Ed Moloney RFÉ 23 March 2019

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Radio Free Éireann
WBAI 99.5FM Pacifica Radio
New York City

John McDonagh speaks to award-winning journalist, author and historian, Ed Moloney, about the new documentary film, I, Dolours, which was co-produced and co-written by Mr. Moloney.
(begins time stamp ~16:13)

John:  Right now we’re going to a trailer of a movie that everyone out there must see – the people that are in it you would have heard here on Radio Free Éireann throughout the years – it’s called I, Dolours, and when we come back from the trailer we’re going to have on Ed Moloney. I don’t know exactly, he’s one of the producers – but he did the interview with Dolours Price who was on hunger strike in England back in the ’70’s for planting a bomb at the Old Bailey.

Poster for the film, I Dolours

She was on hunger strike a hundred and fifty-seven days, she was force-fed by the British government then repatriated back to the Six Counties. And the irony of that: Because it was so horrific the British government did away with that so in 1981 when Bobby Sands went on hunger strike they didn’t even have that as an option, they just let him die so there’s that weird synergy of what Dolours did affected the hunger strikes after that. Right now we’re going to play the trailer which everyone out there can get now. There’s no excuses – it’s not in my theatre – those days age gone! You get on your computer – you can watch it.

Audio:  Trailer for the film, I, Dolours, is played.

John:  And that is the trailer for a movie which did very well over in England, Ireland and has been doing the film circuit around the United States; it’s up on a few platforms. And we have on Ed Moloney, author of A Secret History of the IRA, and was part – Ed, what exactly was your role in this movie? I know you did like one of the last interviews with Dolours Price.

Ed:  Yeah, it’s based on an interview that I did with Dolours back in 2010 and I co-produced and co-wrote the film – the documentary that is.

John:  And Ed, what exactly is the movie about? It is just – it features on Dolours Price or is it just?


Ed Moloney

It’s the story of her life as someone who grew up in a Republican family. Her father was in the IRA and had gone with the IRA in 1939-1940 to bomb England and she got involved the civil rights movement and from that graduated into the IRA, the Provisional IRA, and became a member of the brigade, Belfast Brigade Intelligence Staff, and as such was drafted into a group called The Unknowns which was an organisation, a small unit, that had been created by Gerry Adams and specialised in mostly intelligence-based operations. And then she, of course, she went to London with a group of about eight or nine other IRA people to plant car bombs there to coincide with the referendum that was being held on whether The North wanted to stay British or become part of the rest of Ireland. And she was arrested and sentenced to a lengthy term imprisonment, went on hunger strike, was force-fed for over two hundred days and that’s how the, you know, that’s basically the story but, of course, a lot of the interest in Dolours’ story centres on her role in ‘disappearing’ people as part of The Unknowns. She was given the job of transporting the first four people to be ‘disappeared’ by the IRA starting with a guy called Joe Lynsky and ending with the Jean McConville ‘disappearance’ so that was part of, obviously a very important part of, the film and obviously that’s attracted a great deal of attention.

John:  And Ed, you have the bizarre scenario of Gerry Adams always claiming that he was never in the IRA but everybody that we’ve had on Radio Free Éireann from Brendan Hughes to Marian Price, all saying that, you know, he gave the orders for them to go over to London, he gave them the orders to take Jean McConville – I mean, how does this square when he can just brazenly just say that – and I know the one thing to do, and what he does do, is blacken the names of the people that he would have been former friends with.

Ed:  Oh well, that’s true, yes. But I mean he’s, I mean he’s done it. I mean, what can one say? He’s denied, he’s denied more than that. He’s denied, obviously, being in the IRA, which I think most people who know the situation regard as absurd, and therefore, it’s logical for him to deny involvement in all of these matters. And of course, it’s the sort of thing which drives people to distraction who were part and parcel of the same organisations he was and it’s part of the reason, I think a major part of the reason, for Dolours’ mental deterioration in her final years leading to her being an alcoholic and also being addicted to all sorts of pills and those were the instruments by which I think, effectively, she committed suicide at the end of the day with an overdose of both of those. So yeah, I mean you know, Adams has done it. He’s denied all of this stuff. What can one do? No one believes him. And there you are! But you know, history will judge all of this I guess, you know?

John:  And Ed, it almost seems that just the timing of your movie coming out now with a New York Times best-seller – it’s actually number seven again this week on the Hardback Nonfiction – Patrick Radden Keefe, we had him on a couple of weeks ago, and he details a lot of what went on with Jean McConville which then goes into Dolours Price, Marian Price and Brendan Hughes. What was your take on the book because a lot of the references used in the book came from the Boston Tapes and a lot of the research you’ve done.

Ed:  Incidentally John, I’ve heard that you said that this was the best book on The Troubles so far. Is that right?

John:  Well, one of the best. Yes. I did like it. It read like a novel and it just featured on one of the books, right.

Ed:   I mean, how can you compare it to books like Bandit Country or Killing Rage and stuff like that? I mean this book that Patrick Radden Keefe has written is, it’s almost – you know, it’s taken from Voices From the Grave but he doesn’t credit Voices From the Grave at all. It’s taken from the interviews that I had with Dolours Price which, in retrospect, foolishly I gave him which he barely acknowledges as such. It’s a very controversial book from that point of view. I’m going to say much more about this at a later date when I get my thoughts together and put it all on paper but I certainly don’t regard it as one of the best books that have been written about The Troubles.

The Dirty War by Martin Dillon
Available everywhere in paperback and as an eBook

I see it as a book that leans very heavily on other people’s work – not just my work – Martin Dillon’s book, The Dirty War, which was based also on interviews with Brendan Hughes – he leans on that enormously heavily. And there are whole chapters there which, you know, first appeared in Voices From the Grave which are not credited at all in the book, in Keefe’s book. It’s as if he had unearthed the Brendan Hughes interviews himself and he’s writing up the contents of it. And two of the chapters, at least, are based upon material that has already appeared in Voices From the Grave and has already appeared in the documentary of the same name which won a prize for Irish, the Irish Television Awards, the equivalent of the Academies for documentary films. So you know, I don’t have the same view as you do about this because I’m much more intimately involved in its genesis. I know what happened. I know where he got this material from and I’m, to be honest with you, very pissed off about it.

John:  But you cooperated with the book.


Available everywhere in paperback and as an eBook

I did. I did. But I assumed that he would have the decency, for example, when he was using the Brendan Hughes interviews which Anthony McIntyre did for the Boston College Project, that he would at least say that these interviews, which form, as I said, the basis for at least two of his chapters, were originally appeared in Voices From the Grave but Voices From the Grave, in relation to that material, doesn’t get a mention at all and the untutored reader leafing these pages in his book would assume that he, himself, got hold of this material and this is the first time that this material has ever seen the light of day which is not the truth at all – this stuff has been out for the best part of ten years and yet it appears that most people accept that this is like a stunning exclusive by Patrick Radden Keefe when it’s nothing but a rip-off.

John:  But would you’ve had a different view if he gave you credit for all those things – and taking stuff from your book?

Ed:  Oh, yes! I think he should have. I think he should have said…

John:  …But, but would you look at it differently had he given you the review?

Ed:   Yes, of course because that’s the way you normally do it. Look at the way that he’s written the footnotes in this book. It’s done in a way which you can’t really trace what material comes from where. But in those chapters, which were lifted from the Brendan Hughes interviews, they appeared, those stories were told already in Voices From the Grave ten years ago and he doesn’t credit Voices From the Grave in that respect and I’m saying that is unacceptable behaviour.

John:  We’re speaking with Ed Moloney and we veered off onto a book that’s on the best-seller list but he has a movie out called I,Dolours – and I hope you don’t mind, I think it’s one of the best movies about The Troubles – it’s on many platforms. Ed, how can people get this movie?

Ed:  Well it’s, as you say, it’s on various platforms at the moment. It’s on Hulu, it’s on Amazon and it’s on iTunes and one or two other platforms that I can’t remember. In the UK it’s available on Netflix UK. So it’s available – either you pay two or three dollars or four dollars for it or if you’re a Netflix or Hulu subscriber you get it free but you can watch it on those platforms at the moment.

John:  Alright. Thanks, Ed, for coming on…

Ed:  …No problem….

John:  …and I recommend people get out there and watch this because anybody that’s been familiar with Radio Free Éireann would have heard these voices for years, and particularly Dolours and Marian, talking about their time in a British prison in London and going on hunger strike. (ends time stamp ~ 29:22)