since my teens. I experienced and felt the frustrations that a lot of young people are feeling – you know with the symptoms associated with those frustrations and which have permeated through Republicanism for a decade and that’s been done now under the constant shadow of a rising, dominant and simply perverse form of nationalism that stands as solidly in support of British rule as it does against Republican principle. I was asked to take part in the earliest efforts by what would become Saoradh that aimed to address these major issues within the working class communities of Ireland. I felt, personally, that our people were under an illusion that nationalism was leading towards their freedom and I understood that a revolutionary alternative was required to confront that illusion and to liberate the people from its hold. To balance with the many, varying issues within Republicanism itself then it was easy to conclude that much work was needed in order to set people to work on an approach to their emancipation based on the ideals said by the likes of Tone, Connolly and Mellows. This for me is the only way forward and for me, personally, the only party with the means to achieve this preliminary goal in Saoradh. That’s not to critisise anybody else who’s involved in similar efforts but it’s merely to state my personal circumstances and motives for forging ahead with this party.

Martin:  Okay. And I should spell the party. (Martin spells Saoradh.)

Joe:  That’s us.

Martin:  I’m doing that so that if you want to check out their website or their Facebook page you have the correct spelling. Okay. Yesterday, the was a large – not a large – there was a demonstration by British veterans who are worried about being outside City Hall in Belfast in the City Centre, and they are concerned about possible prosecutions for Troubles killings like Bloody Sunday – a decision there has been imminent for some time in your city of Doire – like the Ballymurphy Massacre, if they ever have an inquest itt may lead in that direction, like even the killing of Manus Deery – a young man who finally admitted there was no justification for shooting him down many years ago and we congratulate his sister and his family on that. What did Saoradh do in relation to that protest by veterans?

Joe:  Well now I want to take you back to February whenever a similar event was organised by these veterans in Doire. They announced at the start of February that they wanted to march through Doire to highlight this same issue. As soon as Saoradh in Doire were made aware of that, immediately we released a statement saying that we would bring thousands of people onto the street to oppose this march. We honestly couldn’t believe that in our city, where fourteen unarmed civilians were shot dead on Bloody Sunday, that they would have the gall to march against what they felt was persecution against themselves. Within twenty-four hours of us making that statement – and obviously I know Bloody Sunday families and others done their bit as well – that march was canceled. They instead moved from Doire and they marched to Coleraine.

Saoradh Counter-Protest in Belfast – Good Friday 14 April 2017

Saoradh again took the lead in Belfast over the last couple of weeks you know to oppose this march and yesterday we held a demonstration with up to two hundred Saoradh members and other Republicans also attended just to highlight as I say the war crimes that these people inflicted on Ireland.

Martin:   Alright. Joe, it was interesting to me – a few weeks ago I appeared on Talkback and the person who came on was Doug Beattie of the Ulster Unionist Party and again we have the entire transcript of that programme on our website, rfe123 dot org – that’s rfe123 dot org. And during that programme, I asked Mr. Beattie – it was about an interview that Gerry McGeough had done on this programme – and I asked Mr. Beattie, I said: During that interview Gerry McGeough talked about civilians who were killed with the support of members of British Crown forces, either directly or in collusion by some of the Loyalists. And I’m surprised that no one would mention that – I mentioned some of the families, Roseanne Mallon, or The McKearneys or my friend, Liam Ryan. And Mr. Beattie said – and I’m just going to read this to you and ask you for a comment:

Martin, it’s really quite simple: If anybody committed a murder, be they in the British military, be they a police officer, be they civilian or anybody else if they committed a murder – and it was wrong – if there’s evidence they should be brought to court. I condemn anybody who conducts a murder so don’t try and drag me down a road here where I’m trying to defend anybody who committed an unlawful act.

Who was the main speaker trying to defend those British troopers who committed what a British Prime Minister called an ‘unjustifiable and unjustified killings’ on Bloody Sunday, who committed killings, which we believe would be found murder if the Ballymurphy Families would ever be able to get an inquest and ever be able to get the facts out – who committed murder in collusion with Loyalists – who was the person defending them and saying that they should not have to face British courts on charges of murder yesterday?

Joe:  Well see to be honest – yesterday Doug Beattie – he revealed himself when he declared that murdering little boys in Ireland granted Irish people to protest. Beating women at checkpoints on the way to events, which is all the UDR (Ulster Defence Association) ever achieved is, to Doug Beattie, the equivalent of fighting for freedom. We know that the British were not fighting for freedom. We know and Doug Beattie knows that the English murdered innocent natives in Ireland yesterday for the same reason that they murder innocent natives in Afghanistan and Iraq today and that reason is imperialism – it’s nothing else. So no matter what way he dresses it up – that’s the main reason behind it all.

Martin:  I had actually written a letter at one time and I said: Let’s take a figure – fifteen thousand Republicans went through British prisons and less than a handful of British troopers for on-duty killings. Kate Nash actually did an interview later, one of the Bloody Sunday families, and said it was more like twenty-five thousand so there’s – let’s say twenty-five thousand Republicans or Nationalists who went through British prison, who were in jail for short periods of time, many long periods of time – so if the British courts did not put Republicans before British courts they certainly – it was not for want of trying. There’s been only a handful of British troopers charged for on-duty British Army killings. So what is the imbalance that Mr. Barr, Mr. Beattie – excuse me – is talking about? Why does he think that there is – Why are they so afraid of going before British Diplock courts on charges of murder for incidents like the ‘unjustified and unjustifiable killings’ of Bloody Sunday?

Joe:  Yeah. Your guess is as good as mine because here in Ireland we haven’t seen any justice. These people know – even when it was announced that some Bloody Sunday soldiers were being, I think, arrested and questioned. I mean we first heard that five or six years ago and it hasn’t went anywhere since. It’s not going to go anywhere. None of these people are going to do a day in jail – that’s the reality of it.

Martin:  Alright. We talked about the amnesty for British troopers. It seems they’re upset that there has been so much pressure from Nationalists, from Republicans, from families like the Bloody Sunday families, like the Ballymurphy Families and so many other families in The North of Ireland – simply to get an inquest, simply to get the word out in British courts or British legal proceedings, so that the British have no alternative but to bring them before courts, to bring them before charges – that that’s what yesterday’s demonstration was about and I want to commend Saoradh for going out and defending the families. Just a couple of brief things: Last year you had a major, there was a major Republican commemoration for Easter at Coalisland and that gave the impetus, or one of the things that was an impetus, for Saoradh to be formed by many of the groups that participated in that Easter commemoration. What is Saoradh going to do this year to commemorate Easter and what is some of the themes that you want to bring out in terms of the oration, the main oration, and Easter message of that event?

Joe:  Yeah well you’re a hundred percent right. Last year was a great event in Coalisland. We had over five thousand people who turned up, who lined the streets and who marched with us. Now the initial talks behind Saoradh had already begun prior to that event but after witnessing the crowds, you know the atmosphere, the feeling, it really drove us on and the momentum was built there to get Soaradh off the ground. Now this year on Easter Monday we are having our national commemoration here in Doire. It takes off from Free Derry Corner at two PM and the theme again is the same as last year, it’s that Easter 1916 is an unfinished revolution, is an unfinished revolution – it’s unfinished business – and until we have our thirty-two county socialist republic that will remain so.

Martin:  Okay. Now, the talks at Stormont right now – they’ve been adjourned again, there’s been no resolution, there’s no signs of when that resolution would be. It’s between Sinn Féin, the SDLP, Alliance, the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), Official (Ulster) Unionist Party (UUP) all involved. And James Brokenshire he’s the, of course, the representative for Theresa May, the colonial secretary who presides over it, and he was supposed to be sort of the deus ex machina, the person who was going to, the god from the machine who was going to solve things and put it back together after Arlene Foster broke it apart. What is your party’s reaction to those talks? And why do you think another approach is necessary if we’re ever to get freedom for all of Ireland?

Joe:  To be honest it’s all – it’s just a sideshow. Stormont is dysfunctional. It’s never going to work. The real power lies with the NIO (Northern Ireland Office) and Whitehall. Essentially it’s just a front for British imperialism in Ireland. Sinn Féin collapsing this in January has vindicated what Republicans opposed to Stormont have been saying for years – that it is a failure and it is nothing but a front for British rule. I think it’s been twenty years – is it twenty years now since the Good Friday Agreement? No, sorry, nineteen – it’s nineteen years since the Good Friday Agreement and in that time, when I look around Doire, what has the Good Friday Agreement done for Doire? It’s done nothing. We’ve three thousand people waiting on a housing list. We’ve got the highest youth unemployment rate in obviously the western end of the UK, the highest youth unemployment rate, suicide here is through the roof – it’s just that Stormont has done nothing for my people and will do nothing for my people.

Martin:  And I remember when it was signed Joe Cahill was in the United States and after a debate that I was in along with John McDonagh and Martin Ferris and others, Joe Cahill announced that we would have a united Ireland within five years – which would have been by 2003. I just want to ask you one thing before we let you go: You actually had an employment. You were in the United States just for brief periods of time legally and you were out for a few days and what happened – just simply as a result – you know we talked about the issue of censorship by visa denial – what happened to you at the end after just being a few days being in the United States?

Joe:  Essentially what happened: The company I was working for, I was selected to go to New York for a few days to work. So my first morning in New York I was sitting having my breakfast, I was at my hotel in Times Square and I was having my breakfast with my manager and two guys came down to where I was sitting and pulled out their badges, identified themselves members of the FBI counter-terrorism unit – and I had to come with them. So they took me to a separate part of the hotel and first thing, the guy, I think he said his name was ‘Jimmy,’ and his exact words to me was: He has been working an active ISIS threat against the Macy’s Day parade but his bosses at FBI headquarters felt that my presence in his city was enough for him to be pull off that. So I was kind of a wee bit shocked to be honest and they questioned me on basically on Saoradh and what my role within Saoradh was. He questioned me on what he said that he was briefed by the British government, by intelligence, about my Republican activity here in Doire and that was the Monday. He left me on Monday and then he said he would have to contact the British government and get back to me. So then on Tuesday, then he came to my hotel again but I wasn’t haven’t breakfast – I was having lunch this time and he came to my hotel and he began to question me again, you know, just on people back home, said he had watched things on the internet of me being stopped by the police and things like that but then on the Tuesday he told me that was it – everything was grand and I wouldn’t hear from him again. So then on the Wednesday morning – I wasn’t due to go home until Wednesday night – but then on the Wednesday morning about eight o’clock he stormed into the hotel again, called me outside, started roaring and shouting at me saying that I was nothing but a liar. That I had made myself out to be ‘nothing’ when he believed that I was ‘something’ and that he hoped that I had enjoyed my time in The States because I will never be there again. He then went on to tell my manager, who was present the whole time, that he was investigating our company for links to terrorism and attempting to fund raise for terrorist groups. And at that point then they told me I had to make my way to – I was flying out of Newark so I had to make my way to Newark, I can’t remember what the airport’s called but headed to the airport out there anyway…

Martin:  …Newark Airport, yeah.

Joe:  …Aye. It’d have been Newark. So that was eight o’clock in the morning. My flight wasn’t until eight o’clock at night and I was put in a taxi and sent out to the airport so I got home anyway. And then within a week I was asked to come to my work’s headquarters in Manchester and when I got there I was basically told I was let go because of what happened to me in America.

Martin:  Alright. So it’s the situation – we talked about censorship by visa denial. We’d hoped that that was over with. You’re involved with a legal, lawful political party. You’re also working for a company that was based in Manchester, in the United States legally with a visa, with a work visa just doing market research and not raising money or anything of that nature and…

Joe:  …nothing like that.

Martin:  Okay. And this happens because of briefings from the British government.

Joe:  Yeah.

Martin:  Alright. Joe, we want to – you’ll still have access to the United States through Radio Free Éireann, we want to say we’re sorry about the way in which you left but we’re glad that you’re with us today. We’ll have you back. And tell us: If people want to read about Saoradh, find out more information – how would they go about doing it?

Joe:  Okay. Well we’ve a website, www dot saoradh dot ie, we also have several Facebook pages and if you’d like to find out about Saoradh in Doire you can check out the Junior McDaid House page on Facebook. 

Martin:  Okay. And again, that’s Saoradh. (Martin spells Saoradh.)

Joe:  …Yep, dot ie

Martin:  …dot ie – if you want more information. If you want their internet – that’s how to get more information. Okay. Thank you very much, Joe.

Joe:  No problem, Have a lovely Easter.

Martin:  Okay. (ends time stamp ~ 38:09)

Ruán O’Donnell RFE 8 April 2017

Radio Free Éireann
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listen on the internet: Saturdays Noon EST

John McDonagh and Martin Galvin speak to Dr. Ruán O’Donnell, Senior Lecturer in History at the University of Limerick, via telephone about Irish-America’s contribution to the 1916 Rising. (begins time stamp ~ 31:24)

Martin:   And with us on the line we have a premier Irish historian and University of Limerick lecturer, Dr. Ruán O’Donnell, who’s actually in the midst of an American tour. He had one last year on the 1916 Centenary and he’s doing a tour now on the influence of America, the Fenians, and Irish freedom beginning in 1867. Welcome back to Radio Free Éireann.

Ruán:   Hi, Martin.

Martin:    I have to ask you – we’re going to get into a number of things about the American contribution – about how important America was to 1916 and The Rising that would occur – but while we have you on I have to ask you one thing that we are constantly asked, that’s constantly put to us: Why is it that in Ireland, particularly with official government commemorations of 1916, it seems like there’s so much concern about not offending the British? People here do not understand why there are walls where the names of those killed in 1916 would be put along side British troopers who were killed – as if those who fought against Irish freedom should be remembered and cherished equally with those who fought for Irish freedom and were executed. We had commemorations last year, there was an official government commemoration, I did not attend it, but somebody from Belfast called me and said they did not mention England, they did not mention Britain, much less mention anything to do with the part of Ireland that was still under British rule. Why is it there seems to be such a reluctance to really be proud of or celebrate 1916 and the fight for Irish freedom? Why is there such a reluctance about doing that and how it may offend British sensitivities?

Ruán:  Well, that’s a very good question and it would take a very involved answer to answer fully but I suppose, to cut to the chase, there’s been a very significant effort made by the Irish Establishment, in other words the government and the civil service and the state controlled media, to basically nationalise Ireland, to be unpatriotic, by American standards, to discourage any assertion of Irish national self-determination due to the conflict in The North of Ireland. When Dublin was not in the position, or seemed to be incapable of resolving the matter, they tried to ‘contain the problem’, inverted commas, in The North itself. So we have considerable state censorship and manipulation of the national curriculum in schools and discouragement of Republican lines of analysis at third level effectively to keep us, as they would say, in a progressive, forward-looking programme and not dwelling on the past and not dwelling on the unfinished business of 1916 which, of course, is when we declared our Republic. Now to this very day, only twenty-six counties are part of the Republic of Ireland and six remain under British sovereignty so they’re causing huge trouble now with the Brexit controversy. So coming forward to the commemorations: There was a mistaken belief, and this is factually untrue, that the fiftieth anniversary of The Rising in 1966, obviously which did have a major state role, including military parades and all of that, led to a heightening of I suppose feelings that helped ignite The Troubles of 1968. That is a complete myth, completely different forces were at work, but this misconception has been widely portrayed.

One thing that’s considered absolutely untenable in modern Irish discourse, officialdom, is any criticism of the British at all in any capacity. So we’re not allowed to talk about imperialism, colonisation, expropriation, subjugation of our people in The North – none of that is considered politically correct. And it became quite clear in the advent of The Centennial that the government’s going to have a major programme of sanitising all these issues. Now I have to say: In fairness to what was originally planned, far more events took place at different levels of society than I even envisaged and overall the commemoration was very well and widely observed by people in all walks of life all over Ireland. I don’t think that had been planned in 2014-2015 but that was net result. Our events, the British Ambassador was present for many of the most important ones, including the state’s commemoration, which took place at religious Easter, quite deliberately, and not on the actual centennial, which some idiot referred to as the ‘calendar anniversary’ where in actuality the 24th of April 1916 to the 24th of April 2016 – that’s the centennial. Easter is used for commemorations but the official one is the 24th of April. A (inaudible) of this I might say before I give it back to you, there’s reluctance to declare the 24th of April Republic Day – it is something I was personally engaged in. I spoke on the matter and had the great honour to do so outside the GPO at The Centennial itself. They don’t want to do that (inaudible)

Martin:  Okay. Ruán, are you still with us?

Ruán:  I am.

John:   Try to get to an area where you can get at least get three bars.

Martin:   He’s all choked up and so are we from listening. Okay. Ruán, we want to talk about – you’re on a tour now and one of the things that we really were impressed by last year – you were on a tour, a centennial tour, and in that tour you mentioned something that is very seldom mentioned or not as mentioned as often as it should be about the impact, a leading role, a driving force played in America. Britain had this whole generation that they thought they’d gotten rid of. They thought at one time they solved the ‘Irish problem’ – you had the great hunger, you had the massive emigration to the United States, you had generations of people coming out to the United States – and the British figured they were done with them, these people were now, literally, beyond the pale, they were beyond The Atlantic and you’d never hear from them again. And that generation, many of them joined in the American Civil War, they used the leadership, the training they had gotten and became a driving force. They recognised that there would never be true peace and justice and economic sovereignty in Ireland without an end to British rule and they started to work in the 1860’s to make that a reality even when there were many people in Ireland who thought that that was an impossible dream. What’s your reaction to that statement that I made?

Ruán:  You’re absolutely correct. Where the British miscalculated was the size and strength and prominence of the Irish community in the United States was a major, major asset for their countrymen. 

Joe McGarrity

And from, as you said, the 1850’s into the 1860’s it was legal and possible and feasible to coalesce here as a revolutionary movement. And that from, I suppose potentially, from ’58 this formal kind of alliance between the Fenian Brotherhood, aka Clann na Gael, and the Irish Republican Brotherhood in Dublin.

Luke Dillon in his later years

And in that intervening years, the generation between the Civil War veterans who were very active in many capacities in this country and abroad, you have people like John Devoy in New York, Joe McGarrity in Philadelphia, later Luke Dillon in Philadelphia, J.T. Keating in Chicago and many others who basically realised that they were in a position to force the pace of events in Ireland.

J.T. Keating

And the catalyst for this was 1907, when Tom Clarke, a naturalised US citizen and ex-Fenian prisoner, was sent back to Dublin by Devoy to represent the American dynamic and that led to the bringing together of a more assertive and militant and coherent IRB leadership who launched 1916. And this is why, amongst other reasons, Clarke had the honour of being the first signatory of 1916 The Proclamation, which declared Irish independence from Britain.

Martin:  Okay. I want to ask you about a few other individuals: We heard just a few minutes ago, there’s going to be a commemoration and it is going to be at the grave in the Bronx, in Woodlawn, actually a stone’s throw from where you’re speaking on April 19th, of Colonel Thomas Kelly. Who was Colonel Thomas Kelly and why is he so important to the issue, the whole driving force for Irish freedom?

Ruán:   Well Kelly was a very significant figure and it’s actually remarkable how little known he is today. He deserves much more prominence.

Colonel Thomas J. Kelly

But for a thumbnail sketch: Irish born. A Fenian. Rose to the rank of colonel in the Union Army during the American Civil War. Went back to Ireland in 1867 to participate in the Fenian Uprising which did, unfortunately, misfire in March of 1867 and effectively assumed control of the organisation when much of the domestic leadership had been arrested or forced to go on the run. He himself, when visiting Fenian Circles in Manchester, was arrested along with Captain Deasy, another Irish-American veteran of the Civil War, and they were then dramatically rescued from a prison van in Manchester. This resulted in two things: One was the escape back to America of Kelly, where he remained prominent in such matters, and the other is the execution of Allen, Larkin and O’Brien, the people who gave us the famous phrase ‘God Save Ireland’ – the motto of the Fenians and the subject of a very famous rebel song that was one of Ireland’s unofficial national anthems and certainly not ‘God Save the King’. So Kelly was a key figure. He survived into old age and he represented the continued, direct involvement of the Irish-American diaspora in the revolutionary aspirations of the Irish people themselves.

Martin:  Okay. And one of the things that was remarkable – I was reading about the Manchester Martyrs, who you’re going to be talking about, was the presence of so many Corcaigh-born Civil War veterans. Timothy Deasy, who was rescued along with Kelly, was a captain in the American Civil War. Edward O’Meagher Condon, who was the organiser of the rescue, was another Corcaigh-born American Civil War veteran and one of the three people who you’ve just mentioned: O’Brien, who was executed – one of the three Manchester Martyrs, was another Corcaigh-born American Civil War veteran. It’s amasing the impact of people who had come to the United States, involved in the American Civil War and were so prepared, after that struggle, to try to work for the freedom, to get the freedom for Ireland that they had seen and enjoyed in the United States.

Ruán:   Well you have to remember, Martin, and it’s something you know very well, we’re talking here about deeply ideological people that a set-back or even (inaudible) to the end that they would never receive until final victory. ‘Not for Nothing’ was the Fenian motto ‘Beir Bua’, which basically means ‘we will win’ and in more recent times it was re-articulated by Bobby Sands as ‘Tiocfaidh ár lá’ – ‘our day will come’. It’s certainty of final victory because there can be no regression, or let up or abandonment of the principle until it (inaudible) so it’s perfectly consistent for men like Kelly to have more than one campaign in them if that is the only way forward. And they lived it. They risked their lives for it. And they were prepared to fight and die. It’s not something that’s often articulated because it’s a little bit seditious but nonetheless it’s the truth of the matter. And we can see this as a factual record.

Martin:  Okay. I want to ask you about a name you mentioned, somebody that I think has been neglected by history to a great degree – somebody that I think of the same way, he’s like the Michael Flannery of this generation in America, he was for many years had the same sort of impact in terms of leading to the Irish Rebellion and that’s John Devoy. How important was John Devoy in terms of there being a 1916 Rising?

Ruán:   John Devoy was absolutely crucial. He was the single most powerful figure in the Clann na Gael organisation in the US and he was one of the three-person Revolutionary Directorate, the ‘Triangle’ as such.

John Devoy as a Young Man

Now the Clann had a public presence across the United States and would frequently hold their, every second year, it would hold their convention in Atlantic City, which was convenient for many of the east coast resident persons but people from as far away as Portland Oregon would come in person to attend. But the Revolutionary Directorate itself was the inner circle that was plotting the revolution in Ireland. Now Devoy, after a number of scuffles with others, emerged as the clear, prominent figure by the early 1900’s. He was able the bear the full weight of the national platform of the IRB’s secret revolutionary leadership in Ireland which whom they were basically a natural – they were tied, and had been, for decades. This is why as soon as Clarke is sent back by Devoy Clarke immediately became the treasurer of the Supreme Council of the IRB. And in that capacity he received from Devoy in excess, certainly, of one hundred thousand dollars for clandestine purposes in addition to other funds raised publicly and disbursed in a public manner. So it’s hard to envisage the successful creation of the Irish Volunteers by the IRB without the direct involvement of Devoy. Moreover, in the early first months of 1914 several key people were sent by Clarke back to the US to represent the new leadership of the Irish Volunteers, aka Óglaigh na hÉireann aka the Irish Republican Army, and this represented the fruition of decades, and in fact many decades, of assiduous work by men like Devoy of whom he, himself, was the single most important.

John:   Ruán, I wanted to talk about the easy access of everyone going back and forth – I just finished a book there about the wives of the revolutionaries or the signatories and it was amasing with Connolly and everyone else the ease of which they were just getting on boats and going back and forth all the time – that they weren’t stopped in the United States. England? They were going in through Liverpool or coming in through Corcaigh or Queenstown and into Dublin – how was this allowed because we know the British had informers all over the place within the Clann na Gael and with the Irish Republican Brotherhood but it was the ease that everyone was traveling, even bringing back the body of O’Donovan-Rossa from New York for the funeral in Dublin. Why was all this allowed because, years on, you just couldn’t see this happening – that some government would have blocked it.

Ruán:   Well, you’re quite right and O’Donovan-Rossa is an interesting case in point. If it was possible to have direct shipping links with Ireland, normally Cobh – in other words the greater Corcaigh area – that was relatively straightforward even though there was, of course, a major police intelligence representation in all those ports. However in 1914-1915, the British government was attempting to divert the trans-Atlantic liners from Cobh to Southampton and other English ports. That was a major cause célèbre in Irish-America and was seen almost as a act of war against the Irish people here who required the capacity to cross in both directions with frequency and ease. Now, we have to remember something important: The British did not know the relative importance of the individuals we’re discussing. They would have known, of course, that Clarke must have been important as an ex-prisoner – they were watching his premises night and day and following him everywhere – but they weren’t watching Pearse very closely and Pearse was the Director of Military Organisation of the IRB. They didn’t know he was. The upper leadership was not penetrated to any significant extent that we can see and if it was they didn’t utilise operation intelligence. They didn’t make a difference. They didn’t interfere in any way that mattered. Now in the case of couriers, many of the liners had men on that whose job was was to transfer coded messages in both directions. And as far as I’m aware none of them were ever unmasked or intercepted. Certain persons, like Seán Mac Diarmada, would, on occasions, travel under an assumed identity. In some cases they would, and I don’t specifically mean him, but one of the methods was to assume a role working on the ship or impersonate another individual. Checks and balances were taken. And as you say, a large quantity of American war material, including revolvers and shotguns, was illegally smuggled into Ireland in small packages and various ruses were used to do this. I’m not aware of any (inaudible) port but the appearance of American weaponry in Dublin did excite the interest of the Special Branch, the political police. However despite all of this, money flow was the most important thing and besides the diaspora and those who were supporters were such that they effectively bank-rolled the Irish Republican Movement and that made it that much more easy for the people of the fighting side, if you’d like, to concentrate on the task at hand and not have to worry about you know, robberies and forgery and things like that.

John:  How was the money going back and forth – or heading in one direction – how did that happen? Was it through banks or individuals bringing the money over in cash?

Ruán:   Individuals would carry, believe it or not, quantities of gold and cash and cheques. I wouldn’t be an expert on this aspect of it – I don’t know how some of those cheques were negotiated but remember – this was legal money. This was money raised here openly. The Irish Volunteers had a fund you could deposit money in at Manhattan. Most major American cities would have had legal funds for the – it was called ‘the Equipment Fund’ of the Irish Volunteers and that was money especially meant for weaponry. And had matters gone differently, in other words if the First World War had not broken out, my expectation is that large quantities of modern weaponry would have been purchased here and imported into Ireland which at various times was actually not illegal. The UVF for instance, the Ulster Volunteer Force who were created by the British government to basically stymie the aspirations of eighty percent of the population, they were able to equip themselves quite readily by buying and importing German weaponry. Then an arms embargo was placed to stop the Irish Volunteers emanating it but that did not work. An American-backed shipment – monies raised in London but backed by Devoy was of course the famous importation into Howth and then Kilcoole in 1914 – fifteen hundred rifles were purchased but much larger sums would have been shipped had the war not broken out.

Martin:   Okay. Just – you mentioned John Devoy – just recently there was a monument put up in Kildare and just like the money for The Rising, the money for that monument was put up – Mike Flood, the Kildare Association here, was the driving force behind that monument and again, it seems to be another example about how America has to be a driving force in terms of being proud of its Irish patriots and the Irish government – an individual who did this so much, who was in American for decades, who never gave up on getting an Irish Republic until a rising had occurred in great measure because of money and efforts that he had contributed and it had to be Americans, the Kildare Association in the United States, particularly in New York, which was the driving force financially before that individual, John Devoy, being memorialised in his own home town of Kildare.

Ruán:  Yes, you’re quite right and earlier the very, very fine statue of James Connolly – that was primarily an Irish-American project – I know Joe Jamison of the AFL-CIO (The American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations) and many other figures were tremendously involved in getting that to happen. And sometimes the moral support and financial support of the American diaspora has been the critical factor. For instance, it’s a bit difficult to get planning information for such memorial in Ireland – and again, it’s that sort of ‘don’t mention the war’ situation and even ‘don’t mention the last war’ situation so I’ve been involved fund raising memorials myself. I’ve published a number of items where the proceeds went to the National Graves Association and I got in trouble for it! I mean I’ve been criticised on the front page of the Irish Times for financing an IRA memorial in Wexford. Well it is an IRA memorial but it is a memorial to the 1950’s campaigners. So on the one hand you sing (inaudible) and The Patriot Game but once you start putting things into stone the reactionary elements get very het up. It’s easier in a way if the stimulus is for (phone line evaporates)

Martin:  Um, Ruán, are you still with us?

John:   Well, we’re going to have to wrap it up anyway. There’s only two or three few minutes left. (ends time stamp ~ 52:18)

Eileen Markey RFÉ 8 April 2017

Radio Free Éireann
WBAI 99.5FM Pacifica Radio
New York City
listen on the internet: Saturdays Noon EST

John McDonagh speaks to Eileen Markey, author of the book, A Radical Faith: The Assassination of Sr. Maura, the definitive biography of Maura Clarke, M.M. – may Sister rest in peace.  (begins time stamp ~ 12:59)

John:   Now I’m going to speak of a woman who came from Rockaway, Queens and anybody who’s born and raised in Queens knows what Rockaway means to you. I know they call it ‘Acapulco’, the ‘Irish Riviera’ but if you grew up in the ’50’s and ’60’s and you were in Woodside you were waiting for that bus at 61st and Roosevelt to take you down Woodhaven Boulevard to Cross Bay to go to that bungalow – this was it – this was Miami Beach to us. And your parents would always throw you out to go up to Rockaway at 116th Street and ‘get a bit of colour’ which means get burnt but don’t get so burnt that you’ll have to go to the hospital because when we came back to the neighbourhood you had to show you ‘had a bit of colour’. Well, this story revolves around the Irish community out in the Rockaway area and the book that Eileen Markey has out is called: A Radical Faith: The Assassination of Sr. Maura (Clarke). And Eileen, are you there with us?

Eileen:  I am.

John:  Yeah, maybe you could give just a bit of background about Sr. Maura Clarke and her family and her father – just to give about the type of upbringing she had before she joined the Maryknoll nuns.

Eileen:   Yes. Maura Clarke was an Irish-American woman born in the Bronx but raised in Rockaway, in the Rockaway Park neighbourhood, in the ’30’s and ’40’s.

Sr. Maura at her work in Nicaragua

She’s known to us now because she’s one of four North American women who were killed in 1980 in El Salvador by the US-backed military government of El Salvador – so she’s one of those Maryknoll nuns. But I wrote this book to tell what her life was before she was killed and that life as a child was very much that – the Irish Riviera in Rockaway. She was one of the few year-rounders, right. So many people spent their summers out there – like you taking the bus out or many other people relocating from other boroughs to these bungalows for the summer – but Maura’s family was one of the year-rounders. So she grew up in that – you know close and communal Rockaway world, Irish-immigrant world and went to Stella Maris Academy and then like lots of girls in her day joined the convent.

John:  And then her father was an immigrant from Co. Sligo. Maybe you could tell about the effect – we’re playing here about what went on in 1916 – but what carried on then was the Revolutionary War that lasted until 1921.

Eileen:  Yeah, exactly. Her father emigrated from Sligo in 1914 but then, like so many people, went back to join the revolution. So he wasn’t there for ’16 but he went back in ’20 and fought for the end of the revolution and then became an anti-treaty IRA man during the Civil War and then made his way back to the US in the mid-20’s but remained a – you know he had made vows to the IRB (Irish Republican Brotherhood) in his late teens, before 1916, and so when he came back to the US after the war he kept up those ties and especially told those stories. So he had you know, he had all these revolutionary guerrilla stories that Maura grew up hearing about and you know, old Sligo partisans were always coming to whatever house the family happened to live in in Rockaway and Sundays filled with these old rebels coming to tell stories and sing songs and she very much grew up hearing all of those heroic stories and these poems and songs and that really shaped how she understood things years later when she found herself in Central America.

John:   And she joined the Maryknoll nuns. Maybe you could give a brief history of the Maryknoll nuns and why she was attracted to that.

Eileen:   Yeah, The Maryknolls are really interesting. So there’s always been orders of nuns and there’s always been missionary orders but the Maryknolls were an American order; they were founded in the first decade of the twentieth century as a women’s missionary order so they’re all American girls who served overseas – first in China, then The Philippines and then eventually in Latin America. And these were ballsy, adventurous, exciting girls. There was a lot of press about the Maryknoll sisters in the 1950’s and I found this great article I think in Time magazine that described the kind of girls the Mother Superior looked for which were: Not shy, not shrinking violets but well-rounded, healthy girls who had dates and were outward looking. So I spent a lot of time early in my research for this book speaking to Maryknoll sisters now in their eighties and I said: So why did you want to become a nun, Sister? or Why did you want to become a Maryknoll? And they said: They wanted to serve God, they were deeply religious but also for a blue-collar, first generation girl in the 1940’s and ’50’s – there wasn’t much for those girls. They weren’t going to college from those neighbourhoods. They weren’t going to be able to join the foreign service so becoming a Maryknoll sister meant joining up for this organisation that served the wide world – you were going to have an adventure. You were going to learn a new language, you were going to work in the jungle, you were going to ride on mules up through the mountains and go down rivers on rafts and meet people very different than you and be very much part of the wide, expansive world – not the hemmed in world of what was available to girls, in particularly to working class girls, in those eras. So Maura was attracted to that. She’d grown up I think – you know my kids read National Geographic – but for her it was reading the magazine of the Columban Fathers and Maryknoll magazine and that looked like an adventurous life and so she was attracted to that. She wanted to do something big with her life and that led her into Maryknoll as a place where you could be part of the big, wide world and meet people very different than yourself.

John:   Well you talk about part of the big, wide world – I mean now we’re having conversation here in this country about how Russia has influence on our election but nobody has a bigger influence on elections, particularly in Central America – I was down in Nicaragua in the early ’90’s for the election down there and speaking to the people there – we had an embargo in Nicaragua, we were training the Contras with US tax dollars and telling the people of Nicaragua: If you don’t elect the person we want we are going to continue the war down there – El Salvador was the same thing – so even though she’s getting spiritually involved with the Maryknoll nuns it gets very political when you end up in countries like Nicaragua and El Salvador and you see what our country is doing to these countries.

Eileen:  Yeah, exactly and so Maura’s story is this. It’s all a Cold War story. The book begins – I begin the book at the end of World War II and what that felt like in Rockaway with the war ending. But of course the end of World War II was the beginning of the Cold War and Maura being killed in the Salvadoran Civil War – the Salvadoran Civil War was its own thing, its own revolution, but it was certainly a proxy war in the Cold War, right? From the time of President Monroe the US believed that it had the right to control the hemisphere – to control what happened in any of these countries – and we did. We invaded Nicaragua multiple times in the beginning of the twentieth century, we supported and propped up a dictator there throughout, you know until 1979 when he was overthrown (that’s Somoza) and similarly in El Salvador we were very invested in making sure that the government in El Salvador kept markets open for US goods and for US business interests. And because Maura’s work was working with poor people she came into conflict with that. You know, she set out as this very kind of naive and sweet missionary to the mountains of Nicaragua to work with very poor people, to run a school in an isolated gold mining community but she’s there as Vatican II begins to happen and the nuns are asked to look critically at their work to figure out: Well, what’s the work you do and how does that bring about the Kingdom of God?

And so their work in the middle of the ’60’s shifted from running a school for poor kids in this gold mining town to really doing adult-based education but that meant reading the Bible and saying: Well, what does Jesus want? What’s the kind of world that Jesus wants us to build? And if you look at those things sincerely, or at least when she looked them sincerely, it led her into opposition to this dictatorship in Nicaragua and so she transforms from – you know, everybody in power loves the nuns when they’re just educating people and teaching them about sin and helping them stay as part of the social structure that exists – but in the mid-’60’s the nuns and so many other people and all these lay people starting saying: Well wait. Maybe this system is corrupt. Maybe I’m not poor because I’m lazy. Maybe I’m poor because the whole thing is arranged against me and maybe I need to be doing something to shift the structure of this society that makes me poor. And that’s really what the middle years of her life were about – was working to change the structural conditions.

John:  And Eileen, you write about the effect now of her father’s influence on her with the letters now she’s sending back from Nicaragua and El Salvador. Explain what were the letters to her father like?

Eileen:   Yeah, so in like 1970 she goes away from this gold mining town and into like this squatters’ encampment outside of Managua to continue doing this adult faith formation which is really political, right? You’re getting poor people together to talk about what their lives mean and what God wants for their lives and that quickly becomes opposition to the Somoza regime. And then as the ’70’s wear on the resistance to Somoza is rising and the Sandinistas are gathering steam as a guerrilla revolutionary force and a lot of the kids she’s been working with – you know teaching those as altar boys and that she teaches in a youth group and a Confirmation class, they’re coming to the convent door saying: Bless me, Sister. I’m leaving. I’m going to join the Sandinistas in the mountains. Give me your blessing before I head off. And Maura writes home to her dad during these years saying: You know, it’s heart-wrenching to see these young people leaving. They’re taking up arms and that’s a complicated thing. And she’s afraid that they’re going to die but she also says: Dad, it reminds me of what you went through. So she’d been raised on the stories of the Irish revolution and the IRA and she recognises these young people in Nicaragua in the mid-’70’s as her dad in another guise.

John:  And Eileen, I just now want to get up to: What exactly happened to her? How did she end up in El Salvador and the effect of her death on US policy in Central America?

Eileen:  So she ends up – you know she works in Nicaragua for about two decades and then the Maryknoll sisters have this rule that you have to come back every so often and do service to the headquarters. So she spends the late ’70’s in the US doing consciousness-raising workshops with middle class Catholics. It’s not the old-fashioned ‘Hey, give money to the missions’ – it’s Catholic social teaching – you know – what does the world require, sort of – so she’s doing that in the late ’70’s as the revolution’s about to occur in Nicaragua. And during this time – 1980, the beginning of 1980, Archbishop Romero, who’s the archbishop of San Salvador in El Salvador, he’s assassinated but before he was assassinated he asked for more Maryknoll Sisters to come to El Salvador to do this same work – organising and spiritual care work with the people in El Salvador. There’d been some nuns there for a long time but he wanted more.

And so Maura, as a veteran Latin American missionary, she’s asked: Well, do you think – you could go back to Nicaragua when you’re done this US work or you could go to El Salvador – we need more people down there with your kind of experience. So after a lot of thinking and praying and discerning she decides she’s going to go to El Salvador. So she spends just a couple of months in the Fall of 1980 in El Salvador doing really amasing work and (you know I’m switching from Nicaragua to El Salvador here) there’d been a people’s movement for land rights, for human rights, for economic reform that was met with a really vicious, directed campaign of state terror on the part of the Salvadoran government of which we were arming and advising. And she and the other women she’s killed with, along with seventy-five thousand Salvadorans, are killed by this government. So on December 2nd 1980 she and these three other women are stopped at a checkpoint set up just for them – the military was looking for them – and they’re killed and their bodies dumped by the side of the road – and you know, nine thousand other people were killed that way, nine thousand other civilians were killed that way in El Salvador that year, in the first year of that civil war, seventy-five thousand over the course of the war – but for people in the US it was like: Wait! What? They killed nuns? They killed North American nuns? And I think for a lot of people in the US it was this shocking – you know these wars are going on in Central America but most Americans don’t really know anything about them or don’t really know which end is up. But when a US ally kills four American women and three of them are nuns I think it made a lot of people in the US sit up and say: Wait! What’s going on? And which side are we on? Are we on the side that’s killing nuns? So it had this tremendous impact in the US throughout the ’80’s of really keeping US policy in Central America on the front pages. And you know, it involved many people in the US in resisting those wars and in arguing against Reagan, against continued support for the Salvadoran regime.

John:  (station identification) And we’re speaking with Eileen Markey. She has a book out called: A Radical Faith: The Assassination of Sr. Maura (Clarke) and Eileen, thanks for coming on. And can people – are you doing any book readings around the New York area?

Eileen:  Not any more right now but hopefully we’ll schedule more. In the Fall I’m going to be at Glucksman Ireland House. I’ll let you know when that happens. I’ve got a Facebook page, Eileen Markey/Author, where you can see where I’m going to be. I’ll be at Notre Dame in a couple of weeks.

John:  You’ll be out in South Bend talking about the book. And what is the reaction you’re getting all these years later about her life?

Eileen:  It’s great! People seem to like the book. It’s a beautiful story. I mean, it’s a sad story when you begin thinking about this killing but the book really is about who she was when she was alive and how she got there. We only know about them as these dead women and the book is really bringing her back to life and understanding all the disparate influences that led her to be who she was. And she’s a lovely person to spend – I enjoyed spending five years with her. She’s a lovely person to spend three hundred pages with so people seem to like it and it brings up really important issues about what religion and politics mean and how you work for justice in the real world so I think people are enjoying it.

John:  And that’s Eileen Markey. Her book is: A Radical Faith: The Assassination of Sr. Maura (Clarke). You can get it on amazon and all – what’s left of – any bookstores here in the United States. Eileen, thanks for coming on.

Eileen:   Thanks a lot John. Have a great day.

John:  And talking about the impact that the 1916 Uprising had on her – father from Sligo and the letters that she was sending up – and seeing the comparisons in Nicaragua and El Salvador. (ends time stamp ~ 29:10)

Ed Moloney RFÉ 25 March 2017

Radio Free Éireann
WBAI 99.5FM Pacifica Radio
New York City
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Martin Galvin speaks to award-winning journalist, author and historian, Ed Moloney, via telephone about Martin McGuinness’ career and the immediate future of the Stormont government. (begins time stamp ~ 42:37)

Audio:  Portion of Martin McGuinness’ speech at the 1986 Sinn Féin Ard Fheis is played. (audio ends)

Martin:  And welcome back. We have with us on the line the author, commentator, columnist, journalist Ed Moloney. Ed, welcome back to Radio Free Éireann.

Ed:  Hi, Martin. Hi.

Martin:    Ed, I have in front of me something that you wrote for The Guardian and you said that: ‘The Martin McGuinness of 2016 could not have delivered the IRA of 1994 into a ceasefire’. Just wondering if we could start there. What did you mean by that?

Ed:   Well, well because sufficient time has passed since 1994 to change Martin McGuinness. I mean you know, in 1994 and round that period, I mean he was able to reassure the IRA that, for example, there would never be a ceasefire without a special Army Convention being called and people believed him. But we know what happened. There was a ceasefire without a convention and there was a decommissioning without an IRA Convention. And the sort of the hard line image that enabled Martin McGuinness – you know, the guy who wouldn’t let the IRA down, who wouldn’t settle for a quote ‘sellout’ end quote of the early 1990’s – you know had changed so much, and events had changed him as well, that it be impossible for him to have given the same reassurances in 2015-2016 and be believed by the IRA grassroots. In 1994 the image of the tough IRA leader who would not compromise on basics, even for example a ceasefire without getting the approval of the grassroots much less accepting issues like consent, the Principle of Consent for Irish unity or IRA decommissioning, that image you know has gone and gone by this stage and I don’t think he would have the same sway at all with the IRA grassroots.

Martin:   Alright. What was is that brought Martin McGuinness into the IRA to believe that somebody from a very religious background, a Catholic background, somebody whose family was believed to be Nationalist as opposed to Republican – what was it that led him first to be the person who would take up arms and rise to a leadership p0sition in the IRA?

Ed:   Well you know in some ways Martin McGuinness is a prototype of the post-1970 IRA in the sense that if this was – and we’ve had this discussion before and I think we disagree on this, but my view is, and it has been for some time now, that the Provisional IRA grew out of the civil rights movement and civil rights protests largely because of Unionist intransigence which created the circumstances of August 1969 and then put the Nationalist community on a collision course with the British government. Martin McGuinness was motivated to join the IRA and to become politically active almost entirely by those events – by the civil rights movement and then by the collision of the Nationalist community with the British Army. And he said himself more than once that it was you know, it was the deaths of Beattie and Cusack in Doire in 1970-1971 (I forget the exact date) but very early on in The Troubles at a point when there was really no Provisional IRA to talk of in Doire.

The largest, the Republican group that held the greatest sway in Doire at that time was the Officials, the Official IRA, and the Provisional IRA was almost non-existent. There were a few members and I think they were almost entirely wiped out in an accidental explosion. It was only after the deaths of Beattie and Cusack that the Provisional IRA grew at all in Doire and Martin McGuinness was one of the very, very first recruits. So he came from a very, very different Republican background from someone like Gerry Adams or indeed traditional Republicans in Doire, like the Keenan Family. You know, the Adams Family can trace their Republican lineage way back to you know – way back in time. I mean Gerry Adams’ own father, also called Gerry, was an active IRA member in the 1930’s and 1940’s and his uncle was involved in the 1940’s IRA campaign in Britain. Martin McGuinness didn’t have any of that history in his family’s lineage at all. His family were good Catholic, Doire folk who voted for the Nationalist party and believed everything that the local bishop told them. And he came from that and it was the events, the civil rights events and the collision course that the civil rights put the Nationalist community on with the British government, that produced Martin McGuinness, the IRA leader. So you could actually say he’s a much more authentic representative of the modern Provisional IRA than was Gerry Adams and people of his ilk.

Martin:  Well just a question I always have is the, the analysis that was always given, is that you would always have injustice, you’d always have discrimination, whether it’s legacy, whether it was the result of various things like that until British rule was ended – it’s not just not getting equality it’s ending the British government, British rule, which has inherent inequality in it. But I just want to get beyond that: He joins the IRA, he becomes a leading figure. And one of the things people sometimes ask is – he did two stints in The South of Ireland in Portlaoise. He gets out of the second one around 1974. There are actually people who believe that what he said to the Saville Inquiry that he left the IRA at that time. How long was Martin McGuinness a leading member of the IRA?

Ed:  Well, you know the irony of that – he has to say that he was in the – you know people say Gerry Adams lies when he says he was never in the IRA. The issue is not like to try and get an admission from these people that they were in the IRA but to point out that they come from, that their attitude towards that question is so very different from the traditional Republican response that it raises all sorts of other questions. I mean the traditional Republican response to that question always was, until the Adams-McGuinness leadership: Was that you never admitted IRA membership. That would be a very, very foolish thing to do because you’d talk yourself into a jail sentence – at the same time you’d never deny it. And so you know, the Republicans of the Ó Brádaigh years when presented with that question by someone like myself or any other journalist would essentially, either politely or impolitely, tell me to mind my own business. But McGuinness and Adams chose not to.

And McGuinness had to admit membership of the IRA, that he had been in the IRA at least until 1974 because of two events: 1) When he was imprisoned by the Special Criminal Court in Dublin he made a statement to the effect that he was a proud member of the Irish Republican Army. And also there’s a famous television interview in which he’s walking down the street with an interviewer who asks him: Well, Martin McGuinness, as the leader of the IRA Provisionals in Belfast (Doire) can you tell us when are you going to stop the bombing campaign? And he takes no issue with that and gives an answer about: Well we will consult with our Army leadership and we will then make an informed, you know etc etc – makes a response. So he quite clearly accepts that he’s the leader of the Provos. So he couldn’t deny it. Adams never had that similar sort of, had not that similar type of experience therefore he was able to say that he was never, ever in the IRA. The irony about him saying that he left in 1974 was that his IRA was only beginning to take off in the mid-1970’s. I mean he was, first of all, he was a major figure in the first Northern Command that was created as the result of these reforms and changes that people like Adams and Ivor Bell and Brendan Hughes had discussed and debated along with fellow-minded colleagues in Long Kesh.

And then in 1978 Gerry Adams was Chief of Staff of the IRA. The IRA commits a horrible atrocity in Co. Down at a hotel called La Mon – fire bombs the place, screws up the warnings and there are lots of people killed in the most horrible circumstances imaginable and Adams, in the outrage that greets all of this, is arrested by the police and charged with IRA membership. He immediately loses, as is the custom, his rank as IRA Chief of Staff and McGuinness takes over, and that’s in February 1978. And he stays as Chief of Staff, and as Kathryn Johnston was describing, makes a very spectacular mark as IRA Chief of Staff by the Warrenpoint and Mountbatten ambushes which sort of like copper-fastened his reputation with the grassroots as a sort of military genius of some sort. But it’s not just that. He actually revives the fortunes of the IRA during those three or four years that he was Chief of Staff to the extent that they’re back in the game, as it were, you know? And he stays there and then in 1982 he quits because of the elections, he stands for the election but then he’s re-appointed Northern Commander, in about 1985-1986, and he stays as Northern Commander right through until 1996.

Martin:  Ed, I just want to – I know he had other ranks – I just want to ask you, just very briefly, we’ve just got about a minute left: Monday they’re back in negotiations. There’s a deadline for Stormont coming together. What does this mean for Gerry Adams leading these negotiations without, no longer having Martin McGuinness there? Or Gerry Adams and Michelle O’Neill leading the negotiations?

Ed:   Well the thing is you know, like Lennon and McCartney, they were never quite the same when John Lennon died and Adams and McGuinness – the two names that go together – it’s now just Gerry Adams and he’s got this problem in The North: He needs to – he needs to reconstruct the Assembly and the Stormont government otherwise what does he have to show for the peace process? And then he’s got the problem of not having achieved power in The South. And he’s knocking the door at the age seventy now – he’ll be sixty-nine in October – and you know, Martin McGuinness’ death is a reminder of his own mortality. He doesn’t have much time left to achieve, I think, his main ambition, which is to get into government in The South so that you have a Sinn Féin presence at the cabinet tables in both parts of Ireland and that will be his claim for a special place in the history books.

Martin:  Okay.

Ed:  But he’s running out of time. He’s in the ‘Last Chance Saloon’.

Martin:   Alright. Ed, we want to thank you for that. We’re running out of time ourselves in the Last Chance Saloon. We’re going to play one song, Back Home in Derry, just and then go out – exit on that basis. Thank you, Ed.

Ed:   Okay. Bye-bye now. (ends time stamp ~ 56:11)

Anthony McIntyre RFÉ 25 March 2017

Radio Free Éireann
WBAI 99.5FM Pacifica Radio
New York City
listen on the internet: Saturdays Noon EST

Martin Galvin speaks to Anthony McIntyre, former IRA prisoner now author, historian and political commentator, via telephone from Ireland about Martin McGuinness’ legacy. (begins time stamp ~ 27:08)

Audio:  Portion of Martin McGuinness’ speech at the 1986 Sinn Féin Ard Fheis is played. (audio ends)

Martin:  Alright. With us on the line from Ireland we have Dr. Anthony McIntyre; he’s a former IRA Volunteer, somebody who is an author of a blog, The Pensive Quill. He’s an author of the book, Good Friday, a great analysis of the Good Friday Agreement and Anthony, welcome back to Radio Free Éireann.

Anthony:   Good Afternoon, Martin. I’m pleased to be on.

Martin:   We’re trying to push everybody, this is a very big subject, we’ve got a number of people on, so we’re not giving anybody as much time as we would like to – what do you think, as somebody who, like Martin McGuinness, would have felt at one time that the only way there could be justice would be to end British rule and that the only way to achieve that would be to take up armed struggle – you served time in that, a number of years in that in The North – he served two separate times of imprisonment within The Twenty-Six Counties. What do you think Martin McGuinness’ legacy will be to the Republican struggle?

Anthony:  Well I think it will have, in many ways, it will have failed on two fronts: the military and the non-military. I mean Martin McGuinness was a key IRA figure – former Chief of Staff, former Northern Commander, former president of the IRA Army Council, sat on the Army Council for years. And the IRA campaign was aimed at coercing the British out of Ireland regardless of the wishes of the people in The North. The British objective was to insure that the IRA did not succeed in that campaign and that the IRA would be brought to embrace the Principle of Consent which meant that the British would only leave The North if a majority of people in The North consented to the British leaving. That means that the IRA campaign, in respect of getting the British out of Ireland, was an unmitigated failure. So Martin McGuinness failed there. Secondly, in terms of political institutions, he became the Deputy First Minister and ended up, at the end, being compelled by the force of logic and passion at the grassroots, which even surprised me, to bring to an end the institutions by coming out of his sickbed – in a very admirable manner it has to be said because it took some strength even to get from Belfast to Doire and to put on the performance that he did but that’s by-the-by – he brought down the institutions and what he brought to an end there was a period of Sinn Féin failure in government which they concede and for which they’ve been called ‘roll-over Republicans’ or ‘Martin and his Muppets’ because it’s hard to imagine a more ridiculous looking team ever on the benches of Parliament than the Sinn Féin team at Stormont and for ten years they took abuse, arrogance yet never told the grassroots about it, the voter, until such time as they decided to bring it down. And I often wonder, well I don’t often wonder but I’ve taken to wondering recently, if was Martin McGuinness was compelled to signing the closure order on essentially his own project in the manner that Jimmy Drumm was forced to signing the closure order on his ceasefire, which he was party to in 1976 when the new emerging leadership of Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness forced Jimmy Drumm, against his wishes, to read out the Bodenstown commemoration speech in 1977, June 1977, and during that speech Jimmy Drumm stated that the ceasefire had been a mistake. I think there’s a possibility the same has happened in Martin McGuinness’ case. So in my view, Martin McGuinness’ leadership has been called into question on two serious fronts.

Martin:  Anthony, I should note that when I got involved working with Irish Northern Aid I was asked to train over in the Belfast Press Centre and we never even talked about consent – that was a term you would never use. You would refer to it as ‘the Unionist veto in The North’ because the majority of people – you know as the 1916 Societies and other groups proclaim now, majority of people throughout all of Ireland favoured an end to British rule and you’re not talking about getting their consent to partition you’re talking about a veto within The Six Counties. And it just shows you how that language has changed. What is your reaction to the funeral? There was a Tricolour there, there was a number of noted political figures attended the funeral, how does that funeral play into the legacy, as you’ve described it, of Martin McGuinness?

Anthony:  Well I think what happened there is that the, like much else about Martin McGuinness’ life, the IRA has been pushed to the background and the IRA was, in effect, hidden from that funeral. There may have been key IRA figures putting on the Tricolour standing at the coffin as it was leaving his home but in order to allow the dignitaries, as they are called, and the luminaries to come to bury Mr. McGuinness but not to mourn him they had to hide the IRA. And therefore there was no chance of Arlene Foster and Bill Clinton and that whole parade of politicians marching behind a coffin with the beret on it and the black gloves, the sort of standard funerary symbols of the IRA dead. Now in my view, we may well have a whispering campaign of some sort, or at least a whispering to the grassroots, that the beret and gloves were inside the coffin – basically still hiding the IRA away – and that the whispering that the IRA went up and put the Tricoulor on the coffin – this is all for people who are prepared to believe anything as long as it’s whispered to them. In terms of political reality, the people who came to bury Martin McGuinness but not mourn him were from the political class. They were those people who were authenticating the rule, the victory, the triumph of consent over Martin’s earlier life where he advocated, and was a strong advocate and a forceful advocate of the politics of coercion, the war to coerce the British out of Ireland. And I think this is what this funeral was about from their point of view and ensuring that that was the dominant political message that went out: Unity only by consent. And the sort of subtext of it was: The IRA campaign failed. The British Principle of Consent won. The British did not ever accept the IRA’s terms for disengagement from Ireland. The IRA accepted the British terms for British disengagement from Ireland and that, in my view, sums it up.

Martin:  Alright. I should note just on the BBC website there was a Martin McGuinness section on his obituary and I hit that up and it was actually – he and I carrying a coffin in 1985 at the funeral of an IRA Volunteer. And you can see people with berets, you can see a masked party of IRA Volunteers – and this was done at a time – I was banned, that’s why I was invited specifically to carry the coffin along side him in Doire under the watchful eyes of British troops – that’s a difference between the type of funeral that that might have been some time ago and the funeral that Martin McGuinness had and his legacy. Anthony, why was it, what was it about Martin McGuinness that made IRA Volunteers trust him so much to the degree that they did, that they made him so influential that they would follow him into this resolution of the conflict – this cessation that you’ve described?

Anthony:  Probably his longevity at the leadership level. I mean as far back as most people’s living memory can recall Martin McGuinness was there.  He was the alpha and the omega of the IRA in many respects. In 1972 he was already pretty famous by the time he went to London for negotiations with the British. After that he became a key figure in the minds of the Republican support base and a hate figure for the British. So people always identified Martin as ‘the IRA figure’. Someone who would be hard, someone who would be tough, someone who would have the Volunteers’ interests at heart and in that way I feel that because he had been around so long, because he had directed so many operations, because he was Chief of Staff at the time of the killings of the British paratroopers, the killing of Mountbatten, the killing of Robert Bradford – these are all things that took place on his watch – key IRA killings and I think that he was viewed very much as the man that could be trusted in a way that people came to feel Gerry Adams couldn’t be trusted because Gerry Adams began to be viewed as a politician and there was always a hostility towards politicians. But it wouldn’t have mattered had Martin went first rather than Gerry in terms of making the call for politics – he would have been mistrusted because bear in mind: Gerry Adams had the same military record that Martin McGuinness has. The two could be separated by a cigarette paper that we used to write out from Long Kesh on – two key military figures but is was the perception of Martin as, what the media would call the ‘hawk’, the guy who would never let us down.

Martin:   Okay. And just what did you think: Gerry Adams was the person who gave the oration at Martin McGuinness’ funeral. What’s your reaction to that oration?

Anthony:   Well I mean the fact that Gerry Adams gave the oration, in my view, was that he was really saying: We are burying Martin here today but what I want you to remember is me. This is all about me. And again, as is his tendency to impose himself on proceedings, I mean, on this day and at this time Gerry Adams should be letting Michelle O’Neill come to the fore. But he isn’t. He’s trying to overshadow her on everything. And there is some suspicions now being aired by people that Martin McGuinness didn’t bring down the Executive, that he in fact was ousted and was compelled by Adams and the Adams’ lobby to bring down the Executive. And now since the passing-on of Martin McGuinness, or the illness of Martin McGuinness, we’ve seen Adams come more and more to the fore. And I mean Adams does have this effect, even though he’s not personally sectarian, attitudinally he has this impact of alienating the Unionists in a way that one could say that Martin McGuinness didn’t have. So it certainly leads to an interesting time ahead and lots of things to play for. And I think the insertion of Gerry Adams back into it tends to create even more sectarian tension and inflame sectarian passions. And you cannot simply blame Adams for that – the Unionists have to take an awful lot of blame for this because their attitude has been woeful. And I know that they have decided to start to behave civilly – turning up at the funeral and so on – but the manner in which they treated that crowd of Sinn Féin people in Stormont that you had one SDLP (Social Democratic and Labour Party) MLA saying he was shocked as he watched all the ranks of former IRA men and women being humiliated by the DUP (Democratic Unionist Party) and not a word out of them. I mean the DUP have done this and their complete arrogance has inflamed the situation in The North so I don’t know, I mean, what way it’ll go but what we can say is that high-profile funeral, the presence of people like Bill Clinton and everybody else at it, makes it very, very hard for people entering these negotiations, who are now in these negotiations, to face the blame for them going wrong. So we can see the whole thing pushed to the deadline – pushed to the point of brinkmanship. But it has to look now, one would argue, that the – I mean a possibility for a deal anyway does increase. And Sinn Féin have a get-out clause because Arlene Foster turned up at the funeral was clapped and they can say that: Well, now what we should do is – maybe we can go into government with her. She’s not so bad after all. She has come to her senses. The best situation, the best outcome for them is for Sinn Féin not to call for her to resign or stand aside and then for her to voluntarily stand aside for a period of weeks and that gets them all off the hook. And I think something like that is likely to happen.

Martin:  And that was exactly the offer that she was given by Martin McGuinness some time ago – just to stand aside for a few weeks – and just like Peter Robinson did. Had she taken that she wouldn’t have had the election, she’d still have a ten seat majority and people wouldn’t be talking about maybe replacing her in future within the DUP. Alright, Anthony, we want to thank you for that and we’ll just play one more clip and then we will be going to Ed Moloney.

Anthony:    Thank you very much.

Martin:   Thank you, Anthony. (ends time stamp ~ 42:36)

Kathryn Johnston RFÉ 25 March 2017

Radio Free Éireann
WBAI 99.5FM Pacifica Radio
New York City
listen on the internet: Saturdays Noon EST

John McDonagh and Martin Galvin speak to Kathryn Johnston, co-author of Martin McGuinness’ biography, via telephone from Co. Antrim, about Martin McGuinness’ role in the IRA’s cessation of violence that ended The Troubles. (begins time stamp ~ 18:11)

Audio:  Portion of Martin McGuinness’ speech at the 1986 Sinn Féin Ard Fheis is played. (audio ends)

Martin:   Alright. With us on the line we have Kathryn Johnston. She is the co-author of Martin McGuinness’ biography, Martin McGuinness: From Guns to Government. Welcome back to Radio Free Éireann.

Kathryn:   Thanks very much, John. Nice to talk to you.

Martin:    This is Martin. John is actually in Boston. But he’ll be asking you a question in a moment.

Kathryn:   Okay. (inaudible)

Martin:   We only have a few minutes for you and we have a number of guests on. But I was intrigued. I was reading a piece that you did for Slugger O’Toole, the website, and you asked the question: Could anyone else have brought the IRA to a cessation of violence without an admission of defeat? What was there about Martin McGuinness? The young man from Doire, a religious man, family were Nationalists more than Republicans, who got involved in the Irish Republican Army, who took senior positions and put him in that position where you would say that he is the only person – it was unlikely that anybody else could have brought the IRA to a cessation of violence without an admission of defeat in your article?

Kathryn:    Well if you look at the early days of Martin McGuinness’ involvement in the IRA, specifically after Bloody Sunday when he became the Commander in Doire, Seán Mac Stíofáin was up at a couple of meetings in Doire and he very, very quickly picked out the young Martin McGuinness as somebody that was basically someone to watch – somebody who could go places. Now Seán Mac Stíofáin wasn’t alone in coming to that assessment. Seán Mac Stíofáin – Martin McGuinness’ real big elevation in the ranks was when he was flown to Cheyne Walk in London as part of a delegation of IRA men going to talks with William Whitelaw. The talks themselves never actually produced anything concrete but what they did produce – there was an MI6 officer there, Frank Steele, and he gave his assessment very quickly, that Seán Mac Stíofain had done: This boy’s the one to watch. This boy’s articulate – he could go places. And as soon as McGuinness returned to Doire after the Cheyne Walk talks it wasn’t very long before Frank Steele had arranged to meet him in Donegal and the relationship then continued with Michael Oatley in 1974 until he returned in 1991. So I mean, Martin McGuinness was marked by the British state and by his comrades in the IRA as a boy that was going places.

Martin:   Alright. Well, what positions did he hold with the IRA and how was it that he was so influential he could make that speech that we are playing clips from in 1986 and that that would be credited and trusted more so than somebody else might have been?

Kathryn:   Well I think if you look at the – Martin McGuinness attained the very highest rank within the IRA and that was in 1978. He was first appointed Chief of Staff after Gerry Adams was arrested for questioning after the La Mon Massacre. And straightaway Martin McGuinness sought to make his mark. He had this goal: He was going to make a ‘liberated zone’ along the border. Of course, very, very close to the front of his mind as well was this idea there had to be some kind of revenge on the Parachute Regiment for what happened on Bloody Sunday.

Now, very quickly in 1978 he became aware of a local IRA plan to assassinate Earl Mountbatten. He’d (Mountbatten) spent every August since 1969 in Classiebawn Castle in Mullaghmore in Sligo. So they dummy-runned this plan and in August, the 27th August 1979, two plain-clothes officers of Mountbatten’s security detail were lying on the cliffs overlooking the boat, Shadow, as it sailed out when suddenly there was a massive explosion and we know what happened after that – Earl Mountbatten died as did Lady Brabourne, Paul Maxwell, a young boatman from Enniskillen and one of Mountbatten’s nephews, a great-nephew, was killed in that. But that was already quite a coup for the IRA to carry out in those days – just along the border there. And of course, the British Army and all security force personnel were immediately put on the very, very highest alert. But McGuinness hadn’t stop there. There was a convoy of four Land Rovers coming to Ballykinler camp to Narrow Water on the shores of Narrow Water Lough there which marks the Irish border. And as they drove in an eight hundred pound bomb was detonated blowing up their Land Rovers and instantaneously IRA men on the other side of the lough opened fire on the British troops who returned fire and one English holiday-maker, Michael Hudson, was tragically killed. But you know I’m really beginning to feel like Jiminy Cricket here – But there’s more! But there’s more! – because after that when two Wessex helicopters had come to airlift the wounded soldiers, the survivors, to hospital, as their aircraft were taking off another couple of Land Rovers, laden with injured soldiers, was coming along – another twelve soldiers were killed with another eight hundred pound bomb – added to the six that were killed in the first explosion that was eighteen soldiers from the Paratroop Regiment – their highest single loss since Arnhem, not even in peacetime, since Arnhem in World War II. That was quite some coup for a boy from the Bogside in his first year as Chief of Staff of the IRA and I think that shows the kind of chilling, strategic and tactical genius that he had that he devoted to both his political life and his life within the IRA. He was a (inaudible) man. And I think, I think if you look at Martin McGuinness and the tours that he did after the ceasefire was announced – the tours that he did and Gerry Kelly did and Gerry Adams did – I think that Martin McGuinness was picked out to go to the areas where they might be less ready to settle than others.

Martin:   Okay. Alright. Thank you. That’s Kathryn Johnston. She is the co-author of the book, Martin McGuinness: From Guns to Government. We’re trying to get to a number of different people. We’re going to go to another clip. I think – John, are you back on the line?

John:   Yeah, no – I’m back on the line but just one final question for Kathryn that it seems – we did an interview with an MI5 agent, Ian Hurst, and he was talking about how the British government wanted to arrest Martin McGuinness but they were told not to, over the Frank Hegarty killing of an informer. And then after his funeral it came out about the Claudy bombing that the RUC (Royal Ulster Constabulary) wanted to arrest him and they were told not to arrest him and he was known within the security forces there as a ‘protected species’.

Kathryn:   Yeah. At one stage Martin Ingram (aka Ian Hurst) revealed that he was known as ‘the fisherman’ and that wasn’t unusual for Martin McGuinness. Don’t forget, John, he had been in secret talks with the British since what was it – ’72 – since that first meeting at Cheyne Walk. And when he was in the meetings with ‘Mountain Climber’, Brendan Duddy, and so on, in those very early days when the background dialogue had been established McGuinness was given several code names – one of them, strangely enough, was ‘Walter’. So I mean that was the start of a situation which saw Martin McGuinness and that’s being perhaps uniquely – perhaps being uniquely in the position of being as useful to the British as he was to the IRA.

Martin:   Alright. On that note we’re going to go to – we’ve got – this is something where everybody we’re going to have on today we could do the whole programme with but we want to thank you, Kathryn Johnston. Her book…

Kathryn:   …And thank you very much…

Martin:   …co-author of Martin McGuinness: From Guns to Government . We’re going to go to another clip and when we come out we’re going to have Anthony McIntyre, former IRA Volunteer, author and analyst and commentator on with us. (ends time stamp ~ 27:08)

RFÉ Discusses Today’s Show & the Passing of Jimmy Breslin 25 March 2017

Radio Free Éireann
WBAI 99.5FM Pacifica Radio
The City of New York
listen on the internet: Saturdays Noon EST

John McDonagh and Martin Galvin discuss today’s show, Martin McGuinness’ life and legacy and the passing of Jimmy Breslin. (May he rest in peace.) (begins time stamp 00:00)

Audio:  Portion of Martin McGuinness’ speech at the 1986 Sinn Féin Ard Fheis is played. (audio ends)

Martin:  And welcome to Radio Free Éireann. I’m Martin Galvin, I’m in-studio and will be joined in a few moments by John McDonagh by telephone – he’s in Boston. The voice you heard was that of Martin McGuinness. Martin McGuinness certainly somebody who had a major impact on events in Ireland, particularly in The Six Counties, died during the past week. His funeral was attended by the president of Ireland, was attended by Bill Clinton, former United States President, many Irish political figures, from Unionists as well as Nationalists and Republicans, and it is certainly was a life that did have a major impact on events. Today what we’re going to do, and that speech you heard – and we’re going to play clips from that speech, it was one of the most important speeches that he would give. We’re going to hear in a few minutes from Kathryn Johnston, author of Martin McGuinness’ biography, or co-author, From Guns to Government, and that’s going to be a theme – how he went from somebody, a young man from the streets of Doire, from the Bogside who would come from a very religious family, who would come from a Nationalist family, became a Republican, became the leading figure within the Irish Republican Army and how he would ultimately come to be a Deputy First Minister within Stormont and would preside over the Republican Movement coming into that position. We’re going to hear clips from that – that speech in 1986 was indeed a turning point. At that time there was a discussion, or a debate, on whether Sinn Féin should recognise Leinster House, should go into The Twenty-Six County Parliament. There were some who said that that would lead just to a winding down of the IRA – some who said that it would not. Martin McGuinness obviously said it would not. Ironically, at the time that speech was being made, people that I know, like Liam Ryan from East Tyrone, was telling me that there were going to be major developments in Ireland, that there were major new weapons shipments coming into Ireland, that the war would be escalating and not to break from Sinn Féin, not to break from Republicans. And at that time even my mentor, somebody that I looked up to, I had admired – he would have been opposed to that motion with Ruairí Ó Brádaigh and Dáithí Ó Conaill and others – and I ended up siding with Martin McGuinness’ and Gerry Adams’ side at that time. But you’ll be hearing clips, we’ll be talking to Kathryn Johnston – she is as I said, the co-author of the book, Martin McGuinness: From Guns to Government.

We’re going to go to Anthony McIntyre. He’s going to talking about the legacy – a former IRA Volunteer, a writer, author – who writes about the Good Friday Agreement, who has the blog, The Pensive Quill – he’s going to talk about Martin McGuinness’ legacy. And then we’re going to finish up with Ed Moloney, another historian and author who’s had more articles published this week, and Ed is going to talk about what it will mean today as we go back to negotiations – negotiations reach a climactic point on Monday, the absence of Martin McGuinness by Gerry Adams’ side – what that will mean.

Alright John, we have John on the line. John, during the week, after Jimmy Breslin, the legendary New York Irish-American writer, passed away I said to you we’re going to have to cover Jimmy Breslin, that’ll be a major segment of the show and we should line up people like Pete Hamill and others and you told me to wait until Thursday and Friday because you never know – events may take over and change all that and how right you were with the passing of Martin McGuinness.  John, are you there up in Boston?

John:  Yeah, yeah, no – we would have done more of a tribute.

Jimmy Breslin walks the drab Queens Boulevard strip in 1986. (Nancy Kaye for The Washington Post)

But if you really want to hear a great tribute to Jimmy Breslin: Last Wednesday on a show I host on WBAI called Talk Back We and Thee, with Malachy McCourt and Corey Kilgannon from the New York Times,  we did an hour and a half on the life of Jimmy Breslin with Stephen Murphy, who’s a infamous lawyer there at Queen’s Boulevard, Malachy McCourt, also with Chickie Donohue, from the Sandhogs and Johnny Sexton, one of the Cuba Boys, talking about a story about Jimmy Breslin in Sunnyside. So instead of repeating all of that you can just go to the archives on WBAI.

And it is significant that we opened up with that speech from 1986. I remember I was over in Bundoran at that time, speaking with Ruairí Ó Brádaigh and saying: Listen, don’t walk out. Fight from with inside the movement and he had told me at that stage: It’s all over. McGuinness and Adams were going to go into Leinster House then they were going to Stormont and Westminster. And how true he was when he made the statement and his speech. I also want to thank the New York Times, (they) actually used this video in the obituary of Martin McGuinness how he went – you talk about a rigged election – there was noting more rigged than that 1986 Ard Fheis in Dublin where Martin McGuinness was spewing lie after lie at that time saying that the struggle was going continue. Meanwhile, he was negotiating for the surrender of the IRA which Anthony McIntyre will be talking about in a little while. And just a few observation on the funeral that happened with Martin McGuinness: The Loyalist politicians had stated to Sinn Féin if there was any military trappings for the funeral of Martin McGuinness that they would not show up. So the funeral was devoid of any military trappings because they wanted desperately for the Loyalist politicians to show up at the funeral. And then I talked to many people in Doire who said the height of hypocrisy on Thursday was the turning up of certain groups in Doire to the funeral who would be considered dissidents. And they said one of the groups that turned up was the 1916 Societies who turned up for the funeral in Doire. So it’s very hard to reconcile that you’re year-after-year criticising Martin McGuinness and criticising Sinn Féin and then turning up for the funeral and that didn’t go unnoticed over there in Doire.

Martin:  John, just let me reply. You told me you were going to mention that. I did speak to somebody from the 1916 Societies. What they said is first of all, there’s nothing on their Facebook – they made no statement about Martin McGuinness, did not encourage anybody to go. They were concerned about who had said it but beyond that – there are people, I know people in Doire, like one person who we would be very friendly with, runs commemorations – his son, Martin McGuinness was his godfather and they had family connections back and forth. So people, some people went to the funeral. They said – for example, I’m somebody who has very strong political differences with Martin McGuinness – he went back and forth even just the last few times I was in Ireland and you would still – there are some people who, because of family connections, who because they know his wife, his sons, because of that would go and just show respect for the family connections, while maintaining very strong political differences. I was just asked to say that. People can draw whatever conclusions they want and again, I’m talking as somebody that Martin McGuinness – I mean the last time I was in Ireland there was a documentary that I appeared in and he said: Oh, they brought over ‘someone from America’. I knew him from the 1970’s. I actually got arrested because he had encouraged me to do so and thought it would make a point and that’s how much respect I had for him at one time. And anybody who listens to the show knows there’s strong political differences but again, some people would go to a funeral because of family connections, because of respect for his family and I’ll just put that out that it didn’t necessarily mean that they were taking any kind of political stance.

John:  Well, I know that but Martin, the reason a lot of people showed up there, like you could say President Clinton and various British politicians is because that Martin McGuinness went over to their point of view. It wasn’t as if President Clinton and Tony Blair and all the British politicians that all of a sudden they went over to a Republican point of view. They were honouring Martin McGuinness for having the IRA surrender and for him to meet with the Queen and have tea and for him to administer British rule in Ireland. And that’s what they were honouring on Thursday.

Martin:  And that’s what I think Kathryn Johnston and Anthony McIntyre are both going to talk about: Who actually won the struggle, where Martin McGuinness’ legacy was in terms of that and the fact that they will make the point or make the argument that it couldn’t have ended in that fashion without Martin McGuinness. So we are going to talk about that. I understand that. I just want to say you can go to a funeral sometimes and respect, just remember somebody or out of respect for their family without an endorsement of their political views. Certainly the British and Arlene Foster, when they came, they were not trying to talk or endorse anything to do with Martin McGuinness’ political views. So just I was asked to make that point…

John:  …Well, no. They were there because of his political views…

Martin:  …people can draw their own conclusion and I just wanted, in fairness, to say that.

John:  But, Martin, they were there because of his political views. Because they went there because he administered British rule in Ireland. So they were definitely there because of his political views.

Martin:  John, one of the things I want to ask Kathryn Johnston – she made the point: Could anyone else have brought the IRA to a cessation of violence without an admission of defeat? She made that point in one of her articles. That’s the question I want to ask her. That’s the very point that you’re saying so we’re in, you know… You and I in a debate a long time ago, that’s how I got blacklisted for a long time, and we both made that point: That if you agree that The Six Counties having a say – that they have to agree with ending British rule before there’d be a united Ireland – you’re giving up the Unionist veto, you’re surrendering or acknowledging or giving away or allowing them to have that veto. You’re establishing – they call it the consent principle, we would call it a Unionist veto – and that’s how the struggle ended up – with the Unionist veto in place – call it a consent principle but you’re right. We don’t have a united Ireland. Martin McGuinness a couple of times – I was giving speeches in Ireland talking about how we were not getting to a united Ireland. And I know I was in Doire and the next day he said: Oh, we’re going to have a united Ireland within five years and that was in 2009. Obviously we didn’t get to that point. Much like Joe Cahill had said the same thing in 1998 – that we’d have a united Ireland by 2003. So we’re in agreement on that. But let’s just get into the legacy – what has happened and why is it that we ended up here? What was it about Martin McGuinness that he got involved in armed struggle, that he took up the gun, fought or played a leading role with the IRA and ended up, as you say, sitting in Stormont as a Deputy First Minister of a British administration?

John: Alright. I guess we’ll just get on with the show because we have so many guests that are lined up.

Martin:  Okay. I just want to say one thing about Jimmy Breslin: If you look at our website,, there were two articles, one in June 9th 1979 (page 3) – two issues – and one in October 18th 1980 (page 7) – it’s perfect. It goes through Jimmy talking about the Irish situation. In one of them he talks about people with relatives in South Armagh who were told by the American government: You shouldn’t contribute money to send weapons over to South Armagh to be used against British forces but how the American government was allowing guns to be sold to the people who were shooting their families – just a typical Jimmy Breslin perspective. And another one about Fra McCann, a former blanketman, and Dessie Mackin, who was out here to help with coordinating the blanket protests at the start of 1980 about Jimmy Breslin writing that. So go to those articles. You’ll see exactly the type of thing that Jimmy Breslin used to write. (ends time stamp ~ 14:28)

Anthony McIntyre The Michael Reade Show 23 March 2017

The Michael Reade Show
LMFM Radio

Michael Reade is joined in the studio by Anthony McIntyre, former IRA Volunteer now author, historian and political commentator, to discuss the life and times of Martin McGuinness. (begins time stamp ~45:45)

Michael:  As you know, Martin McGuinness is going to be laid to rest today and a man who is seen by many different people in many different ways. I think we’re going to hear a different perspective on the life and times of Martin McGuinness now. Anthony McIntyre is himself a former IRA Volunteer, a former IRA prisoner. He spent eighteen years in Long Kesh, four years of that on the blanket involved in what would have been known as the ‘dirty protest’ as such and the protest that led, indeed, to the hunger strikes. You can also read Anthony McIntyre’s thoughts on his blog, The Pensive Quill. And he’s living in Drogheda these days. He’s come in to us in the studio this morning. And you won’t be going north of the border to attend the funeral of Martin McGuinness, possibly for a number of reasons, but one of the reasons being that you might be arrested yourself because of the Boston Tapes, which are now notorious.

Anthony:   Well that’s – I think that’s pretty accurate you know and I also tend to joke at times: I don’t go to funerals because they won’t be going to mine and so I…but no, I’m not traveling north to the funeral and I mean I hope it passes off peacefully and that there’s no sort of ridiculous protests against it or people putting up slogans because they didn’t like him or expressions that they hope people burn in Hell which is, I think, the result of a peculiar infection from religious hatred and that we’ve seen a lot of. It’s only religious people that believe in ‘burn in Hell’. I’ve seen people saying on Facebook that they’re rejoicing in his death and I’m not religious. I don’t rejoice in human suffering. I think if I were to welcome his death at all it’s only for the relief that he got at the end of a long process of suffering.

Michael:   Anthony, yourself and Martin McGuinness had ideological differences but you’re from pretty much the same origins are you not in that, at one time, both of you would have been described as men of violence, men responsible for killings. You were sent to Long Kesh for an IRA killing yourself. When did you first get to meet Martin McGuinness?

Anthony:   Well I got to meet Martin face-to-face during – I interviewed him in 1995 when I was doing a PhD and he agreed to meet me. And then I met him after that in Dublin and we discussed the interview that he had given to me. And then – I mean I found him very likable – very, very pleasant. And in later years he was very critical of me as I was of him and…

Michael:   …He called you a ‘dissident’. You called him a traitor.

Anthony:   Well I didn’t call him a traitor as such. I tend to avoid that sort of language. I find it very emotive. But he certainly abandoned Republicanism. And he called me a ‘dissident’. But he called me much worse. He put out falsehoods about me in relation to the McCartney Sisters and stuff and they were demonstrable falsehoods. So there was a serious ideological gulf, or at least a gulf in terms of opinion, between myself and Martin McGuinness. But yes, we did come from the same stable. We were people who believed in the use of violent Republicanism. But I would also say that Edmund Burke, the conservative philosopher, once said that people sleep easily in their beds or peacefully in their beds because rough men stand by ready to do violence on their behalf and Martin McGuinness was a person ready to do violence. But he wasn’t a moral monster. He took up arms against British state terrorism – against a very repressive British state. As he said himself he wasn’t a Republican because the Christian Brothers made him one. Four key events made him a Republican according to his earlier testimony and that was: The RUC (Royal Ulster Constabulary) murder of Samuel Devenney, the Duke Street beatings of people on protest, the British Army slaying of Seamus Cusack and the British Army slaying of Desmond Beattie in Doire in 1971. So these events made – they were monstrous moral acts that made Martin McGuinness into the person that was prepared to stand up against the British and use arms against them.

Michael:   And he made the point himself that people like Nelson Mandela would have taken up arms opposed to oppression and that it was commonplace and a legitimate form of opposing an occupation as he’d have seen it as indeed you did yourself.

Anthony:   Very much so.

Michael:   What role did he have in the IRA?

Anthony:   Well I mean he started out – he was an early Commander in Doire. He later went on to lead the Doire IRA. In 1976 he became the, after his release from prison and around the autumn of 1976 when the IRA formed the Northern Command, he became its Operations Officer responsible for operations throughout The North, The Six Counties. When Gerry Adams was arrested in 1978, February 1978, Martin McGuinness was appointed Chief of Staff. And I notice in the Irish Times today Liam Clarke’s wife has said that he replaced Adams in that position as Chief of Staff of the IRA. He was Chief of Staff of the IRA from that point until October-November 1982 so he had a tenure as Chief of Staff of five years. He was our Chief of Staff at the time of the hunger strikes when Mickey Devine and Bobby Sands and the other boys died.

Michael:  Because he had always said that he had left the IRA in 1974.

Anthony:   He did which wasn’t true; it was a falsehood. But he did say he was in it. There’s others that deny they were ever in it. I think that – and I’ve always thought why Martin picked in 1974 – and I have a belief that he knows that, given the outcome that he signed up to, it’s very, very hard to justify the IRA campaign from 1974 given that the outcome was so similar to a peace. He settled for something that he rejected in 1974 – the Unionists also rejected it also – very much so – I think that’s why he picked that year because he sort of knows – very, very hard to justify an IRA campaign post ’74.

Michael:   I was talking to Dermot Ahern yesterday who was reminding us of the meetings that he had secretly with the IRA back as far as 1988 and how there continued to be contacts through the years but that the path to peace, as he saw it, was only a prospect in 1994 when Martin McGuinness came to the table.

Anthony:   No, I don’t believe that to be the case. I think Gerry Adams had been sending – even the night that they were burying Jim Lynagh and Gerry Adams was speaking at Jim Lynagh’s funeral and threatening all sort of repercussions for powerful people in the British state and Ireland – that very night he was dispatching Alex Reid off to Charlie Haughey outlining the terms under which the IRA would consider a ceasefire. No, in terms of delivering the peace process I think Gerry would have been the more influential of the two and certainly in terms of the intellectual development of the peace process. I think Martin’s role in it was that as the key IRA person there was a belief that he would not let the IRA down – that he would not abandon the IRA. And he had been very, very forceful in his discourse. He had condemned earlier peace efforts. He described the efforts of Dáithí Ó Conaill and Ruairí Ó Brádaigh as shameful and accused them of selling out and that was in 1986 only eight years before the IRA ceasefire.

Michael:   And that was the split.

Anthony:   Yeah, well there was a split at that time, a manageable split from the point of view of Sinn Féin and the IRA…

Michael:   …Yes, to Republican Sinn Féin…

Anthony:   …and the formation later of the Continuity IRA, yes. But I think that Martin’s role was that he was seen as the IRA leader. There were lots of people, and this happens in Republican politics – that if you start to float political ideas people will suspect you of selling out. I think when people were suspicious of Adams, or lots of people were suspicious of Gerry Adams, that Gerry was more political despite Gerry’s own military past and Martin was the guy that, you know, the rock that we could rely upon and then as Martin moves on others will come in and they’ll be the rock. And eventually you know the whole thing was whittled away. I mean Martin’s role was more of chief negotiator but he didn’t negotiate too well. And if you look at what he negotiated, and this’ll probably be what he’s remembered for, he negotiated the very thing, he negotiated into existence the very thing he spent his life fighting against: He negotiated an internal solution to the problems in The North under British sovereignty. And I mean that’s one of the reasons that I’m very critical of the political line that he and the others took because I do not see how this settlement, as much as I’m glad that the war ended, I do not see how this settlement can justify the awful violence…

Michael:   …Now why do you think he did that, Anthony? I mean you said you didn’t describe him as a traitor but you clearly believe that he betrayed the beliefs and principles that led to the campaign. And that it was because Martin McGuinness was seen as a rock that he was able to take people with him which is why you see him as such a significant player in that peace process as it’s called. But if you didn’t call him a traitor you certainly insinuated that he betrayed those beliefs and ideals and that he was subordinate to the Unionists and the British occupiers.

Anthony:   Well, I’m not shying away from things that I’ve called him. Probably when I’ve a drink or two in me I’ve called him worse…

Michael:   …(laughs) Okay…

Anthony:   …than a traitor – which even he’d probably forgive me for. But you know I’ve been very harsh in my criticisms of him but I tend, and I’m sure there’s exceptions, but I tend not to use the term ‘traitor’ because I find it very, very emotive and I think that Martin McGuinness – you see, in many ways Martin McGuinness started out life not as an ideological Republican. He says very early that he did not blame the Brit – sorry – he didn’t understand the role of Downing Street at the start of the conflict. Many Republicans would see him – you’ll find this in early discourses of Gerry Kelly and people like that whereas Adams, in a sense, was a pre-1969 Republican with some sense of Republican ideology and I think Martin came in to a conflict, was brought into it. He latched onto the IRA and the IRA’s discourse, he became a senior member of it, he articulated the struggle and the actions and justified those actions in terms of IRA ideology but ultimately he came to the position, through force of circumstance – I don’t think he ever converted to the ethics or the ethos of peace – I think he converted to the politics of the peace process which is a different thing.

I think the IRA campaign failed. It failed to coerce the British state out of Ireland. The British succeeded in bringing the IRA and Sinn Féin to the principle where they now insisted there could only be unity by consent which sort of rubbishes the IRA campaign. And I think Martin, as a key IRA leader along with others who were central to that sort of IRA life, would have knew the limitations. And the IRA were heavily penetrated and I mean the campaign – I remember being at a debate in London and John Chilcot, who had done the inquiry into the war in Iraq, a pretty substantial figure, and he had been at the NIO (Northern Ireland Office) at one time and he had said that really, by the end of the 90’s, the British were not that concerned about the IRA. That they knew they had the measure of the IRA and probably knew it less from the IRA’s operational capacity, which still existed, but from the messages that were being sent by McGuinness and Adams to them. So I think Martin did abandoned all his Republican beliefs and went for the constitutional nationalist position but I don’t think he – I mean he managed the IRA defeat and he managed it quite well and he turned it into a Sinn Féin success.

Michael:    Do you find it hard to believe the event that’s about to unfold today? I mean it’s one thing to imagine President Higgins attending this funeral today or Bill Clinton for that matter but it’s another thing to think of Enda Kenny or Arlene Foster or Tony Blair attending.

Anthony:   Well I think that what’s happening here is that the political class, in some sense – and this is a very choreographed funeral – the political class is endorsing or authenticating really the hegemony of its position in the fact that Martin McGuinness, here we bury the man who has really authenticated everything we ever said, that there was only the – a united Ireland could never come about by coercion it could only come about by consent. And I think in that sense there’s a lot of political grandstanding going on on today at Martin’s funeral. As for Arlene Foster well – Arlene has to attend. I mean if she doesn’t attend she will confirm the perspective that many Nationalists hold of her as Bigot-in-Chief and I mean somebody has said that she’s back on her meds so she’s alright again. I mean they’re saying it facetiously but…

Michael:   …(laughs) I’m sure they are. I’m sure there’s no truth in that…

Anthony:   No, no. There’s no truth in it. But it’s just a facetious comment.

Michael:   I apologise for laughing. I just found it funny but we distance ourselves from that comment obviously in a legal sense – just our time has kind of run out – before we leave: A lot of people are saying that Martin McGuinness will take a lot of secrets to his grave. You’ve spoken privately to Martin McGuinness. You’ve spoken to many others about Martin McGuinness and spoken about his role in the IRA and what he may or may not have been responsible for. Are those secrets on those tapes?

Anthony:   I’m not discussing what’s on the tapes. I mean there’s court actions and stuff but I just hope that Martin McGuinness has left many of his secrets somewhere on tapes which the PSNI (Police Service of Northern Ireland) can’t get their hands on. I know that it’s very fashionable to condemn Martin McGuinness for a lot of activities but I – and particularly I’ve seen him being condemned for Franko Hegarty’s death – and Martin McGuinness probably, in all probability, did have a hand in the death of Franko Hegarty but who killed Franko Hegarty? It was the British state with their agent at the centre of the IRA Security Department. The British state have an awful lot to answer for. They were the moral monsters that produced people like Martin McGuinness.

Michael:   Okay. Anthony McIntyre, thanks for coming into us today and for the time that you have given to us. People can read more of your thoughts on The Pensive Quill blog site and thanks as I said. Good to see you.

Anthony:   Thanks very much. (ends time stamp ~ 1:00:37)

Kathleen Gillespie BBC Good Morning Ulster 22 March 2017

Good Morning Ulster
BBC Radio Foyle

Programme presenter Joel Taggart introduces reporter Mark Carruthers who is in Doire covering the death of Martin McGuinness. Mark presents Teresa Craig’s interview with Kathleen Gillespie, the widow of Patsy Gillespie. (begins time stamp ~1:37:24)

Note:  Where’s the audio? At the time of posting it is not available for download from the BBC.  Please use the hyperlinked title ‘Good Morning Ulster’ to listen along as you read.  Thank you.

Joel:   Now this morning we’re continuing to look at the life and legacy of Martin McGuinness who died yesterday. Our colleague, Mark Carruthers, is in Doire for us. Good Morning! to you again, Mark.

Mark:   Morning, Joel. Welcome back to Doire where, from the ancient walls, I’m looking across at the Bogside where Martin McGuinness’ body currently lies at his home ahead of tomorrow’s funeral which will take place at two o’clock at St. Columba’s Church, Long Tower, just beside me at the walls here. People, of course, in the past twenty-four hours have been reflecting on Mr. McGuinness’ journey from IRA Commander to Deputy First Minister but many can’t forgive or forget his violent past. One of those is Doirewoman Kathleen Gillespie whose husband, Patsy, was murdered by the IRA back in 1990. The father of three worked as a cook at Fort George Army base marking him as a British collaborator in the eyes of the IRA. They took him from his home, left an armed gang with his wife and children, tied Mr. Gillespie into the seat of a lorry packed with a thousand pounds of explosives and ordered him to drive it to Coshquin border post where they then detonated the bomb killing Mr. Gillespie and five soldiers. Kathleen Gillespie’s been talking about that night to our reporter, Teresa Craig.

Kathleen:   Patsy was taken away at midnight. Four hours later my phone rang and the man who I thought was in charge of the men in the house because he was the only one who would speak to me – they were with us for four hours when the phone rang. And the boy I thought was in charge answered the phone and he pulled the phone, the wire out of the phone, and he said: That’s us away. Now give us half an hour before you do anything and your husband will be back. A few minutes later I heard the explosion.

Teresa:   When you heard the explosion did you have a sense that Patsy – something had happened to him – did you realise then or…?

Kathleen:   …No. No. And I said to the wans that’s the car going. Your daddy’ll be home soon. That wasn’t to be.

Teresa:   When you realised that he was dead, he’d been killed so violently he wasn’t coming home again – you were left without a husband – your children without a father.

Kathleen:   How can you put into words how it feels?

From the Derry Journal

I spent the whole next day waiting for confirmation that Patsy was dead. They eventually found a piece of clothing that I could say was Patsy’s. Do you know that Patsy was murdered on our eldest son’s eighteenth birthday? So his birthday every year’s not a great day.

Teresa:   Do you blame Martin McGuinness in any way…

Kathleen:   …Yeah…

Teresa:   …for the death of Patsy?

Kathleen:    Yeah. Of course I do. He was asked specifically: Why was Patsy Gillespie murdered? His words were: ‘Patsy Gillespie was a legitimate target of war’. I wanted to know why Patsy was considered a legitimate target of war.

Teresa:   Did you ever get to ask Mr. McGuinness why he’d said that? What he meant by it?

Kathleen:   No, I didn’t. I never once came face-to-face with Martin McGuinness.

Teresa:    And with his passing do you feel that opportunities have been lost in that sense?

Kathleen:   Yeah, I feel as if I’ve lost out. I feel robbed of the opportunity of a conversation with Martin McGuinness. I would have liked a conversation with him just to put that one question to him. Now I didn’t want to berate him or fight with him. I had gone past that stage of all the hatred and anger that I felt. I just wanted the opportunity to ask him the question – just to explain to me – but that’s a part of my life that’s gone now. So I just have to learn to live with the fact that I didn’t get my opportunity to speak to Martin.

Teresa:  He made that transition from the IRA to peacemaker and had a key role in the peace process. Can you accept that – whatever his past is?

Kathleen:  No, no. I can’t because I just feel that – I don’t know how he can, he could have, come to terms with the things that he did.

Teresa:   Some will say that he brought the IRA to the table, that he took the guns out of paramilitaries, the Republican paramilitaries.

Kathleen:   But did he ever show any remorse for what he did?

Teresa:   Do you forgive him? Can you ever forgive him?

Kathleen:   No. There’s no forgiveness in my heart. I had to learn to find a way to look after my family. And it all turned out rather well and I’ve got five grandchildren and it’s great and all the rest of it but it’s five grandchildren that Patsy should have been here to be with because he would have just – he would have just idolised them. I don’t feel any better because Martin McGuinness is dead. I feel sad for his wife. If she loved him as much as I loved Patsy then I give her my condolences because I know what’s missing.

Teresa:   When you look back at twenty-six years, what have you lost?

Kathleen:   Patsy was a great family man now but I loved him – he was my husband, he was the father of our children and they missed out. And the day that my daughter was getting married and her daddy should have been there to walk her down the aisle – he wasn’t there. But her daddy should have been there and he wasn’t.

Teresa:   Do you miss him to this day?

Kathleen:   Oh, God! I miss him every day. And I talk about him all the time. I met Patsy when I was sixteen. And because of the way, because of the way he died I didn’t even get to say good-bye to him. You know – he was gone. One minute he was there – they took him out – and that’s the last I saw of him. And the last words he said to me was: Don’t worry, girl, I’ll be alright.

Joel:   The thoughts there of Kathleen Gillespie whose husband, Patsy, was killed by the IRA twenty-six years ago. (ends time stamp ~1:43:30)

Anthony McIntyre BBC World Update 21 March 2017

World Update
BBC World Service

Dan Damon speaks to former IRA member now author and political commentator, Anthony McIntyre, about the death of Martin McGuinness. (begins time stamp ~33:54)

Note:  Where’s the audio? At the time of posting it is not available for download from the BBC.  Please use the hyperlinked title ‘World Update’ to listen along as you read.  Thank you.

Dan:   Not everyone sees Martin McGuinness as a force for positive change. I’ve been speaking to the former IRA operative, Anthony McIntyre. He spent eighteen years in prison for the killing of a British soldier. I asked him how does he think Martin McGuinness will be remembered?

Anthony:   I think he managed the defeat of the IRA campaign. The IRA campaign was designed towards getting the British out of Ireland and coercing the British out of Ireland and the British had insisted on, if there was to be any constitutional change, it would be through consent. The IRA campaign failed to remove the rock of consent and smashed itself to smithereens on that rock and Martin McGuinness and others, like Gerry Adams, managed the defeat. So I think the IRA had been defeated anyway but Martin McGuinness helped manage it and, in that sense, he built the peace process and established political institutions in The North which many people will think is certainly much better than his previous activity which was war-making.

Dan:   But as you say, there is still a British presence, okay – much less militarised than before – but the overall point of the campaign didn’t get what it set out to achieve.

Anthony:   That’s very true. The IRA campaign failed. There’s been a revisionist history coming into play very much sort of to suggest that the IRA campaign was aimed at equality within The North. Many years ago there used to be slogans, IRA slogans, on the walls of Belfast and Doire that ‘God made the Catholics but the Armalite had made them equal’ so there was a view that it was through the IRA’s campaign that the IRA had been made equal. This myth that the IRA fought for some sort of equality within a British state within The North of Ireland is simply that – it’s mythologising.

Dan:  Why did you, if you disapproved and you disagreed with the way that that was achieved, that power-sharing agreement, why didn’t you join the dissident IRA groups – Real IRA, Continuity IRA?

Anthony:   Well I mean I don’t think that there’s any Republican military answer to the question of partition. In fact, I don’t think there’s any Republican answer to the question of partition. I cannot see how military activity will achieve anything whatsoever and I’d seen that the IRA campaign had failed to move the British state away from the consent principle in the slightest therefore why would anybody want to associate themselves, any thinking person, want to associate themselves with campaigns of much lesser potential, much lesser ability, to achieve something that a much bigger campaign had failed to achieve? These groups, the armed groups, often talk about ‘the right of the Irish people to be free from British rule’ but they never ask the obvious question that would follow is: Do the same Irish people not have a right to be free from the violent methods that some groups use to achieve the end of British rule?

Dan:  How does his passing change the potential for Northern Ireland and its future – possible links with the Republic?

Anthony:  I think his star was on the wane. I mean he has been replaced by a woman with no military past that anybody’s aware of. I’m uncertain but I don’t think that the Sinn Féin narrative will be totally kind to Martin McGuinness. In the immediate future we will see all sorts of eulogies, as we’d seen for Ian Paisley, describing him as a ‘statesman’ when he more was more accurately described, could be more accurately described, as a ‘hatesman’. But that’s not the type of language that makes its way into the official discourse.

Dan:  That’s Anthony McIntyre who was a former IRA operative. (ends time stamp ~ 37:44)

Eliza Butler RFÉ St. Patrick’s Weekend 2017 Music Broadcast

Radio Free Éireann
WBAI 99.5FM Pacifica Radio
New York City
listen on the internet: Saturdays Noon EST

Eliza Butler’s St. Patrick’s Weekend music broadcast. Eliza outdid herself today – this is music you’ll want to download for sure.  Enjoy!

(To download: Click on the hyperlinked title ‘Radio Free Éireann’ on this post. A WBAI page will open that will begin to play today’s show. Right click on the player. Select ‘Save Audio As’ and hit ‘Enter’.)

Al Smith St. Patrick’s Day 1920


Al Smith, Governor of New York
From His Address to the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick
At Their Annual Banquet
New York City
17 March 1920

Not only am I honored by the invitation to attend this dinner, but I had the honor and distinction, as the Governor of this State, to witness the parade. I have looked at parades during my term as Governor and before I was Governor, and it was a great sight to see 250,000 determined-looking men and women marching up the principal avenue in the greatest city in the world for a principle that will never die and never can be adjusted by compromise.

We have heard in the last few years a great deal of talk about self-determination for the small nations. What man is there in this country, or in any other country, with an open mind, with a free mind open to reason, open to common sense, ready to listen to justice, ready to pay attention to that which is right, who can say that any nation in this world more deserves, after a long history and an honorable record, the right of self-determination than does Ireland?

Happy Saint Patrick’s Weekend !

The public papers of Governor Al Smith are free. Click here.

Senator Aodhán Ó Ríordáin Talk Back (WBAI) 15 March 2017

Talk Back – We and Thee Edition
WBAI 99.5FM Pacifica Radio
New York City
listen on the internet: Wednesdays 10AM – Noon EST

John McDonagh speaks to Irish Labour Party Senator Aodhán Ó Ríordáin via telephone in New York about Irish Stand, a benefit for the ACLU being held in New York City on Saint Patrick’s Day evening. (Brian Fleming is in the studio with John.) (begins time stamp ~ 42:35)

John:  We’re going to play a clip off YouTube that went viral. It’s one of your senators over there in Ireland. Now, how do you pronounce his first name? – it’s in Irish.

Brian:  I think you’ve got two options: You can go AY-gon Ó Ríordáin or A-yon Ó Ríordáin.

John:  Yes, and he’s in town organising something called Irish Stand at the Riverside Church, uptown, to show resistance to Trump’s new policies that are coming in. So we’re going to play the clip and we’re going to make a phone call and have him on – he’s in town.

Audio:  Clip of a YouTube video of an address Labour Party Senator Aodhán O’Riordáin made in The Seanad in November 2016 is played.

John:  And you’re listening to a clip from YouTube that went viral and that’s of an Irish Senator, Aodhán Ó Ríorhdáin, and he’s in New York and I have a feeling if his name was ‘Mohammed Ó Ríordáin’ we would be calling him in Ireland and we wouldn’t be calling him from uptown by Columbia University. Aodhán, welcome to the United States!

Senator:  Thank you very much.

John:  We’re glad you made it in. And what is the project that you have working because you’ve been definitely making the rounds – I was watching you on MSNBC during the week and you’re putting together something on March 17th at the Riverside Church.

Senator:  I am and thanks for having me on. Yeah, on Saint Patrick’s Day as you know yourself the Taoiseach, our Prime Minister, comes to America every Saint Patrick’s Day. In fact, he’ll be in Washington DC on Friday, sorry – tomorrow, the sixteenth and he’ll be handing your president, Donald Trump, a bowl of shamrocks as happens every year and that coincides with the new travel ban coming into force. So considering that and considering the fact that there’s a huge number of Irish-American names surrounding Donald Trump – Bannon, Conway, Pence is an Irish-American, Ryan – we felt it was important to take a stand and to show I suppose Muslim-Americans, African-Americans, Mexican-Americans that the Irish are an immigrant people as well and that we stand with them at this time of fear and uncertainty. So in the Riverside Church on Friday, Saint Patrick’s Day, at seven thirty in the evening we’re having an event in aid of the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) celebrating the Irish immigrant experience but making the point that the Irish immigrant experience is exactly the same as other immigrant experiences and that we stand together at this great time of uncertainty.

John:  What was the reaction from the viral video that you had? Were you worried about getting into The States? And what was the reaction in The Twenty-Six Counties to you standing up and making that statement because, as you know yourself, a lot of people were reluctant to come forward because you could jeopardise business relationships or it could jeopardise even just getting your visa to get into the country?

Senator:  I think I said what I said because in Ireland obviously we just have had Brexit as well and Brexit had had the previous summer and there was a huge amount of anti-immigrant feeling in that debate, too, and nobody expected Brexit to happen and it did. I think it’s probably accurate to say that nobody really expected Trump to get elected until it happened and so when I said my words I didn’t really think it was going to go very far and then as soon as I sat down and as soon as the video went up on Facebook we got a huge amount of response from Americans to our office – people very emotional on the phone, crying, people sending emails – and then a lot of the American websites picked up the video. So it wasn’t until somebody told me over Christmas that I really needed to do something about it that we decided to have an event. I have to say I was a little bit worried as to whether I’d get in or not but what also convinced us that we should do this event was in talking to Irish-Americans here about potentially being involved at the event I got the sense, and we got the sense, that some people are literally afraid of standing up in case their own immigrant status could be questioned or their own visa could be re-checked and I found that quite interesting and also scary. And also, what I’m learning now is that there’s a number of undocumented Irish in New York who feel that they could actually be made an example of in case the administration is accused of only targeting certain nationalities that they may try to make an example of a few Irish people as well. So it’s a very fearful time but sometimes when you’re most afraid is the time to actually stand and say something.

John:  So what exactly is happening this Friday night – Where is it? How can people get involved? And who is going to be involved?

Senator:  Well we’ve a great amount of support from people who can’t be there, Rosie O’Donnell for example and Liam Neeson, but Martina Navratilova has come on board and is supporting us and Hozier and all these various Irish celebrities but you can go online to Irish Stand dot org and book your ticket. It’s fifteen dollars. Everything goes to the ACLU. There may be space on the night but the tickets are selling out very fast so I think if you want to turn up on the night and pay your fifteen dollars and on the way in that would be fine, too. And we have a lot of speakers that Irish people would be familiar with – Colum McCann, Maeve Higgins – and speakers that people based in New York would be familiar with. And we’re placing a big emphasis on Muslim-America and young Muslim speakers who are going to speak about their own experiences and finding common cause with them because this is a travel ban that’s going into effect tomorrow and we’ve a number of people from Yemen and from a Muslim background who are going to talk about xenophobia. Because remember you know when Al Smith, a good New York man, ran for office – for the highest office in the land in 1928 – he effectively lost the election because of anti-Catholic sentiment so I think the Irish have to remember that they have to overcome religious bigotry in this country and there’s parallels between what the Irish went through and what other religions are going through now in America at this time so I think we need to remember that.

John:  Well Aoghán, the American government has its tentacles all around the world and one of the years, I was over there as a veteran and I brought over statements from Veterans for Peace and Vietnam Veterans Against the War, we blocked the road in Shannon because of all the military, US military, aircraft going into Shannon refueling and heading to bomb the Middle East and also a lot of people might not know but our government actually has the customs post in Shannon and in Dublin where they can stop an Irish citizen (and a Muslim) from anywhere in the world from leaving Ireland and getting on a flight to the United States so I mean there’s a lot of moving parts with the American government and the things that they’re doing, particularly with the military aircraft that refuels in Shannon, but the policy that we have now is being implemented in Ireland.

Senator:  Well yeah, and there’s a number of various, different things happening that absolutely is something people should be very, very uncomfortable with – that the pre-clearance at Shannon and Dublin will be forced to do that. But we’re also making the point, by the way, that while Irish politicians are over in Washington trying to advocate for the fifty thousand undocumented Irish-Americans, which is something they should do, but as Marty Walsh (Mayor of Boston, MA) said in Boston he won’t support anything that just focuses on the Irish. But there’s also twenty-five thousand undocumented workers in Ireland from other countries. So while the Minister of State and the Department of Justice – I didn’t get I suppose, I wasn’t successful enough in trying to get them regularised and hopefully will be in the position to do it soon but I don’t think it’s right or just for the Taoiseach to be in Washington talking about the fifty thousand undocumented Irish when we’re not doing the same for you know Filipino or whatever nationalities who are in Ireland undocumented as well. I think we need to be – we need to be consistent in what we’re trying to achieve. So I think on Friday night we can bring an awful lot of these things together. We’ll be reading out a message from the Migrant Rights Centre in Ireland on Friday night talking about the plight of undocumented workers in Dublin and in Ireland. Obviously, we want undocumented Irish here to be regularised but we also want to make sure that we don’t just do this for the Irish – we do this for everybody. But I got the sense though that finally there’s a level of understanding breaking out between different groups who possibly were suspicious of each other – we’ll have a rabbi and an imam speaking together on Friday night, we’ll have people of an Irish background, and African-American backgrounds – I think that at the end of the day you know we’re all human beings and maybe in the past we’ve forgotten that but maybe when people feel that fearful about their future they actually begin to overcome those differences and realise there’s something bigger at stake.

John:  Alright, Aodhán, before we go off – it’s five to eleven here in New York City – how can people get involved, get tickets? And what time and where is it?

Senator:  Irish Stand dot org. The Twitter handle is @Irish Stand. It’s the Riverside Church, 7:30, Patrick’s night – so go to the parade, have fun, but remember that the Irish are immigrants and we have to stand with all immigrants at this time so the Riverside Church – it’s where Martin Luther King made his famous speech Vietnam War speech in 1967. It’s almost exactly fifty years since he made that speech in that location. Seven-thirty, Riverside Church – we’d be delighted to see everybody of any background there but of course, especially the Irish.

John:  Alright, thank you. And that’s Senator Aodhán Ó Ríordáin, just over from Ireland, organising an event on Saint Patrick’s night and thank you for coming on.

Senator:  Thanks a lot! (ends time stamp ~ 55:35)

Ed Moloney RFÉ 11 March 2017

Radio Free Éireann
WBAI 99.5FM Pacifica Radio
New York City
listen on the internet: Saturdays Noon EST

John McDonagh and Martin Galvin speak to award winning journalist, author and historian Ed Moloney via telephone about the reaction of the Nationalist community to the results of the recent snap election in The North of Ireland. (begins time stamp ~ 35:02 )

John:   And leaving Belfast for The Bronx, not that big a jump, and we’re going to head up there and speak with Ed Moloney, author of many books particularly one, A Secret History of the IRA. Ed, reading some of the analyses about the election, and it surely was a political earthquake that happened over in The Six Counties, but they said what really stirred the Sinn Féin vote was something called ‘cultural Nationalists’ – that they were quite content within The Six Counties as long as they had the Irish language, as long as they could play GAA that they were quite content. But when Arlene Foster came out and said there’ll be no funding and you ‘feed a crocodile’ – for the Irish language and some of the stuff the DUP (Democratic Unionist Party) were getting involved with – but that is what stirred up a lot of the Nationalist people.

Ed:  Yeah, I think that’s really what the election was about at the end of the day. It was a throwback in terms of the folk memory to many Nationalists, for many Nationalists, to the bad old days of Unionist majority rule where they not only did they rule the roost but they ruled with considerable arrogance and disdain for the Nationalist population and Arlene Foster’s language, her body language, the antics of some of her colleagues in the DUP were all reminders of that and I think acted as a considerable spur rather than any notion that this was all about a united Ireland. I think it was more about civil rights if you like rather than the national question. And I think the evidence is also there in the way that the SDLP (Social Democratic and Labour Party) vote did very well as well as Sinn Féin’s vote and that combined, the pair of them, you know came so close to overtaking the combined Unionists votes that people have described it, as you said yourself, as a political earthquake. But I think that’s somewhat misleading. I think it’s really – it was about getting very angry and looking for a way to hit back at the DUP for the way that they had behaved.

John:  Yeah also, Ed, it seems elections like this bring out, as I say, the Orange and the Green and it consolidates the very sectarian vote. You know, now I get to listen, because of the internet, about the coverage in The North. There was no talks about you know we want to bring employment to The Six Counties, we want to stop fracking in Fermanagh. When these elections start it breaks down so sectarian it is unbelievable! And the people in The South, you listen to them, it’s sort of: Well, that’s The Six Counties. That’s the way elections are fought there – but it’s such an aberration when you hear the debates and everything. It has nothing to do with improving the economy. It’s ‘us’ against ‘them’ and it seems this election is really going to bring it out – or even the next election – that it is just going to be Orange and Green and that’s going to be the vote.

Ed:  Well you see this is, of course, this is the major critique of the Good Friday Agreement from, if you like, a sort of more left-wing perspective – is that it has institutionalised sectarianism and rewards sectarianism and not only that but solidifies power in the hands of two parties, essentially the DUP and Sinn Fein, who manage to climb to the top of their greasy, respective greasy poles over their rivals in their own camps – the DUP beating the Ulster Unionists and the Sinn Féin beating the SDLP – and each election is really about the same thing: You better vote for us because if you don’t ‘themmuns’ are going to get the First Minister’s job and that will be terrible’ and Sinn Féin saying: You know, here’s a chance to get one back at the Prods by voting strongly enough to get the First Minister’s seat – and it institutionalises this and it sets politics in concrete and makes it impossible for the sort of issues that you were just talking about, like job creation, etc, to be raised. I mean this election I suppose was slightly different in the sense that there was a controversy over the DUP’s – the smell of corruption over this pellet fire or ash for cash or whatever it’s called – cash for ash scandal that hit Arlene Foster. But you know look how Eamonn McCann’s vote and the vote for his people suffered as a result of that and that’s an example of just how the Good Friday Agreement has – I mean and I think it’s almost done quite cynically by the British and Irish governments because this was a way to sort of like side-line the thing and keep these people busy fighting their little sectarian conflict as long as they keep it to politics and don’t bring the guns out then that’s fine. Let them carry on like that ad infinitum. And of course we give them a nice big Assembly, wonderful big castle of mention of a place to work in with a fantastic cafeteria and great food and they have wonderful salaries and great expenses and there’s lots of them, and they’re allowed to employ their wives and their sons and their daughters and you know, that’ll keep it going and you know that’s why I suspect that they will probably get this deal back again in some way, shape or form, too – there’s a gravy train and they’re all filling their bellies from it and at the same time very confident, as long as no one reaches again for guns, power is going to be confined exclusively in the hands of these two parties for ad infinitum.

Martin:   Well Ed, this is Martin Galvin here. Ed, one of the elements of this deal is that the British government, as represented now by James Brokenshire, they don’t have to take responsibility for anything. You know they have a block grant. They can do what they like in terms of imprisoning Tony Taylor. They can say: Oh, we can’t give funding for legacy inquests – it might show that our hands are dirty in terms of the conflict or our hands are dirty in terms of the collusion because Arlene Foster won’t agree. So they get to stand behind Stormont, say we’re not responsible for anything and just rely on the two parties to exercise a veto against each other so that Arlene Foster, the DUP, don’t have to make moves and they can say: It’s not us – it’s just the DUP. Isn’t that sort of what we have instead of direct rule, instead of the British being responsible for injustices or what goes in in The North of Ireland?

Ed:   Well it’s not just that, they’re also in charge of the economy, really. I mean the Assembly and the Executive is allowed to spend money as it wishes within certain limits but it’s given a budget not by…

Martin:  …Right. Like a child with an allowance.

Ed:  Precisely! They’re given their pocket money every week and away you go and you spend it on what you like and have a good time, guys, and try not to really screw up here. But they’re not allowed to raise taxes and they’re not allowed to raise money in the way that a fully independent government would be able to do. And of course, that means that The North’s economy – and we see this with the decision on Europe as well is, essentially, the powers – the power over the most important things, including those issues you raised there about who killed whom, when and why and how – those issues are all under the control of the British still and one could argue that between that and the economy that’s really what Northern Ireland has been about for the last thirty-forty years.

John:  And another topic, I don’t know how much play it had in the elections, is Brexit – with the United Kingdom pulling out of the European Union. A couple months ago I had a conversation with Barbara Jones of the Irish Consulate and she was telling me that the border was in my head – that it didn’t really exist. And I was explaining to her my mother’s from a small town in Donegal called Pettigo – half of it is in Fermanagh – and I remember all the customs checkpoints and everything that’s going on and how this is just not a huge debate in The Six Counties but because of the Green and Orange but with this coming down the pike this is going to be re-setting up the custom posts from Dundalk all the way up to Doire and Letterkenny that the Brexit’s going to have a huge – and it’s having a huge effect there now where people are shopping in Enniskillen or you’re getting your petrol in The South and going back and forth and no one seems to have a plan on what’s going to happen when the borders are a hard border. And there will be a hard border.

Ed:  Well we’ll see. We’ll have to wait and see on that. But in relation to things like shopping on different sides of the border – that was going on long before the Brexit vote because currency variations – you know because the British kept the pound and wouldn’t go in with the euro – there was sometimes significant swings, one way or the other, that would encourage people either to shop in Newry or to shop in Dundalk or what have you that was happening Brexit or no Brexit. We have to wait and see what the sort of deal that this woman Theresa May gets out of the European nations for British exit from the EU. I suspect that, from the mood music that’s coming out, that they’re all sort of saying well we’ve got to avoid this hard border because it sort of evokes images of the 1950’s really because you know even when The Troubles were on the border, customs-wise, increasingly became less relevant. You know? And you didn’t have to stop. There were times, long, long ago, when you had to stop at the border and someone would peer into your car and then let you go if you were judged to be ‘okay’. That was gone long before, and during the Troubles that went and really stopping at the border only became necessary for hauliers and trucks and people who were shipping stuff across over to Europe or up to Britain or whatever and they would have to get their customs papers signed and so on and so forth and they would stop voluntarily and the customs posts went from the middle of the road to the side of the road and became increasingly less intrusive in peoples’ lives. Now whether it reverts back to the 1950’s or something like the 1980’s remains to be seen but I suspect they all want to get something that’s equivalent to the 1980’s. The British, of course, are all exercised about the idea of tens of thousands of people from Syria (just like Donald Trump) slipping over to Britain via the Irish the back door – but that’s not going to happen either, I don’t think – realistically it’s just not on. So I just find it hard to take this whole Brexit thing terribly seriously. A) because not everyone in Northern Ireland or indeed round the border areas is that much affected, even by a hard border. And what was – it depends on how you determine or judge or decide what The Troubles were really all about – I’ve increasingly come to the viewpoint that this was not a national liberation struggle really in its essence – that the Provos were never real Republicans in the sense that you know people like the IRA of 1916 or the IRA of Ruairí Ó Brádaigh etc. The Provos were defenders. They came from that different part of the Republican Movement which was really about defending Catholic interests. And because they come from that origin I think it’s so much easier for them to do a deal, like the Good Friday Agreement, which like an old-fashioned Republican could not have done because it accepted partition, accepted the Principle of Consent and so on and so forth. And if it was really about civil rights – and if it was a civil rights campaign or struggle that got out of control – then issues like the border really come secondary to issues like that we have seen being fought over in the recent election in The North which was about relationships between Catholics and Protestants within the Northern Ireland state and that’s not going to be affected that much by Brexit. But I may be wrong – we’ll see.

Martin:   Alright, Ed, well if we had time I’d go into all of those things – which I have a very different viewpoint but how and ever – and Brexit, of course, is going to be negotiated by all of the European Community with Theresa May and I don’t know who much of the interest of those who want a soft border in Ireland are going to have but the important question now is: What do you expect to happen? We have three weeks altogether between the time that the Assembly ended and there’s supposed to be nominations and accepted nominations of a First and Deputy First Minister. There are talks going on now. Arlene Foster had campaigned on the basis of stopping Gerry Adams and that Michelle O’Neill was just somebody that he had instructed and put up as a puppet or as a functionary. Arlene Foster’s leading negotiations. Gerry Adams is involved with negotiations. You have Fr. Gary Donegan, some of the people who brought the parade back to Ardoyne and resolved that issue, are getting involved. James Brokenshire’s getting involved. What do you expect to happen over the next few weeks? Are we going to have a Stormont government reconvened within the three weeks or slightly longer period? What do you expect to see?

Ed:  I actually think that really events south of the border are going to play a bigger role in this than maybe anything else. And there is a distinct possibility that this government in Dublin, which is a strange government – it’s a coalition government in everything but name – it’s sort of being propped up by Fianna Fáil but they’re not taking ministerial seats etc. But that’s a very shaky arrangement and it could collapse at any moment. And there are stresses and strains on it. Enda Kenny is due to retire or resign as Taoiseach quite soon. He’s more or less made that promise public and you could see an election happening in The South. Now, in the midst of all this business about the ‘cash for ash’ scandal Sinn Féin let it be known that they were going to drop their insistence that the only way in which they would become a member of a government in The South in Dublin would be as a majority party that they were now prepared to take seats on a minority basis – in other words as a minority partner in a coalition government – which opens up the possibility of a Fine Gael-Sinn Féin government, with Fine Gael in the majority or a Fianna Fáil-Sinn Féin government with Fianna Fáil in majority. Both things Sinn Féin had always said they would never accept. Now they’re prepared to accept that. And I suspect that what is happening here is that – being as you know, Martin, it has been my belief for a very long time that the real goal in all of this peace process has been to get to a situation where Sinn Féin is involved in the government on both sides of the border at the same time. In other words there are Sinn Féin bums on seats around cabinet tables in Dublin and Belfast and that will be Gerry Adams’ mark on Irish history – that is what he will be remembered for – for pulling off that particular trick. And he’s not getting any younger. I mean we’ve seen the condition that his former partner, Martin McGuinness, is in – he may not have much longer on this planet – and Gerry himself must be fully aware that you know his time is finite as well and that if it’s ever going to happen it has to happen fairly soon. And if there is an election and if there is a possibility of Sinn Féin going in as a minority partner in a coalition government – and there will always be coalition governments in The South – no one party has sufficient strength to have the majority by themselves – then what happens in The North then becomes quite important because it’s then in Gerry Adams’ interest to get stability back in The North and also to be seen as someone who is responsible and has negotiated a good arrangement for his people in The North and, therefore, is a fitting partner for one of the parties in The South to go into government with. But we shall see whether that happens or not but I suspect that may play a role in all of this.

Martin:  Alright, Ed, we want to thank you for that. We’re going to have to leave it here. We could go on for a lot longer if we had a lot longer to go on but we’re almost out of time…

Ed:   …Indeed…

Martin:  …so I want to thank you for that analysis.

Ed:  Okay. Bye-bye. (ends time stamp ~ 53:12)

Suzanne Breen RFÉ 11 March 2017

Radio Free Éireann
WBAI 99.5FM Pacifica Radio
New York City
listen on the internet: Saturdays Noon EST

John McDonagh and Martin Galvin speak to award winning journalist Suzanne Breen via telephone from Belfast about the reaction of the Unionist and Loyalist communities to the results of the recent snap election in The North of Ireland. (begins time stamp ~ 18:45)

Martin:  With us on the line – we’re very fortunate we have two of the best known, prize winning journalists and commentators on the Irish situation. The first of them is Belfast-based Suzanne Breen. Suzanne, welcome back to Radio Free Éireann.

Suzanne:   Thank you, Martin.

Martin:  Suzanne, the last time we talked to you we were talking about ‘roll-over Republicanism’, we were talking about a situation where Arlene Foster, who’s the head of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), seemed to be unassailable. She had a big majority in Stormont. It seemed like she was a new beginning to the Democratic Unionist Party – a departure – somebody more moderate, more liberal, more open to the views of Nationalists and Catholics than certainly than the founding member of the party had been in his early days, Ian Paisley, or Peter Robinson had been in the early founding of the DUP. We’re now in a completely different situation. I just want to read a quote from an MLA, Members of the Legislative Assembly, a Unionist who lost her seat – Jo-Anne Dobson, she said this:

Arlene Foster has done more, in my living memory, against unionism by not stepping aside. The cost has been sixteen unionist seats. One woman has been responsible for five hard-working, good women losing their seats. She weakened unionism and helped the Irish nationalist cause. She projected an atmosphere of fear during the election. The election was a hammer-blow for Unionists. Why couldn’t Arlene Foster have just stepped aside?

How representative is that view – that somebody from a different party, but it’s an official Unionist party, who lost her seat – how representative is that comment of the attitude now within Unionism as to the election and how did things change so fast and so dramatically?

Suzanne:   Well Arlene Foster has turned from being her party’s greatest asset to being its greatest liability. She was asked by Sinn Féin to stand aside for what would have been three weeks and she refused. I think her party and herself made a call that Sinn Féin was so addicted to holding power at Stormont and to the institutions that it would capitulate on this demand as it had given into the DUP before and been exceedingly tolerant and always climbed down and Sinn Féin didn’t do that. And Arlene Foster’s behaviour during the election campaign was so obnoxious to Nationalists that even the most moderate voters came out to oppose her. She talked about Republicans and Nationalists being ‘crocodiles’ that had an insatiable appetite and she used language that really belonged to the last century – language that wouldn’t have been expected to her and language that was interpreted as arrogant, patronising and sectarian. So while the DUP’s number of first preference votes in the election actually went up Sinn Féin’s votes rocketed and they came within just a thousand votes of being the main political party in Northern Ireland. The DUP won two hundred and twenty-five thousand four hundred and thirteen. Sinn Féin won two hundred and twenty-four thousand two hundred and forty-five. And also, very importantly, while the DUP won twenty-eight seats in the new Assembly Sinn Féin won twenty-seven and if you add in the left-wing People Before Profit, who believe in a united Ireland even though they don’t class themselves as Nationalists, the two parties are virtually tied. The DUP lost ten seats in this election. Sinn Féin lost only one which was quite an achievement given that the number of seats were decreasing from a hundred and eight to ninety.

So Sinn Fein is now neck-and-neck with the DUP and Nationalists, when you add in the SDLP (Social Democratic and Labour Party) are neck-and-neck with Unionists, which is the DUP and the more moderate Ulster Unionist Party (UUP). So really Arlene Foster has brought her party and Unionism from a position of great strength, just ten months ago, to a position now of huge weakness. The election result has been a huge psychological blow for Unionists. There is talk now of Unionist pacts, Unionist coalitions and Unionism is really under pressure and feels much, much weaker than it has at any point in the past two decades. And what a lot of Unionists are saying is this all could have been avoided, this election needn’t have happened had Arlene Foster stood aside before Christmas for three short weeks – this really wouldn’t have happened and had she not angered the Nationalist community so much during the election campaign. Yes, her own party’s vote held up but she drove so many Nationalists into voting for Sinn Féin and she has been described as Gerry Adams’ and Sinn Féin’s greatest recruiting sergeant either. So her message of loathing against Sinn Féin brought out her own supporters but it brought out far, far more Nationalists. It was a double-edged sword.

Martin:  Suzanne, they are now in talks. I believe the first week is just about finished. They have three weeks to convene a new government wherein Sinn Féin would agree to nominate a Deputy First Minister, the DUP would nominate the First Minister and that must be done in order to convene a government. Sinn Féin has said so far that they will not go in and will not do that unless Arlene Foster stands aside while the RHI, the Renewable Heat Incentive scandal, is dealt with. They’re in talks right now. How does Arlene Foster – during the campaign she portrayed Gerry Adams as some kind of bogeyman, she was there to stop his agenda. She said Michelle O’Neill, who would be the candidate or the leader of Sinn Féin in The North, was merely somebody that Gerry Adams had installed and would instruct and was not an independent person. How does Arlene Foster, having campaigned on the basis of: A vote for me is a vote to stop them and block them – how does she now go into negotiations and try to form a government with Sinn Féin within a couple of more weeks?

Suzanne:   Well there’s always this game that is played between the DUP and Sinn Féin and there’s a big amount of hypocrisy in it. It was played ten months ago when the DUP election campaign was run on the grounds of ‘vote for Arlene because you might get Martin McGuinness as First Minister’. And yet after the election the parties settled down very happily in government together. In some ways they really need each other because all the fear they instill – if you don’t vote for me you get ‘them’ – that’s the game that encourages their voters to come out in large numbers but they do settle down and do do business after the election. The key question is here is whether Sinn Féin will do a u-turn on its demand that Arlene Foster step aside? The party is saying that she still does have to step aside until an inquiry into RHI is over. Now that inquiry could take between six months and probably actually a year and Sinn Féin has said that this is a red line for it. Now many people have heard of Sinn Féin red lines before and they do shift but it would be very, very hard for the party to surrender on this one. It has just won an election; it has a huge vote and there is a lot of anger in Nationalist areas against Arlene Foster and it would seem to be a pretty poor strategy if the party threw that away and alienated the voters that it is so happy to have won back because until now the whole drift in recent elections had been for a decreasing vote for Sinn Féin. It was very much losing touch with its grassroots, its voters were disillusioned and they have now been energised back into supporting the party and it would seem quite strange for Sinn Fein to throw this away and to immediately go into government with Arlene Foster.

What Sinn Féin is saying as a possible compromise is that Arlene Foster could be a minister in the new government but not First Minister, not having the top job but that she would get that job if and when she was exonerated by the public inquiry that is taking place. Now on the other hand, some people think that Sinn Féin is so wedded again to power at Stormont and will so much want to get the institutions up and running again that this will, this demand that Arlene step aside, will be brushed side. I think that’s pretty unlikely. I think Sinn Féin will, so to speak, hold onto its guns on this one and Arlene will make some kind of announcement that if an overall, if a big deal with Sinn Féin can be done for the sake of Northern Ireland she will step out of the limelight, out of being First Minister, for a period of months until the whole RHI issue is resolved.

John:   (station identification) And with us on the line from Belfast is Suzanne Breen who writes for the Belfast Telegraph. Suzanne, this has been an earthquake within the Loyalist community and you read some of the reactions – can you tell us: Why is it that the Loyalist paramilitaries, say like the Progressive Unionist Party (PUP), gets no support. And I read an article that there’s anger within the Loyalist paramilitaries, particularly the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF), that they’re getting jittery and they’re thinking about going back to the guns and all this other stuff but there’s just sheer panic within the Loyalist community and that Gerry Adams might overplay his hand for a united Ireland but maybe describe for our audience: Why is there such a panic, and even in particularly with the Loyalist paramilitaries, about this vote?

Suzanne:  Well it just – Unionist have been used to having quite a numerical lead over Nationalists in elections and you know – they’re used to ruling the roost and this really has put fear in them. As I said before it is a major psychological issue. They now see this on the march and this on the rise – Nationalist community – its commentators widely said that Arlene wakened the sleeping giant of Nationalist voters so you know they have a lot to get used to. I don’t believe for one second that it is going to lead to Loyalist paramilitaries restarting their campaign again. I think they were ultimately controlled, at some type of central level, by elements of the British state and I don’t think that that British state wants to destabilise Northern Ireland which is ticking away quite nicely at the minute. In terms of Unionist voters they have never really supported the Loyalist paramilitary parties. Even people who would support the Loyalist paramilitaries they tend to vote DUP at elections. The Loyalist paramilitary parties, the Progressive Unionist Party, which would be seen as the political wing of the UVF, it manages to get a few councillors elected but even gone are the days where it would get someone elected to the Assembly. Even when it was getting people elected to the Assembly it was only one or two members. It really didn’t catch on within the Unionist community and it’s not going to do that now but I think certain people sense fear that Loyalists back on the streets with their guns. I think that’s wrong. Loyalist paramilitaries are still active but it’s mainly in terms of extorting money from within their own community and intimidation. They’re not really active in terms of targeting Catholics.

Martin:  Alright Suzanne, just we’re coming towards the end – I want to get off the sixty-four thousand dollar question: Mike Nesbitt, the leader of the official Ulster Unionist (Party), has resigned. How safe is Arlene Foster? Is there any movement within her party that she should stand aside permanently? And what happens next? We have a couple of weeks, if there is no deal there’s a possibility of a prospect of new elections or it could be an extension of time – what are your predictions as to Arlene Foster and what will happen next in terms of re-convening Stormont?

Suzanne:  Well the Ulster Unionist leader, Mike Nesbitt, was actually very gracious, very dignified. He fell on his sword, took responsibility for his poor election result. Arlene Foster isn’t going to do that and she will not be shifted as DUP leader but the key question is: Will she step aside as First Minister of Northern Ireland while remaining DUP leader? Personally, I think she will. There are certainly senior people in the party who are briefing against her, who think that she has seriously damaged the party but she maintains the support of people like deputy leader, Nigel Dodds, and if the DUP moves against her it won’t be in the face of a very aggressive Sinn Féin because it just wouldn’t do that. It will be in the months ahead that she may be sidelined. She may find it difficult to get back the First Minister position but the DUP is not going to dump Arlene Foster just because Gerry Adams is asking – so that would look disastrous. There are three weeks for Sinn Féin and the DUP to reach a deal. Most observers believe that that is probably a very, very difficult task. No one would think that Northern Ireland is going to go back to direct rule. Probably the Secretary of State, James Brokenshire, will fiddle with the rules to allow devolution to somehow be suspended to give the parties maybe extra weeks or months to reach a deal. Another question is whether Sinn Féin actually does want a deal or does it think that, in reality, Stormont rule isn’t working for it and actually the fact that the DUP just won’t compromise enough means that Sinn Féin’s involvement in the Executive, which is very unpopular, or whether Sinn Féin – the Executive offers massive powers of patronage, it offers salaries for Sinn Féin MLAs, it’s money going into the party’s coffers – whether it’s actually prepared to jeopardise that for political and ideological goals? Those are the key questions.

Martin:   Alright, Suzanne, we want to thank you. We’re then going to try and get the Nationalist perspective in a moment from Ed Moloney. Thank you for a tremendous amount of information and condensing it in a very short period of time.

Suzanne:   Okay. Thanks. (ends time stamp ~ 35:02)

Jennifer O’Leary BBC Spotlight NI 14 & 21 February 2017

Thanks to Mick Fealty, founder of Slugger O’Toole, for uploading the recent airings of the BBC Spotlight NI programme onto YouTube.

This is a two part report filed by Jennifer O’Leary about the power-sharing government in The North of Ireland and its future entitled The Future of Stormont.

In Part One O’Leary traveled to Kosovo to observe its power-sharing government. Mick ‘kept the politics local’ and edited that section out.  The video below, titled ‘Spotlight on the problem of ‘undemocracy’ in St. Andrews‘, is the continuation of Part One after the edit.

Kate Nash RFÉ 11 February 2017

Radio Free Éireann
WBAI 99.5FM Pacifica Radio
New York City
listen on the internet: Saturdays Noon EST

John McDonagh and Martin Galvin speak to Kate Nash of the Bloody Sunday March for Justice via telephone from Doire about the Justice for Veterans UK march that was planned to be held near The Bogside and about the status of the prosecutions of Bloody Sunday soldiers. (begins time stamp ~ 31:03)

Martin:   I believe we have on the line Kate Nash. Kate, are you with us?

Kate:   Yes, indeed I am, Martin. Hello.

Martin:   Yes, Kate, hi. Kate, I’m just reading something from BBC – Bloody Sunday, of course, where your brother was killed, January 30th 1972 – your father was wounded. There were thousands of people on the streets marching in a civil rights march against internment – shot down by British troopers. And there was almost another march, it was originally scheduled for March 4th but it’s been called off, and I’m just reading from the BBC about a group, Northern Ireland branch of the Veterans for Justice and how they’re upset by ‘false prosecutions’ of British soldiers. And the leader of that group said:

if soldiers break the law they face the rigours of the law and rightly so and it’s the same as it should be for any other member of the community. But where’s the investigation into my colleagues and friends who were murdered? It seems to be forgotten about.

Now Kate we thought we’d call you. You’re still marching for prosecutions of any British soldiers as the result of the murder of your brother and – actually a total of fourteen people, the wounding of so many others – in plain site, plain view, openly, observed by thousands of people in Doire. Exactly where are we in terms of getting prosecutions of British soldiers for that?

Kate:   Well, several months later we’re still waiting for the Public Prosecution Service to send us word that either these soldiers will be going into court or it’s not in the public interest to prosecute them. That’s exactly where we’re at. We haven’t heard anything from them. Actually, we have a letter here that I’m sure all families got and there’s a number on it for a care worker who we can liaise with at the Public Prosecution Service and Liam Wray actually tried that number and it’s dead. It’s a non-existent number. So that’s how much they care.

Martin:   Alright. Now, this march – it’s just fascinating to me, they are now claiming they were going to march, it’s been called off. I know you were involved – there are quite a number of people in Doire – the Saoradh political party, others – but I just – they say that no one, no Republicans, have ever been prosecuted for killing British troopers. About how many people, between internment, between charges, between sent to Maghaberry, between Long Kesh, between Crumlin Road – all the other prisons – how many people were inside, Republicans or Loyalists, were inside British prisons because of attacks on British soldiers?

Kate:    Well I’ll tell you: There’s been twenty-five thousand Republicans have gone through the courts and prosecuted. And there’s been twenty thousand Loyalists. So when they say to you that there are only – and in fact only a handful, I mean four maybe five soldiers, have gone through the courts in all that time. They got small sentences, even for murder. They got small sentences and in fact, came out, got back into the British Army and indeed some of them were decorated. As you know the Bloody Sunday soldiers were actually decorated for what they did on Bloody Sunday. But these soldiers went back into the Army and rose up the ranks.

Martin:    And one wonders, when they say they went to prison, like for the murder of Kidso Reilly and others, whether it just was that they were put into a different barracks or a different type of duty serving with the British Army. I just want to – you’ve used the term, or it has been used, that the British troopers have impunity’ – they had an undeclared amnesty – that they weren’t being prosecuted. And now, as it looks, you and the other Bloody Sunday families, the people in The North of Ireland who fought behind your campaign are at the point where prosecutions or acts – well files were sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions, sort of like a District Attorney there, Barra McGrory, a decision will be made – it hasn’t been made yet – whether to prosecute or not. That seems to have gotten all this action: threats of marches, calls for amnesty, call for a statute of limitations which would whitewash everybody, calls in Westminster for there to be new laws that they shouldn’t be prosecuted. I just want to go through what your family and the others who support you have gotten, how much it has taken, even to get to this stage – after Bloody Sunday what happened? What was said about your brother, about the others who were killed that day? What sort of claims were made about them by the British?

Kate:    Yes. Yes. My brother – in the newspapers – they claimed he was a gunman. He was completely demonised. The whole family were, in fact. The British newspapers said that we were a pro-Republican, violent family – actually nothing was further from the truth. Although I did have brothers involved in boxing even at professional level – not then but later on. (One of them actually went to the Olympic Games in Munch that same year.) However, that was the sort of thing they said about us. As you know, we got hate mail. We got hate mail from everywhere and saying that he deserved to die. In fact, what we had to do was, because my mother wasn’t very well – she’d had a heart attack – we had to actually watch for the postman so that we could actually get the mail and keep it away from her – she was just so upset – some of the ugly, terrible things that were being written you know? So…

Martin:   …So I just want to explain to our audience: It’s a civil rights march, it was publicly called, it was well-known, there were thousands of people who attended. People had been interned without charge or trial in Doire and across The North that previous August.

Kate:   That’s right.

Martin:   Your brother and a number of other people, fourteen died – thirteen that day, a fourteenth later on – others were wounded, severely wounded, including your father.

Kate:   That’s right.

Martin:   They’re obviously marching. This is seen. It’s witnessed. And the British government says your brother was a gunman, others were nail bombers or assisted nail bombers or other excuses. You get hate mail. You get demonised. So you not only have to live with close family members being killed or wounded but you have to live with that type of demonisation – with hate mail, with being having him branded as a gunman, somebody who deserved to die – that sort of thing. Alright. It took months but because of the outcry, because of the campaign, you got a tribunal – it was lead by a famous Lord Justice who was going to bring justice to The North named Lord Widgery. And what happened at the end result of that tribunal?

Kate:   Well what happened was they basically blamed the victims and although they did admit that soldiers might have been a little bit hasty basically the victims were to blame for themselves. And that’s what happened. In fact, my father, at one stage, was actually told that he didn’t really know his son. You know, I can tell you… (crosstalk)

Martin:    …Well I remember the Widgery Report, it actually became famous because I remember being in Ireland just a few months later and somebody would tell a crazy tale or something like that and people would shout out: Oh! Widgery wouldn’t even accept that one or You couldn’t Widgery your way out of something (If you wanted to tell a lie.) It was a complete whitewash. So your brother stayed branded as a gunman. Others stayed branded as nail bombers or assisted nail, bombers. How much longer did you have to campaign, march, struggle to get something changed?

Kate:   Well the families marched I mean for years and then some fell away obviously because they didn’t want – because the Provisional IRA took over that march the families didn’t want the association with the you know – innocents victims really and the IRA – because they would have given them a whip, really, to beat us with, you know? But then again the campaign started again then in I believe in ’92 – well when the Good Friday Agreement happened and …(crosstalk)

Martin:   …Alright. Now that was in 1998. And because of Doire and Bloody Sunday being so important – I mean it’s unfortunate but there have been many, many families who lost people – innocent victims of either British troops or the RUC (Royal Ulster Constabulary) or people that they hired, their hirelings – Loyalist killers, etc. For example, the Ballymurphy Families, that I know you’re close to, they still are branded as criminals, as gunmen – that sort of thing. Those killings occurred in August of 1971. But because Doire and Bloody Sunday was witnessed by so many people it was made part of the Good Friday Agreement that we’re now going to get justice, that we’re now going to – a new day has dawned, new justice will happen. How long did it take before there was a finding clearing your brother and the others who were victims of Bloody Sunday from that inquiry that was announced as part of this Good Friday Agreement in 1998?

Kate:   Well the inquiry took six years and then we waited a further six years to get the conclusions. And we got the conclusions in 2010, June of 2010. We’re now into almost the seventh, it’ll be seven years. And you would have thought with those conclusions, because they said the victims were killed without fear or panic, and the soldiers knowingly lied about this so you would have expected prosecutions to follow but that didn’t happen. We’re now seven years, almost seven years later, in June, and so – we wait.

Martin:   Alright. Now you’re on the verge of a decision being made on whether there’ll be prosecutions and all of sudden you hear about this march being announced by the Veterans for Justice group about who feel they are being mistreated. There are announcements in England, in Westminster – one person whose a Member of Parliament said he used to torture people in The North of Ireland. What was planned for March 4th in Doire?

Kate:   Well these guys had decided, these veterans, had decided they were going to march. As you know here, Martin, when you march here you have to apply to what we call the Parades Commission for permission to march – I think it’s usually thirty days notice – something like that. So these guys, the Parades Commission obviously gave these guys permission to march and it was announced in the press. And I can tell you all hell broke loose in Doire. The Parades Commission were inundated with phone calls and emails totally against – people, people telling them that they didn’t want these guys to march. There was just such a rage. And it was like you know – it could almost take you back forty-five years. This had the potential to turn into something extremely violent because the people of Doire, even though it’s been forty-five years, the people of Doire are still very raw at what happened and that was palpable. You could feel it in the city, you know? Everybody. There was rage everywhere.

Martin:   Alright. And there were also counter-demonstrations called – groups like Saoradh and others were going to march against…

Kate:   …Saoradh, a group here, Saoradh were planning to march from Free Derry Wall but you have to understand though, that this, these veterans, these old soldiers would have been marching to The Diamond which is literally a five minute stroll from The Bogside where all these victims died. So this is where these guys were going to come to.

Free Derry Wall after news of vets’ group march was published

And Saoradh was going to march from Free Derry Wall up to The Diamond and I believe the IRSP (Irish Republican Socialist Party), we call them the Irps, they were going to march and of course, we would have had to definitely arrange a counter-demonstration through the families and supporters of course and that would have brought, I know that would have brought thousands and thousands of people onto the street. I was very afraid, to be honest – very, very afraid – because I knew something would – there would have been a tremendous amount of trouble and you don’t want people hurt. I just wouldn’t want anybody hurt. So I was really, really glad when it was called off. But thank God, through the auspices of the pressure that the people here in Doire – and Belfast – other people were contacting us as well – were putting on the Parades Commission the pressure to stop that march and obviously they realised then that would have been the sensible thing to do.

John:   Alright now Kate, this was definitely a political decision – where to march. They could have marched Ballymena or some Loyalist area…

Kate:   Of course. Of course.

John:   …and they probably would have gotten a great reception as they marched through. But they deliberately said we’re going to march through Doire. And then how did it move…

Kate:   …Provocative

Martin:   …It was like the Ku Klux Klan when they wanted to march in Skokie or somewhere like that – they have to march in an area – worst type of area…

John:   …And what’s the official reason they’re not marching now?

Kate:    Well according to the Parades Commission they actually withdrew, they actually withdrew their – what they asked for they withdrew the – to ask for the march. They just withdrew that application. But I don’t believe that. I believe actually what happened was the pressure, I know the pressure was great. I had called all the MLAs in the city and strangely, the only one that didn’t get back to me was the Unionist, I’ll not name him, the Unionist MLA at Stormont – he didn’t get back to me though I really wasn’t surprised at that. But I called my solicitor. I was going to mount a legal challenge to have it stopped because I knew there was potential for great violence. And the people – just so raw – what happened here Bloody Sunday – it’s just so raw with the people and I knew it had the potential for (inaudible). We didn’t want that.

Martin:   Alright, Kate, there are – we’re at the stage, Barra McGrory is going to make a decision one way or another on whether there’ll be prosecutions or not. It seems all of a sudden the DUP (Democratic Unionist Party) has said there should be a statute of limitations, a cut-off, so that none of those troops – it would cover all of them – give them that undeclared amnesty or impunity. It seems like there’s discussions in Westminster to put pressure on Barra McGrory or talk about new legislation. What – How do you react when you see the – I can’t tell you how many times I was on interviews with BBC and they always say: Well, if British soldiers did anything wrong they should face the courts. Everyone should face the courts. Yet now, at this point, you’ve fought for so many years since 1972 to get British troopers into the courts for the crime of Bloody Sunday which was seen by and witnessed by so many and which even a British Prime Minister has said it was ‘unjustified and unjustifiable’, how do you feel when you see all of these moves up there just to get that undeclared amnesty put into effect and continue?

Kate:    It’s appalling. It’s appalling but then that’s what the British have done here for as far back as I can remember. They’ve always bent the law, manipulated the law and broke the law so that actually they could just get their own way. They, I mean, the Bloody Sunday case could have been seen to very, very – could have been finished a very long time ago had the police, had the police here been allowed to do – or had the police done their job – this should have been through the courts very many great number of years ago. But because of government pressure and because of the, well British government pressure, that hasn’t been allowed to happen. The law of the land has not been allowed to take its course. Look, we just had dinner there just recently with a guy who was here on Bloody Sunday – an Italian photographer.

The Iconic Image by Fulvio Grimaldi

His name was Fulvio Grimaldi. And he wrote a book about it. And he told us, even at eighty-three years of age, he said he’s been to Syria, Afghanistan – he’s been all sorts of places where wars were taking place and he said he never got over what happened at Bloody Sunday. He’s never witnessed anything more brutal. He says the innocence of people and he said these soldiers just shooting at them. They shot at him, too, by the way – he had to get film out you know by way of – apparently Martin McGuinness, he was saying, helped him – get film out of the city and out of the country, you know – to save it because the British were looking for it, you know? But he said he’d never seen anything more brutal in all the wars that he’s seen than what happened here that day on Bloody Sunday. So I mean that’s says it all really.

Martin:   Alright, Kate. We’re talking to Kate Nash of the Bloody Sunday March committee…

Kate:   …Martin, can I say one more thing more, please?

Martin:   Yes.

Kate:   I heard you saying about keeping your station on the air. I didn’t know it was in any danger of not being on the air. I think it’s so important to keep that station on the air because I feel, and I know lots of other people here, we feel that that’s our voice. People in America, I urge America and others: Hear what’s happening, the real truth, about what’s happening here in Ireland and please, please get behind that station and support it. Keep it on the air.

Martin:   Alright. And we’ve been talking to Kate Nash. Kate, I want to thank you. I know you listen every week. You’ve helped us get guests on the programme to help to keep it going. (Martin makes a fund raising appeal/testimonial.) Alright thank you, Kate. We’ll be following and we’re hoping to have you on when prosecutions are announced and we’re hoping, finally, that you know – although it won’t be the top people – the people who gave the orders, the people who gave the commands – at least it’s a start that someone will face justice for murder in front of so many thousands of people in Doire in January of 1972. Alright, thank you, Kate.

Kate:   Please God. Thank you very much, Martin. Thank you. (ends time stamp ~ 50:40)

Eugene Reavey, Stephen Travers and Rev. Chris Hudson RTÉ Radio One Today with Seán O’Rourke 1 February 2017

RTÉ Radio One
Today with Seán O’Rourke

Seán O’Rourke has Eugene Reavey, Stephen Travers and the Reverend Chris Hudson in studio to discuss their backgrounds prior to the three day Truth and Reconciliation Platform to be held at The Knock Hotel in Mayo beginning on 3 February 2017. (begins time stamp ~ 0:50)

Seán:  More than two decades on from the breakthrough paramilitary ceasefires in Northern Ireland, the long road of truth and reconciliation still stretches some way into the distance. It’ll be the subject this weekend of a special three day event at the Knock House Hotel in Co. Mayo, bringing together a range of different people with stories of murder, of tragedy, of negotiation and forgiveness. I’m joined now in studio by three men who sadly have direct experience of this. Eugene Reavey is with me. His three brothers were murdered in January of 1976 and his father became the first victim of The Troubles publicly to ask for no retaliation. Also here – Reverend Chris Hudson, who sat down with the UVF (Ulster Volunteer Force) to negotiate a ceasefire and act as go-between between the UVF and the Irish government. And also here – Stephen Travers, a survivor of the Miami Showband Massacre of 1975, and Chairman of the Truth and Reconciliation Platform.

Eugene Reavey, as I mentioned, your parents, for your parents, quite remarkably, forgiveness was their response to the murders of your three brothers. How well do you remember your three brothers? We’re going back now over forty years and the events of that horrible Sunday night.

Eugene:  Well, it’s just like yesterday. I mean youth sparks eternity you know and my brothers never grew old in my mind. And they were lovely lads – they were just mad about football – played football. Brian represented our county at the same time as Joe Kernan. John Martin was a bricklayer and Anthony was a plasterer-cum-electrician – he was going on to be an electrician but he was plastering at that time. They were just ordinary young lads. They had no interest in politics whatsoever.

Seán:   John Martin, twenty-four. Brian, twenty-two and Anthony, just seventeen. Was he the youngest of the family?

Eugene:  No, not at all. No, no, no, no. There was a whole lot more after that.

Seán:   Yeah, I mean – there were what? Ten children?

Eugene:  Twelve.

Seán:  Twelve children.

Eugene:  Twelve children.

Seán:  And is it true that there were eight lads – did you all shared the same bedroom?

Eugene:   Two beds. Two beds in the one room – well three beds all together. One for my mother and father, one for the four girls and one for the eight boys. Two at the top and two at the bottom. Twice!

Seán:  That’s extraordinary!

Eugene:  It’s wasn’t extraordinary at all. It was the norm.

Seán:   Yeah. And what happened on that Sunday night in January 1976?

Eugene:  Well, my mother and father had just gone over to visit Mammy’s sister in Camlough about six o’clock and they took four of the younger children with them. And Oliver went and he drove them over because my mother and my father couldn’t drive.

The Reavey Family

And he was back again inside maybe twenty-five minutes and when he come home he found John Martin, the eldest, lying on the floor and he was riddled with bullets – I gauged forty-two bullets in him all together. And he went up into the room then and he found Brian lying in the fireplace. He had a single shot to the heart. And Anthony, the youngest fella, he had managed to dive under the bed, you know up in the room, and they got up on the bed and they sprayed the whole bed with gunfire. And whilst he was badly injured all round the groin area but he didn’t have any damage done – didn’t have any lasting damage done – so he was able to manage to crawl out from under the bed and he come down and he found Brian. Now, the light had been shot out and he found Brian in the fireplace and he felt his pulse and he was dead. And he crawled then up into the kitchen and he found John Martin. And then he got out through the door and the neighbour’s house, it was a couple hundred yards up the road, and he crawled up there on his hands and knees and he banged on the door. And when Mrs. O’Hanlon come out he said, he just fell into her arms, he said: ‘I’m shot. We’re all shot.’ And it was just a very very, very, very sad time you know? And like of all the houses around us like there was none of our boys had any interest in politics or paramilitaries or anything like that, you know? It was a soft target, really. But if anybody had have told me on that night that it was the police and the UDR (Ulster Defence Regiment) that shot my brothers I wouldn’t have believed it. I would have found it incomprehensible.

Seán:  Tell me about your parents’ reaction.

Eugene:   Well, I suppose it was one of shock, you know? My father, the next day, he was on the radio and he appealed for no retaliation in the Reavey name – that he didn’t want anybody else shot just because his sons were shot. And he said: If my sons’ deaths would stop the killings in Northern Ireland then they would not have died in vain. And my mother went on then, over the next say forty years nearly, every morning she lit a candle for those killers and she prayed for them every day of her life. And she never blamed the people that shot her boys. She blamed the people that sent them out.

Seán:   And your Dad did an extraordinary thing with the rest of you who had survived just to make sure that you took what he said publicly seriously within the family.

Eugene:  Yeah, I mean he made us all – he brought us all and he just asked us all not to get involved for this – to stay away from the paramilitaries. And thanks be to God! Nobody in the house ever turned to those paramilitaries.

Seán:   And did he make you do that in a kind of a formal way?

Eugene:  Not in a formal way but you know like I mean…

Seán:  …Did he make you use the Bible?

Eugene:   No, no. No. No. That’s not true. Like I mean, somebody’s has taken liberty somewhere and said that but that wasn’t right. No it was just – I mean it was in a very – when he spoke and he asked you to do something he was telling you to do something. He wasn’t asking you.

Seán:  Yeah and you discovered close to his death that he found out very quickly who was responsible – you talked about earlier that you wouldn’t have believed the people who were involved were.

Eugene:   My father found out about three or four days after the shooting, or sorry after the funerals, there was a man come up out of Markethill. He was a publican, he had been very friendly with my mother and went to school with him. And he told my father the names of the people that shot his sons. And he, five years later he died after fourteen heart attacks. And a couple of nights before he died I was in visiting him with the rest of my family and he called me back and he said to me: ‘Do you know, Eugene, who shot our boys?’ And I said ‘no’ I don’t. Now I had heard rumours but I didn’t give it much credence and he told me the five names of the people and he told me never to give those names out to any paramilitaries around because he didn’t want any more shootings. So I carried that with me from 1981 until 2006 until I met Dave Cox from the Historical Enquiries Team. (HET) And I asked Dave Cox at the very first meeting did he know who shot my brothers and he said: ‘Yes, I do.’ And I said well, would you tell me? I said it’ll help build a wee bit of confidence before we start and he said, No, it’s too soon in the investigation. So I said to him: Well I’ll write down my names and you write down yours and this young lady here and she can say ‘yes’ or ‘no’. And she said: The names are exactly the same.

Seán:  And there’s a lot more that you want and can tell me as well but I just want to bring in Stephen Travers, a survivor as I said, of the Miami Showband Massacre of 1975, again, another horrific event that’s seared into the public memory.

Stephen:  It did. And the story is well known. I suppose new generations come along and they don’t know it so the importance of telling the story, listening to Eugene there and our own story, is to make sure that, because there’s so much division happening in the world today – even in the last ten days or the last six months – that I think it’s very important that if we tell our stories and the consequences of our stories that – you see division can cause frustration, people can become angry – but if that anger turns to violence then these are these are the consequences. And that’s what we do with truth and reconciliation.

Seán:  And I know you’re primarily responsible for the event that’s happening in Co. Mayo at the weekend. But just for people who may not have heard you speak before, Stephen, if you can just recount briefly what happened on that fateful night.

Stephen:   Well I was the last to join the band. I was joined..

Seán:  …You were very young at the time weren’t you?

Stephen: I was twenty-four going on seven, you know one of these deals? And really excited. You know, from South Tipperary, Carrick-on-Suir – I mean it was a big deal, not just for me but for everybody, so it was a big adventure for me and every night.

The Miami Showband

So on the way back from the gig in Banbridge we were looking forward to the following night off because we had played two nights at the Galway Races and then we were heading up to Banbridge and we were going to have Thursday off. And on the way home (Ray Millar went home to his own family in Antrim) and we were stopped by a group of soldiers and we were asked to get out. And there was joking and it was a bit of fun, really. We had our hands on our heads looking – the van, they were searching the van and we thought: Well, this is usual enough. And while they were searching – there was a couple of people we saw searching the van – a British officer came along – without a shadow of a doubt he was and people tried to tell me I was mistaken but he took charge. All the joking and the banter stopped. And what we didn’t realise that there was two men placing a bomb underneath the driver’s seat, Harris Boyle and Wesley Somerville, and for some reason the bomb went off prematurely and killed the two of them. I mean, their injuries were horrific and I was about three or four feet from the van, the minibus, and it blew me into the air and down into the field – about a ten foot drop into the field and the lads fell on top of me and when they got to their feet – I had been shot in the right hip with a dum-dum bullet which exploded inside me, went up through my lung and out under my left arm so there was a lot of damage done inside. But instead of just running off they tried to drag me and they dragged me a few feet into the field to get away from it but they thought I was dead because I had been shot. And it’s ironic that, as far as I remember now, it would have been Brian McCoy, who was the son of the Grand Master of the Orange Lodge in Tyrone, who probably died trying to save my life.

Seán:  He was the driver and he played the trumpet and then there was yourself – there was Tony Geraghty, Des Lee and Fran O’Toole, the lead singer. They all died.

Stephen:  Yes. They all died. And I spent about forty-five minutes crawling around reassuring them that everything would be alright. Des had got up onto the road to get back and get – and these memories just came back to me over the last five or six years – but I remember whispering into Fran’s ear but the crazy thing is, at that stage, Fran didn’t have any head. But you don’t accept that type of – it’s the horror – and it’s hard for us to regurgitate that every time but I think it’s necessary.

Seán:   Chris Hudson, you came to prominence, Reverend Hudson, as somebody who was liaising with Loyalist paramilitaries but, as it happens, or happened, you had worked in a band and you had played with Fran O’Toole.

Chris:  Well, I wish I had, Seán, but in actual fact Fran was a friend of mine. I never – I’m a useless musician while Fran was…

Seán:  …Maybe I exaggerated…

Chris:  But no, Fran O’Toole was a close friend of mine. And more by accident than design in early ’93, through David Ervine I ended up meeting with the leaders of the UVF and having a dialogue with them. And of course, what was partially motivating me was my friendship with Fran O’Toole. I mean Fran was always at the back of my mind. But out of that, out of that meeting, it ended up that I acted as a conduit between the UVF, informally, back into the Dublin government and did that through a number of various governments. I worked with them up until their ceasefire on the thirteenth of October ’94, a few weeks after the IRA ceasefire. And I’m now – at that time, Seán, I was a trade union official down here in Dublin.

Reverend Chris Hudson

I’m now a Unitarian minister in Belfast and I still work into those communities particularly I still meet with people who – well let’s take it – they have close association still with paramilitary organisations, with particularly with the UVF, and I’m helping them to some extent to deal with what happened but also to try and work towards the legacy issues, inform people on the legacy issues. If I can put it this way, Seán, and I know people get a little bit tired thinking: Here we are twenty-three years after the two ceasefires and why have we still got paramilitary organisations? Because we’ve never been here before, Seán. We’ve never been here doing this before and we don’t have a template for ending a conflict. But I actually think we’re doing extremely well. If you look at other conflicts around the world, the Oslo Agreement, Sri Lanka – they all collapsed. And the Irish peace process has survived and survived well and I think that’s a good thing.

Seán:   You say: Why do we still have paramilitary organisations, if I heard you correctly, but I mean we were told the IRA, for instance, has been disbanded. So I mean what’s your sense of what paramilitary organisations are still there?

Chris:  Well Seán, I’m probably a unique person in that, and the Loyalists know this, that my family background was a Republican background. My father was in Na Fianna na hÉireann in the War of Independence and in the Civil War and my Uncle Joe Hudson was killed on active service in Dún Laoghaire by the Free State Army during the Civil War. I always take the view, the philosophical view, that none of them even left the IRA and yet my father went on to be a founding member of Fianna Fáil but he never actually resigned from the IRA so I don’t think people resign from paramilitary organisations. I think that we have to be real and understand that continuously asking people are they a member of a paramilitary organisation actually goes no where. We’re talking about transformation and when you – sorry, Seán…

Seán:  No, go on ahead.

Chris:  I was going to say – what I was going to say, Seán, is we’re talking about transformation of paramilitary organisations. In the recent Fresh Start Agreement I was asked to make a couple of proposals to the unit that was set up under Lord Alderdice to look at the disbanding of paramilitary organisations. And I said maybe we should look at the stage, come to the position, where we decide that we decriminalise paramilitary organisations, particularly those, well in particular, those who have been on longtime ceasefire. You know, we did end up with the old IRA becoming the old IRA and becoming respectable so we do need to look outside the box as to how we’re going to resolve this.

Seán:  Eugene, you wanted to come back in there and you were nodding when Chris was talking about they’re still there in a kind of a loose way or at least you have to accept that there are old IRA men or whatever.

Eugene:   Well, there are old IRA men and there always will be old IRA men but as along as they have put their guns to one side I think that we should give them a little bit more respect and that goes for all paramilitaries you know? Because they’re never going to say like that I’m not in the IRA or I wasn’t in it.

Seán:  Yes.

Eugene:  And it’s a futile question.

Seán:  The extraordinary thing, and again it just added to the grief in your own community, was I think when you were dealing with the morgue in relation to the three brothers of yours who had been shot there were other families coming in…

Eugene:  …Oh, yeah…

Seán:  …that was in relation to what’s known as the Kingsmill Massacre.

Eugene:  Well Daddy was on the UTV news that evening at five-forty and he made that speech which he was very famous for, God help him. But we left home at about five fifty and there was a convoy of about thirty cars, footballers and whatnot, and we  drove over the road scarcely a mile and we got up to the top of the hill and there was a guy coming, waving his hands, you know, for them to stop.

Kingsmill Victims
May They Rest in Peace

And I was in the first car with my wife – and I just don’t know who else was with me. And I got out of the car and I walked up that hill, from about here to the end of that studio, and I could see – the lights of the minibus were still on and I could see all this steam rising, rising out of the road and all these bodies lying on the road and for, just for one second I had thought it was neighbours’ cows that had been killed and then, as I got closer, I realised it was bodies. Now Alan Black had been there at the time. The ambulance hadn’t got there. There was no police. There was no Army. There was nothing. But I didn’t see Alan. And I told someone that it bugged me that I didn’t take time to but – with the horror and shock of my own family’s – the night before – and for to see all this – and the smell of that blood and the smell of death…

Seán:  …and the extraordinary thing is that members of your family had been with, in the company of, some of those victims.

Eugene:  Yeah. On the Saturday night now, which was only forty-eight hours ago, Brian and John Martin had been playing pool in Camlough with the Chapman brothers. And Brian had played football for the Chapman brothers over in Bessbrook even though there was a ban in the GAA at that time. And when they were in the pub that night there was a bomb scare. They all had to run outside. And they all run and had a smoke and waited and then went back in again and finished their game.

Seán:  And that was a sectarian massacre. Was it ten people died in that mini-bus literally days after?

Eugene:  Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Seán:  Stephen, I’m looking at a piece in the Mayo News about the Truth and Reconciliation Weekend as I said at The Knock House Hotel – you’re there as indeed are Eugene and Chris and you have Michael Gallagher, who has lost people in the Omagh bombing, you have Joe Campbell, son of an RUC (Royal Ulster Constabulary) sergeant who was shot dead – Seamus Mallon is going to be there and others. What do you hope this weekend achieves?

Stephen:  Well as I said – it’s a warning. If I could just say something about, with regard to, the paramilitaries, you know – the transformation. When I met the UVF leadership, and Chris facilitated that in 2007 when we wrote the book first – I have to say that I asked the man that’s referred to in the book as ‘The Craftsman’, he’s a senior member of the UFV and I asked him if there would ever be a return to violence and he said: ‘Hopefully not.’ I said under what circumstances would there be a return to violence? And he said: Well, we always maintain a praetorian guard in the event that our Britishness is threatened. Now, one of the reasons that we’re, well the main reason, that we have the Truth and Reconciliation Platform is that, as I said earlier, the division, whether it’s caused by the American president or whether his policies or whether it’s caused by Brexit or wherever they’re going to put the border. I mean if there’s a border, if the main border’s going to be at airports and in Britain itself then Northern Ireland Unionists/Loyalists are going to feel disenfranchised. If that turns to anger then we’re looking at violence again. Will they blame Brussels? Will they start to bomb Brussels? Who will take the brunt of it if there’s say, for instance, a Garda post put up there – will they shoot them so?

Seán:  Would share those concerns, Chris?

Chris:  I would to some extent, Seán. As Stephen has rightly pointed out, the meeting we had with the senior member of the UVF. But, Seán, I sometimes sit in rooms up on the Shankill Road and I’m probably the only person in the room who never killed somebody. And I’m sitting with people who have all done long prison sentences for murder and their involvement in paramilitary organisations. I am convinced those people are fully committed to maintaining the peace we have in Northern Ireland. And I think it’s important to say as well, Seán, that most people in Northern Ireland, most young people because as we’re nearly a generation on, they are not as caught up in these discussions as say our generation and Northern Ireland has moved on. But, there is always within the structures in Northern Ireland, within the ethnic divide in Northern Ireland, there’s always a slight tension that’s there where the two communities look at each other with a suspicious eye but, for pragmatic reasons, make the place work.

Seán:  We have to leave it there. Thank you all, the three of you for coming in. My thanks to you, Chris Hudson, Reverend Chris Hudson. Also my thanks to you, Gene Reavey, whose three brothers were murdered and also Stephen Travers, who’s Chair of the Truth and Reconciliation Platform and, of course, who was there on that awful night…

Stephen:  …Seán, if I could just say…

Seán:  Yes, Stephen.

Stephen:  …quickly that with a view to helping the reconciliation process that I intend to run at the first opportunity for a seat in the Seanad.

Seán:  Okay. Well look, God knows when that will be. (all laugh)

Stephen:  It’s got to be soon.

Seán:  Thank you very much indeed. (ends time stamp ~ 24:08)

David Cameron House of Commons 15 June 2010

This is the full transcript of the statement then Prime Minister, David Cameron, made to MPs in the House of Commons on 15 June 2010, the day the Bloody Sunday report (Saville report) was published. This transcript was taken from a BBC news report and is faithfully reproduced here.

Today, 8 February 2017, the Derry Journal reported that a British veterans’ group has successfully applied to the Parades Commission to stage a protest march in Doire on 4 March 2017. They are protesting what they have described as the ongoing ‘vindictive’ criminal investigations involving former soldiers.

(Ed. Note:  Today, 9 February 2017, the Derry Journal reported the veterans’ group withdrew its application to the Parade Commission late yesterday afternoon.)

(begins) David Cameron: The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland is publishing the report of the Saville inquiry – the tribunal set up by the previous government to investigate the tragic events of 30 January 1972, a day more commonly known as Bloody Sunday. We have acted in good faith by publishing the tribunal’s findings as soon as possible after the general election.

(Ed. Note: A video of the following portion of David Cameron’s statement is available on YouTube. To listen as you read click here. )

Mr Speaker, I am deeply patriotic. I never want to believe anything bad about our country. I never want to call into question the behaviour of our soldiers and our army, who, I believe to be the finest in the world. And I’ve seen for myself the very difficult and dangerous circumstances in which we ask our soldiers to serve.

But the conclusions of this report are absolutely clear. There is no doubt. There is nothing equivocal. There are no ambiguities. What happened on Bloody Sunday was both unjustified and unjustifiable. It was wrong.

Lord Saville concludes that:

  • The soldiers of the support company who went into the Bogside did so as a result of an order which should not have been given by their commander.
  • He finds that, on balance, the first shot in the vicinity of the march was fired by the British Army.
  • He finds that none of the casualties shot by the soldiers of support company was armed with a firearm.
  • He finds that there was some firing by Republican paramilitaries but none of this firing provided any justification for the shooting of civilian casualties.
  • And he finds that in no case was any warning given by soldiers before opening fire.
  • He also finds that the support company reacted by losing their self-control, forgetting or ignoring their instructions and training and with a serious and widespread loss of fire discipline.
  • He finds that despite the contrary evidence given by some of the soldiers, none of them fired in response to attacks or threatened attacks by nail or petrol bombers.
  • And he finds that many of the soldiers, and I quote, ‘knowingly put forward false accounts in order to seek to justify their firing’.

What’s more, Lord Saville says that some of those killed or injured were clearly fleeing or going to the assistance of others who were dying.  The report refers to one person who was shot while crawling away from the soldiers. Another was shot, in all probability, when he was lying mortally wounded on the ground. Now the report refers to the father who was hit and injured by army gunfire after he had gone to tend to his son.

For those looking for statements of innocence, Saville says that the immediate responsibility for the deaths and injuries on Bloody Sunday lies with those members of support company whose unjustifiable firing was the cause of those deaths and injuries.

 And crucially that, and I quote, ‘none of the casualties was posing a threat of causing death or serious injury or indeed was doing anything else that could, on any view, justified their shooting’.

For those people who are looking for the report to use terms like ‘murder’ and ‘unlawful killing’ I remind the House that these judgments are not matters for a tribunal or for us as politicians to determine.

Mr. Speaker, these are shocking conclusions to read and shocking words to have to say. But Mr. Speaker, you do not defend the British Army by defending the indefensible. We do not honour all those who’ve served with such distinction in keeping the peace and upholding the rule of law in Northern Ireland by hiding from the truth.

So there’s no point in trying to soften or equivocate what is in this report. It is clear from the tribunal’s authoritative conclusions that the events of Bloody Sunday were in no way justified.

I know that some people wonder whether, nearly forty years on from an event, [if] a prime minister needs to issue an apology. For someone of my generation, Bloody Sunday and the early 1970s are something we feel we have learnt about rather than lived through.

But what happened should never, ever have happened. The families of those who died should not have had to live with the pain and the hurt of that day and with a lifetime of loss.

Some members of our armed forces acted wrongly. The government is ultimately responsible for the conduct of the armed forces and for that, on behalf of the government, indeed, on behalf of our country, I am deeply sorry.  (Video ends.)

Mr Speaker, just as this report is clear that the actions of that day were unjustifiable so, too, is it clear in some of its other findings. Those looking for premeditation, a plan, those even looking for a conspiracy involving senior politicians or senior members of the armed forces, they will not find it in this report.

Indeed, Lord Saville finds no evidence that the events of Bloody Sunday were premeditated. He concludes that the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland governments and the Army neither tolerated nor encouraged the use of unjustified lethal force. He makes no suggestion of a government cover up.

Mr Speaker, the report also specifically deals with the actions of key individuals in the Army, in politics and beyond, including Major-General Ford, Brigadier McLellan, and Lieutenant Colonel Wilford.

In each case, the findings are clear. It does the same for Martin McGuinness. It specifically finds he was present and probably armed with a sub-machine gun but it concludes, and I quote, ‘we’re sure that he did not engage in any activity that provided any of the soldiers with any justification for opening fire’.

Mr Speaker, while in no way justifying the events of January 30th, 1972, we should acknowledge the background to the events of Bloody Sunday. Since  1969, the security situation in Northern Ireland had been declining significantly. Three days before Bloody Sunday, two RUC officers, one a Catholic, were shot by the IRA in Londonderry, the first police officers killed in the city during the Troubles. A third of the City of Derry had become a no-go area for the RUC and the Army. And in the end 1972 was to prove Northern Ireland’s bloodiest year by far, with nearly five hundred people killed. And let us also remember, Bloody Sunday is not the defining story of the service the British Army gave in Northern Ireland from 1969 to 2007.

This was known as Operation Banner, the longest continuous operation in British military history, spanning thirty-eight years and in which over two hundred and fifty thousand people served. Our armed forces displayed enormous courage and professionalism in upholding democracy and the rule of law in Northern Ireland. Acting in support of the police, they played a major part in setting the conditions that have made peaceful politics possible.

And over one thousand members – a thousand members – of the security forces lost their lives to that cause. Without their work, the peace process would not have happened. Of course, some mistakes were undoubtedly made, but lessons were also learned. And once again, I put on record the immense debt of gratitude we all owe to those who served in Northern Ireland.

Mr Speaker, may I also thank the tribunal for its work and all those who displayed great courage in giving evidence. I would also like to acknowledge the grief of the families of those killed.

They have pursued their long campaign over thirty-eight years with great patience. Nothing can bring back those who were killed but I hope, as one relative has put it, the truth coming out can help set people free.

John Major said he was open to a new inquiry, Tony Blair then set it up. This was accepted by the leader of the opposition. Of course, none of us anticipated that the Saville inquiry would take twelve years or cost almost two hundred million pounds. Our views on that are  well-documented.

It is right to pursue the truth with vigour and thoroughness but let me reassure the House there will be no more open-ended and costly inquiries into the past. Today is not about the controversies surrounding the process, it is about the substance, about what this report tells us. Everyone should have the chance to examine its complete findings and that is why it is being published in full.

Running to more than five thousand pages, it is being published in 10 volumes. Naturally, it will take all of us some time to digest the report’s full findings and understand its implications. The House will have an opportunity for a full day’s debate this autumn, and in the meantime the Secretaries of State in Northern Ireland for Defence will report back to me on all the issues which arise from it.

Mr Speaker, this report and the inquiry itself demonstrate how a state should hold itself to account and how we should be determined at all times, no matter how difficult, to judge ourselves against the highest standards. Openness and frankness about the past, however painful, they do not make us weaker, they make us stronger.

That is one of the things that differentiates us from the terrorists. We should never forget that over thirty-five hundred people from every community lost their lives in Northern Ireland, the overwhelming majority killed by terrorists.

There were many terrible atrocities. Politically-motivated violence was never justified, whichever side it came from. And it can never be justified by those criminal gangs that today want to draw Northern Ireland back to its bitter and bloody past.

No government I lead will ever put those who fight to defend democracy on an equal footing with those who continue to seek to destroy it. But neither will we hide from the truth that confronts us today.

In the words of Lord Saville, what happened on Bloody Sunday strengthened the Provisional IRA, increased hostility towards the Army and exacerbated the violent conflict of the years that followed. Bloody Sunday was a tragedy for the bereaved and the wounded and a catastrophe for the people of Northern Ireland.

Those are words we cannot and must not ignore. But I hope what this report can also do it is mark the moment where we come together in this House and in the communities we represent to acknowledge our shared history, even where it divides us, and come together to close this painful chapter on Northern Ireland’s troubled past. That is not to say we should ever forget or dismiss the past, but we must also move on. Northern Ireland has been transformed over the last twenty years and all of us in Westminster and Stormont must continue that work of change, coming together with all the people of Northern Ireland to build a stable, peaceful, prosperous and shared future. And it is with that determination that I commend this statement to the house. (ends)

Packy Carty RFÉ 4 February 2017

Radio Free Éireann
WBAI 99.5FM Pacifica Radio
New York City
listen on the internet: Saturdays Noon EST

Martin Galvin speaks to former Irish Republican political prisoner, Packy Carty, via telephone from Co. Tyrone about the new Irish Republican party, Saoradh. (begins time stamp ~ 36:11)

Martin:  And with us on the line we have Packy Carty in Tyrone. Welcome to – well I should say welcome back – I believe you did an interview a number of years ago with John McDonagh – welcome back to Radio Free Éireann. And I believe it was September that your new political party, a new Irish Republican political party, the word that – it was formed – it’s liberation. Could you tell us how you pronounce it first of all?

Packy:  A chairde, Martin, thanks for having us on. ‘Sear róo’ is our pronunciation but it does vary a bit regarding provincial Gaelic so it may sound a bit different in Leinster or Munster.

Martin:  Alright. And that, of course, is spelled s-a-o-r-a-d-h…

Packy:  …Yes…

Martin:  …So if you’re looking for information about it that’s where to go. Okay. I want to – just tell us first a little bit about your own background and involvement in Irish Republican politics. I spoke to you briefly on the phone about this interview and you said you were born in it – you had an uncle killed, father was in jail, you’ve been in prison – just tell us briefly about yourself and your family connections to Irish Republicanism.

Packy:  Yeah, well I was born in Dungannon in East Tyrone which is you know, it’s a Republican heartland – it was the area where the East Tyrone Brigade was active. My Uncle Paddy was killed in Omagh in 1973 and my father was incarcerated as a Republican prisoner in the 1970’s. I’ve been active in Republican politics myself from about the mid to late 1990’s and was held by remand in Maghaberry jail in 2012. I spent that period on protest with the prisoners in Roe House.

Martin:  Alright. And we call that internment-by-remand where they just deny you bail, they hold you – How long were you in? And then when it was time for trial they said there was no evidence against you and the case was dismissed.

Packy:   Yeah well they made a number of assertions and they charged me and held me for nine months. At that time, that was about February 2012 I think, I was lifted. I was in the car with my wife and my children and was just lifted off the side of the road, held overnight in Antrim Interrogation Barracks, taken to Enniskillen I think the following morning and then quickly from thereon to Enniskillen court and quickly thereon to Maghaberry.

Martin:  Alright, just let’s get right to it. Tell us: What is Saoradh and why is it that you and others, other Republicans, have formed another Republican party – some people would say other than Sinn Féin?

Packy:   Well Saoradh’s an Irish Republican socialist party, a revolutionary party – unashamedly so. In regards to forming a new party you know the movement has more formalisation. The movement has existed for five years or more now. It has coalesced more or less around prisoners’ issues initially and particularly the Irish Prisoners’ Welfare Association but going back to when I got out of jail in 2012 discussions and talks were on-going to build what has now become the Saoradh party. Those consultations were perfected and drawn out in the interests of Republican unity and there was consultations and dialogue with a number of Republican groupings and independents in regards to building what earlier, in the latter part of last year, became the Saoradh party.

Martin:  Okay. And what is the political strategy that your party has to unite Ireland where you think that Sinn Féin and other political parties have failed?

Packy:  Well starting off it’s getting back to brass tacks and rebuilding the Republican Movement, rebuilding Republicanism from the grassroots up. You know we’ve had this top-down, diktat approach by the likes of Sinn Féin and the destruction of Republicanism basically by them being completely subsumed into the British Establishment and subsumed into administering British rule via Stormont. So you know it’s a long, hard road back from that and we’re at the very start of it. So we’re focused at the moment on building the party up, laying down the structures, re-engaging the grassroots and engaging on things that relate to what they’re facing in their daily lives and their struggles and on how British rule is affecting them on the ground day and daily.

Martin:  Alright. Now there are elections on March 2nd. I know that your party was just recently formed and you certainly didn’t expect that there would be an election so soon and I’m sure you’re not running candidates but what is it that your party will ask people to do in terms of that March 2nd election? Some people say if you put Sinn Féin in you’ll keep Arlene Foster out. What is it that your party wants to do? And just tell us the theory or feeling about why the action that you’re going to ask people to take is going to promote a united Ireland in a way that voting for somebody else will not.

Packy:  Well from Saoradh’s perspective you know it doesn’t matter if you have direct British rule or indirect British rule. It’s still British rule nonetheless. And in reality Stormont has very little power and it has shown that – you know Sinn Féin can’t even deliver on an Irish language act. They’re completely, they’re devoid if they believe they make any change via the British institution that is Stormont. Stormont has been coming down recently with corruption and it has fell on the sword in a long line of corruption with the latest RHI (Renewable Heat Incentive) scheme but what our party will be asking people to do is we’re taking a revolutionary approach. We’re taking an approach from outside of the British institutions and we’re asking people not to vote. We’re asking people to vote with their feet and stay at home. You know it’s only a year since the last Stormont election and voter turnout was down to fifty-four percent. And now while we don’t recognise the gerrymandered statelet that is what is termed Northern Ireland, you know what we would call the Occupied Six Counties, while we don’t recognise it technically we realise the advantage of trying to push voter turnout below fifty percent to divest this popular myth that somehow British rule, or its beachhead in Ireland which is Stormont, has some sort of popular mandate. So that’s the campaign we’ve been engaging in – in a broad ranging campaign encouraging Irish citizens to stay at home and divest this perceived support for British rule in Ireland.

Martin:  Alright. And seeing Sinn Féin at Stormont – it’s played up where it’s claimed to be that it gives power to Nationalists, to Republicans – you’ve said that it’s just part of the British administration. Does the fact that Sinn Féin is in Stormont, is on policing boards, is in other machinery of the state – does that help? Or is that just, in your view, something that gives credence, credibility, undeserved credibility, to British rule?

Packy:   Well they’ve been completely subsumed into the system you know? I think Davy Jordan, our national chairperson, stated that at the inaugural Ard Fheis. You know they have been subsumed by the very system they set out to overthrown. At present there’s a hundred thousand children living in poverty under British rule in Ireland at this minute in time and those figures are by a British charity, the Joseph Roundtree Trust. You can’t hide from that, you know? Sinn Féin is pouring austerity and misery into the working class heartlands that produced it, from where it emerged. You know Sinn Féin puts great emphasis on the fact that it built its electoral prowess off the hunger strike and the deaths of people like Bobby Sands and of Patsy O’Hara. But if you go into the heartlands where Bobby Sands and Patsy O’Hara come from in Belfast and Doire respectively, you’re walking into some of the most deprived areas in western Europe. And that’s an economic war that Britain has continued to wage against the Irish people – you know, that has never ended. And now what you’re seeing is the complete submission by Sinn Féin and they’ve literally became the new constitutional nationalist party, the new SDLP (Social Democratic and Labour Party), they’re in that middle ground. They’ve completely forsaken the people who bore the brunt of the struggle and who continue to bear the brunt of this new-found Tory neo-liberal austerity agenda. You know, who would ever have thought you’d see the day where Sinn Féin is imposing poverty on behalf of the Tory government that effectively murdered Bobby Sands and the other prisoners in the H-Blocks in 1981. That’s the contradiction you’re left with now and the hypocritical position that Sinn Féin now sits in.

Martin:   Alright. Now you eventually will run candidates I believe – correct me if I’m wrong because I’m just going just on some of the articles I’ve read about the party in the paper – but my understanding is that your position is eventually, down the road when the party is ready, they will run candidates but they will run them on an abstentionist basis. What is the theory behind running candidates on an abstentionist basis meaning: We’ll try to win seats, show votes, quantify support for our position but not take seats in Stormont, in certainly in Westminster if it comes to that or I don’t know if you have that same policy on local councils?

Packy:   Well at the minute there probably still will be a debate on the issue of local councils – that’ll be an internal, grassroots debate within the party about the viability of that but traditionally Republicans, you know going back to the time of the formation of Dáil Éireann, have utilised the councils – that is a debate that will be on-going. But in regards to the partitionist institutions of Leinster House and Stormont there’s absolutely no way Saoradh at any time, now or in the future, will we be running in elections to take seats in those institutions. Yes, we may utilise those elections in the future to run abstentionist candidates and the reason being is that we want to divest control from the existing British institutions. You know, the Twenty-Six County institution is not The Dáil. The Dáil Éireann was suppressed and was replaced by the Royal Oireachtas. It is as much a British parliament as the Stormont administration that exists in the Occupied Six Counties. And if we look at our recent history, anybody who has walked away from the revolutionary Republican position and taken their seats in Stormont or taken their seats in Leinster House has been subsumed and shaped by those institutions. You could take people like Gerry Kelly, people like Pat Sheehan – Pat Sheehan is an excellent example. You know you have a man who was an IRA combatant who was captured, incarcerated, went on the blanket, went on hunger strike, finished his incarceration, re-committed himself to the Republican Movement, was captured again and re-interned and he was taken out. He’s been fed into this machinery of the state and has come out the other side a robot that now sits up and tells people to join the Crown Forces, to inform on Irish citizens to the Crown Forces, who sits on these British policing boards and who is a rent-wrecking landlord and that is the end product of engaging in these processes and it would be a huge mistake for Saoradh or any other Republican organisation who thinks that at the beginning of this process you can go in with your ideas and come out with them still intact on the other side. Irish history is littered with the failures of constitutional, you know of these moves into constitutional nationalism.

Martin:   Alright. Now your party is very much linked to prisoners and Republican prisoners’ issues. Could you tell us some of the things that you’ve done in terms of supporting Republican prisoners, trying to campaign for justice or help the families of those who are in prison?

Packy:   Yes. Well there’s a lot of people that would have you believe that there is is no Republican prisoners anymore or that somehow if you’re a Republican prisoners before 1998 that that makes you some sort of hero and if you’re a Republican prisoner post-1998 then you’re some sort of public pariah but there’s a lot…

Martin:   …Well the funny thing – if I can interrupt you – you get people like Gerry McGeough or Seamus Kearney and others who were actually in prisoned post-1998 for actions, IRA actions, that occurred in 1980 or 1981 and somehow they still were seemed to be in the pariah category instead of people that should be supported as part of the struggle. Sorry for interrupting but just go ahead – just tell us what you’re position is.

Packy:   Yeah well you have people like Scotchy (Seamus) Kearney and Gerry McGeough who didn’t toe the Sinn Féin party line and therefore don’t get the comfortable letters from your British government to say: Oh, you can come back and live a normal life. You know, they’re still persecuted. And it must be pointed out that Britain is still persecuting its war, still persecuting its criminalisation policy and all those who engaged in the struggle for national liberation and they focus intently on anyone who isn’t toeing the Sinn Féin line – there’s no comfort letters for those people. And I think recently on one of the political debate shows on British television Gerry Kelly said that he would be quite comfortable for Britain’s continuing criminalisation of former combatants from that long war period before the so-called ’98 agreement.

Martin:   Well one of the things – not only, first of all, if you took a position that Bobby Sands and others on the blanket that they were not criminals – that they were political prisoners – if you then criminalise or send to jail as a criminal people like Gerry McGeough and Seamus Kearney it seems to be that you’re betraying that principle. But more than that, isn’t it a fact that if you were in prisoned during that time it’s very, very difficult, other than a very few exceptions, you don’t get to come to the United States because you’re viewed as a ‘criminal’, you don’t get a visa, you don’t get a – because you’re branded as such by the British – you’re not eligible for certain positions – I don’t know about teaching, other positions – you still are criminalised in that sense and Sinn Féin was part and is part of the government that does that, that is involved in that process – isn’t that – would that be your party’s position as well?

Packy:   Yeah, that’s very true. You know Sinn Féin told everyone, told its supporters, told its base that it had negotiated an end to the Anglo-Irish conflict in 1998. That’s what was portrayed and, as you well know, they were in the US trying to put forward the same narrative. What this does is blows that out of the water and basically shows that the British negotiated a surrender from the Provisional Movement and that’s the basis of it and now you have people like Gerry Kelly and Martin McGuinness, who have these so-called criminal records as well for their part as being combatants in the Republican resistance, and it’s okay – they can go to places like Washington and engage in these civic events but you know for the ordinary guy on the ground, the guy who isn’t in the higher echelons of Sinn Féin, he can’t get a job at a shopping mall as a security guard because of this so-called criminal record and you know he can’t fly to certain countries, the US and Australia and places like that, because he’s on no-fly lists and is down on so-called ‘terror’ lists. And that’s the out-workings of this is that the Sinn Féin didn’t negotiate an end to anything. What they did was capitulate and immerse themselves in the very system that they had fought for how long? From the beginning. They’ve come full circle.

Martin:   Could you tell us just briefly: I know your group participated in the Bloody Sunday demonstration last Sunday but what is some of the things – you’ve established office, you’ve organised a number of protests – what are some of the other things that your party has done since its creation just a few short months ago?

Packy:   Yes, well there was a good turnout by the membership and the activists in Doire but Doire is a strong city for us. We have an office in Doire and are recently in the process of forming a youth wing. We formed craobh across the country. We have an office in the heart of Belfast with more planned hopefully places like Tyrone and other areas. Our Dublin comrades were among the activists that seized Apollo House in Dublin from the banks and opened it up to ease the homeless epidemic recently over Christmas. And in Tyrone we’ve engaged with concerned residents who face corporate poisoning and the theft of our natural resources at the hands of the Dalradian Gold company and things like that, who have been gifted our natural resources by the British Crown and while Sinn Féin sit subservient and don’t rock the boat. You know we’re also constantly active in highlighting ongoing issues affecting Republican prisoners and the fact that you have forced strip searching, that you have controlled movement and isolation and prisoners being held in solitary confinement. You know, I’ve a close friend at the moment in Maghaberry jail, Marty McGilloway, who grew up in the same housing estate as me, and Marty’s been held now for four and a half years in solitary confinement and UN legislation states that a person can’t be held for longer than fifteen days but this is on-going. You have other prisoners as well from Lurgan and other areas who are held in the same sort of conditions; we’re constantly working on that…

Martin:  …Alright…

Packy:  …We’re also working, too, to reintegrate ourselves into, back into, the working class areas and tackle issues, bread and butter every day issues where the out-workings of British rule is pouring suffering and misery on the working people.

Martin:  Okay. We’re coming to the end. We’re talking to Packy Carty of Saoradh, the new political party in Ireland. Packy, just before you go could you tell us: If people want to get more information about your political party how would they do it?

Packy:   Yeah. Well we’ve a website

Martin:  …Okay – that’s (Martin spells out Saoradh) Is that correct?

Packy:   Yes.

Martin:   Okay. Is there anywhere else to get information? You’re on Facebook as well. Is that correct?

Packy:   Yeah. We’re on Facebook under Saoradh – The Unfinished Revolution and we’re on Twitter under Eire Saoradh. (Packy spells it)

Martin:  Okay, the name of the party again – Saoradh – which is an Irish word, means liberation. (Martin spells Saoradh) Again you can get information at s-a-o-r-a-d-h dot ie. You can look it up on Facebook. Packy, we want to thank you for introducing your party to an American audience and hopefully we’ll have you back soon as other developments as the party continues to grow and prosper.

Packy:   Go raibh míle maith agat. Thank you very much. (ends time stamp ~ 55:36)

Cormac O’Malley RFÉ 4 February 2017

Radio Free Éireann
WBAI 99.5FM Pacifica Radio
New York City
listen on the internet: Saturdays Noon EST

Martin Galvin speaks to Cormac O’Malley via telephone about his father, Ernie O’Malley, and about his father’s books and legacy. (begins time stamp ~ 15:12)

Martin:  With us on the line we have Cormac O’Malley and this is Martin Galvin in studio, Mr. O’Malley. And I just played that song, or the start of the song, Tipperary So Far Away, for somebody that I knew, was very close to, was a great mentor of mine, somebody who may be remembered as the John Devoy of this generation, Michael Flannery, who was – talked about your father very much. Now, I just want to start: You’ve written, or put together, a number of books: On Another Man’s Wound, The Singing Flame, Raids and Rallies – the latest book. Just tell us a little bit about your father, Ernie O’Malley, and just how these books were put together – why they’re important.

Cormac:   Sure. Well, nice to chat with you and always interested to talk about Ernie O’Malley.

Ernie O’Malley, NYC 1934 by Helen Hooker

This happens to be the hundred and twentieth anniversary of his birth and the sixtieth anniversary of his death. And it’s really only in the last twenty years, given the issues that had gone in in Ireland during the forty years after his death, that Nationalists have been more acceptable than previously. There was a lull in the generation. Father was born in Mayo in 1897, got his education at University College Dublin, tried to become a doctor, got wrapped up in the cause of Irish freedom starting on Easter Monday 1916 when he read the Irish Proclamation which said Ireland should be for the Irish. You know for many people that was a shock. It. woke them up. They suddenly realised that there had been somebody in Ireland who shouldn’t be there. Father never hated the English as such he just thought they shouldn’t be in Ireland so that was sort of his philosophical position and when it came to a military position he sort of said: Let’s move them out. So he joined the Irish Volunteers, the IRA. He went up in the command to be very much involved in Tipperary and ultimately came back to Tipperary as a senior officer, Commandant General in charge of the Second Southern Division and would have known Mick Flannery there in those days. Subsequently he was not supportive of even the truce, he didn’t know why senior management in the IRA called for a truce and definitely against the treaty and he came on to be Number Two under Liam Lynch as the Assistant Chief of Staff of the IRA against the Free State. But all of those causes were failed in a certain sense and he was caught, imprisoned, not only by the Brits but by the Free State. He got out in 1924 in very poor health, came to America and started to write. And his big book was On Another Man’s Wound – it’s easy to sleep on another man’s wound.

Martin:   That title, actually, has become a metaphor in a way for The North that’s often repeated. People in the Six Counties would talk about what they were suffering and going through and how there were people who, in the Twenty-Six Counties and that’s where my family’s from as well, but there were people in the Twenty-Six Counties who seemed too easy to sleep on the fact that a part of Ireland, another part of Ireland, was still under British rule.

Cormac:  Definitely. And indeed that was the, you know – as he published that book he was somewhat, well it’s not written down what he meant by it but I interpret that that he’s the person who got wounded – and they were a lot of people who didn’t so – but who got the glory. So I found him sort of saying that it’s easy for them to sleep on his wounds and part of what was involved…

Martin:  …One of the things you’ve just mentioned – your father was a leading figure in the IRA during the War of Independence. He was also involved – he was in prison, I believe he was on hunger strike, nearly shot during by – after being captured by people who he had fought along side, were involved in that struggle and when there was a civil war, and a lot of the people who were leading figures in the War of Independence had to come to America because they were harassed, they were suppressed, there was efforts to keep them from working, there were efforts to keep them from playing a regular part in the society in the aftermath of the War of Independence and you find that with your father as well – certainly Michael Flannery came to America – a lot of the people who were involved in that struggle came to America for that reason.

Cormac:  Judge Comerford, too.

Martin:  Yes.

Cormac:  Now, what is interesting: It’s an easy figure to pick which is: fourteen thousand Republicans were put into jails. The Free State had no idea that there were fourteen thousand people to round up but they finally did. They weren’t kept in very good conditions because there were far more people than they were capable of handling under normal prison conditions. When they started to demob, after Frank Aiken sort of called a truce and downed arms in May of 1923, the Republicans were kept in jail for another year. Now what happened during that year as the Free State became more established and they demobilised their army and it was those, their army then, got whatever jobs were going back down the country and when the Republicans got out in 1924, the fourteen thousand of them – and Ernie O’Malley got out in one of the last in July 1924 – there were really no jobs available – certainly no state jobs – and they had been looked down upon and most of those fourteen thousand – I don’t know what percentage the historians will give but maybe ten thousand came over to America and certainly Mick Flannery, Judge Comerford, many of the names I’ve mentioned in the New York environment while I lived here, came over at that time.

Martin:   They didn’t realise when they were being pushed out or when they were pushing people of that political belief out that they’d be laying the groundwork for Clann na nGael, for Irish Northern Aid, for people like that to be here and be at the start – would keep pushing – you know I use the phrase John Devoy – keep pushing for there to be another struggle for Irish independence. Alright, John McDonagh wanted me to specially mention: One of the works that you did, your father, Ernie O’Malley, went around to various areas, Kerry, Galway, Mayo and Corcaigh, and he interviewed other people who had participated in the struggle and how important that research was and you were able to get it published and he wanted me to draw the parallel between that and what is happening with the Boston Tapes and efforts to get the stories of Republicans in the struggle today. Just tell us about that work that you did.

Cormac:   Well it was, you know, as you may have read John McGahern who, in Amongst Women, the old men, the veterans, would sit around in the pubs and talk and revive – they wouldn’t tell the wives, they wouldn’t tell their children – but a couple of the comrades, such as Father and Florrie O’Donoghue and others, developed a concept that this should be recorded in some way and that grew into sort of a political, well a quasi-political development, within the interregnum of party of 1946 to ’48. And they created a Bureau of Military History and the thought was to hire professors and you know independent people but also some from both sides to give a fair impression and to go around the countryside or have a bureau in Dublin where people could come to and that group of ten or twenty people, staffed by the government, interviewed seventeen hundred and seventy-six people over the course of ten years. Father disagreed with them on the principle they were going to stop their interview chronology at the time of the truce. And he said that look, the fight went on ’til 1924 and you know the Free Staters were still executing Republicans in ’23 and ’24 so I’m going to do my own study. So he went around all by himself without anyone paying him and he, having been the senior military commander on the Republican side, personally got four hundred and fifty statements from – and interviews with people – in probably twenty-four – twenty-five different counties. And when he died in 1957 and I found these notebooks I gave them to the University College Dublin where they have been sleeping ever since. But in the year 2000 what I tried to do was to go back and transcribe these handwritten documents, which were terrible to transcribe, and I found some people who helped me in the counties of – starting off in Kerry, Galway, Mayo – and we were able to recount – and my aim was to bring to the grandchildren of these people the stories of what their fathers and grandfathers had done because, just like our Vietnam vets here, people don’t talk about war and it just so happens that Ernie O’Malley did capture not only the deeds that they done – good and bad and indifferent – but also the accents in which they spoke. So these family documents are really very interesting in numerous ways. But…

Martin:  …Well it’s a striking thing: You’re talking about 1916 through 1924, you’re talking about a crucial period in Irish history when at least twenty-six counties became independent and here it is in the – you’re talking about 1957 or 1960 – and people were still worried about telling the story of what had happened so many years before in the history of their country. It would be almost like in the American Revolution just somehow in 1812 being afraid to have veterans of the American Revolution talk about how they had fought against the British and won independence.

Cormac:  Sure. But you know there is the syndrome, which we all know, which people suffer when they go through the hardships of struggles and hunger strikes and internment and you know, from certain points of view when they get ex-communicated by the Church, there’s the burden of shame comes upon some people, not all, and they shut up about it. They don’t tell their wives – the wives don’t understand what went on. And so that just become their history and, as McGahern tells in his stories, the men tell it to themselves but not to their children. And so what I wanted to do in doing this series of books – and Father had written, I found in one of his drawers a beautiful book, which I published, called Rising Out: Seán Connolly of Longford and Seán Connolly was a local organiser sent by Mick Collins from – he’d organised not only Longford but he went up to South Roscommon, North Roscommon and Leitrim and he was doing in those three counties what Father had done in seventeen different counties. And I think Father wanted to tell the story not of a big man like himself but of a small man who was doing exactly the same thing, encountering the same problems – we sort of glorify what the image of the Republicans were in those days – they hard hard times just as fellows in The North later had, convincing their fellow citizens to take a stand. These were basically conservative, Catholic, rural families – those were hard to shift even if they Fenian tradition and songs in the pub. Getting a man to, or a young man who’s a farmer, to go out and train for military operations is really a very difficult thing. And so this was a beautiful story that Father took based on the interviews that he did in Roscommon and Leitrim. He was able to pull an entire book together so he not only did On Another Man’s Wound and The Singing Flame and a book published in the Sunday Press called The Raids and Rallies but he’d done this third book, fourth book, Rising Out, which is also a great read.

Martin:  Before you go, John McDonagh asked me to share a story with you about your father that Michael Flannery had told me and what had happened is after Bernadette Devlin was attacked and wounded in The North of Ireland there were a number of IRA Volunteers who wanted to do something in retaliation and they were told they couldn’t and they went out and they did it under another name and eventually it got adopted – everybody thought it was something that should have been done – but I’m sitting around and Mike Flannery says: Well, when I was in the IRA we had an operation where we supposed to attack a barracks (I forget which barracks it was) and everything was all planned and word came from GHQ (General Headquarters) not to do anything, and we found out later there was a good reason for it (but they were not aware of it). So they went and got your father because he was in the area and he was in GHQ and they told him he could be in charge of the operation. And the reason they did that is that if they got in any trouble with GHQ for having this unauthorised operation they would say: Well Ernie O’Malley was there. He authorised it. He was okay. And it just, the way he said it, it just showed the parallels between people of current or recent generations and the people that your father interviewed, talked about, was one of, played such a prominent part of – and I really have to commend you. I enjoyed the books, The Singing Flame, On Another Man’s Wound – the other books that you’ve been involved in and if you hadn’t put those books together and made them public that crucial, crucial part of Irish history would have been lost to us. So I want to just really commend – and very appreciative of everything that your father did but I certainly want to commend and appreciate everything that you did in making sure that that history would be preserved.

Cormac:  Well thank you very much, indeed. There is a book I did on the Civil War called ‘No Surrender Here!’ The Civil War Papers of Ernie O’Malley, and that really tells – there had, ironically enough, had been no Irish academic ever to take the Republican side, or at least tell the Republican side. And what I tried to do was I found in the archive sixty or more letters between Ernie O’Malley and Liam Lynch, the Commander and the Assistant Commander, as to what their attitude was on all of the relevant issues going on in the Civil War. It’s a six hundred page book and it tells that story quite well.

Martin:  Let me just ask you before we go: I’ve always found most of the people who became involved in the Civil War – now we know that partition was permanent but again, Michael Flannery, some of the other veterans at that time – told me that that was not the big issue. That they thought the Boundary Commission, they were all told the Boundary Commission – Tyrone, Fermanagh, Doire City, they’re all going to go to part of the Twenty-Six Counties and the British are going to get out because there’s going to be very little left – but the thing that they would not do was having pledged to the Irish Republic and said that the Irish Republic had national freedom, a right to national freedom – they weren’t going to take an oath, they weren’t going to have a Lord Lieutenant or some kind of Home Rule, Free State within British rule. Is that what you found as you did this research?

Cormac:  Well definitely. I mean there are – I’m sort of writing about that right now – and one of the issues which the Republicans sort of rejected the treaty on the grounds first of all that the thirty-two counties were not included. That’s a little bit, one can actually think of that as an ostrich issue – the six counties had already been carved off. They were a existing government at the time that that the treaty existed and that there was a military police state up there with their own British armaments, etc. So there was no way that the British government in an empire which was not yet falling apart was going to give that six counties back to Ireland and indeed the time schedule will be shown by later scholars that the treaty discussions were delayed until that government was, in fact, opened so that they would say: Look it, that’s off the table. The second big issue was, indeed, the Oath of Allegiance. The Oath of Allegiance was the issue to the foreign king and you know, these were Catholic fights, whether they had been ex-communicated or not, and they felt that their republic had started in January 1919 and that they were fighting for something that already existed and they couldn’t possibly concede – that they would do whatever would be indifferent to that cause and compromise it. So the oath really did become the significant issue. Now, what historians need to look at is whether the Republican position in 1922, having had the treaty approved by the Cabinet – you know, four to three, approved by the Dáil, by sixty-four to fifty-seven, approved by the parliamentary election which gave, let’s say, a minority to anti-treaty and a majority to the pro-treaty and labour people – and then to take up arms against you know, ultimately against, the Free State. So they were righteous. They had a cause. But history still, historians have still looked at them in a dubious attitude.

Martin:  Alright. We’re going to have to leave it there. We could go on for a much longer time. I want to thank Cormac O’Malley. Some of the books are: On Another Man’s Wound, The Singing Flame, Raids and Rallies. There are other books you’ve published and if you see them on amazon dot com – or is there any other way that people should get those books?

Cormac:   They can go to mercier press dot ie or write me at cormac dot omalley at gmail dot com and I’ll put you in touch.

Martin:  Alright, if you want to find out about the War of Independence, if you want to find out about the Civil War, if you want to learn what it was really like, what those Volunteers really had to go through, those are the places to do your research. Alright, thank you.

Cormac:   Thank you very much indeed. (ends time stamp ~ 35:20)

Enda Craig BBC Radio Foyle The Mark Patterson Show 19 January 2017

BBC Radio Foyle
The Mark Patterson Show

Mark Patterson (MP) speaks to Enda Craig, (EC) a member of the Loughs Agency Advisory Forum, via telephone about the dispute between the Irish and UK governments over the ownership of Lough Foyle and about the problems the dispute is causing. (begins time stamp ~ 21:31)

Ed Note: To hear the interview as you read please visit the good folks at Buncrana Together. They have the clip of the interview and have been following this story and others that affect Ireland’s beauty and ecology. Click here.

Lough Foyle Oyster Trestles Photo by Enda Craig

MP:  Now – the border. All about the border. The hard border. The soft border. The border around the border for goodness sake. Anyway, customs. But among all those chats one issue hasn’t been spoken about very much because the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic is not settled. I mean the marine border. The British government’s position remains that the whole of Lough Foyle is in the UK. The Irish say: No, that’s not the case. And that disputed border has led to a huge upsurge in oyster farming on the Donegal side of Lough Foyle. There are thirty thousand metal oyster trestles on the lough bed. There were two thousand in 2014. So it’s completely unregulated. Enda Craig lives in Donegal on the shores of Lough Foyle; he’s also a member of the Advisory Forum of the Loughs Agency. Enda, I bet you half of them listening to this wouldn’t have a clue about that.

EC:  Say that again, Mark?

MP:  I’m saying I’ll bet you most listeners wouldn’t have a clue about most of that.

EC:  Well yeah, well that’s very true but then in all fairness when you speak about the border you must also speak about the true owners of the seabed of Lough Foyle. And you know it’s taken a hundred years for this topic to reach centre stage and that’s been forced upon the various governments by Brexit. Because when the UK pull out of the EU they’re going to have to indicate where their border lies between the UK and the south of Ireland. And actually you know at that stage we know that Brokenshire, James Brokenshire, the Northern Ireland Secretary, has already stated that as far as he’s concerned UK owns up to the high water mark on the Donegal side. And that’s going to be very interesting especially for us down here and for the oyster trestle fishermen farther up the lough.

MP:   You wonder then how the authorities on this side of the border maybe have never taken action? ‘Cause they’re saying the minute you go to the end of your garden, Enda, you dip your toe into British waters.

EC:  (laughs) Yeah, I’m going to have to take my passport with me shortly after Brexit if I go for a swim down at the bottom of my garden. But I mean that’s the reality of the situation. But I suppose, Mark, the big question is: What will be the response from the southern government when the UK claim to the high water mark on the Donegal side?

MP:  Well how do you think that’ll pan out? I mean if it’s shuffled on like this since partition, Enda, who’s to say anything’ll change post-Brexit?

EC:  Well yeah, a lot of things will have to change. There was a lady just recently speaking, a professor from Queen’s University Belfast, and she was laying it out – many, many,many things will have to be looked at and will have to be discussed when you have an international border – trade, fishing, the fishing industry down here. For instance, one particular issue that we’re very much involved in is the attempt by the Donegal County Council to put a sewage discharge pipe into the seabed of Lough Foyle down here at Carnagarve. And the thing about it is if it is found out in the very near future that the UK owns up to the high water mark then we will be looking at a situation where, as far as we’re concerned, the Donegal claim to the seabed is an illegal claim and they will have to take their pipe, take it and put it where it should have been put in the first place – and that’s north of Greencastle.

MP:   You see? Well look, back to the oysters for a moment, Enda: This from the Loughs Agency, by the way, from their Director of Aquaculture: The farming of sea gigas – have I said that right?

EC:  Sea gigas? Yeah…

MP:  …Oysters…

EC:  …Yeah.

MP:  …that’s the Latin for them. On the trestles in Lough Foyle is currently unregulated. The Loughs Agency awaits agreement between the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (in The South) and the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office which relate to jurisdictional issues before legislation can be brought forward to regularise this activity. (I think they mean ‘regulate’.) Government departments and agencies have expressed concerns regarding the issues which may arise from unregulated development. These concerns have been put in part of discussions between the DFA&T and the British office. Tell me, Enda, what are your observations about the oyster culture there – the aquaculture?

EC:  Well you know they, you know all these statements – you have the powers to look at them in some detail, Mark, well the Good Friday Agreement came into being in 1999 out of that came the Loughs Agency who were given the job of regulating all activities in relation to the Foyle and Carlingford –  both loughs. And you know, you find out after the research that we carried out, which we claimed that the Crown Estate actually owns the seabed, some very enterprising fishermen, and you know fair play to them, they decided to chance around and put out a few trestles and see how they would get on. Now as it turns out they got on very well because the Loughs Agency weren’t able to do a damned thing about it. And you might ask: Why were they not able to do something about it? Because they, in reality, if they appeared on Lough Swilly or if they appeared over on Screagaí Bay Irish officialdom would be down on them like a tonne of bricks within the hour and yet here they are – growing exponentially by the week!

MP:  And do you think that the oysters are being over-exposed?

EC:  No. Well that might well be part of it, Mark, but it actually goes back to the fundamental question of the ownership of the lough. And in the – the Loughs Agency were given legislation by the government in 2007 which was supposed to be applicable to the aquaculture industry on Lough Foyle. But the Crown Estate wouldn’t accept it because it wasn’t written into the legislation that they (the Crown Estate) were the lawful, legal owner of the seabed of Lough Foyle. This is the fundamental question. And when they talk about governments trying to figure this out and figure that out you never hear the Crown Estate being mentioned. They are the elephant in the room. They are the guys that call the shots. And they, fundamentally, own the seabed because we have permission here, proof beyond all shadows of a doubt, that the Minister of the Marine in Dublin has been paying Crown rent to the Crown Estate for the use of Lough Foyle. Now, the fundamental question is: If you’re paying rent how can you claim ownership? You can’t do that!

MP:  Well Enda, you and I will talk again. That was most enlightening and we appreciate you taking the time to talk to us. Thank you for that.

EC:  Okay, Mark.

MP:   That’s Enda Craig there a man who’s passionate about these things -an Inishowen man. (ends time stamp ~ 28:09)

Dominic Óg McGlinchey Ocean FM North West Today 26 January 2017

North West Today
Ocean FM
102.5 – 105 FM

Niall Delaney (ND) has Dominic Óg McGlinchey (DM) with him in studio and speaks to him about his life and his family as the thirtieth anniversary of the murder of his mother, Mary, is 31 January 2017. May Mary rest in peace. (begins)

ND:  Our next guest in studio is Dominic McGlinchey, Dominic Óg McGlinchey. And many of you out there will be familiar with the name Dominic McGlinchey – he was one of the most notorious Republicans during The Troubles. He was leader of the INLA, the Irish National Liberation Army, and dubbed in the media ‘Mad Dog’ McGlinchey. He once admitted involvement in thirty killings in Northern Ireland and famously said during an interview that he ‘liked to get in close’ when attacking his victims. And Dominic Óg witnessed the murder of his father before his very eyes in Drogheda back in 1994. He was age sixteen when his father was gunned down outside a telephone box. Not only that, he also witnessed the murder of his mother, Mary, at their home in Dundalk in 1987. And this week marks the thirtieth anniversary of that particular shooting. Now Dominic Óg was just nine years old and was being bathed by his mother when gunmen broke into their house and shot her dead. It was a time in Ireland’s history that most of us will never forget and for the younger generation perhaps a time which is completely unbelievable in every sense of the word when you consider the country of relative peace that we live in today. And Dominic, Good Morning to you! Welcome to the studio.

DM:  Yeah, no worries, thanks very much.

ND:  Tell us a bit about your earliest family memories. Your memories of growing up in what was a staunch Republican family.

Mary McGlinchey with her children

DM:    Well the first memories probably – I remember growing up – memories would be in Carlane which would be in Toomebridge which would be South Antrim and they would be of waking up in the caravan that was beside my grandfather’s house, my mother’s homestead. And it would have been the prison van would have been coming early on a Saturday morning to collect my mother and my brother and myself.

ND:  What age would you have been back then?

DM:   Oh! Young enough to be carried around to be honest. But I…

ND:  And that’s your earliest memory? Of prison vans showing up at your house?

DM:  Yeah, well it would have been the PDF, would have been the local Prisoners’ Dependence Fund, and they would have funded the van that would have carried wives and children to a lot of the prisons around the country. And I remember one morning waking up and sometimes there wouldn’t’ve be room in the bus for everybody so I was left behind and my Uncle John picking me up and carrying me in where my grandmother was making sodas on the griddle. And I remember her picking me up and sat me on the counter where she would have made the sodas and put butter on them and fed me them and then lifted me and sat me onto the bed beside one of my uncles so that’s as far, that’d probably be as young a memory I can ever, ever remember of childhood.

ND:   And your parents – I mean what is your memory of your parents from an early age – that was the background, too, that they were…

DM:  …The first memory of my mother would be in the caravan which we lived in at the side of the home house and the first actual memory I can have of my father would be in Portlaoise where we were looking in a closed visit – the closed visit would have been the cage where you’d look through the cage and you’d’ve seen him at the other side of it. And there would have been a prison guard would have sat at the end of the prison box.

ND:   And what was that like for you as a young child?

DM:   I didn’t know any different so it was a normal experience as regards me because I had no understanding of any other life – only that life. Yeah, so that would be – I didn’t contemplate that there was any other type of life going on outside there other than the one that I was living.

ND:   I’ll get back to that in a moment. Later this week, the thirty-first of January, is the thirtieth anniversary of your mother’s murder.

DM:   That’s correct, yeah.

ND:   And you were living in Dundalk at the time.

DM:  That’s correct.

ND:  You were what? Nine years old?

DM:  I was, yeah I think I was eight coming nine then. Yeah, it’s quite a considerable time ago now like but the memories are still there. We lived in that housing estate – really, really good community – good people. It’ll live in my memory for as long as I live and it probably has exposed me to the media in maybe other ways that other people that maybe haven’t been exposed to were. The fact that I’m sitting talking to yourself now is probably based on being Dominic and Mary McGlinchey’s son.

ND:  Is it difficult to talk about that? I mean you were only nine years old. It was very personal for you – you were only a child. You were being bathed at the time by your Mum. Isn’t that right?

DM:  Yeah well I just actually got out of the bath and my brother was in the bath and it was then that we’d heard the bang at the back of the house. We had actually thought that Declan had fallen in the bath and it was at that stage where my mother had asked me: ‘What was that?’ and I said I think that Declan had fell in the bath and then two men come running up the stairs and shot my mother. So yeah, but you know you do learn to live with it and move on and I am the person I am today and I think I’m a better person than maybe some people give me credit for.

ND:   But to witness something as horrific as that as a nine year old boy.

DM:   Yeah. Well emotionally you carry it around with you all your life. I think ultimately it resulted in the death of my brother last year where he took a massive heart attack. I don’t believe that – I think what he witnessed on that night, which obviously he witnessed a lot more than I witnessed, we never ever, ever fully ever had the full conversation about what happened. We carried our own individual pain in our own way.

ND:  But you think it contributed to your brother’s death of a heart attack?

DM:  There’s absolutely no doubt in my mind that it contributed to the death of my brother.

ND:  As you said, you didn’t know any different as the way you were brought up was what you were used to. But I mean if that wasn’t – I mean when were you – when did you become conscious of the fact that your parents were very well-known, not only nationally but internationally as well – always in the media, always being written about and talked about?

DM:  Well probably when, maybe when we were in Shannon. We were living in Shannon. We were staying with a woman called Brigid Makowski and I think that was the first time that we ever experienced being wheeled out in front of the media as regards both our parents being on the run. The probably slight bit of isolation maybe from other children because we only found out later on in life that other children wouldn’t have been allowed to play with you for fear of a certain stigma that might have been put on them and things like that.

ND:  But looking back now you understand that was the case, perhaps?

DM:  Absolutely, yeah. Funnily enough, I was talking to a man in Shannon recently and he informed me that, I was at a christening, that when he was a young child he wasn’t allowed out to play whenever we were out playing so it was an interesting thing to see.

ND:  Okay, well if that wasn’t bad enough back, what happened to you back in 1987, you were also present when your father, Dominic Sr., was shot dead in 1994.

DM:  Yeah, I was indeed, yeah, yeah, yeah. It was a strange time because I remember a few weeks before it all the talks was going on, the Hume-Adams talks, and we were going out of the house one morning and you could see the helicopters – they were flying down towards Dublin – it must have been a delegation or something going to Dublin and it was interesting times as well but ultimately my father lost his life that night and you know, the implications of that on me and my brother were massive. Luckily, the broad Republican family and our own family were there and supported us. There was always somebody there to help you if you needed help – to catch you.

ND:  And just again, just people will be calculating on their own – you were only what? Sixteen-fifteen-sixteen?

DM:   Sixteen years of age, yeah.

ND:  But again, to be a sixteen year old boy to witness your own father being shot dead.

DM:  Yeah, it’s an interesting one. I mean it’s how you’re conditioned and programmed – about the not trusting of the the state, not trusting uniforms. The first thing I done was that I emptied my father’s pockets – made sure any pieces or scraps of paper were taken out of his pockets.

ND:   You were conditioned to do that, as you say?

DM:  Naturally. Straight in.

ND:  That was just after he was shot?

DM:  As soon as the paramedic said to me: ‘I’m sorry, son, you father’s gone’ I started taking pieces of paper out his pockets – very, very aware that there seemed to be a complete absence of Gardaí on the night. They spotted us earlier on that night. We waved at them. Then, all of a sudden, they seemed to be gone – a window of opportunity for whatever amount of time it was it took the people to come in and kill him and leave again. No traceability on weapons or cars or anything like that – everything gone – vanished. But in saying that, like I’ll be honest with you, I’ve left that behind me. I don’t carry that. I don’t carry that around. I’ve left that behind me a long, long time ago.

ND:  And people will be curious to know this: You know, the media depiction of your Dad was ‘Mad Dog’ McGlinchey and a man who was on the run. To quote you, what you said about your Dad, Dominic: My father was the most genuine, caring individual you ever came across.

DM:  Well I’ll give it to you more clearer than that again: I believe a true revolutionary travels with love in his heart, you know? My whole life growing up and traveling, especially within my own area – being South Doire, Southwest Antrim and North Antrim – the amount of houses that I would have visited and frequented during the course of being involved in the Republican Movement and where I’d be met by people of a similar age as my father and older, that would have kept him and looked after him and fed him and watered him tell me that my father would have been staying and using their houses as safe houses where he’d have been the first up bathing the children, changing nappies, doing all of those things. He absolutely and utterly adored children. He adored being around children.

ND:  So when you read about, and it’s still brought up – in the Vincent Browne interview with your Dad and when he said that he ‘likes to get in close’ when he’s…

DM:  …Well, I could give you – Tom Barry…

ND:  …attacking people – killing people, essentially. That’s not the person you remember or you knew?

DM:   No, I don’t remember him in that way but likewise, where if I go to Tom Barry, you know one of the greatest Irish Republican revolutionaries in Corcaigh, and when they talked about taking on the British Army they talked about ‘getting in close’ – giving no quarter. You know, men like my father, like Francis Hughes, like people like Ian Milne and people like that there from South Doire, Eugene O’Neill and men of that calibre you know, they took the war to the British Army. They took it on. They faced them on. They gave no quarter and expected no quarter. So, but outside of being a soldier, which they were, they were also humans, human beings – they were brothers and uncles and they also had a life to live. They came from an area that there was work aplenty. They weren’t living in places like Doire City or Belfast. They took a decision to play their part to fight for people’s, other people’s rights, never mind fighting for their own, and most of them paid the ultimate price. But it’s not all of them have died by being shot. Some of them also have lived their whole life suffering in silence as a result of things that they were involved in.

ND:  Tell us a bit about yourself, Dominic, Dominic Óg, as you’re known – are you politically involved or have been or…?

DM:   From all of my life up until the last number of years I’ve been politically active. The very virtue that I carry my father’s name – it can be a poisoned chalice at times. It’s a name that I’m also very, very proud to carry. I have, as I said, I’ve been involved most of my life politically. What I’m focusing on now is my family and…

ND:  …Yeah, and you have a young family and yourself…

DM:  …and it’s very, very important for me to set my children free. To allow them to maybe make their own choices. Allow them to go to college if that’s what they wish to do.

ND:  And what do you make of what’s happening in The North at the moment? Well as we know there’s Assembly elections on the way. The Assembly collapsed a couple of week – what do you make of what’s happening at the moment? Are you happy with the way the process has gone since the Good Friday Agreement?

DM:   Well as an Irish Republican there’s no way that you can say that you’re happy with the way the process has gone. What we’ve seen now is the best part of twenty years of a political strategy being flogged to death. The institutions are a failure. Stormont is a failure – number one because it props up a sectarian state. The people that have flogged this process to death, ie Sinn Féin, have tried to make the institutions workable, like the SDLP (Social Democratic and Labour Party) before them, like the Nationalist Party before that but the reality of the matter is that you can’t force somebody to treat you as an equal. That person has to willingfully want to treat you as an equal.

ND:  Okay. So do you see no hope when the elections are held? Do you see no hope that you know that Northern Ireland is going to be a better place for everybody, for every citizen? Do you think the structures, as it is at present – that they’re not working?

DM:   The structures, as it is, are impossible to work…

ND:  ..So what’s the answer, do you think? What’s the alternative?

DM:  Well the answer is, to me, I see it is that is that the citizens need to be actively involved in the participation of what type of society it is that they want to live in and to do that you need to go, and you need to go and talk to them. You need to engage with them. You need to ask them what type of governance it is that they want. Twenty years ago the Unionists were saying that the IRA held a gun to their head but that’s no longer the case. People might well want to involve themselves in some sort of a civic forum. We need to get away from the trenches of the Orange and the Green. We need to look about, as I said, what sort of society it is that we want to live in. About truly cherishing all of the children of the island equally. But you or me – I can’t force you to like me. I can’t force you to treat me as an equal. You have to want to treat me as an equal. And so long as you know bigotism and fascism and these types of things are continuing to go on then it’s just par for course that you’re going to get more of the same.

ND:  Martin McGuinness, Gerry Adams – would you be a supporter of either or?

DM:  Well it’s an interesting fact that you bring up both Martin and Gerry. I remember Martin carrying my father’s coffin. He had came down and on a very, very human level I would’ve, I would have – at one stage in my life I would have played a bit of come and go with Martin. I find him a very affable man. When my brother died Martin took time out to contact me, to sympathise with me as the result of my brother’s death. Whenever I found out that Martin was sick I contacted Martin. He knows I’m not a religious man but my son was singing in the choir in Tuam for Christmas and I told him I’d light at candle for him and I did that. I went and I lit the candle for him. He wished me Happy Christmas and to my wife and my boys. On a political level we’re always going to have differences but I don’t believe that because you have political differences that you shouldn’t use the value of being a decent human being. I don’t see any value going forward in people being constantly criticising of each other. I think that people should be talking, I think that people should be open, I think that now is the time to be talking and not be going back into the trenches.

ND:  Next Tuesday, finally, Dominic, next Tuesday is the actual thirtieth anniversary of your Mum’s murder. How will you mark that?

DM:   How will I mark it? It’s a funny one because most years as you approach it it feels like a train’s coming down the track and there’s no way of getting out of the way – and it knocks you for six for about five or six weeks. But I can honestly say that this year I’ve probably been more happier than I’ve been in the past thirty years and ultimately it’s that because I don’t carry any bitterness or hatred against anybody. There’s not one person on this island that I have any hatred for.

ND:  Not even those who were responsible for murdering your mother in front of you or your father in front of you?

DM:   Absolutely none. Absolutely no hatred. There’s not one person on this island that I would not talk to. And there’s not one person on this island that anybody would stop me from talking to – there never ever is, ever ever have there – spent long enough walking around with a chip on my shoulder and hatred burning inside me and I can honestly say that sometimes I don’t even recognise the person that I am today. (ends)

Anthony McIntyre RFÉ 28 January 2017

Radio Free Éireann
WBAI 99.5FM Pacifica Radio
New York City
listen on the internet: Saturdays Noon EST

Martin Galvin (MG) speaks to former Republican prisoner now author and journalist, Anthony McIntyre, (AM) via telephone from Ireland who delivers his comments on Sinn Féin collapsing the power-sharing government, its new party leader and the comments made by Gerry Kelly concerning the informing on and the prosecution of Irish Republicans. (begins time stamp ~43:01)

MG:  And we have on the line professor, well Doctor excuse me, Anthony McIntyre, who’s the author of some of the great books, one of the great books, Good Friday: The Death of Irish Republicanism, manages The Pensive Quill blog which is a tremendous resource if you want to get a wide range of Republican thought, Irish Republican thought, that’s the place to go – that blog. And this week he was the author of one piece for the Belfast Telegraph and we had booked him to do an interview today and before we could interview him we find that we have another piece in the Belfast Telegraph dealing with Sinn Féin that we have to interview him about. Anthony, welcome back to Radio Free Éireann.

AM:  Hello, John.

MG:  This is Martin.

AM:  Oh, Martin. How are you? Sorry.

MG:  There you go – all of us WBAI Radio Free Éireann personnel sound alike. Okay. Alright Anthony, the first piece that you did, you did a piece earlier on in the week, about Sinn Féin bringing down Stormont by Martin McGuinness resigning, the party refusing to appoint a substitute as Deputy First Minister and that meant that a new election would have to be called. What is the significance of Sinn Féin doing that, withdrawing from Stormont? How did that come about?

AM:  Well it came about over the RHI (Renewable Heat Incentive) scandal with the – there’s a lot of allegations going around that the DUP (Democratic Unionist Party) under Arlene Foster were squandering massive amounts of public money and that many DUP members were benefiting, essentially, from a scam and Sinn Féin had pushed for some sort of resolution of the matter by asking for Arlene Foster to stand aside similar to Peter Robinson having to do the same as First Minister for a six week period when there was a scandal surrounding him – he had come back in. Arlene Foster refused to do it and Sinn Féin upended the Executive but when they did they said that for ten years, which they hadn’t told people before, they had been insulted and treated with arrogance by the DUP, which was hardly a ringing endorsement for ever having gone into that arrangement in the first place. But the upshot is that we now have an election looming that will take place in The North in early March and it will be interesting to see what the outcome of that is because Michelle O’Neill, the new leader of Sinn Féin, has a lot of heavy lifting to do and it just might not be easy for her. She really has to improve the Sinn Féin vote which is already in decline in areas like West Belfast where they lost a seat in the Assembly elections to People Before Profit and the DUP will have to concede some ground to the TUV (Traditional Unionist Voice) or the UUP (Ulster Unionist Party) for the Sinn Féin move to have been successful. But strangely enough Adams, as quoted on the Slugger O’Toole website by Mick Fealty, and Mick Fealty has said that Adams has now acknowledged that the whole issue of the scandal has been handled adequately which sort of makes you wonder why the whole institutions were ever brought down or what Sinn Féin are thinking at the moment.

MG:  Well Anthony, in your article for the Belfast Telegraph during the week you said that Michelle O’Neill was part of an Assembly team that has been accused of ‘roll over Republicanism’ and that it came to – Martin McGuinness came to – ‘personify an Assembly team malaise which saw it swallow ignominy after insult which, up until it collapsed the power-splitting Executive, responded to DUP slap downs as if they were pats on the back’. And you credited the Republican grassroots with pushing them to withdraw. Could you explain what you meant by that in that paragraph?

AM:  Well what I meant was that, in my own view, is that the Sinn Féin leadership instinct was to stay in and this is what the DUP were calculating, that there were no circumstances under which the Sinn Féin leadership, who were part of a cosy arrangement in Stormont – perks, power, prestige, wealth – that they were ever going to come out of Stormont or pull out of the institutions. But over the course of years they were insulted, the DUP simply were not – I mean the way the DUP were treating them, even in relation to the Irish, the funding for the Irish language of deprived areas – of school children in deprived areas – where they denied a grant and later rescinded that decision to deny it but initially I mean the DUP were just treating them with utter contempt and basically Sinn Féin, in the eyes of the DUP, were like a trade union. As Tommy McKearney often says, the worst thing that you could be, as a trade union, is a trade union that’s afraid of going on strike and the DUP were treating Sinn Féin as they would a trade union that was afraid to go on strike. And it seems now, much to my surprise, that the grassroots did make a challenge, were very, very unhappy with the leadership’s position and they had some sort of rebellion – strange that they would rebel over the internal workings of basically an internal solution – but that’s what they did and I feel that it was what we may term the ‘sectarian impulse’, the anti-DUP impulse within Sinn Féin, trumped the careerist cartel that has been sitting up in Stormont milking the gravy train for a decade.

MG:  Alright. We’re talking with Anthony McIntyre, former prisoner, Irish Republican Army prisoner, author, runs a blog, The Pensive Quill. Anthony, one of the things that you commented about was the significance of the change from former Republican prisoners, with emphasis in your case on the prisoners, from former Republican prisoners, to somebody who was seventeen at the time of the first ceasefire, Michelle O’Neill, had no Irish Republican Army background or credentials other than being related, you know – possibly to relatives. What is the significance of that in terms of Sinn Féin’s development?

AM:  Well in, certainly in the public mind Michelle O’Neill is viewed as one of the New Age Sinn Féiners – someone who would not be handicapped by the military baggage that, for example, Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness would carry. And I feel that in this move Sinn Féin are sending out a message that with the withdrawal of Martin McGuinness and the refusal to actually hand over to many, many – any one of many former IRA prisoners, Pat Sheehan, Ian Milne, Gerry Kelly, Conor Murphy – all those people and more could have been appointed leader of the party but in effect they decided to bypass the IRA past and go for a clean or new pair of hands and this was more or less saying that there’s an attempt to, a serious attempt, being made now to civilianise the party, to move power or at least leadership from the hands of the martial politicians to the civilian politicians. And it’s a sign of Sinn Féin’s journey to the realm of constitutionalism which they have been on for quite a while but I mean they’re basically doing what so many before them have done like Fianna Fáil, the Workers’ Party – all these people have ended up, more or less, doing the same thing.

MG:  Alright Anthony, we want to play a clip from one of the people that you just mentioned, Gerry Kelly. This was a clip of something that he said on The View. I was called by Gerry McGeough who was shocked by it and said that there were a number of people shocked. We’re just going to play this clip then ask you to comment on it. Gerry Kelly is, of course, a leading member of Sinn Féin, was a former prisoner, escaped from Long Kesh and has been a party leader for a long period of time from the Belfast area. Okay, we’re going to try and play this clip.

Audio:  Clip from The View is played.

MG:   Sorry, did we lose it?

AM:  I didn’t manage to hear it but I know the clip you’re referring to.

Audio:  Clip from The View continues.

MG:  I’ll just read you the last part of it. Gerry Kelly was asked by Mark Carruthers: Would you be happy to see IRA men being brought before the courts who have not previously served time for their actions if fresh evidence came to light to enable prosecutions to be possible? And he asked the question a couple of times and Gerry Kelly ends up saying: I’d accept that. That’s three times you’ve asked me. I’ve answered it. It wouldn’t be uncomfortable with me. So basically what he was saying is that if there was new evidence against former members of the IRA for historic incidents that happened during the struggle, the period between 1968-1969, 1994-1998, that he would not be uncomfortable with seeing them be prosecuted. And certainly he didn’t seem to be uncomfortable when Gerry McGeough or Seamus…

AM:   …Kearney.

MG:  …Seamus Kearney were being prosecuted. How do you feel about – what’s your reaction to that quote?

AM:  Well firstly I’m surprised that Gerry McGeough or anybody else is shocked that Gerry Kelly would do this. I mean for a long time Gerry Kelly has been calling for people to inform to the British on Republicans involved in Republican activity. He’s been calling for people to inform on the physical force tradition which, I mean even Republicans opposed to physical force – any political violence whatsoever – would, on the grounds of conscientious objection, desist from doing. And it goes back to the Fresh Start Agreement that Sinn Féin are now arguing – and Gerry Kelly did it a couple of weeks ago in relation to the prosecution of two British Paratroopers, former British Paratroopers, in relation to the extrajudicial killing of the Official IRA leader, Joe McCann – Gerry Kelly then made the point very clearly that anybody, and he didn’t say just British soldiers he said anybody who, against whom there was evidence, should be prosecuted. And he said the same the other night. So, as a former IRA leader Gerry Kelly is quite willing to see the men that he sent out on IRA activity be prosecuted by the British and it’s not going to make him uncomfortable. I think it sums up basically the character and political perspective of Gerry Kelly. I remember in prison Gerry Kelly giving me the two books, Animal Farm and 1984, by George Orwell and telling me to read them and recommending that they were worth the reading because they give an insight to what politicians who cannot be trusted will do when they get power or you allow a party to get out of control and develop an authoritarian ethos. I think many people will be very disappointed in Gerry Kelly but I’ve come to expect it.

MG:  Alright Anthony, we have a lot more we could cover but unfortunately we’ve run out of time. I want to thank you for being with us. (ends time stamp ~ 56:06)

Eamon Sweeney RFÉ 28 January 2017

Radio Free Éireann
WBAI 99.5FM Pacifica Radio
New York City
listen on the internet: Saturdays Noon EST

Martin Galvin (MG) speaks to Doire-based journalist Eamon Sweeney (ES) via telephone from Doire who updates us on the Bloody Sunday prosecutions status and about events this week leading up tomorrow’s Bloody Sunday March for Justice. (begins time stamp ~ 23:19)

MG:  Okay. We’re back. I believe we have Eamon Sweeney on the line from the very well-known…

ES: …Hi, Martin.

MG: Eamon – Hello! Welcome back to Radio Free Éireann. Eamon, of course, is a well-known Doire reporter and journalist who was formerly with the Derry Journal. Eamon, this week – it’s the forty-fifth anniversary, I believe it’s today, of Bloody Sunday – that terrible day when people were protesting – it was still a predominance in terms of the civil rights movement as opposed to armed struggle. Internment had been begun by the British, torture had been coupled with internment. There had been the Ballymurphy Massacre and other events like that that had escalated the level of armed struggle between the British and between Irish Republicans but on Bloody Sunday a large civil rights march had occurred and thirteen people were shot down – cover-ups. The Widgery Tribunal, which was a complete judicial whitewash, immediately it was announced that the individuals who were shot were gunmen or nail bombers or otherwise criminals and for those forty-five years the families of those victims have been fighting for justice, fighting to put the real criminals of that day, British troopers and those who commanded them, in the docks. Eamon, where are we in terms of getting prosecutions of those British troopers who committed those ‘unjustified and unjustifiable killings’, as it was called by British Prime Minister Cameron, on Bloody Sunday?

ES:  At the moment no further forward at all – forty-five years later on as you said. The update on that would be that the murder investigation that took place under the auspices of the PSNI (Police Service of Northern Ireland) has concluded some months ago but as yet the Department of Public Prosecutions have not announced the decision on whether they are going to prosecute any soldiers in relation to the murders on Bloody Sunday or not. Time is dragging on – it’s been purposely delayed – as well-known by all the relatives seeking the prosecution of soldiers. The update at Westminster at the moment where they have openly admitted they’re formulating specific legislation in terms of making sure that old age pensioners soldiers, ie soldiers over the age of sixty-five, are going to be immune from prosecution and that of course would include the vast majority, I would assume, of those who carried out the killings forty-five years ago in this town. So in essence no further forward at all, Martin.

MG:  Eamon – we’re talking to Eamon Sweeney about Bloody Sunday – what’s happening this weekend. The person who’s going to make that decision – now there was – I actually, in researching this article, hit up ‘Bloody Sunday prosecution may soon occur’ – it was from a BBC article in 2010; we’re now in 2017. The person who’s going to make that decision, Barra McGrory, he is the Director of Public Prosecutions – like what we would call a District Attorney in the United States, he’s not viewed as a very strong Republican figure by many people here. His father was a very strong opponent of Diplock non-jury courts. Barra McGrory continues to use them against Republican suspects. But during the week there’s been a number of actions taken which seem designed to influence or put pressure or embarrass him – there’s been calls for an independent inquiry, there have been other statements and actions taken – what’s been done, which it seems like it’s there to intimidate or influence Barra McGrory from making the decision to announce prosecutions?

ES:  I don’t think Barra McGrory as a person would be swayed either way by any of the criticism that he has encountered in the past week. I think this is directly as the result of a snap election being called and I would imagine that the vast majority of the criticism is being leveled by Unionism and its representatives. Barra McGrory has been labeled as somebody who is not strictly impartial by those in the Unionist community because in the past he has represented figures like Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness – that doesn’t make him any less of an impartial figure when it comes to operating the position of Director of Public Prosecutions. It’s just nonsense but the man has had to take to the media to defend himself. Whether or not he in the end-up does take the decision to prosecute some of those responsible for the killings in Doire forty-five years ago will rest solely on his shoulders and it has to be evidence-based. And it has to be based on the evidence gleaned from the interviews conducted on these soldiers by the PSNI. So it’s the quality of evidence that will eventually lead, or not lead, to the prosecution of these soldiers. So to point the finger at Barra McGrory for being not an impartial character is absolutely ridiculous when the testimony will have to be tested for its quality by those who gained that information, ie the Police Service of Northern Ireland. So let’s see what they actually come up with. It’s my understanding that a lot of these soldiers who were questioned simply replied when asked questions during the interview, ‘no comment’ which, by and large, keeps them out of contempt of court. So let’s see what actually comes forward from the interviews that were conducted by the police and then, and only then, can Barra McGrory take the decision to prosecute or not.

MG:  Well one of the ironic things – I was reading reports that they want to have an inquiry because there’s been some sort of more selective prosecutions of British troopers or British Crown forces since the Good Friday Agreement in 1998 – and actually nobody – no British trooper, no member of the RUC (Royal Ulster Constabulary) has been put in jail as the result of any conflict-related offence. Although people like Gerry McGeough, like Seamus Kearney and others have been, who are Republicans, who were jailed for conflict-related offences. So some of the arguments that they’re putting forward, which it seems to embarrass Barra McGrory, just have no validity. But what is going to happen with the families this weekend? Tomorrow there is another activity, it’s a climax of a week of activities to commemorate Bloody Sunday – what’s going to happen tomorrow? What’s been happening all week in Doire to commemorate Bloody Sunday and also to put more pressure, more drive, more demand and more appeal for there to be prosecutions of those who are guilty of murder of their loved ones?

ES:  Well the March for Justice as it’s now called doesn’t just concentrate on the events of Bloody Sunday. Whilst it commemorates the victims who were killed on the thirtieth of January 1972 it takes in the broad remit of international human rights. So during this week there have been several well, very well-attended events. The one which I attended and I found very fascinating was in the City Hotel last Wednesday night and it was broadly on the theme of internment which was what the Bloody Sunday demonstration was originally about in 1972 – campaigning against taking people from their beds basically and putting them in concentration camps without trial or charge – so on Wednesday night we had a speaker for the campaign Justice for the Craigavon Two, which your listeners would be well aware of. We had Francie McGuigan, he was one of the ‘hooded men’ – twelve guys who were taken to Ballykelly Army Camp in the early ’70’s and basically subjected to five horrific techniques of torture which the British invented and then sent around the world to countries, including your own, as a blueprint for the way forward for torture methods.

We also had Moazzam Begg who spoke of his incarceration and torture in Guantánamo Bay. Interestingly, as Moazzam Begg was speaking we received news that Donald Trump had just authorised through an Executive Order the re-opening of CIA torture units throughout the world. So things like that but it also covers topics such as austerity, economic austerity, which has been rampant in Britain and Ireland for the past almost ten years now since the economic crash and the effect that it’s having on working-class people on a day and daily basis. So the scenes of Bloody Sunday, whilst it concentrates and remembers those butchered in the streets of Doire – and they were butchered by the British Army – it also highlights these other injustices throughout the world. It’s becoming more of an international event as the years go on. Tomorrow the main speaker, after the normal march, which beings at around two thirty from the usual spot in Creggan shops, which you’ll know well, Martin, will be a lady called Sheila Coleman. Sheila’s a Liverpudlian woman from England and she will speak about her experiences of spearheading the campaign to break the cover-up that took place over the deaths of ninety-six football fans at Hillsborough soccer ground in England in 1989. Now the parallels between the cover-up that happened after Bloody Sunday and the police cover-up which took place in England are startling – the same amount of aggression, the same amount of whitewashing – it went on and on. The likelihood however for the relatives of Hillsborough will be that it’s quite likely, sooner rather than later, that the policemen at high level in England who attempted to cover this up for twenty-five years and more will face prosecution and quite likely face jail time. That’s the main difference between what’s happened at Hillsborough and what’s happening with Bloody Sunday in Doire. So she would be a very powerful speaker I would imagine. And the crowds that typically attended the march in the past five-six years are growing – I estimated myself as a journalist last year it was around four or five thousand people marching on the streets on Doire in the pouring rain, which being here at this time of year, Martin, is not particularly pleasant at times but the event is going from strength to strength each year. So that would be the fulcrum of it tomorrow I would imagine.

MG:  Well the families – Kate Nash, Linda Nash – all of the families who continue that march have done a tremendous job. They’ve gone through so much – forty-five years, the Widgery Tribunal, all of the other things – delays that they faced and it seems that every time they get close to prosecutions it’s just – it’s like Sisyphus – the boulder gets pushed down the table. But I just want to mention – I was just struck by something – a press release that came out during the week and it was by a member of the Ballymurphy Massacre Families and it was really poignant. And I know Kate Nash, Linda Nash, some of the Bloody Sunday families have sympathy for other victims such as the Ballymurphy Massacre Families . And that had occurred just in August, around the time of internment – a number of people had been shot in the Nationalist/Republican areas by some of the same troopers, the British Paratroop Regiment, and one of the spokesmen for that campaign was saying we haven’t even gotten to the point where our families have been cleared. I believe John Teggart said my father is down as a gunman – that’s how he was branded after he was shot. He was shot a number of times, he was just there on the street near his own home as internment was being carried out or in the three days following internment. So it’s not just – Bloody Sunday stands out as an example because there were so many thousands of witnesses who were there because there were so many photographers, reporters like yourself, Eamon, who were there to cover the event. It was done outside, in public, and the British were able for so many years or have been able for so many years to stall any prosecutions. But it just brings to mind the impact on so many other families in The North of Ireland whose family members were murdered, who were never given any kind of justice even in the form of having the excuses – having family members then branded as criminals to excuse and cover up their murders by British forces that they haven’t been able to get to the truth and how Bloody Sunday, really, is a fight for all of them. Would you agree with that?

ES:  I can agree with that; one hundred percent agree with that. I mean you also have an incident not related to Ballymurphy or Bloody Sunday around that same time by the same members of the Parachute Regiment: Two completely innocent Protestant civilians shot dead on the Skankill Road by these guys as well for no apparent reason apart from they took pot shots at them and more or less executed them in the street. Those families – let it be made clear that it’s just not Nationalist or Catholic communities who have suffered at the hands of British forces in Ireland. You know, the Protestant community has been hit as well, many times. So on and on and on ad infinitum. The purposeful policy of the British government, with regard to Northern Ireland, is to delay and stall and go on and on until they hope that those relatives here fighting for justice – whether it be from the Shankill Road, whether it be from the Bogside in Doire, whether it be from Ballymurphy in Belfast will die and eventually the claims will go away. If you listen to people, for example, like Kate Nash and Linda Nash or Francie McGuigan, one of the ‘hooded men’ who spoke in the city on Wednesday night, they make it perfectly clear that when they go their children and their grandchildren will continue on this campaign until their loved ones’ names are completely vindicated and those responsible, whether it be posthumously or not, responsible for their murder will eventually have their names be made public and shamed as such which is judicial process – it’s the rule of law in any other civilised society. The shroud of darkness conducted by British forces in Ireland still remains the same. Whilst violence has largely abated in this country the legacy of what’s left behind and what went on carried out by a supposedly legitimate state force of a western democracy has been utterly shameful. Be under no illusion that the relatives of these people will not stop this until redress is actually achieved.

MG:  Alright Eamon, before we go we’d like to ask you about one other case – you mentioned internment – there is a case – it’s called internment-by-remand that of another Doire man, Tony Taylor, who was – served a sentence as a Republican and then just one day was shopping with his wife and child and was picked up and was put in prison, doesn’t get told why or what the basis of putting him back in on licence – what’s happening with Tony Taylor’s case?

ES:  Well as I’m sure you’re aware there was another event last night but I know Mr. Taylor’s family and his wife and the supporters of his campaign, which there are many across a large spectrum, held an event to highlight the plight of Tony Taylor in one of the hotels in Doire. I can’t comment on how well it was attended because I unfortunately wasn’t there. But what I can tell you is that the campaign to free Tony Taylor is ongoing. This guy, as you said, was simply lifted from a shopping mall one afternoon with his family and taken away by the police and incarcerated. He has not been informed why – largely it’s on the say-so of undercover security operations, or security forces. His lawyers haven’t been informed of the reason why he’s been incarcerated without charge. His family hasn’t been told why. So whilst internment was launched on the ninth of August 1970 internment in Ireland has gone on in every single decade since Northern Ireland was formed as a state – from the ’20’s right through to this present day. It’s called something different, slightly different now – it’s internment-by-remand. So this guy is sitting in jail for almost a year now, or over a year, and hasn’t been informed why he’s there.

Now if, as I’ve said on this programme many times before, the British are so proud of their great form of justice then bring the man into a courtroom and let’s see what the evidence against the guy actually is otherwise release him. What they’re doing is technically illegal. On the say-so of some British apparatchik this guy has been taken from his family home and put in jail. He’s not the first – this happened to Marian Price. It happened to Martin Corey. They were eventually released but under horrendous conditions in terms of they weren’t allowed to fraternise with certain people, they were under curfew, they had to report to a police station every day, they were removed of any communication devices and so on and so forth. So in the twenty-first century in the year 2017 this type of bullying from the British state still continues in this country. There’s no other way around it. Give the man due process or let him go.

MG:  Alright. Eamon on that note – we’re talking again with Eamon Sweeney, a Doire-based reporter and journalist. I want to thank you. We want to – we hope you’ll extend our good wishes and our support and our solidarity with all of those who march tomorrow – marching for justice not only for the victims of Bloody Sunday but for all of the other issues that you’ve talked about, the injustices under British rule. Thank you, Eamon.

ES:  Thank you, Martin. (ends time stamp ~ 41:38)


Press Release: Ballymurphy Massacre Families 26 January 2017

Press Release
Ballymurphy Families
26 January 2017
By John Teggart

Folks over the last number of weeks there has been a massive step up in the campaign to prevent state forces ‘Pensioners’ from being brought to account for the many murders they have been involved in the past these were not just ‘stray bullets,’cross fire’ or ‘moment of madness’.  Examples of some of the massacres of the innocents carried out Ballymurphy 11, Bloody Sunday 14, Springhill 5, Shankill 2, Newlodge 6 etc.  Victims’ families feelings have been totally ignored by certain politicians.  The grief felt by the death of your loved one during The Troubles is no different whether it is caused by the State, Republican or Loyalist violence. We hear comments spurned out like ‘we will not allow history to be rewritten’, ‘the legacy process is one sided’, ‘we need to have a level playing field’ and, the favourite one of the Tory government, ‘Terrorists were responsible for 90 per cent of all killings during The Troubles’.  These comments can be really hurtful and also deceitful. Families want to correct history not rewrite it.

My father, Danny Teggart, still stands officially as being a gun man when he was shot by the army, just like hundreds more. Father Raymond Murray’s research many years back put statistics in what I feel is the correct score on the ‘playing field’ people can make their own judgment on this.

Death Toll: 14 August 1969 to 31 December 1994

Deaths Due to:



Security Forces


Republican Activity





Loyalist Activity





Security Forces Activity




Other: Unclassified or Uncertain




Total Deaths





Source: Murray, R. State Violence: Northern Ireland 1969-1997. Cork, Ireland: Mercier Press, 1998, p.245.

# killed by Pro-state forces:      1273
# killed by Republican forces:  1838

# killed by others:                               60

Pro-State:    40.7%
Republican: 58.2%
30,000 civilians processed through the courts
3 British soldiers convicted for murder

These statistics finish in 1994.  We now know that since then state agents were armed and controlled for many years killer squads included agents Brian Nelson, Steak Knife, Haddock, Glenanne Gang and the infamous MRF.  I haven’t got my calculator in front of me but seems that ‘10%’ is growing.  We also now know, with great work of Anne Cadwallader book, who is responsible for over 100 murders. Think we should add state collusion in all its forms now.  I remember working out years back between March 1970 to October 1972 security forces were responsible on average for one death per week in the north of Ireland, these included men, women, children and two Catholic priests. This is something for these complaining ex veterans to think about who once again proudly wear their uniform to march all over the legal system and the memory of our loved ones this weekend in Parliament Square London. Judge for yourselves what the real percentage of State involvement in the conflict is to date, I hope not to hear about this 10% again!

Gerry Adams RTÉ Radio One News at One 20 January 2017

RTÉ Radio One
News at One

Conor Brophy (CB) speaks to Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams (GA) via telephone about Martin McGuinness’ retirement and today’s release of the Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry (HIA or Hart) report. (begins)

CB:   Sinn Féin is to name the person who will succeed Martin McGuinness as the party’s leader in The North on Monday next. Martin McGuinness announced his retirement from politics yesterday. Ill health means he’s not physically capable of continuing in his current role, he said, and will prevent him from contesting the upcoming Assembly elections. Well we’re joined now by Sinn Féin President, Gerry Adams. Good Afternoon, Gerry Adams.

GA:  Good Afternoon, Conor.

CB:   You paid tribute yesterday to a man you described a ‘friend and comrade’ whom you first met over forty-five years ago behind the barricades in Free Derry. It’s a long time ago both in temporal and in political terms.

GA:  Yeah, before I deal with that, Conor, may I just welcome the publication of the historical abuse report. It’s a vindication of those who campaigned and those who gave evidence and I hope they have a sense of vindication today. Yes, forty-five years ago and the barricades were up in the Bogside and the Brandywell and the west bank of the Foyle I suppose and that’s the first time I met with Martin McGuinness and we have been on a journey since. Good comrades. Good friends. I think he’s been a remarkable leader, a remarkable and very, very decent human being and I value the role that he has played. And I know that he and Bernie are empowered and uplifted by the warm messages that have come to them and the best wishes for their good health so hopefully he will get the space to get better. And he’s not retiring, you know he’s stepped down from elected office but he intends to continue as best he can and hopefully in the fullness of health will be back with the rest of us moving forward against the Brexit consequences, facing up to the bad policies of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael but in the meantime making sure we get the best result by good negotiations out of this election in The North.

CB:  What happens between now and Monday?

GA:  Well, we’ve a big united Ireland conference in the Mansion House on the very day, on the very date, in the very place that the First Dáil met. We will make our – we will consult with our Ard Comhairle over the weekend and we will make the announcement, as I said earlier, of Martin’s successor. And I was making the point: You know, we’re not replacing Martin McGuinness because he’s irreplaceable but the new person coming into the job needs to be able to put his or her mark on that job within our general – you know, reconciliation towards unity, making the institutions work for everyone – we just have to give that new person a bit of a space and we’re blessed with a huge number of candidates who could do that job.

CB:  Such as?

GA:   Well I’m not gong to name names now but they’re all in the public arena and you know, we are a party which is in generational transition and it’s very, very good to have the benefit of a panel of people – older people down to people in their twenties and all the sort of ages in between with various talents and experiences – and right across the entire island of Ireland.

CB:  Yourself and Martin McGuinness have been inseparable over a long period of years now. Does his departure from active politics, if we can put it that way, give you pause for thought now about the timeline preceding, perhaps, your own departure?

GA:  Well Martin made it clear and I actually said this publicly last year that we are a party in transition and then that means a change of leadership. But I think one big announcement at the beginning of the year – and you know that wasn’t planned – Martin’s illness intruded and you know that’s the way life is at times – but we do have a plan and we will stick to that plan but it’s enough that we absorb Martin’s vacating of that office and get the very best person into that office and they’ll assist at making the election as sensible as possible and then get the political institutions back in place based upon the foundations which always should have guided them and that is equality, parity of esteem, treating people fairly, and moving forward in that direction.

CB:   Mary Lou McDonald said this morning: ‘All of us understand that we’re in transition’. She said: ‘Gerry hasn’t set a date’. Will you be setting one or will you set one now?

GA:    No, as I’ve said – one big announcement’s enough for anybody so that’s the only announcement you’re going to get at this time. We’ll return to this at some other time.

CB:   You mentioned at the outset your comments on the Hart Inquiry which says the Stormont Executive and the institutions who ran homes should offer a wholehearted and unconditional apology. Of course we have, realistically, no government in place now neither to issue an apology nor to deal with some of the pressing issues that may come out of that inquiry and survivors of abuse, victims of abuse, talking for instance, about the requirement for compensation.

GA:   Well we wanted to make an interim compensationry commitment to those victims some time ago – it was the DUP (Democratic Unionist Party) who blocked that. You know, why are we into an election, Conor? Because half a billion pounds went down the drain amid allegations of corruption and fraud and because the minister who presided over that refused to countenance the type of proper inquiry or investigation which would have given the people the facts of all of that and that’s just not sustainable at all and that’s why we’re into an election at this point. Be sure – I know some of the victims. I’ve worked with them. I admire them. They have met all of our ministers, including Mary Lou McDonald and others in the Oireachtas, so we support them fully and that’s why I welcome so much the Hart report.

CB:  You have heard, for example, be that as it may, that the institutions have collapsed and wherever we ascribe blame for that, you have heard, for example, Margaret McGuckin, who helped set up Survivors and Victims of Institutional Abuse, or SAVIA, and talking in recent weeks about her concerns about how long it will be before there’s a government in place to deal in practical terms with the findings of this inquiry and all these clouds hanging over the future of power-sharing now, if we’re into a period of direct rule realistically that’s not going to be a priority for Westminster.

GA:  Well that’s not countenanced and I know Margaret, I know her well and I have supported her and her campaign and Sinn Féin was the party which brought about this necessary historic abuse inquiry, that’s why I said in my earlier remarks – let’s have a decent election, that’s everybody – and this includes the SDLP (Social Democratic and Labour Party) and the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP) – move forward, ask the people for their votes based upon those principles of the Good Friday Agreement and then get the institutions back in place – we don’t have any other notion of doing it in any other way except through the political institutions which were set up and then that issue, that urgent issue, will be dealt with along with many other urgent issues but I do have a particular affection for that campaign because I met some of the people and they weren’t believed and they were dismissed for decades and now they’ve had their vindication and now it’s up to us to ensure that the recommendations are acted upon.

CB:  And finally, Gerry Adams, if we can return to the issue of leadership and of Martin McGuinness’ departure from the scene at least in terms of active politics, obviously you’re not going to name names but what does a new leader need to possess? What attributes do they need to possess if they’re going to emulate Martin McGuinness’ example?

GA:  Well I just want to stress the point that Martin hasn’t retired. He has stood down from elected office if you like. He remains a member of our Ard Comhairle. I was in touch with him this morning. He’s regularly in touch with us across a range of issues but anybody coming in, as I said earlier I think, it’s not about replacing Martin McGuinness – he’s, he’s you know, a one-off. But what we are is to have somebody there that will show a generosity of spirit, to be totally committed to the notion of equality. Obviously, every Sinn Féiner, as you said, is an islander but we have to persuade the Unionists that that’s the way forward and also to be tough in terms of the way, at times, the governments are nonchalant about how they handle these issues, in particular the British government, doesn’t want to handle the issues of equality and fairness and so also the Irish government needs to be all the time briefed fully on what it needs to do in terms of keeping the British government right. So it’s a big challenge but we’re also a collective leadership. You know and Martin obviously brought his own personality and his own particular way and his say as to all of this but he would be the first to say that he was backed up by a team of Sinn Féin people at the Assembly, the people who worked, you know the Special Advisers (SpADs), both from within the civil service and particularly within Sinn Féin who worked with him, so we’d ensure that the person coming into that job has all that support.

CB:  Alright. We will wait and see how that leadership question will be resolved. Gerry Adams, Sinn Féin president, thank you. (ends)

Suzanne Breen RFÉ 14 January 2017

Radio Free Éireann
WBAI 99.5FM Pacifica Radio
New York City
listen on the internet: Saturdays Noon EST

John McDonagh (JM) and Martin Galvin (MG) speak to award-winning Belfast journalist Suzanne Breen (SB) via telephone from Belfast who delivers insightful commentary on the future of government in The North of Ireland in the wake of the collapse of Stormont. (begins time stamp ~ 33:50)

JM:   Well right now we’re going to head back to Belfast and speak with Suzanne Breen who writes for many publications north and south of the border and maybe she can give us an overall view of what’s going on. And I just want to remind our audience that: Here in New York City our population is eight point five million. We have fifty-one Council members to distribute the budget and to run the City of New York. Over in the Six Counties they are at one point six million. They have a hundred and eight MLAs at the moment; they’re going to reduce it to ninety people. So they have probably one of the greatest representations of the people living in a small area and for that little area it certainly causes a lot of problems. And Suzanne, are you on the line?

SB:   I am indeed, John. Hi!

JM:   Yeah I just wanted to go – when we have people over from Belfast and I take them down to City Hall and around they can’t believe how small our City Hall is and they’re comparing it to something like Stormont, which is this great edifice outside of Belfast. But it’s so grandiose – the people over there with the huge buildings and then the titles of ‘Lord Mayor’ and everything and then how many representatives are from just that small area of the island.

SB:  Yes well, I mean Stormont is a stunningly beautiful building – gorgeous marble, corridors inside, chandeliers – it really looks the part. The problem is that what transpires inside is more like the end of a Christmas pantomime than serious politics so its inhabitants have very much let their surroundings down.

MG:  Suzanne, this is Martin Galvin. I just was going through some of our old interviews and on November 21st there was joint piece, it was put together by Arlene Foster and Martin McGuinness, it was printed in the Irish News and it said: ‘this is what delivery looks like’, ‘no gimmicks’, ‘no grandstanding’ just the ministers ‘getting on with the work’ and everything looked like the government would last for five years, they couldn’t have been working together more happily according to that piece, which was only about six weeks ago. And now we’re in a position where it looks like a British minister may be calling an election, where the government has completely collapsed, where Martin McGuinness has resigned. What happened in those few weeks?

SB:  Well basically when Sinn Féin and the DUP (Democratic Unionist Party) were saying everything was hunky dory they weren’t completely telling the truth because the DUP was not willing to share power in any meaningful, generous way with Sinn Féin but Sinn Féin seemed to be prepared to accept that kind of ‘back of the bus’ treatment just in order to ride the gravy train in Stormont which provides a whole heap of jobs, access to funding, patronage, pet projects that can be financed. But on key issues, like for example an Irish language act, like progressing equal rights for people regardless of their sexuality, the DUP were saying ‘no’ and it was able to employ what is called a Petition of Concern (PoC) whereby if they have the signatures of thirty of its members it could stop the wishes of the other seventy-eight members of the Assembly from having their say in a democratic vote. Basically what happened was there was this whole ‘cash for ash’ scandal. It was a botched energy project from beginning in 2012. It happened under Arlene Foster’s watch and in the latter part of last year details of this started drifting out into the media and it became a colossally big story and the DUP handled it very, very badly. They made what was a problem into a crisis. Sinn Féin asked for Arlene Foster to stand aside for four weeks to allow for an independent investigation and this was in many ways a very minor request…

MG:   …Suzanne, that was compared – it just seemed like they were asking her to do what Peter Robinson had designed for himself as his rehabilitation from the ‘Irisgate’ scandal in 2010: He stepped aside, he said he was going to step aside for six weeks, he was back within three. Arlene Foster had that open to her. She could have come back and said: Now we’re past this, let’s move on and the scandal is over with.

SB:   Well Sinn Féin was suggesting this just as Stormont closed naturally for the Christmas holidays. If Arlene had taken that up she would be back now in office. I mean it would be common procedure in other parliaments, in Westminster for example, for a minister who presided over the equivalent of this to step aside but Arlene Foster said that she wasn’t doing that. And she went to address the Assembly to give a personal statement even though she needed the approval of Martin McGuinness, who holds – even though he’s Deputy First Minister and she’s First Minister it’s meant to be a joint office – and then really something that inflamed and angered a lot of Nationalists was that on the eve of Christmas Eve the DUP cut fifty thousand pounds in funding to a project to send children from deprived, poor areas to the Gaeltacht. So given that the DUP had just effectively lost five hundred million pounds of public money this pulling fifty thousand pounds looked very, very petty and very nasty from a party that was facing its own crisis and it really seemed that this was another occasion for the DUP to poke Sinn Féin in the eye.

MG:   Now Suzanne, you’ve written in a number of articles that this was – that Martin McGuinness’ decision to resign – Sinn Féin is very much a top-ordered, they pretty much set the agenda, they’re viewed as very successful in bringing along the grassroots – you’ve written in both the Belfast Telegraph and the Irish Independent that the decision to resign came from the grassroots or was driven by the grassroots. Why do you say that?

SB:   Well just before Christmas, even after Arlene Foster had done all this, the SDLP (Social Democratic and Labour Party) has a Motion of No Confidence before the chamber in Stormont and Sinn Féin refused to support it. Sinn Féin’s words were very tolerant, very mild and they were really attempting to give Arlene Foster a way out. Sinn Féin alone hasn’t called for a public inquiry into RHI (Renewable Heat Incentive) and it calls for public inquiries all the time into all sorts of things – RHI is this botched energy scheme that is at the heart of the ‘cash for ash’ scandal. So while the likes of parties such as Alliance, the Ulster Unionists, the SDLP, regarded as far less radical than Sinn Féin, were demanding a public inquiry Sinn Féin wasn’t. Sinn Féin was very much trying to let the DUP off the hook. But over the Christmas period they got a lot of abuse from their grassroots who said that this was just a further example of them accepting second-class treatment from the DUP. So Sinn Féin returned to Stormont very much needing to take a much stronger line with the DUP and with Arlene Foster. Again, the DUP refused any attempt to compromise so Sinn Féin said that Martin McGuinness was resigning as Deputy First Minister and that effectively pulled the Executive down. Now that’s something that the DUP had calculated Sinn Féin would never do because they thought that Sinn Féin enjoyed riding the gravy train too much and also that Martin McGuinness, unlike Gerry Adams, wasn’t a very egotistical man and that he was prepared to take kind of the put downs and not getting his way and you know Martin would stay regardless. So the DUP thought they had the measure of Sinn Féin – these guys will never pull out – and Sinn Féin called their bluff.

JM:  Well Suzanne, you talk about the gravy train – it looks like it’s going to be getting a lot shorter in the next election. There’s a hundred and eight MLAs to represent the one point six million. They’re reducing it down to ninety. What will the in-fighting be like within the Loyalist political parties, within Sinn Féin? Certain people are going to have to lose their seats within these political parties and will they go for younger people to be representatives? Or will they just try to keep in the old guard? I mean, how is that going to play out?

SB:   Well, one in six Assembly members aren’t coming back so, for example, I know that there are people, for example in the DUP, who are just elected – basically elected a handful of months who have maybe given up other careers to pursue this in Stormont, who have young families, who have mortgages to pay and who now face the prospect of unemployment and they’re not happy. And some of these people in the DUP, they’re saying: Look, this isn’t our mess. We didn’t create this. It’s our leadership who took these decisions that has brought Northern Ireland to political crisis. Why should we be paying the price? But as all the parties decide that they’re running fewer candidates and select certain people and if certain people aren’t selected that will cause bad feeling and that will cause resentment. Now I think that’s very much more the case with the DUP than with Sinn Féin. The opposite is true at the moment with Sinn Fein. Even though logically I don’t think Sinn Féin can defend the switch from a very moderate position to an apparently hard line position now their grassroots really are buying it – people are returning to their ranks, that were disillusioned, they’re energised and they’re saying: There’s an election. Bring it on! Let’s get out there! And they’re very much looking forward to an election where the DUP now, for all its bluster and bravado in the past, is really, really on the back foot and it’s very worried about facing the electorate – a very angry electorate, not just in Nationalist areas but in Unionist areas at the loss of public money and at the apparent arrogance of Arlene Foster. What the DUP will try to do in coming weeks is to sectarianise the election and to try and push the old buttons that bring the Unionist voters back into their ranks.

MG:   Alright Suzanne, what effect do you think this will have on the fact that Arlene Foster is the person who’s viewed as responsible for the RHI scandal? Do you think that that will have an impact in terms of the Democratic Unionist Party within the Unionist community? Do you think it’s going to cause a shift in favour of, say, Jim Allister or in favour of the Ulster Unionists or do you think their voters are going to come back to them in terms of the election results?

SB:  Well I think what’s going on is huge. The DUP had been saying they weren’t worried about an election at all you know and they had done the maths. They were so far ahead because they are twice as big as their nearest Unionist rival, the Ulster Unionists, and they have I think it’s two hundred and six thousand votes compared I think, off the top of my head, to eighty-six thousand votes for Mike Nesbitt of the Ulster Unionist Party – so that’s a colossal lead and it’s very, very hard for the smaller Unionist parties – who I think actually will do well – but it’s very, very hard for them to catch up with the DUP.

The Ulster Unionists have some very strong candidates running in constituencies but there would be a feeling that Mike Nesbitt, their leader, while he’s a very good media performer just really hasn’t managed to touch the hearts of ordinary Unionists. That they don’t see him as ‘one of us’ – that he somehow just seems to be a little detached or perhaps lives in another class. Jim Allister of the TUV (Traditional Unionist Voice) is very much the opposite. He would be in tune with many ordinary Unionists’ thinking. He would be by far and away the best political performer at Stormont, very much on the ball, shoots from the hip. The problem he has is that he hasn’t been able to build a credible party and that he doesn’t have credible candidates to run and basically the organisational structures locally to fight a good election. But the DUP will also have to challenge the apathy that there’ll be – a lot of Unionists might say: Do you know what? I’m not coming out to vote for any of you boys and girls. And this election will take place in the heart of winter, I mean most likely in February – you know, a very, very different feeling to a February election than to a May or June one. Now I think the Alliance centre-ground moderate party – it’s leader says she’s neither Unionist or Nationalist, Naomi Long, I think they’ll have a very good election but they mightn’t pick up any more seats because the gap between them and the larger parties is just too huge. I think the SDLP are in trouble in this election. They have a team of very young and talented MLAs but with Sinn Féin taking a much more militant line, and that going down well with Nationalist grassroots, the SDLP will very much be up against it.

MG:   Alright, Suzanne, just what happens if we get basically the same results: That the DUP is still the leading Unionist party, Sinn Féin is still the leading Nationalist party. You get two parties, Arlene Foster is still the head of the DUP will come together and Arlene Foster says she’s not going to stand aside for any investigation which is the position that she has taken, what happens then in terms of the legalities of forming a government in The North?

SB:  Well both are probably still going to emerge as the largest party but it does depend on the number of seats that they win, Martin. For example, the DUP at the moment is at thirty-eight and Sinn Féin’s at twenty-eight. The DUP is still ahead but not that much ahead. Then it really does have to adopt a more conciliatory approach to Sinn Féin and the number we should all be focusing on is ‘thirty’. Thirty is the number – if the DUP gets thirty or more it’s able to use the Petition of Concern which is a very strong weapon in the Assembly. If the DUP falls behind thirty then it can’t use that weapon. Certainly after any election, I don’t think it’s just going to be a few weeks of negotiations between Sinn Féin, the DUP and the two governments. I think this could go on for months and months if not years and years and we are in for quite a long period of direct rule. Sinn Féin are saying at the moment that they want to negotiate – the whole structure and all the agreements – they want a re-negotiation, they want to go back to the start and they want to ensure the protections and promises that were made to them at the Good Friday Agreement are actually finally delivered. So at the moment everything is up in the air but this will be a very, very interesting election. And as well there will be groups like People Before Profit in Doire and in Belfast attempting to say: Look, a plague on all your houses and pointing out to Sinn Féin’s own record in government and saying to working-class communities, you know: Give us a chance. People Before Profit may well run two candidates, as opposed to just one, in West Belfast and that would put them in a very powerful position if it is successful – they would have won two of the five seats in West Belfast, the jewel in Sinn Féin’s crown.

MG:   Alright, Suzanne, we’re going to have to leave it there with the programme. We want to thank you and hopefully we’ll be reading you in the Belfast Telegraph and the Irish Independent and some of the other papers that you write for just to keep us up-to-date on this. Thank you very much, Suzanne Breen, the noted, award-winning Belfast-based journalist. Thank you, Suzanne.

SB:   Thanks, Martin. (ends time stamp ~ 50:37)

Kathryn Johnston RFÉ 14 January 2017

Radio Free Éireann
WBAI 99.5FM Pacifica Radio
New York City
listen on the internet: Saturdays Noon EST

John McDonagh (JM) and Martin Galvin (MG) speak to Kathryn Johnston (KJ), co-author of the book, Martin McGuinness: From Guns to Government, via telephone from Belfast about Martin McGuinness’ resignation as Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland. (begins time stamp ~ 19:04)

JM:  Now we’re going to cover – get back to what’s going on in the wee Six Counties where the government was collapsed this week and it was because Martin McGuinness whose the Deputy First Minister – whatever that title is but he was the poodle to the First Minister, Arlene Foster, who runs the show over there but being if he resigns he can collapse the institutions. And we’re going to have on Kathryn Johnston and the last time I think we had her on we had her on with her husband, Liam Clarke, a writer over there who used to write for The Telegraph and a couple of other newspapers, they were arrested by – I don’t know if it was the RUC (Royal Ulster Constabulary) or the PSNI (Police Service of Northern Ireland) – but it was the police force there over an investigation and we had both of them on about that arrest. But she’s also written a book called Martin McGuinness: From Guns to Government and it’s the unauthorised biography of Martin McGuinness…

MG:   John, wasn’t that supposed to end up: From guns to government to a united Ireland?

JM:   Well, that part there was left out. Maybe they didn’t have enough room on the front page of the book. But Kathryn, are you on there?

KJ:   I am indeed, John. Nice to talk to you again.

JM:  You know what, Kathryn…

KJ: …Thanks for the plug for the book and I have to tell all your listeners: It’s now available on Amazon Kindle with a couple of updates which take us to about 2012 and we’ll be doing another update for the Kindle once the Assembly election is over and this all pans out.

JM:  Now, I went through like who you interviewed for this book and it looked like our guest list here on WBAI over the years. I mean, you had George Harrison on from Brooklyn, New York. You had Mickey and Martina Donnelly and Martina’s now passed away; we had Mickey on last week and also Ian Hurst who is MI5 or he worked for FRU, the Force Research Unit…

KJ:   Well yeah, he worked for FRU…

JM:   But you also had a guy on that we knew here in New York, Phil Kent, who – I used to call him as – the man from God knows where…

MG:   …everybody used to call him that.

KJ:   Oh yeah, of course!

JM:   …He used to just appear out of nowhere at Rocky Sullivan’s or here at the station and – but what was the conversation that you had with George Harrison because what a lot of people might not know when Martin McGuinness was in the IRA, although he won’t admit to it up to a certain stage, here was out here in Brooklyn, where we’re broadcasting from, staying with George Harrison.

KJ:   Yeah he was. He was staying with George Harrison. He’d just become Chief of Staff. I can’t remember if it was ’79 or ’80 that he first went out to stay with George Harrison. But in February 1978 Gerry Adams was Chief of Staff of the IRA and then after the La Mon bombing in February ’78 Gerry Adams was arrested and Martin McGuinness took over Chief of Staff and he was Chief of Staff then all through 1978 and ’79 including when Lord Mountbatten was killed. But in either ’79 or ’80 he went out and stayed with George Harrison to do a major arms deal there. And he traveled all over the place. I mean it was a very successful arms deal for the IRA and I mean I’m not sure how he managed to travel so easily without the authorities knowing about it but I mean there’s no doubt about it – he travel the world for the IRA.

JM:   And George didn’t mind talking to you about that? I mean I guess at a certain stage George wanted to talk because of the way the peace process was going on…

KJ:   …No, George did talk; he talked to Liam and he confirmed the details of Martin McGuinness being over there. We quote George in the book.

JM:   Right, well now Martin McGuinness is in the middle of…

MG:   …John, can I just interrupt: He also visited the Irish People office during that time and I…

KJ:   …Is that right?

MG:   …Yes. I spoke to him at a diner right underneath and that was about the time I came on the Executive for Irish Northern Aid and was made, well I was the editor of the Irish People but I can definitely confirm that he was staying at George Harrison’s at that time.

KJ:  (crosstalk) …you know what the situation was like in Ireland at the time and you know that probably as soon as Martin McGuinness became Chief of Staff of the IRA the intelligence agencies were aware of that, too. Does it strike you as strange that he could go over to New York at will?

JM:   Well not only that – look who came afterwards – it was Denis Donaldson – who was allowed free rein to roam around New York and everything – I mean there is a coincidence like you’re saying – someone that would have that high a profile within the IRA staying with George Harrison who would have been one of the top IRA guys here.

KJ:   Would have been well-known at least in those times…

JM:   …Oh, to say the least! Well listen, Kathryn, what is the importance of Martin McGuinness to the whole peace process and why is it just this one man resigning can collapse the institutions that he’s been so in favour of for ten years?

KJ:  Well, although his title is Deputy First Minister and Arlene Foster is First Minister in reality it’s a joint office and they act as Joint First Minister so when Martin McGuinness resigns the office of First Minister must go as well and that automatically collapses the institutions. Now the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, the Tory MP James Brokenshire, spoke in the House of Commons during the week and he said that if there is no sign of Sinn Féin nominating another Deputy First Minister by shortly after the weekend he will call an election. Now, he has a bit of leeway on that so he could wait a while but he can’t wait that long and there’s some rumours going round that there’ll be snap elections within three weeks – maybe the end of February beginning of March. And if the same results come up again with the DUP (Democratic Unionist Party) topping Sinn Féin for the first preference votes and Sinn Féin again refuse to nominate a Deputy First Minister James Brokenshire will have to call another Assembly election. It’s ridiculous.

JM:   Well Kathryn, you had an article that was in the Belfast Telegraph this week and you were saying about that Martin McGuinness should really confess to everything that he’s been involved with – his length of time in the IRA, some of the operations he’s was on and you also mention in the article about the Boston tapes – how they’re being used. This is not the case of like South Africa where the ANC (African National Congress) won and were in control of the government and could protect their members. This is a case where the IRA lost, surrendered their weapons and are now administering British rule in Ireland. So how could you make the argument that Martin McGuinness should admit to some of the operations that he was on where maybe people were killed because he would be prosecuted for it?

KJ:   Well he’s got limited immunity from prosecution until 1974 for what he told Lord Saville in any case. But I think the whole – it was a major mistake – not tying the release of prisoners, both Loyalist and Republican, to release the prisoners – sorry, sorry – to truth recovery and amnesty and it could have cut both ways. I mean the state certainly has a helluva lot to answer for what was going on in The Troubles and I mean I think it’s a disgrace that the Assembly refuses to engage with the whole question of truth recovery. Now I don’t expect Martin McGuinness or any other combatant, especially given what happened with the Boston tapes, I don’t expect him to stand up and say: Look, we’re going to do Panorama tonight and I’m going to tell everything that I did. But I don’t see anything wrong with Martin McGuinness recording his memoirs, lodging them in a safe place – and he already made much at the Saville Inquiry of the IRA’s ‘code of honour’ which he refused the break and, funnily enough, nobody had ever heard of it before then – but I don’t see anything wrong with him, or indeed any other combatant – Loyalist, Republican and state actors, too, and some people have been courageous – as you pointed out in the Boston tapes – giving their testimony. There’s nothing wrong – it’s open to any of us to be open and frank about what happened in their past. None of us are getting any younger. Martin McGuinness is now in his sixties. He’s now seriously ill. He has a duty not only to the victims and their families but he has a duty to history. Future generations have a right to know exactly what was going on and from 1972 Martin McGuinness was flown to London to have secret talks with William Whitelaw in Cheyne Walk and after that, in 1973, he was engaged in sort of secret talks with Michael Oatley, a very senior MI6 officer. Now those talks continued until Michael Oatley’s retirement in 1991. Now there’s a whole story there. We must know what happened. Future generations deserve to know what happened.

MG:   Kathryn, this is Martin Galvin. The problem with that is…

KJ:   …Hi, Martin.

MG:   … is Ivor Bell, who was also a very senior Republican at that time, he is now being prosecuted by the British government because it’s alleged that interviews which were given to the Boston tapes would inculpate him. Gerry Adams was questioned for a day or two because of the interview that Brendan Hughes gave – which was exactly what you’re talking about – a truth process. And the problem is that the British government is not about – they are prepared, if it suits them, to use any kind of interview – to use it against other Republicans to try and prosecute as they are Ivor Bell, or arrests, or try to use that against Republicans. And that certainly – would not that stop any Republican from doing exactly what you said – as important as that history is, as important as that legacy is – and on the other hand – while the British government was jailing IRA Volunteers, while they were even jailing Unionists, they had an amnesty, a de facto amnesty, against their own troops so if word came out about British troops – what they did at Bloody Sunday, the Ballymurphy Massacre, etc – they would have completely gotten away without having to face any kind of justice. So how do you answer those concerns in talking about Martin McGuinness putting his memoirs down?

KJ:  …Well I take your point and personally I don’t think it’s too late for a proper truth and recovery service to start. I do take your point that of course they’d be risking prosecution that’s why I suggest that individuals lodge them with people that they trust. And you mentioned Ivor Bell there and the Boston tapes, his involvement and his charging and so on with involvement in the murder of Jean McConville. Now, I don’t know whether you’ve heard or not but I think the case may be dropped against Ivor Bell because he has dementia.

MG:  Well, there is a defence that is put into the case but there’s no indication yet that the case would be dropped and again he’s facing charges – I don’t know, there’s an allegation that the tape that they say is his voice, it’s under a different voice – it doesn’t belong to him. There is very much an allegation that the person on that tape said he had nothing really to do with what happened to Jean McConville – was just was in another county at the time when it happened – but the British government would manipulate that tape, that type of legacy, that type of truth recovery process – it might just say we have evidence elsewhere. Anyway, we are going on…

KJ:   …Just to answer what you just said there: You need to talk to Suzanne or Anthony McIntyre about the Boston tapes…

MG:   Well, Suzanne’s on next actually. That’s what we’re trying to cut this…

KJ:   ….that would be a good opportunity to ask her. I am far from being an expert but I do believe that the PSNI’s interest in Ivor Bell would be evidence they could get against someone else who was involved.

MG:   Well, that may be true but in any event he’s the person in court and under charges.

KJ:  Yep, that’s true.

JM:  Well listen Kathryn, I’d like to thank you for coming on. This is Kathryn Johnston, she has a book called Martin McGuinness: From Guns to Government and you can get it on amazon dot com. And Kathryn, thanks for coming on. Listen who…

KJ:   Thanks for having me on. I enjoyed it, John.

JM:   Who were you arrested by? Was it the PSNI or the RUC?

KJ:  It was the PSNI, yeah. It was a Special Branch operation. We had something like five police trucks outside our house – walking around the garden with sub-machine guns. It sounds funny – it sounds ridiculous now…

JM:  Sounds like you were in Turkey…

KJ:   …but it was very scary at the time.

JM:  – sounds like you were in Turkey not in…

KJ:  Well the funny thing was – at the time there was a Guardian journalist in Zimbabwe and he was arrested by Mugabe, very, very badly treated and then thrown out of the country. And after our arrest the editor of The Guardian, whose name escapes me – he’s a really famous guy, too – he wrote an editorial about comparing our treatment to that of his staff reporter in Zimbabwe. I mean I think that caused a few ripples with the security services I think. But sure, it’s all in the past now, John.

JM:  Ohhhh – well the past has a funny way of coming back to us. Wht is it, now…

MG:   …particularly in Ireland, yes.

JM: There’s a very famous saying:

May the Lord in His mercy be kind to Belfast
To hell with the future and long live the past
May God in His mercy be kind to Belfast…

but it repeats itself there. Thank you, Kathryn, for coming on.

KJ:    Good talking to you, John, and good talking to you, Martin. Bye!

JM:   (station identification) But Martin, one of the problems and Kathryn saying you know people should admit to what they were involved with – you can only admit to what you’re involved with if you win the revolutionary struggle that you were involved in. In the Twenty-Six Counties, after the 1916 Uprising and after 1921 RTÉ went out and recorded everyone about what their involvement was in the struggle and no one went to jail because they were in power, they were running the country just like the ANC. Had the ANC lost in South Africa believe you me there would have been no truth and reconciliation committee because the South African apartheid government would have arrested and charged any ANC member that was admitting to what was going on.

MG:  John, as we said, Ivor Bell – look at what’s happened to him, look what happened after Brendan Hughes gave and interview and why should British troopers, who were never prosecuted, never had to face justice, never had to face arrests or charges the way Republicans did – why should they get a continuation of their de facto amnesty? (ends time stamp ~ 33:49)

Corey Kilgannon NY Times 13 January 2017

Corey Kilgannon, co-host of WBAI’s Talk Back, writes about hero NYPD Officer Steven McDonald. His New York Times article is faithfully reproduced here.

Officer’s Funeral Recalls a Rougher New York, and One Man’s Forgiveness

Officer Steven McDonald’s coffin is carried from the cathedral after the funeral services. The events of the day provided an opportunity to pay tribute to a man who risked his life serving others and then became a potent symbol of forgiveness. Credit Todd Heisler/The New York Times

For the past 31 years, Officer Steven McDonald served the New York City Police Department, even while not being able to walk a beat, make an arrest or fire a gun.

In July 1986, Officer McDonald was shot repeatedly at point-blank range by a teenager in Central Park. The episode came to symbolize a violent city plagued by a crack epidemic, rampant crime and racially infused deaths that commanded the news and made New York a tabloid city.

The shooting left Officer McDonald paralyzed from the neck down, but he promptly issued a remarkable public forgiveness of his attacker and used his renown as an opportunity to preach understanding and speak out against violence and intolerance.

He died on Tuesday at age 59, several days after a heart attack. At the officer’s funeral Mass on Friday in St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Mayor Bill de Blasio said that Officer McDonald began a mission based on a “belief we could heal the wounds of the past.”

Officer McDonald, Mr. de Blasio said, was “a living example of the things we aspire to be,” adding that “millions were moved by his example because he became the greatest embodiment of what it means to be a member of the New York Police Department.”

Officer McDonald addresses the Republican National Convention at Madison Square Garden in 2004. Credit Vincent Laforet/The New York Times

At the time of the shooting, Officer McDonald had been on the police force for less than two years. He never returned to active service, but over the next three decades he became more vital to the department by walking — or rather, rolling, in a wheelchair — an unconventional beat that saw him carry his message of absolution from high school students to the pope.

In this sense, his death came in the line of duty.

He had remained on the Police Department’s payroll as a first-grade detective and was a consistent presence at police functions, parades and sporting events.

Officer McDonald became not only one of the most revered figures in the Police Department’s history, but also a touchstone from a time when the city was struggling with soaring murder rates.

In 1986, the Police Department reported 1,582 murders — last year there were 335.

Yet even for that tumultuous time, the shooting of Officer McDonald was startling in its brazenness — a teenager callously opening fire on an officer in broad daylight. It drew more attention perhaps because Officer McDonald had the quintessential pedigree of a New York City cop: He was part of an Irish Catholic police family from Long Island, with a father and grandfather who both served on the city’s police force.

On Friday, the streets around St. Patrick’s were closed to traffic, as thousands of fellow officers mustered in groups on street corners, adjusted their uniforms, put their patrol caps on, finished their coffee and filed into the cathedral.

Seven members of the Police Department honor guard carried Officer McDonald’s coffin from Fifth Avenue into the enormous sanctuary. Then it was wheeled up the main aisle. Officer McDonald’s wife, Patti Ann, and their son, Conor, followed.

Officer McDonald’s wife, Patricia Ann Norris-McDonald, center, holding flag, looks on as the couple’s son, New York Police Sgt. Conor McDonald, facing camera, is consoled by a colleague. Credit Todd Heisler/The New York Times

After them came a long line of friends, relatives and members of the department, including the commissioner, James P. O’Neill, as well as other elected officials and former commissioners and chiefs.

Rank-and-file officers — a sea of blue uniforms — filled the pews of St. Patrick’s, whose capacity is 2,200.

Near the altar was a sign made from flowers with the words “Blue Lives Matter.”

David Letterman, a friend and supporter of Officer McDonald’s, sat in a front pew, as did Mark Messier and Adam Graves, retired members of Officer McDonald’s beloved New York Rangers hockey team.

President-elect Donald J. Trump posted a Twitter message calling Officer McDonald a “real NYC hero.”

Officer McDonald was 29 and in his second year on the job that day in 1986 when he approached a group of teenagers in Central Park.

At the time, many New Yorkers considered Central Park a risky place to walk, especially its northern portions, where Officer McDonald was shot. Today, a mugging in the park makes headlines. The spot where the shooting took place now has a vegetarian food stand and footpaths favored by tourists on rented bikes and well-off couples pushing strollers.

Jake Sims, 9, of Atlanta was among those in the crowd honoring Officer McDonald. Credit Todd Heisler/The New York Times

Back then, one of the teenagers Officer McDonald approached was 15-year-old Shavod Jones, who had had a troubled upbringing in the Taft Houses, a housing project in East Harlem.

Mr. Jones was walking with two friends near Harlem Meer when he was stopped by Officer McDonald, who was investigating a spate of bicycle thefts. Mr. Jones pulled out a handgun and shot the officer three times.

Officer McDonald became the 12th city police officer to be shot in six months. More broadly, the shooting was sandwiched between some other high-profile episodes that convulsed the city in the 1980s.

Two years before the shooting, Bernard Goetz shot four unarmed black men on a subway train who he said were trying to rob him. Three years after the McDonald episode came the Central Park jogger case: Five minority teenagers were coerced into confessing to the brutal rape of a white woman jogging in Central Park, but were later vindicated after serving prison sentences.

Edward I. Koch was the mayor and racial tension and anti-police sentiment were in the air. The Rev. Al Sharpton regularly led marches protesting racially charged events such as the deaths precipitated by white mobs in Gravesend and Bensonhurst, Brooklyn, and Howard Beach, Queens.

Officer McDonald recovered to the point that he could use a motorized wheelchair and breathe with the help of a respirator. He traveled in a specially equipped van.

The funeral Mass for Officer McDonald. Thousands of police officers in dress uniforms turned out for the procession and services. Credit Todd Heisler/The New York Times

His son, Conor McDonald, was born several months after the shooting and is now a Police Department sergeant. When Conor was baptized in 1987, Officer McDonald asked his wife to read a statement declaring that he forgave his attacker and hoped that Mr. Jones could “find peace and purpose in his life.”

Speaking for many, Msgr. Seamus O’Boyle, a cousin of Ms. McDonald, said at the funeral on Friday, “And we all know how amazing that statement was, how important it was for the streets of this city.”

Mr. O’Neill called Officer McDonald “one of the most fearless cops to ever don a uniform” and reiterated the officer’s mantra that the only thing worse than taking a bullet to the spine would have been nurturing revenge in his heart.

Officer McDonald’s life was shaped by “three bullets and three words: I forgive him,” Mr. O’Neill said.

Mr. Graves told mourners that scores of current and retired Rangers called him, after hearing of Officer McDonald’s death.

Steven McDonald meant more to the New York Rangers and our fans then we could ever mean to him,” said Mr. Graves, a left wing who retired in 2003.

Conor McDonald thanked Mr. Letterman, “who’s been by my dad’s side since Day 1,” and called his father “a real superhero.”

After the service, Officer McDonald’s coffin was carried out and put in a hearse, which began heading slowly down Fifth Avenue. Thousands of officers saluted and stood at attention as “Irish Soldier Boy,’’ performed by the Police Department’s Emerald Society pipe and drum band, reverberated in the street.

Correction: January 13, 2017 

An earlier version of this article misstated the extent of Officer McDonald’s paralysis in one instance. He was a quadriplegic, not a paraplegic.


Ed Moloney RFÉ 7 January 2017

Radio Free Éireann
WBAI 99.5FM Pacific Radio
New York City
listen on the internet: Saturdays Noon EST

Martin Galvin (MG) speaks to award winning journalist, historian and author Ed Moloney (EM) via telephone who comments on Martin McGuinness’ health issues, the Stack case, the Sinn Féin response to the RHI (Renewable Heat Initiative) scandal and the impact of issues on the future of the Assembly and the Executive in The North of Ireland. (begins time stamp ~ 28:10)

MG:   And with us on the line we have the journalist, formerly with the Irish Times, Sunday Tribune, Hibernian magazine – historian and author of books such as A Secret History of the IRA and Voices From the Grave. Ed, welcome back to Radio Free Éireann.

EM:  Thank you, Martin, very nice to be back.

MG:   Ed, John had tracked down – there were discussions about Martin McGuinness’ medical condition and whether it would mean that he would be stepping down or deceasing his duties and again, we’re just covering this because it’s a news story. Everybody wishes him the best of health and recovery from any problems that he has. Why is it so important? Why is Martin McGuinness and Gerry Adams, why are their continued leadership in Sinn Féin – why is that viewed as so important? Even now Martin McGuinness is in his late sixties. Gerry Adams is close to seventy years of age. What is the impact if they do – one or both – does step down?

EM:   Well they’ve always been like the Siamese twins of the Provos for the last twenty years or so in the sense that it was a double act that was required to bring the IRA into the ceasefire situation and then into the peace process. And the reason for that was very simple. It was: Gerry Adams was, as most people know, a very senior figure in the IRA; at one stage he was Chief of Staff, he was Belfast Brigade Commander a couple of times at least, he was Adjutant General and various other very senior posts. But he never had the reputation of someone who went out with Active Service Units and pulled triggers or pressed buttons or whatever the IRA is required to do. He was very much a general who sat behind the lines and that’s very well known within the IRA and for that reason people within the IRA itself were always a little bit leery of his military reputation whereas Martin McGuinness has the name of someone who actually did go out on operations and, as they say, ‘did the business’. So when it came to selling the peace process strategy to the grassroots I don’t think Gerry Adams could have done that by himself because I don’t think the trust was there on the part of the rank-and-file, the activists, the people who were the foot soldiers of the IRA who looked down on Adams somewhat you know that he was – Okay, he was a bright guy and he was a clever strategist but he’d never done what the other guys had done whereas Martin McGuinness did. So the fact that Martin McGuinness appeared with Gerry Adams as sort of a double act in the peace process years – backing Adams, always seen in his company, supporting him, at one point telling journalists that Gerry Adams is someone who puts into words thoughts that he has but can’t himself put into words and very much that he admired Adams and so on and so forth but the combination of the two together was strong enough and persuasive enough to bring along sufficient number inside the IRA. So it’s very important for that strategy that the pair of them acted together in concert. If one of them goes, and the rumours are that he is very seriously ill and that if he’s as seriously ill as people say that may well precipitate his departure, it does a couple of things. First of all it ends that partnership and secondly it raises automatically questions about Gerry Adams’ own future. You know, once one partner goes what happens to the other one? It becomes much more a live issue, that: Will he go? Should he go? And as you know there’s a tremendous amount of pressure from the political establishment and the media establishment in The South, in the Republic, against Adams and they all want to see him go and you know that pressure could increase quite considerably if McGuinness decides to retire.

MG:   Ed, just before we broke in December there was a major story that we had covered in The South. It was about a killing that occurred years ago of a guard at Portlaoise Prison, Brian Stack, and his sons had come to Gerry Adams, requested information. Adams had apparently given some information, or at least arranged for meetings with the IRA for them, and that is still having repercussions as people are saying he should do more, the sons of the killed Portlaoise officer are saying that he should do more. Other people are saying he should never have given – there should have never been an email that released or involved any names – names which were then brought up in Leinster House under privilege. Could you tell us about the importance of that?

EM:   Well, it’s one of these situations which is a very difficult one. As you say, what happened was that Gerry Adams took the son, or the sons, of this prison officer, a guy called Stack, to meet the IRA and to be told by the IRA what the circumstances were of their father’s killing. And for many, many years they had declared that they knew nothing about the circumstances behind the man’s death. Then latterly have admitted that yes, it was one of their operations but it was not authorised. All of which, incidentally, I take with a quite a large pinch of salt – I’m not inclined to believe it – I think it was an authorised operation but they daren’t say it was an authorised operation because that breaks IRA rules which forbid actions against members of the southern security forces – the police, army, prison guards, etc. So it’s a very difficult one. Adams will argue that he was trying to get closure for the family and find out what happened. The family are saying: No, we want more than this. I don’t think they believe the story about it being an unauthorised operation either and they want Adams to name the IRA man that he took the two sons to meet which is of course is something that he’s not going to do and I don’t think can do and get away with it but the pressure is on him to do something and it’s coming from, not just from the family, but also from all the other usual political opponents of the Provos in The South.

MG:   Okay…

EM:  There is now a police investigation re-launched into Stack’s killing and where that leads will be very interesting indeed.

MG:  Alright. I just want to go back to Martin McGuinness: Now, we’ve seen some confusion within Sinn Féin in The North that a party that is known just for being very disciplined, well-organised, that everybody’s ‘on message’.  For example John talked briefly – and we’re not – we’re going to cover this story in future, we’re not going to go to it in detail today. Right now there is an issue, there was a renewable heat initiative some years ago under Arlene Foster. It turned out that you could actually make money per unit per heat – she presided over it. There’s a fortune going to be lost to The North, the government, because of it. There are calls for her to step down. Sinn Féin is the, actually the SDLP (Social Democratic and Labour Party) had made a motion of no-confidence in her. There’s a fight over whether there should be a public inquiry or what Sinn Féin’s posture should be. Now during the week some of the members of Sinn Féin, Declan Kearney and others, had argued that there has to be – Mary Lou McDonald – that there has to be a public inquiry. Other members of Sinn Féin said: No, it could be some kind of robust inquiry, not public, behind closed doors. There were actually statements pulled out whether it should be a public inquiry or not – pulled out of a press release and then put back into a press release from Declan Kearney – those types of things did not happen when, up until now, wouldn’t have happened I think if Martin McGuinness was fully at the helm. What do you think the impact is of him having any medical issues?

EM:   Well I guess it probably doesn’t help that he’s not around or not functioning at a hundred percent because, as you say, there’s been a whole number of mistakes made but they all arise from I think a fundamental weakness in Sinn Féin’s position which is that the Assembly and the power-sharing government, the Good Friday Agreement institutions in other words, are really what the peace process is all about. They swapped the IRA’s armed struggle and they swapped quite a very important political belief such as the idea that the Unionists did not have the veto on Irish unity and that their consent was not required for Irish unity which has always been the rationale, indeed the raison dêtre, of the IRA and the armed struggle, they swapped all of those cardinal, defining aspects of their ideology in return for the power-sharing government and the power-sharing Assembly. And I think what the DUP (Democratic Unionist Party) have discovered is that they daren’t let go of those and they daren’t be seen to abandon the power-sharing Assembly and the Executive because if they go then they have nothing to show for basically giving up their armed struggle and I think they’re taking advantage of that and this Renewable Heat Initiative (RHI) is I think an example of that. And it’s an extraordinary situation if you think about it. The way that it works: These are pellet stoves which are very common in rural areas in the United States. I mean, we have a pellet stove up in upstate. And you buy these bags of pellets; they’re fairly cheap. They give off tremendous heat. They’re a bit awkward to fill up etc but they’re very efficient. But the way that they introduced this system in The North was that if for every dollar that you spent on a pellet, on a supply of pellets, you got a subsidy back from the government of one dollar sixty cents. This is an extraordinary money-making scheme which was only open, incidentally, to certain types of people. It wasn’t like open to you and me. It would be open to farmers and industrial people and stuff like that and they were – what they’ve been doing – is that they’ve filling their barns with these pellet stoves and making an absolute fortune in subsidies. I mean for every dollar of pellets that they burn they’re getting back sixty cents pure profit which is a great deal when you think about it for doing virtually nothing except warming up an empty barn. And this is all being paid for out of the Exchequer at a time when Sinn Féin and the other parties have all signed up to a whole series of austerity measures which are affecting working class people in Belfast – both Loyalist, Unionist, Nationalist and Republican – all being asked to make sacrifices and here this scheme, which has the taint of being made available more freely to supporters of the DUP than to anyone else, that’s existing and Sinn Féin is doing next to nothing about it. So there was a huge amount of anger in their own party’s ranks which I think has led to this confusion by the leadership, not helped by the fact that Martin McGuinness was not in fully functioning mode, and they’ve been all over the place quite literally. I mean I had a piece on my blog during the week about the number of flip-flops that they have performed – you know, on one day demanding a public inquiry – the next day saying sorry, that was a typo. We meant a robust inquiry rather than a public inquiry and so on and so forth. And it’s at that point where the credibility of the party and the credibility of its strategy is very much being tested here. How it’s all going to end up remains to be seen but my money very firmly would be on nothing happening that would threaten the institutions and that eventually a deal will be done which keeps the show running and preserves, more or less, the institutions as we have them and that the DUP will more or less get away, I reckon, with what they’ve done here because the alternative is to make a real principled issue out of it, push it to the breaking point and bring the whole edifice down and that, I don’t believe, Sinn Féin ever will do or want to do.

MG:   Ed, this brings us to the central question: As you say, when armed struggle was given up in exchange for access to Stormont and other political concessions the whole idea, the idea behind the armed struggle or the raison dêtre of the armed struggle, the reason that there was a struggle for freedom in Ireland, the reason that there was some negotiations, the reason for Sinn Féin’s very existence is to get a united Ireland – is to end British rule. And it was said during the negotiations that by working with the DUP or working with the official Unionists, by Sinn Féin playing a part there – Unionists, they would build, gradually, goodwill with Unionists and Unionist somehow – through cross-border bodies, through working with Sinn Féin, Unionist voters would come to accept the idea of a united Ireland and as the Nationalist population or percentage of the population rose you’d ultimately have a Nationalist majority who wanted freedom for all Ireland. Now that has not happened. The latest statistics, there was a programme, The View, some time ago that said that eighty-eight percent of Protestants were firmly committed to staying within British rule. That only about half that number, forty-three percent, less than half that number, forty-three percent of Catholics wanted a united Ireland. The rest either were undecided or were content with British rule. It seems that there’s no real movement towards the ultimate goal. Why stay with a strategy that is not working to achieve what it was objected to achieve?

EM:  I think really, basically, the answer to that is that they were militarily defeated when the peace process took off and that when the IRA called its ceasefire in 1994 it was from a position of extreme weakness. And my own conviction, and it’s not just fanciful speculation on my part – I’m basing this on some facts that I am aware of – is that the level of infiltration of the IRA by British intelligence forces by the time of the peace process was such that it became a legitimate question as to who was really running the show? Was it the IRA leadership? The Army Council? Or was it British intelligence manipulating things in the background? And effectively, eighty percent of their operations were being compromised. They were losing men and materials. The Eksund was lost in 1987 and with The Eksund was the last great military throw had been lost as well. They were going to launch this huge big Tet-style offensive with the idea of sickening British public opinion and encouraging the view that it was time to get out of this place because it’s such a mess it’s going to go on forever. Well, once The Eksund was betrayed – and The Eksund was betrayed. I mean there had to be at least two agents on the job there and very possibly more who knew about an operation that was kept highly secret for a long time and that demonstrated just how badly infiltrated the IRA had become. And one can ask all sorts of questions about the behaviour of the Internal Security Unit – why the same people stayed in those spots for so long and so on and so forth. But the fact remains, whatever the truth behind all that speculation is, and my view is that militarily they were, essentially, defeated and they were operating from a position of weakness really all the way through the peace process negotiations.

MG:  Alright. But even if that is correct, John brought up at the beginning of the programme that at the end of the ’50’s campaign, which was certainly militarily defeated – was going nowhere. They dumped arms but they were certainly committed to try and find a strategy that would lead to a united Ireland. They were not going to go to something that was counter-productive, that was going to never lead to a united Ireland. It seems as if being in Stormont – Arlene Foster has talked about the next century or the second century of Northern Ireland – it seems as if the position of support for British rule and the Unionists – Arlene Foster can put Martin McGuinness in his place, that’s what it seems. They don’t compromise, the British don’t have to do anything, they wait for Arlene Foster to say: Nothing on legacy, nothing on this, nothing on that. And when they do the hard bargaining and pull the concessions out of Sinn Féin the British can just simply just sit back and take advantage of this and pretend to be neutral and not to care while all the time they’re having their will done and there’s no growing movement/popular support for a united Ireland. It seems the statistics are going further and further back. You don’t have any immediate prospect of getting a border poll and ….

EM: …winning it…

MG:  Right! If you lose it then you can’t even bring it up for another seven years and in the Twenty-Six Counties people say: Well, don’t even talk to us. You know, have to vote on it ‘up there’ first.

EM:  The first point to make, Martin, in relation to all of that is that there’s a fundamental basic different between what happened at the end of the 1956-62 IRA campaign and what happened at the end of the Provos’ war. The 1956-62 campaign ended with them just saying: Alright, we’re stopping for the time being,dump arms, another day will come and we’ll wait for that day. This ending of an IRA phase is unprecedented in Republican history in the sense that never before had a leadership burned its ideological bridges behind it as it went into a peaceful situation which is what happened with the Provos. They burned their own ideology in terms of the bridges – once they crossed those bridges they burned the bridges behind them and they couldn’t return. And I’m thinking there in terms of accepting the idea of Unionist consent which is fundamental to Republican ideology. You know, the whole basis of the IRA was you know, the First Dáil and the Second Dáil, both of which were all-Ireland elections which returned a majority in favour of Sinn Féin therefore the enforcement of partition was undemocratic and anti-democratic and was against the will of the Irish people as a whole, etc etc all of that philosophy and ideology was thrown out when they went into the peace process and that is the major difference. And that is why – I mean it’s rather like the Berlin wall coming down in terms of the effect that it had on Communist ideology in eastern Europe – you know, once they had, once the former communists had become capitalists as it were there was no going back. And in a sense the Provos have done something very similar to that with the peace process. They have essentially accepted the constitutional nationalist approach to the border and to partition which means that we need to win over the Unionists to the notion of Irish unity, we cannot try to militarily expel the British or anything like that because we’re now committed to peaceful quote ‘democratic’ means. And that is the difference between 1956-1962 so the war is over and there’s no getting away from that and it’s over because, not just they lost militarily, but also that they have ditched the ideology and philosophy behind what used to be armed Republicanism.

MG:   But Ed, what they did say was that we will get a united Ireland – gradually you’re going to get a Nationalist majority even within The Six Countries, and we’ll gradually, by showing how we can participate, work with Unionists, that we’re going to build goodwill. We’ll do confidence builders. We’ll do concessions. They’ll work with us. They’ll get used to seeing us and that gradually enough Unionist, enough Nationalist population, enough Unionists will come over and support a united Ireland and we’ll get a united Ireland that way. That was the argument that was marketed here. The opposite is happening. The strength of Unionism within the Nationalist community seems to be growing and as a result of this strategy and the number of the Protestant community, in religious terms, who support British rule seems to be as strong as ever before. So even if you say we’re committed now to a political strategy, even if you say we’re going to do this by getting a majority for a united Ireland within the Six Counties and then merge with the Twenty-Six Counties, if they were saying, on that basis, our ultimate goal remains the same as that of constitutional nationalism: a united Ireland – only we want to do it by different means – we’ll recognise the Unionist border, we’ll recognise Unionist veto, as you say, that there has to be Unionist support in the Six Counties – on that basis though, the strategy seems to be going in exactly the wrong direction. Why stay with a political strategy that seems to be counter-productive, which seems to be damaging your ultimate objective, which seems to be strengthening the hand of British rule and getting to Arlene Foster’s goal that there should be another century, a second century, of Northern Ireland and perhaps more beyond that rather than pursue something that’s going to do what they said they were going to do – achieve a united Ireland – even if peacefully, even if politically, even if it required a majority in the Six Counties to do it?

EM:  Well, the answer to that is very simple, Martin: They’ve got no where else to go. They can’t go back to war. They’re old men now, a lot of them, to begin with. The atmosphere has changed; the tolerance for violence I think is much less than it used to be but also they have made all of these ideological concessions. They cannot, without like being consigning themselves into an utter political wilderness, they cannot go back on all of these great pledges that they’ve made about accepting the Principle of Consent which is at the heart of the peace process and the heart of the Good Friday Agreement. It’s the first thing that Tony Blair said when he came out of the negotiating room, chambers, when they had reached agreement. He said: This is historic because of this reason: Republicans have accepted the Principle of Consent – that there can be no change in the status of Northern Ireland without the consent of the majority of the people of Northern Ireland, ie, the Unionists in practice. And he recognised the importance of it. And that’s what the peace process was all about. It was to get to a point where the Provos accepted this doctrine. They did so and to go back on that and say: Actually, we’ve changed our mind. What are they going to then do? Re-start the war? They’re in no position to re-start any war at all. And therefore, that is the point I was making at the beginning is that they’ve really got no where else to go except the Assembly and the Executive and therefore they will keep it going and therefore the DUP can treat them, quite literally, with contempt knowing that, at the end of the day, they’re not going to bring the house down on themselves.

MG:  Well on that depressing note you can see that even that there is a One Ireland One Vote campaign movement of the 1916 Societies in Ireland which says that all the people of Ireland, those in Dublin and Donegal should vote alongside those in Doire, and they should have an equal say about the freedom of their country or the future of their country – you don’t even see that being pushed by Sinn Féin at this time – something that could lead, change the landscape and start leading us back to a united Ireland. Alright, Ed…

EM: …I can give you one more piece of good news, though, which is Arsenal are being beaten in the FA Cup and that brings cheer to everyone I think.

MG:  Well I don’t know. I’d be more interested in the Giants and Packer game tomorrow. I’m a Jet fan so I don’t even get cheered from that so. Alright, Ed, I want to thank you for being with us and going through some – we wanted to cover some more issues but I think you’ve gotten to the heart of what the real, crucial issues are in The North of Ireland and I appreciate that very much.

EM:  No problem, Martin. Thank you now. Bye-bye. (ends time stamp ~55:36)

Mickey Donnelly RFÉ 7 January 2017

Radio Free Éireann
WBAI 99.5FM Pacifica Radio
New York City
listen on the internet: Saturdays Noon EST

John McDonagh (John) and Martin Galvin (Martin) speak to Doire Republican and ‘hooded man’ Mickey Donnelly (Mickey) via telephone from Doire about Martin McGuinness’ health. (begins time stamp ~14:55)

John:  He’s been a frequent guest over the years on WBAI at Radio Free Éireann. Mickey Donnelly is from Doire. During the ’70’s he was interned and he became known as one of the ‘hooded men’ who was selected out for special torture or I forget what we called in this country – ‘enhancement’, and he was held for almost seven days with a hood over his head, with water boarding, with sound torture and his case has been dragging on through the court system. And there’s a little irony that’s going on right now: The case has been taken to Brussels in Europe and now with Britain pulling out of the European Union it’ll be very interesting to see if the case comes down in his favour – that he was tortured – what effect that might have on the British government who are getting out of the European Union. But Mickey, I was explaining at the beginning of the show that Gerry Adams, who not unlike Robert Mugabe or even Fidel Castro, become the head of a political party and believe that they cannot leave because they are the head of the political party. You have the same thing in your city in Doire. You have Martin McGuinness who just believes he is the only one in Doire that can administer British rule in Ireland at Stormont and even though you have heard through reliable sources that he’s very sick, they’re calling for Arlene Foster to step down, the Northern Ireland – the head of Northern Ireland, that he’s not stepping down, even though he’s sick. He’s such an ego maniacal maniac like Adams, that he has to stay in power.

Michael Donnelly in Altnagelvin Hospital, Derry on the day after his home was attacked by IRA Provisionals

Now what have you heard about your good friend, Martin McGuinness, and I’d like to let everyone know that Martin McGuiness was a member of the IRA and at one stage, when Mickey Donnelly was critical of the Irish peace process, Martin McGuinness was responsible for sending some people from the IRA to his house with studded baseball bats and almost beat him and his wife to death and if it wasn’t for Mickey and his son fighting off the invaders he definitely would have been beaten to death. Mickey…

Martin:  …John, I just want to say: We’re going to Mickey Donnelly right now in Doire. He has an update on Martin McGuinness’ medical condition. And then we’re going to go to the author, journalist and historian, Ed Moloney – he’s going to talk about the political implications for Sinn Féin and then he’s going to talk about some of the other issues that have occurred in the past month since we’ve been on. Alright John, go to Mickey Donnelly in Doire who has some revelations about what Martin McGuinness’ medical conditions really are.

John:  Yeah Mickey, maybe you could…

(show breaks)

Audio:  Song, Back Home in Derry, plays.

(show resumes)

Martin:  Alright John, we had a little of confusion – I had told our engineer we were going to play a song first and then go to Mickey Donnelly. I know you’re up in Boston, you thought we had him on the air. We now do have our first guest. John had heard, I had heard, there have been no revelations that have been revealed, that Martin McGuinness was ill. Arlene Foster has referred to it, not very sympathetically, Gerry Adams referred to it and people have asked us, Radio Free Éireann, what the conditions are and I know, John, you’ve lined up our first guest that has some information and revelations about it to talk about Martin McGuinness. John, go ahead.

John:  Yeah well Mickey, I just wanted to ask you – we have a bizarre situation of Gerry Adams, the head of his cult over in Ireland for the past thirty or forty years, will not step down to allow anyone else in there, but you have someone who’s administering British rule in Ireland who will not tell anyone what his medical conditions are or what’s happening and he won’t step down but yet he wants other people to step down. And I spoke to you during the week and do you have the latest update on his medical condition as a public elected official but he doesn’t want anyone to know?

Mickey:    Yeah, they’re keeping it a big secret and refusing to talk about it. He put out first that he had a minor heart problem and there was a wee bit of truth in that because he had to have pacemaker about roughly a month ago, five weeks ago, installed but we do know he has a form of cancer and he’s not looking too well under it and he’s keeping out of the limelight and he’s not appearing in Stormont. He only went up there for two quite important meetings but even when he comes out afterward he doesn’t talk to the press. He hasn’t spoken to anybody since so he tries – it’s a wee bit – when he comes out with the rest of the Shinners gathered around him and they go into a huddle and escort him away. So the last meeting they had, they were interviewing another Shinner and so whadyacall it, who hadn’t even taken part in the meeting, so he became a spokesman for McGuinness and the BBC said Mr. McGuinness, because of his ongoing health problems, is about half-way to Doire now so – a bit of a j0ke.

John:   Yeah, but Mickey what is it that he cannot give out his medical condition? I mean, public figures get sick all the time. Why is it, is he that important to administering British rule in Ireland that you can’t get a medical update on a publicly elected official?

Mickey:   Everybody thinks Stormont’s on its last legs and is about to fold and they don’t want to do anything at all to topple it. They don’t want to remove Arlene Foster, for all her crookedness, and they don’t want – I mean McGuinness apparently is hardly fit to walk the length of himself. But no, they’re going to keep him there until he passes out, probably. And someone tells me…

John:   …And then you know yourself, Mickey, in Doire – there’s plenty of people in Doire there that’ll administer British rule on his behalf. So it’s not for the lack of finding people to do it.

Mickey:   Yeah, I don’t think it’ll be a Doire person this time. It’ll be whadaya call – aw, I forget her name now, this one. She’s in charge of the health service and making a disaster of a job of it. I mean locally here, I think McGuinness is getting a lot better treatment than most all the people in Doire. The health thing is pretty grim. I know personally of an unfortunate lady who had cancer getting treatment – or trying to get treatment – over Christmas and she only just saw the consultant the day before yesterday and she had been in the hospital…

John: …And Mickey, I just want to give about your history with Martin McGuinness – you’ve been on this show and you have apologised to the American people that you were the one responsible for bringing Martin McGuinness into the IRA.

Mickey:  Yeah. Yep. I was desperate for recruits and unfortunately I made that blunder. It wasn’t the only one – there were a couple of mistakes you know – but he was by far the biggest. Well hopefully he won’t be about much longer…

John: … It’s just his own re-writing of history because he said he left the IRA in 19…

Mickey: …Let it be known – tell President Trump don’t bother inviting him to the the White House on Saint Patrick’s Day – he probably won’t be about.

Martin:  Well we don’t want to wish anybody bad health or ill health or anything, Mickey. Let’s clear that up. We hope everybody – that he recovers and certainly we are going to go into the implications if he does step down. He has talked about retiring and we don’t want to see anybody ill. It’s just a matter of the fact that because he has such an important position in The North of Ireland that his medical condition becomes newsworthy for this programme. Okay. John, go ahead.

John:  No, I…

Mickey:  He was almost done there because in the last election in Doire he only got in on the seventh count. He scraped in, just made it. So I think he’d have been out one way or the other anyway.

John:  Yeah.

Mickey:  His day is coming.

John:  And Mickey get on the record about his time in the IRA. He claimed – well Adams claims he was never been in the IRA – but Martin McGuinness has claimed that he left the IRA in 1976.

Mickey:  ’74 – he claimed.

John:  Oh, even earlier.

Mickey:  Yeah. I got out of jail in 1975 and he was in it then. He claimed he left shortly after – he actually claimed he left shortly after Bloody Sunday, ’72.

John:  Yeah. Well Mickey, any other news? And what’s your assessment of the Republican Movement now, or what’s left of it in the Six Counties, with all the fragmentation that’s going on? And is there any Republican resistance to Sinn Féin as a political party?

Mickey:  I think you’re going – the thing took time and there was a lot of mistakes made and a lot of different wee sort of groups come along and it was actually the natural run of things – it wasn’t so bad. Martin’s probably familiar with some of the – you know quite familiar with some of the groups. But they never were really going anywhere but they were keeping the candle lit. And it’s one of these things that – I was criticised there a lot of years ago by people that you know well, John. I suggested people stop what they were doing, sit back and think, organise for three or four years- ach, no! I got accused then – Oh, Mickey wants to call the war off, you know? Well that’s all another matter but I think that’s happening now. People are reorganising, there’s a good structure going and I do think it’s, for the first time in say ten-fifteen years, I do see a bit of light at the end of the tunnel.

John:  And how do you think about what Eamonn McCann and the People Before Profit – do you see them, if there is a snap election coming up, will they be making any inroads whether in either Doire or Belfast?

Mickey:  They haven’t got a great sort of working machine and I think the boost in Doire was from some of the Bloody Sunday people who worked very well on their behalf. They need to get out and at it. They’ve quite a good wee organisation in Belfast and they could well – I don’t see much scope in Doire but you never know, they might do better but I couldn’t see them electing two people in Doire but they certainly might add another one to Belfast.

John:  Yeah. Well listen, Mickey…

Mickey: …Belfast really including the Shinner thing, you know?

John: …thanks for coming on and giving us that. And Martin, I’ll bail out now with Mickey because now Ed Moloney will give us more of the broader prospect of what it means – Arlene Foster will step down or McGuinness will be stepping down for medical reasons – or what will be the political future in 2017.  (ends time stamp ~ 26:55)


Joan McKiernan on Sandy’s 73rd Birthday 26 Dec 2016

On December 26th, what would have been Sandy’s 73rd birthday, there were about 50 posts on his Facebook page. Most were aware of his death and sent tributes, which were great to read.

Let me add, I missed being able to send him a Christmas birthday card. Mostly though, we miss his political wisdom and understanding of the need for resistance that is so needed during these difficult times.

Gerry Adams RTÉ This Week 11 December 2016

This Week
RTÉ Radio One
11 December 2016

Richard Crowley (RC) speaks to Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams (GA) about the fallout from the controversy over a leaked email and a senior IRA person in connection with the killing of prison officer Brian Stack in 1983.

RC:  First the fallout from the controversy over the killing by the IRA of prison officer Brian Stack in Dublin more than thirty years ago. The issue is back in the news over the leaking of an email sent by the Sinn Féin leader, Gerry Adams, to the Garda Commissioner earlier this year in which he included the names of four people, some said to be senior members of Sinn Féin, to whom the Gardaí should speak. But now the Stack Family, and others, want the Sinn Féin leader to reveal the name of the senior IRA man who met the Stack brothers in 2013 and who issued a statement on that occasion admitting that the IRA carried out the shooting, that it was unauthorised and that the person who ordered the shooting had been ‘disciplined’. Gerry Adams joins us from our Belfast studio. Good Afternoon.

GA:  Good Afternoon, Colm.

RC:   You made it very clear in your interview with Audrey Carville on Friday’s Morning Ireland that you don’t intend to reveal to the Gardaí the name of the IRA man that you took the Stack brothers to see. Have you spoken to this man since these latest developments?

GA:  No, I haven’t but let me contextualise this if I may this for your listeners: First of all let me say once again that Brian Stack should never have been killed. It was wrong. Second of all there have been three phases to this controversy. In the first instance when the Stack Family came to me and Austin and I put together a process and we concluded that process and Austin thanked me for that and I went on about my own work. Micheál Martin said nothing. Enda Kenny said nothing. And then three years later along comes the general election and in order to use this issue to damage Sinn Féin it was resurrected again…

RC:  …Alright, well…

GA:  …Sorry, I just want to finish my point…

RC:  …I know but in fairness, in fairness…

GA:  ….No. Let me finish my point, please…

RC:  …I know but in fairness…

GA:  …Please let me finish my point…

RC:  …Could you please answer, could you please answer some questions before…

GA:  …When you resist…

RC:  …you go back into what we’ve heard much about in the last number of days.

GA:  No. You have not interviewed me before. Let me finish my point. I could have finished it by now if you hadn’t interrupted me.

RC:  Go ahead.

GA:  The third time it came up – because the election ended, the issue abated. The third time it came up was when Micheál Martin again went into the chamber in Leinster House, two weeks in a trot, and raised this issue once again. It had no place in the Dáil chamber but what we’ve seen since actively undermines the Dáil, Micheál Martin does this as does the Taoiseach, undermines the integrity of their office and undermines agreements which they are party to.

RC:  Okay now, should you not talk to this IRA man, this man that you took the Stack brothers to meet? Should you not talk to him to see whether he’s willing to talk to Gardaí – to waive this confidentiality agreement that you had with him such as it is.

GA:  Well don’t say: ‘such as it is’. In the absence of any formal truth recovery process we put together a process. I gave commitments to the Stack Family which I kept to. I gave a commitment to the person who I brought them to meet which I intend to keep to as well. And if I could say furthermore…

RC:  …No, could you answer the question, please. Should you not talk to him now to see whether he’s willing to talk to Gardaí?

GA:  Well that’s a matter entirely for him. I don’t…

RC:  …No, no, no. It’s a matter for you to put it to him…

GA:  …Colm, please don’t go off on a tangent…

RC:  …And I’m sorry, it’s Richard.

GA:   Sorry, Richard.

RC:   But perhaps you should talk to him to see if he’s prepared to talk to Gardaí.  Why would you not do that?

GA:  Because I gave my word and I don’t intend – and it isn’t about me protecting anyone by the way – it’s about the integrity and the possibility of getting truth, in getting closure for all of those many families who are looking for it.

RC:  And this is a way to do that? You have said in the recent past that anybody who knows anything should come forward and that clearly has to include this individual. The question to you is: Why don’t you talk to him about volunteering to come forward and to talk to the Gardaí about what he knows?

GA:  Because I gave my word to the family and to him and indeed the family, when we met with him, the two brothers, reassured him that there would be no repercussions in any of this…

RC:  …I’m not asking you to reveal his name. I’m asking you…

GA:  …I’m sorry I have answered the question…

RC:  …No, you haven’t.

GA:  Yes, Richard, I have.

RC:  No. Why wouldn’t you ask him?

GA:  I have no intention of revisiting this part of that issue. Let me tell you something else…

RC:  …You don’t want to ask him to do that. Okay. Let’s leave that one there then.

GA:  Okay.

RC:  Why did you wait two years to give the names to the Gardaí?

GA:  Because I was accused at that time, which I had not been accused of before, of withholding information from the Gardaí. I was not accused of that previously.

RC:  Which is true. You were withholding the information from the Gardaí, weren’t you?

GA:  The information that I have is limited to what I was told by Austin Stack. I have no information whatsoever about who killed, who shot, who was part of the murder of Brian Stack and I made it clear in my email to the Gardai. And incidentally, I have since written to An Garda Siochána about once again information which I have given them ending up with…

RC:  …Sure. But doesn’t it…

GA:  …Sorry, please let me finish my point, Richard. ….ending up with an Irish Independent journalist. And apparently some journalists went round asking TDs to raise these issues in the chamber again the subverting the process in there. So what we need to do is this and I would like, if I possibly can, to make this point before the end of this interview…

RC:  …It would be great if you can answer a couple of questions first and here’s one: Austin Stack gave you those names in 2013. You did not pass them onto the Gardaí until 2016. Why the delay?

GA:  Because he said he got the names from the Gards and from journalistic sources and he said that the Gards knew of these names. Now I only, I was very clear in the course of the election campaign, gave the email to the Garda Commissioner in order to get rid of any ambiguity about the accusation made by Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael spokespersons that I was withholding information. I never withheld any information whatsoever.

RC:  But, did Austin Stack not give you the names in 2013 on the understanding that they would be passed onto the Gardaí?

GA:  No, he didn’t. He gave me an order to try and talk to those people. That’s what he did.

RC:  And it looks, though, as if you simply did it at the last minute, three days before the general election, because you were under pressure from Fianna Fáil and you were trying to protect yourself politically. If the names were valid in 2016 they were surely valid in 2013.

GA:  Richard, you’re not listening to what I’m saying. I gave the names given to me by Austin Stack for precisely the reason which I outlined and which you have just repeated – that I was being accused of withholding information and I was not withholding information.

RC:   Alright.

GA:  The Gardaí, according to Austin Stack, had these names – he had given them to them. Now I just want to come to one point to put this in a more general context: The Stormont House Agreement was signed-off in 2014. And this is trying to deal, this part of the agreement, is trying to deal with this vexed issue of so-called legacy issues. And that put in place an international agreement – it was drafted, it was agreed and it was led at the Oireachtas in Westminster just in January of 2016. Now it hasn’t been worked on yet because the British continue to exercise a National Security veto but this includes a commission and an information retrieval process and what’s at the heart of it? That the information would be confidential, would be anonymous and would not be admissible as evidence of any legal proceeding. Our government signed up for that. The leader of Fianna Fáil signed up for that. They’ve just torn it up by the ridiculous play-acting, the ridiculous way they have used this dreadful murder to try and get me and at Sinn Féin.

RC:  Now, The Stacks say that you’re withholding information from a murder inquiry. Your defence is that you gave your word to a man who is a member of the illegal organisation which carried out the murder of their father. Now no detective would accept that. No judge would deem that permissible. You’re withholding information from a murder inquiry and no…

GA:  …What information am I withholding?

RC:  The information about the man’s name. The man you took The Stacks to meet.

GA:  Okay. You’re a journalist. Do you protect your sources?

RC:  Yes, I do.

GA:  Okay. The person who broke this story for The Independent refused to give the sources. Mattie McGrath, who says that he was lobbied by a journalist who named these names, says he won’t name the sources. The guy who behaved, I think, with the connivance of his own leadership, the Fine Gael TD Alan Farrell, says he won’t reveal his sources. I’m about the more serious business of trying to make peace so I will protect my sources the same as they do.

RC:  Sure. Right. But you have the name of somebody who’s a member of the illegal organisation which carried out that murder and you believe that that agreement between you and him has a standing that in some way nullifies any investigation to be carried out by any detective by any police force, do you?

GA:  I’m prepared to cooperate with An Gardaí and I’ve been in touch with An Garda with that regard but this wasn’t just an agreement between me and one individual – this was myself and Austin Stack and I think Austin has acknowledged that we had a…

RC:  …He doesn’t have a problem with you naming this man.

GA:  Sorry, well I read in the papers this morning, if I read it properly, that he actually has named this person and there’s a person’s name that’s in the media and again The Independent newspaper…

RC:  …And this person has denied it. But again, this goes back to the first question. Why not give this person an opportunity to say what they know or don’t know about this?

GA:  …Well I’ve answered that question. Would you come back to the more important issue, which, I noticed in the Marian Finucane programme this morning, despite the usual begrudgery from some, that we were starting to get into a more sober conversation about how we plot a course forward for dealing with all of the issues affecting all of the victims…

RC:  …When did you…

GA:  …Sorry, sorry, sorry, Richard. Let me finish…

RC:  …Alright, but…

GA:  …I have just cited to you an agreement which is an international agreement…

RC:  …Yes…

GA:  …which is in the Oireachtas which is in the British House of Commons which took a huge amount of work to put in place and which our government is now in breach of. Now is that not something that we’d want to discuss?

RC:  It certainly is and it’s certainly one that we’d be most keen to discuss with government officials…

GA:  …Well discuss it with me as well because I was part of that agreement!

RC:  Certainly. And you’ve had your say on it now and as soon as we get the Justice Minister or the Taoiseach in here we’ll ask them about it. When did you find out that the IRA had killed Brian Stack?

GA:  Shortly before the meeting.

RC:  Not ’til then?

GA:  No.

RC:  And back in ’83 and ’84 when Mr. Stack was shot and subsequently died, clearly the killing of a prison officer in Dublin was a major event and under the IRA rule book this was a breach of your own rules. Surely you knew about it and knew that it was unauthorised at that time?

GA:  Well first of all they aren’t my rules. Second of all, because they were against the rules I didn’t think for a moment that there was any Republicans involved. And if you go back and listen to what Austin Stack said to me at the time that the family wanted to know: Was the IRA involved? They suspected the IRA may be involved. They also suspected it might have been the INLA (Irish National Liberation Army). There’s was some talk about criminal elements being involved. They actually told me, which I can understand, that that was causing an awful lot of angst for them.

RC:  Would you like to see the people behind the killing of Brian Stack being brought to justice in a court in the Republic?

GA:  I want to see everybody cooperating with An Garda Siochána. I accept again, as part of the Stormont House Agreement, and you would be advised to maybe inform your listeners about that, there is, as part of the number of processes for dealing with the past that includes, for those who want it, judicial processes, police investigations, coroner’s courts, historical investigations. We have…

RC:  …But this was an unauthorised killing by somebody within the IRA for which they were sanctioned. Is that covered then by that agreement?

GA:  You’re missing my point, Richard…

RC:  …But then you’re saying…

GA:  …We have signed up for a process which includes the right of those victims’ families who want it through court proceedings. We have signed up for it. How did you miss that, Richard?

RC:  So you would like to see the people behind the killing of Brian Stack brought to justice in a court in The Republic, would you?

GA:  I want to see all, all of the families, including the Stack Family, getting the type of closure they want, whether that means through courts, whether that means through truth recovery, whether that means acknowledgment or whether that means they just have the peace to get on with their lives.

RC:  What was the sanction imposed on this individual who carried out this or who ordered this unauthorised killing?

GA:  I don’t know.

RC:  Have you made attempts to find out?

GA:   No, I haven’t.

RC:  Why not?

GA:  Why would I? I’m not an investigative agency. I…

RC : …Is it not relevant?

GA:  It may well be but I’m not an investigative agency. I have learned over the years that if you don’t know you can’t tell. So I can tell you my focus was in getting this family what they asked for: Acknowledgment if the IRA was involved – an explanation of that.

RC:  So if the Stack Family asked you what was the sanction, or if you could find out what the sanction was, in that instance you’d find out? But if they don’t ask you don’t ask. Is that how it works?

GA:  By the way, see as far as I’m concerned on this case I delivered on this case. In 2013 we came to a conclusion on the process that I was involved in. I did my very best. I’m disappointed about the way that it has turned out. It’s clearly being used by the Fianna Fáil leader and by the Taoiseach and by others.

RC:  You’ve made that point.

GA:  Sorry, no I want to…

RC:  …You made that point.

GA:  …I want to make it again…

RC:  …But you’ve made that point.

GA:  So as far as I’m concerned, my involvement, I will go and talk to An Garda Siochána. I will…

RC:  …But you won’t continue…

GA:  I will continue to help to work with other families but as far as I’m concerned I have done my best. The Stack Family, contrary of their position in 2013, are accusing me of things of which I am not guilty.

RC:  Final quick question for you: Will the whole furore over this case prompt you to decline any further requests to help people looking for information about dead or missing family or relatives? And we know that there should be a proper process put in place but in the interim will you continue to operate this Ad Hoc process that you’ve been involved in for the last number of years of helping relatives looking for information?

GA:   I don’t know. I think it’s unlikely but I don’t know because when someone comes to you and they tell you their sad story, as one of that generation of Republicans who have survived the conflict, I do feel the duty to try and bring as much comfort, as much closure, as much truth as is possible but when it’s all reduced and subverted, as this has been by others who are trying to make party political capital out of it, then I think that subverts what those of us who actually work at this thing every single day of our lives – it makes it very difficult for us to do it. And I want to come back to the point once again if I may: It isn’t that there should be processes in place – there are processes in place.

RC:  But they’re not operating is the point.

GA:  Because the British government will not act on it and because our government will not act on it and because our government, by the way they’ve handled this case, have actively subverted an international agreement which they were privy and party to.

RC:  Alright…

GA:  …They should be upholding the rights of others…

RC:  …Okay, you’ve made that point. We have to leave it there…

GA:  …and they should stop making…

RC:  …We have to cut across you, Gerry, you’ve got…

GA: …party political (inaudible)…

RC:  Okay. You’ve made that point. Thank you very much indeed for talking to us, Gerry Adams. (ends)

Gerry Adams RTÉ Morning Ireland 9 December 2016

Morning Ireland
RTÉ Radio One
9 December 2016

Audrey Carville (AC) interviews Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams (GA) about giving the authorities the name of the person who confirmed that Brian Stack was killed by the IRA.

AC:  Gerry Adams, Good Morning.

GA:  Good Morning, Audrey.

AC:  You’re embroiled in another controversy to do with The Troubles and the IRA’s actions. Do you know specifically who murdered Brian Stack?

GA:  No, I don’t. And let me say again that Brian Stack should never have been killed. He should never had been murdered. That shooting was wrong. I’ve been very, very clear about all of that. And let’s just you know rehearse very briefly, Audrey, what happened: The Stack Family came to me in 2013 and we put together a collaborative process to try and achieve what they wanted. And what did they want? They said they wanted to know if the IRA had killed their father. They wanted acknowledgment. They wanted closure. They said they didn’t want revenge. They were not interested in anyone going to jail. Austin expressed a wish to meet those who were involved and so on. He told me he was very engaged himself in restorative justice and he’d like to meet those responsible. And I told him that I thought it would be very unlikely that we would ever get him names. That if the IRA was involved that certainly, in the short term, I didn’t think that those responsible would meet with him but in the longer term God knows what was possible. And we worked out a process. The two of us sat down and put together a process that could have worked and it was based on confidentiality and trust. And I actually thought that I’d developed a good working relationship with Austin in the course of all of that. And I think he has acknowledged this confidentiality and the process that we put together.

AC:  And as far as you were concerned, after that meeting in 2013 with the man with whom you along with the Stack brothers met as far as you were concerned was that the end of the process?

GA:  Well that’s exactly what happened, Audrey. If you recall…

AC:  …But why then two years later, three years later, in 2016, why were you sending email to the Garda Commissioner containing names?

GA:  Well if you check out any of your records and let me just answer your question very directly: When we met the person involved as part of the process that we had agreed Austin actually reassured the person involved that he would keep his confidentiality that even if the Gards came to him that they wouldn’t be working with them. They were grateful. He put out a statement – now even though they got hard news – and I don’t want to minimise the fact that this is their Daddy who was shot and subsequently died as a result of the shooting, they put out a statement thanking me, saying that they had got more information than three Garda investigations and then as you said the process more or less ended at that point. And then what happened was three years later there was an election campaign and Micheál Martin and Fine Gael representatives then resurrected this issue and it was part of a negative election campaign led by Micheál Martin and some senior Fine Gael people against me and against the Sinn Féin party and the confidentiality agreement was thrown out.

AC:  …Okay, so clearly now…

GA:  …I was accused in the course of that. Sorry, sorry – just let me make this – I was accused in the course of that of withholding information from An Garda Siochána. The only information I had was that that was given to me by Austin Stack. And I didn’t see Prime Time but I have a note of it and I’m advised that Austin Stack had accused me of breaking the confidentiality…

AC:  …He did, yes…

GA:  …(crosstalk) of all of this because he said I gave names and disclosed things that were said at a meeting to An Garda Siochána…

AC:  …Okay…

GA:  …and all along he’s been denying that he gave me names and now clearly he accepts it.

AC:  But coming back to the point of the Stack Family whose father was murdered by the IRA: They clearly want justice. They’re clearly not satisfied with not knowing specifically who murdered their father and not being in a position to have any sort of meeting with that person or however they view justice. Now they said that the man you met in 2013 – you described him as a ‘trusted confidante’ – have you ever asked that man who specifically murdered Brian Stack?

GA:  No, I didn’t and let me say this…

AC:  …Why not?

GA:  …so bear with me. I asked that man to see if he could investigate, in the first instance, was the IRA involved at all. The first I got of what we were being told was when we met with him. The meeting with him was the one which was done – it wasn’t meeting with me – it was a meeting with the Stack brothers which I facilitated. Now, this is a really important point: When the election campaign passed this issue passed. That was a year ago. It’s only come up again and it’s only come up again because once again two weeks in a trot the Fianna Fáil leader has brought this issue into the floor of the Dáil chamber…

AC:  …Yes, but Austin and Oliver Stack…

GA:  …that is no place…

AC:  …and their other brother and their mother they remain and they want answers…

GA:  …Of course…

AC:  …and the man who met with them in…

GA:  …Of course they do but…

AC:  …Yes, but let me ask the question…

GA:  …Okay…

AC:  …The man who met with them in 2013 clearly knows who killed their father. You know that man. So are you going to give his name to the authorities so that they can interview him?

GA:  Well, I want to finish the point I was trying to make…

AC:  …No. It’s a very simple and direct question.

GA:  I’m going to answer your question, Audrey, please. The fact is this should not be a party political issue or part of the debate in Leinster House that we have seen…

AC:  ….Okay…

GA:  …over the last number of…

AC:  …you have made that point.

GA:  …Okay…

AC:  …You’ve made that point…

GA:  …and secondly…

AC:  …Yeah. Are you going to give that man’s name to the authorities?

GA:  Well let me answer that. Austin Stack says he knows the name. He says he’s given the name to An Garda Siochána. Now why on earth, when he was part of a process that he and I put together, which is more important than me, which is more important than the man that we met and which is more important, with respect, than any one single family – and I absolutely sympathise with the Stack Family. There are thousands of families…

AC:  …Yeah…

GA:  …who want a truth and reconciliation…

AC:  ….Gerry Adams…

GA:  …process (crosstalk)…

AC:  …will you give that man’s name – No, will you give that man’s name to the authorities?

GA:  I have set out in the Dáil why we should not, if we want a proper truth and reconciliation process, if we want to bring closure to all the families involved, that we have to honour commitments given…

AC:  …Yes…

GA:  …I gave a commitment to the Stack Family…

AC:  …Will you give that man’s name to the authorities, yes or no?

GA:  I’ve already pointed out to you, Audrey, and stated in the Dáil why we should not give these names and why we need – in order to get an integrity into a process which will bring relief and closure to all the families involved why we have to honour agreements made. I gave commitments to the Stack Family. I kept my commitments.

AC:  …Yes, so…

GA:  …I will continued to do that.

AC:  As an elected TD, as a member of the Oireachtas of this state, you are saying that while you may have information on a crime you are not going to pass that information to the authorities.

GA:  No, I’m not saying. I don’t have information on a crime.

AC:  You know the man who knows who killed Brian Stack.

GA:  Well sorry, the, the – Austin Stack has said that the individual we met told us he met the perpetrators. He didn’t tell us that. Austin Stack also said he told us that they were alive. He didn’t tell us that, either. What he told us was contained in a typed statement which was given to the Stack brothers which they then wrote down and they then asked him a number of questions and all of that – I took very little part in the discussion at all. And they then released…

AC:  …No, but you know the person who knows who killed Brian Stack and you’re saying this morning that you’re not going to give that person’s name to the authorities.

GA:  Audrey, you didn’t hear what I said. He never said he knew who killed Brian Stack. He said, which he had been asked to do, that he had information that the IRA was involved and then he explained that and that is a matter of public record. Now let me come round to this point…

AC:  …No, he also said, he also said that that person was disciplined.

GA:  Yes.

AC:  How was he disciplined?

GA:  I don’t know.

AC:  Was he shot?

GA:  I don’t – well if I don’t know I don’t know – but let me come round to this point…

AC:  ….I mean did you not ask questions of this?

GA:  No, I didn’t. Because the job that I had to do was to bring closure to this family on a very specific brief which they had given me and which I delivered for them and I’ve done this with other families in the past. Now, if we come round to all of this and the way it’s being handled now, and bear in mind there is no truth and reconciliation process in place, despite commitments from the two governments, despite obligations on our Taoiseach and on successive British Prime Ministers there’s still not a process in place. How on earth are we going to get such a process in place if it becomes – and if this awful killing of this man, like all of the others, becomes a subject of a political point-scoring that’s ongoing…

AC:  …But Gerry Adams…

GA:  …how on earth can you break commitments that were given? How on earth if we break confidential processes are we going to get to the end of the road for all of the families who’ve been bereaved or have injured loved ones? How are we going to do it?

AC:  …But Gerry Adams, how on earth can there be any truth process when most people believe that you cannot tell the truth about this?

GA:  Well, I have told the truth about this and incidentally, in all that I have done in relation to these issues, I helped with the Smithwick investigation, I’m still working on the issue of trying to return the bodies of the ‘disappeared’ …

AC:  …But Gerry Adams you have denied…

GA:  …I have been working – sorry, sorry, sorry – but Martin McGuinness…

AC:  …just let me finish…

GA:  …and others…

AC:  …let me finish…

GA:  …and that has to be our focus in this case.

AC:  Yes. But you have denied being in the IRA. You have denied that the IRA robbed the Northern Bank. You denied the IRA murdered Detective Garda Jerry McCabe. You denied the Colombia Three were training FARC. You denied Máiría Cahill and Paudie McGahon’s claims. How can you ask of others what you’re not prepared to do yourself?

GA:  Well first of all I am prepared and I’ve said this very publicly – and there is a huge difference between the atmosphere and the acoustics around this issue in this part of the island and in the other part of the island. I have said quite publicly, and Martin McGuinness has said quite publicly and we have put forward propositions and ideas and proposals because our generation of Republicans, who have survived the conflict, want to bring to an end to those families who are still seeking truth and that’s our commitment. And I said I would cooperate with any process and I think the proof of that, Audrey, if you’re looking for the proof is: Did I deliver for the Stack Family in terms of what they asked me to do?

AC:  …Okay…

GA:  …They said, not me, that they thanked me for what I had done in 2013. That was three years ago. The issue was only resurrected in the midst of an election campaign and the issue is only resurrected now because the Fianna Fáil leader and the Taoiseach are politically point-scoring on this issue…

AC:  …Okay…

GA:  …while they, they – sorry – while they have failed to put forward the type of process that would bring closure to all of the families who need closure…

AC:  …Thank you…

GA:  …Are they still committed to doing that?…

AC:  Thank you very much…

GA:  …Thank you, Audrey…

AC:  …Gerry Adams, leader of Sinn Féin. (ends)

Seamus Mallon The Pat Kenny Show Newstalk 9 December 2016

The Pat Kenny Show
Newstalk 106-108FM
9 December 2016

Jonathan Healy (JH) speaks to former Northern Ireland Deputy First Minister Seamus Mallon (SM) about the raging controversy between Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams and the Stack Brothers concerning the 1983 death of Brian Stack.

** Note: Where’s the audio? Please click on the hyperlink in the title to hear the audio as you read along. Thank you.

JH:  Gerry Adams is standing firm on the Brian Stack murder controversy and to handing over information to Gardaí in connection with the case. A little while ago he was speaking to Audrey Carville on Morning Ireland where he reiterated what he has said since all of this began.

Audio:  Portion of Gerry Adams’ 9 December 2016 Morning Ireland interview is played.

JH:  It’s interesting listening to that because – let’s just put the proper context on it: A man was shot and he died and he was murdered. And Gerry Adams entered a process with the Stack Brothers that led to them being bundled in the back of a van and meeting somebody who told them that yes, the IRA, someone in the IRA had done it. And Gerry Adams is now talking about the process, that process. Does that not overlook the fact that a man was murdered? And surely that’s the priority now and that’s what The Stacks want but now Gerry Adams is turning it back on The Stacks by the sounds of it for not respecting that process.

But why is that process all of a sudden so important? Why is that a thing? When the basic reality is that somebody was murdered and it’s a matter for An Garda Siochána to investigate that. And if there’s information out there why can’t it be handed to the Gardaí? Why can’t they deal with that? And why can’t we see a prosecution, or at least attempts made to prosecute somebody, for something that happened admittedly in 1982 and the death in 1983? All of this, once again, has left the country wondering how much the legacy of Mr. Adams and the IRA is holding back his party and how long his colleagues will stand by him because of now, as of right now, they are standing by him, full behind him. To look at this further we’re joined on the line by the former Deputy First Minister of Northern Ireland, Seamus Mallon. Seamus, what do you make of what we’ve been hearing from Gerry Adams and the Stack Brothers in the last few days?

SM:  The first thing I’d say is: I’m not surprised. There’s a history there of manipulating information, of telling what are blatant lies and expect it to be believed. And I think in this instance that the family have decided – and they have seen him at first hand, spoke to him at first hand – realised how he was operating and what he was doing and they have rightly decided that’s enough – we can’t take this or not going to take this anymore. And I think the other remarkable thing about it is this: You have to, when you’re listening to the debate about it, when you see him being interviewed or hear him being interviewed, you have to consciously remind yourself that this man is a member of Dáil Éireann, that he’s a leader of a political party, that he is a member of a party that is in government in Northern Ireland and that it doesn’t seem that he recognises the incongruity of where he is and what he’s doing. And for the political process it is a very, very bad thing. People listening and watching – they know liars when they hear them and it is pitiful in the way in which the only person RTÉ could free-out last night to speak Provo-Speak with someone who is not central to the whole argument.

JH:  Seamus, is what Gerry Adams has said – does that make his position untenable, in your opinion, because he has faced storms like this before and he has weathered them?

SM:  I would be reluctant to predict. We have seen the way in which he ducked in and out of the truth in relation to Jean McConville’s terrible murder. We have seen the way in which his organisation have denied involvement in some of the most high profile killings and then, when they think the opinion has subsided, they then reluctantly say that – and this is the stock reply:  Yes, it was someone from our organisation but it wasn’t sanctioned – that is not a position that could be and should be tenable by the leader of a political party, a member of Dáil Éireann and someone who is, as of now, is bringing the political process, damaging the political process and…

JH:  …Gerry Adams made the point yesterday, Seamus, in a statement that the dealings with Austin Stack were handled in the way they were handled in the absence of a proper truth recovery process. And that brings us back to the Good Friday Agreement and it brings us back to how we should deal with these things post-that agreement. Do you think there are implications, as has been suggested, for the peace process from all of this?

SM:  I think very much so. How can you, in any way, make murdering someone – shooting him in the back – how do you make that compatible with peace and the creation of peace and the development of peace?  The reality of the situation is that truth, whatever type of oragnisation it might be, I’d simply pose two questions: If it existed and if it exists in the future does one expect the British government to tell the truth? And does one expect the Provisional IRA, Sinn Féin, to tell the truth? Can anybody put his hand on his heart and say:  Yes, I think that we’d get to the truth that way. I don’t believe it. I cannot see the British government, the way it has squirmed on the Pat Finucane case and the way it has refused to face down the people in their organisation who are colluding with murderers, so I don’t have any great belief that such-and-such a process is going to get to the truth. Now, it may help victims. It may be something that would be advantageous for victims but I don’t think it will ever get to this small word and that is the ‘truth’ of what had happened both by the paramilitary organisations and the British government.

JH:  Austin Stack says he thinks he knows who the man he met from the IRA was in a meeting that he says was facilitated by Gerry Adams. Do you believe that Gerry Adams knows the identity of that man and what should he do with that information?

SM:  I find it incredible that Gerry Adams doesn’t know the information of a man having taken people in a dark van, on a dark night, up a dark road to meet this person. I find it incredible that he says he doesn’t know and it is part of his ploy here, and this is to again, put the onus back on the family. This fella was murdered by them and in the sense that trying to absolve himself he has created another hard fiction in relation to this. Is it conceivably acceptable in any way that a member of Dáil Éireann, the leader of a political party, didn’t know what he was doing? Didn’t know who he was going to see? And yet, tries to pursue the lie that he doesn’t. I find it absolutely unbelievable that he set out to be collected in a van to go on the road to meet somebody that he didn’t know. Those who set the meeting up? I have no doubt that Gerry Adams knew as well.

JH:  Seamus Mallon of the SDLP, thank you very much for taking the time to talk to us.

SM:  Thank you. (ends)

Martin Ferris Kerry Today 8 December 2016

Kerry Today
Radio Kerry
8 December 2016

Programme host Jerry O’Sullivan (JO) speaks to Sinn Féin TD Martin Ferris (MF) via telephone about being named in the Dáil last night in relation to the Brian Stack murder case.

**Note: Where’s the audio? Click on the hyperlink in the title or go to iTunes where you can download this and all Radio Kerry podcasts for free. Thank you.

JO:   Now with me on the line is Martin Ferris, Sinn Féin Deputy for Kerry, in relation to those remarkable scenes in the Dáil yesterday evening when Fine Gael Deputy Alan Farrell named both him and Deputy Dessie Ellis in connection to the Brian Stack murder. Deputy Ferris, Good Morning to you.

MF:   Good Morning, Jerry.

JO:   You were very, very angry in the Dáil yesterday.

MF:   Yes. I was, I think it was – You know I knew going in to the Dáil yesterday before Gerry’s speech that Fine Gael had been briefing journalists they were going to name me and name Dessie Ellis. Even I understood, understand, that Alan Farrell said this morning that it was a spontaneous thing for him in the Dáil yet we knew going in somebody was going to name us. I think it was the fact that I had no problem with anybody naming me because I have a clear conscience in that regard. I had already been interviewed by the Gardaí I think it was either late 2012 or early 2013 regarding the Brian Stack killing. I went voluntarily. They requested that I meet with them. I agreed. No problem. We met at an agreed location which was a hotel in Dublin. I was accompanied by my PA, Matt Treasaigh, and there was two detectives there and I had a three hour interview with them regarding Brian Stack’s killing. So it – I had nothing to hide. I’ve a totally and absolutely clear conscience regarding that so to stand up and name me inside the Dáil yesterday was a bit of a publicity stunt for him but in particular for Dessie Ellis. Dessie Ellis was in prison at the time and I detected that he didn’t know it and neither did any of the other TDs on his benches didn’t know that Dessie Ellis had been in prison and I think they were taken back by it. But you know, he could have named me outside. I have no problem – I was already named in the papers anyway.

JO:   But then, like when it comes to where it goes where what Gerry Adams said yesterday – do you accept his explanation in relation to his interaction with the Stack Family in relation to this? And what do you make of the fact that Austin Stack feels that Gerry Adams is lying? He called him a liar again yesterday after his statement.

MF:   Well when Gerry Adams sent an email to the Garda Commissioner Gerry Adams told me then that my name was given by Austin Stack and that I was not named as a suspect but just a name that was given. I had no problem with it whatsoever in the world and neither had, as far as I know, had anybody else that was on that list. So why would Gerry do that? You know what I mean? Why would he name a TD if he hadn’t been given that information from Mr. Stack? But you know it’s – I think the one thing that came out of that statement from Gerry yesterday was the amount of confidentiality that he has adhered to right down through the years in order to bring about a peace process and to deliver on a peace process and the total violation of his commitment by himself and others to try and bring about a resolution to the conflict in Ireland and he has always acted on the aspect of confidentiality because without it he could have achieve nothing.

JO:   Okay. Martin, why were you named on that list if you were not named as a suspect? You and Dessie Ellis – were you named as that there was a suspicion there that you knew something about what had happened to Brian Stack?

MF:   My memory of that period, the 2012 and 13 period, is that a number of people all over the country were interviewed by the Gardaí. And obviously somewhere along the line my name was given, along with Dessie Ellis and others, was given to Mr. Stack and that name in turn was passed onto Gerry Adams. And it’s only when John Flanagan in 2000 – I think it was in February of this year – said that Gerry Adams had been given names and he hadn’t pass them onto the Gardaí – given names of suspects. But he was not given names of suspects he was given my name and Dessie Ellis’ name and all he done was oblige by saying: Okay, if you think they’re suspects – if you think I am reneging on my responsibility – he passed those on. And that’s what happened.

JO:  Okay.

MF:  But it’s a – I think Alan Farrell let himself down as a solicitor yesterday. I think the very fact you know that it was already out there in the public domain. He was using the house of the Oireachtas for his own publicity, really. And this whole debacle is, you know my name has been – I had absolutely nothing, and know nothing about, who was responsible for killing Brian Stack. I didn’t even know the IRA had anything to do with the killing of Brian Stack until such time as it became public in the last two years.

JO:   And on that can you understand people’s reservations, I’ll put it that way, about the way Gerry Adams has dealt with all of this: Going in a blacked-out van to meet with a former IRA leader who confirmed that it was the IRA who murdered Brian Stack, that he hadn’t been sanctioned by senior members of the IRA and that the person who did give the instruction had been disciplined. That was happening at the same time as a live Garda investigation and the central thing that if your party wants to be part of the democratic process and wants to be part of the peace process now you can’t be running a tandem investigation on your own separate to a Garda investigation, separate to the laws of the land.

MF:   Okay, yesterday in Gerry’s statement – all of this has been put out in the last number of weeks, particularly by Micheál Martin, to try for political point-scoring against Gerry Adams – it’s been put out there. And it’s a long way from the actual truth. Gerry Adams took…

JO:  …Austin and Oliver, yeah…

MF:  …Austin Stack and his brother in his car to a location somewhere near the border. They were picked up, all of them, in a van and Gerry Adams had nothing to do with that. They were taken to some house where there was an IRA man who gave an account of what happened to the Stack Family and who also said, in my understanding, and said in that encounter that somebody had been disciplined. It wasn’t Gerry Adams that was saying that. It was the IRA person there that was saying it. So it’s misrepresenting, in a very scurrilous way, to try and damage Gerry Adams and damage Sinn Féin. The truth of the matter is it was at their request that they wanted to go and meet the IRA. It wasn’t Gerry Adams’ request. It was their request. And I think it would be – if everybody read in detail the total account of what Gerry gave yesterday – not just in that instance about leaving Bertie Ahern in a house in Belfast and other officials and going to meet the IRA when they knew that – and coming back from the IRA back to Bertie Ahern to report the whole process.

So it’s – this is – you’re in a situation of trying to resolve outstanding issues in the conflict. Part of that is people who died in the conflict and their families have never got justice and that’s all that Gerry tried to do – tried to get some closure for the family and give the Stack Family justice and he’s done his utmost in that and he’s done it for several other people right down the years. And you know, we have been saying consistently: If we want to get to the bottom of all of this and get this whole murky world of the British intelligence involvement and so forth the government should be pushing for a truth and reconciliation….

JO:   …Okay, yeah. I want to ask you about that in more detail. I’m going to ask you to hold on. We’re going to take a quick break and we’ll have more with Deputy Martin Ferris after we take these.  (commercial break)

JO:   We’re talking to Deputy Martin Ferris about the events of the Dáil sitting yesterday evening in the relation to him and Dessie Ellis being named by Alan Farrell and the whole controversy in relation to the murder of Brian Stack. Deputy Ferris, if I can ask you just before we talk about what needs to happen now to deal with all these legacy issues on all sides of the conflict in Northern Ireland, do you think Gerry Adams, and several people have been saying this, that he is wrong in not naming the IRA figure that allegedly knows who shot Brian Stack and not giving that name to the Gardaí?

MF:   Well I think he might ask, too, as well yesterday in his statement, Gerry, if people listened to it. Do you know what I mean? His whole thing – he has to work on the premises of confidentiality. And I’m quite certain he doesn’t know, and I don’t know and I’m certain – I know nobody that knows actually who shot Brian Stack.

JO:   But is not making the decision there that he knows better than the Gardaí? That he knows how to handle this better than the force which protects and enforces law and order in Ireland?

MF:   I think if you look again at what – and Brian Stack and Austin Stack and his brother’s situation – Gerry only complied with their request and their wishes. They wanted some form of closure and he tried to facilitate that.

JO:   That’s not what they want now, Martin. They want full disclosure. And they want all the names. And they want to find out what happened to their father.

MF:   Yes, and I think there’s an awful lot – there’s three thousand six hundred people who have died in this conflict and a lot of them in very murky circumstances and I think everybody is entitled to closure and entitled to justice and whatever we have to do. And there’s a huge responsibility on both governments as well – is try to put in place a truth and reconciliation commission that we can get to the bottom of all of this. I was just listening to the radio this morning, you probably were as well, around Stakeknife and the murky world where there’s supposed to be forty-two people died as the result of that British agent. Now, I would like to get to the bottom of that and I’d like to get to the bottom of all – and give justice to everybody who lost loved ones in this conflict. And I think that’s the only way we can do this. Because we’re not going to do it by standing up in the Dáil and naming Martin Ferris and Dessie Ellis. In fact, on my way in here this morning a very senior, a very senior Fine Gael minister came to me and apologised for what happened yesterday. And he’s disgusted by what had happened and you know – there are people of all parties, of like-minds to myself and Gerry and other people – that we want closure on the whole aspect of conflict (crosstalk) (inaudible)

JO:   Okay. Was the killing of Brian Stack wrong?

MF:   Of course it was.

JO:   Do you regret what you said about him in your autobiography – that he was a particularly vindictive individual who was despised by prisoners, other prisoners and Republicans and also by prison officers – his colleagues?

MF:   I think – when I was being interviewed for that book, right? I was asked a question about prison management. And what I said about prison management and in particular about Brian Stack – I wish it wasn’t in the book- let’s put it that way – but it was – but what I said about prison management was very, very consistent to what the prison officers’ conference said in 1982 and I’ll quote from it if you want to where two delegates stood up and said: If Hitler was looking for SS men he need look no further than prison management in Portlaoise Prison.

I have a very good friend – I had a very good friend – living only eight miles up the road from where you’re sitting now and that man was in Portlaoise Prison with me. A real smashing person, there was no (inaudible) with that man but he was in Portlaoise Prison. And as a consequence of what he endured in Portlaoise Prison that man died tragically on his release and he’s not the only one. So there’s an awful lot of victims here. There’s a lot of victims that spent years in solitary confinement…

JO:   …And does that justify then murdering Brian Stack?

MF:   I didn’t say that and I wouldn’t say that.

JO:   That’s what it sounds like.

MF:   No, I wouldn’t say that for one word. I think we need to find a mechanism where we can resolve all the outstanding issues of conflict. There’s an awful lot of people badly damaged as a result of that conflict right across the board and we need to find some mechanism to bring that about. And I believe, I for one and I’m quite certain the Sinn Féin people that I know would be only too willing to help in bringing that about…

JO:   Do you know the name of the IRA figure who allegedly knows who shot Brian Stack?

MF:   No, I don’t. No, I don’t. I don’t know anybody that knows it. Somebody knows it but I don’t know anybody that knows it.

JO:   Gerry Adams knows it.

MF:   No, he doesn’t. He didn’t say that.

JO:   He doesn’t know it?

MF:   No, he didn’t say that. He never said he knew that. It was in the – going by his statement yesterday where he said that they were told by the IRA person in their presence. I think if you get the statement and read it you will see exactly what he said and exactly what he knows.

JO:   So this is – you’re talking about – so there’s walls of separation between what Gerry Adams knows – bringing the Stack Brothers in his car to a meeting to meet men who took them in van then to meet the IRA leader that Gerry Adams just doesn’t know any of the people involved?

MF:  I don’t know. I don’t believe he does. But I don’t know.

JO:   It stretches credulity, though, that he doesn’t know the IRA leader that they were going to meet.

MF:   No, he said that he made contact with a person that he knew way back in the IRA to know if something could be found out about this and that person that he knew away back apparently that person was able to put this in place.

JO:   Okay, Martin…

MF:   …So I think you should read his statement to give justice to what Gerry said yesterday and…

JO:   …I heard – I listened to the statement. I watched what happened in the Dáil and it left me with a lot of questions – questions as to why – and this question that I asked you to try and get some answers this morning as to why all the information isn’t being handed over. Look, I accept what you say on one level about confidentiality but on the other you’ve a family suffering here and grieving and a family who are calling the leader of your party a liar. They’re saying that didn’t happen. Austin Stack says I did not give names to Gerry Adams.

MF:   Well I will refer you back to what Brian Stack said a number of years ago. He thanked Gerry Adams publicly for all his efforts, thanked him publicly, and appreciated everything that he had done to try and bring closure for them. That’s Brian Stack’s own words.

JO:  Okay.

MF:  Sorry, Austin Stack’s words.

JO:   Explain for me how – let’s say to take the South African example – how is a truth and reconciliation effort going to work with regards to The North?

MF:   Well I think you’ve got to look at good practices and good precedents around the world. There’s the South African model, there’s a new model starting up in Colombia and other areas where a conflict resolution process has been put in place and I think there are enough models out there that would – but it would take the good will of everybody involved…

JO:   …Why hasn’t it happen before now?

MF:  Because it’s been resisted so particularly by the British government. And you know that. The reason the British government are resisting all of this is because of (crosstalk) (inaudible)

JO:   And if they were to acquiesce? Yeah, a lot of murky things went down – a lot of very dastardly things were done that’s for sure. If there was to be one would you fully contribute to it? Would the IRA fully contribute to it? And would all the cards be on the table or would we still meet this wall of confidentiality?

MF:   Well I can speak personally for myself here: I would absolutely and totally cooperate to deliver in a truth and reconciliation commission. I’d have no problem doing that. And if everybody I know within the – I’m a former IRA person. Everybody I know, that I worked with in the IRA, I believe would do the same. So you know, it’s – we have to find the way of doing that. The people’s going to resist this most if the British Establishment, the British government, and in particular because of the Dublin-Monaghan bombing and running agents such as Stakeknife. And they’re going to resist it. And they would have to be pressurised by the Dublin government, if the Dublin government is sincere, in trying to find a way…

JO:  …If they have the will to do it.

MF:   If they have the will to do it.

JO:   Okay, final point for you: Is it not a bit rich of you to be getting so upset about what Alan Farrell in the Dáil yesterday given Mary Lou McDonald used Dáil privilege to name, wrongly as it turned out, names of former parties with Ansbacher accounts?

MF:   Well, I had no problem with being named. I thought it was just…

JO:   …You got very angry in the Dáil last night.

MF:   I did because it was done for a cynical reason. I was already in the paper, Jerry. I had nothing in the world to worry about. I was already in the paper. I had already been – and I’m quite certain that the party that was responsible for naming me and Dessie Ellis knew certainly that I had already been interviewed and that I had no case to answer– and they knew that. And it’s a – in Dessie Ellis’ case Dessie Ellis was in prison and I’m quite certain, unless they’re stupid, they knew that as well. So you know they were naming somebody with an inference that they may be suspects even though they didn’t name us as suspects, an inference that we may be suspects – that they knew full well it had nothing to do with us – and you know so much so that a senior cabinet minister came to me today and apologised. And I’m not making that up.

JO:  Okay.

MF:  Do you know what I mean? I have lived my life as a Republican activist in the IRA and I have always respected – there are things I could say about people in other parties and I’ve kept my mouth shut and will never betray people but I’ve kept my mouth shut – that would highly embarrass Micheál Martin and his party and others if I wish to do so.

JO:  Okay. What do you mean by that?

MF:  Well, we’ll leave it at that because I have never betrayed anybody in my life and I’m not going to start now.

JO:  You’re saying you’ve information on them that would be politically embarrassing. Is that correct?

MF:  It would be more than politically embarrassing maybe. You know, I’ve been involved since 1969- 1970 I’ve been involved actively. And over those years I came into contact with an awful lot of people.

JO:  People from…

MF:  …I will take their confidence to my grave.

JO:   To your grave – so you’re not threatening them by saying that this morning?

MF:   No, I’m not. But I am just saying I have lived by the principles that I stand for and I will never betray those principles. And people can be very secure in that.

JO:   And you feel the other side are betraying principles?

MF:   No. I think they are – what they are doing is – maybe in denial of some of their people’s past, you know, that what they are doing is for political opportunism. You know they were well aware, in particular Fianna Fáil, were well aware of the confidentiality aspect of the entire process…

JO:  …Sure, but Fianna Fáil…

MF:  …Going right back to 1998…

JO:  …I mean, Fianna Fáil weren’t involved in murdering people.

MF:  …Going right back to 1998 Fianna Fáil were a part, were well-acquainted, the Fianna Fáil leadership were well-aware of the confidentiality necessity in order to bring about conflict resolution and we have lived to that to the letter.

JO:  You’ve lived – and you feel they’re not they’re living to it now? That Micheál Martin is taking advantage of it?

MF:  No, I think what they’re doing is for opportunistic reasons and for to try at political point-scoring that they are effectively playing kamikaze with everything that has been done down through the years in order to bring about conflict resolution…

JO:  …Do you feel though that they’re going to destroy the peace process? Is that what you’re saying?

MF:  They’ll never destroy the peace process. They have lost interest in the peace process a long time ago. There are enough of us around that will make sure that that peace process survives and continues to grow because we were – we have – if it weren’t for that peace process there’d be an awful lot more people dead and thankfully it has brought an end to military conflict in our country. It has brought an end – it has created a framework where people can address the outstanding difficulties in a democratic and in a peaceful manner. And we have done that and played our role in doing that and we have to do that every single day because we live – our people live in the zones where the conflict took place and they know how easy it could slip back and that’s why we work so hard and it’s not for any type of electoral/political gain it’s because it’s the right thing to do.

JO:  Okay, alright Deputy Martin Ferris. Thanks for talking to us this morning. That’s Sinn Féin Deputy Martin Ferris with his view on all of that. What do you make of what he had to say? Get in touch with us on the programme this morning. We’ll have more after we take these.  (ends)