Ed Moloney RFÉ 25 March 2017

Radio Free Éireann
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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

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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 saying the closure order on essentially his own project in the manner that Jimmy Drumm was forced to saying 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 insuring 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

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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

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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, rfe123.org, 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: wbai.org 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: wbai.org 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: wbai.org 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: wbai.org 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: wbai.org 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: wbai.org 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 saoradh.ie

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: wbai.org 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: wbai.org 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: wbai.org 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:

Catholic

Protestant

Security Forces

Total

Republican Activity

402

517

919

1838

Loyalist Activity

746

227

14

987

Security Forces Activity

249

37

286

Other: Unclassified or Uncertain

36

24

60

Total Deaths

1433

805

933

3171

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: wbai.org 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: wbai.org 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
By COREY KILGANNON JAN. 13, 2017

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
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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
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listen on the internet: wbai.org 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
96-98FM
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)

Anthony McIntyre RTÉ Drivetime 8 December 2016

Drivetime
RTÉ Radio One
8 December 2016

Programme Host Mary Wilson (MW) speaks to former Republican prisoner and blanketman now historian, writer and political analyst Anthony McIntyre (AM) about the latest developments in the raging controversy over the clash between Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams and Austin Stack.

MW:   Brian Stack was a senior officer at Portlaoise Prison which held many Republicans at the height of The Troubles. Mr. Stack was shot in the back of the neck on the twenty-fifth of March 1983 as he left a boxing match in Dublin. From the RTÉ Radio archives here’s Seán O’Rourke reporting news of that shooting.

Audio:  Portion of Seán O’Rourke’s news report from 1983 is played.

MW:   Brian Stack died from his injuries the following year. In the Summer of 2013 the IRA admitted to his murder. When that admission finally came Brian Stack’s son, Austin, along with the Sinn Féin president, Gerry Adams, spoke to me here on Drivetime and Austin Stack told me about the role Gerry Adams played in securing that admission.

Audio:  Portion of Wilson’s 2013 interview with Austin Stack is played and is transcribed below.

Austin:   We met Gerry Adams. We had an open and frank discussion with him. We laid it on the line for him. We told him that he could trust us, myself and Oliver. And…

MW:   …What did you want to know?

Austin:   We wanted, what we wanted was an acceptance, we wanted the responsibility – we wanted the IRA to admit responsibility – that is key for us. I told Gerry Adams that I did have private information, that I had information that would lead me to believe the IRA were responsible and that I had information that I would maybe know the individuals that were responsible.

MW:   Was he open to what you were asking of him?

Austin:   He was. He told us that, initially he told us that what he would do was – there would be no promises – and he said I’ll go away and see what I can do. He said I will try and help you. (2013 interview audio ends)

MW:  With Gerry Adams’ help Austin and his brother were taken to meet a senior IRA figure known to them only as ‘John’. (2013 interview audio resumes and is transcribed below.)

Austin:  Essentially they told us that it was a group of IRA members had carried out the attack acting on the orders from their commanding officer. The IRA expressed regret for what had happened to my father. They also put in context the reasons why an attack on my father would have happened. They did also say it that it hadn’t been sanctioned by the leadership and that when the leadership of the IRA became aware that it was their members that carried out the attack that they disciplined the individual who issued the instruction.

MW:  Did you ask what happened to the Volunteer?

Austin:  No, to be honest I didn’t ask what happened to the Volunteer. I preferred maybe to stay away from that. (2013 interview audio ends)

MW:   That was Austin Stack speaking to me in August of 2013. Now the story did not go away. Two weeks ago the Irish Independent revealed that days before the general election in February Gerry Adams contacted the Garda Commissioner and gave her the names of four people who, according to Deputy Adams, were given to him by Austin Stack. Mr. Stack’s murder became an election issue after Austin Stack claimed to have information that senior members of Sinn Féin were connected to his father’s murder. Austin Stack denies that he gave these names to Gerry Adams so last night Deputy Adams made a statement to the Dáil.

Audio:  Portion of Gerry Adams addressing the Dáil on the evening of 7 December 2016 is played and is transcribed below.

Adams: In 2013 Austin gave me the names of four people whom he believed might have information on the case. He told me that he had been given these names by journalistic and Garda sources. Now Austin denies giving me names. Why on earth would I say I received the names from him if I didn’t? In February of this year Austin Stack also claimed that he gave the names to the Fianna Fáil leader, Micheál Martin. So if Austin Stack was prepared to give names to Mr. Martin why would he not have given them to me?  I was, after all, the person he was asking to arrange a meeting. At Austin’s request I contacted those that I could from the names he gave me. They denied having any information about the killing of Brian Stack. I told Austin Stack this. (audio ends)

MW:  In response and under Dáil privilege Fine Gael TD Alan Farrell named two Sinn Féin TDs in connection with this matter.

Audio:  Portion of Alan Farrell addressing Dáil on the evening of 7 December 2016 is played and is transcribed below. (The voice of the Ceann Comhairle, Seán Ó Fearghaíl, is also heard.)

Farrell: Ceann Comhairle, I think it entirely appropriate, given Deputy Adams has been afforded the opportunity to explain to the house his involvement and or his discussions with individuals relating to this case, that the two other individuals, who are members of this house, who he himself has named…

Ó Fearghail: …No…

Farrell: …and which are already in the public domain…

Ó Fearghail: …No,no, that’s not a point of order. That’s not a point of order.

Farrell: …that Deputies Ellis and Ferris…

Ó Fearghaíl: …Deputy Farrell…

Farrell: …be given the opportunity to address this house.

Ó Fearghaíl: …would you, would you resume your seat? (audio ends)

MW:   Both Martin Ferris and Dessie Ellis deny any knowledge of or connection to Brian Stack’s killing. Again today Austin Stack criticised Gerry Adams and now wants Mr. Adams to give Gardaí the name of his IRA contact.

Audio:  Portion of interview with Austin Stack on today’s RTÉ News at One is played and is transcribed below.

Austin:  Gerry Adams had the name of an individual who he tasked with investigating a murder, the murder of a senior state official. Gerry Adams took myself and my brother to meet that individual. That individual told us that he spoke to the individuals concerned that perpetrated my father’s murder. Gerry Adams needs to go to An Garda Siochána and give that information. (audio ends)

MW:   That was Austin Stack speaking to Conor Brophy on today’s News at One. I’m joined now by academic and Republican commentator Anthony McIntyre who has in the past been a sharp critic of Gerry Adams. And Anthony McIntyre, there’s a clear conflict now between Austin Stack’s assertion that he didn’t give Gerry Adams any names and Gerry Adams’ claims that he did. What do you make of this and who do you believe?

AM:   Well the balance of probability would suggest that Austin Stack is more reliable in this case. I mean Mr. Adams has a long history of dissembling and prevarication on these matters including his claim never to have been a member of the IRA which nobody believes. And I’m of the view that we really have no option other than to take Austin Stack’s word on this matter.

MW:   But if you pick your way through it, why would Gerry Adams give names to Gardaí that he never received, you know? What agenda would that serve?

AM:   Well it seems to me that Mr. Adams is preparing his grassroots for whatever deal is going to be struck or arranged in The North in relation to the legacy issues of the past and I think he has given the approval, in some way – given the nod of approval – to people to inform on colleagues that, former colleagues, who for one reason or another have fallen foul of the leadership and they will be blamed for the activities that the IRA carried out and the people associated with Mr. Adams and the Army Council will be exonerated. And I think it’s part of a wider game plan.

MW:   Because in the past Sinn Féin has been criticised for the circling of the protective wagons when they’re faced with a crises and now you have Gerry Adams throwing four senior Republicans under the bus which is a break with form, isn’t it?

AM:   Well it’s a major departure in many ways from the type of things that Republicans used to do and the Army Council, which Mr. Adams sat on, used to sentence people to death for informing. Mr. Adams himself said, in respect to the death of Charles McIlmurray, that the penalty for informing is death and Mr. McGuinness said it in respect of Frank Hegarty that the penalty for informing is death and people know this. So it’s a very serious departure but Mr. Adams and his party have basically thrown all Republican ideology and all Republican principle under the bus in pursuit of their political careers and I think this is something else that has really, to use your term, been ‘thrown under the bus’, as they try to become more respectable, more part of the Establishment. I think the whole business of bringing Austin Stack to meet with an IRA member to explain something about the killing of Brian Stack was really not about throwing any real serious light on what happened. I think it was about distancing the leadership, of which Mr. Adams was a part, from the actual killing, the authorising of the killing of Brian Stack.

MW:   What about like in Leinster House Gerry Adams has a credibility issue with rival political parties but what about his standing in Republican circles? He’s now an informant having handed over names to the Garda Commissioner.

AM:   Well, I mean he is guilty of what he has accused other people of. For example I mean, Danny Morrison, who has carried out a role similar to Denis Donaldson in smearing people who have disagreed with the Sinn Féin leadership, actually began calling people who were associated with the Boston College project ‘Boston College Touts’. He was labeling me ‘Anthony McIntout’ for carrying out the type of research that we were carrying out and nobody was going to law enforcement with anything there. Now what has happened is Mr. Adams in this case is guilty, in my view, of the offence of informing law enforcement about former IRA Volunteers but his own party will not view him as an informer. They will manage to con themselves or delude themselves into believing that somehow it’s a move for peace, it’s a great strategic move to out-manoeuvre Micheál Martin and Enda Kenny and I would think that Mr. Adams’ position within the party’s secure – you know, they’ve met the Queen, they’ve given up IRA weapons, they have supported consent, they’ve called for people to inform to the state so I don’t think it’s going to cause any problems in that sense but what it does do is it shows the problems that Sinn Féin face with Mr. Adams as its leader. He’s in a sort of quicksand which is too shallow to drown him but too deep to allow him to escape from it and it means that very bright talented people like like Eoin Ó Broin and Pearse Doherty, who perform very well in public, are having this sort of dark shadow cast over their performances because Sinn Féin continuously gets pulled into this past, this murky, sinister past, and really because the party insists on having martial politicians as the head of its leadership.

MW:   Anthony, thank you very much for joining us. That’s Anthony McIntyre. (ends)

Anthony McIntyre RFÉ 3 December 2016

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John McDonagh (JM) and Martin Galvin (MG) speak to Anthony McIntyre (AM) via telephone from Drogheda, Co. Louth about the controversy raging in Ireland over an email Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams sent to An Garda Siochána naming Sinn Féin members who may have information regarding the 1983 murder of prison officer Brian Stack. (begins time stamp ~ 30:30)

JM:   And now we’re going to be getting into Irish Republicanism. And a scandal that is I don’t want to say brewing because it’s blown up. While Gerry Adams was away in Cuba, he’s there for the funeral tomorrow of Fidel Castro, an email was sent by him telling An Garda Siochána that four of his member of Sinn Féintology, as I said he runs a cult over in Ireland that actually has a branch here in New York called Friends of Sinn Féintology, and that he said four members of Sinn Féintology might have been involved in a shooting that happened back in 1983. And the four people that were mentioned in Gerry Adams’ email all have now written to the news media saying: No, we had nothing to do with it. Although we can’t name them and they won’t name them – it’s a bizarre situation. But when Anthony McIntyre did an academic study on behalf of Boston College, going out and talking to the individual about what they did in their life, he didn’t email the Gards or the PSNI (Police Service of Northern Ireland). All these tapes were supposed to be released when that person died.

But we’re going to play a song now. It’s from the album, Irish Catholic Boy, by Seanchaí and The Unity Squad and it’s called Gypo and the song is about Gypo Nolan from a very famous movie called The Informer and Victor McLaglen was the informer. So this is a big shout out to the man down there in Havana – it’s called Gypo.

Audio: Portion of the song, Gypo, plays.

MG:   Anthony, welcome back to Radio Free Éireann. We just heard a song, Gypo, that was played by Seanchaí and The Unity Squad dedicated to the famous film, The Informer, and the Victor McLaglen character. Now during the week there was an email that was released or showed that Gerry Adams, the president of Sinn Féin who’s currently in Havana, had given the names of four individuals who were identified – three of them as senior Sinn Féin elected officials, one as a senior Republican – none of the names were released but that has caused a controversy. They were released as people of interest or who may have been involved or would have knowledge about a killing that occurred in 1983 of a prison officer of Portlaoise Prison named Brian Stack. Anthony, why is that raising so much controversy in Ireland?

AM:   Well it’s raising controversy because Mr. Adams has given the indication that he’s in possession of information about the death of Brian Stack which Brian Stack’s son, Austin Stack, has said he did not give him. Mr. Adams says that he got these names from Austin Stack. Austin Stack has been campaigning for truth and closure, he doesn’t want prosecutions, but truth and closure regarding his father’s death. Now Mr. Adams said has said that he got the names from Austin Stack during a meeting. Austin Stack has vehemently disputed this. And the safe money in Ireland is on Mr. Stack’s account being the more genuine by far. Basically the joke here: Ten out of nine people don’t believe Mr. Adams about anything.

MG:   Okay. And we should tell our listeners that Portlaoise Prison is a prison in, well it’s in Co. Laois right in The Midlands, and it is a place where Republican prisoners were and are kept – when they were arrested as part of the conflict certainly or there’s still Republican prisoners there. There have been times when the conditions there have been very difficult – there was hunger strikes there on a couple of occasions and one prison warder or prison official, Mr. Stack, was killed. The IRA was accused of it. They denied responsibility up until 2013. Now, was there any information, was there any information, Anthony, given to these individuals whose names – and again there’s all sorts of colourful descriptions and you can fill in the blanks and probably figure out who at least three if not four of them were – but is there any information that these individuals were consulted about whether their names should be passed to the Gardaí, to Irish authorities in the Twenty-Six Counties, for possible questioning or whatever other action should be taken?

AM:   Well Mr. Adams has said that he consulted with three of them. He didn’t mention the fourth. There is a claim by the Irish Independent that Mr. Adams did not, the Irish Independent claims to have contacted one of the people whose name was passed to the Gardaí by Mr. Adams and The Independent claim that that individual stated that he was quite unhappy with what Mr. Adams has done. Mr. Adams himself has denied this but again it’s a question of who do we believe in these matters? And I mean Portlaoise Prison could, at times, have been a very violent place and I think Austin Stack, Mr. Stack’s son, has said that he was aware of accusations having been made by Republican prisoners against his father although Austin Stack didn’t try to legitimise or say that these allegations were true – he merely commented on them but there was a lot of resentment within the prison against Brian Stack – many, many prisoners spoke in very harsh terms about him and I mean, his killing, while not seemingly part of any wider IRA strategy against prison officers in The South, unlike IRA strategy against prison officers in The North at the time, which could be quite concerted and violent, there was no policy in The South like that but I think on this occasion the IRA decided that it would take action and it was very much responsible for this killing in Dublin.

Now, it has also created controversy because many Republicans would regard this as an act of informing. You know, if people are giving information about the IRA directly to law enforcement agencies so that people may be investigated and prosecuted they very much see that as informing. And Kenny Donaldson today, or yesterday, in the News Letter had said that Mr. Adams had broken IRA rules and he cited the Green Book. bobby-storey-dont-break-codeWe recall Bobby Storey speaking out after Brendan Hughes’, the book on Brendan Hughes and David Ervine by Ed Moloney that was published, Voices From the Grave, and Bobby Storey would gain front page headlines in the Andersonstown News as saying: Don’t break the IRA code. So I mean, and the IRA code – I mean Brendan Hughes wasn’t breaking the IRA code although he certainly wasn’t breaking it in any serious sense by speaking and giving his memoir. The real breaking of the IRA code, the penalty for breaking the IRA code, the only – the death penalty, as Martin McGuinness often referred to it and Gerry Adams referred to it, was always handed out for informing. And I mean I can see, every way I look at this, Mr. Adams here has informed law enforcement on his colleagues in relation to IRA activity in the 1980’s and it is my view that he is trying to deflect much of the flak or responsibility by shifting responsibility for providing those names onto Austin Stack and what has, in fact, happened is Mr. Adams himself – because he was on the Army Council at the time Brian Stack was killed – Mr. Adams himself, having been on the Army Council, had probably known, after the event anyway, about the inquiry about, the discussion that must have taken place in the IRA at this time. I mean he must have known about that and it may well be that he is talking on the basis of information that he gleaned as a member of the IRA because Austin Stack says he certainly told him nothing.

MG:   Alright now, I’m reading from the Irish Independent. I’m not going to ask to speculate on the names or to name any individuals, but according to the descriptions one is:

‘Politician A’: Rural-based. A veteran individual. He’s had prior convictions and he’s described as a ‘household name’ in terms of politics.

‘Politician B’: A city-based, what I assume is a Dublin-based figure, who said on two occasions he had nothing to do with it.

‘Politician C’: Highly senior Sinn Féin figure who plays a major role in devising some of the party’s key strategy.

And a fourth one is a former IRA boss who held a senior role in the organisation in The South and was highly placed in the IRA during the killing. Why would Gerry Adams give names of individuals like that, who seemingly have some Republican rank, why would he do this just prior to the election, which is when this email was sent? Why would he do it just prior to the election that occurred last February?

AM:   Well one can only speculate as to why he decided to inform. I mean Gerry Adams, has never at any time – and he has been remarkably consistent on this – he has never allowed Republican principle or Republican codes to stand in the way of his political career. So one has to imagine that there was a political career motive for doing what he did and I mean exactly why he did it at that particular time I do not know but I would suspect that there was a certain amount of criticism coming his way as the result of the toing and froing that had been going on between the Stack Family and the IRA. I mean these people were put into blacked-out vans and taken to meet IRA people, or Mr. Adams described them as former IRA people. And I think there was a view that Mr. Adams was not coming completely clean or at least he felt vulnerable on it and then he opted to – and he says this himself in his own writing – that he decided not, and he didn’t do it for any good reason, but the reason he gives was that he decided that it would be better not to allow people like Micheál Martin or Taoiseach Edna Kenny to criticise him on the grounds that he was withholding information. And I don’t think that’s a genuine excuse. I think there’s something beneath the surface, something more egregious, but I’m not in the position to work it out exactly why he did this at the particular time that he did.

JM:   (station identification) And what we have on from Dundalk is Anthony McIntyre, former member of the IRA who spent eighteen years in Long Kesh. Anthony, I want to talk about the reaction of you doing an academic study on behalf of Boston College and what happened to you in Belfast with the wall graffiti, the intimidation of your family, the demonstration at your house in Belfast where you had to move out – do you foresee any of that happening to Gerry Adams – demonstrations or wall murals going up about him?

AM:   No, I don’t. I actually – we have been joking that they will be putting up murals ‘touting for peace’. boston-college-toutsWhat I can say is that when the Boston College project became pubic knowledge I mean Danny Morrison, who performed a role very similar to Denis Donaldson who your people in America have sort of a negative experience of, Danny Morrison had begun to smear, just as Denis Donaldson had often smeared people who were said to be opposed the leadership or the peace process, and Danny Morrison began a, he was the main person behind a campaign to call those associated with Boston College – he coined the phrase ‘Boston College Touts’ and he has often called me ‘Anthony McIntout’ rather than Anthony McIntyre. And there was a campaign of, I mean particularly after Mr. Adams’ arrest, there was a campaign of vilification, smearing, constant harassment, innuendo, veiled threats – the whole of the Falls Road was smeared with graffiti ‘Boston College Touts’ and myself was named, other people were named, there were briefings to the press. There was a widespread campaign on the internet which Morrison was involved in and others. I mean, Morrison, as you know was a very close ally of Gerry Adams and often did his dirty work and I mean I haven’t seen him out yet saying that they should be writing ‘peace process touts’ on the wall about Gerry Adams or anything. But so there will be a very muted response.Sinn Féin activists and supporters will try and do the usual intellectual somersault and justify it.

You know, I mean, I think continuously people sometimes look at me quizzically but I think continuously that were there to be a parade down the Falls Road with banners proclaiming Bobby Sands a criminal and bomb Gaza all the same people in Sinn Féin would go out and attend it. It would not be an empty parade. It would be packed and they would be telling you that: There’s a strategy here. You have to see the big picture. And we know it’s all nonsense and they don’t believe in anything any longer. And I am of the view that internally Mr. Adams will ride this out. Although I mean my wife pointed out to me, and I think there’s something to be said for it, that the – I mean the Gards are in possession of this email for quite a long time I mean since Mr. Adams sent it a while back. It’s only released now while he’s in Cuba and my wife made the observation that it’s quite possible that somebody in Sinn Féin released it as a means to try and cause some problems for him because of his refusal to move across or allow anybody to contest a leadership position. And I mean, if we look back over the histories of coups quite often they have occurred or attempted coups have occurred when the leader of a country was out of the country on foreign business so actually there may well be something to be said for that but will he get any flak, real serious flak openly, internally, for deciding to inform? No, I don’t think so. I think that there’s really nothing that can happen. He can do what he wants within that party. I mean the old ink, the old cartoon once, and if I’m right the late Brian Mór done it: ‘It’s my party and I’ll lie if I want to’.

MG:   Anthony, this week, just following what you just suggested about somebody from Sinn Féin sending that or leaking that to the press: This week in the Irish News there was a column done by Denis Bradley who lives in Doire, is very close – has had some appointments to positions through Sinn Féin, is said to be very close to Martin McGuinness – and that column was about time for Mr. Adams to go, which is something that surprised me – you don’t see people close to Sinn Féin writing columns – that’s the largest, the Irish News, is the largest selling paper in The North, Nationalist or Unionist, they say they have the largest sales of all – and to have a column from somebody placed like that, close to people, close to Doire Sinn Féin, close to Martin McGuinness, writing a column like that it was just something that very much surprised me that I didn’t expect to see, wouldn’t expect to see and it seemed to be something with a lot of implications. What do you think?

AM:   Well yes, that has been suggested but I mean I think it’s important to clarify Denis Bradley’s position. I mean Denis Bradley is, he might be close to Sinn Féin in the sense that he has relations with them but he also has relations with other political parties and Denis would put himself around a bit in order to make the type of, to establish the type of networks that he does. But ‘close to Sinn Féin’? He’s certainly not a shill of Sinn Féin or a shill of anybody in Sinn Féin and he’ll not do their dirty work or their bidding. But I think – so I don’t see it as being a plot by people in Doire and it may be suggested that Martin McGuinness – I just don’t see it as a plot by Doire people or people in Sinn Féin to get Denis to write this because I don’t believe Denis is that sort of guy. I quite like him and I believe he’s very independent in what he thinks and he just doesn’t go out and put things out at the behest of other people. But I think he’s observing the continuous flak that Mr. Adams brings to the party. The continuous bad publicity and he’s hanging on like a bad smell. And to many people it’s the smell of secret graves and decomposition and it doesn’t do the party any good. And Mr. Adams is not the sort of leader that’s really going to take Sinn Féin any further than it is at the minute. And there are some very capable Sinn Féin public representatives who do quite well on media. Pearse Doherty on economics far outshines Gerry Adams.  Eoin Ó Broin in detail and media presentation has been very, very savvy – completely outshines and outperforms him.

And I am of the view that people like Denis Bradley who don’t wish Sinn Féin any harm but probably would like to see them democratise and do something useful for people because Sinn Féin have an awful lot of good workers, particularly in the Republic, or in The South, who are not – don’t buy into all the rubbish that has been sold them. And I think that Denis Bradley probably sees Adams as a brake on Sinn Féin’s serious progress in The South of Ireland and has said: Look, this is like a tinpot dictatorship. No democratic party can really function for over three decades without one leadership challenge and I mean can the party think so poorly of itself, is it so talent-less that it is incapable of producing another leader? That it thinks the only person who can lead them is a man who, by common consent, is economically illiterate and that’s an observation, not a criticism because I’m pretty dumb myself when it comes to economics but I mean at least one dummy can recognise another….

JM:   …Well, Anthony, yeah – we just wanted to start wrapping up. Last week we had on Dixie Elliott from Doire and we were talking about the film that’s now here in New York called Bobby Sands: 66 Days. And we know that you did eighteen years in Long Kesh, which is now being turned into a heliport, thanks to the Unionists and Gerry Adams’ brilliant strategy, but did you see the movie and what’d you think about it?

AM:   No, I didn’t see the movie. I had intended to go and for some reason or another I didn’t. I want to sit back a bit anyway now and wait until the hype has died down and stuff so I’m not able to comment on it. But Richard (O’Rawe) has watched it and Dixie Elliott has watched it and they have made some very interesting commentary on it. But at some time I will watch it and review it, John.

JM:   We’ll have to have you on when you do that and we’re going to…

MG:   …And Anthony, before we go we just want to tell people about your blog, The Pensive Quill. I know you cover or carry a lot of the transcripts that we have on Radio Free Éireann because they’re important not just to listeners here but to readers in Ireland. And that is the place to go to if you want to get dissenting Republican opinion – there’s a big collection, it reaches a lot of people, you allow a lot of different viewpoints and sometimes even letters from me that I’ve had in the Irish News as well as our columns and we want to recommend everybody to The Pensive Quill – in addition you advertise our broadcast.

AM:   Well in that, Martin, it has to be said that the transcriber who has put together the rfe123.org transcript site has done a tremendous job, works so hard and I think the credit has to go to that person. Because without that person doing this work, and the person wishes to remain unnamed, but without that person doing this very valuable work for the rfe dot 123 or rfe dot rfe 123…

MG:   …rfe123.org, yeah.

AM:   Whatever the – I’m just getting confused here – it’s my old age – that person does a brilliant job in providing a service. And people really value the transcripts. The transcripts are always so well read and the reason for that is it makes life very easy – there’s no trying to decipher accents or having to labour through to get a point. And as the transcriber pointed out to me quite often for researchers and journalists copying and pasting works a treat. It’s a invaluable service and long may it continue.

JM:   Alright. Thank you. And that was Anthony McIntyre speaking about the hullabaloo that’s going on while Gerry Adams is down in Cuba about him informing on four of his members of his own party.

MG:   John, we were in a debate a long time ago in 1998 I think and somebody raised a question about would members of Sinn Féin ever cooperate and give names, if they were going to endorse the PSNI or RUC, would they be cooperating with the authorities and give names? And Martin Ferris, I think, told someone in the audience that that was disgraceful – that it would never happen.

JM:   That was Rob O’Sullivan (the audience member). He (Martin Ferris) said: I wouldn’t dignify that with a response. (ends time stamp ~ 55:04)

Brendan Fay RFÉ 3 December 2016

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John McDonagh (JM) speaks to Brendan Fay (BF) of Saint Pat’s For All about the Distinguished Service Award he will receive next week from the Irish government for his work to end discrimination against people in the LGBT community. (begins time stamp ~ 12:12)

JM:   Well, anybody’s that been listening to WBAI since the ’80’s and ’90’s knows of our next guest. He’s an Irish immigrant from Drogheda, or as Americans would say, Draheeda. Back in the early ’90’s Brendan Fay was trying to march with his banner for ILGO, the Irish Gay and Lesbians, up 5th Avenue on Saint Patrick’s Day. And little did he think when he was laying down on 5th Avenue back in the early ’90’s and being carted off to prison that next week that he would be in Dublin receiving a medal from the Twenty-Six County Irish president, Michael D. Higgins. And with us on the line is Brendan. Brendan, it’s been a long journey but I can guarantee you when we interviewed you back in the early ’90’s that you never would have come on and said: You know what? From this day on, twenty or thirty years from now I’ll be receiving a medal from the Irish President.

BF:  Right, I know. Hello there, John, and to all your listeners of Radio Free Éireann. Yip. Back in the late ’80’s and in ’90-’91 with ILGO and in ’93 when there were hundreds of us arrested and every year after that – so I think of the activism of ILGO, Irish Queers, Lavender and Green Alliance – when we were among those arrested on 5th Avenue, we were also arrested at the Throgg’s Neck parade in the Bronx, we were also arrested at the Saint Patrick’s Parade in Brooklyn and – but we just knew we needed to take a stand and to challenge prejudice, exclusion, discrimination in our own community. And we did what we had to do – year after year after year. The historic breakthrough was this year when finally, under our Lavender and Green Alliance Muintir Aerach na hÉireann banner, we marched on 5th Avenue. And of course, this has very much influenced – you know in 2000 when we started – and of course, John, you were there and Sandy Boyer and when we began Saint Pat’s For All…

JM:  …and Grandpa Al Lewis.

grandpa-al-lewis-at-sp4a
Grandpa Al Lewis

BF:  …and Grandpa Al Lewis. You know, we just knew – we’d been excluded from parades everywhere and we said: Let us build a parade, an Irish parade, that says who it’s for – for everyone. And to explore through our own history our relationships with other communities. And that’s what we became known as, Saint Pat’s For All. A parade that included everyone. And we did it year after year and of course over the years honoured great people in our community from Malachy McCourt, Frank McCourt, Alfie and Michael one year – we honoured and Pete Hamill and you know some amasing sort of men and women in the city you know, and Kerry Kennedy, Terry McGovern…

JM:  …And people like that would never get elected now the way the situation is on 5th Avenue – you have to be the head of a corporation to get elected. But you’re getting this medal basically because of the parade that you help set up in Queens but explain to our audience…

BF:  …There’s two of us going over, John, myself and Kathleen Walsh D’Arcy.kathleen-and-brendan I’m so thrilled to be honoured with Kathleen Walsh D’Arcy who in 2006 and 7 stepped in, saw the parade, has been Co-Chair since. She’s dedicated herself to equality in the Irish community – she and so many others. And by the way, while I’m on the air and since you mentioned his name and he’s been honoured in the Bronx earlier is Hugh O’Lunney. Hugh O’Lunney was one of the first in the Irish community to support Lavender and Green Alliance – even way before the parades when we were struggling. Hugh O’Lunney and Frank Skuse of Kinsale Tavern. So these two great Irishmen in our community supported this cause way back in the early ’90’s when few were there. They were on-board. That’s their vision of equality. Of Irishness. They knew nobody should be discriminated against or excluded and they were totally supportive.

JM:  And Brendan, you’ll be flying over on behalf of the Twenty-Six County government on Aer Lingus next week. What exactly is this medal and how did you win it? Did you apply for it? How did it come about?

BF:   Oh no,no, not at all – never applied. Apparently the way it’s done is we’re recommended…

JM:  …But what is the award? Explain…

BF:  …(crosstalk) in the Irish community consulates around the world recommend people from among the Irish diaspora from Australia, Canada, Europe, Asia and the United States, Latin America – all recommend people for this Distinguished Service Award in the Irish community, ten every year. And Kathleen and I were notified that we were to receive this great honour. To receive it, for me to return home to Ireland – to my hometown which is Drogheda. Although of course, I grew up in a tiny town in Co. Kildare, which I’m very proud of. My father was a union man in the asbestos factory where he worked. He was always somebody who spoke out, who stood up and I’ll be thinking of all of those who’ve worked to end discrimination against LGBT people. We’ve a lot more work. The work goes on. We’ll be pausing and taking a moment to receive this award and feel with great gratitude the movement that we represent when when we go and we step in Aras an Uachtarain and receive this Distinguished Award, Kathleen and I, will really be representing a great movement in the Irish community in New York City that changed history, that changed the nature of parades and continues on and of course..

JM:   …Well I’m hoping to see Kathleen at the next Irish-American Writers and Artists salon, whether it’s at The Cell or up at Bar Thalia. I hope she’s wearing the medal and I want to see that medal when she comes here and I hope she’s listening now. So Kathleen, you have to bring that medal down to the next salon.

BF:  Bring the medal or I don’t know if it’s a plaque or whatever. My family in Drogheda are thrilled and excited. We’re going to meet with Brian Fleming, leaders of a couple of grassroots movements in Ireland. I’ll be meeting with LGBT youth groups in Dublin, in Dundalk, in Drogheda and also with leaders of The Spectacle of Defiance and Hope and other groups. This is our heritage. This is our movement. That change is possible and that if people just stay committed, stay to the cause that change is possible, equality is possible. And now we have to make sure that we hold onto – we hold onto what we’ve achieved and continue the struggle.

JM:  Alright now Brendan, we’re going to move along but I can’t wait to talk to you when you get back and tell us what the ceremony was like.

BF:  Thanks very much, John. And thanks to all the listeners. And by the way, anybody who wants to – St. Pat’s For All 2017– people can register, sign up and support. It’ll be great! Go raibh míle maith agat. Thank you, John!

JM:  And that’s the one and only Brendan Fay going over to Dublin next week to be honoured for all the activism he’s done here in New York City. (ends time stamp ~ 19:38)

Radio Free Éireann Announcement

Radio Free Éireann will broadcast this Saturday December 3rd Noon to 1PM New York time, or 5PM to 6PM Irish time.  Listen on WBAI 99.5 FM or on the internet at wbai.org or anytime after the program concludes on wbai.org/archives

Author, analyst and former H-Block blanketman Anthony McIntyre will discuss the controversy surrounding Gerry Adams naming four senior Republicans, including elected Sinn Féin officials, to Irish police, or Gardaí, as being suspected of involvement of the killing of Portlaoise Prison Officer Brian Stack during the 1980s.

Brendan Fay and Kathleen Walsh Darcy, leaders of the Lavender and Green Alliance and founders of the St. Pats For All parade in Queens, will discuss being honored by the Irish government with Distinguished Service Awards for the Irish Abroad for their efforts to get LGBT inclusion in the New York St. Patrick’s Day Parade.

Producer Denise Dunphy will talk about ‘In Between Silence ‘ a spellbinding show weaving stories by noted authors like Roddy Doyle, Anne Enright, Joseph O’Connor and others with music by the composer Stano showing at the Barrow Street Theatre December 3-10.

Lorcan Otway will preview a new play opening at Theatre 80 in lower Manhattan.

Go to Radio Free Eireann’s web site, rfe123.org, and read transcripts of last week’s headline-making interviews with author, civil rights campaigner and now People Before Profit elected MLA Eamonn McCann about fighting British injustice from inside Stormont and with Sperrins Mountain campaigner Martin Tracey on the fight to preserve that historic region from being exploited by a foreign gold mining company.

Follow us on Twitter. John McDonagh and Martin Galvin co- host.

Gerry Adams LMFM Radio The Michael Reade Show 1 December 2016

The Michael Reade Show
LMFM Radio
Co. Louth

Michael Reade (MR) speaks to Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams (GA) via telephone from Havana, Cuba about Fidel Castro and the controversy caused by an email he sent to the Garda Commissioner concerning Portlaoise Prison Officer Brian Stack’s death. (begins time stamp ~15:16)

MR:   We’ll go to Havana now where the Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams is attending the funeral of Fidel Castro.

GA:   Well I’ve been in Cuba a number of times and you know as a young man, I suppose no more than yourself, I was caught up in my imagination with the events here away back in the ’60’s when the people of Cuba fought for and got their freedom. And then as the struggle there developed – how they sought to tackle poverty, illiteracy and other social issues. So, I know there are flaws here. I actually – when I met with Fidel some time ago I raised issues of human rights and civil liberties and religious liberties and political prisoners and so on. So you know, I do the same with US presidents when I have the opportunity to talk to them and Sinn Féin’s position is very consistent in this regard. So I’m very honoured to be here to represent Sinn Féin. I won’t be here for all of the funeral ceremonies. The international dimension of this was last night and I’m sure that the good people of Louth and Meath East will be pleased that they at least were represented here. I think it was remiss of the government not to send a member of the government; I understand the ambassador from this region was here but Fidel, I think, was a good friend of Ireland. He stood by the hunger strikers of 1981, the women in Armagh, the men who died in the H-Blocks of Long Kesh and he spoke out, more so than any other Irish Taoiseach, and he also advocated for an end to partition and for the island to be united and for us to be left to shape out our own affairs.

He was an internationalist. They sent thousands of medical doctors and nurses and health workers to all parts of the world. The health system here is free. They have been subject to a cruel blockade for over fifty years but despite that they’ve kept going. Education is par excellence – it’s free also. And the population here are hugely educated and again, they have went into Latin America and Africa. And you wouldn’t have the issues that we have in Our Lady of Lourdes, at any of the hospitals here, and I’ve visited the hospitals here and structurally they’re dilapidated affairs because of the blockade – you know, all sorts of normal supplies are denied the people here but the health service itself has been very – and actually when I was MP for West Belfast we sent at least one young person suffering from cancer to Cuba to be treated. So they’re very open, very generous, very welcoming of visitors and prepared to reach out and to help other people in need.

MR:   Indeed. As I understand it the Cuban healthcare system is the envy of the world or should be the envy of the world because with relatively no funding they have a model for all of us to aspire to based on the logic of prevention is better than cure and primary care centres practically on every street corner in the country. But what are people saying to you about Castro because, as I said, he’s remembered in many different ways in many different places but in Havana is he remembered as a despot, a dictator or as a social revolutionary?

GA:   Well I’ll tell you what it’s like, Michael, it’s like some very elderly member of your family who’s held in affection dies – and even though you may be expecting the death there’s still a sense of sadness. Now, I’ve been here a few times and when I was at the event last night and the locals, they estimate about a million people turned out at the event last night – so even those who might disagree with Fidel respect him but the most of them, and it was very obvious last night as they showed a brief video run-through from 1959, when they stood against the old dictatorship, you know, a ragged grouping of revolutionaries, to the point through all the twists and turns through the big crises under the Kennedy administration in the ’60’s with Khrushchev right through – you know they sent an expeditionary force to Namibia, which was under threat by the racist apartheid regime of South Africa, they stood by people there. But I suppose the sense of pride that you know – people are flown in here, free of charge by the Cuban authorities – this is a poor country – free of charge to get cataract operations from Latin America. There are still teachers, doctors, nurses freely being sent to poor places in Latin America and also in Africa. I mean they would send people to us if they would be welcomed by those who run and are making a mess of our own health services. So there’s a great sense of pride. Also, no more than ourselves – like we’re a small island with a powerful neighbor who hasn’t treated us well – they’re a small island with a powerful neighbor which hasn’t treated them well and I welcome very much the rapprochement that President Obama and Raul Castro have ushered in and I hope that continues on to the new president. Obviously, our big focus is on our own cause when we’re here but it’s what’s recollecting also that Raul Castro played a key facilitating role in the Colombian peace process and Sinn Féin were first and foremost there. I spoke with the negotiators here last year. Martin McGuinness has met with the president of Colombia on a number of times. We’ve sent a range of people from Martina Anderson, Jennifer McCann, Gerry Kelly and others into Colombia to advise the FARC and to advise the Colombian government. So Cuba, in terms of peace-making in its own region, has been showing great leadership.

MR:  Gerry Adams speaking to me from Havana where he’s attending the funeral of Fidel Castro. Now that’s just part of a much longer conversation that I had with the Sinn Féin president. I did spend some time talking to him about the controversy that’s been raging here at home about an email that he sent to the Garda Commissioner in relation to the shooting of Portlaoise Prison Officer Brian Stack in 1983 outside of the National Stadium on the South Circular Road in Dublin and how in that correspondence to the Garda Commissioner he named four people who he said may have information in relation to the shooting and to the subsequent death eighteen months later of Mr. Stack and how it has been claimed by Gerry Adams that those names were given to him by Brian Stack’s son, Austin Stack, and how Austin Stack is contradicting that claim and saying he never gave any names to Gerry Adams. We’ll hear the response to all of that in the second hour of the programme. (pauses time stamp ~ 23:38) (resumes time stamp ~ 42:35)

MR:  On Monday the Irish Independent reported that Gerry Adams wrote to the Garda Commissioner naming four individuals who he said may have information about the killing of Brian Stack in 1983. Now this has dominated the political agenda since taking most of the time in the Dáil during leaders’ questions on Tuesday and many people asking for answers to questions predominantly relating to how Gerry Adams got these names. Gerry Adams, as you heard earlier in the programme, is in Cuba attending the funeral of Fidel Castro but he has said that he received these names from the son of the Portlaoise Prison officer, Austin Stack. Austin Stack says he didn’t give any names to Gerry Adams.

GA:  I’m playing catch-up on some of this. I haven’t seen any of the news reports at first-hand. I’m, as you know, in Havana at the moment for Fidel Castro’s funeral. But from what I have picked up I have to say I’m very disappointed. I went out to try and help the Stack Family at the time. They did suffer a grievous injustice. I did my best and they thanked me for my endeavours at the time. In the course of my discussions – and I met Austin Stack quite a few times, both on his own and with his brother, Oliver – and in the course of those discussions he told me that he had been given some names of people who may be able to help, who may have been involved. He had no independent information to support this and he said he would like to meet with these people. So in the course of my endeavours to help the family I contacted, I couldn’t contact all of the people, but I contacted three of them and they denied having anything to do with the shooting of Brian Stack, Austin’s father, and they declined to speak to him at that time. Now you will recall that it was a matter, this was during the election campaign, a matter of some public controversy at that time.

Also in the course of all of that a former senior IRA Volunteer who had carried out an investigation into all of this met with the Stack brothers, apologised for the shooting of their father, said it had not been authorised by the IRA leadership at that time. I explained how difficult it was to get all of this necessary information because by that stage the IRA had left the field and was no longer intact and people had gone their own ways and some people had died and so on and so forth but he acknowledged that a senior IRA person had authorised the shooting, apologised for that and said that that person had been subsequently disciplined and he put on record his regrets and all of that became a matter of public news in and around the time. Now, I also, in the course of – now I’m not too sure of the sequence – I don’t have my notes with me – sent the names which Austin Stack had given me to the Garda Commissioner. I don’t know how that email has got into the public media, and indeed, are there any questions being asked about that at this time? I understand that Micheál Martin, in his usual opportunistic way, made some remarks about this in the Dáil. So that’s that, at this distance, a very brief account of what occurred. It is a matter of regret for me that this unfortunate man was shot and his family have suffered as they have and I said that then and I’m saying it again now. It’s also a matter of disappointment that these matters have taken the twist that they have taken.

MR:  But you can confirm to us that you did write by email to the Garda Commissioner naming four individuals who may have information that may help with the investigation into the murder of Brian Stack?

GA:  Yes. I felt I was obliged to give this information – I have no way of verifying it and I certainly have no additional or other information but I thought…

MR:  …And can you tell us, Mr. Adams, can you tell us when those names were first made known to you?

GA:  In the course of discussions with Austin Stack, and I’m not sure exactly the sequence or the time frame, and as I said I don’t have me notes with me now, but in the course of those discussions – now in fairness to Austin Stack he was looking to meet with these folks and he wasn’t making any – neither could he – make any definitive or claims other than that he had been told by Garda sources and by some journalists that these people may be able to help with his inquiries.

MR:  Okay, but tell us: You wrote to the Garda Commissioner in February, just before the election, and there are suggestions that you had this information in 2013.

GA:  No, I didn’t have any information at all on this particular case until I met with the Stack brothers and then subsequently, and it was some time afterwards – this took quite a long time to get any sort of an explanation from Republican sources, so my first information – this was from the Stack Family themselves – and then my second, more clear position, when I facilitated the meeting between the Stack brothers and the person who had previously been in a senior position in the IRA.

MR:  Micheál Martin wanted to know why you would have felt confident to pass on the names of suspects in the case. Is he correct? Were these people suspects? Or are they suspects?

GA:  Well I don’t know. Why wouldn’t I pass the names on? It seems to me quite ridiculous if I hadn’t had pass the names on then Micheál Martin would have something to crib about. The fact is it isn’t for me to judge. These people clearly have their rights and have, as I’ve said, denied that (inaudible) denied any involvement in this and for that reason I have no independent reason to doubt what they are saying so I don’t know where Micheál Martin is coming from except that this is another opportunity for him to have a go at Sinn Féin and me in particular. As I said, if I hadn’t passed the information onto the Garda then he would have something to complain about.

MR:  Because two of them are said to be sitting TDs and the question is: Were election candidates who were also murder suspects permissible as candidates in the eyes of the Sinn Féin leadership?

GA:  Well we don’t know if they are murder suspects at all, at all. What we do know is that Austin Stack wanted to talk to some of those people to see if they could help – that was his request to me. If you go back to, and again I’m saying this from recollection without notes, but if you go back to the first engagement with Austin Stack what he wanted was closure, as much information as possible and that there had been various rumours about who had been responsible from gangsters, criminal elements, some talk about INLA (Irish National Liberation Army) elements and also some talk that the IRA had been involved and the family didn’t know so at least they got the truth of the matter which was: Yes. Republicans shot their father. No. It was not authorised by the IRA leadership at that time but yes, a senior IRA person had taken that decision and that he was disciplined.

MR:  You said, Mr. Adams, that you spoke to three of the four people you named in this email. The Irish Independent says two of them are TDs, they’ve seen the email and it says that one of the TDs claims that you didn’t consult with him before sending that email. Is that correct?

GA:  No, that’s not correct.

MR:  Can you tell us if the TDs who you named in that email were members of the IRA at any stage?

GA:  Well first of all I’m not making any comment at all on the names of the people involved. That’s not my business to point the finger…(crosstalk) (inaudible)

MR:  …But there’s a lot of speculation as to who was involved since this news broke and, obviously, that would shorten the list.

GA:  Well, that may be but that’s up to the Gardaí. That’s not up to me, or Micheál Martin for that matter, or anyone else. That’s up to the Gardaí

MR:  Did you consult with anybody else before sending the email?

GA:  I don’t understand the question.

MR:  Did anybody else see the email or was anybody else aware of the contents of the email before you wrote to the Garda Commissioner?

GA:  It was sent from my office so I presume whoever typed it may have, well obviously, knew what was in it but you know – those whose names I was passing onto the Gardaí were notified of that – those I had contact with. Remember, I didn’t have contact with all those people.

MR:  Have you any suspicion as to how this email ended up in the sight of the Irish Independent?

GA:  Michael, I work quite closely with An Garda Siochána. I have passed information on to them over the years about criminal activity along the border. I have given them the names of those who have been suspected of being involved. I’ve given them other information – that’s my duty as both a citizen and as a public servant. I’ve had to make formal complaints because some of that information at different times was leaked, in my view quite maliciously, to sections of the media who would be very hostile to the Sinn Féin endeavour. I continue to work with the Garda, particularly in Dundalk and in North Louth, I have a number of issues that I have brought to their attention about other cases which I’ve also asked G-Soc to inquire into so – that’s my responsibility, that’s my duty, that’s my obligation and I will continue as best I can to do that.

MR:  Will you ask for this to be investigated? I mean it seems quite plausible to think that the Commissioner or somebody working for the Commissioner leaked this to the media.

GA:  Well, I wouldn’t think the Commissioner did but look – there are difficulties here as there are in different parts of Ireland with internet and other media -so I’m playing very much catch-up. I haven’t seen any of the items that you have talked about, any of the news items or the other pieces of (inaudible). I’m reliant upon just verbal briefings from my own office and while I’m sure that’s accurate I will wait until I get back. But it is a matter of concern that an email which was sent by me should end up with a section of the media. There is an ongoing investigation and at the very, very least one would suppose that that could be prejudiced by the type of reckless public commentary there has been on this by some opponents of Sinn Féin.

MR:  Undoubtedly lots of people will be listening to your comments here to us today, Gerry Adams, including Austin Stack, who said he didn’t give you these names. You say he did. Can you explain the contradictory statements?

GA:  No, I can’t. I have a very clear recollection. As I’ve said I’m disappointed that Austin is taking up the position that he has taken up but I’m very, very clear in my recollection of all of this.

MR:  Sinn Féin TD for Louth, Gerry Adams, the Sinn Féin president, speaking to me from Havana yesterday afternoon. (ends time stamp ~ 57:20)

Martin Tracey RFÉ 26 November 2016

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

Martin Galvin (Galvin) speaks to Martin Tracey (Tracey) via telephone from Co. Tyrone about residents’ campaigns protesting a gold mining company operating in The Sperrins.  (begins time stamp ~39:50)

Galvin:   With us on the from from Sperrins in Co. Tyrone we have Martin Tracey and we were playing a song that goes to the Molly Maguires; we’ll get to that in a moment. Martin, welcome to Radio Free Éireann!

Tracey:   Thank you, Martin, thank you.

Galvin:   Alright. Just recently, there’s been a number of campaigns that were raised first in the United States on this radio station – the Shell to Sea, about oil exploitation in The South, was one of those campaigns. Right now, the fight against exploitation is going on in your area of Sperrins. Now I just know it when I drive down from Doire towards Monaghan or Dublin or towards where my relatives live I always see a sign’ Sperrins Scenic Route’ that I could cut off and go through that and I never have – I never had the time. I’m always in a hurry. What is it about that area, that historic area, that strongly Nationalist and Republican area, that area – one of the last in The North of Ireland that was Gaelic speaking – what is it that is under threat from this gold mining company right now? What is this campaign all about?

Tracey:   Well, first off, Martin, I’d just like to say you don’t know what you’re missing when you miss The Sperrins. The Sperrins is one of the most beautiful areas in West Tyrone on this green island. Currently, the community in this area are fighting against a Canadian mining company that are proposing to open a processing plant within eight hundred metres of the local community. And the thing that we found very hard to deal with is that they’re actually going to in the process use cyanide and other toxic chemicals and the destruction, I believe, is what’s in the future for this area. I don’t think realistically the thought what this area means to a lot of people including some of the Irish-Americans who are probably listening today. There’s a lot of families who come from this area that through hardship or work or whatever had to emigrate and their roots is really, really deeply embedded here. And it’s just, as I said, it’s a beautiful country. It’s a really, really strong Irish Republican area and the culture, the history and the Irish language, history in all of this area is second to none to be honest with you, Martin.

penal-times-writs
Penal Times Writs History Ireland Magazine

Galvin:   Alright. Now one of the things that has made the newspapers and made publicity: There are what are called ‘Mass rocks’. Now what happened is that during the period of time under the Penal Laws it was illegal for a priest to be in Ireland or to celebrate Mass – to give a religious service. It was part of the way that the British wanted to impose their rule in Ireland, all over Ireland. And there are actually places, rocks, where people would gather to say Mass illegally under threat of the person saying it or other people attending being imprisoned or killed and this company had apparently cut off – there were protests about the Mass rocks in that area. Could you tell us about what happened?

Tracey:    Well in relation to that, Martin, there’s a local area here where there was numerous community members were told down the generations of the placement of a Mass rock.

Ardoyne Road, Belfast Post-Ceasefire Cultural Mural Listed by Arts & Humanities Research Council, UK

As you can understand, in Penal Times, the placement of Mass rocks has to be kept very, very secretive. It was actually punishable by death for a priest to hold a Mass in Penal Times and this company has more or less, whenever the local priest had actually asked to hold a Mass in relation to the Mass rock and it’s placement and their new proposed site they actually more or less told the clergy and the local community it was lies because it wasn’t written down that it wasn’t factual. And it’s disappointing to see that a company from Canada has actually more information in relation to the history of this community than the locals. And as you said, the way that they’re coming into the whole thing it’s more or less like Penal Times again. You know, they’re dictating where we can hold Mass – where we can’t hold Mass. And in relation to that I just have to say we’ve recently actually opened a new division of the Ancient Order of Hibernians in the local community because it stands strong for the ideology of this in relation to people actually able to show their beliefs – celebrate Mass and actually have the support of the community which this company seems to be, I don’t know, this company seems to think it’s null and void as long as they get their go-aheads for their plans.

Galvin:   And we had actually, while we were waiting to get you on the line, played part of the song, The Ghosts of the Molly Maguires. What is the division of the AOH or the new organisation that you formed?

Tracey:   Well we actually formed it last week in relation and in conjunction with Tyrone AOH and it is the Molly Maguire Division based in Greencastle. And as I said, we can’t speak highly enough of Tyrone AOH and the support that they’ve given the people in this community. They’ve been with us from the start. We’ve been talking to them now for a number of months in relation to what’s happened here and there was a local Rosary walk here facilitated by a local lady and her husband and it was absolutely unbelievable to see the support that Tyrone AOH gave. And as I said, the ideology of the AOH is something that really, really stands strong in relation to this because it’s a celebration of your culture – your Irish history, your Irish language and your right to celebrate Mass, your right to be who you are. In Penal Times we were put into the mountains as you probably well know, you know? And for many generations people went from there to the lowlands and spread out to America and Australia and all over the world but their hearts and their souls and the whole embodiment of what they are and who they are – it stands tall here in relation to the fight that is currently going on and this is what we’re saying – we don’t want it to go back to the way it was. People should be proud of who they are – where they’re from – and no matter what pressures is put on you people should say: We are who we are and take us as we are – and as I said in relation to that the Tyrone AOH has been very supportive along with a number of groups but in recent times that’s why we actually opened the branch of the Molly Maguires in Greencastle actually last week, Martin, you know?

Galvin:   Alright. Now one of the things that the foreign company which owns this development they had originally not told you about a processing plant – but they now want to use a processing plant and they’re going to introduce cyanide, which is a poison. What effect would that have on your drinking water, on the area in terms of the children growing up there – what effect do you believe or fear that this would have?

Tracey:   Well all we can say, Martin, is in relation to that: This area is pristine. This area is unbelievably beautiful and the people here respect – like personally I’m a farmer and I believe here, all I am, is a caretaker for future generations. This company’s coming in – in relation to cyanide like we can give numerous, numerous, numerous different places around the world where there have been environmental disasters where cyanide has been used. You know, they intend to use this withing eight hundred metres of our local primary school. Within eight hundred metres! A kilometre from the centre of the main population area which is Greencastle Village. And we did not know about this. They came in January and all along they’d been talking about the Curraghinalt project – Gortin and gold.

You know, Greencastle was never mentioned. Then all of a sudden we get this big, bright light who said: Oh, look! How lucky youse are! We’ve decided to place this just besides youse. This is the first we’ve heard of it. You know, and this is the only plant of its type in western Europe so it’s not as if we can go down the road and talk to the people who are currently living beside one to allay the fears of the community to see how exactly they’re dealing with it. You know, most of these plants – there’s one, I think, in Finland, and it’s up in the tundra where you’re probably hundreds of kilometres from centres of population. The main belt, settlements and towns around the plant to facilitate workers and that, but you know this is something that they’re bring and the sad thing is they kept telling us how lucky we are to have it.

Galvin:   Well one of the things our audience should know: People in the United States, they think: Oh! If they find gold or they find something precious – you know it’s like, it was explained like the show, The Beverly Hillbillies – you know the person finds oil on his land – and he’s rich, they have to pay him. What exactly you do you or the general community in that area, in Sperrins, get from any gold that’s found there or any precious metals that’s found in the area?

Tracey:   Well, the unfortunate thing about Northern Ireland, the way that it currently is, is that if there’s a mineral reserve, should it be oil, gold, whatever – it’s actually the Crown Estate, the Queen, that gets four percent because she owns what’s under our feet, you know. The last company that owned the actual mine, that was an exploratory mine at that stage, gets two percent. And currently in this area there’s no tax on gold or silver bearing ore. So realistically the people of this land are getting nothing. The people of Ireland are getting nothing. They keep telling us about the jobs, the jobs. This area is not economically deprived. You know, we don’t have large unemployment. A lot of guys get up in the morning and they travel – they go to work. They do the real Irish thing – you go where the work is. You do whatever has to be done to provide for your family and all the rest. And the disappointing thing is, as I said, this will be going back – whatever does not go to England, to the Queen and the Crown Estate and all the rest – this will be going to Canada and in a round about way sort of way it’s going back to the Queen in the end because it’s all part of The Commonwealth. This is what the people are seeing.

You know it’s funny to say, in The Proclamation you know the message is: We declare the right of the people of Ireland to own the land of Ireland. And this is what it is: Not only are they trying to poison us where we’re living, not only are they trying to tell us how good it is for us but then they’re taken whatever away from this country, from its people and just giving it away. It’s so disheartening in relations to the whole thing that this is the way big business works and as you said the people are more or less secondary to whatever is good for the Crown Estate and for the previous owners of this mine.

Galvin:   Martin, what are you doing, you and the other groups that you’re involved with, what are you doing to fight against this area being poisoned and exploited by this Canadian company. What are you doing to stop this?

Tracey:   Well two things I guess, Martin, in relation to this and I have to appreciate you giving me airtime: We’re trying to educate the people that this isn’t what this community wants. This is not something that this community or these people are crying out for – there’s nobody here in the bread line. Like there’s a number of groups, there’s SOS, there’s GRG (Greencastle Area Residents Group) and like to be honest with you, I’m just a local farmer, a local community member, but we feel that strongly – like our roots are very deep in this land, you know? It’s not money that matters to us. This is one of the last Irish-speaking areas of Tyrone. You know, all through The Troubles like this place – you know it stood strong, it stood really, really strong and that’s what we find so hard to deal with. They’re telling how beneficial this is. We don’t want it. We don’t need it. And I know gold and everybody’s eyes lights up whenever they hear tell of gold but take into consideration, Martin, sometimes the things that you just can’t hold in your hands – your history, your past, your culture, your language – is a lot more valuable than the wee things that you slip over your finger or the wee thing that you put into your pocket. It sounds maybe strange to people listening in that we feel that way but you know – we’re on this land for generations. Money’s not worth anything to us – well, money, in relation to that, is not worth anything to us because it’s not deeply embedded in us. It’s never going to come out of us and that’s why we believe that this is not for the benefit of us – The Sperrins, Tyrone or Ireland.

Galvin:  Particularly when you’re not the ones getting the money – when it goes to the British Crown, when it goes to a foreign company, when it goes elsewhere. It’s like during the …

Tracey:  …I think, sorry to interrupt, Martin, you know the monetary value has been over-exaggerated by this company. You have to realise that some of the last Irish speakers in Tyrone were from this area. You know, whenever Hugh O’Neill was traveling between Inishowen and Tullyhogue and Cookstown he went through this area. You know, money? It sounds silly but the generations of people that have emigrated and all the rest of it it sounds strange. I had a cousin come home from Australia last year and she had her daughter and her husband with her. And she wanted to walk where her father walked to school. And he always promised her that this thing was going to be someday – and she was supposed to do that because she knew that – she’s seeing the same views, she’s hearing the same sounds – and you’re never going to – money will never – money will never change that, you know. And the amount of people, even second, third, fourth generations in The States – you know, that’s why they come to this area to see what their what their grandparents, or their great-grandparents, their great-great-great-grandparents – you’re looking through their eyes and there’s not many places in the world where you can go that you can actually say that you’re doing that.

Galvin:   Alright, Martin, we want to thank you. We’re going to follow this issue with you. WBAI, Radio Free Éireann has been one outlet that has followed campaigns like this and we want to follow Save Our Sperrins campaign, what you’re doing with the Molly Maguire Division – all of that to save your area of Sperrins. And I promise – next time I’m driving down from Doire towards Monaghan I’m going to take the scenic route through your area.

Tracey:   Do, Martin, and we’ll get you a pint of Guinness.

Galvin:   There you go. Listen, I want to thank you for being on and I especially want to thank Gerry McGeough for putting me in touch with you so we could air this important story for the first time on WBAI at Radio Free Éireann – we’ll have it on in future and we’ll follow events and try to help your fight.

Tracey:   Right. And Tyrone AOH, we have to appreciate them for all the hard and sterling work they’ve done.

Galvin:   Okay. Alright, thank you, Martin Tracey. (ends time stamp ~55:52)

Eamonn McCann RFÉ 26 November 2016

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

Martin Galvin (MG) speaks to People Before Profit MP Eamonn McCann (EM) via telephone from Doire about the relationship between Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) and Sinn Féin, the recent controversy about a grant from the Social Investment Fund and about legacy issues in The North of Ireland. (begins time stamp ~ 9:47)

MG:   Eamonn McCann, welcome back Radio Free Éireann!

EM:   Hello! Yes.

MG:   Yes, Eamonn, can you hear me? Welcome back Radio Free Éireann!

EM:   Yes, I can indeed. I can indeed. Hello. Yep, yep, I’m here.

MG :  Eamonn, this is Martin Galvin and I want to ask you: We were talking about how different it must be instead of working as a journalist and an activist and a civil rights campaigner to be on the inside. But I want to begin: I’m reading from I believe it’s last Monday’s Irish News – there’s what we would call an Op-Ed or and opinion editorial – it’s called there a ‘platform’ piece. And it says: This is what delivery looks like – no gimmicks, no grandstanding – and you have the smiling faces of Martin McGuinness and Arlene Foster and some of the members of their respective parties, the DUP and Sinn Féin, and just some of the things they talked about – the significant achievement – they’ve put in place five hundred million welfare reform mitigation package to protect vulnerable people. They said that no effort is being spared to grow our economy and create new and better jobs. They said they have radial reforms to transform health and social care designed to make it truly world-class, a ten-year vision to straighten out the health services and the waiting lists and they are going to China soon to negotiate with the Chinese to bring even more employment and more progress to The North of Ireland. And I’m trying to figure if– they say that anybody else, people like you, who are not part of that coalition, you’re just interested in endless squabbles and causing problems and division and in bringing the Conservatives to rule without a mandate and after reading this I’m sure you wanted to leave People Before Profit and join either the DUP or Sinn Féin, is that… I’m being facetious. What was your response?

EM:   I think that would be a wee bit wide of the mark.

MG:   I’m being facetious, obviously.

EM:   Well one of the striking things about being in Stormont, in fact the most striking thing, is just how close Sinn Féin and the DUP are. Of course in general terms and political terms we’ve all witnessed this convergence over recent years. But on an ordinary person-to-person level, sort of in terms of the tone of conversation, the extent to which the two parties stand up and defend one another, not just agree with one another but defend one another, is truly remarkable. There was an incident just last week where Alex Atwood of the SDLP (Social Democratic and Labour Party) was speaking – I actually forget about what and it doesn’t matter – but he was speaking and he was then followed by a member of Sinn Féin, I think Mr. McPhillips from Fermanagh – I’m not sure but a Sinn Féin MLA. And wonders of wonders: One of the DUP members of the Assembly got up and shouted, interruption sort of, and said to the member of Sinn Féin: Will the member give way? And of course the member of Sinn Féin said: Yes, certainly. And the question from the DUP is: Would you, (that is the Sinn Féin MLA), would you agree with me that Alex Atwood was talking a load of nonsense? Or words to that effect. And of course the Sinn Féin man said to the DUP man: Yes, indeed! I agree with you. The SDLP are talking a load of nonsense.

Now here you have the situation where the DUP and Sinn Féin were combining, in public, in formal terms in the Assembly, ganging up on the SDLP. Now whatever you think about the SDLP, certainly they’re not part of this coalition government, and for that they are regarded as fair game by Sinn Féin and the DUP. I think the time has come when we have to refer to this as a coalition government. Increasingly, Sinn Féin and the DUP, the Democratic Unionist Party, are not only talking in parallel terms they are speaking in unison – saying the same things. It’s a quite remarkable transformation.

MG:   Well Eamonn, just one of the issues where this comes up is in terms of legacy issues; there’s a number of legacy issues. And I know you commented recently on the new British Minister, James Brokenshire, and you said that he was a despicable individual – and you were told you couldn’t do that – so you said: Well I’ll just think it. I won’t say it. But how does Sinn Féin, which supposedly or should be supporting justice on a whole range of people killed by British forces, killed or victims of collusion, killed by well either by directly by British Crown Forces or by people who may have worked with and been aided by and paid by members of Crown Forces, how do they and Arlene Foster, who denies that such things ever happened, how did they get together on issues like legacy issues?

EM:   Well, they stay silent about it is one of the new things that the do or at least they stay silent about any difference that the two parties might have sort of on the so-called legacy issues. After all, it’s the DUP is holding up – for example, for example: There’s a number of, quite a number, of inquests, some from forty years ago and more than forty years ago, which haven’t been held yet. And they haven’t been held yet because the British government refuses to release information relevant to these inquests about the investigations – over whatever death was concerned, sort of what internal memos and documents sort of refer to this death in terms of the Ministry of Defence (MoD) and the Home Office and so forth – other departments of the British government. The British government has been holding all this up. And the DUP, of course, are quite happy with that. The DUP are quite happy that nothing should be done and their immediate reason, there’s historical reasons, of course, and ideological reasons why the DUP would take that view, but the immediate reason which they use is that if the inquest were allowed to go ahead, if the inquiries which have been called for into Ballymurphy, for example, the Ballymurphy Massacre of August 1971, this would amount to giving equal status to people killed by British forces on the grounds, on the entirely spurious grounds, that they were terrorists, it would give them equal status with members of the British security forces so the DUP would hold it off.

Now the remarkable thing is that they’re able to do this and Sinn Féin isn’t creating the type of fuss about this which would have been the case just a few years ago and which some people might think would be appropriate now because if Sinn Féin were to say what many, many members of Sinn Féin and certainly supporters of Sinn Féin think and feel – if they were to denounce the DUP in forthright terms – say that they, the DUP, are actually supporting murder and colluding in the denial of truth to the families of victims – if they were to say that then, if Sinn Féin were to say that about the DUP – the coalition might fall apart! And maybe it wouldn’t but it might fall apart but risk the coalition falling apart – so they don’t say anything about a whole series of issues on which the Executive, Sinn Féin and the DUP, are more or less silent, or at least one or the other of them is silent, because to face the issue would reveal that they have contradictory approaches, or at least their supporters do, and it could have the effect of destabilising and even bringing down the Executive. So keeping the show on the road at Stormont, keeping the coalition going takes precedent over anything else in Northern politics at the moment. That’s the explanation of the DUP and Sinn Féin sticking together in circumstances where their own supporters are confused and dismayed at what they see before them.

MG:   Well one of the issues that has come about is a grant of one point seven million pounds to Charter NI through the Social Investment Fund and it turns out that one of the leading figures there, Dee Stitt, is alleged to be a member of an illegal, still illegal, organisation, the UDA, (Ulster Defence Association) – it’s been reported that that allegation has been made – and that is an organisation, of course, which was directly involved in collusion murders of Nationalists, of innocent people. How do they stand together on that issue?

EM:   Well, they all just accept it, of course. You know, I’m not sure how much the listeners know about this but as you said that under the last agreement, the Stormont House Agreement, in The North this Social Investment Fund (SIF) was set up as an eighty million pounds fund to help disadvantaged areas. Now, everybody in the area knew that what that really meant was subsidise and promote members of paramilitary organisations in order to bring them in from the cold; to involve them in the political process. And one of the ways that that’s being done is exemplified in the Charter NI organisation where Mr. Dee Stitt, as you say is the Chief Executive. Dee Stitt – let’s be blunt about it: Dee Stitt – it’s not that he has a history of paramilitarism – he is right now one of the main leaders of the Ulster Defence Association, a sectarian murder gang. Dee Stitt is one of the leaders of this gang, the UDA, and of course so he’s a prime candidate to receive some of this money because he and his associates, the theory is, have to be bribed and bought off and lured into constitutional politics with the offer of preferment, and in Dee Stitt’s case, the offer of a job – it’s thirty-five pounds a year which is not a fortune by capitalist standards but it’s a very, very good wage indeed in a working class area of The North of Ireland.

So I made the point in the Assembly that while a number of commentators were saying that this money had been paid to Charter NI and to Dee Stitt, the Chief Executive of Charter NI, that this money was being paid despite the fact that Dee Stitt was a member of a paramilitary organisation. And I pointed out that this was wrong. He’s being paid the money not despite the fact that he was a paramilitary godfather but because he was a paramilitary godfather. In other words it was a requirement for the job! It was one of the things that you needed to be able to put on your CV when you’re applying for the job because if you weren’t a member of a paramilitary organisation why give you money which is intended to lure paramilitary leaders to the path of peace and constitutional politics and so forth?

So the DUP did that. They wanted to do some (inaudible) with the people who support the UDA, sort of to bring the UDA in from the cold. So they’re not open about it but Arlene Foster, for example, happened to be photographed alongside Dee Stitt. The Speaker of the Stormont Assembly, Robin Newton, is an adviser to Charter NI, the outfit where Dee Stitt is the CEO. And the DUP is relatively open about this and Sinn Féin goes along with because if Sinn Féin were denounce the DUP for that issue – the Loyalist paramilitaries, for sectarian killers, for Dee Stitt – if Sinn Féin were to denounce the DUP for this that again would risk destabilising the DUP/Sinn Féin coalition. Once again, keeping the show on the road at Stormont takes precedence over everything even to the moral objections that many people might have about giving large amounts of public money to people who are leaders of a sectarian, paramilitary organisation. So all morality has gone out of the window here.

MG:   Alright. Eamonn, we want to ask you about where we stand in terms of Bloody Sunday. It seems every sort of delay – the last thing was a long investigation, a new investigation, had to be conducted by the PSNI (Police Service of Northern Ireland). That concluded. Files were sent to the Public Prosecution Service. You’ve had a British Prime Minister stand up and say that these killings were ‘unjustified and unjustifiable’. Now to me, as a lawyer in New York, you have justified killings, like self-defence or you’re protecting the life of someone else, and then if you have an unjustified killing that is, by definition, murder or manslaughter or it falls into one of the crimes under murder. Why is it that nothing seems to have been announced even though the Public Prosecution Service has had these files, after so many other delays, they now have these files and we don’t know when, if ever, they’ll announce any kind of prosecutions of British soldiers?

EM:   Well that’s true – we don’t know when, if ever. My guess would be: Never! The huge numbers of people in the British Establishment, very powerful people in the British Establishment, including military officers and retired, very senior officers from the British Army, have made it clear that they are totally opposed to any of the soldiers who murdered civil rights demonstrators in Doire – they are against any of these soldiers being charged. So there’s no British government that I can imagine, now or in the future, is going to risk a confrontation sort of with it’s senior military commanders and people within the civil service and the rest of it who don’t want soldiers charged for anything they did in Northern Ireland. I can’t see a British government actually standing up to that particularly, particularly when the British government well understands, as do the senior military officers, that any proper investigation of Bloody Sunday, if they brought the soldiers to trial -let’s imagine: Say you are one of the paratroopers, a private way back sort of in 1972, who fired some of the fatal shots in the Bogside back then – if they now come along, haul you into court, put you in the dock – what are you going to do? You’re going to spill the beans – aren’t you?! You know, it would take some sort of super-patriot, British patriot of some sort, to take the rap for murder in Doire while the people ordered you to go and murder people in Doire got off the hook and got away scot-free. So they are afraid. The British government, the British authorities, are really afraid of a Bloody Sunday trial of the soldiers and for that reason I don’t believe it’s ever going to happen. That doesn’t mean we don’t campaign for it. At the very least we should demand that what’s right ought to be done – and that the people killed on Bloody Sunday are entitled to be regarded as human beings and citizens, same as anybody else, and if you kill an innocent citizen – that’s murder. That’s murder. You deliberately point a gun at an innocent person, pull the trigger, there might be strange circumstances where it’s merely manslaughter, but almost always it will be murder and certainly it’s unlawful killing.

And of course those are not the only unlawful killings carried out by British security forces over the course of the conflict here but they’re the most high-profile, the Bloody Sunday killings, and therefore they’ve become iconic, emblematic sort of of the British role in The North here so I don’t see any resolution coming up in this but that’s all the more reason, as far as I’m concerned, to keep on demanding it in order to expose them, not to allow them to bury the Bloody Sunday issue quietly as they’ve been trying to do for many years.

MG:   Alright, Eamonn. I’m going to ask you one final question and then let you go: On legacy issues – I believe I’ve read some of the reports of statements that you’ve made in Stormont and one of the things that you said was James Brokenshire, who is the new British Secretary appointed by Westminster to preside over The North of Ireland, took over for Theresa Villiers, you said that he was despicable and that the British government, the government he represents, doesn’t care about any of the Irish victims who were killed by collusion or by British Crown Forces. Why do you believe that to be true?

EM: Yeah. Well I not only believe that to be true I went on to say that I don’t believe the British government cares about it’s own people. It doesn’t care about people, for example, the people killed in the Birmingham bomb, 1974 – more than twenty innocent people in two pubs, the Talk of the Town and the Mulberry Bush, in the centre of Birmingham – people out for a night, on a Friday night – they’re blown to bits by two IRA bombs. Now, that’s bad enough but then as it turns out, and people listening might remember the Birmingham Six, who were convicted of this horrendous crime. And they served sixteen years in prison before they were released after having shown not only that they didn’t do but that they couldn’t have done it on the basis of the evidence which was actually in the possession of the authorities in Britain at the time, it was clear that the Birmingham Six, Paddy Hill and the rest of them, couldn’t have been the people who planted the bombs. Nevertheless, they went on and framed them. Why would they have done that? – you have to ask. Well the reason why they did that is that at least one British agent was involved in planting the Birmingham bombs and presumably because, and this is speculation to some extent, but because the calculation was that this would discredit the IRA, sort of in the eyes of people who regarded them a noble organisation, so they covered up the killings of the victims of the IRA – of their own citizens! Now, having done that what chance does anybody think that there is of them coming clean about killings they conducted in The North?

And might I say some of the relatives of those killed in the Birmingham bombs are now campaigning very strongly for inquests, for the truth to be told at last and they now realise, and I’ve talked to a number of them, and they now realise, clearly – one of them said to me, Julie Hambleton – sister Maxine, seventeen years old, was one of the people killed in the Birmingham bombs and Julie said to me:

We were lied to by the police. We were lied to by the courts. We were lied to by the politicians. We were lied to by judges. We were lied to by the Home Office. All of these people, the highest authorities in Britain, lied to us about the way and the reasons why our loved ones died.

That’s what the British government is up to in relation to Birmingham. You can imagine what they’re up to when it comes to considering killings by British agents or through collusion with British agents in Belfast. So that’s where that issue generally lies. There isn’t going to be a resolution of it, it seems to me, and therefore, and I’ve talked to some of the Birmingham people about this – this means we’ve got to just keep on keeping on – just every day just push and push and push and push. And if we can’t get the truth out of them at least we will get the truth out to the world that these people are liars – they are themselves – James Brokenshire, Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, he is colluding in covering up the murder of citizens here in The North. Theresa May is colluding in the cover-up of murder in Northern Ireland. They all are. So why, in light of that, only a fool would expect the British to come clean about any of these things.

MG:   Alright, Eamonn, we want to welcome you back again. Thank you for being with us again on Radio Free Éireann and we look forward to having you again – back with us again in future. And a special shout out and thanks to Kate Nash who was able to get in contact with you and insure that you’d be with us today to provide this information.

EM:   Okay. Well you know yourself: If Kate Nash phones you up and says: I want you to do such and such you just have to do it.

MG:   I know that first hand – you’re talking to somebody’s who’s gone through it. Thank you, Eamonn.

EM:   Yeah. Okay. Bye. Bye. (ends time stamp ~ 30:59)

Martin Galvin RFÉ 26 November 2016

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

Martin Galvin gives us a wee lesson in American History today and hopes that one day Ireland will celebrate the same history and the same holiday.  (begins time stamp ~2:00)

Martin: We want to wish everybody a Happy Thanksgiving, a Happy Black Friday, if you do that, and also a Happy Evacuation Day! What this means is: evacuation-day-plazaYesterday, November 25th , was a holiday that should not be forgotten. In 1783 at the end of the American Revolution – that was the day that British troops finally left New York, left America, at the end of the American Revolution.

And before going they hung a flag up on a pole and they greased it so evacuation-day-flagpolethat people had to climb up and cut it down before George Washington could enter and they fired a shot at the crowd who were no doubt singing things like:
Go home, British soldiers, go home!
Do you have no bloody homes of yer own?

But that was a holiday for a long period of time in New York, a street is named for that event, a flag was put up every year and, of course, it was superseded by when Abraham Lincoln proclaimed Thanksgiving Day during the American Civil War.

But anything to do with getting the British out is something we don’t want to forget on this programme and the Irish community shouldn’t forget and we still hope that we will have that Evacuation Day in Ireland. (ends time stamp ~ 3:20)

Radio Free Éireann Announcement

Radio Free Éireann will air this Saturday November 26th from Noon-1PM New York time, 5-6 PM Irish time, on WBAI 99.5 FM or on the internet at wbai.org. Anytime after the program concludes you can hear the podcast on wbai.org/archives

This week’s guests: Eamonn McCann, veteran civil rights campaigner, journalist and author will talk about fighting against British austerity and injustice from inside Stormont in his new role as an MLA.

With questions growing about what a Trump administration might mean for undocumented Irish immigrants, the Irish Political Deportees and Malachy McAllister, leading Irish immigration advocate and AOH National Director Dan Dennehy will discuss immigration issues.

Sperrins Mountains campaigner Martin Treacy will talk about the fight to preserve the beauty, Irish culture and history of this region from being exploited and poisoned by a foreign gold-mining company.

Go to Radio Free Eireann’s web site, rfe123.org, where you can read transcripts of last week’s headline-making interviews about the film, Bobby Sands: 66 Days, with Thomas ‘Dixie’ Elliott, former blanketman and cellmate of Bobby Sands who inspired the song, Back Home in Derry, and John McDonagh’s review of the film.

Thomas ‘Dixie’ Elliott RFÉ 19 November 2016

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

John McDonagh (JM) and Martin Galvin (MG) speak to former Irish Republican political prisoner and blanketman Thomas ‘Dixie’ Elliott (DE) via telephone from Doire about his background, his time in Long Kesh prison during the 1981 hunger strike and his thoughts about the film, Bobby Sands: 66 Days. (begins time stamp ~23:38)

JM:  But we have on the line – and you maybe could give some of his background but we should get Dixie to explain how did he end up in Long Kesh with Bobby Sands?

MG:  Dixie, are you with us? Dixie, are you with us?

DE:  Yeah, I’m with you. Is that Martin or John?

MG:  That is Martin but we’re going to go to John in a second. Dixie, we want to start out – we’re talking to Dixie Elliott from Doire who I found out because he was able to quote the programme from four weeks earlier when I gave the Brendan Hughes Lecture, but Dixie, tell us a little bit about how you came to be in Long Kesh, how you came to be a cellmate of Bobby Sands and another hunger striker, Tom McElwee – and well, just start out with that – your background and how you came to be a Republican prisoner in Long Kesh on the blanket.

DE:  Well I joined the Republican Movement when I was about sixteen and that would have been about the average age of people when we were joining up. We were young lads running around the streets throwing stones at the Army and everything else would have been a regular occurrence – there was not much work to do and everything else and I then became involved with the IRA. And I gradually, I was originally in Na Fianna and then got into the IRA and then of course we were, I was eventually arrested, taken to Strand Road barracks where I was tortured and I admitted to firing shots at the British Army on the Racecourse Road and IRA membership and hijacking a van and in September 1976 I went into the Crumlin Road Jail. And I was sentenced on June 1977 and I went straight onto the blanket protest.

MG:  Alright, and we should tell our readers, if you had been arrested on February – sorry, our listeners – February 28th of 1976 you would have gotten special category status, you would have been in a separate wing, you would have been allowed to wear your own clothes, have association, all of the things that the blanket protest was about. But on March 1st of 1976 the British, Margaret Thatcher’s government, said that anybody who’s arrested after that date is a criminal. Now why was that issue, wearing a criminal uniform, so important to you, to Brendan Hughes, to others who were on the blanket protest?

DE:  Well is was actually the British Labour Party that brought criminalisation in; it wasn’t actually the Tories at the time. It was Thatcher, when they had came into power before, about ’79 before the hunger strikes, but it was originally the Labour Party that brought it in. And they had effectively made the decision that they were going to criminalise the struggle, they were going to try and make it look as if the police was operating as a normal police force and that we were effectively criminals engaged in a criminal conspiracy, shall we say? Whereas like you know we weren’t criminals at all. We were Republicans. We wanted to free our country. We were soldiers and we weren’t enlisted soldiers like their soldiers. We were a little different. We were fighting for our country. It was occupied by the British and we wanted to remove the occupation. So we weren’t criminals. But if it hadn’t been for the struggle and the British occupation we wouldn’t have been in jail at all.

MG:  Alright, and what were some of the things that were done to you and to the other prisoners in order to make you wear that criminal uniform and dress up in that criminal uniform?

DE:  Well it wasn’t actually what they done to us it was actually the thing that they were forcing us to wear the criminal uniform. We were not criminals. It wasn’t that they had actually beat us or tortured us or anything like before that it’s when we were sentenced and went up to the H-Blocks they had said to us: Right. There’s the uniform – let’s put it on. We said: We’re now criminals. We’re not wearing the uniform. And that’s effectively that because that makes us criminals. So we wouldn’t wear the uniform – it was us that refused to wear the uniform. And then from then on out things drastically got worse and worse, you know?

MG:  Well that’s what I mean – what did the British do to you when they saw you weren’t wearing a criminal uniform, when they saw you were on the blanket – what did they do to make you wear one?

DE:  Well they beat us, of course, like they would have beat us and they would have said: Wear that and we wouldn’t have worn it. They would have beat us to try to force it onto us. And when it was obvious that we weren’t going to do it they threw us into a cell with just wearing a towel, a blue towel, wrapped around us and there would have been nothing…

MG:  …And then…

DE:  …Go ahead.

MG:  Well just get to the point: You were beaten, all those other things, you’re on protest – how did it come about that you got to know Bobby Sands?

DE:   Well I was in the cell originally with Tom McElwee in H-4 and in February 1979 the authorities decided that they might be able to break the protest by removing the leadership in the camp or the blocks to a separate wing isolating them from the rest of the protest. Now me and Tom McElwee was moved – now we weren’t on the leadership – but I believe that they moved us because we were constantly – if they hit us we hit them back – me and Tom – well, it was mostly Tom was doing that like and I was in the cell with him and they moved us – so it was then that I got to be on a wing with Bobby, February 1979, as I said and The Dark and Bik and others like that – we were all on the one wing. And then they moved us back to H-3 in about August 1979 and when they moved us back I was put in a cell with Bobby – then I was actually in the cell with Bobby. I was in the cell with Bobby for a couple of months in 1979 and I was moved out of the cell but I remained on the same wing as him until, effectively, well – after he died I was effectively with that wing until the end of the protest.

MG:  Alright. And the song, Back Home in Derry

JM:  …No, no, go ahead. Dixie, unfortunately we only have about I would say twenty-five minutes left and being what’s now that you were involved in – you said the Republican struggle as being now classified as a thirty year crime wave. But things about the hunger strike – there’s been Some Mother’s Son, there’s been Hunger, there’s been plays and now this. Explain to our audience what you thought of the documentary and how did you feel it betrayed what you were personally involved in?

DE:  66 Days?

JM:  Yes.

DE:  Yeah, well I think 66 Days, the way it came across to me as trying to make out that Bobby Sands’ death bought about the peace process and what we have today. Whereas Bobby Sands definitely wouldn’t have died for peace – that’s absurd. You don’t go into jail for peace, you don’t fire guns or plant bombs for peace, you don’t die on hunger strike for peace – that’s absurd. And I doubt that Bobby Sands knowing that some day down the line that Martin McGuinness would be toasting the Queen and Gerry Adams would be shaking hands with Prince Charles that he would have died on hunger strike – I clearly wouldn’t have fired stones for that. You know so for the film to be trying to make that out, as it was especially towards the end, was absurd to say the least, it was totally absurd. And the thing about it which annoyed me more so was Laurney McKeown’s venomous attack on Brendan ‘The Dark’ Hughes, someone who’s no longer around to defend himself, when he had said that Bobby said that The Dark had ‘effed up’

And when I heard that I said to myself: That’s the first I heard that. I never heard that. As I explained, I was on the wing with Bobby. I was on the wing with all of them. I never heard that used by Bobby at all. In fact at that time, around coming up to the end of December, I remember Bobby leaving the wing and we were all hyped up. We thought this was it. It was coming up to Christmas, they weren’t going to let men die and it was over. And Bobby left the wing and I remember hearing the van coming back. My cell looked out onto the courtyard of the box and I looked out and I seen the van coming in, I seen Bobby getting out and his head was down and his shoulders were slumped and I knew – that wasn’t Bobby Sands. No matter what Bobby always walked with a spring in his step and when I seen him I slipped down the wall and my cellmate says: What’s wrong? And I used a lot of expletives which more or less said: We’re bit.

And Bobby came up the wing and his words was: ‘Ní fhuaireomar faic’ – ‘We got nothing.’ And I never heard him say anything about The Dark or anything but what we later learned – and now this is the thing – if Laurney McKeown is going to come off with stuff like this and everything else – what we later learned, especially those of us who was in that wing, was that the hunger strike fell apart because there was men told The Dark they were coming off it – men that was on the hunger strike. There was those of us who knew it wasn’t just that we had learned at the time – it was literally that Tom McFeely told people, told everybody, how it ended it. In fact, so much so, that a guy I know who was in jail in later years – we were talking about it and he said to me: That’s right. Tom McFeely told me that such and such and such and such was putting pressure on The Dark. It wasn’t all the men on the hunger strike it was ‘certain people’ and these ‘certain people’ keeps coming along with this narrative that they made an offer and they reneged on it. As a matter of fact, Laurence McKeown’s claim that Bobby said The Dark ‘effed up’ actually undermines the Adams/Sinn Féin position where they say the Brits had made an offer which they later reneged on. If that was so how had The Dark screwed up if the Brits had made an offer? So he’s undermining the narrative of Adams, and Patsy – him and Raymond McCartney and all of those who are saying they made an offer in this. As I say, we knew what happened. We knew that the men, that that hunger strike was falling apart and that’s what it was.

MG:  …but Dixie, let me…

DE:  …and what Laurence McKeown was effectively doing was he was doing it for his leader.

MG:  Dixie, let me just bring our audience up: There was a first hunger strike that began in October 1980 and what happened at that was everybody, or a number of people, went on hunger strike at the same time and Brendan Hughes, who was the leader of the prisoners, was one of the people on hunger strike. So as it came to late December, Seán McKenna was very ill. There were some hope of movement, there were some suggestion of movement but then a number of prisoners, as you say I’m not going to specify which ones, said that they would not, did not want to die – that it had to be called off.

Brendan Hughes, in that position on hunger strike himself, knowing that he was stronger than some of the prisoners, would not be the first to die, called off the hunger strike. But I’ll tell you on the outside I got a call from Joe Austin of the Belfast Press Centre and I was told that Bobby was jubilant – they read this statement to me a number of times – that Bobby was jubilant – that there had been an offer, that this was accepted and that now their own clothes were going to come in. And it wasn’t until much later, years later, that I was informed of what happened and it seemed strange to me. I kept going back and saying: Look, are you telling me the truth? I’ve never lied to people, I’ve never lied to the American public but they were saying that that is what was happening, that there was a statement that was prepared and read at that time to put that out and Brendan Hughes, in that terrible position, had to agree to save the life of Seán McKenna and the others and hope if the British would have said if we have an opportunity – we’ll move, we’ll make all the concessions and instead they came in, they became hardline again and that’s what would lead to the next hunger strike. Is that a fair…?

DE:  …Well effectively the British never – the British had sent a document which was delivered by a Father Meagher to Gerry Adams. Gerry Adams had received this document by the time the hunger strike had ended – the hunger strike had ended when he’d got it. Now what this document contained – this document contained nothing – it actually says that we, the prisoners, could wear civilian-type clothing during the working week. Now civilian-type clothing – they didn’t renege on that, they tried to give us the civilian-type clothing which was a garish form of clothing – it was even worse looking than the denim gear which was the prison – it was all bright colours and stuff that. It was thrown back out at them. They didn’t renege on it. They weren’t giving us nothing or anything else. But this wasn’t known. Now when Bobby got this document down and he looked at it and we heard him discussing it on the wing and he said: We can use this against them. We can say they made an offer and they reneged on it and we can use that to start the second hunger strike. As Jim Gibney said himself, and he messed up by saying it, he said Bobby Sands, the next day that they got a letter from Bobby Sands, saying the second hunger strike was starting. Now, ask yourself – if the Brits had made an offer why would Bobby Sands have come – now men that was on the brink, men that was totally depressed and everything else and tell them straightaway: We got nothing. He could have said: Oh, there’s something in the pipeline where we don’t know yet what’s happening. He told us straight out as soon as he got back: We got nothing. He sent word straight out that another hunger strike would be starting and that he would be leading it.

JM:  …Dixie…

DE:  …Not only that, not only that – the second hunger strike he changed the tactics. He said because the way the first hunger strike fell, collapsed, because men decided they were coming off it that it wasn’t going to happen in the second hunger strike that’s why he staggered it – he went first then Frank Hughes and so on at different periods – this is why, he changed tactics. And he was using that document – it was him actually came up and said they had made an offer and they reneged on it. They didn’t make an offer. There was nothing there. Do you understand?

JM:  And Dixie, while you’re doing the battle and you see what’s going on – you have no radio, no television. Had you any idea of what was going on on the outside anywhere in the world, never mind say The States or Australia, but in Belfast or in Doire? How were you getting your information? Because now here you are, at the coalface, fighting the state within the prison with whatever you had left – which was literally at that stage your body. Did you know about anything that was happening on the outside?

DE:  Oh, yes. First of all on a lot of the blocks, we had at least one on a lot of blocks was a small, miniature – it was an ingenious device like whoever created it – it was small, miniature radios and we were getting the likes of the news and stuff like that off it. The guy would be listening, the boy who was in charge of it, he would listen and get news and stuff like that. But we were also getting the likes of An Phoblacht – and it was shrunk right down, you know, miniaturised? And articles out of papers which would have been cut out of papers and smuggled in wrapped around the tobacco and the other – pens and stuff like that there – in what we called the barges. And of course people would have passed on information through the visits. You know you would have got a lot of lies through the visits in order to keep your morale up – there was ten thousand people was marching here and there you know – and there wasn’t. But in a lot of cases we got articles on. They were read at the doors and stuff like that you know so this is how we were getting. We were getting comms in which was getting read out about strikes on the docks in New York and those strikes in Liverpool maybe or stuff like that and protests and all – we were getting that in through comms from the outside and they were telling us, you know, what was going on in the outside world.

MG:  Alright Dixie, we’re moving along – I know that one thing that you’ve been very involved with is Richard O’Rawe’s claim that – a book and now it seems to be a well-documented claim – that there was an offer. I know you were very close to another of the hunger strikers who died, Tom McElwee…

DE: that’s right

MG:  …Richard O’Rawe had claimed, said and stood up to any criticism or question that there was an offer which both he, as an officer, the PRO (Public Relations Officer), and one of the leading officers of the prisoners in Long Kesh and Bik McFarlane at that time wanted to accept, recommended acceptance and should have satisfied the essential demands and beaten criminalisation. What’s your position on that?

DE:  Well I remember at the time we heard the rumour that the Brits was moving and that Joe McDonnell wouldn’t have to die. We heard that rumour. It came from those in the cells up around the side back – I was down at the other, by this time, at the other side of the wing but those who were closest – some of them has come forward and probably one of them has publicly stated that he heard it. He heard them taking at the window. (It was the only way you could converse. You had to talk out the windows in Irish.) They overheard them saying, talking about it and they passed it on. The thing is, you have to understand, Richard O’Rawe was the shoulder that Bik leaned on. We all knew that. Richard O’Rawe was then, as now, a highly intelligent person. Bik did nothing without passing it to Richard O’Rawe first, asking his opinion and everything else, taking his advice. Richard was the man, above all else, in probably the whole camp. And then you have the likes of Danny Morrison saying: Richard O’Rawe wasn’t in the hospital and Richard O’Rawe wasn’t here and Richard… – of course he wasn’t. But when Bik was coming back from the hospital they told Richard O’Rawe everything that was going on. He brought this to Richard, this offer from the British, and he sent it up the pipes to him and Richard got it and looked at it and said: There’s enough there to end it. Because ‘enough there to end it’ was the clothes. It was always – as I was saying before – the clothes. If we had have gotten the clothes before the hunger strikes nobody would have died. And that offer contained our own clothes. Now, the thing about Richard as I said, that no one on that wing other than Bik – now listen to this: No one on that wing, other than Bik, has said that Richard O’Rawe was telling lies. People have come forward and backed him, both one publicly and me and others, privately. But no one, and I’ve challenged them to find anyone, no one has come forward and said Richard O’Rawe is telling lies other than Bik. So I think that tells it all on its own. If he had have been telling lies you would have had people coming forward. People who is with Sinn Féin today, there’s one particular person and he was also an adviser to Bik, and I asked Richard, I said to him: Why did he never come forward and say you were lying? He said: Because he knows I’m telling the truth and he knows the cat’s going to get out of the bag one day and he doesn’t want to be involved.

JM:  (station identification) And we’re discussing a film that will be shown at The Film Forum from November 30th to December 13th at 209 West Houston Street called Bobby Sands: 66 Days.

I want to play a little video clip of someone that’s near and dear to Dixie Elliott’s heart in Doire and that is of Martin McGuinness. And when you talk about rigged elections there was no more of a rigged election than in 1986 when there was a debate at the Sinn Féin Ard Fheis down in Dublin. I want to play just a couple of minutes – if you just type into YouTube ‘Martin McGuinness speech’ you can hear the full of it. We’re only going to play two minutes. And I wanted to get Dixie’s reaction to Mr. Martin McGuinness, MP, MLA, Councilman – he’s got more titles after him than the Queen at the moment. Go ahead…

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

JM:  And that there is Doire tour guide at Westminster, Martin McGuinness, who has a lot of initials after his name at the moment. Dixie, you know, just speaking to you we know when you were in Long Kesh you were not fighting to administer British rule in Ireland but the lies really were being told at that ’86 Ard Fheis about how everything was going to continue on ’til the British left. I mean, how do you feel how the struggle has ended after thirty or forty years now?

DE:  Well Martin McGuinness has went from that speech to allow actually making the Queen and her family acceptable to Nationalists. Let’s not varnish what this is all about – all this praising the Queen, a friend of the peace process and everything else – it’s making the royal family, the most repugnant aspect of British imperialism, acceptable to Nationalists. This is what Martin is doing now and Gerry shaking Prince Charles’ hands and everything else and you must not question us here – they were saying not too longer ago about standing up fighting Tory cuts and everything else and here we have the Queen was given three hundred and seventy million pound to upgrade Buckingham Palace. The so-called socialists of the Republican Movement, Martin McGuinness, hasn’t said a word – not one word! They say: Stand up to Tory cuts and then they’re not now out saying: Hold on. You’re cutting all these peoples’ benefits – you’re taking from health and you’re doing this and everything else – nothing about all this money being given from the public purse to the Queen, a multi-millionaire who owns Jersey Island, nothing -not a word at all. Not a word at all. Not a word about how much money is getting spent on Trident missiles and everything else while the cuts – but they’re sloganising, they say: Oooh, we need to stand up to Tory cuts. Oooh, we need to do this.

Raymond McCartney is actually saying at the minute now this thing – we need to stand up for the A6 and the A5, these roads leading from Doire to Dublin and the other to Belfast. This has been going on since the 1960’s – they’re fighting for this road from Doire to Belfast – they’re still fighting for it. When twenty miles up the road in Coleraine there’s a duel carriageway almost completed which will link Coleraine, a provincial Unionist town with the other Unionist town, Ballymena, and Ballymena is linked in by the M2, it’s already linked by the M2 motorway, to Belfast…

JM:  …and Dixie…

DE:  …And they’re still – Martin McGuinness, as Deputy First Minister, and this is nearly completed while the road to Doire, after all these years, is still not even started.

JM:  And Dixie, Martin McGuinness has had a pretty charmed life. I mean we just had the death of an informer over in England who every Republican in Doire was named by him except Martin McGuinness. And he was never named and picked up in the supergrass trials with Raymond Gilmour. He’s lived a very charmed life. We’ve had other people on from MI5, Ian Hurst, saying that he was a ‘protected species’ as he called him – that he was not to be touched or arrested.

DE:  Yes, you’re correct. Martin was not only at the time around Raymond Gilmour but Martin was going around and attending the court cases – walked in and attending them from the street. Here was a man, the whole IRA in Doire was in jail and Martin was walking in without any fear that Raymond Gilmour was going to be pointing him out saying: He’s the man that was the leader. He was the OC in Doire. He’s the man that was the leader. Doesn’t have to worry about that. But the fact is, too, in February, just before the criminalisation policy started, the only time Martin spent in jail in The North was a couple of weeks on remand. He was charged with IRA membership. I have a newspaper clipping here – and after about two weeks he was taken to court and the Crown prosecutor stated (Dixie reads from newspaper) :

I have been instructed not to proceed with the prosecution due to insufficient evidence therefore I have been instructed not to proceed.

Now, Martin says in the article his release came about as some surprise but the article also tells us there was a car waiting outside to whisk him off the Falls Road. So how was his release ‘as some surprise’ when there was a car waiting? The thing is: Who instructed the Crown prosecutor in those days? That’s the question I’m asking. Also, it’s says ‘due to insufficient evidence’. There’s two videos that are still out there on the internet and one was when the Official IRA called a ceasefire and Martin was interviewed and he spoke on behalf of the IRA and the other was the famous Tom Mangold interview where he’s walking down Stanleys Walk and Tom Mangold introduces him as the Officer Commanding of the Doire part of the IRA…

JM:  …Alright, Dixie…

DE:  …there was all the evidence that they wanted and this was during the height of internment – sorry – this was during the height of internment 1972.

JM:  (station identification) And we’re really talking about, there’s a documentary that’s coming out called Bobby Sands: 66 Days. It’ll be two weeks here in New York City – November 30th to December 13th at 209 West Houston Street just west of 6th Avenue. Dixie, should people go see it?

DE:   Yes. Of course they should. Of course they should, yes. You can’t say no. You can’t censor. Although at the same time, I’m not sure – I couldn’t be a hundred percent, I’ve asked Brendan Byrne by email – he hasn’t answered me…

JM:  ….and that’s the director…

DE:  … but there’s a quote in the film (inaudible) and I was waiting on it because me and Richard O’Rawe went to see it in Belfast and there was a lot of members of Sinn Féin there and I knew the quote was coming up – and it’s a famous quote of Bobby’s:

They will not criminalise us, rob us of our true identity, steal our individualism, depoliticise us, churn us out as systemised and institutionised decent, law abiding robots. Never will they label our liberation struggle as criminal.

Now what took my eye away from the screen was looking towards the likes of Gerry Kelly to see how they would take the ‘churn us out as systemise and institutionised decent, law abiding robots’ and I didn’t hear it.

JM:  Well Dixie…

DE:  ….Things happened that quickly that I said to Richard: Did you hear it? Did they cut that part out? You know and I asked Brendan and Brendan didn’t answer me. I sent him an email and he didn’t answer me. I asked him was it him who censored him, censored Bobby’s words, or was it done before? Though I haven’t seen – I would ask people to look, if they go to the film and look. If I’m wrong I’ll apologise. I will apologise publicly. But I did not hear it – those words.

JM:  Alright, Dixie, we’re going to cover another story when we get you back on: The history of Back Home in Derry which is covered by every Irish Republican band throughout the world, written by Bobby Sands but influenced by someone from Doire – who might be on the phone right now – but we’re going to play The Druids singing that. And Dixie, thanks for coming on and thanks for listening over there in Doire on wbai.org. (ends time stamp ~55:28)

John McDonagh, RFÉ Co-Host, Reviews the Film, Bobby Sands: 66 Days 19 November 2016

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

John McDonagh (JM) gives us a review of the film, Bobby Sands: 66 Days and discusses the film with Co-Host Martin Galvin (MG). (begins time stamp ~ 7:09)

JM:   And now the rest of the show is going to be about this documentary that’s out. It’s called Bobby Sands: 66 Days. It has a two week engagement from November 30th to December 13th at The Film Forum, 209 West Houston Street, just west of 6th Avenue, and the screenings are at 12:30, 2:45, 5:10, 7:30 and 9:45.

I went to see it at a press screening on Thursday and here at Radio Free Éireann we covered the 1981 hunger strike starting in 1981 and really, based on the 1981 hunger strike, that’s how the radio show started here at WBAI. I went with David Rothenberg and when we came out of there, David had said to me – and it was good to talk to someone who wasn’t involved with the Republican struggle – he said that he only thought that Bobby Sands had died; he didn’t realise that nine other people died and he didn’t realise the role that Maggie Thatcher played in the hunger strike. And one of the things that came out in the documentary, because they have some people that worked in her Cabinet, is that Margaret Thatcher was in a tough place. It was the Labour government in 1976, there was what was known as ‘special category status’, which was political status for anyone that was in the IRA caught in the Six Counties they were arrested by the British Army, they went through a Diplock court, a special court, and then they went into special prisons where they actually ran the prisons.

At midnight on a certain date in 1976 doing the exact same, whatever you say, ‘activity’, you were now an ‘ODC’, an ordinary decent criminal as they called it, and Maggie Thatcher had no room to manoeuvre because she would have looked weak on terrorism had she tried to backtrack on what the Labour government brought in – it wasn’t her government that brought it in – she just kept it going so that was a very good historical point of view that they brought up. Also during that time, to show how sectarian the vote was: My aunt and uncle live in Co. Fermanagh. Bobby Sands ran for the office in Fermanagh/South Tyrone. My Uncle Peter and Aunt Julia – I called them up about the vote because then I went shortly over and I ended up living in Donegal with my uncle and I went to at least four of the funerals and wakes of the hunger strikers. My Uncle Peter, who’s more of a Nationalist and a Republican voted for Bobby Sands and I asked Julia: Who did you vote for? She said: I hate the IRA. I hate what Bobby Sands stands for. Well I said: Who’d you vote for? Well, I had to vote for him. I couldn’t vote for the other crowd – which was the Protestant crowd and it just showed how sectarian it was. Also when I was going to see the documentary, I went to the BBC Ulster website and the lead story was part of Long Kesh is now being turned into a heliport for medical reasons. So instead of turning into what Dublin did, Kilmainham, it is now being turned into anything than what Long Kesh was so I thought that was a bit of an irony about what was going on.

And I kept an eye out for artwork during it. And sure enough towards the end they showed a piece of Boston Irish Northern Aid and they went to a table where there was tee shirts and bumper stickers and there it was –

Irish Northern Aid-Irish Prisoners of War Committee, April 1981 Brian Mór Ó Baoigill, artist AIA Dig ID 0010PL02 © 2001 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Irish Northern Aid-Irish Prisoners of War Committee, April 1981
Brian Mór Ó Baoigill, artist
AIA Dig ID 0010PL02
© 2001 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

Brian Mór Ó Baoighill’s artwork on the table. And I always think: You cannot do anything about the 1981 hunger strike and not have some of his artwork in it.

What also struck me was everyone carrying the black flags – I remember when I was over there there was black flags literally from Dublin to Donegal on every telephone post – all the way up and it was very ominous when you were over there during the hunger strike on that.

One of the wishes – I wish it could have incorporated, although it’s an hour and fifteen minutes, is what happened outside of the prison – the diaspora of, in America – there’s a little piece on that – in London, in Scotland – but, I understand, you can only get so much in it. They had an interview with the prison guard and it was great to have his point of view because how he hated the men that were in there who were on the hunger strike and dirty protest because now he had to live through it and it was great to see his point of view. Now you can argue about a movie and an interpretation but here it was – a prison guard who actually was there – and his hatred of the IRA in the prison because, at that stage, they had killed ten prison guards and he goes into that – that that was his friends being killed.

Now Fintan O’Toole, who’s a writer for the Irish Times and used to hang out at Rocky Sullivan’s on Lexington Avenue, I met him a couple of times down there, he does the narration and puts it into an historical point of view. That is the one thing you could quibble about because it’s not actual facts – it’s his interpretation – how culturally Bobby Sands is looked at throughout the Irish culture and world culture. There was two people from the United States in there: It was Father Seán McManus, who runs a one-man show down in Washington DC called the Irish National Caucus (or something like that), he was in it and he had a good point of view and he stuck to it: That the people to blame for not getting the word out in the United States was the Irish government, particularly Seán Donlon, and what he kept saying is that anytime that he wanted to bring up something on Capitol Hill it was the Irish, Twenty-six County government blocking him. And then you go to Seán Donlon – and there’s a special place in Hell for him during this time period – he was talking about Irish Northern Aid and what was going on in the United States and he said that their slogan was very simple: Brits Out. And he said from our point of view, and he meant from the Twenty-Six County point of view, that was very difficult to counteract because the problem was ‘more complex than that’ – so that there was good to have. And then an other ‘Irish-American’ was an Italian guy from the Bronx and it was so good to see Mario Biaggi, Congressman Mario Biaggi, during the hunger strike talking about it at a podium in Congress. And if anyone should have been in that documentary, in Congress – and not Tip O’Neill and not Ronald Reagan and not Kennedy but it was our own Mario Biaggi from the Bronx.

The other thing is they put Bobby Sands in a world context of Che Guevara and Mahatma Gandhi and Terence MacSwiney and the effect that the hunger strikes had worldwide and I thought that was very good.

That’s it, basically. On a documentary, I’m going to tell you, it’s very hard to argue with that person who says: ‘I was there’. This is not a movie. And I would recommend it because any time you can get out and have a debate on what happened in 1981 it’s a good day and to have people that were involved actually have the debate – particularly that we’re going to have on later, Dixie Elliott from Doire, about his impressions of the film itself. And I know Martin and Dixie were both filmed for it but, as I say, you didn’t make the final cut.

MG:   John, one of the things that I was disappointed – I haven’t seen the film but just from what you’ve told me and what I’ve heard from others – is that the American dimension and all the work that was done in the United States – all of the people, the thousands who came out day after day was not fully taken into account because at the beginning of the first hunger strike – Brendan Hughes in 1980 – he had actually issued a special appeal to Irish Northern Aid saying that America was England’s weak point – that is something that Richard O’Rawe, who was the PRO (Public Relations Officer) for the hunger strike in 1981, the point that that made and everybody seems to indicate that that’s what the British were concerned about. They didn’t care how many Nationalists in The North of Ireland…

JM:   …And the Irish government. Never mind the British government. And they didn’t even get into what the British were doing because they were saying: That’s an internal problem. It was the Twenty-Six County government.

MG:   They were all concerned – we’ve lost our credibility – we can’t represent them – people are following them – Michael Flannery is going to be elected Grand Marshal in the Saint Patrick’s Day Parade – it’s hard to imagine now but from every day of that hunger strike you would have, literally, thousands of people in New York, in Albany, in Boston, in Philadelphia, in San Francisco, in Detroit, in other cities around the country every single day – they would be out there. The news coverage would start with what was happening in the Irish hunger strike. The Northern Aid office – I would be up there at five or six o’clock in the morning to do press releases. We’d be there for the day. We’d do the newspaper. Brian did everything at night to try and get out/create posters. Mike Costello would deliver the newspapers – I’ll never forget. I thought he lived like a few feet away just over the bridge and it was hours away. Everybody, thousands upon thousands of people – if somebody died there would be people in front of the (British) Consulate hour upon hour until the burial.

JM:   But Martin, that is a separate documentary. It wasn’t about America. It was about Bobby Sands – his sixty-six days. I mean what you’re talking about – that’s a documentary on its own.

MG:   But that was the crucial thing through all that period of time that would have had an impact on the British, that would have had an impact on the government.

JM:   The crucial thing was him being elected into Westminster – now come on. You’re giving what was going on in America – the fight was going on – there’s no fight going on there – if he doesn’t get elected into Parliament, and they get into the strategy – if he lost by one vote Maggie Thatcher would have been on TV saying: See, they have no support. And they get into the strategy that it was very risky because, as we know, you don’t know how elections go. I mean America played a role but the documentary is not about America. It’s about Bobby Sands and Long Kesh.

MG:   I think if you look at this in reality America had a much stronger role than it did and, unfortunately, people like Tip O’Neill, like Ted Kennedy, the Four Horsemen. I remember writing an editorial (on page 4 -Ed.) – it’s in the Irish People – at the end of the first hunger strike – that if they had simply done anything it might have been enough so that there never would have been a hunger strike that Bobby Sands would have been on. It just brings back so many memories – you’re talking about Kieran Nugent as a young man being the first blanketman after being arrested after March 1st 1976. The reason that there was a publicity department I was asked to run, there was a re-organisation within Irish Northern Aid, was because of the appeal by Brendan Hughes and others who were on the blanket protest. So so much would have been different, so much was changed, so much in term of Irish-America in terms of the public reaction to British rule and our slogan at that time was not Brits Out – it was supporting the five demands. They wanted to end the hunger strike to get some kind of recognition or new conditions to stop the beatings, to stop the brutality because what Thatcher was doing, and what people should understand, she was trying to make people who were in jail for political offences, who saw themselves as a continuation of 1916 of the old struggle to be independent and free, she was trying to dress them up in a criminal uniform to say that they were now criminals, that the whole struggle was criminals, that everything was a criminal struggle, that anybody who was against British rule was a criminal. And that’s why Kieran Nugent went on protest. That’s why Bobby Sands and Tom McElwee and Joe McDonnell and the others died – that’s what sustained them throughout the beatings, throughout the protests, throughout everything that was inflicted upon them.

JM:   Yeah so as you can see there was a lot of passion – it was a passionate time. What we want to do now is to go to the trailer to the movie, 66 Days, and when we come out of that we’re going to head over to Doire and speak to someone who was in the prison during the hunger strike and knew Bobby Sands and – oh, one of the other things: The most iconic photo of Bobby Sands is the one with his arms around Denis Donaldson. And they featured that in that and they said that was the photo of his image, although it’s cropped to just show his face, but when they show the actual photograph Bobby Sands went in one direction with the hunger strike and Denis Donaldson ended up being an MI5 agent working here in New York City. And that’s, Martin, when you see it you’re going to be picking out – Oh, look at that photo – Oh, I remember what happened that time – I remember the phone call you got at the office at that time – and that’s where it will bring back all the memories. But to get into what was actually going on in the prison we’re going to speak to Dixie Elliott in about two minutes.

Audio:   Trailer for the film, Bobby Sands: 66 Days, is played. (ends time stamp ~ 22:33)

Radio Free Éireann Announcement

Radio Free Éireann will air this Saturday November 19th from Noon-1PM New York time, 5-6 PM Irish time, on WBAI 99.5 FM or on the internet at wbai.org. Anytime after the program concludes you can hear the podcast on wbai.org/archives

As the film about Bobby Sands’ hunger strike, 66 Days, premieres in New York Thomas ‘Dixie’ Elliott, a former blanketman and cellmate of Bobby Sands who inspired the song, Back Home in Derry, will discuss the film, the hunger strike and his unique political perspective on events today.

Members of the Parkhead Republican Band in Glasgow will be in studio to discuss what it is like for Irish Republican bands in Scotland.

Go to Radio Free Éireann’s new web site, rfe123.org, where you can read transcripts of last week’s headline making interviews with Derry journalist Eamon Sweeney and Dublin lawyer, author and former Irish Republican Army officer Kieran Conway and get the latest information on our upcoming show.

John McDonagh and Martin Galvin will co-host. ‘See’ you on Saturday!

Kieran Conway RFÉ 12 November 2016

Radio Free Éireann
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listen on the internet: wbai.org Saturdays Noon EST

John McDonagh (JM) and Martin Galvin (MG) speak to former IRA Director of Intelligence Kieran Conway (KC) via telephone from Dublin about his memoir and his recent interviews with the BBC. (begins time stamp ~ 39:30)

MG:   With us on the line we have Kieran Conway. Kieran, welcome back to Radio Free Éireann. Now Kieran, your book…

JM:   … Who is Kieran Conway?

MG:   Kieran Conway is the author of a book, Southside Provisional, and what it does – it details very well – is he’s a young man who grew up in south Dublin who is well educated, who had the middle class suburbs of south Dublin and saw what was happening. Lived through the fiftieth anniversary of 1916. Saw what was happening in The North of Ireland, civil rights movement being attacked, Nationalists’ homes being attacked, riots – and decided to join and become a soldier with the Irish Republican Movement. And the reason why we’ve invited Kieran back – John, you’ve talked about The Stephen Nolan Show and some of the other shows – recently they invited Kieran to be interviewed and asked questions like: ‘Are you a psychopath?’ and ‘Are you a sensitive bomber?’ – things of that nature. So he survived those questions and we thought we’d bring him back to Radio Free Éireann to answer a different type of question. Kieran, are you with us?

KC:   I am, yeah. Glad to be here.

MG:   And where can we get Southside Provisional Where can people get that book that details so much – what happened, what led to the struggle – it wasn’t something that people thought they had an idea of joining – that it was something that seemed to be forced on them as a way in which to end British rule, to end the injustices, to end the brutal way in which civil rights – the injustice with which the British treated the civil rights movement. Where can we get that book? southside-provisional

KC:  I’m not sure if hard copies are available in book shops in The States, I suspect not. It’s available on amazon both in hard copy and in the Kindle version and it’s also available on iBooks.

MG:   Well I’ve got it in paperback so it’s available someplace in paperback but check amazon.com. Okay. Kieran, just briefly, you said during those interviews with Stephen Nolan, you were called back, that you decided, you made a decision to join the Irish Republican Army in response to what was happening in the late ’60’s – early ’70’s, that you still regard yourself as a soldier who was a combatant in what was at the time when it started – I’m not talking about post-1998 – we don’t want anybody to call you and try to prosecute you – but you joined what you believed at the time was a legitimate war to end British rule, to bring freedom to The North of Ireland. What are some of the things that led you to that decision?

KC:   Well absolutely I believed it was a just war and I have never deviated from that. I’m quite certain of it. I suffer no guilt and no – well, a general remorse given that the struggle turned out to be for nothing but yeah, if I had my time again I would do it all over again. I joined – I went to the university first in 1968 against the backdrop of revolts throughout Europe and in the US as well and also, to a lesser extent, in the UK. I became, as was common at the time, I became a communist and so firstly as a socialist and then in 1969 The North blew up. Catholic areas were attacked by the RUC (Royal Ulster Constabulary) and Loyalists. People were killed, hundreds of houses were burned out. The was a refugee problem – the biggest in Europe since the Second World War and I joined the Republican Club when I went back to college. Within a few months I became Secretary of the club and shortly afterwards, around Christmastime, I decided that I should follow the logic of my convictions and join the IRA.

MG:   Alright. And you rose through the ranks. You became an intelligence officer.

KC:   Yeah well, at first it was very difficult to join the IRA. Given my background there were no Provisionals in UCD, University College Dublin, where I was studying law. I was a member of the Official Republican Movement. I tried to join their army – they told me not to be so childish, that they had plenty of working class lads to fight and they wanted me to get my degree and they would assist me into a job in trade unionism or the media where I would be of more value to their revolution. I wasn’t happy with that. I started to look at the Provisionals, I liked what I saw and it still took me nine months to join and I had to go to England to do so.

MG:   Okay. One of the things that you’re questioned about – and I know, John and I have friends, The Butlers – Kathy and Helen Butler and Will Butler – who are related to Eddie Butler, but one of the things they say: How did you leave, how did the IRA leave people in jail unjustly who they knew were innocent in Birmingham, in Guildford, etc?

KC:   Well it’s not true that they did. Eddie Butler, for instance, is one of those who loudly proclaimed that it was them that did the bombings that the Guildford people had been convicted of. The British knew perfectly well in that case and in the case of the Birmingham Six that the people they’d slammed up were innocent. They didn’t care. They wanted scapegoats. The people they convicted fitted the bill. It was a disgraceful episode in the British judicial history – one they should be thoroughly ashamed of – but anyway it all came right in the end in that the people were vindicated and released. And the IRA from Day One in relation to both Birmingham and Guildford and various other matters like Judith Ward said that the people who had been arrested were not members of the IRA, had not participated in those operations and that they were IRA operations. There’s misconceptions about that, for instance, various journalists have said that I’m the first to admit that the IRA had bombed Birmingham – that is simply not true. It was admitted from Day One.

JM:   Kieran, John McDonagh here. Here’s one of the problems now: Sinn Féin negotiated the Good Friday Agreement and this was supposed to put an end to everything and as we’ve had Brendan Hughes on saying it wasn’t worth the struggle – or as he said ‘getting out of bed’ – you stated this was a waste of time and lives, what went on because of the end result with now Sinn Féin, who will be taking their seats in Westminster. But what’s going on now is even with these historical committees they’ve set up in The North they’re looking to even extradite you because they claim that you have some knowledge about what happened in Birmingham. Now, whatever you want to say about the partition of Ireland, 1921, the government that was set up in Dublin would not have been extraditing anyone that would have been accused of anything, a bombing campaign say earlier in the struggle in England or being involved with the struggle – they were honoured – those men and women were honoured. Unlike in The North – they’re not honoured. They cannot get funding for statues up there or for plaques or anything like that, that what’s going on now shows that Sinn Féin lost, that the British government still wants to extradite people all these years later – they won’t prosecute their own soldiers – but there’s talk about trying to have you extradited over to England and to face charges for the Birmingham bombings.

KC:   Ah, well, there’s no possible charge they could bring against me in relation to Birmingham except withholding information. The names of the bombers are well-known. I’m not going to repeat them. I’d never finger an IRA man. But the names of the bombers have been, do you know what I mean, they’ve been mentioned on British TV, they’re in various publications, books, loads of journalists have named them, they’re in Wikipedia as to they are, short of them taking a trip to England and making confessions there’s no evidence to convict them because all the forensics is gone and cannot now be examined. So there’s not a shred of evidence against them the men except their potential own confessions which ain’t gonna happen. The only information that I’m withholding is the name of the second man who conducted the debrief of the English Commander back in Dublin in the immediately aftermath of the bombs. And I won’t name him. He’s still alive. And as I say I would never name a living IRA man.

JM:  Now would you ever travel outside of now the Twenty-Six Counties?

KC:   I travel regularly. I go to Spain. I go to various other countries. I avoid the UK for obvious reasons; I think I’d be arrested. I avoid The North also although I have been back – you know what I mean, quietly, furtively but yeah, that’s it – I travel widely otherwise. Although unfortunately I was very much hoping Hillary Clinton would win – that may or may not be popular with your listeners simply because I would have written a personal letter to her and asked her would she allow me to visit The States which I’d very much like to do before I die.

MG:   Kieran, you’re not the only one who had ideas of letters – we’ve talked about some of the ex-prisoners here who are in similar situations. Kieran, I do want to ask you, in you book – and again, this is a great book – it details first-hand knowledge of people like Billy McKee, people like Martin McGuinness, others – serving with them or your interaction with them through the early years of the struggle. But in the book…

KC:   …Well McKee – just before you go on – I’d just like to pay tribute to McKee. He’s now in his nineties and he is the IRA man that I most admire and heard most from. I really have huge, huge regard for him.

MG:   As would I. He is somebody who still stands up, makes speeches – well he will give statements occasionally just about what he thinks is wrong. But what I want to ask you about is: In your book, well I’m not sure if it was in the book or on this radio show, you had detailed leaving the Republican Movement on the day of the Downing Street Declaration and how you thought that this meant there would never be a united Ireland, that everything that you had fought for, that everything so many Irish men and women had fought for was never going to happen in your lifetime. Could you explain that?

KC:   I could. What happened was that I went into the Sinn Féin offices that day and I went down to the An Phoblacht offices close by to watch the much-anticipated Downing Street Declaration. We expected something to be said to indicate that the British had no interest in remaining in Ireland. In fact what was said was simply a re-statement of then British policy about upholding the Unionist veto and so on and so forth. The mood in the room amongst the people who were watching the television was one of was deep despondency and the next thing, anyway, there was a call from Belfast. Gerry Adams was the caller. He spoke to a senior member of Sinn Féin and that Sinn Féin member then turned to the rest in the room and said: Listen. Gerry says everybody should settle down. That there’s more to this than meets the eye and we can live with it.

I knew that that was not true. I knew that the British re-statement of policy was exactly that. And I knew that the struggle was over for me and I just left. I mean, as far as that’s concerned the people in the room were fools and idiots if they believed what was being said to them.

MG:   Well Kieran, you look at what’s happened since then, through the Stormont Agreement…

KC:   …Well what happened is exactly what I thought would happen.

MG:   Okay so why do people – there are still people who think that within any amount of time there’ll be a border poll, there’ll be a majority for a united Ireland, that by shaking hands with the royal family and standing along side Arlene Foster no matter what she does or says and making way for Orange marches down Ardoyne, that segments of Unionist or Loyalist opinion are going to convert – they’re going to suddenly vote for a united Ireland. What are your feelings about that?

KC:   The Loyalists will never change. Why should they? The entire basis of Loyalism is to maintain the link with Britain. They won’t change and there will be no change in their position and there will never be a united Ireland, certainly not in my lifetime.

MG:   Okay. Well what about all this that Sinn Féin says we won all these seats in Leinster House and this is going to make moves or it’s how it’s advancing a united Ireland. Do you see any advances coming from that – towards a united Ireland?

KC:   No, no. No, I don’t and furthermore the presence of Sinn Féin in the various parliaments, and it looks like Westminster will be next, has made absolutely no difference to the living conditions of the people who will vote for them. You know, all that’s happened is that there are Sinn Féin arses sitting in government in The North rather than SDLP (Social Democratic and Labour Party) arses but that makes no difference.

MG:   Alright. We want to thank you. We’re out of time. We could go a lot longer. Kieran, I want to thank you and just if you want to see what it was like – why somebody from Dublin – why people would join and believe that there was a legitimate struggle against British rule, enlist in the IRA, some of the leading figures in that struggle, especially in the early ’70’s and why they would be disillusioned, leave and feel that that struggle had just given up and was never going to achieve what it set out or been started to achieve and what would have justified it. I recommend Southside Provisional. I recommend Kieran Conway’s book – somebody who speaks with knowledge. Kieran, I want to thank you for being with us and also for surviving and standing up to Stephen Nolan in some of those interviews on the BBC.

KC:  (laughs) It was easy. I mean it’s the first time that I’ve been accused of being a psychopath and had no trouble dealing with the rest of it. It’s simply common abuse. It wasn’t a question. It was idiotic abuse.

MG:   Kieran, it seems to me – and I’m about the same age as you – I think we met in Parnell Square – but I believed the same thing – that that struggle was legitimate – I believed for a long period of time it was going to end British rule in Ireland and that would make it legitimate and again, we’re now at the same point where it seems like we’re starting all over and unless something changes very dramatically we’re never going to get to it.

KC:   No. It ended in total defeat of the Republican Movement which came to accept the British position on Irish unity that it will never occur without the consent of the Unionists which is never going to be forthcoming and that was complete reversal of everything they had fought against for twenty-five years – so total defeat.

MG:   Alright. Kieran, we want to thank you for being with us and we’re looking forward to having you again in future and again, the book is Southside Provisonal From Freedom Fighter to the Four Courts – all those lawyers are always very eloquent, that’s…

KC:   Thanks very much for having me on.

JM:   If you want to hear the interview again go to wbai.org to the archives. If you want to read the transcript of that interview you go to rfe123.org or dot com is it?

MG:   It’s dot org. And we actually have the Stephen Nolan interview transcribed. So Kieran, if you want to re-live all those rude questions you can see it there and we’ll have your interview today up on our website very soon and it’ll be around, I know The Pensive Quill and some of the other sites as well.  (ends time stamp ~ 55:35)

Eamon Sweeney RFÉ 12 November 2016

Radio Free Éireann
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listen on the internet: wbai.org Saturdays Noon EST

John McDonagh (JM) and Martin Galvin (MG) speak to journalist Eamon Sweeney (ES) via telephone from Doire who brings us up to speed on news and events from Doire. (begins time stamp ~ 22:49)

MG:   Our first guest – now we had a number of stories and we keep changing because we thought we were going to be on a few weeks ago. We had on the great journalist from Doire, Eamon Sweeney, to cover a couple of stories and as week after week went by more stories – and we were preempted for fund raising – more stories would come on so we are going to recap a number of those crucial stories with Eamon Sweeney. Eamon, are you with us from Doire?

ES:  I am indeed, Martin.

MG:  Alright, that’s great. Eamon, I had a number of stories lined up but you tell me that there has been another event that you went to I think last night or the night before to deal with Bloody Sunday. We’ve been waiting to hear. We had had people on to talk about how the investigation had been completed, it’s now been referred to the Public Prosecution Service, that there would be a decision made on charges and we wouldn’t need any more demonstrations – The Nashes and the others, Eamonn McCann and the others who lead those marches for justice to put British soldiers who are guilty of manslaughter or unjustified killings before a court. What event was it that you were on within the last couple of days and what announcement, if any, has been made by the Public Prosecution Service in The North?

ES:  Well the event took place on Thursday evening in a bar in the city centre in Doire  and it was simply an anti-war evening on the eve of the annual armistice events which happen in the United Kingdom. But the format that took place was several performers, including Eamonn McCann reading out anti-war poetry, but ostensibly the purpose behind that was to raise funds to organise a march which will take place this year, well sorry, early next year, as close as possible to the actual date of Bloody Sunday on January 30th 1972. It was a well-attended event and it was a very enjoyable one you know, performers giving their time for free to highlight the injustices of the world wars which, of course, America took part in, the injustices that were foisted upon the mainly working class people of the world, at that stage, by colonial powers. The other aspect of it is, of course, as you said, the investigation into Bloody Sunday. All the soldiers that were pinpointed by the PSNI, the Police Service of Northern Ireland, to be interviewed in relation to their actions on that day forty-five years ago almost has been completed now for some months – at least two and a half three months – but as yet no word has been received by any of the family members about the progress in that movement towards putting soldiers in the dock to question them about their actions where fourteen people were shot dead and twice that number injured on that day. So again, there seems to be a slowness in making these final decisions. This is all against the backdrop, of course, of the wider victims’ issue in Northern Ireland at the moment which is gathering great pace.

The refusal by the British government, basically, to release a hundred and fifty million pounds that was promised as part the new deal or the latest re-working, if you will, of the Good Friday Agreement of 1998 to fund legacy investigations and legacy inquests into fifty-six different cases involving ninety-five, ninety-six deaths throughout the course of The Troubles which involves state killings, it also involves paramilitary killings and it seems to be the last piece of the jigsaw in terms of reaching a final Fresh Start Agreement in Northern Ireland with regard to victims has again reached an hiatus and is stalling.

One interesting aspect of it has been the personage of the new Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, James Brokenshire, who has very vocally put it out there in recent weeks that one of his main priorities is to get a mechanism in place to adequately deal with the past. However, in saying that, just this week the Irish newspaper, the Irish News newspaper in Belfast, ran a story saying that files belonging to the British Army with relation to the bombing in Belfast of a bar called McGurk’s in 1971 will remain closed until 2056 which is another forty years down the line. That doesn’t auger very well, I suppose, for British claims that they’re willing to deal, as a priority, when looking into the past.

MG:  Eamon, it seems that they’ll withhold funds and put Sinn Féin in a position where they have to have some kind of deal and then call it a victory or else get nothing and they’ll stall it as long as possible. I want to move it just very quickly – there’s a couple of other stories. Just before we started our break on fund raising Michael Doherty had talked about the case of Tony Taylor, somebody who was interned-by-remand, doesn’t get a hearing, finished his sentence, was then suddenly was re-arrested, put back in on his old sentence, doesn’t know why, doesn’t know the charges. His solicitor can’t find out why but there’s been a sinister, even more sinister, development with that involving his wife and visits from his handicapped child. What happened to Tony Taylor?

ES:  Well in this instance the local press reported some two weeks ago now during the conclusion of a visit by his wife and his son to Maghaberry Prison that there is an allegation of assault, both physically and verbally, against Mrs. Taylor by a female prison officer and the police said that they are investigating that. We’re not sure of the exactitude of the details of the nature of the assault but it seems to be centred around the fact that Mr. Taylor’s son is a disabled child and his only means of communication depends very heavily on physical contact. And it seems to have arisen around some form of physical contact at that point where allegedly a female prison officer then committed verbal and physical assault upon the personage of Mrs. Taylor. That’s ongoing.

In terms of the actual campaign for the release of Tony Taylor I had explained, both myself and you have explained the exactitude of the sort of nonsensical manner in which this is dealt with by the British state that there was a protest held in Doire just over a week ago at Free Derry Corner and despite the fact that it was a very cold, dark, rainy night it was attended by around, in my estimation, around three hundred people again calling for the release of Tony Taylor. You know and it was attended widely by many groupings, political groupings, and ordinary members of the public so it’s not something that’s going to go away. The bottom line, as we’ve said on this programme on a few occasions already is this: If the British state perceives Tony Taylor to be a threat to them then put him into court and present their evidence and give him the trial which he would be entitled to. Otherwise his incarceration or continued incarceration – he’s a prisoner, he’s not a convicted prisoner however – is a total nonsense. An absolute shocking case of taking somebody from their home and incarcerating them on the say-so of somebody within the British security services. And the point, again, is simple: Get him into court and let’s see what evidence you have against the guy. Give him the due process that the British seem to be very proud of.

MG:  John, you have a question.

JM:   Eamon, John McDonagh here. We had our own Brexit here but you had it first over there in the Six Counties and now it’s going maybe go to a vote in Westminster and there’s now talk of Sinn Féin maybe taking their seats there. They’ve taken their seats in Dublin, they’ve taken their seats in Stormont and now they’re talking about taking their seats in Westminster. Now I follow Dixie Elliott and one of the main reasons they say they can’t take their seats there because they’d have to swear an allegiance to the Queen of England. Now Martin McGuinness is now giving tours of Westminster, Sinn Féin has offices there in Westminster, they get paid by the Queen – what is the feeling over there about if the vote comes down, very crucially, to a couple of votes – Sinn Féin has four British MPs in Westminster – do the people there want them to go in, take their seats and vote to remain within the European Union?

ES:  That’s a very interesting question. I mean at this point it’s total speculation. Martin McGuinness said that he would not rule anything out as a possibility in terms of using those four votes at Westminster to offset any hurtling towards Brexit. Brexit is going to happen. It’s just the manner in which it’s going to happen that has to be discussed. There’s no doubt about that. The political ramifications of that are going to be huge for this particular part of The North of Ireland but in terms of Sinn Féin taking their seats – that is a possibility. I mean they do actually use the offices at Westminster and have done since they’ve contested the elections although they do not enter the chamber on the basis they abstain because of the oath of allegiance to the British Crown. Their policy on abstentionism, as we know, has weaken from what? say thirty-five years ago when it changed so they were allowed to enter Leinster House. Then of course came the Good Friday Agreement and now they sit in Stormont.

On their particular political journey I don’t see any reason why, in the end, they wouldn’t take their seats in Westminster given they have moved quite away from the left-hand side of the political spectrum into the centre in terms of administering rule. They are a bona fide elected body in both sections of the island of Ireland. It’s a decision which will, I suppose, cause some ripples within their own party at certain levels. It’s certainly a decision that would not be widely popular, in my estimation, within Nationalism in The North. This is the last bulwark of Sinn Féin’s Republican ideology. Sinn Féin, as we all know, stands for ‘ourselves alone’ – ourselves alone meaning: We will stand ourselves alone outside the structures of the British government and create our own parliament which, of course, happened in 1919. And it’s a very tricky one. If they are going to use the caveat that we have to enter Westminster in order to help offset the effects of Brexit in Ireland then that’s a decision that’s going to be taken by them and them alone. But it’s not one, that I personally would see, would be a highly popular one among certain sections of their own voters as well.

MG:  Alright Eamon, we just have a little over a minute left. I wanted to ask you about one more character: We’ve talked a lot about a guy named Denis Donaldson who was killed. There was somebody who passed…

JM:  ….well, who was an informer – worked for MI5.

MG:  There was another informer who worked for MI5 in Doire – a character named Raymond Gilmour. He passed away recently. They say don’t say anything but good about the dead – there was an exception made for those two. Raymond Gilmour’s son had actually said he was ashamed of his name, the family had left him, the guy may be buried in a pauper’s grave and another informer, Martin McGartland, is trying to raise money to keep him from that fate. Could you just tell us, I know it’s very briefly, why there is some much animosity towards Raymond Gilmour and his memory in Doire?

ES:  Well Raymond Gilmour was a character who was firstly jettisoned from the Official side of the Republican Movement then the INLA (Irish National Liberation Army) under the suspicion of being an informer. He then ended up within the ranks of Provisional IRA and then very briefly was spirited out one night from his home in Creggan around 1982 when it became clear that he had become a dedicated sort of agent for the British state within the ranks of the Republican Movement in Doire. He then became what was known as the first ‘supergrass’ in Northern Ireland and he implicated many hundreds of people – thirty-odd people were eventually taken to court. The court case collapsed after two years, around 1984, when the Lord Chief Justice at the time, Lord Chief Justice Lowry, said this was a man who, of whom, a lie would trip more easily from his lips than the truth. He was totally discredited and all those involved were exonerated. The fact is that you’ll not find anybody with any sympathy in the Nationalist person of the day who has any sympathy for either Raymond Gilmour’s actions at the time nor his memory now. His name became synonymous with that of an informer ie if somebody accused you of being an informer you were called ‘a Gilmour’ – that’s how entrenched this character’s memory became in the city.

Martin McGartland, obviously his co-equivalent who operated in other parts of The North including Belfast, has tried to start a gofundme campaign on Facebook and other sort of social media outlets to raise money for Gilmour in order to bury him. My last check, although it’s been up and running for a couple of weeks now, I think it’s maybe around close to a thousand pounds when five thousand pounds were needed to get this man buried. The next thing that you would say about Raymond Gilmour is that he became a very tragic character. He sunk deep into drinking and we understand that that was the eventual cause of his death. He was found alone after a week in a flat near Ramsgate in Kent in England and there’s no great outpouring of sympathy in Doire for Raymond Gilmour and there never will be and that’s how sort of despised his name, unfortunately for his own…(crosstalk) (inaudible)

MG:  …Alright Eamon – we’ve been talking to Eamon Sweeney from Doire, a great reporter and journalist, who’s good enough to wrap up a couple of the major stories that happened in the last few weeks. Eamon, thank you very much and again – well, I won’t say anything about that – we’re certainly not asking people to contribute to that funeral arrangement. Let Raymond Gilmour go to the pauper’s grave that he so deeply and richly deserves. Alright thank you, Eamon, and we’re looking forward to having you again when we can deal with one story and give it the time it deserves instead of having to go through three or four as we did today. Thank you.

ES:  No problem, Martin. Thank you. Bye-bye.

JM:  And also, during that time when Raymond Gilmour was giving evidence so many people were picked up in Doire. But but one person wasn’t picked up: Martin McGuinness – who we had on, Ian Hurst, who worked for the British government, stated that Martin McGuinness was a ‘protected species’ and he was never picked up during those supergrass trials. But the wit and irony with the people in the Six Counties during those thirty years – there was a wall mural that was up in Doire and it said: ‘I know Raymond Gilmour thank ‘f’ he doesn’t know me’ and that was one of the more famous wall murals that went up. Because anybody who was connected with the Republican Movement was arrested at that time and brought up on charges.

MG:  They had thirty-five people in jail for I think it was up to three years before – and they don’t get the time back. (ends time stamp ~ 39:21)

Kieran Conway The Nolan Show 3 Nov 2016

The Nolan Show
BBC Radio Ulster
3 November 2016

Stephen Nolan (SN) interviews former IRA Intelligence Director Kieran Conway (KC) via telephone from Dublin and has Ulster Unionist Party justice spokesperson Doug Beattie (DB) on the line from Belfast.  (The Nolan Show advises: ‘Please note this programme has been edited since transmission.‘ – Ed.)

SN:   Ulster Unionist MLA Doug Beattie has said he’s disgusted at a BBC interview with a former IRA intelligence officer, Kieran Conway, has said he had participated in a number of armed robberies in England, half a dozen commercial bombings and shootings including a number where soldiers were killed. Mr. Beattie, who is his party’s justice spokesperson, has asked the Minister for Justice and the Chief Constable what action they intend to take following these revelations. I’ve been speaking to Doug Beattie and Kieran Conway and I started by asking Kieran Conway what he did in the IRA.

KC:  I participated in IRA operations as you’d expect an IRA man to do.

SN:  Can you give me a sense of what some of those operations were?

KC:  No, I described them in my book and in various interviews. I participated in gun battles with British soldiers. In a number of them soldiers had died though I can’t be sure if it was my bullet that caused the damage. I participated in a very small number of commercial bombings and I did armed robberies in England and I engaged in all sorts of other IRA activity.

SN:  And when you say you involved yourself in commercial bombings – did you plant bombs?

KC:  I planted a couple, yeah.

SN:  So you carried a bomb into a commercial area and set it down, did you?

KC:  I did, yeah. I’m not prepared to go into any more detail on that yet but I did a number of commercial bombings, a very small number.

SN:  And what was in your head when you’re leaving a bomb in the middle of an area where there are civilians?

KC:  Well your main concern would be that no civilians got hurt and after that you would be concerned about your own get away and it would be in that order.

SN:  How can you leave a bomb, Kieran, in a commercial area and pretend that you’re concerned about civilians?

KC:  Well no civilians were ever hurt or far less killed in any bombing that I participated in and I’m very grateful for that because I (crosstalk) (inaudible)

SN:  But they could have been, couldn’t they, if it’s a commercial…

KC:  …clearly they’re dangerous things…

SN:  …Yeah, if you mean a commercial area…

KC:  …actually no, they couldn’t…

SN:  ….if you mean a commercial area you mean…

KC : …(crosstalk) (inaudible)…

SN:  …you mean where people shop are, right?

KC:  …they couldn’t because of the precautions that were taken.

SN:  But you left the bomb where shops were – where people shop?

KC:  Yeah, well on occasions these were at night when the street were deserted and on maybe just one occasion it was in daylight – daytime – and there would be police and a warning was phoned in and the area was definitely cleared.

SN:  Well that was very good of you to give a warning.

KC:  Yeah well, that’s what the IRA always tried to do. There were mistakes – most notoriously Birmingham, Coleraine – a number of others which just don’t come to mind at the moment – incidents like Claudy where they couldn’t find a functioning phone box, the telephone exchange had been blown up the previous week – so yeah it was IRA policy to give a warning, very, very strict policy, and there were always investigations if bombs killed civilians and people were court-martialled, if necessary, for being careless.

SN:  I was being facetious when I said it was very good of you, of course, because to…

KC:  …No, no – I understand that.

SN:  Yeah. To take the risk of leaving – I just , I’m trying to understand how someone like you sleeps in your bed at night when you know you leave a bomb down and men, women, children might get blown to smithereens.

KC:  Well men, women and children did not…

SN:  …they might have though.

KC:  …as a matter of fact. No, they might not because, as I said, suitable precautions were taken and in the one incident where it was a daylight bombing and there was people in the street the area was cleared following a warning given to the authorities.

SN:  And you committed armed robbery with the IRA?

KC:  I did.

SN:  Robbing what type of institutions?

KC:  Banks, factories for wages – things of that sort.

SN:  So you pointed a gun at someone working a nine to five job?

KC:  Yeah. With some regret – not a very nice thing to do but the IRA needed money and those things happen during revolutions. Armed robberies have a long and perfectly respectable history within the revolutionary tradition as revolutionaries need money – they have to get it somewhere.

SN:  So to hell with the person that’s traumatised for the rest of their life.

KC:  Well look yeah, it’s unfortunate but yeah – that’s the way it is during war or revolution.

SN:  You call yourself a soldier?

KC:  I do. I do most definitely. We were engaged in a just war which ended badly for us – in total defeat. But yeah, that’s what we were engaged in as far as I’m concerned. I feel no guilt or remorse or anything except that I feel a general remorse because the outcome that has been achieved could have been achieved without the spilling of a single drop of anybody’s blood. So all of that were a waste, a waste of life, completely unnecessary and in that respect should not have happened.

SN:  So people like you call yourselves soldiers and yet you said, just a matter of moments ago, that you take a weapon, you take a gun – did you point it at women?

KC:  No…

SN:  …in some of these jobs?

KC:  No…I was in a couple of banks where there would have been women cashiers – none of them were directly affected though…

SN:  So you just pointed them at men then that might still to this day have the post-traumatic stress disorder because of people like you.

KC:  You just held the gun, you just pointed the gun and yelled in the direction of the person that you wanted to rob.

SN:  Yeah. I just try to understand how you then go home and live a life after you’ve done that to another human being. You know, that’s not war, is it? That’s not war.

KC:  Well look – I mean look at what the British did during World War II. Look at something like Dresden, you know, warring (inaudible) deliberately decide to slaughter civilians – three hundred thousand killed in massive fire bombs you know – that’s the real thing – at least we gave warnings.

SN:  Doug Beattie, what’s your reaction so far to what you’ve heard already?

DB:  You know, I understand the nature of conflict but when I use the word disgusted, and I don’t use that word lightly, I’ve actually been staggered. What we’re talking about here – is a man you’re talking to on the other end of the phone who knew about the Birmingham bombing – who planted the bombs, who planned it, who debriefed them – twenty-one people dead, a hundred and eighty-seven injured, six innocent men going to jail for life and he knew about it and said nothing. He’s already admitted himself that he knows about at least a dozen war crimes and he’s not willing to say who done that. Does he know who killed Jean McConville? Does he know anything about the Stakeknife incident?

He has openly said, himself, that he has attempted to murder and possibly even murdered British soldiers. Now how on earth is this man not behind bars for what he’s done and what he’s said about withholding information? I am staggered. I am staggered that the Republic justice system has not got hold of this guy by  the scruff of the neck. I am staggered that the British government hasn’t tried to extradite him and I would want to know: Does this man hold a comfort letter?  Does he have an OTR letter? What gives him such a brazen attitude that he can sit here and quite openly say he’s done what he’s done?

SN:  Well, did you have an on-the-run letter, Kieran?

KC:  No, I don’t. The only people that would have got those were people who sided with the leadership – I would not be such a person.

SN:  Why do you think you haven’t been extradited?

KC:  Well you can’t be extradited for questioning. I mean there’s no evidence against me other than what’s in my book. Now I could be charged with IRA membership, that is certainly possible but as for being charged with – that would be up for debate.

SN:  You’ve just said openly on this programme you’ve been engaged in armed robbery.

KC:  Yeah well look, I mean they would have to charge me with armed robbery at a place unknown, on a date unknown, of people unknown you know, I mean that’d be a stretch even for the British justice system. There’s no evidence….

SN:  You think you’re clever, don’t you?

KC:  …unless I chose to make a… No, not particularly. There’s no evidence unless I chose to make a confession and I certainly won’t be doing that.

SN:  Do you know who was involved in the Birmingham Pub bombings?

KC:  I do. And so does everybody else. It’s public knowledge. It’s been published several times. It’s been on television – the names of the people. The only bit of information that I have, which would not be of any material use to the authorities, is the name of the second man who did the debrief. He is an IRA man that is still living and I won’t name him.

SN:  Why not?

KC:  Because I simply do not finger IRA men.

SN:  So you’ve written a book about all of this – I’m actually minded to think is any of this true? Are you just trying to sell a book? Do you like the attention to such an extent that maybe you didn’t do any of this?

KC:  No. The book, its contents, are all true. It hasn’t been challenged by anybody. As I said, it’s a truthful memoir.

SN:  Have you killed people?

KC:  I don’t know. I say that in the book and I’ve said it repeatedly in the dozens of interviews I’ve done since.

SN:  What do you mean you don’t know?

KC:  I don’t know. I was present when British soldiers died in gun battles but I can’t be sure that it was my bullet that caused the damage.

SN:  So you were complicit in it?

KC:  Yes. I was an IRA activist. That’s what IRA activists did.

SN:  How many people might you have you killed?

KC:  Very few.

SN:  Doug?

DB: Stephen, if I can jump in here – Now let’s put this into the narrative that Kieran is using – let’s put this as a narrative as a war. Okay so I’m a soldier and I go out on the ground, I have a rifle in my hand and I know that the likes of Kieran is going to try and kill me. Fine. I’m happy with that. And do you know what? Within the rules of engagement if I get Kieran with a weapon within my sights I’m going to kill him. That’s fine – I can live with that if that’s the narrative he wants to use. But he is saying he knows about war crimes. This is the abduction, the torturing, the murdering of civilians and he knows about it and he’s not going to tell us? Now there needs to be action purely on that if nothing else. So whatever narrative Kieran wants to use he can’t justify knowing about war crimes and not telling the authorities about those war crimes. There are families out there – and we just seen it yesterday – the families of the missing who are still waiting to get their loved ones bodies back. Does he know anything about that? If he does he needs to go to the authorities and he needs to tell them.

SN:  Do you know anything about that, Kieran?

KC:  I don’t know anything about the ‘disappeared’. ‘Disappearing’ people was quite definitely a war crime. Another war crime is Kingsmills and the shooting of uninvolved Protestants was always a war crime. They were killed in, supposedly, in retaliation for UDA (Ulster Defence Association)/UVF (Ulster Volunteer Force) attacks on Catholics but retaliation of that sort on civilians is forbidden by all laws of war and should not have occurred and were war crimes so there were more than the half, many, many more, than the half-dozen that I suggested there were. Another war crimes that was, fortunately, a short-lived use of human bombs by the IRA where people were strapped into vehicles with a large amount of explosives, directed to drive to a barracks or whatever and were then blown up by remote trigger. That was a war crime. Yeah, those are crimes.

DB:  Absolutely, Kieran, and I lost a friend, Cyril Smith, by one of those human bombs that was (inaudible). As a soldier, if I know about a war crime I will report it. I will go out of my way to make sure that action is taken. If you call yourself a soldier, if you have any decency whatsoever, you should be going forward with any information you have of war crimes and passing it on. This nonsense of omerta within the IRA doesn’t really work.

KC:  Well, I don’t have specific information. I’d imagine that the authorities do. For instance in relation to Kingsmills, possibly the most notorious of them, I was not in the IRA at the time so I just don’t know. And I don’t know about the ‘disappeared’ and I don’t know about any of the other assassination of (inaudible) etc etc that I’ve mentioned.

DB:  But as a former intelligence officer, Kieran, you’ll know that every small piece of information can link to something bigger so therefore you should bring yourself up to Northern Ireland, hand yourself to the PSNI and let them question you about what you do know.

KC:  Yeah. All I can do is to repeat that I don’t know anything.

DB:  Could you not come up and let them question you? Let them ask you? Let them see if… (crosstalk) (inaudible)

KC:  …No, if I come to Belfast I would expect that I might well be arrested and charged for membership back in the ’70’s and ’80’s because I’ve admitted in my book, I’ve said it in various interviews so there’d be plenty of evidence there. I wouldn’t be answering police questions. I’ve been in custody many times and I’ve never answered police questions.

SN:  So why can’t – why can’t they…

KC:  …but that is the only evidence against me is the evidence of myself that I was an IRA man and I participated in IRA…

SN:  …So I’m trying to understand it. Maybe you could – you’re a lawyer now, Kieran, is that right?

KC:  I am, yes.

SN:  So educate me then – why can’t the authorities here in The North not extradite you based on the crime of IRA membership then?

KC:  They could. I don’t know whether the courts in The South would give me up. They quite possibly would and (crosstalk) (inaudible)

SN:  There hasn’t been an attempt to?

KC:  No, but I knew I was taking that risk when I wrote the book and I went ahead and wrote it anyway. So yes, that’s something that is conceivable.

SN:  I dare say there might be quite a few people listening to this today that would like to see a bomber like you in jail.

KC:  Oh yeah, I’m quite sure there would be, yeah.

SN:  So Doug…

KC:  My view in all that, just to finish this, is that a conflict of this sort should end with a general amnesty that should include, for instance – and this is why the Republicans won’t go for it – it should include an amnesty for the soldiers that were involved in murder on Bloody Sunday and on other occasions. There should be blanket amnesty for everybody.

SN:  Doug, why – have you asked the Minister for Justice why there’s no attempt to extradite this man?

DB:  I’ve written to both the Minister for Justice and I’ve written to the Chief Constable. I spoke to the Minister of Justice late last night. She was just coming back from an event – she couldn’t say much but she intends to raise the issue with the Chief Constable herself and I await to see what the outcome is of that. Because I mean, you know until somebody stands up and boastfully sort of starts talking about what they’ve done with no real compassion but then that’s where the issue really lies here – that people are able to do this. And I really am disgusted. And I can accept narratives of different shapes and folds and I can accept that some people see it as a just war you know. But what of these six innocent people who were jailed for life for Birmingham even though the likes of Kieran they were innocent and allowed them to go to jail, you know – how can that be justified?

KC:  It’s not true that I allowed them to go to jail or that the IRA allowed them to go to jail. The British justice system put them in jail. The British justice system knew that they were not guilty. They needed scapegoats and they chose them. The IRA said from the outset that they were innocent and they had nothing to do – they said it repeatedly.

DB:  And the IRA didn’t admit carrying out the Birmingham bombings ’til you did it yourself, I believe, in 2014?

KC:  No, no, that’s simply not the case. It was admitted many, many years ago.

SN:  Do you think then the ease with which you talk about being involved in armed robbery, the ease with which you talk about shooting at people and Ach, yeah – you don’t know if you killed people or not, the ease with which you left a bomb in a commercial area, shops in other words – there might have been a woman pushing a pram beside that – maybe she wouldn’t have got away after your warning, might have been blown up, do you think you’ve got psychopathic tendencies?

KC:  I don’t. Short answer.

SN:  So process that in your head. You don’t really care if you’ve killed people or not.

KC:  I’ve processed it. I’ve processed it. It’s not true. I was engaged in a war. Things happen in a war as I said… (crosstalk) (inaudible)

SN:  Well ISIS, who put people in cages and burn them alive, think they’re engaged in a war.

KC:  Yeah well – they’re engaged in – they’re most clearly engaged in a conflict but their means are ruthless and criminal.

SN:  Possibly psychopathic.

KC:  Yeah, I’m quite sure there are psychopaths in ISIS.

SN:  But of course, you’re not one.

KC:  No, I’m not. And if this interview is going to descend to that level of abuse we might simply call it a day.

SN:  Oh, really? You’re getting sensitive now – you’re getting sensitive Mr. Bomber?

KC:  No, no. But I’m sensitive to the charge of being a psychopath. I deny it.

SN:  So you don’t like the hard questions.

KC:  No, that’s not a hard question at all. That’s just common abuse.

SN:  Really? Common abuse?

KC:  Yeah.

SN:  From a man who planted bombs in commercial areas?

KC:  Yeah.

SN:  Are you for real?

KC:  Yeah.

SN:  What would you like me to say?

KC:  I am for real, yeah but it’s not…

SN:  …What would you like me to say?

KC:  Frankly, I don’t care what you say. Look, I’m here to answer your questions and I’m doing so in as civil a manner as possible and I will react badly if I’m called a psychopath.

SN:  Tough. The actions of a psychopath are those people that can inflict harm and injury and violence on another human being and they don’t feel the emotion associated with it. That’s why I feel it’s a legitimate question. Do you feel emotion? Does it weigh on your conscience? Do you find it difficult sleeping at night when you think about what you have done?

KC:  No, I have no difficulty sleeping at night.

SN:  Do you feel any sense of guilt?

KC:  But as I said, as I said I have no sense of guilt except I have a huge general remorse in relation to everybody that was killed – British soldiers, RUC men, everyone – because, as I said, this conflict was not worth a drop of anybody’s blood.

SN:  But in terms of you, personally – because I think we do need to individualise this – in terms of you personally, process for me why you think you don’t have any sense of guilt or remorse when you get those flashbacks of literally of leaving, the actual action of setting a bomb down and walking away. Tell me why that’s not ingrained in your mind?

KC:  Well look – it was all a long time ago. I seldom think about it. I don’t really think about it unless I’m reminded in interviews like this. As far as I’m concerned I was engaged in a just war. And millions of soldiers have gone to war over the centuries, I’d imagine that a few of them did feel of remorse, do you know what I mean, and guilt over things that they did, but I’m not one of those. The vast majority of soldiers just get on with their lives when the war is over.

SN:  Doug?

DB:  Well, I have a conscience. I feel remorse. I’ve held a dying six year old in my hands and it weights on my conscience heavily. I’ve had difficulty sleeping at night – they’re the natural feelings of a soldier who’s had to engage in something terrible, a terrible conflict, and suffers the scars afterwards. But what Kieran’s describing is somebody who just doesn’t seem to care. And in fact, in his interview he said he happily, as a lawyer, defends dissident Republicans and he’s happy for the work. Now I don’t know what you read into that when he says he’s ‘happy for the work’ you know but there’s something severely wrong here. And do you know, what I can see in the likes Kieran feel they’ve moved on – and fine –and I think people should be allowed to move on but if they have information, if he really has information, then he needs to make that information known. To me it’s simple. And if it was me, if I knew information, if I told anybody that I could get information about a particular crime then I would be the first one who was going to be in front of the police to answer questions. And I think that Kieran needs to do that. Now, if it’s not going to be in front of the PSNI then it needs to be in front of the Garda but he needs to answer these questions. I think it’s incredibly important that he does.

SN:  Okay. We’re going to have to leave it there. Kieran, thank you very much for talking to us today. Doug Beattie, thank you. (ends)

Radio Free Éireann Announcement

Radio Free Éireann will return this Saturday November 12th and air from Noon-1PM New York time, 5-6 PM Irish time, on WBAI 99.5 FM or on the internet at wbai.org. Anytime after the program concludes you can hear the podcast on wbai.org/archives

Derry based journalist Eamon Sweeney will review a number of important stories including:

 

  • Tony Taylor – the Republican political prisoner being disallowed visits from his wife and child
  • Reaction to the death of reviled informer Raymond Gilmour
  • Continuing political and legal fallout from Brexit and questions on a possible vote at Westminster
  • The Manus Deery legacy inquest
  • The poppy controversy and its impact on James McLean, the professional footballer, who refuses to wear a poppy because of what the symbol means in Derry.                                                           

    Co-hosts John McDonagh and Martin Galvin will have an in studio discussion on the election and how it might affect Irish issues, the recent Brendan Hughes Lecture and on new information in the British murder of American citizen, Liam Ryan.  We will also be previewing the upcoming Irish events in the New York area.

Go to Radio Free Éireann’s new web site, rfe123.org, where you can read transcripts of recent headline making interviews.

Kieran Conway BBC HARDtalk 27 Oct 2016

BBC HARDtalk
BBC News
27 October 2016
On YouTube here

Stephen Sackur (SS) visits Dublin and speaks to Kieran Conway (KC), the former Director of Intelligence for the IRA, about his time in the organisation and how he justifies his involvement. (begins time stamp ~ 1:37)

SS:   Kieran Conway, welcome to HARDtalk. We’re going to be talking a lot about your past and as you sit here in Dublin today I just wonder whether you feel very connected to your past or whether it feels like another land which you have left entirely?

KC:  Yeah. No, it’s another country – it really is. The war is over. I seldom think about it. I don’t have nightmares or any sort of guilt difficulties over the various activities I was involved in so no, it’s a different country and now I’m a defence lawyer in Dublin and my life is a million miles removed from what it was in the ’70’s and ’80’s.

SS:  And was that break really quite instant because you quit the IRA…

KC:  …Yeah, the break was instant. It occurred on the night of the Downing Street Declaration – that was an assembly of the British Prime Minister and the Irish Prime Minister, called the Taoiseach and …

SS:  …Which, in essence, was the signal that the leadership of the IRA had decided to go down the path of compromise insofar as they were saying that there would never be a united Ireland without the consent of the people of Northern Ireland. It put off any prospect of a united Ireland.

KC:  It did, yeah. No, there will never be a united Ireland, certainly not in my lifetime, as a result of what the Provisionals did and accepted in late ’93, I guess it was.

SS:  So did you leave in the IRA with fury in your heart?

KC:  Not with fury but with, I don’t know – a sense of inevitability. I felt myself it was time for the war to stop. We were clearly being beaten by the British. We were heavily infiltrated and Volunteers being killed…

SS:  …It was a sense of defeat, really.

KC:   Oh, yes, but you weren’t allowed to say that – if you talked in any sort of defeatist manner you would have been in serious trouble.

SS:  Let’s rewind a long way now and go back to the young Kieran Conway. You were raised in a middle-class home here in….

KC:  …I was…

SS:  …suburban Dublin. A nice life, went to university – you know, seemed set for a comfortable, conventional Irish life. And yet you took an extraordinary decision. You were determined to join the IRA.

KC:  Yeah.

SS:  Why?

KC:  Well I went to university in 1968, the autumn of ’68, against the backdrop of student revolts all over the world, particularly Germany, France and to a lesser extent, the UK also the US, the Vietnam War, South Africa and so on. And although I didn’t join anything in the first year I took part in the many protests that took place. And then in 1969 The North blew up. The Catholic areas were attacked by a combination of RUC men, that’s the police force in The North, and Loyalists and many, many houses were burnt down. People were killed. People were injured. The IRA at the time was not in a good shape but they did defend some areas as best they could with very small numbers. That event led directly to the birth of the Provisionals who were people who were dissatisfied with the stance that the then-leadership of the IRA was taking. They broke away, formed the Provisionals, recruited and I eventually joined them.

SS:  I can see how, in that period of ’68-’69 of revolutionary fervour on campuses across the world frankly – I can see how you’d get swept up in that and I think you saw yourself as a very radical socialist.

KC:  Oh, yeah, yeah.

SS:   I get all of that. But what I don’t get is your determination which you pushed all the way to going to Belfast but then even going to England to actually join an underground secret military organisation where you knew, and actually you sought out, the opportunity to use guns, to consider planting bombs, to commit acts of violence. That is one heck of a step!

KC:  Well it was clear that a revolutionary situation had developed in Ireland and many people, everybody I knew, was either communist or anarchist, syndicalist in those days but…

SS:  …Weren’t all of them just talk? And you acted.

KC:  Yeah, I know that, yeah and I did act, yes. I’ve always been…

SS:  …I mean you must have been prepared, even as a young man of twenty, to consider killing people.

KC:  Oh, yeah, absolutely accepted that as part of the price, if you like, of joining the IRA – clearly people were going to be killed.

SS:  And you were going to do it.

KC:  Yes, I was quite prepared to do it, yeah.

SS:  You were sworn-in in England.

KC:  I was, yeah. I went to England the very next day and within a week I was an IRA member.

SS:  But I guess what I’m seeking to understand is how you reacted to your first operations because I know that in England you were asked, and indeed you were enthusiastically a part of armed robberies to raise funds for the IRA.

KC:  Yeah well, my first IRA operations were all armed robberies and yeah, I was enthusiastic and though we were told we would be not claimed by the IRA in the event of our arrest…

SS:  You found it easy to march into banks, wave a gun around, tell people to get on the ground and take the money?

KC:  Yeah, I had no difficulty with it.  I was put after – after the first couple of raids I was actually put in charge of the Active Service Unit over there so I gained promotion pretty rapidly…

SS:  …You were good at this. And what about bomb making?

KC:   No, we didn’t do any bombing in England in those days. The bombing came later.

SS:  But you learned, whether it was in Northern Ireland or where ever, you learned the skills?

KC:  Oh yeah, no, no – I was trained both in a Midlands city and back in Ireland – I attended two training camps. And then my unit were caught after a particular armed robbery. They were all arrested. I knew Scotland Yard were after me. I was coincidentally back in Ireland at the time and it meant that the leadership then were kind of stuck with me. They stuck me in a house for a couple of weeks – nearly drove me mad – and then came along and gave me full time work with the IRA.

SS:   You have written extensively about your experiences in the IRA. You’ve never, it seems to me, been entirely straightforward about the violence you were involved in. Did you kill people?

KC:  Put it this way, I mean this is the truth: The only people I that ever fired on were British soldiers. British soldiers did die when I was present but I can’t be sure…

SS:  …And firing at them?

KC:  …and firing at them but I can’t be sure that it was my bullet that caused the damage.

SS:  But the likelihood is you killed British soldiers.

KC:  The possibility is there, yeah.

SS:  And bombs you planted?

KC:  And I planted bombs, yes.

SS:  And they exploded?

KC:  And they exploded.

SS:  How many did they kill?

KC:  No, no casualties ever. I only participated in commercial bombings – not very many, maybe a half dozen maximum. But I did a lot more shooting, an awful lot more, maybe about hundred times and British soldiers were killed on a number of occasions – not very many, maybe five or six.

SS:  You were imprisoned, eventually, for I think illegal possession of weapons and one of the notorious prisons that was full of IRA prisoners, Long Kesh – that’s where you ended up.

KC:  That’s right, yeah.

SS:  And at one time, and of course the IRA later became very famous for this, you were part of an IRA hunger strike.

KC:  I was, yeah.

SS:  At any point during this and when you are not taking on food and when you are getting weak and when you are reflecting on whether your life and death are worth it for this cause – did you ever have any doubts?

KC:  Not the slightest, no. I was utterly, totally committed in the way that only a twenty-one year old can be.

SS:  How close to death did you come?

KC:  Oh, no, I was a long way away from it although it was the first hunger strike in recent times and we didn’t know how our bodies would fare. Billy McKee, who was the OC in the Belfast prison at the time, put five, including himself, on hunger strike the first week and then another five the second week. I was in the third cohort so we did only twenty-three days. I lost a couple of stone but otherwise no damage.

SS:  Because it was a very disciplined organisation or certainly it tried to be and I guess you met the very top brass – the Chief of Staff…

KC:  …Yeah well, McKee would have been my sponsor, if you like. He thought highly of me and he persuaded the leadership outside that they should take a similar view of me so when I got out of jail you know within a month I’d been given a very senior job.

SS:  Yeah, you became Director of intelligence.

KC:  Yeah.

SS:  What was your responsibility?

KC:  My responsibility was – there was no intelligence department at the time – there hadn’t been, it hadn’t functioned since before the split so I had to build an intelligence department from scratch.

SS:  But you, from the get-go, were fighting an enemy that was much better resourced than you were.

KC:  Of course. Yeah.

SS:  And we now know the British authorities, the various different intelligence services and police units tasked with fighting the IRA, they penetrated holes in your organisation like a sieve.

KC:  They did. But in the mid-’70, I got out of jail in ’74 – became Director of Intelligence shortly afterwards and left the IRA for a number of years in late ’75. But during the year that I was in charge of intelligence there was far less infiltration than was subsequently…

SS:  …You think.

KC:  No, no. We’re pretty sure. There was infiltration and there were informers but not anything like the level that they penetrated the IRA in the ’80’s and ’90’s.

SS:  Well I’ll talk about that a bit later but let’s stick with ’74 because it’s a crucial year and it raises questions to this day…

KC:  …It does….

SS:  …about you and your ethics and your role. Because in essence we’re talking about one major attack the IRA launched in Birmingham in 1974: Bombs placed in two pubs at a time when they were packed with people drinking, having a good time – ordinary folk – not soldiers, not military personnel – just ordinary people in Birmingham. A lot of people were killed – innocent civilians. You were Director of Intelligence. Did you know what was going on?

KC:  No. I didn’t know anything about it until afterwards. When I heard of the bombs I was appalled, horrified.

SS:  Shouldn’t have the Director of Intelligence been involved?

KC:  No, not really, That’s not the way the IRA operate and the leadership hear of things post hoc, generally. So, no.

SS:  So what? You’re telling me it was an operation conducted out of control?

KC:  Absolutely it was outside the parameters of what was permitted. I don’t know why the people in charge weren’t court-martialled. I have absolutely no idea why not.

SS:  In your view they should have been?

KC:  Oh, they should have been for conducting an attack on two targets that were not, you know, within the parameters of what was allowed.

SS:  Well if you feel that then why have you not fully cooperated, in all the years since, including this year, when again you’ve been before the police to talk about what happened and what you knew and how it unfolded. You’ve never been fully cooperative. Why?

KC:  No. There’s only one bit of information I’ve withheld…

SS:  I know…

KC:  …the names of the bombers are well-known…

SS:  …Well, so you say…

KC:  …Oh, no. They are.

SS:  I’m not sure you’ve ever – I know that other people have – but you’ve never named them.

KC:  No. And I won’t. They’ve been…

SS:  Why?

KC:  They’ve been published by Chris Mullin – I’d only be repeating what he said. And I mean, I will never finger an IRA man.

SS:  You’ll never finger and IRA man even though you regard this as the most terrible, callous immoral act.

KC:  Well amongst them. It was amongst the half-dozen worst acts that the IRA…

SS:  …I don’t want to put words in your mouth. Do you regard it as callous and immoral?

KC:  I do, well yeah, but I blame the local leadership in Birmingham for it. I think the Volunteers that went out acted bona fide – they were just doing what they were told to do. There was supposed to be a warning. In that sense the operation might have fallen on the side of legitimacy if the warning had gone through.

SS:  Really? Well there’s a real contraction there because you’ve said in the past that there’s no way that a pub that was not actually known to be a haunt of military personnel should be a target…

KC:  …No, no. That’s correct…

SS:  …these pubs were not full of military personnel…

KC:  …No, no. I agree…

SS:  …so how can you tell me it could have been a legitimate target?

KC:  No, the people that did it could have argued: Well look, a warning was intended. The warning didn’t go through because of a broken phone box…

SS:  …but it still wasn’t full of military personnel – it was still full of civilians…

KC:  …No, I agree, I agree. No, It should not have happened. It should not have happened.

SS:  Well in that case, why – and you’ve said it in this interview – you are still withholding one piece of information.

KC:  Yeah, but the only piece of information that I’m withholding is the name of the second man that conducted the debrief of the …

SS:  …That’s right. Why? Why? The police want to question him.

KC:  …because he’s living and I won’t name him. Simple as that.

SS:  What right do you have given that not only are you living but the victims’ families are still living and they cannot rest until they feel that justice has been done.

KC:  Well this man will not talk to the police. All he was involved in was the debrief so there’s nothing…

SS:  Well he won’t talk to the police if the police don’t even know his name. I mean isn’t it at least your moral duty to lay out everything you know…

KC:  …No…

SS:  …particularly given what you say you feel about this whole thing?

KC:  No. I don’t accept any moral duty in relation to naming that man and won’t do so.

SS:  Ever?

KC:  Ever.

SS:  You’ll take it to your grave?

KC:  No, if he dies – if he dies before I die at that stage I certainly am prepared to reveal his name.

SS:  Do you think your entire trajectory and your attitudes and what you did for the IRA would have been different had you had kids? I’m just mindful – going back to Julie one more time.

KC:  Yeah, no no….

SS:  …she said: He doesn’t consider the bombers murderers but I wonder what he would say if one of his own kids was killed in this way – all of their skin stripped off their bodies, when he sees them with no legs, no arms – when they’ve been bombed so badly you can’t see their faces because of the injuries – that’s the feeling of a woman who has lost a sister in a bomb…

KC:  …No, I, I….

SS:  …and you didn’t even have children. Wouldn’t you think of being more humane if you had…

KC:  …Well I’m not sure that I wasn’t humane. As I said if we bombed civilian targets we at least gave warnings unlike the British so no, I wouldn’t accept that we weren’t humane or that we didn’t try to be humane although there are at least a half dozen cases occasions in which I think individual IRA men and their commanders can be prosecuted for war crimes even now.

SS:  Have you told what you know to the police on that basis?

KC:  No, I have not. No. No.

SS:  Hang on. Let me get my head around this. Now we’re not taking about Birmingham necessarily but you believe you know things which could be part of a prosecution for war crimes…

KC:  …Yes…

SS:  …of individuals that were in the IRA and you will not disclose that information.

KC:  No, that’s correct. I will never name a living IRA man under any circumstances.

SS:  Under any circumstances? However egregious in your view?

KC:  …No, I mean if I end up before the High Court in some sort of proceedings and cited for contempt I will go to prison rather than name any living IRA man.

SS:  Try to explain to me the morality of that because I don’t get it. If you believe they’re war crimes…

KC:  …well the morality of that – it’s very straightforward as far as…

SS:  …It sounds tribal. It sounds…

KC:  …As far as I’m – No, it’s not tribal at all. As far as I’m concerned I was engaged in a just war. I stand over everything I did. I was fortunate in that the things I did clearly legitimate – firing at British soldiers and the handful of commercial bombings that I engaged in.

SS:  Let’s talk about what you now feel about some of those men that you knew quite well – I mean Martin McGuinness you knew very well – of course now he’s one of the key politicians playing a role in the devolved government in Northern Ireland representing Sinn Féin. Gerry Adams – I imagine you knew him pretty well.

KC:  No, I knew McGuinness a lot better than I would know Adams. I would have considered him a personal friend particularly during the early days when I was in Doire and again in the mid-’70’s.

SS:  And yet, even at the beginning of this interview you pointed out that you felt the process that McGuinness and Adams and the rest of them at the top of the IRA engaged in in the early ’90’s which led ultimately to the Good Friday Agreement and to what we now see as power-sharing and everything else – you feel it was a betrayal.

KC:  It was a betrayal – there’s no doubt about that. What they did was they accepted the British position which was the position that the IRA fought against for twenty-five years and then it turns around and accepts it. So what could that be but a betrayal? Or you could also view it as a recognition of reality and I mean I call Gerry Adams – in my book I refer to him as a mendacious lying bastard – but at the same time it is a fact, and he deserves credit for it, that he single-handedly, admittedly he had collaborators – he managed to get McGuinness to agree with him, which surprised me – but you know, in broad terms he brought, single-handedly, brought peace to Ireland and that was some achievement.

SS:  A peace that you recognise and acknowledge to be the best thing for the island of Ireland?

KC:  No, I acknowledge it’s there. No, I still believe that – I still believe in Irish unity. I think Ireland would be better off…

SS:  …Do you still believe in revolution?

KC:  Ach, look – revolution has kind of had it’s time until the younger generation not interested and until…

SS:  …Well yeah, sorry to interrupt, that’s not entirely true because there are still remnants, splinter groups, of the old Provisional IRA. They call themselves everything from the Real IRA, the Continuity IRA, the New IRA and you, as a criminal lawyer in Dublin, sometimes represent these people or least represent men who are alleged to be members of these groups with arms and explosives and everything else that goes with it.

KC:  No, I’ve represented clients from all three IRAs. I’m very, very grateful for the work. It’s very interesting work…

SS:  …And you don’t ever – despite everything we’ve discussed and the past and the way you feel about the past – you don’t ever say to yourself: I want anything more to do with these people.

KC:  No, I don’t, no. I mean as a good criminal defence lawyer I’ll act on behalf of anybody. I’m not judgmental. I may have my own private view but the most important thing for a defence lawyer is not to discriminate between clients and be prepared to take on anybody no matter how horrendous the act that they’ve been accused of.

SS:  Some people in the intelligence and policing community say that: Yeah, they have an ideological position on continuing the fight for a united Ireland but actually they’re just criminals and thugs – they’re defending turf, they’re involved drugs, they’re involved in protection rackets and some would say that actually that’s what the Provisional IRA became, too.

KC:  No. The Provisonal IRA were never criminals although in the border areas they engaged in smuggling which is obviously criminal offence…

SS:  …well smuggling and you’re a self-acknowledged bank robber.

KC:  …yeah and so is armed robbery so I have no difficulty with that but they were certainly never involved in drugs and criminality of that sort. And I’m quite certain of that.

SS:  Are you?

KC:  Yeah.

SS:  You know what happened to all the money that you robbed from banks do you?

KC:  No, I don’t. I was never involved in the finance department (crosstalk)…

SS:  …On what basis could you possibly be confident that some of that money wasn’t going into people’s back pockets?

KC:  Well I can’t. I do remember that when I was at the Donegal border in 1971 we shot a Volunteer in the legs for stealing a tenner after an armed robbery so that was something that was completely unacceptable – any sort of personal gain and it is shocking – it shocks me – that a lot of people in Belfast in particular seem to have benefited materially and have become very, very rich on the back of the struggle however they did it and I think that’s an absolute disgrace.

SS:  It is interesting, we’ve got to end very soon, but it’s just interesting to come back – you make that point: You know you look from The South, you look from Dublin and what’s happened in Belfast and obviously in many ways you feel that what you see represents defeat and a corrosive sort of failure of the Republican militant movement. Do you ever wish: My God! I wish I’d never gotten involved with that whole mess!

KC:  Not really and that’s simply on the philosophical basis. I’m an existentialist – you accept responsibility for your decisions and you know and on one reading yeah, I wasted twenty-five years of my life but…

SS:  …Well, you wasted twenty-five years of your life. You were involved in a struggle which killed an awful lot of people – some of whom who wore a military uniform – but many of whom didn’t and were, quote/unquote ‘innocent civilians’ and you’ve acknowledged that. And in the end, as you talk about defeat for your movement, you talk about surrender, you talk about failure – what on earth was the point?

KC:  Well, it didn’t – you now when we started off it didn’t look like that was going to be the outcome that it just historically is.

SS:  But judged on outcomes – you should never have gone there. Never have engaged.

KC:  No. If I thought that that might be the outcome no, I wouldn’t have gone there. No, of course not.

SS:  And a final thought about the place you live in, Ireland, which of course for so long has been, in a sense, shaped by conflict between the Irish and the British, do you think, even in your lifetime or beyond your lifetime, it is conceivable that Ireland will be a united Ireland?

KC:  No, I don’t. As long as the Unionists are unwilling to have a united Ireland, and they will always be unwilling to have a united Ireland – that’s their basic position, there is no prospect for Irish unity.

SS:  Does it matter anymore? You know, we talk about the European Union, obviously there’s a lot of discussion about what Brexit means both for Britain and for Northern Ireland in particular and how it will relate to the border between The North and South of Ireland. Does any of this matter?

KC:  Probably not. I mean Nationalism is a nineteenth century construct and it’s fading, visibly fading everywhere except, curiously, in Britain itself which has voted to leave the EU.

SS:  But when it comes to where you are, as a person, with your history, you sleep easy at night?

KC:  I’ve never have any trouble sleeping. No guilt. No nightmares.

SS:  Kieran Conway – we have to end there but thank you for being on HARDtalk.

KC:  Okay. (ends time stamp ~ 23:08)

Martin Galvin 23 October 2016 The Brendan Hughes Memorial Lecture

Martin Galvin delivered the annual Brendan Hughes Memorial Lecture, entitled ‘1916-2016: What Was It About? Where Are We Now?’, at The Playhouse Theatre in Doire on 23 October 2016.

Brendan Hughes Memorial Lecture

1916-2016: What Was It About? Where Are We Now?

A chairde,

It is important to begin by thanking the committee for inviting me but much more importantly for holding a Brendan Hughes Memorial Lecture each year and reminding us today of the fundamental question: 1916-2016: What was it about? Where are we now?

Those who knew Brendan know he would be thankful to be remembered at the yearly commemoration but he would be keenly thankful that there would be a lecture bringing Republicans together for a strategic discussion about the fundamental political challenge which he faced throughout his life and which faces us critically today.

Will we find a political strategy that makes an end of British rule in Derry and the Six Counties, what 1916, or the hunger strikes, or the years of struggle were really about? Can we overcome British plans for what Arlene Foster calls the ‘second century of Northern Ireland’ in a tone that tells us that she takes for granted more centuries of ‘Northern Ireland’ to come?

Brendan Hughes said something to me in a short telephone conversation almost ten years ago which needs repeating here today. Many of you remember those days when the movement which Brendan Hughes had fought for and helped lead proclaimed that a one-sided pledge of allegiance to the renamed RUC would be a major long term victory on the road to uniting Ireland and would mean truth and justice for victims in the short term.

Today’s Minister, Máirtín Ó Muilleoir, was then writing in the Andytown News how it would be ‘fun’ bringing the Crown constabulary to heel. We could trust his judgment, he wrote, because he ‘was in the middle of the police riot on the Andersonstown Road in August 1984 when Sean Downes was killed by the RUC… those of us who were on the Andersonstown Road learnt a lesson in policing that day which we have not forgotten.’ They even used photos of that murderous day to make his point.

As someone who was on the Anderstonstown Road and the RUC’s excuse for murder and riot I saw a vastly different lesson. How did RUC murder and riot become an argument in favor of backing the RUC? Why would a new reformed Crown constabulary be willing to stonewall and cover-up by denying the truth on murders committed by proxy with loyalists or shoot-to-kill committed by the old constabulary? Why if they were not one and the same? Pledging allegiance to all that seemed no victory for a united Ireland but the jewel in the Crown of the old British strategic objectives of Ulsterization, criminalization and normalization!

I wrote pieces for Anthony McIntyre’s site The Blanket, which preceded The Pensive Quill , as one of the best sources for dissenting Republican thought. In Fermanagh-South Tyrone my friend Gerry McGeough invited me to come and campaign. He wanted to go into Stormont, stand up, speak out or walk out for Republican principles. This would mean Sinn Féin could stand behind him on Republican issues or be seen leaving Republican issues behind. Gerry McGeough clearly had paid Republican dues to speak out. At his trial the Crown submitted photos of his body which they charged showed bullet wounds suffered as Gerry fought for the IRA. So it was hard to deny that he had played his part in the struggle.

Here in Derry Mrs. O’Hara agreed to stand. I had been friends with the O’Haras since Elizabeth, alon