Statement by Ed Moloney and Anthony McIntyre on the death of Dolours Price
We wish to express our great sadness at the death of Dolours Price who was both a friend and a valued participant in the Belfast Project and we would like to convey our condolences to her boys, to her sisters and brother and to other members of her family.
Throughout the last two years of our fight to prevent her interviews being handed over to the police in Belfast, our greatest fear was always for the health and well-being of Dolours. Now that she is no longer with us perhaps those who initiated this legal case can take some time to reflect upon the consequences of their action.
Dolours Price’s interviews will not now be immediately handed over, as some reports have wrongly claimed. The interviews are the subject of a stay imposed by the Supreme Court of the United States and that stay remains in place until that court, the highest in the land, decides otherwise. There are other subpoenas outstanding and as far as we are concerned the same issues affect them as they did Dolours Price’s case and we look forward to continuing the fight with renewed vigor to stop the remaining Belfast Project interviews from being handed over.
I am very sorry that you lost Dolours, Ed. You do her friendship honor. I hope you are well. Philip
The last thing in the minds of the PSNI special branch who instigated the attempts to access the tapes will be the loss of Dolours’ life.
The only concern in NI at the moment is how soon they can get their hands on them. ‘Humanity’ at work!
Sorry to hear this sad news. Carl
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Thanks Ed I have fond memories of her too in the early 70s with her sister Marian in the PD Full of enthusiasm for change in the six counties and the rights of the workingclass regardless of religion
I would like, respectfully, to enter a word of dissent, having nothing to do with the Belfast Project or your campaign to withhold material from the PSNI.
Dolours Price was an active terrorist for a number of years. She bombed the Old Bailey; she drove Jean McConville to her place of execution; she almost certainly took part in other IRA operations. She opposed the Good Friday Agreement, which brought a fractious peace to the North, and, logically, she must have had sympathy with the Continuity or Real IRA.
However pleasant she might have appeared when relaxed and in company, she was a committed urban guerrilla, who regarded murder as the principle means of advancing her political agenda. She had great courage, but also a cold heart.
If it should turn out that her testimony adds to the public perception of Gerry Adams as having been, for a number of years, the Provisional IRA’s chief strategist in Belfast, that is to the good – for that is what he was. Other than that, and while respecting the feelings of her family, I shed no tears for Ms Price.
Walter I commend your measured, succinct, and fair assessment. You have expressed my feelings entirely, thank-you.
Walter, you write this about Dolours Price: “She opposed the Good Friday Agreement, which brought a fractious peace to the North, and logcally, she must have had sympathy with the Continuity or Real IRA”.
Unlike yourself and I suspect Ruth Dudley Edwards, who I see is singing from the same hymn book as yourself, I at least knew Dolours Price and had many conversations with her. I would be surprised if you ever did. We discussed many issues and one was the question of republican dissidents and on this question I can say with complete confidence that you, and Ms Dudley Edwards, are utterly wrong. Far from sympathising with their methods or aims, Dolours was firmly of the view that groups like the Real and Continuity IRA’s had no future, that their violence was both wrong and pointless and that they should end their activities.
She was of the old school of Irish republicanism which taught that violence was only excusable when it had a chance of success. She did not object to the use of violence on moral grounds to be sure, but in that respect she was in good company, not least successive leaders in this country and in Britain who together have been responsible in recent years for more killing than a thousand IRA’s, whose outrages encompass a hundred thousand Old Bailey’s and whose victims include Jean McConvilles without number.
What astonishes and dismays me is the Orwellian logic which leads you to assume that because she disliked or opposed the Good Friday Agreement, she had to be a supporter of dissident republican violence. In other words raise your voice against the GFA or the peace process and logically you reveal yourself as a dissident gunman or a bomber. And what comes next Walter, a spell in jail, the loss of your job or public housing or worse as punishment for speak crimes that offend the GFA? And what happens if you just think bad thoughts about the GFA? How will you counter that? Such a brave new world we have created!
What is particularly distressing about all this is the level of ignorance you reveal. If you really knew anything about people like Dolours Price you would know that the clear majority of ex-Provos like her who dislike or disapprove of the Good Friday Agreement have an equally strong distaste for the resumption of violence and have shunned the Real and Continuity IRA’s of Northern Ireland. They do so because they believe such tactics are pointless and therefore unjustified. This failure to attract recruits of such calibre and experience is one reason why the dissidents have been such dismal failures.
The reason why Dolours behaved in the way she did is both more simple and more complex than you can imagine. Boiled down to its essence, it was because she had come to believe she had wasted her life on a failed cause on behalf of cynical leaders. But I guess that doesn’t fit into any neat Dudley-Edwardesque box so best just discard it.
The Belfast Project should hand over the interview transcripts – the minute Special Branch hand over Tape 42.
While I do not wish to address a comment at this particular time, I feel obliged to do so with only the most respect for Delores, Marion and their families for the cruel and intolerable suffering they continue to endure and unjustly so, in my opinion. While I fully support Mr Ellis’ right to dissent, I feel compelled to proffer that which transpired in the six counties in the North of Ireland during the (in)appropriately named “The Troubles”, was not born our of the normal fertile ground of which I would coin Dolores and Marion “active terrorists” unless we equally condemn the actions of the British ‘s manipulation of the laws, the people, the judicial system, laws specifically implemented for only those in six counties, in addition to there collusion, pre-meditated murder of various innocents and the subtrafuge and downright unclean hands to date, it would be most unfair to make such an affirmative declaratory statement as truth. Those in charge of ensuring fairness and equality, set the parameters for improper conduct and an “anything you can get away with” mentality, thereby foregoing any attempts by the oppressed, being credibly classified as terrorism, in my opinion. They continue to engage in such egregarious conduct to date. They knowlingly took advantage of Dolores’ mental incapacity in an attempt to circumvent legal remedies available to them on which they did not act. They are knowingly in breach of every human right law, legislation, charter and applicable Agreements, in the unlawful detention of Marion, hiding behind the proverbial blanket of national security. Most offensively, they are trying to pervert international law and the American Judiciary via the MLAT Treaty, to address the present shift in political power, that they simply do not want to exist as it is presently. RIP Dolores, you paid a very high price in your fight for freedom and I hope you finally have found peace and comfort in the arms of the Lord.
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Irish Republican history will be kind to Dolours Price. All wars produce terrible stories. She shouldnt feel any guilt for obeying orders; that is what is demanded of a soldier. No matter what some might say it takes guts to lead a life she did. When you are a guerilla you are truly up against it. I am sure if Dolours had the luxury of an apache helicopter or the back up and advanced technology that harry windsor has, then perhaps her bravery would have been more recognised. There is nothing to be ashamed about being a genuine irish republican Dolours. Sleep Irish soldier sleep.
I agree with Wolfe Tone. The culture of political violence has reached truly sickening levels in Britain. Witness the grotesque spectacle of the idiotic ‘prince’ Harry Gotha paraded as a poster boy for imperialism and criminal violence on an industrial scale. However, and this comment is not made with regard to Dolours Price, ‘obeying orders’ does not absolve anyone of culpability, either legally (the Nuremburg princples and the Geneva convention) or morally.
Rest in peace brave Delours
A harsh response, Ed. You surprise me.
I’m afraid I stand by my view. You say Dolours Price didn’t support a continuation of the armed struggle. She did, on the other hand, oppose the Good Friday agreement, which secured the peace. The difference may be real, but it is not considerable. The “logic” of her position is that she felt the Provos should have continued their campaign, or threatened to do so, until they achieved a reasonable assurance of Irish unity.
I can well believe that she didn’t have much time for the limited, and diminishing, impact on events made by the Real IRA. But are you really saying that if she had had a voice on the Army Council in 1998, she would have voted to end the armed struggle?
By the way, I didn’t say that – logically or otherwise – her opposition to the peace process revealed her continued engagement in terrorist acts. What I actually said was that, logically, she must have had “sympathy” with those who favoured a continuation of the struggle. I entirely accept that she had retired and wished merely to get on with her life. Who could blame her?
But the fact that she mellowed in later life and that you and she developed something of a rapport does not alter the reality that she devoted much of her life to the service of the IRA. She bombed the Old Bailey; she drove Jean McConville to her death; she was deeply implicated in some of the worst violence of the Troubles.
I hope, Ed, that you’re not exhibiting a new strain of Stockholm Syndrome – the identification of the writer with his subject. Next you’ll be telling us that Darkie Hughes was a charming old gentleman who wouldn’t hurt a fly?
But let’s put this behind us and just agree that we take a different view. You have bigger issues to confront than my “level of ignorance”.
Again, Walter, you repeat the fallacy of your earlier comment. Then you said that because DP opposed the GFA she therefore logically supported the Continuity or Real IRA’s. You now try to say that sympathy is not the same as support but we both know you mean support. Now you say because she opposed the GFA, she would have also opposed the Provos ending their violence. How do you know this? Answer: you don’t, because you never as much as exchanged a word with the woman in your entire life.
That is my real beef with you – you make sweeping judgements, rather like Ruth Dudley Edwards, yet you know next to nothing about either Dolours Price or Brendan Hughes or what their views were. I thought you were a journalist, someone who was supposed to honour facts above prejudice, and to talk to people and gather facts before making judgements?
I did know both of them and spoke to both of them at length on many occasions, and I know from conversations with her that DP had concluded that the Provos campaign was going nowhere, that it had been irredeemably infiltrated by the British and that it was pointless continuing (and the same was true of BH). So yes, I believe that had she a say in the matter in 1998 that she would have been in favour of ending the IRA’s campaign, not because the GFA was such an attractive alternative but because the violence was incapable of achieving its goal. And this is another thing that disturbs me about what you have been writing; you have an almost cartoonish view of people like BH and DP, that they are irretrievably wedded to killing and violence and therefore will always choose the most savage option. People are never so simple or straightforward Walter, no matter how hard we try to make them so, and the picture you paint of both DP and BH is so hopelessly distorted that words almost fail me.
The essence of your argument Walter is this: oppose the Good Friday Agreement and you automatically are in the same camp as dissident gunmen and bombers. And you make these judgements based on total ignorance of, and no contact with those you condemn. I was going to say that borders on McCarthyism, Walter but it doesn’t border on it, it is McCarthyism. You are in favour of disarmament in America in 1958 so you are Communist: you don’t like the GFA in 1998 so you are a dissident IRA bomber. You may not like this nor bring yourself to accept it, but many former IRA people dislike the GFA intensely, or believe it was not worth all the killing and suffering, yet they do not advocate the resumption of violence; and many of them were of the view long before 1998 that the campaign of violence was going nowhere and should be ended. That does not fit neatly into one of Ruth Dudley Edwards’ boxes, nor yours, but then life is usually never that simple.
Undoubtedly, Dolours Price was deeply involved in IRA activity as was Brendan Hughes and yet I liked both of them. Whether or not I approved of what they did was neither here nor there. I also was very friendly with senior Loyalist activists who were every bit as deeply involved in violence as they were and I both liked them and have been as loyal to them as a journalist as I was to DP and BH. Likewise I also liked British Army officers I met in my time as a journalist and I knew that these people, and I am thinking here of one in particular, were capable of sending innocents to their deaths to advance their own cause and did so. I knew and liked many of the people who were active in the DUP and various Unionist groupings, people whose views were arguably the fuel upon which the violence fed. And so on.
With none of these people did I ever feel the need to make moral judgements which would lead me to excoriate and shun one yet embrace the other, as you do. And the reason for that, aside from professional detachment, was that I actually viewed them all as victims of a history and politics that was not of their making. They were all, in a sense, creatures acting out parts that had been chosen for them elsewhere and at a different time. You will reply of course that everyone has a moral choice to make. My response is that such an answer is far too glib and simple for the real world in which we live. It sounds good inside a church but not on the streets.
As you say, we disagree fundamentally about this and beneath it, I suspect, about what we think journalism should be about. I seek to explain, you and RDE prefer to moralise – at least that is how I see the difference. Lets agree to disagree but do so in a civilised way.
Walter, – I’m not sure of your level of ignorance, but you do seem to lack the wit to realise that one should not speak ill of the dead – especially on the day of their funeral.
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Ed, this says it all—your superb analysis captures the complexity of the characters and the unbidden roles that history has thrust upon them.
I think we should just leave it there, Ed. We have each had our say.
and just to put this final observation on the record walter. i would not have commented on your remarks at all had it not been for ruth dudley edwards citing and quoting your words on this site in her daily telegraph piece and in the process ascribing motives and behaviour to myself for which she has no evidence. there seems to be a plethora of people of your side of this argument – in fact it seems to be their defining characteristic – who happily misrepresent others without ever bothering to check their facts. for the record i don’t remember ms dudley edwards ever speaking to me about anything yet somehow she can read my mind!
I agree with you, Ed, historical forces push people into roles they would otherwise not have adopted. In the midst of poverty, conflict and escalating violence ‘choice’ is a luxury few can afford.
It’s the responsibility of the privileged, of people with real choices, to get beyond facile moralising, and to contribute to a real understanding of the issues.
We both got a little heated, Ed. These things happen. We should let it go and have a pint instead. We’re too old to be feuding.
But for anyone who’s interested (not that many, I would guess), here’s a summary of my Irish testament:
As an Ulster Prod, I lived and worked in Belfast (in my case for the then Cork Examiner and the Irish Times) during the very worst of the Troubles, and I can honestly say that I understood both the impulse of the nationalist people to resort to arms and the direction in which the IRA moved after 1970. I had gone on civil rights marches as a student. Later, I spoke with gunmen on both sides, including Martin McGuinness, who on the day after Bloody Sunday advised me to join the IRA. I witnessed the execution of the two British soldiers shot on the fringe of an IRA funeral, and obtained photographs of the bodies that went around the world. I looked into the coffin of a loyalist leader who had been tortured to death. I was shot at by British soldiers while walking up the Falls Road. In 1973, I was arrested by Special Branch in England and accused of conspiring to murder the N.I. Secretary of State, Willie Whitelaw (not guilty). And, as you know, I was a close friend of the INLA commander in Belfast, Ronnie Bunting, with whom I went to school and university.
But, as the campaign rolled on and the savagery (on all sides) increased, I was more and more repelled by the armed struggle and came to despise those who perpetuated it. My views on the loyalist response never altered. I had no time for the UDA and UVF then; I have no time for them now. The irony, that it all ended up with Sinn Fein and the DUP dividing up the spoils at Stormont is not lost on me. But better that (by far) than another thirty years of horror.
This morning, Liam Neeson was welcomed home to Ballymena by a majority Protestant crowd. Neeson is a good man (and a pal, as it happens, of Stephen Rea, the ex-husband of Dolours Price). Okay – Big Liam is a movie star, and people LOVE movie stars. But those who said his return would set off rioting in the streets were wrong. We must take good news where we find it and tick off all the availalble indicators of normal life.
Will I see a United Ireland in my lifetime? I doubt it (I’m 64). But Britain and Ireland are closer now than at any time in their history. Millions of “Brits” are actually of Irish origin and most English people these days are happy to consider the Irish as first-cousins-once-removed. Increasingly, the Irish return the compliment, witness the response to the royal visit in 2011. My family are up and down to Dublin all the time. My sister loves Clare and West Cork. She and her husband (born in Dublin) have a second home in Donegal. My niece’s husband plays rugby for Ireland. A nephew recently qualified there as a sports masseur. His brother is an authority on the Celts.That doesn’t mean they aren’t Unionists.
My Catholic friends in Belfast regard themselves as Irish first and foremost. They hold Irish passports (as do I). But if there were to be a referendum on unity this year many of them would vote to maintain the British link – not just because of the level of economic support, but because they have lived as part of the UK their entire lives. They are not ready yet to be ruled from Dublin. And the North will always be The North.
Identity is complicated. Violence is not the answer. Those who try to bomb one people into the embrace of another will always reap what they sow.
As regards the contradictions contained in Walter Ellis’s commentary in successive posts it’s hard to know where to begin. As a former Republican activist who is opposed to the out working of the Belfast Agreement I have never sympathized with any resumption of ‘armed struggle.’ What’s more a good many of my comrades whi I saw at Dolours’s funeral today, were at the forefront of the campaign within the Republican Movement for a ‘ceasefire’ as early as 1987. The suggestion that opposition to the loyalist veto contained in the Agreement, or the fact that it copper fastens partition, or the reality that the savage Tory cuts are now being implemented by Sinn Fein Ministers is the same as taking up arms reaches a new level of vulgarity. Even the ‘obsessive compulsive’ responses of old loyalist apologist Ruth Dudley Edwards, can do no better than plagiarize your vulgarity. Like Edwards you clearly know nothing about the heart and soul of those of us who,like Dolours, came to the realization. that the struggle we had been participants in had been abandoned by those who choose to settle for the crumbs from the rich man’s table when we thought it was about taking the table and all that was on it in order to distribute it equally amongst all the ‘children of the nation.’
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Unlike Vincent, I know exactly where to start. I did not at any point say that I thought Dolours Price had continued the armed struggle after the Good Friday deal, I said that, given her opposition to the agreement and the peace process that led to it, it was logical that she must have SYMPATHY with those who chose to fight on. I still believe that.
And with that, I hereby abandon this blog. It used to be a congenial place. Now it isn’t.
i hope that doesn’t sound too vulgar.
Mr Ellis, I am full square behind your view and opinions on this, and please consider remaining a blogger.
Synonyms of congenial ( compatible, kindred, like-minded and well suited ), is me.