The IRA History e-Book by Vincent McKenna MSc

Irish Republicanism in the 20th/21st Century by Vincent McKenna MSc


What might have been is an abstraction,

Remaining a perpetual possibility,

Only in a world of speculation

T.S. Elliot

This book will unravel the tapestry of 20th/21st Century Irish Republicanism that has been held together by such mythological threads as socialist republicanism and Irish national liberation. It will uncover the true identity of Irish Republicanism as embodied in Sinn Fein/IRA as a sectarian movement whose objective was and remains to coerce the Protestant people of Northern Ireland into a United Ireland, through a campaign of physical and psychological brutality. This book will further show that whatever the republican movement was intended to be in its embryonic stages, it emerged as a sectarian/criminal empire. This book will give a brief history of Irish Republicanism from 1916 to 1960, including the IRA’s close relationship with the Nazis. It will look at the establishment of the Irish Free State and how many tens of thousands of Protestants were driven from that State by way of murder, intimidation and discrimination at the hands of militant republicans. It will then cover events that led in the late 1960s to a Civil Rights campaign, launched by the Catholic minority in Northern Ireland (the north) against what were seen as institutional sectarian discriminations imposed on the Catholic community by the Unionist (Protestant) dominated Stormont Government in Northern Ireland.

This book will then look at the re-emergence of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) in the late 1960s and the ideological conflicts that eventually lead to the split within the IRA in 1970, from that split emerged the Provisional IRA. The role played by the democratically elected Irish Government in Dublin at this time will be analysed. It will be shown that as early as 1970 the republican leadership realised that the real obstacle to their desired United Ireland was the Protestant people of Northern Ireland. However, it will be shown that a specific strategy for directly and intentionally targeting Protestants was not adopted by Sinn Fein/IRA until the mid-1980s.

This book will then examine the development of the Provisional IRA and its Political wing Sinn Fein. I will analysis the roles played by republican prisoners and the hunger strikes in which ten young Irish men lost their lives. I will then look at the political status and political momentum that these hunger strikes generated for the Provisional IRA and Sinn Fein.

I will look at key sign posts that lead to another split in the IRA in 1986 from which was established Republican Sinn Fein/Continuity IRA. The Provisional Sinn Fein/IRA strategy of that of the Ballot box in one hand the Armalite in the other will be examined as will the Anglo-Irish-Agreement signed by British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher and Irish Prime Minister, Garret Fitzgerald.

The split that occurred in Sinn Fein/IRA in 1986 will be explored in detail, emphasising the importance of such a split for the future direction of the republican movement. It will be shown that the Provisional IRA/Sinn Fein leadership believed that a twin track approach of political and physical coercion could be used against the Protestant people of Northern Ireland to physically and psychologically force them into a united Ireland. The same twin track approach would be used to both economically and psychologically force the British Government and public to become persuaders of the Protestant people of the benefits of a United Ireland.

I will show how the IRA’s numbers were reduced as The Northern Command of the Republican Movement under the leadership of Gerry Adams and Martin Mc Guinness took control of both Sinn Fein and the IRA by placing loyal followers into key positions. I will evaluate Sinn Fein’s electoral performance and investigate why the republican movement became involved in secret talks with the British Government, The Irish Government and the SDLP (Catholic/Nationalist Party in the north). These secret talks would eventually bring about the Hume/Adams initiative. I will examine the influence of the American administration on what had become known as the peace process. And why the President of Sinn Fein, Gerry Adams had bought into the idea of political coercion to further the aims of the republican movement.

This book will critically examine the road on which the Provisional IRA/Sinn Fein has continued to travel after 1986. This examination will include: the 1992 Sinn Fein policy document ‘Towards a lasting Peace in Ireland’, the secret talks between British Government intermediaries and the leadership of Sinn Fein/IRA, the Peace Process which produced the 1993 ‘Downing Street Declaration’, the 1995 ‘Framework Document’ and culminated in the 1998 ‘Good Friday Agreement’ all of which lead to Devolution and the power sharing Executive at Stormont Buildings in Belfast, the all-important but less than perfect Republican and Loyalist cease-fires.

This book will take us up to 2010, a time in which the peace process has produced a power sharing executive at Stormont including the devolution of Policing and Justice from Westminster. The present threat from ‘dissident’ republicans will be examined and following the collapse of Unionism in the 2010 Westminster Elections I will ask what can the future hold for Northern Ireland and is a United Ireland any closer today than it was before thousands of people were slaughtered in its name.

Chapter 1

Historical Regression

Irish Republicanism has, in every epoch of its existence, sustained life and meted out death through a combination of romanticised martyrdom and an outright hatred of the great British oppressor. Both can be seen here in a letter from one of the republican heroes of the 1916-1923 Irish revolution against British rule, Terence Mac Sweeny, writing from Brixton Jail in 1920:

Oh my God, I offer my pain for Ireland. She is on the rack…I offer my sufferings here for our martyred people beseeching Thee, O my God, to grant them the nerve and strength and grace to withstand the present terror in Ireland…that by Thy all powerful aid the persecution may end in our time and Ireland arise at last triumphant.[1]

Contemporary militant republicanism is embodied in Sinn Fein/IRA, Sinn Fein/IRA has at all stages failed to be a homogeneous ideological unit because of the diversity of its personnel. Countess Markievicz wrote in one of her prison letters (17 August 1919):

Sinn Fein is not a solid, cast iron thing like English parties. It is just a jumble of people of all classes, creeds, and opinions, who are all ready to suffer and die for Ireland. [2]

From the very outset of the creation of the new liberated territory known then as the Irish Free State (Irish Republic/Eire), Irish republicanism was in confusion. Britain had withdrawn from twenty-six of Ireland’s thirty-two counties leaving behind a divided republican movement. Those who had supported and signed the treaty with Britain were prepared to kill their former IRA colleagues to advance their vision for Ireland. Those who opposed the treaty with the British were willing to defend to the death the Irish people’s rightful claim to national self-determination over the entire national territory of Ireland. Some militant republicans continued to murder, intimidate and discriminate against those Protestants who wished to continue to live in the Irish Free State where they had lived for generations. Tens of thousands of Protestants were forced from their homes and went either to the newly created Northern Ireland or England for their own safety. In conflicts all over the world it is the case that extremists who have tasted the power of dictating life and death over fellow citizens, do not wish to let go of that power.

In the aftermath of the Irish Civil War (pro and anti-Treaty republicans fought each other) Irish republicanism was a fragmented ideology that had beaten itself into constitutional politics. As republicans began to regroup there were obvious ideological differences. Those who had signed up to a 26 county constitutional frame work free from British interference were content to allow the six northern counties of Tyrone, Armagh, Antrim, Down, Derry and Fermanagh to be a Protestant State remaining under British rule. Others continued to pursue a united Ireland through constitutional politics. Others remained within the ranks of militant republicanism and they would not accept that the Free State was anything more than a neo-colonial British state.

Simply put, those supporting the Treaty and accepting the Free State would become known as Fine Gael (political party), those who wished to pursue the ideal of a united Ireland through constitutional politics would after the 1926 extraordinary Sinn Fein Ard Fheis [3] be known as Fianna Fail. Those who would continue to support the IRA Army Council would be a combination of socialist O’Donnellites and others of a purely militaristic mind set who had supported the IRA’s break with Sinn Fein and second Dail in 1925 to pursue a policy of social agitation. [4]

It must be mentioned here that in 1922, when the opponents of the Treaty left the Dail and precipitated the Civil War, the Labour Party provided the first opposition, and constitutional politics was born in Ireland. While this book is focused on militant republicanism, it must be noted that the Labour Party would be the only true voice of the oppressed working class in the newly liberated territory and it continues in that role in the 21st Century. In a poll published in the Irish Times 12th June 2010, the Labour Party was found to be the largest party in the Irish Republic. This is the first time in its history that the Labour Party appears to have made Irish politics a three party contest and it is certain that Labour will be a major player in the Government of Ireland following the 2012 General election.

In the 1920s central Government in Dublin introduced the Local Appointments Commission and the Civil Servants Commission in order to stop corruption and nepotism at local Government level. However, discrimination and jobbery were rife in local councils; this discrimination against Protestants in particular was highlighted by the appointment of a Trinity Graduate and Protestant to the position of County Librarian in County Mayo in 1930. Mrs Natasha Dunbarr-Harrison was appointed by the Local Appointments Commission on the basis of merit, however, Mrs Dunbarr-Harrison’s appointment was not endorsed by the Library Committee of Mayo County Council. The committee initially suggested that Mrs Dunbarr-Harrision had not got a good enough grasp of the Irish Language, however, the real reason for her rejection was reflected in the comments of a Fianna Fail member of Mayo County Council as reported in the Connaught Telegraph on the 29th of December 1930:

I am opposed to the appointment of a product of Trinity which is not the culture of the Gael but poison gas to the history of the Celtic people……bigoted anti-Irish out-post of England in Ireland….that feeds like a parasite on the flesh and blood of our kindly Celtic people…we must check the progress of the pest if we are to preserve Celtic Culture.

These were the words of a constitutional ‘republican’ and while Mayo County Council were sacked for refusing to endorse the appointment of Mrs Dunbarr-Harrisson, Protestants would continue to be discriminated against in every walk of life in the new Free State. When Sinn Fein or what remained of Sinn Fein, came out of the debris of the 1920s it was a party in total confusion. British withdrawal, yes, but was Sinn Fein purely a nationalist party or had it the socialist blood of James Connolly in its veins, bold uncompromising socialism appeared absent. Richard English, Professor of Politics at Queens University, Belfast suggests that socialist republicans sustained their project through self-deluding myths:

James Connolly’s socialist republican theory was their intellectual point of reference, but they failed to see that even Connolly’s own career demonstrated the inadequacy of his central thesis. Inter war socialist republicanism offered incoherent readings of the 1916-1923 revolutionary periods; on the basis of these misconstructions they maintained the fiction that republicanism, properly understood, had class conflict at its root. [5]

Peadar O’ Donnell, one of Connolly’s most ardent followers in the subsequent generation acknowledged that it had been possible for Connolly’s socialism to be drowned in nationalist tears. Writing in 1933, O’ Donnell claimed that Connolly was not presented as having seen,

That the final battle ground for Irish Freedom must be the revolutionary struggle of the Irish workers against Irish capitalism. [6]

If Connolly’s socialism is ever mentioned, it is to admit a fault which the manner of his death redeemed. In the 1940s and 1950s the IRA Army Council continued to pursue a purely militaristic campaign. That said, the IRA’s military capacity even at its height was nothing more than a blot on the landscape as the Second World War raged, however, there were some exceptions:

At 2.30pm on the 25th of August, 1939, Broadgate in the centre of Coventry was crowded with shoppers and people returning to their places of work. It was a sunny Friday afternoon, and the weather forecast for the weekend promised two days of sunshine. What the people did not expect was for an IRA bomb to rip through the crowded streets. When the smoke cleared, fifty-two, men, women and children lay dead, dying or injured. [7]

What was even more alarming and in stark contrast to their rhetoric of Freedom was the IRA’s links to Hitler and Nazi Germany. One might suppose that the IRA viewed the enemy of their enemy as a friend. In February 1939 a German Intelligence agent Oskar Pfaus using the alias, Eoin Duffy, arrived in Dublin to make contact with the IRA. Pfaus meet with the IRA staff at General Headquarters, including some of the most senior republicans at that time, Sean Russell and Seamus O’Donovan. The Nazis wanted the IRA to work as a fifth column inside Britain and the IRA was happy to do business with them. O’Donovan travelled to Germany on many occasions in order to secure guns and explosives. On the 23rd of August, nine days before the Germans invaded Poland; O Donovan was on his third trip to Nazi Germany, which surely proved that there was nothing progressive about contemporary militant Republicanism.

The IRA’s pursuance of a purely militaristic agenda failed to draw any real attention except from the legislators in The Irish Republic and the Protestant dominated Stormont Government of Northern Ireland, both of whom introduced the usual measures to control militant republicanism, namely, internment, interrogation, raids, shootings and censorship.

Since the foundation of the Irish Free State/Republic there has always been a great deal of sympathy for the plight of the minority Catholic community that was abandoned to the dictate of the Unionist dominated Stormont Government. However, sympathy for the Catholics in the north among the masses in the south is sympathy for an oppressed minority; such sympathy cannot be taken to imply support for a united Ireland. In the north, the predominant concern of the Catholic community has been for an end of the Unionist regime at Stormont and its oppressive anti-Catholic policies. Compared with the question of reunification is of little more than sentimental significance. [8]

Following the creation of the Irish Free State the IRA had few friends; former allies had given their allegiance to de Valera and his new Government in Dail Eireann (Irish Parliament). American sympathisers with Irish republicanism consoled themselves in the Irish Constitution of 1937 (Bunreacht Na hEireann), a constitution that was drawn up by de Valera and the Catholic Church, in Articles 2 and 3 of the original constitution it laid claim to the whole Island of Ireland. This claim would be watered down in a constitutional referendum in order to facilitate the fledgling peace process in the late 1990s.

The initial claim to the whole Island of Ireland by de Valera in the original constitution was enough to convince Irish Americans to give their hard earned dollars to the new constitutional politics of de Valera and Fianna Fail rather than the militant politics of Sinn Fein/IRA. The American input even up to the modern day is a key component of Irish politics. The American input takes on many forms and they will be discussed throughout this book.

[1] Page 46 English, 1994

[2] Page 29 English 1994

[3] Page 36 Patterson, 1989

[4] Page 44 Patterson, 1989

[5] Page 270 English, 1994

[6] Page 28 English, 1994

[7] Page 32 Dillon, 1994

[8] Page 160 Morgan, 1980

A Fairly Secret Army – Chapter 2

The Civil Rights Campaign and the role of the IRA

In Northern Ireland (the north) in the mid-1960s a campaign for Civil Rights was launched by the Catholic minority in Northern Ireland against the Protestant controlled Stormont Government. The Civil Rights campaigners were demanding changes in the laws that controlled elections, the allocation of public housing, employment and education. The Civil Rights movement was seen by Unionists/Protestants as a threat to their privileged position in Northern Ireland, a State that had been created for the Protestants following the creation of the Catholic Irish Free State. The British and Irish Governments had partitioned Ireland in order that the Protestants in Northern Ireland could remain part of the United Kingdom.

In 1995 I had the pleasure of speaking with Sir Kenneth Bloomfield, a senior Northern Ireland civil servant in 1965. Sir Kenneth told me that in 1965 he had received a communication from a friend at Westminster, which informed him that little notice was being taken of demands from certain Labour and Liberal MPs for investigations into Northern Ireland’s affairs. These demands had been inspired by nationalist/Catholic politicians in Northern Ireland.

So it was that the cries for reform from moderate Catholic politicians were ignored at Westminster. The Civil Rights campaign in Northern Ireland took on new momentum as Catholics were no longer prepared to be treated as second class citizens. Documents released by the British Government on May 27th, 2010, under the thirty year rule give a telling insight into how the British viewed the north and the Irish Government. In 1970 the then British Home Secretary, James Callaghan was told by a senior British Diplomat that the Prime Minister (Taoiseach) of the Irish Republic, Jack Lynch needed to realise that the only way to Irish unity would be by way of the “seduction, not the rape of Northern Ireland”. Mr Oliver Wright, a senior British Diplomat had written his observations in a letter to Mr Callaghan after Mr Wright had served as a Diplomat for six months at Stormont in Northern Ireland.

Mr Wright continued, “So long as we keep the North quiet, the South will give us no trouble, for Mr Lynch also went to the edge of disaster last August and stepped back in time [in his “we will not stand by” speech].

“His courageous speech to his party conference in January marked a change from fantasy to realism about the Irish question,” “If he recognises, as he now does, that force cannot be used to solve the problem of partition, he must come to realise that the only prospect of Irish unity lies in the seduction, not the rape of the North. The South will, I suspect, be a long-time a-wooing, if they ever start: the Irish tend to marry late, I believe,” he wrote.

Wright had been sent to the north in 1969 after British troops had been deployed as peace keepers. Wright described Catholics as ‘Micks’ and Protestants as ‘Prods’, both derogatory terms used in local sectarian parlance in the north.

“It is a tribal society, and the natives stranded by partition on the wrong side of the borders like and trust each other about as well as dog and cat, Arab and Jew, Greek and Turkish Cypriot.” The “Orange Protestant ascendancy” had abused “the existence of British-style democracy” to guarantee and perpetuate a most un-British-style injustice towards the Catholic community” said Mr Wright.

“But the minority, though perhaps more sinned against than sinning, has been far from blameless. In true Irish fashion, the Micks have enjoyed provoking the Prods as much as the Prods have enjoyed retaliating”.

“Catholic attitudes have been at best ambivalent and at worst treacherous. It makes the Prods’ blood boil – and all Irish blood boils at a very low temperature – to see the Micks enjoy the superior material benefits of the British connection while continuing to wave the tricolour at them,” said Mr Wright in truly Imperialist tone.

In the back ground to the Civil Rights campaign lurked the ever present and not so peaceful IRA. 1969 would see the first real appearance of the IRA on the Streets of Belfast since the failed campaigns of the 1940s/50s/60s. The IRA were ill-equipped, yet had answered the rhetorical call of the Ghettoised Catholic people to take to the streets and defend them from the tyranny of loyalist (Protestant) gangs, gangs who were on a daily basis burning Catholics out of their homes while the Police stood ideally by. Initially the IRA was seen as defenders of the Catholic community as the State seemed uninterested in the plight of Catholics. This ghettoised resurrection of militant republicanism was the opportunity the IRA leadership had been waiting for. The Civil Rights campaign and social agitation gave the IRA an opportunity to redeem and reinvent them-selves following their previous humiliating defeats at the hands of the British in the 1940s/50s. While the Civil Rights campaign was just and right, for the IRA it was simply a vehicle to get them back on the road. The Civil Rights campaign and the adverse loyalist (Protestant) reaction to that campaign created the very waters in which militant Irish republicanism could once again swim.

Some revisionists of modern day Irish Republicanism try to suggest that the IRA were simply innocent by-standers who were created by the conditions of Unionist/Protestant oppression in the 1960s/70s, however, the IRA had never gone away since the founding of the Irish Free State. With people such as John Kelly leading the ghettoised Catholic community it is clear that the IRA were not going to miss the Civil Rights opportunity to get their militant campaign back on the road. To the contrary, the IRA was the very flint that created the spark for decades of sectarian violence.

Whatever the IRA’s aspirations it had no resource to play the role of Catholic defender and so its leadership needed money, weapons and training very quickly. The IRA leadership in the person of IRA Chief of Staff, Cathal Goulding turned to a sympathetic Irish Government at that time. The Government in power in the Irish Republic in 1969 was Fianna Fail (constitutional republicans) under Taoiseach (Prime Minister), Jack Lynch. One of Lynch’s TDs (TD – Member of Parliament) was Neil Blaney from Donegal, and it was to Blaney that most unofficial reports came from Northern Ireland because of his position in the Government. It was to Blaney that Captain James Kelly, the Irish Army Intelligence Officer, who was to be later accused of conspiracy, reported first on his own return to the Republic from Northern Ireland on September 14th 1969. Upon his return Captain James Kelly reported,

“When I came back from Northern Ireland on the 14th September 1969 or around that date it came to my notice that a committee in the Government had been appointed, named to me as rightly or wrongly, I don’t know – but named to me as Mr Haughey, Mr Blaney, Mr Faulker and Mr Brennan. In view of the information I had obtained I decided that I should see some of these members of the Government and I made arrangements to see Mr Blaney on a particular evening after my return. I went and did so and told him the result of all the information I had gleaned in Northern Ireland and in effect he was able to assist me also. I then went to see Mr Haughey…so to say I was a liaison officer/it was a liaison officer on an ad hoc basis”.[1]

While Captain James Kelly would later be used as a fall-guy by some for this whole affair, there is no doubt that Captain Kelly was reporting to the highest ranks within Lynch’s Government even if he was not reporting directly to the Defence Minister, Jim Gibbons, who would have been his natural political superior. Captain James Kelly’s main contact in the north was John Kelly; John Kelly was the main organiser of the Citizen’s Defence Committees throughout Northern Ireland at that time. John Kelly was a traditional militant republican; he had been educated by the Christian Brothers in Belfast and had been active in the IRA’s failed campaigns in the 1950s/60s. In a subsequent court appearance on the 14th October 1970, John Kelly, having become a leader of the Citizen’s Defence Committees from August 1969, Kelly made it clear to the Court and all listening that the Defence Committees were simply a cover for militant republicanism. Whether Kelly intended to expose the role of the IRA in such a public fashion remains unclear.

John Kelly had made it quite clear what he wanted from the Irish Government, when he stated,

“I want to be emphatic that we were coming from all parts of the six counties not to indulge in tea parties, not to be entertained, but to elicit, in so far as we could what was the opinion of this Government in relation to the six counties. We did not ask for blankets or feeding bottles, we asked for guns. No one from Taoiseach Lynch down refused us that request or told us this was contrary to Government policy”.[2]

The meetings continued between the militant republicans from Northern Ireland and Captain James Kelly. Captain Kelly also continued to meet directly with the IRA Chief of Staff, Cathal Goulding. When Peter Berry, the Secretary at the Department of Justice, was notified by the Irish Garda Special Branch about one such meeting in County Cavan, and Captain Kelly’s meetings with IRA Chief of Staff Goulding, Berry informed Jack Lynch. Lynch told Berry that anybody implicated in any illegal dealings must be brought to justice. Berry however objected to this. The IRA had been infiltrated to the highest level and Berry did not want to expose his people in the IRA.

Whoever knew, or what exactly was the extent of the money, training and guns given to the IRA by the Irish Government, may never be known. What has gone down in history however, is an affair only comparable to Nixon’s Watergate or Regan’s Nicaragua. The end result of the Irish Government’s links to the IRA was the charging of two Government Ministers with conspiracy and the trial of one of these Ministers in the autumn of 1970. IRA Chief of Staff Goulding had from 1962 been directing the IRA up a one way street of social agitation through political awareness. He realised that any new direction in the way the republican movement challenged British Imperialism must include a role for the IRA, for if they were not led then they would decide for themselves what to do next. [3]

The new thinking being pursued by IRA Chief of Staff Goulding created problems for those republicans who believed in the purely militaristic traditional role of the IRA, so it was that sectarian tensions in the late 1960s created an opportunity for the IRA to take up arms in what appeared to be a defensive role among the Catholic people of Northern Ireland. This sectarian distraction gave breathing space for Goulding’s re-thinking of Irish Republicanism. However, Goulding would soon find opposition to his new plans for the IRA, the Belfast IRA under the leadership of Billy Mc Millen wanted more than a defensive role for the IRA. Billy wanted to strike back at both the British establishment and their loyalist cheer leaders. Goulding viewed the IRA in Belfast as “sectarian bigots” and he did not want the IRA again to become a purely militaristic liberation force for the ghettoised Catholics in the north.

[1] Pages 53-54 Arnold, 1984

[2] Page 55 Arnold, 1984

[3] Page 92 Patterson, 1989

[4] Page 95 Patterson, 1989

[5] Page 98 Patterson, 1989

Civil Rights Campaign

Civil Rights The IRA

From as early as 1966 Goulding’s policies were facing continued opposition. As an IRA document captured in May 1966 by the Gardai gives a clear indication of the problems being faced by Goulding for creating political activity as the primary role of the IRA. Gouldings re-thinking of the role of the IRA and the broader republican family was taking the leadership principle from that of militarist idealism of traditional Fenianism into a semi-Leninist path.[4] In 1967 Billy Mc Millen carried out a number of fire bomb attacks on British Territorial Army bases in the north contrary to G.H.Q. policy and the latter’s backing simply of a Civil Rights campaign of civil disruption. Goulding continued to view the IRA in Belfast as “sectarian bigots” as they refused to accept the new thinking of the IRA leadership.

Goulding’s hopes in 1967 for new political direction for the IRA especially in the south, development which would divert the IRA away from an isolated militaristic force, would be dealt a severe blow, as sectarian violence in the north escalated out of control, the IRA leadership in Dublin had lost control almost three years after the IRA Army Council had agreed a gradualist campaign of Civil Rights through civil disruption. The original embryonic, peaceful and legitimate Civil Rights Campaign was now consumed by militant Irish Republicanism and the British/Loyalist response to that militarism.

The new Northern Ireland, Prime Minister, Terence O’Neill, addressed the question of discrimination against Catholics in Northern Ireland and provided a world audience with a new image of Northern Ireland, as a progressive society, by implementing new policies in regards to housing, education, and employment. The Civil Rights campaign had been hi-jacked by militant republicanism and people such as IRA leader Billy Mc Millen wanted a sectarian tit for tat killing head count. The problem for Mc Millen and his Belfast IRA command was that they had clocked up little intellectual mileage and were driven purely by sectarianism. As Henry Patterson explains,

“The resistance of the Belfast leadership to the new thinking was explained by the fact that the movement there was dominated by ‘Catholic Bigots’”. [5]

In 1969 many leading republicans left the movement because they felt that the Dublin leadership did not understand the north and that the Dublin leadership simply wanted to engage in politics. One of those to resign, Kevin Mallon, would ironically in 1986 be one of the leading Provisional IRA members supporting the removal of abstentionism as a long held Sinn Fein/IRA policy and therefore the politicisation of the republican movement. Mallon had by 1986 come to realise the benefits of the Janus face of republican coercion in its politico-militaristic style.

It must also be remembered that the British attitude to the Civil Rights demands by Catholics showed little empathy with their plight, British troops were deployed against Civil Rights marchers and this could only lead to serious injury and death. In 2010 Lord Saville has published his report into the shooting dead of fourteen innocent people on what is now known as Bloody Sunday in 1972. British Paratroopers fired live rounds at the Civil Rights marchers and murdered in cold blood fourteen unarmed civilians on that Bloody day. The families of the victims had to wait 38 years to have the truth admitted by the British. However, it is also clear from the evidence given to the Saville Inquiry that the PIRA in Derry on Bloody Sunday were using the Civil Rights march to move guns and explosives into Derry City, while their actions do not in any way justify the murderous intent of the Paratroopers, the role of the PIRA on Bloody Sunday is yet another damning indictment of their murderous and reckless intent.

A Fairly Secret Army – Chapter 3

A Fairly Secret Army

Politics and the Direction of the IRA

So it was then that in 1969 the flames of sectarian violence were flaming across Northern Ireland (the north), Catholics living in Belfast were being burned out of their homes by loyalist mobs. The Unionist (Protestant) dominated Stormont Government of Northern Ireland had lost any hope of regaining order, the British Government decided to send the British Army to Northern Ireland as ‘peace keepers’. The British Labour Government appeared to be acting with good intent however behind the scenes of sectarian mob rule the IRA were watching and planning.

IRA Chief of Staff Goulding and his GHQ did not want a military campaign in the north that would further divide the Northern Ireland Protestant and Catholic working classes. However, Goulding’s ideas were not dealing with the reality being faced by many Catholics on the Falls Road in Belfast or the Bogside in Derry. Goulding established a nine county Northern Command to appease the IRA men in the north who felt they had been let down by GHQ as they had not given guns and explosives to the IRA in Belfast to strike back against the Loyalists. 1969 also seen republicans back a young Civil Rights campaigner Bernadette Devlin to run as their candidate in the Mid-Ulster constituency for the Westminster elections. While Devlin was returned MP for Mid-Ulster on the 17th April 1969 her election had no real impact and was viewed by many as nothing more than a political stunt.

In December 1969 the IRA convention met in Dublin and voted, reportedly, thirty-nine to twelve to recognise de-facto the Unionist Government at Stormont, The Irish Government in Dublin and the British Government at Westminster. For the IRA abstentionism had died on the flaming streets of Belfast. The Northern “political” policy was approved and the decision for a liberation front accepted.[1]

However, not all of the IRA wanted to listen to Goulding’s soft political and social agitation approach to the northern situation, revolutionary rhetoric and political policies were one thing but the principle of abstentionism was not one to be given up lightly. Republicanism, for many was only valid so long as it was principled and abstentionism was a moral principle not to be discarded by a vote in the IRA convention. Those who disagreed with Goulding and his soft approach to the north withdrew from the Official IRA and formed the Provisional IRA and they publicly stated:

“We declare our allegiance to the thirty-two county Irish Republic proclaimed at Easter 1916 established by the first Dail Eireann in 1919, overthrown by force of arms in 1922 and suppressed to this day by the existing British imposed six county partition state”.

When I interviewed a former member of the Official IRA he had this to say about Goulding’s leadership;

“I believe as most republicans in west Belfast do, that the stickies (name for Official IRA) should have helped us out when we needed them, if they had waited until the initial attacks had subsided, they may well have carried a lot more people with them, at that time we would have done anything to get back at the Prods”.

Many republicans, who had become disillusioned with GHQ, returned and joined the Provisional IRA. A new six county northern command was created and based in Belfast. The IRA convention in December 1969 which had decided to recognise the Governments of Dublin, Belfast and London was to be followed by a Sinn Fein Ard Fheis on the 10th January 1970. The Provisional IRA knew that they could not get control of the Ard Fheis but they were determined not to go down the unprincipled road of politics at a time when there was an opportunity to reinvent the IRA on the Streets of Northern Ireland.

Tom Maguire, the last republican member of the second Dail (the second Dail, a prescribed organisation, was elected in May 1921 with a Sinn Fein majority and de Valera as its leader; it replaced the first Dail which had been a useful myth for republicans at that time) announced that the IRA convention “had neither the right nor authority”, to pass a resolution ending abstentionism, and the dissidents agreed wholeheartedly.[2]

On Sunday night, 11th January 1970 the resolution ending abstentionism was passed by 19 votes but not the two thirds needed to pass a policy. A call was made for delegates to support the IRA policy. This would have needed a simple majority to pass. Approximately one third of the delegates walked out and went to a pre-arranged meeting at a venue in Parnell Square. There in their own Ard Fheis they gave their allegiance to the Provisional IRA Army Council and care taker executive of Sinn Fein, which was ‘dedicated’ to abstentionism.

Many in the Official IRA believed that the split had been encouraged by forces on the outside of the republican movement. Fianna Fail (constitutional Republican Party in the Irish Republic) intermediaries had made contact with the stickies and offered money and guns as long as they stayed out of politics in the Republic and directed military operations in the north only. GHQ had rejected such proposals as Goulding had political ambitions in the Republic. However, it was widely believed that the Provisional IRA had already accepted money and guns from Fianna Fail.

At the end of 1970 Sean Mac Stiofain was Chief of Staff of the Provisional IRA and Ruiri O Bradaigh was President of Provisional Sinn Fein. Mac Stiofain in his memoirs states that as early as 1972 the British Government in its Green paper had acknowledged the fact that Northern Ireland was no longer simply a matter for the British alone.[3] Mac Stiofain and the Provisionals set about organising themselves from nothing and began to look around the world for support.

Irish Americans as always were generous both in terms of their dollars to fund militant republicanism and their naivety about the motivation of that militant republicanism. As Vincent Conlon (RIP) of the 1950s IRA campaign and who avoided capture by the US authorities when shipping three hundred riffles and one hundred and forty thousand rounds of ammunition in December 1977, told this author;

“Irish Americans do not want to know about blood and guts, just shamrocks and leprechauns”.

Just before his death Vincent Conlon took to the stage with Sinn Fein President, Gerry Adams on one of his early visits allowed by Bill Clinton in 1995 and helped Provisional Sinn Fein/IRA with the collection of over one million dollars. World renowned terrorists such as Colonel Gadhafi of Libya were ready and willing to supply guns, ammunition and semtex to the Provisional IRA, as proven by the many seizures of many thousands of Libyan weapons by the Irish Police (An Garda Siochana) in the 1980s. Libyan diplomats would in 1995 give detailed information to the Mitchell Commission, on how Libya had helped train, arm and finance the PIRA. Some of the PIRA members I meet during my years in the PIRA told me that they had trained in Fedayeen bases in Lebanon and had close contacts with FARC and other narco-terrorist organisations.

Sean Mc Kenna (RIP) a leading IRA activist during the 1970s and later one of the leaders of the first IRA hunger strike in Long Kesh in 1980, told this author that during the early days of the PIRA;

“I remember new Sinn Fein Cumanns being set up all over the north and these Cumanns like the one in Newry which I was involved in were used as the nucleus to organise and train the PIRA”.

Sean Mc Kenna died in 2009 and is buried in Dundalk County Louth, his Father Sean Mc Kenna Snr was one of the ‘Ten Hooded Men’ who were tortured by the British during Internment in the north, their case was brought to Europe where it was declared that they had been subjected to inhuman treatment during their unlawful detention.

Belfast became organised into three battalions lead by Billy Mc Kee, the Provisionals commanding officer in Belfast. The country side in the north was left to JB O Hagan to organise and the prodigal son of abstentionism, Kevin Mallon, had returned to get the provisionals restructured. On the 7th of August 1971 the British Government introduced internment in Northern Ireland. Over three hundred people were immediately imprisoned without trial. This poorly thought response by the British simply created a recruiting sergeant for the PIRA as the innocent were imprisoned alongside active republicans. As mentioned above some of those interned were tortured and brutalised.

In March 1972 Direct Rule was imposed on Northern Ireland as the British tried to take back control of the ever deteriorating situation. William Whitelaw would be the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland. Stormont was gone and this had been the demand of the Civil Rights campaigners, however, there appeared to be no road map going forward for either side. However, the PIRA now had a taste of blood and they were not going away anytime soon. The Stormont Government had failed miserably and this was summed up at the fall of Stormont by Captain Terence O’Neil, the Northern Ireland Prime Minister (1963-1969) when he said;

“You either succeed or fail, I failed”.

On March 10th 1972 the Provisionals declared a three day cease-fire, cease-fires have historically been used by the republican movement as an opportunity to regroup, show that the leadership are in control and gain concessions from the British. British Home Secretary, Maulding said;

“The IRA would not be defeated, not completely eliminated, but have their violence reduced to an acceptable level”. [4]

This statement by a British Home Secretary was another propaganda coup for the Provisionals. On the 29th May 1972 the Official IRA called a cease-fire after a catalogue of civilian murders, and Goulding’s new thinking was finally accepted by those remaining within the Official IRA. In June of the same year, Dave O Connell and Gerry Adams met twice with Whitelaw negotiators and arranged for a truce, during which the British Army would step back from its front line role in the north. A PIRA and Whitelaw meeting would take place if the truce lasted long enough, PIRA leader Mac Stiofain agreed.

The northern leadership of the Provisional IRA never wanted a cease-fire and on the 9th June 1972 rioting broke out in Lenadoon in Belfast and the British Army became the focus of the rioters’ attention. The PIRA leadership in the north put pressure on the southern command and the truce ended. The PIRA announced that they had talks with Whitelaw and Whitelaw was furious, he had been caught out talking to terrorists and he had nothing to show for his efforts.

As so often happens in Irish history twenty-two years later, Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Sir Patrick Mayhew would find himself in the same position as Whitelaw. Whitelaw in the House of Commons assured Captain Willie Orr, leader of the Unionists at Westminster, that nobody from the British Government would ever talk to the PIRA again. The IRA’s response was predictable; they killed 11 and injured 130 civilians in Belfast. A former Belfast IRA member had this to say about the breakdown of talks between the British and the PIRA in 1972;

“I personally think, as many republicans in West Belfast do, that the 1972 talks proved one thing and that was that the conflict was not a British and Republican thing, because the Brits were prepared to talk to us about a settlement, the PIRA realised that it was the Protestant people of Northern Ireland who had to be beaten into submission if the concept of a United Ireland was to come about”.

[1] Page 366 Bowyer Bell, 1990

[2] Page 28 Bowyer Bell, 1990

[3] Page 330 Mac Stiofain, 1975

[4] Page 68 Arnold, 1984

A Fairly Secret Army – Chapter 4

Gerry Adams an IRA leader

Some will know the name Gerry Adams some will not. In Ireland Gerry Adams is widely viewed as the face of the republican movement. Gerry Adams is the President of Sinn Fein which is the political wing of the republican movement. The IRA is the now ‘decommissioned’ military wing of the republican movement. Gerry Adams has for some strange reason always publicly stated that he was never a member of the IRA. For those of us who were members of the republican movement it is well known that Gerry Adams was a senior member of the IRA in Belfast and that he had a seat at the table of the IRA Army Council. Indeed I can put my hand on my heart and say that in 1984 I was present when Gerry Adams arrived at a venue for a meeting of some of the most senior members of the IRA. I was not a senior member of the IRA but was simply present before the meeting started. Gerry Adams and Brendan ‘Darkie’ Hughes did not leave when the meeting started. I will set out here the reality of Gerry Adams Janus-face position in the republican movement.

So it was that the British Army were brought into the north as ‘peace-keepers’. The British army were initially feed and given tea by many grateful Catholics who had suffered so much at the hands of loyalist mobs. Indeed the IRA leadership had initially put in place a no shoot policy in relation to the British Army, this policy was put in place as the British Army were so welcomed initially, however, the IRA had no such policy in relation to Protestants and they continued to murder Protestants at will. Yet as the British army were used to break up no-go areas and were the main body tasked with the Internment of Irish Catholics their role as ‘peace-keeper’ would wear thin quickly. There is no doubt that Internment, the breaking up of no-go areas and the IRA’s own mishaps were insuring that the IRA could not operate at full capacity. It was this inability to operate at full capacity that foolishly led the British and Irish Governments to believe that the IRA could be defeated as the ordinary people turned away from the men of violence. The ordinary people could be bought off with reforms in Stormont and the IRA defeated by isolation and imprisonment, thought the Governments.

The Irish Government under Jack Lynch who had just recovered from the controversy surrounding the supplying of guns to the IRA appeared ready and willing to take on rather than tolerate the IRA. Lynch had been backed into a corner as loyalist terrorists had already moved into the Irish Republic in 1972 and fire bombed hotels in Dublin and the loyalists said they would carry out further attacks if the Irish Government did not stand up to the IRA. The loyalists did return and murder dozens of innocent civilians in Monaghan and Dublin.

At the Sinn Fein Ard Fheis in 1972, the PIRA Chief of Staff, Mac Stiofain was not offering Lynch any hope of compromise when he said there would be no compromise with the British; it was all or nothing, “Brits Out”. Lynch decided it was time to put the Provisionals out of business and he had Mac Stiofain arrested and imprisoned.

In 1973, when Seamus Twomey was arrested Gerry Adams took over as commanding officer of the IRA in Belfast. The Adams leadership was well able to match the body count which occurred under Twomey in 1972 which read, 81 innocent Catholics and 41 innocent Protestants mainly murdered in no warning IRA bomb attacks. In his new book Ed Moloney gives a clear insight into the role played by Adams when Moloney reproduces an interview that he carried out with Brendan ‘Darkie’ Hughes before Brendan died in 2009. Brendan Hughes who was a close friend and comrade of Gerry Adams alleges that Adams was the person who ordered the murder of innocent Mother of ten, Jean Mc Conville, The sectarian bloodbath was overflowing and the British and Irish Governments were at a loss as to what the next step should be. The sectarian drive of the PIRA and indeed Gerry Adams is best captured by Adams himself in his book A Pathway to Peace.

Of all the differences between the Ireland of Tone’s time and the Ireland of today, unquestionably one of the most noticeable – although far from being the most significant – is the changed political attitudes of the mass of Protestants, especially in the North. Instead of forming a cordial union with their fellow Irishmen to run their own country for themselves in their own interests, they find themselves the prisoners of a fossilised, politico-religious sectarianism which is entrenched and institutionalised as an integral part of the imperial administrative system in the six counties. [1]

Adams fails to see in his own words the very sectarianism of his own politics in the fact that the deaths of over three thousand mainly innocent people in forty years of republican death and destruction have driven an insurmountable wedge between Protestants and Catholics. Few families in the North’s population of 1.5 million have been left unscathed by both loyalist and republican violence, the deaths of over three thousand, the maiming of tens of thousands, the imprisonment of tens of thousands have left the Protestant community more fundamentally opposed to Irish Unity than the British State could have achieved in another eight hundred years of Imperial rule. Interesting though is that fact that Adams himself would eventually become part of what he described as:

An integral part of the imperial administrative system in the six counties

While Adams and other members of the republican movement continue to try and attach their brand of republicanism with that of Wolfe Tone there is no link, there is no attachment. Wolfe Tone represented the aspirations of a united Irish people both Protestant and Catholic fighting for a French style Republic free of British Imperialism, modern day militant republicanism does not fall within the shadow of Wolfe Tone’s republic. Adams continues to refer to Wolfe Tone and others as the starters of the unfinished business, as if the work of Wolfe Tone is to be found in the sectarian politics of 20th/21st century Sinn Fein/IRA. In the Sinn Fein document The Evolution of Sinn Fein (1995) this desired linkage to Wolfe Tone and others is made six times, this would not be so noticeable if this were not a one page document.

This attempt by the Adams to claim linage to the old IRA is clearly seen in the re-write of the IRA’s Green Book in 1977. In the 1956 edition of the IRA’s Green Book the authors do not engage in any legitimisation of the armed struggle beyond its historical context of resistance to occupation. The 1977 edition which was written by Gerry Adams and other leading republicans claims direct legitimacy from the members of the second Dail, who transferred their authority to the IRA in 1938 after the takeover of the IRA Army Council by Sean Russell. Antony Mc Antyre a former republican prisoner, now an academic and scholar says that:

The modern republican movement has persistently been the product of British State strategies rather than a body which has existed for the sole purpose of completing the unfinished business of uniting Ireland.[2]

Contrary to what Imperialist type motives republicans attribute to the British State, it remains in Ireland in response to the Protestant/Unionist demands to remain British. This is a correct analysis and one that was supported in my own research as republicans admit to having recognised that Protestants were the real obstacle to a united Ireland as early as the 1970s. Tugwell states that;

That campaign (IRA violence) would use the international, domestic and economic side effects of armed struggle on the British Government and ‘Public’ to cause the necessary shift from the British state viewing the North of Ireland as an asset to a liability.

Following forty years of sectarian violence resulting in over three thousand deaths, the majority of whom were Northern Irish, the public can now be more clearly defined as being physically and psychologically the British Protestant people of Northern Ireland and psychologically and economically the British people of England, Scotland and Wales. All of whom would eventually see the benefits of a united Ireland unless the sectarian bankruptcy of the republican movement was first realised.

Up until September 1973 an IRA bombing campaign had lasted several months with death and mutilation becoming part of the daily routine for the people of Belfast and Derry. Lynch’s Government had taken a tough line against the men of violence and had initiated a sustained program of anti-terrorist legislation as extreme and as tough as the British response to the men of violence. 1974 began with the Provisionals planting bombs all over the north and in Birmingham (England). The PIRA’s New Year message was;

We look forward with confidence to 1974 as a year which the British rule in Ireland shall be destroyed and the curse of alien power banished from our land for all time.

On the 28th of June the new Northern Ireland elections had returned Twenty-three Official Unionist candidates, twenty-seven loyalist candidates, nineteen SDLP (Catholic), eight Alliance (cross-community) and DUP (loyalist). On Tuesday the 14th of May 1974 at six o’clock in the evening, the Assembly voted forty-four to twenty-eight in favour of Faulkner’s amendment supporting the Sunningdale agreement for reform. The Ulster Workers Council (Protestant/loyalist) announced a province wide strike. The north came to a standstill as Protestants held key positions in all of the utility control centres in the north including electricity and water. Loyalists sent death squads back into the Republic of Ireland once again and on the 17th of May 1974 they exploded bombs in Dublin and Monaghan killing dozens of innocent civilians and injuring hundreds more.

The British Government under Labour Prime Minister, Harold Wilson were not prepared to break the loyalist strike. Intimidation, food shortages, water shortages and electrical shortages continued, Wilson’s inaction had simply made matters worse. Wilson defending the new Northern Ireland Assembly called the loyalists, “Spongers on the British public”. The strength of the loyalist strike proved too much for the constitutional politicians and when Faulkner asked Secretary of State, Rees to talk with the UWC and Rees refused Faulkner and his loyalist colleagues resigned and Sunningdale fell.

Meanwhile the republican movement was again at war within its own ranks. In 1974 the Official IRA lead by Goulding called the PIRA “Fascists” as more splits began to unfold. Republican uncertainty manifested itself into yet another split; on the 8th of December 1974 Seamus Costello and other uncompromising Official IRA members created the IRSP (INLA) yet another republican splinter group. In 1975 members of the INLA killed a number of their former Official IRA comrades. The INLA while small in number would prove to be a ruthless sectarian killing machine, only out done in number and deed by the PIRA.

In 1974 the Official IRA dropped abstentionism to Westminster and the Northern Ireland convention and were now out of the business of violence, at least on any political level. From the 22nd of December 1974 until the 2nd of January 1975 the PIRA called a cease-fire as they were told that if they showed good will talks with the British could take place. Merlyn Rees, the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland said on the 20th of December, no specific undertakings had been given. The IRA extended the cease-fire for two weeks, this writer remembers that cease-fire well, but that hope was not to last. Rees refused to talk directly to the IRA and on the 16th of January the IRA returned to violence, having used the cease-fire to get organised and rearmed.

On the 9th of February 1975 the IRA Army Council announced an indefinite cease-fire following discussions with British officials. Loyalists however continued to kill innocent Catholics and the INLA and Official IRA continued to kill each other. The British Government would not or could not give a declaration of intent to withdraw from Northern Ireland and the PIRA continued to use the threat of violence. The loyalists believed that the IRA cease-fire was simply a ploy by the PIRA to get regrouped and rearmed and that a return to full scale violence was only a matter of time. The PIRA wanted the British Government to become persuaders of the Protestant people of Northern Ireland of the benefits of a united Ireland; this was not going to happen in the short term.

The first four chapters of this book have focused on the regression of the republican movement who were constantly falling back into a politico-sectarian blindness coupled by internal feud and disagreement. Their central focus to this point has been the physical and psychological brutality of the Protestant people of Northern Ireland in order to coerce them into a united Ireland. Loyalists are not faultless; however, a clear distinction must be made between ordinary decent hard working Protestants and the small number of criminals who made up the loyalist murder squads.

[1] Page 44 Adams, 1988

[2] Page 98 Irish Political Studies, 1995

A Fairly Secret Army – Chapter 5

Terrorism – A Fairly Secret Army – Chapter 5 – Prisons and Hunger-strikes

In order to try and understand the direction taken by the republican movement (Sinn Fein/PIRA) particularly the Northern Command from the late 1970s early 1980s it is essential to try and understand the role played by republican prisoners and in particular their Hunger Strikes of 1980 and 1981. Prior to the 1st Day of March 1976 IRA prisoners were accorded the rights of political prisoners, however, once again the British Government showed their lack of understanding of the northern conflict when they removed that political status from IRA and other republican prisoners who were housed in Crumlin Road Jail (remand), Long Kesh Jail (sentenced) and Armagh (women’s jail). It was inevitable that the removal of political status from republican prisoners would bring about a campaign of protest as those republican prisoners believed their own actions to be political rather than criminal.

In their book The Provisional IRA Bishop and Mallie believe that republican prisoners played a pivotal role in relation to the future direction of Sinn Fein/IRA when they say:

In the late seventies and early eighties events inside the prison (The Maze/Long Kesh) were as important as events outside and the evolution of the republican movement into its current shape is a result of a sequence of actions and reactions that reverberated back and forth over the prison walls. [1]

Following the removal of political status from republican prisoners the British authorities tried to force Irish republicans to wear prison uniforms rather than their own clothes. Kieran Nuggent (RIP) was the first republican prisoner to refuse to wear the prison uniform and so the blanket/dirty protest began. Republican prisoners were left naked in their cells and only had a blanket to cover them. This then developed into a dirty protest where prisoners refused to leave their cells and human excrement, urine and waste food were left on the cell floors or rubbed on to the walls. The conditions were filthy and inhuman. The best account I have ever read from inside Long Kesh relating to this period was a book by IRA hunger striker Bobby Sands entitled One Day in my Life.[2] This short book by Sands highlights the inhumanity of what was a totally unnecessary set of circumstances created by a distant and uninterested British Government.

The blanket/dirty protest went almost unnoticed for four years by those in authority. There was a great deal of brutality in the prisons and as a result dozens of prison officers were killed by the IRA on the outside. By the end of 1980 the republican prisoners decided to go on hunger strike to try and draw international attention to their plight. Several weeks into the first hunger strike and on the night that IRA hunger striker Sean Mc Kenna was expected to die a senior British Civil servant offered a deal to the republican prisoners. The IRA leadership in Long Kesh Prison accepted the deal and called off the hunger strike.

However, the British withdrew the deal and a second hunger strike was inevitable. There are many republicans who believe that the British would have quietly granted the prisoners demands if given time and that a second hunger strike was simply a waste of human life. However, it is widely believed that the political leadership of the republican movement wanted the second hunger strike as they had seen how people were starting to react to the first hunger strike. The political leadership believed that they could make political gain from the hunger strikes. So it was then that on the 1st of March 1981, Bobby Sands began a second hunger strike in Long Kesh. On the first day of his hunger strike Sands stated:

I am dying not just to end the barbarity of the H. Blocks (Long Kesh), or to gain rightful recognition as a political prisoner, but primarily because what is lost in here is lost for the republic and those wretched oppressed, whom I am proud to know as the risen people.

Bobby Sands would lead a hunger strike that would see ten young Irish men die. The hunger strike in terms of its political demands was a failure although the British would eventually return political status to the prisoners. However, outside the prisons Sinn Fein would find a new political life line as a result of the wave of public sympathy for the hunger strikers. People who had never supported Sinn Fein or the IRA were out raged that Prime Minister, Thatcher had allowed ten young men die for a few simple demands. Shortly following Bobby Sands commencing his hunger strike the MP (Member of Parliament) for the electoral constituency of Fermanagh and South Tyrone, Frank Maguire died. The death of the very popular Frank Maguire presented an opportunity for Sinn Fein to put Bobby Sands forward as a hunger strike candidate for the Fermanagh/South Tyrone seat.

Sinn Fein both politically and economically suckled on the corpses of the hunger strikers like vampirian demons. They had and have a voracious appetite for individual material gain. When the Hunger Strikers died they had nothing, they left this world as they entered it, the same cannot be said of the Sinners Coven now seated in Leinster House, Stormont and the deep piled carpeted offices in New York.

Outside the prisons the republican leadership debated about whom Sands would be representing and under what banner he would run for election. The republican movement wanted to maximise the vote for Sands which in turn they believed would show the world outside the north that their cause was just. Eventually at a meeting in County Monaghan in the Irish Republic it was decided that Sands should stand for election simply as an H-Blocks candidate rather than for Sinn Fein, republicans believed this could maximise the vote as people could vote on the single prisons issue rather than anything more closely associated with militant republicanism. The politicos within the republican leadership knew that they could capitalise on any significant vote achieved by Sands in subsequent elections whether Sands lived or died.

John Hume (Nobel Peace Prize Winner) and leader of the SDLP (constitutional nationalist/Catholic) withdrew his party from the Fermanagh and South Tyrone election when he stated:

“We will not do the British Government’s dirty work for them”.

However, behind John Hume’s publicly stated position lay the reality of the situation at that time which was that the public’s sympathy with a young Irish Catholic dying from hunger would have wiped the SDLP out in one of its strongholds. Bobby Sands was elected with a majority beyond the imagination of even the greatest enthusiasts of his election campaign including myself. The unionist candidate who was defeated by Sands was devastated when he publicly stated:

“I never thought the decent Catholics of Fermanagh would vote for the gunman”

These comments by the defeated unionist candidate show clearly that unionists had failed to grasp the fact that the Catholic community were not voting for a gunman, but were voting for a young Irish Catholic who was being starved to death by an uncaring British Government. On a visit to Belfast on the 28th of May 1981, British Prime Minister, Thatcher showed her ignorance of militant republicanism and Catholic sympathy for the hunger strikers when she said:

“Faced with the failure of their discredited cause, the men of violence have chosen in recent months to play what may well be their last card”.

The IRA responded to Thatcher’s statement by killing a police officer. Thatcher in her ignorance of the Irish problem had given the republican leadership the credibility and sympathy they had craved for so long. Brendan O’Leary supports this view when he states:

“Thatcher certainly miscalculated the consequences of her obstinacy: Sinn Fein was able to ‘widen the battlefields’ and become an electoral force”. [3]

This new surge of ‘popularity’ for the republican movement did not go un-noticed by loyalist terrorists. Up until the hunger strikes the loyalist death squads were reactive. The loyalist gangs were made up of mainly criminal elements some of whom had been moulded and guided by the British Secret Services. The heightening of the republican campaign through the hunger strikes with demonstrations, rioting and murder brought about a change in the style of loyalist terrorist activity. Loyalist terrorists in the form of the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF) and Ulster Freedom Fighters (UFF) were no longer prepared to be simply reactive to republican violence. As the older members of the loyalist terrorists were removed through the use of Super-grasses (terrorists who turn State evidence) they were quickly replaced by younger ‘more’ ruthless activists, who began a pro-active campaign of murder against the Catholic community.

It is important to understand the role and nature of the loyalist terrorists within the northern conflict. While republicans had access to a pool of Catholics all over the Island of Ireland and had within their ranks people from many walks of life, loyalist terrorist groups were mainly made up of what was left over when Protestants who wanted to be active in the conflict had joined the British Army, RUC, Prison Service, Secret Service and so on and so forth. So in effect loyalist terrorist groupings were made up of the left overs. This meant that loyalist terrorists had many criminal and unsavoury elements within their ranks from the very outset. Some of the death squads they established such as The Shankill Butchers show clearly that many loyalists belong in the hall of fame with child sex killers Myra Hindley and Ian Brady. Many ‘republicans’ would later fall into the same category.

The 1981 Sinn Fein Ard Fheis (national conference) would provide the platform for Danny Morrison, a leading republican at that time, was to put the theoretical nail in the coffin of the IRAs southern command lead by O’Bradaigh when he asked the delegates:

“Will anyone here object if with a ballot paper in this hand and an armalite in this hand we take power in Ireland?”

The northern command of the republican movement were not stepping back from militant republicanism because they realised the futility of violence, but wanted to adopt a twin track approach because they believed that an electoral mandate could be just as useful as a weapon of coercion against the Protestant people in the north as the armalite. This twin track approach would also help the republican movement build on its international reputation particularly among Irish Americans who would be even more generous with their dollars without having to feel too guilty about the consequences of their naivety.

The policy was fully endorsed and it was time for the southern leadership to step aside as the northern leadership under Mc Guinness and Adams were preparing to take the republican movement to the next level. The first opportunity for the northern politicos to test out their electoral mandate with the sympathies of the hunger strikes still fresh in people’s minds was in October 1982. I was still only a young teenager during this period but had already been in the republican movement for two years. We were excited about the possibility of having people elected and gaining recognition for our cause, of course I was only listening to what I was being told.

The elections were for the new Assembly in Northern Ireland which had been established by the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, James Prior. The new Assembly was the culmination of many months of hard work by Prior and some of the North’s constitutional politicians. It was the chance that everyone was waiting for. Many believed that Sinn Fein would be unable to poll anything like the hunger strikers; however, Sinn Fein won five seats. Sinn Fein got 64, 191 votes for the new Assembly. The northern domination of the republican movement was reflected in the makeup of the Ard Chomhairle (ruling body of Sinn Fein), presided over by Gerry Adams. By 1986 only six of its members were from the south of Ireland. Only one woman had a place at leadership level of the republican movement. Gerry Adams and Martin Mc Guinness had a seat at both the table of the Ard Chomhairle of Sinn Fein and the IRA Army Council.

By 1985 Sinn Fein had become well established, yet there is no doubt that the IRA were still in control of Sinn Fein, in terms of leadership personnel. In 1986 there were eight members of the Ard Chomhairle in the IRA, clearly being controlled by the IRA. This control was summed up by the IRA Chief of Staff, Kevin Mc Kenna in 1994 when during an interview he was commenting on the talks between the British Government and the Republican leadership, he said:

“As long as the boys with the balaclavas are there to watch what is going on we will be alright”.

Kevin Mc Kenna was and is a man of few words and on occasion when I was being interrogated by the British, Kevin Mc Kenna was referred to by my interrogators as the executioner. In 1983 Sinn Fein, President, Gerry Adams was elected MP for West Belfast. The politico/militarist leadership of the republican movement in the north were pushing ahead with their dual strategy. Violence in the north was nowhere near as high as it had been in the early seventies and so in order to take more control of IRA activity the northern command reduced the number of its active IRA members from 1000 down to 250. The IRA campaign while demanding much in terms of weapons, safe houses and so forth only needed a relatively small number of actual killers to keep their campaign going.

Mc Guinness and Adams retained their seats at the table of the IRA Army Council. The IRA Army Council remained the supreme Governing body of the republican movement, its irregular meetings determining IRA policy and the way forward for the republican movement. So it was that some within the republican leadership such as Mc Guinness and Adams believed that the best way forward was through the twin track approach of the ballot box in the one hand and the armalite in the other, this strategy meant that IRA leaders such as Kevin Mc Kenna could continue with his single minded military campaign. So it was that the twin track approach could keep everyone happy, however, that could not last forever as republicans knew from their history.

[1] Page 346 Bishop and Mallie, 1994


[3] Page 120 Irish Political Studies

The IRA – A Fairly Secret Army – Chapter 6 – Sectarianism – Super-grasses – Division

Following the Hunger-strikes the Provisional IRA Army Council under the leadership of Gerry Adams and Martin Mc Guinness ordered a number of high profile sectarian killings. The justification for this overt sectarianism was due to the triumphant attitude of some Protestant leaders during the republican Hunger-strikes. The most notable target of these overt sectarian attacks were the Official Unionist MP for South Belfast the Reverend Robert Bradford. These high profile sectarian murders showed the true core of the PIRA sectarian philosophy. This elitist attitude of the PIRA leadership meant that ordinary Catholics living in South Belfast would bare the brunt of loyalist retaliation for such murders.

Since 1976, the republican leadership had shown, more clearly, its sectarianism by breaking with tradition and overtly rather than covertly killing Protestants. Traditionally the PIRA would kill Protestants who were members of the security forces and this could be justified to their own community, however the killing of democratically elected members of the British Parliament simply because they were Protestant was a break with tradition. Although this was the sectarianism that Goulding had warned the PIRA were capable of when he was leader of the Official IRA. The PIRA stated that their new overt sectarianism was due to the fact that the British Government had pulled British soldiers off the front line and were attempting to impose a policy of Ulsterisation by placing RUC (Police) and UDR (NI based British Army Regiment) in the front line against the PIRA.

The truth was that the IRA could have attacked British Army personnel and installations at any time but it was easier and more in keeping with the PIRA thinking to gather intelligence about working class Protestants and small farmers who worked as part-time RUC or UDR men to supplement an uneconomic income from a small farm or low wage. These targets were known as soft targets, they provided limited risk to PIRA personnel and they inflicted a heavy psychological blow on the Protestant community (see, The Provisional IRA had come to view the Protestant people as the real obstacle to achieving a united Ireland. One senior IRA member in Belfast highlighted the sectarianism of the republican movement when he stated in an interview with Finnola O’Connor:

I would like to see those orange bastards just wiped out. [1]

1976 would also be the year in which the British Government decided to send the SAS into Northern Ireland. Before 1976 the SAS had been an Imperial police force in foreign lands that were used to impose the will of the British Empire on those who challenged their authority. The SAS had not been engaged as an urban policing unit, however, the British Government determined to show the Protestant people of the north that they could protect them sent in the SAS. The SAS were never consulted about their new appointment to the north and this caused many problems for an army unit that had lived in the desserts and had a licence to kill. The British also employed the Super-grass system in the north. This was a system where members of the various terrorist organisations turned State’s evidence on their former comrades.

The Super-grass system was nothing more than selective internment and yet again many innocent people found themselves imprisoned on the word of well-paid touts. This type of system had no place in a democracy where people of limited intellectual ability and other social dysfunctionality had their egos massaged by their Brit handlers in order to name and identify ‘terrorists’. Many of these touts were housed in a special annex at Crumlin Road jail where they were furnished with fine wines, foods and prostitutes. These touts were further promised a new life in a different country where their every need would be meet. Of course most of these touts had come from underclass, dysfunctional back grounds and had never known any life other than living on social welfare. These touts were easy to buy as were many thousands more within the ranks of the republican movement. Eventually the Super-grass system collapsed and the secret services such as M15, M16 and RUC Special Branch focused on maintaining touts within the ranks of the terrorist groups.

While the prisons were being filled with those identified by touts/Super-grasses, outside the prisons the secret services were busy recruiting and placing more touts within the terrorist groupings. Even at the highest level within the PIRA touts were recruited and remained in key positions for many years some even for decades. However, over the years many touts were discovered within the ranks of the PIRA and they were executed, some who came forward and admitted they were touts were spared, indeed somewhere even allowed to run for Sinn Fein in various elections. This was important in psychological terms, it allowed people to realise that if they came forward and told that they had worked for the security services their lives would be spared. If the republican movement had killed every informer this would have been counterproductive in electoral terms, the republican movement was and remains a hot bed for British agents.

One example of the numbers of informers/touts within the ranks of the PIRA is evident in the arrest of an IRA informer, Peter Valente in 1981. When interrogated by the IRA before they killed him he named six other RUC Special Branch informers he knew in his own area, all of whom were later executed by the IRA. It is believed that individual teams of two RUC Special Branch officers had anything up to forty informers each to handle in any given large urban area at any one time, some of these informers were placed well within the republican movement in those areas, and other informers provided lower grade intelligence. Senior PIRA men have in fact on many occasions had IRA volunteers of lesser rank killed in order to cover their own double existence. Super-grasses such as John Grimley and Raymond Gilmore were actually Special Branch agents rather than people who had simply been bought for the Queen’s shilling. Dennis Donaldson who sat at the same table as Gerry Adams and Martin Mc Guinness at leadership level was only exposed in recent times as a British agent who had operated within their ranks for over two decades; he has since been executed in County Donegal. British and Irish Government agents within the republican movement have throughout its history been a thread of British and Irish Government counter-insurgency.

One senior member of the PIRA Derry Brigade who commanded dozens of IRA volunteers with Martin Mc Guinness, had three IRA men executed accusing them of being informers, including Paddy Flood, whose family and people who knew him still protest his innocence. It has since transpired that the person directing these executions was himself the British agent, the killings of innocent men had been done in order that the real informer could cover his own tracks. However, when one considers that PIRA leader Martin Mc Guinness was having secret talks with M16 agent Michael Oakley during this period the world of touts/informer and traitors is a grey rather than black and white area within Irish Republicanism.

Danny Morrision, who was a leading member of the republican movement was put forward for the 1984 European Election and as had been anticipated by many, the republican movement electoral base was returned to its ghettoised infrastructure with 10,000 votes less than the year before when the memory of the hunger strikes had not completely faded away. As I write it is the twenty-ninth anniversary of the death of IRA hunger striker Bobby Sands and it is as if it never happened as the republican leadership try and sell themselves as pragmatic democrats rather than sectarian bigots. It would be this ghettoised constituency that would yet again cause a feud of ideological consciousness at leadership level in the republican movement. As the republican leadership realised the limits of their insular sectarian ideology and their inability to become a real alternative with real political direction in comparison with constitutional nationalists such as the SDLP.

To maintain what little momentum that had been created by the elections, the republican leadership had decided in 1984 to allow its elected members to local authorities in Northern Ireland to take their seats, just as their elected colleagues had already done in the Irish Republic. These councillors, north and south, fast became the political middle management at regional level of the republican movement and front line political management at local level. It is very important to remember as I have alluded to earlier that the lower ranks of Sinn Fein are made of a myriad of people, some were former IRA who had turned tout under interrogation had come clean and were allowed back into the republican movement, some were allowed to run in elections for Sinn Fein as they came from lower middle class back grounds and were viewed as being able to secure new votes for Sinn Fein. There were many reasons why people joined and were wanted in Sinn Fein, most of them would not be trusted with confidential information. Things were different at the top of the republican movement where Sinn Fein and the IRA were as one.

These new breed of politico-councillors mainly from underclass/working class back grounds soon discovered the benefits of democracy as they collected their salaries and expenses cheques. Many of these people had never known anything other than living on social security now they were able to buy houses, cars, holiday homes they were soon bit with the gravy train bug. In 1995 for example Belfast City Council had ten Sinn Fein councillors and the expenses claims were in the hundreds of thousands. Sinn Fein were supplied with state of the art offices and facilities, facilities visited by this writer, and facilities that would be the envy of any constitutional political party, all paid for by the tax payer.

The republican leadership under Mc Guinness and Adams continued down the political road and as the leadership tightened their control on an ever evolving political machine the leadership began to follow British political parties in terms of vetting all candidates going forward. If a potential candidate was not fully in support of the leadership they were not allowed to run for the Party, even one word out of place in a public house could see a potential candidate side stepped for a more silent and loyal follower. This also applied in the Republic of Ireland, as I have stated earlier some of these lower ranking members of Sinn Fein would do business with anyone to keep their new salaries and expenses claims. For example an article published in a regional paper in County Monaghan, The Northern Standard, shows how Sinn Fein voted with the pro-treaty pro-Brit Fine Gael party:

Sinn Fein and Fine Gael combined together to reject the proposed Fianna Fail council estimates for 1995, at the council’s meeting on Tuesday the 30th November, 1994, Fianna Fail were defeated by the combined weight of Fine Gael and Sinn Fein.[2]

However, not everyone was happy with this process of politicisation and de-militarization. It appeared to many that touts and want-to-bes were being rewarded while republicans who had sacrificed everything were now surplus to requirement. In 1985 the militarists launched their most serious challenge so far. Ivor Bell, one of the most senior members of the PIRA Northern Command and close friend of Gerry Adams, indeed Bell had co-authored the reconstruction of the PIRA with Gerry Adams in the late 1970s. Bell’s grievance was that the republican movement’s resources were being concentrated on the Sinn Fein political machine and that there was not enough money to pay volunteers to fund operations or to support the families of republican prisoners. Bell’s supporters claimed that Adams’ brother Paddy had been imposed on the Belfast IRA in order to stifle military activity in Belfast.

Adams made quite sure that Bell would no longer serve the republican movement when he heard of his decent. The republican movement in its history has always been more efficient at silencing those who question its leadership from within through death or threat of death than swaying public opinion into their insular sectarian malaise. Adams and the northern command of the PIRA had viewed politics as a weapon of long term coercion and one that he could control. As long as he could place family and friends in key positions in the PIRA he could use it and control it as well. The long war strategy was still very much the central thesis of the Provisional ideology.

In the communities where Sinn Fein/IRA had a power base they imposed their will on the ordinary people, Catholic children in PIRA controlled areas who dared to tell ‘out-siders’ (i.e. Social Workers) that they had been raped or sexually assaulted by members of Sinn Fein/IRA were beaten or shot in the knees by groups of IRA members, families were forced from republican areas under threat of death if they reported anything to the ‘out-siders’. Later I will explain how even Gerry Adams concealed the fact that his own father Gerry Snr and his Brother Liam were both child molesters who used the republican movement to protect them from criminal prosecution (see,

[1] Page 140 O’Connor, 1994

[2] The Northern Standard, December, 1994

The IRA – A Fairly Secret Army – Chapter 7 – Shoot to Kill – Anglo Irish Agreement – Republican Duplicity

The 1980s seen a decline in the activities of the IRA whether this was a direct result of the republican movements new direction under Adams or a new aggressive policy by the security forces, or a combination of both is difficult to tell, I have given this some analysis below in relation to Loughgall. However, this period will be remembered for the high numbers of IRA members who were specifically targeted and summarily executed by the security forces and in particular the SAS. The RUC had also developed a special unit to tackle the IRA and other republican groupings. The RUC’s E4A unit which operated out of one of the RUC’s main interrogation centres Geough Barracks in Armagh City was working closely with the SAS. While the IRA and other terrorist groupings had been clearly operating a shoot and bomb to kill policy for decades, the republican leadership cried foul when the security forces responded in kind.

Sir Patrick Mayhew, then British Attorney General summed up an investigation into the allegations as follows to the House of Commons on the 25th of January 1988:

After studying the evidence dug up by Sampson and Stalker, Sir Barry Shaw had concluded that there had been no ‘shoot-to-kill policy’ and no incitement to murder.

However, even the most objective observer would have to agree that there was a shoot-to-kill policy in operation in Northern Ireland during this period and as a former member of the PIRA I would have to say so what. While I understood the propaganda value of such claims by the republican movement, it is clear that no IRA volunteer is going to complain about being shot while on active service, that’s the nature of the beast as it were. Sir Patrick’s words offered little to quell public disquiet about the shoot-to-kill policy many nationalist and republicans remained unconvinced particularly as the body count mounted.

The republican leadership were always careful not to include the Irish Intelligence services in their accusations of shoot-to-kill. However, in the killings of Roddy Carroll and Seamus Grew the two INLA men killed at this time, there is no doubt that the southern Irish intelligence services through its agents and informers helped their northern Intelligence counterparts to track Carroll and Grew on the night of their final journey as they crossed the border from County Monaghan in to County Armagh where the British security services had an ambush in place. The most notable of the shoot-to-kill instances at this time was the summary execution of eight IRA volunteers and an innocent civilian at Loughgall, I will cover that incident here in detail before returning to further developments in Sinn Fein/IRA.

In the aftermath of the restructuring of the East Tyrone Brigade of the Provisional IRA by leading PIRA volunteer Kevin Mc Kenna. The East Tyrone Brigade of the provisional IRA became one of the most active and feared instruments of the republican movement. The East Tyrone Brigade drew its membership from several counties and had a fearless leader in Kevin Mc Kenna. Mc Kenna who lived and lives in County Monaghan had originated from Augnacloy in County Tyrone. Mc Kenna was well known to the security services both in Northern Ireland and the Republic.

Militant Republicanism in East Tyrone has a long history dating back to Tom Clarke and beyond. In modern day militant republican folklore East Tyrone is at the core of most conversations. IRA Hunger striker Martin Hurson was from East Tyrone and the many tens of thousands of people who attended his funeral paid testament to the high regard in which militant republicanism was held in the County of Tyrone. Yet it would be East Tyrone and the ‘border’ counties in general that would become the murderous focus of the British security services once they noted the weakness of the Adams/Mc Guinness leadership in the mid-1980s.

The East Tyrone Brigade of the Provisional IRA would pay a heavy price for the wheeling and dealing that Adams and Mc Guinness were engaged in with M16. We now know with certainty that even while Gerry Adams was speaking his weasel words at the grave side of IRA volunteer Jim Lynagh, Mc Guinness was already engaged in clandestine meetings with M16 agent Michael Oakley. Yet Adams told the mourners at Jim Lynagh’s grave side that, “Anyone who does business with the British, the SDLP or the Freestate establishment are fools as they have all sold out on the Irish people”. Yet that is exactly what Adams and Mc Guinness were already doing, they were engaging with the British in a secret and under hand manner.

On the 8th of May 1987 the East Tyrone Brigade of the Provisional IRA sent their ‘A Team’ to blow up an unmanned RUC station in Loughgall. However, on this occasion the ‘A Team’ would not return. On the 8th of May 1987 the East Tyrone Brigade lost eight IRA volunteers when they were ambushed by the British Army’s SAS. Any objective observer may ask, why attack an unmanned RUC station? This I will now explain.

The 1980s seen a sea change within Sinn Fein and the IRA. The IRA had become a well-oiled paramilitary organisation. New weapons, explosives and methodology had been acquired and developed by the Provisional IRA. Colonel Gaddafi of Libya had sent significant amounts of weapons, ammunition and semtex (explosives) to the IRA. The IRA and in particular the East Tyrone Brigade were relentless in their militant campaign against the British establishment. IRA Commander, Jim Lynagh and other senior members of the Provisional IRA while housed in Portloaise Prison had read and adopted a Maoist Military Strategy/tactic for their campaign. Lynagh explained to those capable of understanding that the intention was to create Green or Liberated zones in the North of Ireland that remained under British rule. This tactic meant not only killing members of the British security services but also killing anyone who assisted or helped maintain the British presence in Ireland.

It is fair to say that Protestants would bare the brunt of this new and intentional tactic. Lynagh made no apology for this aspect of the campaign. This campaign was in effect a campaign of ethnic cleansing against the Protestant community. It happened that Lynagh’s new strategy would be partnered with a new British Government policy of Ulsterisation or normalisation. This new British policy meant that the British Army would be less visible on the streets and the local RUC and UDR would be in the front line against the IRA campaign. This new British policy simply placed more soft Protestant targets in the IRA shooting gallery. The British Government wanted the Northern Ireland conflict to be viewed as something criminal that could be dealt with by ordinary policing methods. However, behind the scenes M15 would direct the war against the IRA, while MI6 would nurture and develope its relationship with IRA leaders such as Martin Mc Guinness.

The Maoist strategy would be viewed as having been at its most successful for the IRA in areas such as South Armagh. However, large urban areas in Belfast and Derry were also viewed as being success stories. For example, in the 1960s, the Ormeau Road, in Belfast was over 80% Protestant, following constant attacks against the Protestant community by the IRA that number is today halved. Even in the aftermath of the IRA cease-fire in 1994, republicans continued to burn out Protestant businesses on the Ormeau Road and even burned down the cricket club. Lynagh intended liberating large geographical areas of Tyrone, Fermanagh and County Derry. He intended blowing up British military infrastructure and then attacking anyone who attempted to rebuild that infrastructure. Hence Loughgall was one such target, the idea was to simply blow up the unmanned RUC station and send a clear message to the loyalist people in that area. It would leave the Protestants feeling vulnerable and isolated, as it would appear that even the police could not protect themselves. This type of attack would be viewed by Lynagh and his fellow commander Patrick Kelly as a spectacular, they had carried out similar attacks and so Loughgall was expected to be a soft yet important target.

However, unknown to Lynagh and his comrades their plan was already known to the British security services. I can exclusively reveal that three weeks before the IRA attacked Loughgall, SAS members had used the firing range at the RUC forensic lab in Belfast to test fire weapons similar to those that would be used by the IRA unit at Loughgall. The reason the SAS test fired such weapons was so that they could identify and distinguish friendly fire from hostile fire on the night. These weapons that were test fired at the firing range in Belfast were signed in and out in a normal fashion, so records do exist. There has been much speculation about who set the IRA unit up for execution however; much of that speculation has come from those who wish to conceal the truth, I will deal with this aspect in a moment. Jim Lynagh had travelled from Monaghan the evening before the Loughgall attack and he had went to a safe house in Coalisland in County Tyrone.

Extra members of the SAS had been specially drafted into the North in preparation for the Loughgall executions. This SAS team and its back up units from the RUC and other British Army Regiments had very clear orders; nobody was to get out of the kill zone that had been set. The SAS armed with good information and state of the art machine guns just had to sit and wait for their quarry. At approximately 7pm on the 8th of May 1987 the IRA unit drove their digger loaded with explosives through the front gates of what was supposed to be an unmanned RUC station. However, in order for the SAS to stay within their Yellow Card rules, they had placed some of their men at the back of the RUC station so that they could later claim that lives were in danger and that is why they had to open fire.

The van containing Jim Lynagh and the other members of the Unit was rained upon with SAS gun fire. All eight IRA volunteers were executed. However, the SAS could not stop the bomb from exploding and much of the RUC station was demolished by the blast. What I can reveal exclusively is that when the bomb exploded a large piece of the steel digger bucket ripped open the side of the van in which the IRA volunteers lay dead. Indeed had the operation went ahead as planned it is certain that at least some of the IRA volunteers may well have been injured or killed by the shrapnel from the digger bucket. However, no accident was needed, the eight IRA volunteers were executed. In keeping with their orders to execute everyone in the kill zone the SAS further executed an innocent passer-by Anthony Hughes and left his innocent brother for dead.

The morning following the executions at Loughgall I was amazed that some republicans were already offering explanations as to how the eight IRA men had ended up dead. One active member of the East Tyrone IRA said, “The SAS were lying in wait around several RUC stations in Tyrone, it was just bad luck”. This was said only hours after the executions at Loughgall, surely anyone with an ounce of common sense would know that this was nonsense. The SAS did not have the man power in the north at that time or at any other time to lie about for weeks on end around remote RUC stations. I think that these words spoken by an active member of the East Tyrone Brigade of the PIRA only hours after the Loughgall executions are telling. While I have absolutely no suspicions in relation to the IRA volunteer who spoke these words, I do have suspicions about the more intellectually able person who put those words and ideas into his head.

The person who was pushing this information about ‘Bad luck’ only hours after the SAS executions at Loughgall, had been arrested by the RUC in 1981 and had turned informer. When this individual entered Crumlin Road Jail’s, A Wing, he told the IRA’s Intelligence Officer that he had simply stayed silent during his detention in Geough Barracks. However as this individual’s trial approached, he was finally forced to admit that he had in fact signed dozens of statements against republicans including Jim Lynagh. However, as he was not prepared to give States evidence against IRA personnel Lynagh ensured that he was allowed to live, this for Lynagh may well have been a mistake. That individual while now removed from the republican movement continues to live, some within the republican movement wanted to shoot him, while others believed that such a shooting would have an impact on Sinn Fein votes in one of their few strong holds in the Republic.

Following the Loughgall executions the SAS gathered up all of the IRA weapons used in the attack. The weapons included three Heckler and Kock rifles, one FN rifle, two FNC rifles, a Ruger revolver and a Spas-12 Shot gun. Forensic examination of the weapons later revealed that they had been used to kill 7 people and used in the attempted killing of 12 others. One of the guns recovered had actually been taken two years earlier from an RUC man. These weapons were familiar to the SAS soldiers who recovered them as they had test fired similar weapons only three weeks before the executions.

It is fair to say that anyone thinking out side of the box on the Loughgall executions knew well that this was a well-planned British attack that was only possible with good forward intelligence. Sometime after the Loughgall executions a young Loughgall woman was kidnapped by the IRA and it was being whispered that she was the Loughgall informer; however, for this writer such a suggestion is at best perverse. Setting aside specific intelligence that brought about the executions at Loughgall, the Key to the slaughter at Loughgall and the border counties in general during this period is twofold. The British viewed the Adams/Mc Guinness leadership as being in a state of weakness due to the fact that the Adams/Mc Guinness leadership had approached the Brits with a view to making a deal. The clandestine meetings between Mc Guinness and M16 agent Michael Oakley had simply strengthened the British view that the IRA could be brought to heel.

The British then adopted a twin track approach to the IRA. The British would engage in clandestine dialogue with the Adams/Mc Guinness leadership, while at the same time directing large security resource at those aspects of the IRA that would not be so easily tamed. This twin track approach by the British meant that M15 and the SAS would focus on the men under the control of Kevin Mc Kenna (East Tyrone) (IRA Chief of Staff) and Thomas ‘Slab’ Murphy in south Armagh. This campaign against the ‘Hawks’ in the IRA continued into the 1990s, while Mc Guinness and Adams were engaged in talks with, “the British, Freestate establishment and the SDLP”. In 2001 the European Court of Human Rights ruled that the eight IRA members who were executed at Loughgall had their Human Rights violated by the failure of the British Government to conduct a proper investigation into the circumstances of their deaths. However, these trivial declarations do little or nothing by way of establishing the truth into what happened in Loughgall on the night of the 8th May 1987. New information disclosed here show why the truth about Loughgall will never be told.

The Loughgall informer did not die in Loughgall on the night of the 8th of May 1987 as suggested by some who have vested interests. The Loughgall informer like so many before him continues to live a life full of lies and deceit, just as did Dennis Donaldson and so many others. The Loughgall informer may well not have realised what the end result of his clandestine meeting would be, however, he should come forward now and tell the truth in the knowledge that we now live in a new political dispensation. The families of the eight men executed in Loughgall deserve to know the truth, so look deep within and find the strength to come forward. This writer is certain that the first indicator the British got in relation to Loughgall was three weeks before the Loughgall executions when Patrick ‘Paddy’ Kelly went to Monaghan Town to meet Jim Lynagh. However, Lynagh was not about when Kelly went to look for him and Kelly made the fatal mistake of making inquiries about Lynagh’s where abouts with another Monaghan ‘republican’.

What is for certain is that Patrick Kelly, Jim Lynagh, Padraig Mc Kearney, Declan Arthurs, Seamus Donnelly, Eugene Kelly, Gerry O Callaghan and Tony Gormley were clinically executed. However, these men would have sought no apology from the Brits in relation to the way they were killed; they died as they would have expected to die, fighting the Brits. What they would want however, is for the truth to be established in relation to the Loughgall informer. Why that has not happened, holds little mystery. There is only so many Dennis Donaldsons that the republican leadership can handle, and particularly if dealing with the Loughgall informer would mean up setting some solid republican voting trends in any particular area. In the period 1987-1992 the East Tyrone Brigade had 28 members executed by the British security forces, compare this to the number of IRA volunteers killed in areas such as Belfast and Derry where the leadership were in clandestine talks with the British.

The age old British trick of using smoke and mirrors to protect their informers has been truly put to work in relation to Loughgall. One former ‘SAS’ member wrote that on the night of the Loughgall executions one of the IRA volunteers was supposed to be wearing a red hat or scarf so that he would not be killed. Only someone of the lowest mental capacity would believe such nonsense, particularly when all the IRA volunteers on the night of the 8th May 1987 were not visible to the soldiers when they opened fire. Furthermore, seasoned writers such as Henry Mc Donald who writes for the British Observer newspaper makes childlike mistakes when writing about Loughgall. In an article written by Henry Mc Donald for the British Observer 29/Sept/2002, Mc Donald says that Jim Lynagh was a Sinn Fein councillor at the time of his death at Loughgall, this is nonsense. Mc Donald also says that Lynagh was opposed to Sinn Fein dropping abstentianism as a tactic, this is also untrue, Lynagh took to the stage at a Sinn Fein function in Clontibret in Monaghan in 1986 and gave the IRA’s backing to the Sinn Fein move. However, Lynagh had made it very clear that there could never be a six county settlement and he was certain that the Brits could be forced from the north in what he seen as the final phase of the war for independence.

This writer is also bemused at the comments made by some ‘republican’ commentators who appear on internet video clips relating to Jim Lynagh and the Loughgall executions. These commentators barely able to write their own names dare to speculate that Jim Lynagh would have supported Sinn Fein’s participation in the British partitionist Stormont Assembly. One only has to look at how little sacrifice these commentators made to realise that their words are nothing more than the utterances of Sinn Fein glove puppets.

There was a constant struggle going on within the republican leadership, Adams and Mc Guinness were now in constant contact with the British while key IRA leaders such as Kevin Mc Kenna who was committed to a militant campaign had to get second hand information from a politico who travelled north regularly to leadership meetings. Mc Kenna lived and lives at the time of writing in County Monaghan and he was on the run from the north as he was wanted by the British in relation to a number of IRA attacks in County Tyrone. Mc Kenna was for many years convinced that the political aspect of the campaign would remain nothing more than a tactic and so he could continue with his militant campaign.

This constant battle between ‘hawks’ and ‘doves’ or hybrids of both meant that in the 1980s the PIRA leadership decided to return its campaign to England, this was done for a number of reasons including helping to focus the minds of the British negotiators and an uninterested Prime Minister, Mrs Thatcher. It was also a morale boast among republican supporters, especially in Derry and Belfast where Adams and Mc Guinness had slowed down IRA activity and where the Brits had agreed a hands-off approach. The majority of IRA activity was taking place in rural parts of the north and in particular Tyrone, Fermanagh and South Armagh. At 2.54am on the 12 Day of October 1984, republicans got a morale boost that was not expected by many when a bomb exploded at the Conservative Party Conference in Brighton, almost killing British Prime Minister, Mrs Thatcher. It was a joyous day for those republicans including myself who hated Thatcher for the fact that she had sat ideally by and allowed ten young Irish men starve to death in Long Kesh. However, as so often before, it was innocent civilians who died and were seriously injured, it was however an exceptional attack in terms of planning and the use of new yet simple technologies.

The Brighton bombers were later arrested on the basis of information supplied by an informer. One of those arrested was a senior member of Sinn Fein, again showing the duality of personnel in Sinn Fein/IRA. Margaret Thatcher, in response to the IRA attack stepped up her efforts to have IRA men extradited from the Irish Republic and also to talk with the constitutional parties in the north, in order to defame and marginalise further ‘the men of violence’.

On the 15th of November 1985 at Hillsborough Castle, Mrs Thatcher and the Irish Prime Minister Garrett Fitzgerald signed the Anglo Irish Agreement. Unionists said No to the agreement as it contained a role for the Dublin Government in Northern Ireland affairs, however eventually the Unionists decided that:

In the end if we stick together and play ball with the British we will remain as British citizens in control of our own destiny.

Constitutionalists said, yes, as they believed it would undermine the republican movements’ mandate. Captain James Kelly who had been implicated in the arms trials in the early 1970s and as set out earlier in this book described the Hillsborough Agreement as a grievous error when he stated:

That prior to 1970, nationalist in Northern Ireland were treated as second class citizens.

Kelly suggested that as this was the immediate cause of the conflict in the north, many had ‘wrongly’ jumped to the conclusion that if full Human and Civil Rights were granted to nationalists they would accept being designated British. Sunningdale was based on such a premise. So also in the Anglo Irish Agreement, it is a grievous error in that, like Marxism it underestimated the importance of national identity. Professor Paul Bew at Queens University Belfast disputed this notion of the importance of reunification to northern nationalists when he stated that:

Nationalists want an end to perceived oppressive policies under a unionist regime, and the national question in comparison is of little more than sentimental significance.

This view by Bew is quite in keeping with the broad body of nationalist thinking in the north of Ireland and indeed the Irish nation as a whole. The majority of Irish Catholics on the Island of Ireland simply want to live in peace and that is why Sinn Fein and other parties that are viewed as being extreme have a small percentage share of the vote on the Island of Ireland. The unionist reaction to the Anglo Irish Agreement was hardened by the fact that constitutional nationalist were over selling the Irish Government role in the future of the north. Loyalists/Unionists/Protestants where now in open violent confrontation with the RUC as the RUC was left in the front line against unionist protests and anger. Chief Constable of the RUC Sir jack Herman was credited during this period with keeping the RUC from committing mutiny.

It is no surprise that the general population and political establishment in the Irish Republic accepted the Anglo Irish Agreement. This open acceptance of the Anglo Irish Agreement angered Gerry Adams and caused him once again to state:

We cannot hope to build a thirty-two county alternative if we do not build a thirty-two county struggle.

The northern command under Adams and Mc Guinness had become so insular that they were in danger of being unable to hold any ground in the Irish Republic. There was little or no political organisation in the south. Monaghan, Meath, Louth, Donegal and Dublin were the few places in the Republic where Sinn Fein could realistically point to organisation and political success. The republican leadership continued to fail in adopting real political strategy across the whole Island of Ireland. The northern leadership had become insular and paranoid as they tried to keep iron fist control of the organisation. While the republican movement in the north had sectarian violence to herd ghettoised nationalists behind them they had no such coercive device in the Republic.

Tom King, Secretary of State for Northern Ireland in 1985 said of the Anglo Irish Agreement:

We have signed an Agreement in which the Prime Minister of Ireland has in fact accepted that for all practical purposes…..there will never be a united Ireland.

Adams and his followers knew that while abstentianism in Northern Ireland was ‘acceptable’ it was not acceptable in the Republic of Ireland. The majority of people in the Irish Republic expected their elected representatives to attend the Dail (Irish Parliament) even if they never actually achieve very much. The debate on abstentianism was raging through the republican movement; it was clear long before the 1986 Ard Fheis that the republican movement was about to rip itself apart once more. People such as me who were in both Sinn Fein and the IRA were under specific orders not to discuss the topic of abstentianism outside the various meetings that were taking place up to the Ard Fheis.

The 1986 Ard Fheis was to set the scene for the confrontation on abstentianism that was inevitable, the motion put forward by the Ard Chomhairle (Sinn Fein leadership) read:

That this Ard Fheis drops abstentionist attitude to Leinster House. That successful Sinn Fein candidates in the twenty-six counties elections shall attend Leinster House as directed by the Ard Chomhairle and shall not draw their salaries for personal use.

In the months running up to the 1986 Ard Fheis, Adams supporters North and South, including this writer, worked tirelessly in counties Monaghan, Cavan, Louth and Donegal to get new Cummans (local Sinn Fein committees) into operation and to have as many Adams votes as possible on the floor of the Ard Fheis. It was a repeat of the pre-1970 Ard Fheis which had seen the split of the Official IRA, to the breakaway Provisionals, although this time the guns remained with the PIRA. For weeks after the 1986 Ard Fheis delegates told of how they had voted on behalf of Cummans that existed on paper only, in order to over throw the old southern leadership.

Adams in his address to the Ard Fheis made it clear that the PIRA was in support of the change in abstentianism from a policy to a tactic, Adams’ dual role on the IRA Army Council and Sinn Fein Ard Chomhairle had given him the opportunity to sway the army general convention to his way of thinking three weeks earlier. He told anyone thinking of causing a split that they would also be abandoning the IRA. The provisionals had realised that they needed to change if they were going to extract concessions from the British Government and further try to undermine the will of the Protestant people.

The Adams’ motion was passed by the two-thirds majority necessary and as expected O’Bradaigh and O’Connell walked out with others and shortly afterwards formed Republican Sinn Fein with Continuity IRA being their ‘military’ wing. The PIRA under Adams and Mc Guinness carried out a number of operations shortly after the split to show that they had not been affected by the policy change, this show of military strength helped to keep the pure militants on board. There were many confrontations among republicans however it never escalated into anything like the split in 1970.

An internal document circulated among those of us in Sinn Fein/IRA in 1986 following the Ard Fheis showed that Adams and Mc Guinness were firmly in control of the republican movement which was now almost exclusively made up of Adams yes men. This did not mean that pure militarists were excluded people like Kevin Mc Kenna and his under study Jim Lynagh could continue with business as normal as Adams and Mc Guinness knew that if they lost senior IRA figures they would be in real difficulty to carry their plan to the next level.

A Fairly Secret Army – Chapter 8

Terrorism – A Fairly Secret Army – Chapter 8 – The Politics of Murdering Protestants

The republican movement under the leadership of Mc Guinness and Adams continued to fail in terms of producing a coherent and clear political strategy for the way a head. They had now off loaded the old guard of O’ Bradaigh and O’Connell, yet there remained within Sinn Fein/IRA a schizophrenic view of the world. Adams and Mc Guinness while adopting the twin track approach of the armalite in one hand and the ballot box in the other, they continued to be the political tail being wagged by the military dog that was the IRA. Adams and Mc Guinness had a Janus-face to their leadership, to the world they were trying to sell themselves as pragmatic political leaders yet at their core and on the streets they were driven by the sectarian murder of their Protestant neighbours.

Adams had said that he would prefer to see a situation where the armed struggle was unnecessary, yet Adams by his drift towards politics had already accepted that militant republicanism had failed. Adams was now accepting the fact, like Goulding before him, that militant republicanism had no long term future and was nothing more than an obstacle to any political settlement in the north. Adams and Mc Guinness were allowing their heart to rule their mind as they continued to revel in the IRA’s campaign against the Protestant community. They knew deep down that the ‘war’ was over but they also knew that the Protestants had to be unnerved if Sinn Fein were going to get a place at any political discussions.

On the 30th of January, 1915, IRA leader, James Connolly writing to The Worker stated:

We will fight for our cause with words when words are useful, and with arms when arms are needed.

However, James Connolly was talking about an IRA who was in open combat with the British Military, the IRA of 1986 was an IRA overtly targeting and murdering innocent Protestants. Adams and Mc Guinness now had control of the republican movement yet it remained anchored in sectarian violence. The leadership of Sinn Fein in its Ard Chomhairle in 1987 had thirty-one members who were almost exclusively from the north. Yet when one read the list of names on the Ard Chomhairle at that time one could be forgiven for believing that the leadership were being less than honest about the geographical makeup of the Ard Chomhairle, IRA veteran, Joe Cahill (RIP) is represented on the official listing as being from County Louth in the Republic, when Joe was most certainly from Belfast.

The republican leadership continued to try and be all things to all people, if they moved too quickly in any one direction they could further split the organisation, this meant that pure militarists such as Kevin Mc Kenna and Thomas ‘Slab’ Murphy continued with business as usual. The June 1987 Westminster elections would see Sinn Fein offer the banner of ‘freedom, justice and peace’ to the people of Northern Ireland. However, such banner headlines could hardly disguise the on-going campaign of murder against the Protestant community by the IRA. The Catholic community were losing patience with the republican leadership; it was the ordinary Catholic people who were at the brunt of loyalist reprisals for IRA attacks.

The Catholic community were not carried by banner headlines that meant nothing, the Sinn Fein vote went down from 13.4% in 1983 to 11.3% in 1987. This was a significant blow to the leadership especially as they had dropped abstentianism. Adams got re-elected in West Belfast, however even this measured success could not cover the reality of Sinn Fein’s failure to make further political gains. Catholics were turning to constitutional nationalism as opposed to what they seen as sectarian republicanism. The SDLP made significant gains and got three MPs elected to Westminster.

It is worth mentioning here that Sinn Fein had one of the most sophisticated vote rigging systems in the modern democratised world. The Sinn Fein electoral mantra was, ‘Vote Early, Vote Often’, it was no exaggeration to say that people who had died and were still on the electoral register had their vote cast. People who had left Ireland many years before had their vote cast for them; in areas controlled by the IRA they maintained tight controls on voting. Each political party is allowed to have one personating agent in the voting centres. This means that someone from Sinn Fein will sit in the voting centre all day with a list of the names of people who are to vote in that area, about an hour before the voting centres close Sinn Fein/IRA members will be told who has not voted and they will call to those houses. People will be taken to the voting centres in black taxis and if they can’t go for any reason a Sinn Fein/IRA member would take their voting card and vote for them. To my shame, I witnessed it, I participated in it and I accepted it.

The Anglo Irish Conference had been established and this had allowed all the constitutional parties to participate in something that appeared pragmatic, the SDLP and John Hume were giving Catholics in the north hope of a new beginning whereas the republican movement appeared stuck in their old ways. While sectarian murder was something glorified by so called republicans in the segregated ghettoes of Belfast and Derry, in the country side Catholics were much less sectarian in their outlook and were inter-dependent on each other in daily life. Catholics and Protestants in small towns and villages had to work and live side by side, each had their own traditions but those traditions were mainly silent in the interest of community living. Yet the republican sectarian murder machine rumbled on.

On the 8th of November 1987, as Adams and Mc Guinness talked about ‘peace and justice’ the IRA planted a bomb in Enniskillen in County Fermanagh, where a war memorial service was being held at the Cenotaph in the town centre. This was a traditional gathering place for the family and friends of men and women who had fallen in the first and second world wars while fighting tyranny. The IRA bomb planted to maximise casualties killed 11 Protestants and seriously injured another 63 Protestants. The republican movement had once again shown its dark core, the republican movement just seemed unable or unwilling to move forward. It was alleged that this attack was revenge for the killing of eight IRA members at Loughgall in May that year; however, the mass murder of innocent men, women and children cannot be retaliation for the killing of armed IRA members.

The republican leadership quickly recognised that this overt attack on the Protestant community was a serious public relations mistake. Usually when the IRA committed an act of violence they claimed responsibility immediately through their pen name, ‘P. O’Neil’, however for thirty hours following the Enniskillen attack the republican movement fell silent. When the republican movement were finally forced to admit responsibility for this mass murder, their words were hollow among the words of the Father of one of the bomb victims. Gordon Wilson (now deceased) lost his young daughter, a nurse. His words of forgiveness and compassion were flashed across the world when he said:

I bear no ill will. That sort of talk is not going to bring her back to life. She was a great wee lassie. She loved her profession. She was a pet and she is dead. She is in heaven and we will meet again. Don’t ask me please for a purpose. I don’t have a purpose. I don’t have an answer but I know there has to be a plan. If I did not think that, I would commit suicide. It is part of a greater plan and God is good and we shall meet again.

Gerry Adams had little to offer in response when he said:

I do not think there can be more Enniskillens and I think the IRA in accepting responsibility for what happened and its explanation, signalled that they are going to ensure that there are no more Enniskillens.

These weasel words were for the cameras and the world audience, behind the scenes republicans including myself were jubilant about the Enniskillen bomb. It is widely believed that the Enniskillen bomb was at least constructed by an IRA bomb maker from Monaghan who was a close friend of IRA commander Jim Lynagh who was killed at Loughgall by the SAS. This bomb maker was close to IRA Chief of Staff, Kevin Mc Kenna and therefore this IRA bomb maker would face no sanction in relation to the civilian deaths incurred at Enniskillen even if the Janus-faced leadership wanted to try and distance itself from the atrocity at a politically sensitive time. Adams’ duality as Army Council member and Ard Chomhairle member meant that responsibility for the massacre at Enniskillen lay at his door step.

The media continued to speculate about hawks and doves within the republican movement, however, this was somewhat dishonest. I lived, eat, and was imprisoned with republicans; I knew the most prolific IRA killers and the most politically motivated members of Sinn Fein. In all my time in the republican movement I did not meet one republican who did not champion an IRA action and particularly when that IRA action was overtly directed at the Protestant community. The media in Northern Ireland is a small community and the republican movement like any other enterprise have their trolls in the media. It was a useful myth to suggest that there were doves and hawks in the republican movement. However, even in the aftermath of the Enniskillen massacre and the loss of tons of explosives and weapons on the ship The Eksund the republican movement was determined to continue with sectarian violence.

In 1988 John Hume, the SDLP leader began a process of secret talks with the republican leadership through Adams and Mc Guinness. The republican movement’s mandate faltering as it was, had found a level of support that seemed consistent and so Hume believed rightly or wrongly that engaging with Adams would not hurt the SDLP. It was clear to everyone that if there was to be some kind of settlement in the north it would have to be a settlement that included Sinn Fein. This certainty is summed up by Bishop and Mallie when they say:

At the end of the day, despite all the good intentions, politics in Ireland, as Adams discerned, was still a matter of tribalism. Whatever happened, the IRA and Sinn Fein had grown too permanent a feature of the political landscape of Ireland to be left out of any serious discussions about its future. [1]

The discussions between John Hume and Gerry Adams lasted from March until September, of 1988 and would become known as the Hume/Adams initiative. The secrecy that surrounded the Hume/Adams talks caused suspicion from both loyalist and nationalists. Talk began to emerge of a Pan-Nationalist-Front and this left Unionists/loyalists very un-easy. It is also worth noting that there are Catholic Nationalists in Northern Ireland who are as fundamentally opposed to Sinn Fein/IRA as are loyalists, so Hume was taking a real risk. Loyalist paramilitaries now began to target members of the SDLP as they seen them as giving legitimacy to the murderous activities of the republican movement. Loyalists wanted to insure that a Pan-Nationalist-Front would not emerge from the Hume/Adams initiative.

At the Sinn Fein Ard Fheis in 1989 Gerry Adams in his hypocritical duality criticised the IRA for its continued failure to ensure that civilians were not killed. We now know from Ed Moloney’s new book Voices from the Grave that Gerry Adams did himself allegedly order the murder of innocent civilians. As I explained when talking about Loughgall, from 1986 Protestants whether civilian or military were the undisputed targets of the IRA. Sinn Fein were facing into another election in May 1989 and so Adams was trying to cosmetically distance himself from on-going IRA atrocities. Sinn Fein believed that they could poll well in the local government elections in Northern Ireland in May 1989 as a result of the Hume/Adams initiative. However, IRA atrocities continued to hold the Sinn Fein mandate almost static. Sinn Fein polled 11.3%, a fall from the previous local elections in 1985.

Sinn Fein was to find no favour with the electorate in The Irish Republic either. The Irish Republic was in yet another economic recession and the public mood was to shift to a protest vote for left wing parties. The 1989 General Election in the Republic seen The Workers Party (this was official Sinn Fein from whom Adams split in 1970) win 5% of the national vote and giving them seven seats in the Irish Parliament, Dail Eireann. The Labour Party won 9.5% of the national vote and fifteen seats in the Dail. Sinn Fein’s vote was reduced to 1.2% of the national vote and they won no seats. The Sinn Fein vote was concentrated in small pockets such as Monaghan/Cavan, Donegal, Louth, Meath, Kerry and Dublin. Much of the Sinn Fein organisation in the Republic had been built by the efforts of Monaghan republican, Caoimhghin O’Caolain, who had been a traditional Fianna Fail supporter but had joined Sinn Fein in 1980 in support of the Hunger Strikers. However, even in the midst of such a political vacuum in The Irish Republic the people did not view Sinn Fein as offering any real alternative or political strategy.

The European Elections in 1989 were to be another barometer of Sinn Fein’s political fortunes, in The Irish Republic Sinn Fein’s vote was slashed from 5.2% in the previous European Elections to 2.9%. In Northern Ireland the Sinn Fein vote also slumped to 9.2% of the total, in 1984 Sinn Fein had received 13.4% of the total vote. The republican leadership continued to try and explain away their electoral failures with complaints about censorship and the elections coming too soon after the change in the abstentianism policy. But reality was staring the republican movement in the face; they had no coherent political alternative to offer the people. Sinn Fein’s brand of sectarian militant republicanism had no place in the democratic politics of The Irish Republic. Sinn Fein’s former comrades in Official Sinn Fein (Workers Party) had taken seven seats in the Dail. Goulding’s decision to go political in 1970 had paid dividends and Adams knew that only too well.

1990 would see the much hated Mrs Thatcher resign as British Prime Minister, she had over seen British policy in Northern Ireland for almost twelve years and she had earned herself number one spot on the IRA’s hit list of most wanted persons. Thatcher would never be forgotten for her role during the Hunger strikes. Adams and the northern leadership could only sit back and watch as their former comrades in Official Sinn Fein took seven seats in the Dail. Goulding had mixed views on his decision to go political in 1970 and the Provisional IRA/Sinn Fein to delay going political when he said:

We were definitely right, but right too soon. Adams may be right in pushing the provos towards politics, but he is too late and Ruari O’Bradaigh (Republican S/F) will never be right. [2]

As Thatcher left office there was some hope of political change in the north. However, within a few short months the IRA reasserted their campaign of economic and psychological coercion against the British Cabinet and British public when they welcomed Prime Minister, John Major to Number 10 with a mortar attack. None of the Ministers or the Prime Minister was injured as they meet in Number 10 but the attack reminded the British that Saddam Hussein was not their only enemy. The IRA campaign against the British Government and public was an attempt to convince them to become persuaders of the Protestant people to enter a united Ireland or a transition towards a united Ireland. On the ground in Northern Ireland far away from the media spotlight, the IRA continued with their criminality, children were being shot in the legs and beaten by IRA gangs because they had dared to tell a social worker that they had been raped or sexually assaulted by a Sinn Fein or IRA member. Armed robberies, smuggling, counterfeit goods, and licensing drug dealers were all part of what was now an IRA Mafia organisation.

Peter Brooke was the new Secretary of State for Northern Ireland and he set about arranging a set of talks about talks. The terrorists continued to murder at will, loyalists were now pro-active rather than reactive and in 1991 seventy-five civilians were murdered in cold blood in almost equal numbers by loyalist and republican murder squads. The republican movement could no longer claim that Protestant civilians were accidental casualties of ‘war’ as in 1991 there were only 19 military casualties. Loyalists were now matching the IRA sectarian body count almost death for death. The lie of ‘war’ was buried beneath the bodies of the innocent and Adams claim to have Protestant interests at heart were nothing more than a self-deluding myth. Indeed as extensive survey was carried out by Livingston and Morison into party preference in Northern Ireland in 1991, they found that although there was a cross fertilisation between unionist and nationalist parties, not one Protestant said they would vote Sinn Fein. [3]

One of the most cowardly tactics used by the republican leadership and one which cost them a great deal of support at this time was the tactic of using Human Bombs (proxy). This tactic had been developed by a close associate of IRA leader, Martin Mc Guinness. Mc Guinness felt that he needed to take back some of the street power that had shifted in the IRA leadership to Mc Kenna and Murphy as they had taken a significant hit from the British and appeared to ordinary republicans to be fighting the ‘war’ on their own. The tactic was used for a short time during the 1990s, however, was eventually abandoned after public outrage. This Human Bomb tactic involved taking an innocent civilian and tying that civilian into a car or van and forcing them to drive that car or van packed with explosives into a British military installation, when that person arrived at the military installation the IRA would explode the bomb by remote control, killing the civilian and any one in the vicinity of the bomb. The person forced to drive the bomb to its destination was normally told that his family would be killed if he did not drive the bomb to its destination. Unlike the modern day Muslim terrorist who will volunteer to blow himself up in a suicide bomb attack, the IRA were too cowardly to carry out such attacks themselves.

The Human Bomb attacks had been sanctioned by the IRA Army Council who were continuing to pursue a policy of ethnic cleansing against the Protestant people by both physical and psychological coercion. On the 24th of October 1990, an IRA active service unit lead by someone very close to Martin Mc Guinness, took the family of Patrick Gillespie hostage, warning Mr Gillespie that his wife and children would be murdered if he did not co-operate. Mr Gillespie was tied into a car that was packed with 1,000lb of explosives and told under threat of death to drive to the British Army installation at Coshquin. As he reached the British installation the IRA cowards detonated the bomb by remote control, Mr Gillespie and five others were murdered. Also on the 24th of October 1990, the IRA forced a pensioner to drive a bomb into a British Army checkpoint outside Newry. The brave pensioner managed to jump free at the last minute but one person was murdered and over a dozen injured as the bomb was exploded by remote control. In Omagh on the same day in 1990 the IRA held a man’s wife and little children hostage, while they strapped him into a car that was filled with explosives, on this occasion the bomb failed to explode. The IRA exported this cowardly tactic and on the 24th of April, 1993, the IRA forced two London Taxi drivers to drive bombs to Downing Street and New Scotland Yard, the two taxi men were able to abandon their vehicles in safe places and issue warnings to the public. This was the last time that the proxy bomb was used as it showed the IRA on a world stage for the cowards they were.

The car bomb, van bomb, lorry bomb, mortar bomb, proxy bomb were all developed by the IRA and are today used in terrorist campaigns all over the world. The close association between the republican movement and international/narco terrorism is often lost in the spin doctoring surrounding the peace process in the north, this is particularly so in the so-called Irish/American media who make their bread and butter from republican mythology. The reality is that the tactics used by groups such as ETA, FARC and Al-Qaida are tactics that were taught to them by the IRA operatives who were sent to those countries in exchange for weapons or in the case of FARC drug money.

The Irish Prime Minister, Mr Charles Haughey, was to be replaced by Mr Albert Reynolds, a man who had little political baggage and seemed ready and willing to do anything to help find a formula to the warring tribalism in Northern Ireland. Reynolds and the British Prime Minister, John Major, appeared able to talk easily with each other and they seemed able and willing to do business. However, the dark shadow cast by the republican movement would soon bring another dark day in Northern Ireland’s history. On the 17th of January 1992 it was proved once again, if proof were needed, that Protestants were the legitimate target of the republican movement when on that date seven Protestants were murdered and seven more injured by an IRA bomb that deliberately targeted the men as they travelled to work in Treebane, County Tyrone. The hawk and dove theory was a nonsense, the central thesis of the republican campaign was to physically and psychologically coerce the Protestant people into a united Ireland, if that meant using a combination of murder and politics then that is what would be used.

In London talks about talks continued among the constitutional parties, Sinn Fein continued to exclude themselves from the talks due to continued republican violence. The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) wanted the Irish Government to erase Articles 2 and 3 from the Irish Constitution (Bunreacht na hEireann), that had laid claim to Northern Ireland as part of the national territory. These meetings were being used by the British to tell Irish Americans that a process was in place to bring some type of settlement to the northern problem. In America, the 1992 Presidential elections were in full swing and the Irish American lobby were flexing their muscles, offering full support to Bill Clinton if he would agree to send a peace envoy to Northern Ireland. Bill Clinton played a pivotal role in the peace process and his peace envoy George Mitchell was a very able man.

The British Government continued to guarantee unionists that their constitutional right to remain British citizens would not be under mined by any deal. This position being maintained by the British continued to be a problem for those trying to remove the Unionist Veto on the North’s affairs. At the end of 1992 a General Election was called in The Irish Republic, and Albert Reynolds and his Fianna Fail Party were returned to office as coalition partners with the Labour Party. In March 1993 Albert Reynolds meet with American President, Bill Clinton and briefed him on developments in the north. Reynolds was leading a strong Government and was prepared to take risks to secure peace in the north. The Pan-Nationalism spoken of by unionists had now been strengthened by a strong and willing Irish Prime Minister who was supported by an interested and popular American President, Bill Clinton.

Adams and Hume had inclusive talks in 1988 and these talks would begin again in 1993 as a political momentum appeared thanks to Reynolds. Unionists were out raged as they could see that nationalism was taking on a new momentum, however, Reynolds and Hume were simply trying to submit Sinn Fein to constitutionalism. Sinn Fein was being offered the opportunity to be inside the political tent or outside it. Albert Reynolds had great faith in the abilities of John Hume in his handling of Adams and Sinn Fein when he said:

Mr Hume is a very experienced politician. It is for Mr Hume to judge whether something useful can come out of those talks.

The triangulation of Hume, Reynolds and Clinton would be the corner stone of what would become known as the peace process, Sinn Fein/IRA knew that this was the last stand saloon and they could either be in as constitutionalists or out as terrorists.

[1] Page 464 Bishop and Mallie, 1994

[2] Page 324 Holland and Mac Donald, 1994

[3] Page 9 Livingston and Morison, 1991

A Fairly Secret Army – Chapter 9

Terrorism – A Fairly Secret Army – Chapter 9 – Framing the Peace

By 1992 the republican movement was on the rails, Martin Mc Guinness had been having secret talks with M16 agent Michael Oakley (the mountain climber) for years, Adams had been talking to John Hume, and even representatives of the Catholic Church had been working behind the scenes to try and bring Sinn Fein/IRA in from the cold. The republican leadership knew that they could either join the new political momentum or remain isolated and marginalised as a sectarian/criminal mafia. On the ground loyalist terrorists were matching the IRA murder rate body for body, the IRA was in real difficulty and Sinn Fein were making no political head way.

Sinn Fein’s document, Towards a Lasting Peace in Ireland, was presented to the 1992 Sinn Fein Ard Fheis by the Ard Chomhairle as a discussion document. It is important to note that such a document would only be read by a small number of republicans due to the fact that the leadership were paranoid about creating disquiet in their ranks. The document stated that its main purpose was to inform the debate within the party and wider public debate about how best to develop a strategy for peace in Ireland. The republican leadership were desperate to capture the goodwill being offered behind the scenes by the Irish Government, The American Government, and The SDLP. However, that goodwill would not last forever and the political establishments were getting very tired of the on-going sectarian violence.

Adams in his talks with Hume had come to realise that with support from the Irish Government, and the American Administration the time was coming close when political coercion could peak for the republican movement. At leadership level the evolving theory was one of high powered diplomacy. The introduction to Sinn Fein’s document, Towards a Lasting Peace in Ireland, states:

A Peace Process if it is to be both meaningful and enduring must address the root causes of the conflict.

While these sentiments could be noble, if scribed by people who did not go on in the same document to prove above all else their own lack of understanding of, “The root causes of the conflict”, when on page 14 of the document, the Sinn Fein leadership address the Protestant community. The document states that:

Unionists represent around one fifth of the Irish people.

That one fifth referred to in the document is a number many times greater than any support Sinn Fein will ever receive on the Island of Ireland. This feeble attempt at the marginalisation of the Protestant people shows quite clearly the republican leadership’s failure to realise the fact that their own ghettoised constituency represents only a small portion of the people of Ireland. It is their sectarian militant republicanism that was pushing the republican movement to the far reaches of the democratic political process both in Northern Ireland and The Irish Republic. In 1992 Sinn Fein only secured 1.6% of the entire votes cast in the European Elections in the Irish Republic. The majority of these votes went only to three Sinn Fein candidates, indicating that the militant republican tradition had no place in the politics of The Irish Republic.

An interesting document produced at this time by the republican leadership was entitled, Members of Sinn Fein Killed, this document lists twenty-two members of Sinn Fein whom the document claims were killed by the British authorities and loyalist death squads. However, the list is in fact a fraudulent claim to Martyrdom, as for example, one of those listed as having been killed by the British, Jeff Mc Kenna, was in fact killed in a car accident in Dublin. And Jeff was most certainly an IRA volunteer before he was a Sinn Fein activist. The republican leadership used duplicity at every turn to try and present a picture that was at variance with the truth.

This attempt by the republican leadership to create a Sinn Fein Role of Honour separate from that of the IRA was done in order to create the image that Sinn Fein and the IRA were separate entities and show that Sinn Fein had made great sacrifice on behalf of the Nationalist people. The document does not however mention the many dozens of Sinn Fein members who have been convicted of murder and other serious crimes. The republican leadership in another document entitled, The Evolution of Sinn Fein, make a single reference to the 1916 Easter Rising in Ireland and use a single quote from the press at that time that states that the 1916 rising was, ‘The Sinn Fein Rebellion’. The republican leadership having been corralled in to a constitutional framework would have to create a self-image of sacrifice and historical martyrdom in order to maintain their core electoral base. Just as de Valera had done decades earlier, the fact that Gerry Adams’ grandfather was an agent for de Valera may be one of the reasons for this trans-epochal duplication.

All eyes were now on the new Northern Ireland, Secretary of State, Sir Patrick Mayhew who promised new proposals for the way forward. As Sir Patrick’s proposals appeared to have no southern Irish dimension and only an internal Northern Ireland settlement at their core, they would be quickly scuttled. The Conservative Government in Britain was dependent on unionist votes at Westminster and so the Conservatives were not going to rock the unionist life boat. However, two torpedoes would strike the Conservative ship, the first would be the Bishop Gate bomb in London which was planted by the IRA and would cause millions of pounds worth of damage. The second would be a joint communiqué from the SDLP leader John Hume and Sinn Fein/IRA leader Gerry Adams which expressly ruled out an internal Northern Ireland settlement.

On the proposition of national self-determination, Adams and Hume stated in their communiqué that, ‘the majority of people in Ireland supported their view’, the idea that Sinn Fein who polled 1.2% of the vote in the Irish Republic in the January 1989 General Election and the SDLP who did not have an electoral mandate in the Irish Republic, represented a view shared by a majority of the people of Ireland was a myth. The majority of people simply wanted peace, however, that support for peace should never be confused with support for terrorists. As shown time and time again by their actions the republican movement believed that a campaign of physical and psychological brutality against the Protestant people would bring about national self-determination, however, the republican movement were being afforded an opportunity to come in out of the political wilderness.

Tim Pat Coogan’s view on the Hume/Adams communiqué was that, the statement was a realistic acceptance of the position in Northern Ireland as it was before in ‘1969’ in 1993 by two of the shrewdest political brains in the area. At this juncture it is necessary to evaluate Tim Pat Coogan’s book, The IRA, while recognising that Coogan had deep rooted contacts within the IRA, these contacts only sustained life as long as Coogan continued to give drip feed analysis of the romanticised version of republicanism fed to him by the intravenous mythology of Adams and his fellow travellers. Coogan’s lack of investigative journalism was proven on the 18th of September 1995, when The Irish News stated:

The latest Edition of The IRA by Tim Pat Coogan was taken off the bookshelves because of its references to the New Consensus Group having grown out of the Official IRA.

Nothing could have been further from the truth, the New Consensus Group had for many years challenged sectarian violence as having no place in a civil society. The publishers of Coogan’s book Harper/Collins made a public apology for Coogan’s grievous errors and the allegations were proven to have no foundation against New Consensus. Yet Coogan’s books continued to be a reference point for those ill-informed Irish/Americans who continued to support Sinn Fein/IRA.

To sum up what had become known in unionist circles as the Pan-Nationalist-Front, Dick Spring, the leader of the Irish Labour Party in the Republic, gave a highly significant interview to John Palmer of the Guardian newspaper (7th July, 1993). In that interview Dick Spring who was in coalition Government in the Irish Republic, said flatly that the unionists could no longer have a veto on political progress. If the unionists would not agree to talks, then the London and Dublin Government would make an agreement over their head.

The summer of 1993 continued with a public war of words between all the political parties in the north, however, behind the scenes the secret talks between the republican leadership and M16 continued, there were also secret talks between loyalist terrorists and the republican movement. Also in this myriad of cloak and dagger meetings the Roman Catholic Church acted as mediator between the republican leadership and the Dublin Government. Just as in 1921 Lloyd George had allowed his civil servants to meet with IRA leader Michael Collins, John Major was allowing his civil servants in the form of M16 to meet the IRA of the 1990s.

While Martin Mc Guinness was having secret meetings with M16 lower ranking republicans were being executed by the IRA for being informers. Mc Guinness was knowingly or unknowingly showing weakness and had done so for many years due to his secret meetings with the British Secret Service while that same secret service was summarily executing IRA members. It was a murky business but then murkiness was the business of the republican leadership under Adams. The British had little or no interest in the deaths of a few Protestants in Northern Ireland, and if that is what it took to keep the republican movement engaged in secret talks, so be it.

On the 22nd of October 1993, the IRA would carry out another mass murder of innocent Protestants, this time it was the Protestant heartland of the Shankill Road in Belfast where nine innocent men, women and children were to be blown to pieces by an IRA bomb. Loyalist terrorists retaliated by killing innocent Catholics all over Northern Ireland as the cowardly republican leadership knew they would. The IRA leadership said they had planted the bomb in the Shankill Road fish shop as they were trying to target loyalist terrorist/drug dealer, Johnny Adair, however, even if this explanation were true they had no explanation of how they could kill a select few with a large bomb in a busy shopping area on a Saturday afternoon. The reality was that the bombers had no intention of getting anyone out before the bomb exploded, these were IRA bombers in a large loyalist area they had no concern for the innocent Protestants that would die, and as far as the republican leadership were concerned the only good Protestant was a dead one.

There was worldwide condemnation of the Shankill massacre however like so much before, the headlines had settled before the dust on the devastated Shankill Road. However, within weeks of the Shankill bomb the British and Irish Governments produced, The Downing Street Declaration, a discussion document to help find a way forward in the stalemate of Northern Ireland’s politics.

In a speech to the Irish Association shortly after the publication of the, Downing Street Declaration, in Dublin Castle, The Taoiseach, Albert Reynolds, observed, “The spirit of coercion”, as the great evil of modern Irish history. Mr Reynolds insisted that in future the democratic right of self-determination by the Irish people as whole must be exercised with and subject to the agreement and consent of a majority in Northern Ireland. Professor Paul Bew at Queens University believed that the concentration by the Taoiseach on the erosion of coercion is an echo from the days of John Redmond some seventy years earlier. The use of the word ‘coercion’ by Reynolds was recognition of what had been the central thesis of the republican movements failed strategy.

A Fairly Secret Army – Chapter 10

Terrorism – A Fairly Secret Army – Chapter 10 – Declarations and Cease-fires

The Downing Street Declaration was viewed by Unionists as a sell-out. The most extreme comments coming from the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), when it’s then Deputy Leader, Peter Robinson said:

It is a blueprint for a United Ireland

It is important to try and understand the reasons why different shades of Unionism react so differently to different proposals. The DUP which was born out of a fundamentalist Protestantism under the leadership of the fire and brimstone preacher the Reverend Ian Paisley is more driven by the defence of Protestantism from Rome Rule than simply the defence of Ulster Unionism. The Ulster Unionist Party has a more pragmatic and businesses like approach to its politics, not always, but, The Ulster Unionist Party has a more wait and see approach, to such matters as The Downing Street Declaration. This did not and does not exclude all shades of Unionism engaging in expressions of tribalism as once witnessed when the Reverend Ian Paisley and then Ulster Unionist Leader, David Trimble marched down the nationalist Garvaghy Road with their hands held high. This out pouring of tribalism related to the fact that an Orange Parade (Protestant) had been allowed by the then Secretary of State, Mo Mowlam, to proceed through the mainly Catholic area.

In July of 1994 the leadership of the republican movement rejected The Downing Street Declaration, however, there was growing optimism that the republican leadership were bowing down to increased pressure from America, Europe, the SDLP, the Irish Government and more importantly the ordinary Irish people to renounce sectarian violence for good. Sinn Fein was not making any significant moves forward politically in any of the elections that it contended north or south. The IRA for the first time in the history of the conflict was being out done by loyalist terrorists in terms of the sectarian body count. The republican movement were on the ropes and constitutionalists were offering them the olive branch of peace if they took their seats at the table of constitutional politics.

In a rare snap shot of the overwhelming feelings of the majority of people in Ireland in relation to on-going republican violence, a survey conducted by the Irish Marketing Surveys: 91% of ordinary people north and south expressed a view that the republican movement should permanently renounce sectarian violence. [1]

At the Sinn Fein Ard Fheis in Dublin at the weekend of the 26th February, 1994, the republican leadership were under intense pressure to deliver an end to terrorism. It was also interesting to note that a petition from 13,000 Students at Queens University was handed into the Ard Fheis calling for an end to IRA violence, this was significant as Queens University had been the birth place of the Civil Rights Movement in the late 1960s, now those same students were calling on the republican movement to end their human rights abuses of the very same oppressed people.

The 1994 Ard Fheis was to be a key stone in the constitutionalisation of Sinn Fein/IRA, as Martin Mc Guinness the IRA leader who had been engaged in secret talks with MI6 for many years gave a hint that an IRA cease-fire was possible. It is also interesting to note at this time that while Mc Guinness was talking with MI6 and other British intermediaries the IRA were continuing to murder, mutilate and torture Irish citizens. While I had already left the IRA at this time I still had regular contact with active IRA members, and on one occasion when the IRA had carried out yet another atrocity, the murder of two community Police officers in Fivemiletown, December, 1993, I asked a well-placed IRA member in that area if he realised the futility of their campaign. He replied that, “The war must go on”. I explained to the IRA member that by the end of 1994 the IRA would have surrendered, he dismissed my analysis out of hand.

It was this dichotomy of thinking at leadership and ground level that would create problems for the republican movement further down the line. At the 1994 Sinn Fein, Ard Fheis Martin Mc Guinness suggested that if the Unionist veto was removed from any talks then an IRA cease-fire was possible. Mc Guinness said he would personally ask the IRA for a cease-fire if his conditions were met, this was of course a rhetorical question as Mc Guinness remained a senior member of the IRA Army Council. Clarification now became the buzz word as the republican movement asked British Prime Minister, John Major to explain some perceived ambiguities in the Downing Street Declaration. John Major for his part was continuing to deny that his Government had any contacts with the IRA, however, when Secretary of State, Sir Patrick Mayhew attended an annual lecture at Queens University he was ambushed with a question about talks between the Conservative Government and the IRA. However, even in the face of indisputable evidence Sir Patrick denied that any such talks were taking place and Major went further when he told Parliament that he would be, “Sick in his stomach if he thought such talks were taking place”.

So it was that all sides began to engage in verbal gymnastics as each jockeyed for position and tried not to isolate their constituencies. In an interview on the 27th February 1994, on RTE, Gerry Adams said:

The Unionists obviously have a right to opt out of a united Ireland, but they cannot have the right to self-determination.

In this statement Adams shows a clear lack of understanding of the majority of the people in the north who wished to remain British. Indications came from Adams at the 1994 Ard Fheis that a peaceful resolution could be found, however, it was not clear if this resolution was contained in The Downing Street Declaration. Constitutional nationalists both north and south felt that the republican movement was beginning to bend under the strain of domestic and world pressure, in particular pressure from the American administration, to end their sectarian campaign.

In his 1994 Ard Fheis speech Adams also said:

Unionists are an Irish national minority, a religio –political minority, with minority rights, not majority ones.

Even in political mode Adams continued to play the sectarian card as political coercion came more to the fore of the republican strategy. Adams was never speaking from a point of strength above that of the Protestant people in Ireland as Sinn Fein could only muster a small percentage of votes on the Island of Ireland compared to the numbers of Protestants in the north. It was the sectarian campaign driven by the republican movement that was a religio – political minority on the Island of Ireland. The republican leadership who were being dragged kicking and screaming into a constitutional framework had one continued weakness, and that weakness was failing to deliver a credible political strategy in the absence of sectarian violence. Violence was so easy compared to the intrinsic choreography of political negotiation and possible settlement.

On the 24th July 1994, the republican leadership rejected The Downing Street Declaration, and this was expected as they had not been part of the talks process that produced the Declaration, however, in that rejection Adams indicated that the conflict was entering its final phase. Unionists were furious as they believed that they were being sold down the river by The Downing Street Declaration. John Major and Albert Reynolds had little to say about the republican movement’s rejection of the Declaration as they knew from their secret contacts with the IRA that a deal was still possible. John Hume felt that the general thrust of the Hume/Adams initiative was contained in the Downing Street Declaration and therefore common ground had been established by all parties involved and that a framework for inclusive talks was being constructed.

All of the literature and comment by the republican movement relating to the Declaration, including the Adams speech were taken to Washington and delivered to President Bill Clinton by diplomatic messenger from Dublin. Clinton would have a vital role to play if the ‘peace process’ was to get off the ground. Clinton had made promises to the Irish/American lobby to give Adams a visa if Clinton was elected President. However, the British provided the Americans with documentation, showing Adams to being involved in terrorism. However, Clinton knew what had to be done; people like Ted Kennedy knew that no deal was possible unless the republican leadership could bring their Irish/American backers with them. Clinton made the decision to allow Adams into America for forty-eight hours; Adams was treated like a statesman by the Irish/Americans. In the majority the Irish/American view of the conflict in the north has always been a simplistic one, they parted with their dollars out of a sense of guilt.

Irish/Americans are not a homogeneous group and those supporting IRA violence in Ireland were mainly driven by guilt and a simplistic view of IRA violence. Irish/Americans did not see Catholic children having their legs broken by IRA gangs because those children dared to tell a social worker that they had been raped or sexually abused by a member of Sinn Fein/IRA. Irish/Americans did not see the bodies of innocent men, women and children lying broken on the streets after indiscriminate bombs were planted in high streets. Irish Americans were simply feed on a diet of old Civil Rights footage and republican ballads.

The language of the republican leadership had changed from that of no British interference in Irish affairs to that of the necessity for both the London and Dublin Governments to help facilitate a settlement in the north through all inclusive talks. Adams had stressed this position on his first trip to America. Adams had recited the British position as stated in the Downing Street Declaration:

Britain had no selfish strategic or economic interest in Northern Ireland, their primary interest is to see peace, stability and reconciliation established by agreement among all the people who inhabit the Island.

It was clear that the Hume/Adams initiative and the Irish Government had made their mark on the Downing Street Declaration and the republican leadership were being convinced that a way forward could be found without having to admit defeat. Clinton was central in encouraging the British Government to go along with the political momentum that was beginning to build. This view was supported by Dr Martin Mansergh, who had been a senior political advisor to the Irish Government, and Albert Reynolds was certain that without the Clinton input matters would not have moved forward with such a pace. Minds were focused by the IRA mass murder of innocent men, women and children on the Protestant Shankill Road in 1993, the innocent continued to pay a heavy price for the republican leadership’s foot dragging approach to the new political dispensation that was unfolding.

The atrocity on the Shankill Road made it easier for Major to sign the Downing Street Declaration as he could be seen as acting in an attempt to try and stop further sectarian outrages. It also saved the British government possible embarrassment as the IRA’s secret talks with the British government had just ended in failure, with the IRA accusing the British of intransigence. John Hume came under increasing pressure because of his talks with Adams, many within his party felt Hume had legitimised Sinn Fein and Unionists had similar feelings. Hume persisted and eventually the strain took its toll on the man who had risked so much when he was admitted to hospital on the 8th of November suffering from exhaustion. The pressure was soon diverted away from Hume, when on the day after he was admitted to hospital, it was disclosed that the British Government had been having secret talks with the IRA.

Sir Patrick Mayhew denied that the British Government had been having talks with the IRA when he stated:

Nobody has been authorised to talk or negotiate on behalf of the British Government with Sinn Fein or any other terrorist organisation.

As the British denied the talks had taken place and the republicans denied the British version of events it became clear that the talks had taken place and on the 26th February 1994, Sinn Fein had been informed that:

The British Government had agreed to hold talks with republicans which if they went well could speedily be announced publicly.

Suggested venues for the talks included the Scandinavian countries, Scotland and the Isle of Man.

It would be necessary that there be peace for the period of the talks which were expected to last two to three weeks.

The British asserted that the outcome of the talks would be an acceptance by republicans that there was no further need for armed struggle.

Communication between the IRA and the British Government continued with a war of words as each tried to justify their position to their own constituency. The British used the IRA’s 1994 bombing campaign of provincial towns in the north as a reason not to talk with the IRA and the IRA used the failed Ree’s talks of 1975 to distrust the British. However, behind the megaphone diplomacy Martin Mc Guinness had been hooked by his contacts with M16, contacts that were not simply impersonal. In one communication between MI6 Agent Michael Oakley and Martin Mc Guinness, Oakley signs off by saying, “Tiocfaidh Ar La”, this translates into English as, “Our Day Will Come”, which was the rallying cry of the republican movement, and we can only assume that Oakley was expressing a view for an end to IRA violence.

Eventually the republican movement agreed to a two week cease-fire, Sir Patrick Mayhew was not sure if this was now the right time to be discovered talking to the IRA as the local government elections were coming up on the 17th of May. Major ordered his staff to draw up new proposals including a longer cease-fire and in return the republicans could have logistical talks with the British. The one condition that was paramount to the republicans entering talks with the British was that the republican leadership would confirm that a lasting end to violence did not depend on their analysis being endorsed as the only way forward.

The IRA response to these conditions caused them to state unequivocally that the change in tone from the British was due to:

Expedient, internal and domestic party political reasons

There is no doubt that Major’s Government was beholding to the Unionists as the Unionists had just helped support Major’s Government with an important vote on the European Maastricht Treaty. On the 29th of October Albert Reynolds and John Major issued a statement in Brussels which repudiated the Hume/Adams approach and the Sinn Fein talks. The two Prime Ministers made it very clear to the IRA that they must commit to exclusively peaceful means if they were to be involved in inclusive talks. The rejection of the Downing Street Declaration by the republican movement meant that Albert Reynolds had to work harder with the British Prime Minister, John Major to find a way forward. Clinton continued to follow Albert Reynolds lead in relation to the northern peace initiative and Clinton continued to impress upon Major the possibility of peace.

The liaison committee of Irish and British Civil servants which was set up after the Downing Street Declaration was empowered to draft a Framework Document for an eventual Anglo Irish settlement. This settlement envisaged very far reaching changes, these included a revision of Articles 2 and 3 of the Irish Constitution that laid claim to the whole Island of Ireland and also to be revised was the British Government’s Act of Ireland 1920 which laid claim to the north of Ireland. The fallout from the IRA massacre on the Shankill Road on the 22nd of October, 1993, left feelings running very high in the Protestant community and these feelings are best summed up by the words of a young man, Keith, whose little niece was butchered by the IRA on that day:

It is really unbelievable to think that our government could contemplate making concessions to the IRA. When I seen Adams carrying the coffin of the IRA terrorist who murdered my little niece I was devastated and I looked to my government to respond to their murderous sectarian campaign with the law of the State. To realise that these murderers are given any say in how our country is or will be run is a disgrace of the highest order whether it be in the Framework Document or any other document.

It was a big ask for the ordinary Protestant people to accept that Sinn Fein/IRA could renounce sectarian violence for good, especially when Adams continued to carry the coffins of murders who had more in common with Myra Hindley and Ian Brady (The Moores Murderers) than they had with the Republican leaders of 1916. While the Irish Government continued to state that they would never go into Government with Sinn Fein/IRA in the Irish Republic they were expecting Unionists to go into Government with Sinn Fein/IRA in the north.

Even within their own ranks the IRA had and continues to have high ranking British agents operating. One of the most infamous British Agents operating within the ranks of the IRA was Frederick Scappaticci, who had the job of torturing and murdering alleged informers. When Freddie was finally exposed as a British agent the republican movement was numbed, Freddie was very closely associated with the republican leadership in Belfast. It was widely accepted within the republican movement that Freddie had killed several republicans for being Police informers, while he himself was a British agent. In one incident three IRA men were tortured and then murdered by Freddie as it had been discovered that these three IRA members were informers. The men in question Gregory Burns, John Dignam and Aidan Starrs had admitted that they had been informers; they also admitted that they had kidnapped, raped and murdered a young woman for their own amusement.

The body of their young victim Margaret Perry (26) had been found in a shallow grave in Mullaghmore, County Sligo. It was not unusual for the IRA to kidnap murder and secretly bury their victims. In 2010 many victims of the IRA murder campaign remain undiscovered in unmarked graves. Children such as Columba Mc Veigh was kidnapped by the IRA in County Tyrone in the 1970s, taken to County Monaghan, tortured, murdered and secretly buried, his body has never been found. This is the type of activity that Irish/Americans were funding with their dollars.

A Fairly Secret Army – Chapter 11

The IRA – A Fairly Secret Army – Chapter 11 – All the President’s Men

The political momentum began to pick up steam as the ‘Pan-Nationalist-Front’ as so described by unionist began to find some common ground. The Irish Government, The SDLP and the American administration under President Clinton were offering the republican movement a way out of the cul de sac of sectarian violence in which they had entrapped themselves. President Clinton appointed Jean Kennedy Smith as the new Ambassador to Ireland in 1993 and this gave a new confidence to the political process. Adams and the republican leadership were feeling the strain as constitutionalists offered real hope for change. The republican movement could either be inside the political tent looking out or on the outside looking in.

The fact that The Act of Ireland was moving onto the negotiating table gave Adams something to go back to the leadership with, it wasn’t much after so much death and destruction but it was a start. Martin Mc Guinness continued with the same old rhetoric that the Brits would be leaving Ireland sooner rather than later, however, the reality painted a different picture. This rhetoric was simply to keep the foot soldiers of the IRA on board, it is important to remember that most IRA members came from poor educational back grounds and their view of the world was often black and white. The majority of IRA members were by their nature followers and so the words of their leadership lead them from one day to the next, the majority of republicans would not even today appreciate the complexity of the secret talks and double dealing that occurred between the republican leadership and the British.

Adams knew this was the last chance saloon, the republican movement was on the ropes both politically and militarily and so it was that in August 1994 an Irish/American delegation arrived in Ireland to meet the republican leadership for discussions on what the republican movement could deliver. Adams was able to tell the delegation that the IRA would call a cease-fire if certain conditions were meet, Adams explained that it was important that the IRA were not seen to be surrendering as that could fracture the republican movement, Adams asked for the following:

That two of the IRA’s top men be allowed to travel to America to explain to their supporters in NORAID why the cease-fire was being called. The two men who would travel to the US on behalf of the IRA would be Joe Cahill, a veteran from the IRA’s 1940s campaign who was credited with being one of the founders of NORAID in the US. Joe would be able to bring the old guard along with the political process. The other senior republican to travel to the US would be Pat Treanor, a former IRA prisoner and Sinn Fein County Councillor in County Monaghan.

Treanor was being sent to the US as some of the IRA personnel who had been exiled to the USA, mainly to avoid imprisonment, would follow his lead. It was hoped that the duality of young rebel and old guard veteran would stifle any attempts at a split in the Irish/American dollars that were being poured into the IRA. After some objections to Treanor and Cahill being allowed into the US the Justice Department allowed them in. Again just to highlight the dichotomy between what the leadership were doing and what the foot soldiers on the ground were doing, weeks before Treanor went to America to sell the political process he was almost killed accidentally in an IRA gun attack.

Treanor had taken some journalist to a border road that had been closed off by the British, the road leading from Monaghan in the Republic to Fermanagh in the north was in Treanor’s constituency and he was simply highlighting a local problem. However, when Treanor was spotted in Fermanagh by the Police he was arrested as he was known to them as being IRA. As the police car taking Treanor to the police station in Dungannon, County Tyrone, an IRA unit unaware that Treanor was in the police car opened fire as the police car passed near Cappagh in County Tyrone, Treanor was injured by the IRA gun fire and was later released by the police. This bizarre incident highlights the lack of communication that existed between the republican leadership and those on the ground, this elitism would cause further problems as the ‘peace-process’ developed.

However, a Tape recording was passed by the IRA to RTE journalist Charlie Bird and that tape was played on the national airways on the morning of the 31st of August, 1994, announcing an IRA cease-fire as follows:

Recognising the potential of the current situation and in order to enhance the democratic peace process and underline our definitive commitment to its success the leadership of Oglaigh na hEireann (IRA) have decided that as of mid-night, Wednesday 31st of August there will be a complete cessation of military operations. All our units have been instructed accordingly.

At this historic cross-road, the leadership of Oglaigh na hEireann salutes and commends our volunteers; other activists; our supporters and the political prisoners who have sustained this struggle against all odds for the past twenty-five years. Your courage, determination and sacrifices have demonstrated that the spirit of freedom and the desire for peace based on a just and lasting settlement cannot be crushed. We remember all those who have died for Irish freedom and we reiterate our commitment to our republican objectives.

We note that the Downing Street Declaration is not a solution nor was it presented as such by its authors. A solution will only be found as a result of inclusive negotiations. Others, not least, the British Government, have a duty to face up to their responsibilities. It is our desire to significantly contribute to the creation of a climate which will encourage this. We urge everyone to approach this new situation with energy, determination and patience.

Such a statement after twenty-five years of death and destruction brought with it relief for many and hope to all. However, those who knew the IRA up close and personal knew that the IRA had become a mafia empire and whatever about the fancy words written by Adams and his fellow travellers, there were many within the republican movement who would not surrender their criminality to any political process. After the initial reactions from everyone the word ‘permanent’ became the buzz word for commentators. Unionists, The British and other sceptics continued to seek proof of the permanence of the cease-fire or ‘cessation of violence’.

Loyalist terrorists were now also called upon to call a cease-fire and so it was that on the 13th of October 1994, the Combined Loyalist Military Command in the spokesman of Gusty Spence, who had murdered the first Catholic in the conflict in 1966, announced a loyalist cease-fire. However, like the republican movement many loyalist terrorists had built up criminal empires by means of extortion, robberies, drug dealing, prostitution and so forth. However, the political spin doctors were not going to be distracted by the low key murders and Human Rights violations in working class areas of Belfast or Derry. Indeed there would come a time when Northern Ireland Secretary of State, Mo Mowlam would describe such murders and Human Rights violations within the peace-process as ‘Internal House-keeping’.

Both cease-fires had brought with them an air of optimism and this was encouraged by Irish Prime Minister, Albert Reynolds, the SDLP and the American administration. The British Conservative Government remained cautious as they were closer to the feelings of unionism. Reynolds as leader of the Fianna Fail Government welcomed Adams to Government Buildings in Dublin in 1994, this was the same Fianna Fail party that Adams had said time and again could not be trusted. The Forum for Peace and Reconciliation was opened on the 28th of October, which provided a platform to anyone who wanted to make a submission on the way forward. Unionists viewed the Forum as a nationalist talking shop but behind the scenes Unionist knew that a new political dispensation was unfolding.

The loyalist terrorist constituency was a small insular one and their membership simply focused on criminality, some of the more able loyalists formed small political parties such as the PUP which represented the loyalist UVF. The PUP under the leadership of David Ervine made a worthwhile contribution to the peace process. For the republican movement the task was more difficult as their numbers were much greater, the republican leadership had to find distractions for their many activists and supporters who now found themselves in unfamiliar territory. Initially the republican movement came up with various campaigns to distract their foot soldiers; there were campaigns to open border roads that had been closed for many years due to the security situation, there was a campaign to release republican prisoners, there was a campaign for de-militarization and so forth. However, the one campaign that the republicans came up with and which continues to this very day was an organised and concerted campaign to stop Orange Order parades marching in certain areas of the North.

This overtly sectarian campaign brought the republican movement full circle, local ‘residents’ groups were lead mainly by former IRA prisoners and the duplication of posters, banners, press releases and personnel exposed these ‘residents’ groups as nothing more than a cover for Sinn Fein/IRA activists. However, nobody was too bothered, the political elites were happy that the foot soldiers were being kept occupied. Core IRA members who had built up criminal empires while the conflict had raged now found themselves fully exposed, the IRA continued to murder drug dealers who would not pay a licence to the IRA unit in the area where they were dealing. Smuggling (fuel and cigarettes), counterfeiting, bank robberies, extortion could more clearly be seen as the sectarian murders subsided. In a debate in the House of Commons on the 27th of January, 1999, Mr Robert Mc Cartney (MP, North Down) stated that the Chief Constable had said that he had not the slightest doubt the Provisional IRA and Loyalist UVF were responsible for the beatings, shootings and mutilations that were being carried out in the communities that they dominate.

Mr Seamus Mallon (MP) of the SDLP (Catholic/Nationalist) in the same debate in the Commons stated that, “People, especially the young, are put under different psychological pressures in a way that is devised to protect the turf, influence the corrosive power of paramilitary groups in their organisations”. People such as Seamus Mallon who were key supporters of the peace process were becoming sickened by the mafia brutality being used by the IRA criminals to maintain power, control and silence in the areas where they had dominance. However, the real pressure would come on the republican movement in March 1999 when CBS 60 Minutes dedicated a programme to the on-going brutality in the north. This 60 Minutes documentary highlighted the mafia activity of both loyalist and republican terrorists and it spurred President Clinton to address these Human Rights violations in his Saint Patrick’s Day speech in 1999. The CBS documentary and Bill Clinton’s speech saved many lives as the republican movement were further forced to face up to their responsibilities within the ‘peace process’.

Whatever the reality of everyday life for the Catholic and Protestant people imprisoned in the Ghettoes that were controlled by the republican and loyalist terrorists, the political elites continue to sing from the ‘peace’ hymn sheet. Sinn Fein was invited to the international investment conference in the Europa Hotel in Belfast, the same Hotel that the IRA had blown up on a dozen occasions. Calls for talks with the British were the next demand by the republican movement and this was initially granted at Northern Ireland Office level and eventually to Secretary of State Level. What both Unionists and British officials quickly learned was that the republican leadership in either Mc Guinness or Adams had a very limited vocabulary. The republican leadership had a narrow insular view of the world and they could not allow themselves to deviate from their well-prepared scripts, in case they should be exposed. Even journalists on occasion were only allowed to ask questions that had been first read and sanctioned by Adams or Mc Guinness.

However, the political spin could not conceal the fact that the republican movement was continuing to murder, torture and mutilate those within their own community as they took iron fist control of their criminal empires. Children were being taken out by IRA gangs and beaten and shot for telling social workers that they had been raped or sexually assaulted by members of Sinn Fein/IRA. The republican movement did not want its dirty laundry washed in front of the world’s media who were now camped in Northern Ireland as the ‘peace process’ unfolded. When I challenged one senior IRA member, Brendan ‘Darkie’ Hughes, about the on-going Human Rights violations against Catholic children by the IRA he said, “When they are breaking legs, they are not thinking about breaking away”, in other words the republican leadership were allowing republican criminals to do as they pleased as long as they were not breaking away from the main body of the republican movement.

Irish/Americans continued to close their eyes and ears to the daily brutality that was now being meted out to the Catholic community on a daily basis by the republican movement, a movement that had went from myth to mafia as the political elites fell silent. As everyone concerned with the peace-process waited for the publication of the Framework Document which had been promised by the British and Irish Governments the London Times published a leaked version of the document. The leaked version caused outrage among unionists as it appeared that a secret deal had been done with republicans. This leak was the work of a highly placed unionist sympathiser in John Major’s civil service; this unionist was also a member of a group at Westminster calling themselves ‘Friends of the Union’.

By publishing the leaked document The Times opened up debate and unionist reaction could be gauged. When the dust settled in relation to the leaked document debate had begun about what the real document might contain. It is unlikely that the person leaking the document had such positive intentions as initiating public debate, it was more probable that the leak was something being used by Unionists to warn the British Government not to go too far when offering concessions to terrorists. On Wednesday 22nd February the Framework Document was finally published, it was greeted with optimism by nationalists and scepticism by unionists. The Reactions can be best summed up by this report on the only major public debate to take place on the document:

The Framework document could become deadlocked by flaws in its make-up a leading law Professor said yesterday.

Professor Simon Lee, of Queen’s University, Belfast told students political society, ‘Justice 95’, Queens University that the joint British and Irish initiative is “Far from perfect”. The Professor believes the document will ultimately fail because it contains a series of “checks and balances”.

“It will end up where everybody is vetoing everybody else”, he told a packed meeting of students in Nelson Mandela Hall at Queens yesterday.

Professor Lee suggested that the proposals might better work with a system of legal checks and balances rather than political safe guards. He said he was also concerned that the authors of the document approach Northern Ireland as a society of “Two Teams” which are separate, but expect them to meet on common ground.

The Professor added that the students should not ask themselves whether they like the document but whether it is “Just”. Professor Lee was speaking at one of the first public debates to be held by ‘Justice 95’.

Michael Ritchie of the Committee of the Administration of Justice said he was encouraged that individual and minority rights were addressed in the Framework Document.

Ulster Unionist, Stephen King said the document, ‘caged’ unionist politicians by expecting them to co-operate within tight parameters.

SDLP representative, Peter Coll, told the meeting that the document is proof that, “Partition has failed”. [1]

Queens University that had been the birth place of the Civil Rights movement was once again centre stage in terms of trying to move the peace-process forward in opened, honest and transparent debate about the import issues of the day. The document helped by such public discussion while not having any far reaching constitutional significance, in that any decision to be taken on the constitutional questions would remain in the hands of the people of both Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic in separate referendums. The Framework Document coupled with public debate stabilised a fragile peace-process, while the republican movement had not endorsed the document they had most certainly recognised opportunity within its ambiguity.

The peace-process would encounter many hurdles for all sorts of reasons, all constitutional parties including the American administration wanted to see a real commitment to peace by the republican movement and this included a demand for de-commissioning of IRA weapons. This for republicans was the symbol of surrender that they could not at that point sell to their own constituency. The republican leadership argued that de-commissioning had not been a pre-condition to the IRA cease-fire; however, this claim by the IRA was disputed by Professor Paul Bew at Queens University.

In a comprehensive study of all the available literature that was exchanged between the British Government and the Republican leadership, this included memos between Martin Mc Guinness and his MI6 contact Michael Oakley, Professor Bew stated that de-commissioning was most certainly on the table before the IRA cease-fire of 1994. It was clear that the republican leadership had agreed to surrender the IRA however the time was not right for the republican leadership to sell such surrender to its own membership who were still using violence on the streets of Northern Ireland.

The republican leadership continued to speak out both sides of their mouth in relation to peace, on the streets of Belfast and Derry republicans were continuing to murder and mutilate people within the own community at will as they maintained Iron fist control of those areas. Republicans murdered at will as the great and the good turned a blind eye in the interest of the ‘greater good’. Drug dealers who would not pay protection money to the IRA were shot dead; children and women who reported being raped by members of Sinn Fein/IRA were taken out and shot or beaten to maintain their silence. A 16 year old girl was taken out of her house in Armagh City, stripped and assaulted by an IRA gang who were using their position to quench their paedophile thirst.

The republican movement continued to use the threat of Macro violence if they did not get their way in the political process. In early September, 1995, while the IRA had been on ‘cease-fire’ for over a year, the republican movement warmed that an Anglo-Irish meeting between the British Prime Minister, John Major and the Irish Prime Minister, John Bruton should be cancelled or there would be, “Bodies on the Streets”. This threat had been preceded in August, 1995, when Gerry Adams, addressing a rally at Belfast City Hall, said, “The IRA have not gone away you know”. Adams knew that he was struggling to keep IRA activists on board a process that appeared to offer IRA surrender for nothing more than a seat in the much hated Stormont Buildings.

Adams in a detailed interview with The Irish Times in 1995 said that the IRA would never surrender and that if de-commissioning had been a pre-condition, there would probably never have been a cease-fire. The British Government asked the republican movement to a settlement of the de-commissioning problem which would commit the IRA to giving up its weapons to an International Decommissioning Body as all-party talks got under way. This was a compromise between the British demand that some IRA arms be given up as a pre-condition to the republican leadership entering talks (the so called Washington Three requirement) and the IRA pledge to its supporters that IRA weapons could only be handed over after a political settlement had been reached. In effect the IRA would be able to surrender its weapons out of public view within these new accepted terms for de-commissioning. Loyalist terrorists believed that de-commissioning was not a pre-requisite to talks as Gary Mc Michael stated:

I do not believe that the physical handing over of weapons should be necessary for dialogue to take place.

President Bill Clinton would add further momentum to the peace-process with a visit to the north in November, 1995, and after the euphoria of the President’s visit the focus shifted to former US Senator, George Mitchell’s three man Commission, which had been set up to look at proposals for de-commissioning. Before the Commission’s report was published in January 1996, the British Government and the Unionists had decided that elections in Northern Ireland were the best way forward. The British and Unionists believed that through a democratic assembly such issues as de-commissioning could be dealt with. Nationalists automatically rejected this proposal believing it to be a return to the old Unionist dominated Stormont rule. The Commission’s report in its many paragraphs suggested amongst other things that de-commissioning was not necessary before all-party talks.

The republican leadership had decided upon a tactical strategy of high powered diplomacy that would be a diversion from their inability to develop a real political strategy, it would also keep the world’s media focus away from the many dark secrets that lay buried in those areas controlled by the republican movement. Many of those dark secrets continue to be exposed in the 21st Century as many victims of rape and other crimes at the hands of Sinn Fein/IRA members find the courage to come forward with the details of their years of enforced silence.

The IRA – A Fairly Secret Army – Chapter 12 – Consociational Democracy Punctuated by Murderous Out-Rage

So it was that the little people who had been subjected to so many Human Rights violations at the hands of republican and loyalist terrorists since their declared cease-fires had that abuse recognised and acknowledge by the President of the United States of America, Mr Bill Clinton.

The pressure continued on the republican movement to end its mutilations and barbarity against the ghettoised Catholic community over whom it wielded so much Mafia power. The republican leadership were being pushed and pulled in the right direction by the constitutionalists both at home and abroad. Senator George Mitchell was central to brokering the Good Friday Agreement; this agreement afforded all sides the opportunity to focus on the day to day bread and butter issues in the new Northern Ireland Assembly, while allowing the larger Constitutional issues to take a back seat following referendum in both Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic. This concept is known as Consociational Democracy or in street language, agreeing to disagree. The concept while used in various forms in other jurisdictions was presented to all political parties in the north by a post graduate student at Queens University, Belfast, and its core threads were quickly accepted.

The Good Friday Agreement which was signed by all the parties including Sinn Fein on Good Friday, 1998, set out very specific responsibilities for all the signatories to that agreement including a commitment to exclusively peaceful means. All terrorist prisoners were released and a process of demilitarisation/normalisation continued with the British withdrawing troops and dismantling military installations.

In June 1998 elections were held for the new Northern Ireland Assembly and in order to facilitate as many sections of the community as possible the Assembly would have a massive 108 seats. The election allowed the Progressive Unionist Party (PUP) which represented the loyalist terror group the UVF to win two seats and this was useful. Other fringe groups such as the Women’s Coalition won two seats but soon evaporated. The reality was that the new Northern Ireland Assembly was up and running and power was now shared between Catholic and Protestant. Many commentators suggested that such power sharing had been available in the 1970s and that over 3,500 people did not need to die for a simple return to Stormont rule.

Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble became First Minister and Sinn Fein’s, Martin Mc Guinness became Deputy First Minister. The very Stormont that Gerry Adams said was propping up Imperial rule in Ireland was now being administered in part by Sinn Fein. However, all was not well in the republican movement, in their attempts to be all things to all people the Adams/Mc Guinness leadership had allowed criminals within their own ranks to do as they pleased. This manifested itself in November 1997 when the PIRA, Quarter Master, Michael Mc Kevitt left the IRA Army Council and took with him weapons, explosives and personnel. Mc Kevitt alleged that he was not happy with the republican leadership doing business with the Brits, yet he had been on the Army Council at all times when Martin Mc Guinness was having secret meetings with MI6 Agent Michael Oakley. It is worth noting that at all times during this process Oakley was being advised by Sean O’ Callaghan. O’Callaghan had been on the IRA Army Council but had been exposed as a British agent, O’Callaghan moved to England where he became a senior advisor to the British Secret Service, O’Callaghan was also involved with a think-tank on Northern Ireland, New Dialogue.

The IRA operate under the rules contained in what is known as the Green Book, I had read this book when I was in prison and it is a very simple book with a deadly set of rules. It clearly states that anyone misusing or misappropriating IRA weapons or personnel shall face Court Martial and will if found guilty of a serious offence be executed. However, Michael Mc Kevitt neither faced Court Martial or death, the reason for this is that the republican leadership believed that a few bombs and killings by ‘dissidents’ would help focus the minds of the Unionists, The British, The Irish Government and all other interested parties. This tactic had been used on many occasions by the republican movement, and while on this occasion the Real IRA were not operating under direct orders from the republican leadership they had the tacit support of the IRA Army Council.

The PIRA had on many occasions used flags of convenience to carry out murders at politically sensitive times. For example in the Kingsmill massacre in 1976, when the IRA stopped a bus load of work men in South Armagh and murdered ten of the eleven Protestant work men on board, the eleventh was left for dead, and told the only Catholic on the bus to walk away from the scene, the IRA used the cover name South Armagh Republican Action Group, indeed Michael Mc Kevitt was one of the IRA members involved in that massacre in 1976. On Sunday, the 20th of November, 1983, republicans entered the Mountain Lodge Pentecostal Church, in Darkley, near Keady, in County Armagh and murdered in cold blood three of the Protestant people who were praying there, seven other Church goers were injured in the cowardly attack. The terrorists used the cover name ‘Catholic Reaction Force’. Following the IRA cease-fire of 1994 the IRA used the cover name Direct Action Against Drugs (DAAD) in order to murder and mutilate drug dealers who would not pay protection money to the IRA. In 1996 the IRA murdered Garda Jerry Mc Cabe, Garda Mc Cabe was murdered by an IRA gang who were carrying out an armed robbery under the direct orders of the PIRA Army Council some of whom were now sitting in the Government of Northern Ireland.[1]

On the 19th of July 1998 eight members of the PIRA in north Belfast smashed their way into the apartment of 33 year old Catholic, Andrew Kearney, and shot him dead in front of his partner and two week old baby. The criminal gang then ripped out the phone and jammed the lift so that help could not be summoned. This cowardly murder had been carried out as Andrew, a well-known sports man, had stopped an IRA rapist from north Belfast attacking a child on the Falls Road in Belfast. The IRA wanted to keep their dark secrets and they would kill anyone who tried to expose them. Nobody would ever be charged with Andrew’s murder as such crime was viewed as ‘Internal House Keeping’ by the British to whom the IRA was now surrendering. The peace process can therefore be seen on occasion to be a direct impediment to justice.

However, the republican leadership’s tacit support for the ‘dissidents’ would soon back fire or at least be regretted, momentarily at least. On the 15th of August 1998 the Real IRA planted a car bomb in the town of Omagh in County Tyrone. The bomb exploded in a busy shopping street and 29 innocent men, women and children were slaughtered. This was a staggering blow for the ordinary people of Ireland who were left shell shocked. After so much hope being offered by the fledgling peace process the blood of the innocent once again flowed on the streets. The Real IRA had teamed up with members of the Continuity IRA in order to deliver mass murder to the people of Omagh. The republican leadership in the form of Adams and Mc Guinness were now forced to condemn the Omagh bomb, their hypocrisy not missed by many seasoned commentators who had remembered the many recent massacres under the Adams/Mc Guinness leadership. For example, three weeks prior to the Omagh bomb the ‘dissidents’ had planted a bomb in the mainly Protestant town of Banbridge where they injured 35 innocent men, women and children and the republican leadership failed to condemn that outrage, the Banbridge victims were Protestants while the Omagh victims were both Catholic and Protestant.

The Omagh bomb was a milestone in the peace process, minds became focused and the business of politics continued. Much was promised by both the British and Irish Governments in relation to the catching and imprisonment of the Omagh murderers however as so often the case once the dust settled nobody was convicted of the Omagh bombing. The families of the Omagh victims would bring successful civil actions against some of those involved in the Omagh massacre but that would have no real impact on the activities of the ‘dissidents’.

In December 1999 the new Northern Ireland Assembly had power devolved to it by Westminster and direct rule finally ended after twenty-seven years. However, de-commissioning remained a serious problem, while ‘dissidents’ had been virtually inactive for a significant period after the Omagh bomb, the IRA continued to carry out murders and other forms of criminality. In February 2000 the British Government suspended the Northern Ireland Assembly as Unionists felt unable to continue in Government with Sinn Fein while the IRA continued with business as usual. The republican leadership was under continued pressure to stop allowing its members to continue with criminal activity. If the leadership could not control the criminality within its own ranks then it could not deliver its responsibilities within the terms of the Good Friday Agreement. Thomas ‘Slab’ Murphy who had been the IRA’s Chief of Staff for many years appeared before Courts in the Irish Republic facing criminal charges relating to tax evasion, Ireland’s Criminal Assets Bureau had used FBI tactics to take down one of the Mafia Godfathers ( Murphy typified how so called republicans had made personal fortunes of the back of the conflict in the north.

In May 2000 the republican leadership agreed to surrender IRA weapons. This of course was like bolting the stable door after the horse had bolted as the ‘dissident’ bombs had contained PIRA semtex. The British responded in kind and power was restored to the Assembly on the basis that the IRA would surrender its arms. However, the IRA continued to dish out death and destruction, and while many friends of the terrorists in certain sections of the media and in particular in the USA continued to point at Unionist failures, the same media ignored the broken bodies of rape victims and other victims of IRA crime who were beaten into silence in the areas controlled by the republican and loyalist criminals. Eventually in the face of over whelming evidence that the IRA continued to murder, First Minister, David Trimble resigned as he could not tell his people that he had delivered peace when murder was continuing on the streets, indeed some prisoners released under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement had returned to criminality and some would end up serving fresh life sentences.

The pressure mounted on the republican leadership and in particular from America where so much had been invested by the Clinton administration. In October 2000 the IRA were finally forced to surrender their weapons to a decommissioning body. Constitutionalists continued to push forward with the peace process and Sinn Fein followed behind with IRA criminality clutching at their coat tails. In 2001 three senior republicans were captured while training narco-terrorists (FARC) in Columbia and this was a significant embarrassment for those who had worked so hard for peace and in particular the American administration. In October 2002 the Sinn Fein offices at Stormont were raided by the police investigating an alleged IRA spy operation at Stormont, the Assembly was suspended and direct rule imposed. The reality was that some of Sinn Fein’s most senior people in Stormont were British agents, Dennis Donaldson to name but one, so it was hard to tell the good guys from the bad. In Belfast in December 2004 the IRA robbed the Northern Bank and stole twenty-six-million pounds sterling. In the ghettoes where the republican Mafia wielded control it continued to dish out death, mutilation and torture to anyone who stood in its way. One of the IRA’s most high profile murders, while on cease-fire, was in January 2005, when senior members of the IRA murdered an innocent Catholic, father of two Robert Mc Cartney. However, Mr Mc Cartney’s sisters pursued Robert’s terrorist killers with vigour and brought their call for justice to America (

During the first ten year period of republican and loyalist ‘cease-fires’ 1994 to 2004 there were:

179 terrorist murders

1,129 terrorist explosive devices uncovered

2,313 terrorist – mutilations and beatings mainly against children and young adults, many of whom had tried to report their rape or sexual abuse at the hands of terrorists to the authorities

5,650 terrorist weapons found

5, 908 criminal charges brought against terrorists

11, 307 people injured by terrorist related activities

Only twelve weeks after the IRA declared their cease-fire in 1994 the IRA murdered 54 year old Catholic Frank Kerr while the IRA carried out a robbery in Newry County Down. On the 9th of February 1996 the IRA exploded a bomb in London’s Canary Wharf murdering two innocent shop workers and injuring over one hundred innocent people. Republican and loyalist terrorists continued to murder at will and this murder would eventually be described by British Secretary of State for Northern Ireland, Mo Mowlam as “internal housekeeping”, in other words the terrorists were not breaching their agreed ceasefires if they were simply murdering and torturing people within their own communities.

The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) which was led by the Rev Ian Paisley had played hard ball throughout the talks process and this had left them in good stead with the Protestant people who had suffered so much at the hands of republican terrorists. In the election of November 2003 the DUP would steal the UUP clothes and become the largest Unionist party in the north, this would now leave the DUP in the driving seat. In July 2005 the IRA said that it had ordered its membership to surrender their weapons and to pursue their goals through peaceful means.

The talking continued and the political choreography continued to be played out on an ever decreasing world stage as the world’s media moved on to more important matters. By the end of 2006 British Prime Minister, Tony Blair and Irish Prime Minister, Bertie Ahern had talks with the northern Ireland parties to see if devolution could again be achieved. Most now involved in the peace process were tired of the continued failure of the republican movement to stay within the parameters of the Good Friday Agreement.

In January 2007 the republican leadership agreed to support the new Police Service of Northern Ireland, PSNI, this had been a precondition of republicans being allowed back into the Assembly. Adams and Ian Paisley continued to work together in the Assembly after devolution was restored on the 8th of May and both the Ulster Unionist Party and the SDLP who had initially been seen as the champions of the peace process were left sitting on the side lines while the extremes of unionism and nationalism worked together. Ian Paisley Snr who once championed the Ulster Resistance (loyalist paramilitaries) was First Minister and IRA leader Martin Mc Guinness was Deputy First Minister. On the ground the IRA continued to engage in criminality, in October 2007 the IRA murdered 21 year old Catholic, Paul Quinn in County Monaghan, in the Irish Republic, this brutal and cowardly murder of an innocent young man showed again that the IRA had more in common with the Moore’s murderers than they had with republicanism. However, the republican movement had seriously weakened its position as the ‘dissidents’ it had initially armed were now taking on a new momentum.

On September 8th 2008 The Independent Monitoring Commission (IMC) stated that the IRA’s ruling Army Council was no longer operational and that the IRA did not pose a threat to the peace process. So it appeared that the (IMC) was happy to turn a blind eye to the on-going Human Rights abuses being dished out by the IRA in areas where they had control. It appeared that everyone now accepted Mo Mowlam’s view that the murder, mutilation and torture of Catholics at the hands of the republican Mafia was nothing more than ‘internal housekeeping’. The on-going Human Rights violations by the IRA would soon again be out done by ‘dissident’ republicans. On March 7th 2009 the Real IRA murdered two British Soldiers and wounded four other people at Massereene army base close to Antrim. Two days later a PSNI officer was shot dead by the Continuity IRA in Craigavon.

So who are the dissidents and have they any legitimacy. In 1986 when Ruiri O Bradaigh lead a splinter group of republicans away from the main body of Provisional Sinn Fein/IRA, he done so not because of policy shift in relation to abstentionism but rather in relation to power shift. Adams and Mc Guinness made no secret of their intention to take the power base of the republican movement to the north and shift the old guard lead by O Bradaigh out of power. O Bradaigh set up Republican Sinn Fein which is nothing more than a talking shop for old men who have lived in relative comfort far from the northern conflict for decades. O Bradaigh also masterminded the creation of Continuity IRA, however, it is only in recent times that Continuity have begun to cut their paramilitary teeth as their ranks have been swelled by former members of the Provisional IRA. In 1996 the CIRA exploded a 1,200lb bomb at a hotel in Fermanagh however this was the work of a small team based in rural Monaghan, in the Irish Republic. O’ Bradiagh’s bluff about walking away from the main stream Sinn Fein/IRA organisation over abstentionism is easily exposed as Republican Sinn Fein have taken seats in the Republic when they can get someone elected to an urban or county council.

In November 1997 both Kevin Mc Kenna and Michael Mc Kevitt resigned their positions on the Provisional IRA Army Council. Kevin Mc Kenna who said in 1994, “As long as the lads with the balaclavas are there to keep an eye on things I am happy to go along with it”, Mc Kenna was talking about the talks between Mc Guinness/Adams and the British Government. However, in 1997 Mc Kenna decided he could no longer be part of the Sinn Fein/IRA organisation. There is no evidence to suggest that Mc Kenna went with the dissidents but that he has simply settled into retirement in County Monaghan. Michael Mc Kevitt on the other hand who had been the Provisional IRA’s, Quarter Master General would form the Real IRA. Mc Kevitt was in a position to take personnel, weapons and explosives with him. While the Provisional IRA has a long standing policy of executing anyone who misuses their personnel or weapons Mc Kevitt was given a free hand. The political mouth-piece for the Real IRA would be the, 32 County Sovereignty Committee.

From a republican perspective neither the Continuity IRA nor the Real IRA has any legitimacy. O’ Bradaigh for his part was happy to engage with the British Government when it suited his egotistical journey; he further split the republican movement over personal rather than long term political motivations. Michael Mc Kevitt was on the IRA Army Council while Martin Mc Guinness was having secret meetings with M16, Mc Kevitt was party to the surrender of militant republicanism and he was further party to the mass executions of Irish Republicans in the border counties due to the IRA leadership’s duplicity ( Mc Kevitt’s lack of intelligence would eventually see him serving a twenty-year sentence in the Republic’s Portlaoise Prison after Mc Kevitt did be-friend an FBI Agent who would later turn States evidence against him.

The journey of the Adams/Mc Guinness leadership is no different; however, Provisional Sinn Fein/IRA has now openly accepted their role as constitutional politicians in both the partitionist Assembly at Stormont and Dail Eireann in the Republic. The many failures of the Mc Guinness/Adams leadership, including their dishonesty and duplicity leave them with some burden in relation to the creation of the modern day ‘dissidents’. There is a very clear school of thought within Irish republicanism which suggests that Michael Mc Kevitt was given a free hand by the Provisonal IRA leadership as that leadership believed that low key dissident shootings and bombings would help focus the minds of the Unionists, The British Government and the Irish Government.

The Omagh bomb in August 1998 left the Provisional IRA leadership red faced as they realised the futility and recklessness of allowing Mc Kevitt to walk away with their semtex. However, it was too late, already Slab Murphy and others who may have had influence at one time, had lost that influence on the ‘dissident’ groupings. Even Martin Mc Guinness was given short shrift when he went to south Armagh to try and gain some influence. However, while Omagh was a spectacular own goal for both the ‘dissidents’ and the PIRA leadership who had let them walk away with their semtex, the dissidents simply regrouped and lived to fight another day. Recent dissident attacks on the home of Sinn Fein MP Conor Murphy and other Sinn Fein/IRA members shows that the dissidents have taken on a new life form.

The Real IRA (now split but focused), Continuity IRA, INLA and many former members of the PIRA now make up the ranks of the ‘dissident’ threat. The recent killings of two soldiers at Massereene army base in 2009, the killing of PSNI officer Stephen Carroll in March 2009 shows clearly that the ‘dissident’ threat whatever its origins is prepared to continue with a futile, flawed and mainly egotistically driven campaign of cowardly attacks. The ‘dissident’ threat is driven in most instances by self-serving and criminal enterprise. The recent emergence of the Irish Republican Liberation Army is described by the International Monitoring Committee as, “essentially a group of criminals taking a republican banner in order give supposed status to their activities”. Many dissidents have been imprisoned on the Island of Ireland for criminal activities ranging from extortion from lap dancing clubs to drug dealing. However, like the Provisional IRA/Sinn Fein before them these criminal dissidents will use the smoke screen of attacking anti-social elements to hide their own criminal intent.

There is no doubt that the dissident threat is presently higher in 2010 than it has been for many years, all of the various parts making up the whole of the dissident threat are now working closely together. In the working/underclass areas where these bandits operate little or nothing has changed for the ordinary people as a result of the ‘peace dividend’ and so the waters in which sectarian/criminality swims have never gone away. The security services lead by M15 have disrupted many dissident operations in recent months, however, they only have to get lucky once. The recent car bomb attack on Palace Barracks, in Hollywood which is also the HQ of M15 on the 12th of April to coincide with the transfer of policing and justice powers from Westminster to Stormont show that the dissident threat is one that is coordinated and determined, whatever its motivation. This bomb made up of approximately 100/20 lbs of homemade explosives was brought to Belfast and then placed in a hi-jacked taxi.

The dissidents have not strayed far from the path of their PIRA counterparts, the bomb makers are based in small rural locations mainly in counties, Louth, Armagh and Fermanagh. The personnel may have a different name tag now but they were mainly born out of the PIRA, some new blood has and is being recruited and this accounts for a number of botched operations. The ‘dissidents’ have also recently murdered 31 year old Kieran Doherty who was a member of their organisation in Derry, Doherty had been found operating a major drug dealing operation in County Donegal. It is not clear if Doherty was killed because he was operating an enterprise outside of the control of the Real IRA in Derry or because he was an actual drug dealer, the latter is unlikely. Doherty had been running a drug dealing operation from a house belonging to another senior dissident Seamus Mc Greevy, who was based in Meath. Seamus Mc Creevy hanged himself on January 31st 2010. In October 2009 another senior dissident John Brady took his own life while being held at Strand Road PSNI station.

So it is that there is much confusion and uncertainty within the dissident family. Their present tactic of causing discomfort to Sinn Fein and uncertainty for the Assembly at Stormont appears short sighted and counterproductive. However, short sightedness is something the republican movement have never been short off. The political process continued in 2009 and progress was being made.

On the 27th of June 2009 the loyalist terrorists in the form of the UVF said they had completed de-commissioning and the UDA said it had started the process of de-commissioning, however, the loyalist terrorists like their republican counter parts remain fully engaged in Mafia type crime. Another republican splinter group the INLA said on the 10th of October 2009 that it will bring its campaign of violence to an end, the reality is that the INLA has been consistently torn apart by internal feuds and the main focus of its member ship continues to be criminality with some INLA joining the ranks of the Real and Continuity IRA.

The Northern Ireland Assembly got a much needed boost on the 12th of October 2009 when Hillary Clinton, the US Secretary of State addressed its members and talked with the political leaders in the north. Attention then shifted to the devolution of policing and justice powers to the Northern Ireland Assembly, the combating of terrorism however would remain with MI5. On the 25th of January 2010 the British and Irish Premiers, Gordon Brown and Brian Cowen, meet in Belfast to iron out any problems with the devolution of policing and justice. It was interesting to note that neither premier was having photo opportunities with Peter Robinson or Gerry Adams both of whom were reeling from personal scandals. Finally, in early February an Agreement on policing and justice was reached at Hillsborough Castle and this deal was signed off by the two premiers. On the 9th of March the Assembly voted in favour of the new arrangements for devolving policing and justice. David Ford of the non-sectarian Alliance Party would be the North’s Justice Minister in April 2010.

Now in May 2010 a new British Government has been formed out of coalition between the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats and the Northern Ireland Assembly is functioning well. Unionism is in difficulty as the Ulster Unionists failed to get any MPs elected to the House of Commons and the Ulster Unionist leader Sir Reg Empey has been forced to resign. The DUP remain strong although their leader Peter Robinson failed to get re-elected to MP seat for East Belfast which he represented as an MP for thirty-one years. Peter Robinson appears to have suffered due to the fallout from the scandal surrounding his wife Iris. Sinn Fein again out polled the nationalist SDLP, however, Sinn Fein remains in melt down in the Irish Republic.

The problems for Sinn Fein in the Irish Republic are that they have tried too hard to reach out to the middle classes. Republican veterans who should have been catered for in terms of nominations for elections have been cast aside and people who played no part in the conflict have been parachuted in. The traditional working class Sinn Fein representatives have been replaced by well-groomed and articulate middle class newbie’s. A person like Mary Lou Mc Donald in Dublin, who is known within republican circles as Mary Who, was put forward as Sinn Fein’s Candidate for the European Elections while veteran republicans were ignored. Mary Lou is perceived a being middle-class, educated and the type of candidate that Sinn Fein now want to present to the electorate. However, in deciding to cast aside traditional republicans for newbie’s they are losing core supporters.

While people like Sinn Fein’s Caoimhghin O’ Caolain TD could be viewed as middle-class, the fact is that he has street credit as he was there during the hunger strikes and gave up his good job in the Bank of Ireland to work full time as a Sinn Fein community activist. It is this type of credibility that is lacking in so many of the newbie’s now being hand-picked by the republican leadership as they try to reach out to middle Ireland. Yet another high profile member of Sinn Fein in Dublin has resigned from the party. Killian Forde said that he was leaving Sinn Fein because it was “Staid and unresponsive”. Killian Forde joins three other high profile members of Sinn Fein who have left the party over the past year including Sinn Fein’s bed rock in Dublin, Christy Burke. Christy Burke, Louise Minihan, John Dwyer and now Killian Forde have all decided to leave Sinn Fein at a time when the party should be enjoying the fruits of its role in the peace process.

Why then have the RA supporters club become the “RA -Ts” abandoning a sinking ship. It is not enough for Sinn Fein to issue mealy mouthed statements attacking each individual on a personal level every time one of them jumps ship. The Green Book tactic of “the best form of defence is attack” holds little water in a modern day democracy, Sinn Fein simply show themselves to be even more isolationist and insular when they attack individuals who feel the party has lost its way. Sinn Fein to survive in a modern day democracy must ask serious questions of them-selves, why are so many dedicated activists jumping ship when they should be riding high on the wave of all that has been achieved in the north. What is it that has left a once vibrant and vocal opposition party in such a shambles? In my day as a Sinn Fein activist I worked long and hard for many election campaigns, I never once took as much as one cent for my many years of committed work for Sinn Fein. When I needed lads to put up posters for Sinn Fein I could call upon an army of volunteers, when I needed lads to go round the pubs on a Saturday night to sell An Phoblacht I could pick and choose who I wanted, today however, Sinn Fein is a party of paid activists and semi-professional spin doctors.

People like Christy Burke have been side stepped so that educated woolly jumpers like ‘Mary Who’ can woe the middle class vote, this is where Sinn Fein went wrong. From my own observations I see few in the ranks of Sinn Fein now prepared to make the commitment of people like Christy Burke, the hard working activist has been set aside. Now in Sinn Fein the activist expects to get paid, they want to know what’s in it for them, of course there will always be the fools that will do it all for the ’cause’ but they are getting fewer by the day. Sinn Fein if it is to survive and I doubt that it will, particularly in the south, needs to get back to basics, it needs to ask why are the men who were once so ready and willing to volunteer their services no longer doing so, why are people like Christy walking away ashamed of what Sinn Fein has become. It’s not enough that Sinn Fein know they will get votes in the north because there is no credible alternative in communities long since forgotten by the State and its cheer leaders; it’s not enough to pay spin doctors to present a virtual reality when their own supporters are living in the real world.

Sinn Fein in the Irish Republic will eventually be attracted to join the ranks of one of the mainstream political parties as did Official Sinn Fein before them. While Sinn Fein fortunes were boasted during the 2011 General Election in the Irish Republic when they increased their Dail representation from 4 – 14 TDs, this a reflection of the public’s anger with the criminality of Fianna Fail and their bedfellows rather than any legitimisation of the sectarian politics of Sinn Fein. The Sinn Fein vote will mature/peak and decline over time in the Irish Republic. A significant number of leading republicans are heading towards their old age pensions and over the next twenty years Sinn Fein will have lost many of its key personalities, this in turn will lead to a north/south split. Sinn Fein will remain active in the north only, where its continued association with those engaged in criminality will be its down fall and an alternative politics will be found.

End Chapter 12