‘Gerry Adams’s Baffling Book Of Tweets’ – The New Yorker

Written by Mark O’Connell, Slate magazine’s book columnist, this acerbic take on Gerry Adams’ latest publication, ‘My Little Book Of Tweets’, appeared in Friday’s edition of The New Yorker blog. Enjoy:


Gerry Adams, the president of the Irish republican party Sinn Féin, is set to release a collection of his bewildering tweets.

A man is sitting at a desk. He is gray-bearded and bespectacled, and his shirt sleeves are rolled smartly to the elbows. He is sucking on a lollipop, this man, and momentarily adrift in quiet reflection. He pulls the stick from his mouth and evaluates the diminished state of the confectionery, sucked down to a mere glistening fragment. There is a strange look now in his eyes, an expression of melancholy whimsy. Or is it something darker? We can never know the minds of others, but the mind of this particular man is especially unknowable. He sucks the last of his lollipop, places the stick gently on the desk before him. His current state of lollipop-induced wistfulness leads him to think of a song from long ago, a children’s song by the variety entertainer Max Bygraves. On a whim, he takes out his iPhone, and opens up Twitter, and types the lyrics of the song:

When u come 2 the end of a lollipop. 2 the end. 2 the end of a lollipop.

When u come 2 the end of a lollipop. Pop goes ur heart. Xo TGBE.

He presses send, and he leans back in his chair, taking his own advice (“TGBE” presumably stands for “Tóg go bog é,” a phrase which means “Take it easy” in his native Irish). He watches the likes and retweets roll in, and he is, for all we know, at peace.

The man we are talking about is the long-standing president of the Irish republican political party Sinn Féin, former M.P. for Belfast West, and currently sitting TD for the Irish electoral constituency of Louth. He has repeatedly been accused of membership in the I.R.A.’s Army Council, and of having ordered the 1972 abduction and murder of Jean McConville, a widowed mother the I.R.A. believed was passing sensitive information to the British Army. We are talking about Gerry Adams—although perhaps it would be closer to the truth to say that we are talking about “@GerryAdamsSF,” the persona created by Adams through the medium of his consistently bewildering tweets, and whose relationship to the “real” Adams is a richly ambiguous one. Adams joined Twitter in 2011, and in 2013 his contributions to the social-media network began to be widely noted for their increasingly odd amalgamation of absurdity and banality. They have now been collected in a slim paperback volume, just published under the feyly utilitarian title “My Little Book of Tweets.”

Given his surface inscrutability, the cliché about not judging books by their covers might as well have been coined in reference to Adams himself. As it happens, though, a fairly accurate idea of this book’s over-all affect can be gleaned from the image on its cover: a selfie in which a goat rests its affable head on the author’s fleece-jacketed shoulder. The goat is beaming happily, but Adams’s expression is cryptic; his eyes stare blackly from behind dark-tinted spectacles, as though quietly notifying the potential novelty book-buyer that it would be in the best interest of the goat’s health if he or she approached the checkout and made the purchase without any further delay. The cover image captures an interplay between the preposterous and the unsettling—which is to say, the interplay between text and context—that characterizes the book as a whole.

Considered in isolation from the controversies and ambiguities that surround Adams like a mephitic haze, the text itself is undoubtedly weird, but hardly interesting on its own terms. The most interesting thing about it is that it was published at all, given that the target readership for Adams’s tweets will presumably have already read them in their natural habitat. (The tweets’ spelling and grammar have been cleaned up in the book, so there’s that.) I myself am not one of Adams’s ninety-nine thousand followers, but I’ve seen him retweeted and aggregated enough times over the last three years to have got a sense of his general approach to social media, and to be familiar with the most notable examples of his output. The man we encounter in these more widely shared and discussed tweets is a studiously whimsical figure, likelier to be found holding forth on his collection of rubber ducks and Teddy bears—or putting out a general inquiry as to the height of Elvis Presley, or sharing photos of some cupcakes he’s just whipped up, decorated with the faces of puppies—than blasting out hundred-and-forty-character polemics about the necessity and justice of a united Ireland.

Politics remains a mostly background presence in the tweets collected in the book, typically only raised as a subject of coy allusion. One page, for instance, features a diorama model of a prison, complete with tiny men playing football in a barbed-wire-fenced exercise yard. “I came upon this model of a H Block,” the tweet accompanying the photo reads. “Isn’t it a wonderment the things U come upon?” (No gloss is provided here, though a scholarly footnote might inform the reader that “H Block” refers to Long Kesh prison in County Down, where Adams was interned for three years in the mid-seventies, for membership in the I.R.A., an organization to which he has always unflinchingly denied ever having belonged.)

Another photo depicts a rubber duck recently added to what seems a truly prodigious collection of same; this particular bath toy is a London tourist souvenir, wearing a headdress in the style of Big Ben’s iconic roof. The text of the tweet—“Tick Tocky ár lá”—might need some unpacking for international readers, to whom it wouldn’t be apparent that “Tiocfaidh ár lá” is an Irish phrase, meaning “Our day will come,” and which is understood as a battle cry of militant republicanism. In the absence of any kind of elaboration, you can’t help wondering whether this might not be a joke, transmitted on dog-whistle frequency, about the I.R.A.’s numerous London bombings throughout the years, about the violence Adams himself was so instrumental in bringing to an end. This sort of clumsy jest wouldn’t be at all the sort of quip you’d expect from such a famously polished and canny political operator—but then again the whole strange enterprise is decidedly not the sort of thing you’d expect from him, which is possibly the whole point of it in the first place.

The book, with its routine dispatches from Adams’s extracurricular activities (“Pilates. Aaaaaahhhhh”; “1st Pilates of 2015 . . . ”; “Seriously overstretched myself @ pilates”) and its endless jokily plaintive references to overdue household chores, creates a vacuum of significance so total that you wonder whether you’re missing some deeper intent. There is, for instance, an overwhelming emphasis on bathing: aside from the frequent testimonials to his menagerie of rubber ducks, Adams insists again and again on his enjoyment of every aspect of the bathing process. “So the bath beckons!” we are told. “Plastic ducks. Soapy suds . . . .” Elsewhere, he tweets that his bath “Overflowth,” advising his followers that he has just taken delivery of his “1st Orange Duck,” and that “A Good Suddy Soak” awaits him. If you encounter the book, as I did, fresh from a re-reading of “Where The Bodies Are Buried”—Patrick Radden Keefe’s 2015 New Yorker piece about the murder of McConville, in which a number of former I.R.A. volunteers claim that Adams ordered her killing—you might be inclined to read his commitment to keeping the public briefed on his ablutions as a haphazardly staged psychodrama of guilt and purification.

In one of the transcripts of recorded phone conversations between Bill Clinton and Tony Blair, recently released after a Freedom of Information request by the BBC, Clinton casually mentions to Blair that his daughter Chelsea happens to be writing a college paper on Adams, and that he himself has been reading up on his history as a result. “I don’t know what the real deal is between him and the IRA,” he tells Blair. “It’s hard to put pressure on him when you don’t know what’s going on. It’s bizarre.”

This sense of an absolute occlusion of the “real” Adams has always been a factor in his political presence—which is not to say that he is necessarily any more inauthentic than your average successful politician, just that the concealment of the “real deal” is, as Clinton remarks, so bizarre. It is as though Adams were his own doppelgänger. The most absurd expression of this arose not out of any duplicity on his own part, but from a legal move made by the Thatcher government, which banned the broadcasting of his voice in the United Kingdom. Between 1988 and 1994, whenever Adams appeared on British radio or television, his speech was dubbed by an actor. Watching clips of those appearances now, they seem a kind of avant-garde video art, effecting an uncanny critique of political discourse. The thought presents itself that perhaps all politicians should be dubbed by actors—to emphasize the slippage between speaker and speech, to enact an estrangement of the performance we know is being staged. In any case, it’s difficult to reconcile this version of Adams—a man who so frightened his political enemies that they felt the need to exert control over the vibrations of his very larynx—with the harmlessly eccentric gentleman we find in this book, reaching into his pocket for a pen and taking out his toothbrush, and, elsewhere, reaching into his bag for clean Y-fronts and taking out a grandchild’s bib. (“Silly Billy. Need 2 pack better in future.”)

This cognitive dissonance is the appeal of his Twitter persona, of course, but it’s hard to believe that an operator as artful as Adams is approaching the project as anything other than a means to a political end. Writing in the Belfast Telegraph last year, the journalist Henry McDonald pointed out that the effect of Adams’s tweeting about bouncing naked on a trampoline with his dog was to distract a media that should have been focussed on other matters—for instance, why Sinn Féin were imposing public-spending cuts in Northern Ireland, where they are in power, while opposing them in the Republic of Ireland, where they are not. To imagine that such a move would be far too cynically manipulative, he wrote, would be a misunderstanding of “the ultimate Machiavelli of modern times.”

This suspicion, that Adams is displaying his whimsical side for un-whimsical reasons, is reinforced by the timing of the book’s publication: “My Little Book of Tweets” arrives just three weeks before Ireland’s general election, on February 26th. The country is badly in need of a strong left-wing opposition to the presiding neoliberal consensus, and Sinn Féin’s popularity has grown in this vacuum. But Adams has always been a highly controversial figure south of the border, and there is a sense that his past, whatever version of it you happen to believe, is a deal-breaker for many Irish voters who might otherwise be aligned with his party’s policies. The self-confessed “Silly Billy” that the book presents may or may not be a useful fiction, but as a character he is a dramatic departure from the figure with whom the Irish electorate was previously familiar. How deep, really, is his affection for bath toys, his childlike sadness at the dwindling of lollipops? These questions must now be added to the many whose answers we may never know.

Why Wall Street Loves Hillary

The contest for the Democratic Party nomination for President is now a two-horse race between the establishment favourite, Hillary Clinton and the elderly, radical (in American terms) outsider, Bernie Sanders.

Hillary is the feminist candidate and the choice of the party’s centrist elite, while Sanders, who is not even a member of the Democratic party, is a dissenting voice, albeit one who could have found a comfortable place in, say, Tony Blair’s Labour Party, who calls himself a ‘Democratic Socialist’.

But as I say, this is America and the fact that a candidate who even uses the adjective/noun ‘Socialist’ to describe his politics can come within a few votes of defeating the anointed choice of the Democratic establishment in Iowa and has her on the back foot in New Hampshire, is an upset beyond words and a reflection of how changed American politics are as a result of the still reverberating financial crisis of 2008.

Hillary greet Goldman Sachs CEO, Lloyd Blankfein at the annual Clinton Foundation bash

Hillary greet Goldman Sachs CEO, Lloyd Blankfein at the annual Clinton Foundation bash

And so Hillary’s links to Wall Street – and beyond that her husband’s thralldom to the big banks during his presidency – have become the issue that may decide the outcome of the primary contest (although the Black vote, dazzled by the Clintons and happy to ignore the role both husband and wife played in facilitating the mass incarceration of working class, young Blacks, could yet come to her rescue).

Anyhow, this post is devoted to reproducing an authoritative examination of Hillary & Bill Clinton’s indebtedness to Wall Street that was published on Politico.com in 2014.

Although written some time before Hillary declared herself a candidate, the article is still a timely classic and serves as a warning of what we could expect if a second member of that family occupies the White House. (And that’s before we get to her foreign policy!)

Why Wall Street Loves Hillary

She’s trying to sound populist, but the banks are ready to shower her campaign with cash.

By William D. Cohan, the author of Money and Power: How Goldman Sachs Came to Rule the World (2011).

An odd thing happened last month when, stumping just before the midterms, Hillary Clinton came in close proximity to the woman who has sometimes been described as the conscience of the Democratic Party. Speaking at the Park Plaza Hotel in Boston as she did her part to try to rescue the failing gubernatorial campaign of Martha Coakley in Massachusetts, Clinton paid deference to Senator Elizabeth Warren, the anti-Wall Street firebrand who has accused Clinton of pandering to the big banks, and who was sitting right there listening. “I love watching Elizabeth give it to those who deserve it,” Clinton said to cheers. But then, awkwardly, she appeared to try to out-Warren Warren—and perhaps build a bridge too far to the left—by uttering words she clearly did not believe: “Don’t let anyone tell you that it’s corporations and businesses that create jobs,” Clinton said, erroneously echoing a meme Warren made famous during an August 2011 speech at a home in Andover, Massachusetts. “You know that old theory, trickle-down economics? That has been tried, that has failed. It has failed rather spectacularly.”

The right went wild. See? Hillary Clinton has finally shown her hand. After having sat out the financial crisis and all the economic turmoil that has followed in the past six years—and with good reason, since for most of that time she was tending to the nation’s diplomacy as secretary of state—she is proving to be an anti-Wall Street populist too, and as much a socialist as her former boss, President Obama.

But here’s the strange thing: Down on Wall Street they don’t believe it for a minute. While the finance industry does genuinely hate Warren, the big bankers love Clinton, and by and large they badly want her to be president. Many of the rich and powerful in the financial industry—among them, Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein, Morgan Stanley CEO James Gorman, Tom Nides, a powerful vice chairman at Morgan Stanley, and the heads of JPMorganChase and Bank of America—consider Clinton a pragmatic problem-solver not prone to populist rhetoric. To them, she’s someone who gets the idea that we all benefit if Wall Street and American business thrive. What about her forays into fiery rhetoric? They dismiss it quickly as political maneuvers. None of them think she really means her populism.

Although Hillary Clinton has made no formal announcement of her candidacy, the consensus on Wall Street is that she is running—and running hard—and that her national organization is quickly falling into place behind the scenes. That all makes her attractive. Wall Street, above all, loves a winner, especially one who is not likely to tamper too radically with its vast money pot.

According to a wide assortment of bankers and hedge-fund managers I spoke to for this article, Clinton’s rock-solid support on Wall Street is not anything that can be dislodged based on a few seemingly off-the-cuff comments in Boston calculated to protect her left flank. (For the record, she quickly walked them back, saying she had “short-handed” her comments about the failures of trickle-down economics by suggesting, absurdly, that corporations don’t create jobs.) “I think people are very excited about Hillary,” says one Wall Street investment professional with close ties to Washington. “Most people in New York on the finance side view her as being very pragmatic. I think they have confidence that she understands how things work and that she’s not a populist.”

The bottom line for Wall Street, says this executive—echoing many others—is that Clinton understands that America’s much-maligned financial industry wants to be part of the solution to the country’s problems. “Everybody who makes money feels a shared responsibility,” he continues. “Everybody sort of looks at her with a lot of optimism because they feel she doesn’t mind making hard decisions. She’ll do what she needs to do, but it’s not a ‘Let me blame you.’ It’s, ‘Hey, here’s what you’ve got to do.’ And I think that’s very different.” During a speech last December at the Conrad Hotel, in New York, her message could not have been more different from Obama’s hot, anti-Wall Street rhetoric: “We all got into this mess together, and we’re all going to have to work together to get out of it.”

During the 2012 presidential election, Wall Street felt burned by Obama’s rhetoric and regulatory positions and overwhelmingly supported with their money Republican candidate Mitt Romney, co-founder of private-equity firm Bain Capital. Now, though, there’s a significant momentum back behind the Democratic contest. “The money is already behind her,” the Wall Street money manager says. “I don’t think it’s starting to line up behind her: It’s there for her if she wants it.”

The informal head of her informal Wall Street outreach effort for her informal campaign is a finance executive she knows well—and recruited to work for her at the State Department. Tom Nides, 53, the Morgan Stanley executive, knows both New York and Washington intimately. Today he speaks with Clinton regularly and has begun to play the role of gatekeeper on Wall Street to her embryonic campaign. He also has been known to run interference between the Obama administration and the leaders of the Israeli government, in order to try to patch up their dysfunctional relationship. “Tom at the end of the day is the guy—she trusts him, she knows him,” says the Wall Street investment manager.

Nides returned to Morgan Stanley in 2013 after two years working for Clinton at the State Department as deputy secretary of state for management and resources. Nides (with whom I once shared a one-week summer rental on Nantucket) epitomizes the revolving door that has long existed between Washington and Wall Street. Born in Duluth, Minnesota, he served in a senior leadership role for a diverse group of Washington politicians, from Representatives Tony Coehlo and Tom Foley to, as chief of staff, Mickey Kantor, Bill Clinton’s U.S. trade representative. He worked at Fannie Mae for six years, ran Joe Lieberman’s 2000 vice-presidential campaign and served a brief stint as CEO of Burson Marsteller, the public relations firm.

In 2001, Morgan Stanley CEO John Mack took Nides under his wing. When Mack was named CEO of Credit Suisse, Nides went along with him as chief administrative officer. When Mack returned to Morgan Stanley as CEO in 2005, Nides accompanied him again as chief operating officer and then stayed another year serving in the same role for James Gorman. Then Nides returned to Washington to work for then-Secretary Clinton at the State Department, replacing Jack Lew, who became head of the Office of Management and Budget. Many thought Nides’ time at Morgan Stanley was over, especially with Mack’s retirement at the end of 2011. But Gorman—also a Hillary supporter—surprised people by bringing Nides back to the firm as a vice-chairman.

Now Nides is the first stop in New York for many a visiting dignitary and for those ambitious Wall Street types hoping to get access to Clinton. Nides declined to comment on the record, as did other Wall Street executives with whom Clinton is said to confer, among them Blair Effron, one of the three founders of Centerview Partners, an investment banking boutique, and Marc Lasry, the founder of Avenue Capital, a New York hedge fund, who was almost named Obama’s ambassador to France.

But Greg Fleming, Nides’ partner at Morgan Stanley and the president of Morgan Stanley Wealth and Investment Management, was pleased to discuss his enthusiastic support for Clinton. He says that the “broad perception” across Wall Street, among both Democrats and Republicans, is that she, “like her husband, will govern from the center, and work to get things done, and be capable of garnering support across different groups, including working with Republicans.” He agreed that, as a former senator from New York, Clinton is trusted by Wall Street and will tackle issues, such as fiscal and tax reform, that have been long neglected thanks to the intractable polarization that rules Washington these days. “She will be trying to govern from the center with a problem-solving bent like her husband,” Fleming says.

Beyond that, Hillary Clinton—and the Clintons generally—have always courted Wall Street assiduously and without apology. In June, the biggest donors to the Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation met with the Clintons at Goldman Sachs’ headquarters in lower Manhattan for a day-long discussion about the foundation’s goals. Goldman has donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to the Clintons’ foundation, and in October 2013, Hillary Clinton gave two speeches at Goldman. Her usual speaking fee is $200,000, and Goldman is known to be a full payer on the speaking circuit. Goldman is hardly alone—Clinton is popular in the financial industry: In 2013, she also gave speeches to KKR and the Carlyle Group, two private-equity behemoths.

Wall Street does not seem to be the slightest bit shy about coming out for Hillary—and are now contributing their money to prove it. While Priorities USA Action, a super PAC dedicated to getting Clinton elected in 2016, does not have any Wall Street banks among its top 50 donors to date, there have been large contributions from wealthy hedge funds, such as Renaissance Technologies, which has donated $4 million (the largest single contribution); D.E. Shaw, whose employees have donated $1.375 million; Khosla Ventures and Soros Fund Management, which have each donated $1 million; and Ripplewood Holdings, a private equity firm, which contributed $400,000. There are many Wall Street financiers who have donated $25,000—by design, the maximum contribution—to the Ready for Hillary superPAC.

Goldman is an interesting case study. As in nearly every other way, it has always been careful to hedge its bets where electoral politics is concerned. Historically, although trending Democratic, Goldman employees have managed to give nearly equally to both parties in presidential elections. And a lot of it: Since 1990, Goldman’s employees have given $47 million to political candidates and various political action committees—more than any other single group of company employees. But that calculus changed dramatically in 2008 when Goldman employees gave about $1 million to Barack Obama’s presidential campaign, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, second only to that given to Obama by the employees of the University of California, who donated nearly $1.8 million. By contrast, Goldman employees gave only $235,000 to Senator John McCain, the Republican Party nominee.

By 2009 the bloom was off the rose. In an interview with 60 Minutes, Obama not only referred to Wall Street as the “fat cat bankers” but also blamed Wall Street for causing the financial crisis. “People on Wall Street still don’t get it,” he said. In July 2010, just weeks after a much-vilified Goldman agreed to pay a $550 million fine to the Securities and Exchange Commission—then the largest fine ever—to settle charges stemming from Goldman’s underwriting and selling of a synthetic collateralized debt obligation, the details about which the SEC believed Goldman had failed to properly disclose to investors, Obama joked at the White House Correspondents Dinner: “All of the jokes here tonight are brought to you by our friends at Goldman Sachs. So you don’t have to worry—they make money whether you laugh or not.”

By 2012, in an historic turnaround, Goldman went full force for Romney. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, Goldman employees gave $1.2 million to the Republican National Committee and another $1 million or so to Romney directly. By contrast, Obama received a mere $210,000 from Goldman employees (who also gave $493,000 to the Democratic National Committee). “In the four decades since Congress created the campaign-finance system, no company’s employees have switched sides so abruptly, moving from top supporters of one camp to the top of its rival,” the Wall Street Journal observed. So far this year, Goldman remains a Republican shop. Some 63 percent of the firm’s political contributions, or $1.75 million, has gone to support Republican candidates.

That will change if Clinton decides to run. For starters, as the former U.S. senator from New York, she is well known to many of Goldman’s leaders. They have seen her at numerous Goldman events over the years or at fundraisers in the Hamptons. Blankfein ran into the Clintons in August at a party in the Hamptons at Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein’s house, and there are the many pictures of Blankfein smiling broadly at her side during September’s Clinton Global Initiative in New York. A few weeks later, they spent time together at a dinner celebrating the Goldman Sachs “10,000 Women Initiative,” a Goldman-funded training and education program for female entrepreneurs.

Many Goldman employees, especially women, are also excited about the historic potential of the 2016 presidential election since Clinton could become the first female president. “They’re not going to reflexively support any woman, but she’s a woman that seems more or less in sync with the way they think about the world,” says another former Clinton administration official who now works on Wall Street. “And she’s successful, and they just like her.”

More significant, the 10,000 Women Initiative was designed by Clinton operatives and is being implemented at Goldman by people who still have close ties to her. For instance, Goldman paid Gene Sperling, a longtime Washington insider who was director of the National Economic Council under both Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, nearly $900,000 in 2008 for his help in creating the 10,000 Women Initiative. Noa Meyer, who runs the program at Goldman, once wrote speeches for Hillary Clinton when she was First Lady. “The whole idea to spend money on women and women’s education in developing countries came straight out of her playbook,” says someone familiar with the origins of the 10,000 Women Initiative. “The same people who got her interested in that issue are the people who …design[ed] the program.”

Of course, the ties between Goldman Sachs and Washington run deep, very deep, and many analysts have argued that the broad deregulatory moves pushed by former Goldman senior partner Robert Rubin—who later became Bill Clinton’s National Economic Council director and then Treasury secretary—were a major part of the process that led to the subprime mortgage disaster. But Rubin was only among the latest in a long line of Goldman executives who went to Washington and helped create the talent-and-ideas nexus that later became derisively known as “Government Sachs.” Sidney Weinberg, the longtime senior partner at Goldman Sachs in the 20th century, was a confidante of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s who enticed him to Washington on several occasions before, during and after World War II. In 1938, Roosevelt offered Weinberg the position of ambassador to the Soviet Union, but Weinberg thought better of it because he did not speak Russian, was a Jew from Brooklyn and didn’t want to leave Goldman. In November 1943, FDR did succeed in enlisting Weinberg to go to the Soviet Union “openly” as a representative of the Office of Strategic Services—the predecessor of the CIA—although what he did there and for how long has been lost to history.

In 1968, Henry Fowler joined Goldman Sachs as a partner, and thus became the first former Treasury secretary to spin the revolving door and land a Wall Street job. John Whitehead, who was the co-senior partner of Goldman Sachs in the 1970s and the early 1980s, became deputy secretary of state in the second Reagan Administration, after he retired from the firm. John F. W. Rogers, a former close Reagan advisor, has been the longtime consigliore at Goldman and oversees both the global communications and government relations departments. Rubin, who had befriended Fowler during his time at Goldman and who went on to run Goldman Sachs in the 1980s, along with Steve Friedman, left Goldman in January 1991 to join the Clinton administration. In 1995, he succeeded Lloyd Bentsen as Treasury secretary. Friedman, meanwhile, became chairman of the National Economic Council under George W. Bush, and, of course, Hank Paulson, the former CEO of Goldman, was Bush’s Treasury secretary during the financial crisis of 2007 and 2008.

Rubin, apparently, is not content to go gracefully into the good night when it comes to wielding power, and lingering questions about his continued influence inside the Clinton camp are at the center of an issue that is likely to dog Hillary through 2016. From his perches as co-chairman of the Council on Foreign Relations and as a founder of the Hamilton Project at the Brookings Institution, Rubin—long considered a Washington kingmaker—continues to cast his spell on the Obama administration, which has been, and continues to be, chock full of appointees with close ties to him, including Tim Geithner, Larry Summers, Peter Orszag, Gene Sperling, Jason Furman, Jack Lew, Michael Froman and Sylvia Matthews Burwell. While Rubin’s reach is both unprecedented and stunning, it remains to be seen whether he is able to work his magic and position Blankfein into an important role in a Hillary Clinton administration, should there be one and if he aspires to such a thing.

All of which raise the most pertinent question of all: rhetoric and fundraising aside, where does Clinton really stand on Wall Street? If she becomes president, is she going to side with the Rubinites—or has she come to realize, as even her husband apparently has, having conceded in remarks that he naively supported too much deregulation, that Wall Street must be carefully watched and kept at arm’s length?

She’s been fairly cagey about this issue, eager to assuage both sides. Where Obama blamed Wall Street—not inaccurately—for behavior that caused the 2008 financial crisis and championed new Wall Street regulations like the Volcker Rule and the 2010 Dodd-Frank law that really stick in the craw of money men—all while presiding over a veritable profit boon for the financial industry—Clinton said hardly a word on the topic of Wall Street shenanigans.

Her nascent populism has only appeared in the last year or so, as the Elizabeth Warren movement took off. For instance, in a speech at the progressive New America Foundation, she spoke about the dangers of the growing inequality in the country. “Americans are working harder, contributing more than ever to their companies’ bottom lines and to our country’s total economic output, and yet many are still barely getting by, barely holding on, not seeing the rewards that they believe their hard work should have merited,” she said. “And where’s it all going? Well, economists have documented how the share of income and wealth going to those at the very top—not just the top one percent, but the top one-tenth percent or the top-hundredth percent of the population—has risen sharply over the last generation. Some are calling it a throwback to the Gilded Age of the Robber Barons.”

She also lamented how government regulators had “neglected their oversight” of Wall Street and “allowed the evolution of an entire shadow banking system that operated without accountability.”

Asked about these issues, Clinton’s spokesman Nick Merrill is quick to point out times she has called for more regulation—an eagerness that underscores how the Clinton operation wants to appear populist even as it collects the Wall Street money. Merrill noted that back in March 2008, as a presidential candidate, she called for “much more vigorous government oversight and enforcement of the subprime mortgage market.” He also said that she staked out positions, in the year or so before the financial crisis hit, on reducing or eliminating the carried interest of private equity partners being taxed at capital gains rates; on a financial transaction tax; and on repatriating overseas income by U.S. corporations. In a 2007 press release from her campaign, for example, Clinton declared: “Our tax code should be valuing hard work and helping middle class and working families get ahead. It offends our values as a nation when an investment manager making $50 million can pay a lower tax rate on her earned income than a teacher making $50,000 pays on her income. As president I will reform our tax code to ensure that the carried interest earned by some multi-millionaire Wall Street managers is recognized for what it is: ordinary income that should be taxed at ordinary income tax rates.” Clinton said she would use the funds generated by the tax change—which some have estimated at $4 to $6 billion per year—to invest in middle-class and working families.

There’s no question, when and if she decides to run, that she’s going to have an incredible support foundation from Wall Street.”

Yet all of these efforts seem at best a combination of campaign trail rhetoric or minor tweaks around the edges—rather than the wholesale change that an Elizabeth Warren-type populist would want to impose on the financial industry.

Probably the best answer to the question of what Clinton will do to Wall Street comes from Wall Street’s own support of her. Wall Street executives, bankers and traders have already shown their hand in support of the two Clintons individually as well as of the causes they care about most deeply—money they wouldn’t contribute if they thought her political future would be detrimental to their economic future. And, in return, one thing we know about the Clintons: They value loyalty profoundly. They are unlikely to turn their backs on the banks, especially since it seems highly unlikely that Warren will mount the kind of outsider challenge to Hillary in 2016 that Barack Obama did in 2008. Instead, Clinton will find ways to work with Wall Street on issues it cares about, rather than vilifying it for political gain.

Democratic pollster Douglas Schoen says that Hillary’s hope is that she can use supposed slips like the one in Boston to appeal just enough to the liberal wing of the Democratic party to ward off Warren, who offers a “far more resonant message with the Democratic base than Hillary’s.” Without a strong national ground organization and a strong financial network, Warren’s message alone won’t get her very far, but the Clintons want to avoid repeating the mistakes of 2008, when an idealism-based campaign derailed her inevitability campaign.

She will also have much of her former opponent’s network behind her again in 2016. Robert Wolf, the former president of UBS’ investment bank who now has his own advisory boutique, 32 Advisors, has long been described as Obama’s BFF (Best Friend in Finance), and although he has little direct involvement with Clinton or her campaign team, he plans to support her fully when the time comes. He is one of the hosts of a December 16 gala in New York City where she will be honored. By his rough calculus, six in 10 Wall Street types are Democrats, three are Republicans and just one is independent. He predicts that the independents, who voted for Obama in 2008 and then defected to Romney in 2012, will return to Clinton in 2016. As he says, “There’s no question, when and if she decides to run, that she’s going to have an incredible support foundation from Wall Street.”

As we have all seen repeatedly, Wall Street often gets what Wall Street wants. Will it get a President Hillary Clinton, and will she be the president Wall Street expects?

William D. Cohan is the author of Money and Power: How Goldman Sachs Came to Rule the World (2011).

‘AA’ RUC Agent Story – Allison Morris Needs To Do Better Than This!

The Irish News’ reporter Allison Morris will have to do better than this if she wants to convince her readers that her story about the IRA agent known only as ‘AA’ is true.

Allison Morris Pic

In recent days ‘AA’ released a statement through his lawyer, Padraig O Muirigh (Paddy Murray, for the benefit of my non-Irish speaking readers), denying that he was an agent for the RUC Special Branch who had tipped off his handlers about an IRA plot to bomb the UDA leadership in October 1993.

Allison Morris’ response, in the columns of today’s Irish News was to lampoon ‘AA’s’ statement, and compare it to the denials made by Freddie Scappaticci when he was accused in the media of being the agent ‘Steaknife’.

She wrote:

Claims that he was being targeted by “scurrilous allegations and reckless journalism” could have came straight from the mouth of the army agent Stakeknife, believed to be west Belfast man Freddie Scappaticci.

Well, my mother was not born on Mars but if The Irish News was to publish a story claiming that, thanks to her, I had Martian blood flowing through my veins and I responded by accusing the paper of ‘scurrilous allegations and reckless journalism’, would that put me in the same category as ‘Scap’, a discredited, lying former Special Branch spy?

Would that mean that my denial was worthless?

I think not.

Here is the text of her story. Enjoy:

Analysis by Allison Morris
05 February, 2016

Denials by IRA man said to be ‘AA’ sound familiar

THE denials issued on Thursday by the man said to be agent ‘AA’ – an IRA commander at the time of the Shankill bomb – sound very familiar.

Claims that he was being targeted by “scurrilous allegations and reckless journalism” could have came straight from the mouth of the army agent Stakeknife, believed to be west Belfast man Freddie Scappaticci.

Back in 2003 Scappaticci, who is now to be subject to a police investigation into his alleged involvement in more than 20 murders, hit out at the media as he insisted his innocence.

“I had to leave my home for a couple of days for safety’s sake and lie low, my family has been tortured by the British media and gutter press,” he said.

Shortly afterwards he fled Northern Ireland and now lives under an assumed identity in England.

This week former Sinn Féin director of publicity Danny Morrison said suspicions about Scappaticci were known to republicans as far back as 1990, 13 years before he was outed by the media.

The allegations about AA were also known by republicans as far back as the end of 2002, again just over 13 years before they were finally revealed in the Irish News.

A team of police officers from outside Northern Ireland will now investigate the Stakeknife case.

The Police Ombudsman will probe allegations about AA.

The investigation will need to establish not just if the RUC had prior knowledge of an attack on the Shankill in 1993, but also why a man known to be the commander of the IRA throughout the 1990s has never been arrested or questioned in relation to the numerous attacks carried out by the organisation’s most active unit.

Request For ‘Classified Documents’ By Alleged RUC Agent ‘AA’ Is Reasonable – The Irish News Should Do The Right Thing


The alleged former IRA commander in Ardoyne who has been accused of being an RUC agent – known only as ‘AA’ – who told the authorities in advance of a plot to bomb the UDA headquarters on the Shankill Road in October 1993 has, through his solicitor, denied the claim and asked that ‘classified documents’ at the heart of the accusation against him be handed over.

The ‘classified documents’ are, apparently, in the hands of The Irish News which, in its January 25th issue, published a story claiming that the RUC Special Branch ignored ‘AA’s’ warning and allowed the bombing to go ahead.

The attack went badly wrong and the bomb detonated prematurely, killing one of the two IRA bombers, six civilian shoppers and two children in Frizzel’s fishmongers directly underneath the UDA’s offices.

In that edition, The Irish News claimed it had ‘seen documents’ to back up the story but it has so far failed to publish them or to detail their contents. Two days later, in its January 27th edition, the paper took this a stage further and claimed it ‘had seen’ classified documents which supported its story.

The brokenelbow.com believes that not only does ‘AA’ have the right to see the documents but the public has an even more pressing claim, given the widespread concern about the conduct of intelligence operations during the Troubles that the allegation has raised.

Not only that but ‘AA’s’ life has been put in danger by the story and he has been forced to flee his home, according to his statement.

The Irish News should publish these documents now, explain why it did not do so when it broke the story or explain why it cannot make them public. This story was not sourced, not even anonymously, and so the content of the documents take on added importance in terms of the credibility of the allegation.

It was not very re-assuring to read The Irish News’ account of ‘AA’s’ statement protesting his innocence and see that there was no mention of his demand that the ‘classified documents’ be made available to him. Why not?

In an article published under her by-line today, Allison Morris, the author of the first ‘AA’ article, dismissed the alleged agent’s denials and compared them to now discredited claims of innocence from the IRA agent Steaknife, Freddie Scappaticci.

The best way to prove ‘AA’ wrong is not to make comparisons with a man whose denials have been proved false, unlike ‘AA’s’, but to make the ‘classified documents’ public.

In the meantime here is that section of ‘AA’s’ statement, as issued by his solicitor:

These scurrilous allegations and reckless journalism have led to death threats being made against me since the publication of the article. I have had to leave my family home to protect my family from attack. This situation has been very stressful and upsetting to me and my family.

I would question the existence and/or authenticity of the ‘classified documents’ allegedly seen by the Irish News. I have, through my legal representative, requested sight of said document and if I am denied access to them by the Irish News I will have no option but to consider the legal remedies available to me.

I have requested that my identity is not published by my lawyer at this stage as I am concerned that this would increase the possibility of an attack on me and my family.

The Liam Adams Trial: Barra McGrory And The Curious Case Of The Missing Gerry Adams File – Part 2

The body which polices members of the bar in Northern Ireland has asked the North’s Director of Public Prosecutions, Barra McGrory to formally respond to allegations that his handling of the record of a consultation he held with Gerry Adams in 2007 concerning allegations that his brother Liam, had sexually abused his daughter Ainé, hindered the due process of law and infringed Liam Adams’ right to a fair trial.

Liam Adams was found guilty in October 2013 of ten offences relating to the abuse of his daughter which started when she was four years old and lasted, his trial was told, for six years. He was sentenced to sixteen years in jail and in May last year lost an appeal.

The Professional Conduct Committee (PCC) of the Northern Ireland Bar Council recently informed Liam Adams’ wife Brona that after a meeting on January 12th, the committee had ‘directed that Mr McGrory’s response to further queries be sought.’

The message from the committee’s secretary went on:

‘This process is now in hand and I will update you following the next meeting on Tuesday, 9th February, 2016.’

Barra McGrory - Gerry Adams' lawyer when Liam Adams was exposed, now the North's DPP

Barra McGrory – Gerry Adams’ lawyer when Liam Adams was accused of abusing hi daughter Ainé. The Bar Council’s Professional Conduct Committee is seeking his response to a complaint he breached the professional code of conduct

The Public Prosecution Service (PPS) on the the other hand, has stood firmly by its boss, who recused himself from the Liam Adams’ prosecution because he had been Gerry Adams’ solicitor.

A letter to Liam Adams’ lawyers, dated December 18th, 2015 dismissed the complaint on two grounds. One was that it was essentially irrelevant since Gerry Adams did not appear as a witness at Liam Adams’ appeal; the second was that the Barra McGrory record was handed over to defence lawyers four weeks before the hearing.

However, the PPS did not address part of the Liam Adams’ complaint which potentially raises the most problematic questions. This was the failure of the prosecution service to take the advice of a senior prosecution counsel that Mr McGrory should be interviewed by the PSNI about inconsistencies in his behaviour.

One of the matters that the PSNI could have been expected to probe was why the record of the 2007 consultation was not handed over when a third party disclosure application was granted at the outset of legal proceedings against Liam Adams.

Gerry and Liam Adams in earlier and happier days

Gerry and Liam Adams in earlier and happier days

Another is why, in a statement he gave to the PSNI in August 2012, he said: ‘I do not have a minute or record of that consultation (with Gerry Adams)’, when clearly he had.

The record of the consultation with Gerry Adams in 2007 was discovered by Barra McGrory in a file marked ‘Gerry Adams’ on a computer he kept at home. It was found just before Liam Adams’ appeal against his conviction, which means it had gone undiscovered through virtually the entire legal proceedings against the SF leader’s brother.

A number of questions follow which the PSNI could have been expected to put to the DPP: why was the file not on a computer in his law firm, as presumably it should have been? Why was it on Barra McGrory’s home computer? Who put it there? Had it been transferred from an office computer and if so, when and why?

But the PSNI never put the questions to him because the PPS failed to instruct them to so do.

The complaint against Barra McGrory, which claims he broke the barristers’ Professional Code of Conduct, revolves around a record of a consultation the future DPP held with Gerry Adams in February 2007  which followed the arrest of Liam Adams after his daughter had just revived a complaint against her father she had first lodged in 1987 but had then dropped.

A report appeared in The Sunday World newspaper saying that the relative of a senior republican in Belfast had been arrested on suspicion of assaulting his daughter and that apparently sparked the consultation.

The subsequent meeting with Barra McGrory involved not just Gerry Adams but his brother Patrick, known as Paddy, as well as Gerry Adams’ longtime press aide cum factotum Richard McAuley.

The record of the consultation was eventually disclosed to Liam Adams’ defence but on condition that it be kept secret and only disclosed if there were legal proceedings which warranted its public release.

However one source who has seen the rediscovered document said this about its contents, which appear not to go much beyond the basic facts:

In the ‘Gerry Adams’ document, Barra McGrory states that he had a consultation with Gerry Adams MP, who was accompanied by Patrick Adams and Richard McAuley in his office in February 2007. They discussed the case and the leaking of information to the press by the PSNI. Barra McGrory then contacted ACC Peter Sheridon who agreed that there had been a leak to the press by the PSNI and he said he would meet Gerry Adams voluntarily, before he made any statement to the PSNI.

Former ACC Sheridan, who left the PSNI some years ago and now heads Co-operation Ireland, said that he had ‘no recollection’ of meeting Gerry Adams about this matter.

“I would have had no reason to, I was not part of the investigation team”, he told thebrokenelbow.com.

In his statement to the PSNI made in 2007 after the consultation with Barra McGrry, Gerry Adams made no mention of any admission to him from Liam Adams that he had sexually abused Ainé.

Eighteen months later, however, he remembered that Liam had made an admission, allegedly during ‘a walk in Dundalk in the rain’ and told the PSNI this in a statement. He then appeared as a prosecution witness at Liam Adams’ first trial, which was abandoned on a technicality, but not at the second trial.

Given the conflict between Gerry Adams’ 2007 statement to the PSNI and his testimony at the criminal trial the question of what was said during the consultation with Barra McGrory assumes greater import. But his prosecution service never followed the advice of its own counsel and the PSNI thus never had the chance to find out.

Key parts of the correspondence between Liam Adams’ lawyers, the PPS and Barra McGrory’s own lawyers concerning the 2007 consultation are set out below:

B1B2B3B4B5B6B7B7 1B8B13


Danny Morrison Finally Tells The Truth About Something……


Willie McGuinness, Eamon Collins And A ‘Bloody Sunday’ Mystery….

I discovered this story on a strange little blog called Crypto-Gentile which has only two articles posted, both in 2008 and both devoted to stories allegedly told by Eamon Collins, the late IRA ‘ex-supergrass’/whistle-blower/penitent, who was murdered in an especially violent way by the South Armagh IRA for his alleged treachery, i.e. giving evidence against ‘Slab’ in a libel case involving The Sunday Times.

Both stories – the other deals with his relationship with an English law lecturer at QUB and left-wing activist/IRA sympathiser – were supposedly left out of ‘Killing Rage’, an account of Collins’ life as told to journalist Mick McGovern, arguably one of the best books, if not the best book on the Provisional IRA yet written.

Eamon Collins - the IRA killed him in 1999

Eamon Collins – the IRA killed him in 1999

This story is set in Crumlin Road jail where Collins was being held on remand before he agreed to become a ‘supergrass’. There he becomes friends with, of all people, Martin McGuinness’ brother Willie who tells him this story about Bloody Sunday in Derry – at least, allegedly.

Is it true? Here are the Saville Inquiries main findings.


IRA Man Killed on Bloody Sunday?
Was at least one IRA man killed by British troops on Bloody Sunday and secretly buried in the Irish Republic?

Mick McGovern, who co-wrote Killing Rage, the autobiography of IRA supergrass Eamon Collins, tells a story that was left out of the bestselling book in 1997.
Collins feared he might be killed for telling it.
In January 1999 the IRA murdered him anyway.

Mick McGovern was born in London and studied Politics at Leicester University. As co-author, his credits include Killing Rage, Soldier of the Queen, The Dream Solution and Hateland. He’s worked as a reporter on regional and national newspapers, helped produce documentaries for ITV, Channel Four and the BBC, and written features for The Observer and New Statesman. He lives in Berlin, where he works as a translator.


When I sat down to help Eamon Collins write his autobiography Killing Rage I knew that as a former officer of both IRA intelligence and British Customs (simultaneously), an ex-member of the Provos’ feared internal security unit (the so-called ‘Nutting Squad’) and, for a short time, a would-be supergrass, he would have many extraordinary tales to tell.

But he warned me from the outset there were several stories which for various reasons, personal and legal, he wouldn’t be putting in the book. And he added there were others he’d be excluding for the simple reason he didn’t want to get killed for telling them.

He didn’t think these gaps really mattered. He felt he could still write about his experiences in a way which might help contribute towards a deeper process of reflection about the causes, and nature, of political violence in Northern Ireland, while at the same time explaining his past to his four children and, it has to be said, settling a few scores with some of what he described as the republican movement’s ‘boneheaded bogtrotters’.

He also felt that – despite inevitable republican displeasure – he could, in the wake of the ceasefires, tell his story and live. He was wrong. In January 1999, less than two years after the book’s publication, his former IRA comrades murdered him in a bestial fashion in a country lane near his Newry home.

In 1995 during the writing of the book, a process which took place partly in County Kerry, not far from Banna Strand, where the Irish rebel Sir Roger Casement disembarked from a German submarine during the First World War to be captured by the Royal Irish Constabulary and later executed by the British for high treason, Eamon told me several stories which astonished me. Most of them ended up in the book.

However, there was one in particular which I wanted to use, but which Eamon wouldn’t allow into print. It was so potentially incendiary, he said, he’d almost certainly be signing his own death warrant if he wrote about it. The Provos would murder him, he said. And he wanted to avoid that fate, if at all possible.

The story concerned Bloody Sunday, that day in January 1972 when paratroopers shot dead 13 people in Derry’s Bogside. As almost everyone knows, the shootings occurred during an illegal march organised by the Derry Civil Rights Association and, as almost everyone also knows, they were instrumental in boosting support for the fledgeling Provisional IRA.

The British Army has always claimed that their troops came under fire first. For nationalists, Bloody Sunday’s enduring importance as a symbol of British misrule – and as a reason why some might turn to violence to oppose it – has depended in part on categorical assurances from republicans that they weren’t involved in aggressive military action on that day.

However, Eamon Collins told me a story that raises questions about the course of events. Most interestingly, he claimed he was only passing on information told to him while on remand in Belfast’s Crumlin Road Prison by the brother of the Sinn Fein leader Martin McGuinness, the Provos’ commander in Derry at that time.

In the acknowledgements at the back of Killing Rage Eamon thanks the people who helped him rebuild his life. Under the section titled ‘Crumlin Road Prison 1985-7’ he introduces their names by saying: ‘These men treated me as a fellow human being in prison: friendship can transcend politics in a hard place.’

The list contains some of the most notorious terrorists to emerge since 1969, many of them connected to the smaller republican group, the Irish National Liberation Army: Gerard Steenson (known to the tabloids as ‘Dr Death’), Jimmy Brown (who helped found the INLA splinter group, the Irish People’s Liberation Organisation) – both men subsequently murdered in internecine feuds – and Christopher ‘Crip’ McWilliams (who went on to shoot dead ultra-loyalist bogeyman and Loyalist Volunteer Force leader Billy Wright in the Maze Prison).

Given the bitter history between the Provos and the INLA, Eamon’s friendship with senior figures from the rival republican grouping was in part a symptom of his alienation from his own comrades – the alienation that led ultimately to his writing Killing Rage. He felt that many Provos in the Belfast prison – and especially the leadership – despised him and wanted him dead.

He was right. But their attitude was hardly surprising in the light of Collins’s spectacular betrayal of the organisation he’d served for more than six years. When he’d been arrested following the IRA’s mortar attack on Newry Police Station in 1985 (in which nine police officers died – the Royal Ulster Constabulary’s single biggest loss of life) he’d cracked after five days of interrogation. He told the police everything he knew. As he said later: ‘I gave them the heap’.

And it was some heap. He’d been involved in countless IRA operations in a key border area, often working with senior terrorists from south Armagh, as well as those on the run in Dundalk. He had also been a member both of Sinn Fein and – of great interest to the RUC – of the Provos’ internal security unit dedicated to tracking down informers and agents within the ranks.

This unit, which had given Eamon access to information about IRA units across the North, was known as ‘the Nutting Squad’ – a grisly reference to the fate of those uncovered as traitors, namely, a bullet in the back of the head, a ‘nutting’.

Eamon didn’t to live to see the squad’s deputy Frederico Scappaticci – named as ‘Scap’ in the book – uncovered as ‘Stakeknife’, the fabled high-ranking, long-term agent of British intelligence, with whom Eamon felt a special bond because they both came from families involved in the ice-cream business.

Eamon’s maternal family had owned an ice-cream van. Scap’s extended family had owned an ice-cream parlour. Eamon told me he had once jokingly in Scap’s presence made reference to their shared Cornetto heritage. Scap had looked at him coldly and changed the subject.

Eamon would have been proud to learn that Killing Rage played an important role in leading to the exposure of ‘Stakeknife’. The whistleblowing former British intelligence officer and army Force Research Unit handler Martin Ingram first began seriously to question what the FRU did in Northern Ireland after reading the book.

In his own book, Stakeknife: Britain’s Secret Agents in Ireland, co-written with Greg Harkin, the latter describes how Ingram read in Killing Rage about Scap’s joking to Eamon about his murder of an informer: ‘It left him feeling sick to the pit of his stomach. Ingram knew the ‘Scap’ referred to was Freddie Scappaticci, but more importantly, that Scappaticci was Stakeknife, an agent run by his former friends in the FRU.’

More than 30 people had been arrested as a result of Eamon’s information in 1985. Several of them ended up serving long sentences because of statements they signed in custody. Eamon agreed to become a supergrass, but the IRA got word to him that if he retracted his evidence he would not be harmed: he could come and live with his fellow IRA men in the wings set aside for them in Crumlin Road Prison. All would be forgiven.

Eamon retracted his evidence against others, but he had already signed statements implicating himself. He was charged with five murders and 45 other serious offences. In fact, Eamon told me that, if the truth be known, he could have been charged with at least five other murders.

He said – though not for publication because he feared prosecution – he’d provided the intelligence that enabled the IRA both to shoot dead a customs man (and part-time member of the Crown forces) in Armagh City and – in May 1985 while he was in prison – to blow to pieces four RUC officers at Killeen on the border.

He spent just under two years on remand before his own trial in 1987. Then, in a remarkable twist, he walked free from a looming 30-year sentence after Judge Higgins said he could not be satisfied beyond all reasonable doubt that the admissions Eamon made to the police had not been induced by inhuman or degrading treatment.

Eight years later he could write about his deeds because he couldn’t be charged again with crimes of which he’d been acquitted. These included the murder of his boss in the Customs and Excise, a major in the part-time Ulster Defence Regiment. Understandably, Customs had sacked Eamon after his arrest. But following his acquittal he sued for wrongful dismissal at an Industrial Tribunal. The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Tom King intervened personally to stop the case proceeding.

Eamon’s nickname could have been ‘chutzpah’, the yiddish word for shameless audacity. While in the IRA he’d blown up Newry Customs Station, then as trade union shop steward negotiated a pay bonus and time-off for the customs officers on account of the poor working conditions following the explosion.

He’d also dreamed of blowing up the Royal Albert Hall in London shortly before the annual ‘Last Night of the Proms’. As he told me, though not for the book: ‘That was going to be one night when they wouldn’t be singing “Rule Britannia”.’

Although Eamon never gave evidence in court against his comrades, his admissions had still done a lot of damage, if only by outlining the divisions, frictions and power struggles within the republican movement.

He had been asked by his RUC interrogator what would be the best way to destroy the IRA. He had replied: ‘Support, encourage and make possible at every turn the development of Sinn Fein.’

Eamon had seen clearly that, despite the republican movement’s so-called ‘ballot-box and the Armalite’ dual strategy, parliamentarism and armed struggle could not co-exist together indefinitely. The ballot box would in the end decommission the Armalite.

This was not then what the republican ultras, especially those from south Armagh, wanted to hear. So Eamon’s two years in Crumlin Road Prison were spent under a cloud of barely-disguised hostility.

Not suprisingly, many of his closest friendships in that environment were with the INLA prisoners. He was more at home with them, both politically and intellectually. With Gerard ‘Dr Death’ Steenson – his nickname came from an incident in which he’d donned a doctor’s white coat to shoot someone in hospital – Eamon would spend hours discussing ninenteeth century English literature.

Eamon’s favourite reading was the Bronte sisters, especially Emily’s Wuthering Heights. ‘Dr Death’ was an admirer of the work of Thomas Hardy, especially his later poetry and the novel Jude the Obscure.

Several IRA men in Crumlin Road Prison were, however, kind to Eamon, treating him, as he says in the book’s acknowledgements, as ‘a fellow human being’. He was gratified, especially, by the friendship of William McGuinness, whom he names.

The fact that William was the brother of the revered, and feared, republican leader, Martin McGuinness, made Eamon feel that true republicans could genuinely forgive him for his act of betrayal. Eamon spoke to me of William with great fondness. He didn’t want to write about him in the book’s main text: he thought this might cause him embarrassment – something he wished to avoid because of his gratitude for William’s earlier kindness and decency towards him.

However, he occasionally talked about William, whom he regarded as a good and honorable man. He said William spoke only with admiration of his brother Martin. William had once said: ‘My brother’s twice the man I am’. William wouldn’t hear a bad word said against him.

Another time Eamon mischievously mentioned some gossip he’d heard about a furniture deal in which Martin had allegedly involved himself some years earlier. There was no evidence of wrongdoing on Martin’s part, but William had said angrily: ‘Who was the wee bastard who said that?’

William also told Eamon that once Martin rose to prominence in Derry some people started making snide remarks about how well-dressed the McGuinness siblings now were, implying they were benefitting financially from Martin’s position in the republican movement. William told Eamon that from then on the siblings had started wearing ‘rags’.

Eamon also said that William had joked about his own Christian name, not one usually given to Catholic children in Northern Ireland, where ‘William’ is the archetypal Protestant forename, passed down the generations in memory of King William of Orange, who defeated the Catholics at the still-celebrated (among Ulster Loyalists, at least) battle of the Boyne in 1690.

William said his mother had so christened him in order to give him a good start in life. She had felt that, in a Protestant-dominated society rife with anti-Catholic discrimination, her little boy would fare best if his name could help him pass as a Protestant. This was because ‘McGuinness’ was potentially a neutral surname, one shared by Catholics and Protestants. Usually only their forenames marked McGuinnesses unmistakeably out as being from the one or the other tradition.

In writing Killing Rage Eamon was keen to detail everything in his past that had shaped him and led him to join the Provos.

A significant incident happened in 1974 when he and his family, including his father and invalid mother, were brutalised by paratroopers who raided their farm in the mistaken belief that their car had been ferrying explosives.

A paratrooper had stuck the muzzle of his rifle in Eamon’s mouth, chipping a tooth, and said: ‘I’d blow your brains out for tuppence, you rotten Irish cunt.’ Earlier that day a sniffer dog at a checkpoint had detected traces of something in the car’s boot. Only later did forensic tests prove the substance was creosote.

Two years earlier, Bloody Sunday had also undermined Eamon’s opposition to political violence. He wrote: ‘Like almost every other Irish Catholic, I was enraged by Bloody Sunday.’

It was during our conversations about Bloody Sunday, and its aftermath, that Eamon told me what William McGuinness had once said to him in Crumlin Road. He said that one day, while they were discussing the civil rights movement and Bloody Sunday, William had shocked him with something he had mentioned almost in passing.

According to Eamon, William said that, despite denials over the years, IRA men had been wounded by gunfire on Bloody Sunday. He said that the casualties had been taken across the border to the Irish Republic to have their injuries tended. There, one of the wounded IRA men had subsequently died – and been secretly buried.

Eamon said that William had not given him the impression of having been personally involved: he’d simply been telling a story that he’d been told later on good authority. Eamon said that William had also not indicated whether the wounded IRA men had been engaged in exchanges of fire with the army or whether they had been unarmed marchers caught up by chance in the melee.

I asked Eamon if he believed the story to be true. He shrugged his shoulders and said he didn’t know. He had a similar attitude to another story that did end up in the book – the disposal of kidnapped SAS officer Robert Nairac’s body through a mincer in a Dundalk meat-processing factory in May 1977.

As reported in Killing Rage, Nairac’s supposed fate was little more than gossip and hearsay among Provos, but republicans have never denied Eamon’s account. Its untruth could have been demonstrated by their indicating where the remains might be found. Yet they’ve failed to do this, even as a conciliatory gesture during the ‘peace process’.

The fact that the Bloody Sunday story had come from William, whose brother Martin had
been the Provos’ commander in Derry at the time, gave it in Eamon’s eyes a credibility it would not otherwise have had.

By this stage in Eamon’s life he was extremely cynical about the IRA, although they could still do things which surprised him. Of course, when he told me this story in the summer of 1995 the IRA had not yet admitted publicly that they had over the years murdered and secretly buried several people. The so-called ‘disappeared’ included some of their own members who had been executed as informers or agents.

I asked Eamon if he wanted to put William McGuinness’s story in the book. He looked at me as if I were mad. He said that doing the book was risky enough in itself: sticking in that story would definitely get him killed. He said: ‘It’s not going in any book of mine.’ Anyway, he said, it was simply a story told to him second-hand. He had no personal knowledge that could enable him to vouch for its truth.

And he didn’t want to get murdered for something like that.