Monthly Archives: March 2014

An Answer To Gerry Adams, Mary Lou McDonald And Other Critics Of The Boston Archive

“This was a bona fide academic exercise of considerable intellectual merit.”– Judge William G. Young

Aside from myself and Anthony McIntyre there is only one other person who has read all of the interviews lodged in the Belfast Project oral history archive at Boston College and that is Judge William Young of the Federal District Court in Boston, Massachusetts.

Judge Young got to read them because at the end of his hearing rejecting an application to quosh the subpoenas in December 2011 he asked Boston College librarian Bob O’Neill to select interviews that were respondent to the PSNI/DoJ request. O’Neill replied, in a sealed affidavit which was leaked in court, that he could not help as he had not read the interviews.

So we know from that exchange that the person at Boston College who was supposed to read the interviews hadn’t, or at least said he hadn’t and we know from what followed that Judge Young did. In response to O’Neill’s startling admission, Young said he would himself read the entire archive over the Christmas holidays and that is how we know that he is the only other person to have read the interviews.

A lot of other people, Gerry Adams and Mary Lou McDonald of Sinn Fein among them, act as if they have and pronounce judgement on them as if they have. But they haven’t. In fact they haven’t read a single interview from beginning to end. Not a single one.

Judge William Young - the only person aside from Anthony McIntyre & Ed Moloney to read the entire archive

Judge William Young – the only person aside from Anthony McIntyre & Ed Moloney to have read the entire archive

Unlike this guy....... who hasn't read a single one

Unlike this guy……. who hasn’t read a single one

.....or this one

…..or this one

This is what Mr Adams had to say in his blog Leargas on Friday last:

“This project was flawed and biased from the outset. It was an entirely bogus, shoddy and self-serving effort. It was not a genuine or serious or ethically based history project.”

Mary Lou said something very similar on RTE’s Late Late Show a week ago on the same day that Ivor Bell was refused bail in the Belfast Magistrates Court (an event that brought banner headlines in contrast the virtual non-coverage, e.g. Irish Times, when four days later High Court judge, Reg Weir did grant him bail).

The comments of Adams and McDonald have been widely reported but I am still waiting for a reporter to call me for my take on the matter of political bias or lack of integrity vis a vis the archive.

Almost since this subpoena affair began we have run a blog which was set up and is regularly updated by Carrie McIntyre. Here is the address for the benefit of any in the media who don’t know about it:

I strongly recommend that reporters consult it at times like this because there is no other source to rival it in terms of a comprehensive record of events and archive of documents dealing with all aspects of the case.

On the opening page of the blog can be found the words of Judge William Young that have great relevance in light of the Adams/McDonald critique of the archive  and here is what he says about it (And I think one can presume that Judge Young is not a critic of the peace process or a sneaking regarder of dissident republicanism!):

“[These materials] are of interest – valid academic interests. They’re of interest to the historian, sociologist, the student of religion, the student of youth movements, academics who are interested in insurgency and counterinsurgency, in terrorism and counterterrorism. They’re of interest to those who study the history of religions.”– Judge William G. Young

So that’s the judgement of the guy who read the entire archive, unlike Gerry Adams or Mary Lou McDonald. Do you get that? Unlike Gerry Adams & Mary Lou McDonald. Do I need to repeat that? UNLIKE GERRY ADAMS or MARY LOU McDONALD.

Is it too much to expect, to ask the media when next they report on the criticism of people like Adams & McDonald that they at least nod in the direction of someone who actually read the archive?








Some Advice (Possibly Too Late) For Gerry Adams

Before Gerry Adams offered himself to the PSNI for interview and questioning over the Jean McConville disappearance, perhaps he should have watched this video:

What Did Britain’s Richest Daddy Think Of The IRA Circa 1972?

By Ed Moloney & Bob Mitchell

What is the difference between ‘Upstairs, Downstairs’ of the early 1970’s and ‘Downtown Abbey’ in the 2010’s, apart from the obvious four decades or so (and the quality of writing, which is vastly superior in ‘Upstairs, Downstairs’)?

They were both set in English stately homes and dealt with the contrasting lifestyles of the rich and privileged masters and mistresses and their servants, so superficially there seems no difference worth speaking of.

Except watching ‘Upstairs, Downstairs’, you couldn’t help but think that you were witnessing a relic, a piece of history that truly belonged in the past, that the vast inequalities it portrayed would never be revisited on English society.

Watching Downtown Abbey however you get a very different impression, that the class differences of ‘Upstairs, Downstairs’ are making a comeback and that while we may not see the stately home return with its footmen, butlers and kitchen skivvies, courtesy of Thatcher, Blair and now the Bullingdon set presided over by Cameron, Osborne and the execrable Boris, the income inequality that characterised pre-welfare state Britain and which made the stately home possible is back.

Confirmation of that came recently from Oxfam which published research that showed that the richest five families had more wealth that the poorest twenty per cent of Britain’s population, or some 12.6 million people.

The 6th Duke of Westminster

The 6th Duke of Westminster

The richest of the five, with more wealth than most people can dream of, is the Duke of Westminster. Here below you can read how much he has and where he gets his wealth, which derives mostly from property in central London and the ritziest parts of the West End.


His daddy, the 5th Duke of Westminster and former MP for Fermanagh-South Tyrone

His daddy, the 5th Duke of Westminster and former MP for Fermanagh-South Tyrone

The current Duke of Westminster, the sixth, lives permanently in London but his father, the fifth Duke, lived mostly in Co Fermanagh in a house called Ely Lodge on an island on Lough Erne, commuting to London when he needed to take care of estate matters.

He was very active in Unionist politics and for many years was the Westminster MP for Fermanagh-South Tyrone (although he didn’t live long enough to see his seat captured by Bobby Sands, one wonders what would have gone through his mind if he had).

Ely Lodge, Lough Erne, Co Fermanagh - the family seat

Ely Lodge, Lough Erne, Co Fermanagh – the family seat

Below are two letters the sixth Duke wrote to prime minister Ted Heath around the time of the June/July 1972 IRA ceasefire and unearthed recently from the National Archive at Kew. It would be difficult to find a more revealing insight into the mind of a certain Anglo-Irish type at the height of the Troubles, in this case expressing frustration and anger over the inability to defeat the IRA.

We reproduce them here without comment, since that would be superfluous, except to note that in the second letter to Heath he proposes something very similar to Operation Motorman and mentions that “two Generals” (unnamed alas) he had spoken to recently were of a similar mind. By the end of the month something very like the military operation he suggested was put in place.

An Even Shorter Response To Gerry Adams


Gerry Adams

Gerry Adams

I don’t intend to spill a lot of ink responding to Gerry Adams’ recent statement taking yet another swipe at the motives of those who were interviewed and who did the interviewing for the Boston College oral history archive.

That is because I have already answered a very similar charge from Mary Lou McDonald.

Essentially Gerry Adams is saying that anyone who is interviewed about the Provisionals who is not with his programme and makes allegations about his IRA career and history that he contests and denies, must be making them up for malicious and mendacious reasons.

Implicitly he is also saying that such people should not be allowed an audience and should be ignored or even silenced.

The core issue is the denial of his IRA membership from which all else flows, including the Jean McConville affair. Without that denial of their shared lives, and the shunting of responsibility onto others that it implies, I seriously doubt whether Brendan Hughes would ever have given Boston College an interview and I don’t think Dolours Price would have gone to the Irish News to speak of her role in disappearing Jean McConville (it is conveniently forgotten, incidentally, that she never mentioned Jean McConville in her interviews with Boston College).

And if they hadn’t spoken, the Jean McConville business would never have emerged in the way it has. It is important to remember that Gerry Adams brought all the business about his IRA membership and role in Jean McConville’s death on himself. If he had not denied his IRA past (and that does not mean admitting it either) none of this would have happened.

Personally I do not give a tinkers whether Gerry Adams is, was or ever wanted to be in the IRA. But when a major political leader tells such an obvious falsehood about a defining part of his life – and by extension must be capable of telling lies about other issues of more direct relevance to others’ lives – then I do believe that it the journalist’s job, and the historian’s too, to subject that claim to the most stringent scrutiny.

Let me give an example from the place where I now live, the United States. Let us imagine that as a journalist I had been covering the career of Barack Obama for some years and was intimately familiar his family history. I knew for example all about his White mother from Kansas and his Black father from Kenya.

And let us suppose that when Barack Obama decides to make a run for the White House he suddenly changes his life story. Now he claims, in an effort to maximise the African-American vote, that his mother was actually a Black woman from South Carolina or the Bronx, not a White one.

What should the ethical journalist do? Should he or she just tamely report the claim and leave it there – perhaps at most noting en passant that not everyone accepts his story – or energetically investigate it and if he or she finds that Obama is lying then say so? There is no doubt in my mind what the principled journalist should do.

Well, ignoring the central falsehood in Gerry Adams’ life story would be very much like accepting Barack Obama’s Black mother claim – and equally unacceptable to any journalist with integrity.

Even though the US media is a shadow of what it was pre-9/11, I would like to think that enough journalists there would rise to the challenge and show Obama to be a liar.

Can we say the same about the Irish media in relation to Gerry Adams’ life story? I would like to say yes but I am not sure I can. But I can understand why and I have full sympathy for those in the media so affected.

The reason why Gerry Adams and Mary Lou McDonald attack myself, Anthony McIntyre and the Boston archive in the way they do is not just because they dislike us, or the little bit of the product which they know of, that has come out of the archive.

No, it is to intimidate others in the media so as to discourage them from delving too deeply into the Provisionals’ secrets. The message is clear: dig too deep and we’ll do to you what we have done to Moloney & Co, we’ll call you the same names and behind your backs we’ll blacken your reputation to your colleagues and your employers. Now, see if you like that!

The problem is that it works.

A Short response To Mary Lou McDonald

Mary Lou McDonald

Mary Lou McDonald

On last night’s Late Late Show on RTE, Mary Lou McDonald of Sinn Fein trotted out the hoary canard that the Boston College oral history archive had a political agenda when choosing who to interview or not interview for the project.

Long before I left Ireland to live in America, Sinn Fein was employing the same tactic against myself, accusing me of political bias in my coverage of the peace process and in particular claiming that I was prejudiced against and even obsessed with Gerry Adams. It was clear to me then as now what the real purpose of this slur was.

This is an old public relations trick designed to intimidate other members of the media by demonstrating what could happen to them if they followed my example and probed too deeply into the opaque depths of the Provisionals’ internal politics. Unfortunately such tactics all too often work and their result is always to the benefit of the initiators, in this case less scrutiny of their business.

In relation to the Boston project, Mary Lou cites two interviewees to justify this accusation. One was Brendan Hughes, the other Dolours Price. Is she really saying that when it comes to compiling a history of the IRA and the Troubles, the woman who led the first IRA bombing team to London and the man who was Gerry Adams’ closest buddy and whose IRA career is the stuff of which legends are made should be excluded because they and Sinn Fein had fallen out?

So who then, Mary Lou should be allowed to speak for the history books for Sinn Fein and the IRA? Only those who parrot the party line of who was or was not in the IRA? Really? What sort of history would that produce?

No, the truth about the Boston project in this regard is disappointingly prosaic. The biggest problem we had was persuading anyone to be interviewed at all and we accepted what we could get in many instances. Inevitably some people will be more motivated than others for reasons to do with their experiences with the IRA but that is the nature of the beast and their stories are as valid as anyone’s.

We also attempted to spread the interviews among different organisations so that this would not be a project dominated by Provisionals.

Mary Lou makes her allegation in complete ignorance of the truth. She does not know who we interviewed. She only knows about two of them out of nearly thirty and from that small sample she draws huge and in this case erroneous conclusions.

In the circumstances I am more than ready to forgive her; after all she joined this organisation when the war which so scarred the lives of Dolours Price and Brendan Hughes – and many others – was thankfully over. She has no personal, first-hand experience of these issues and has to rely on others in her party for her information. I can therefore understand why she has got the story so badly wrong.

“Political Policing Preventing Democracy In Forthcoming Elections” – Guest Column by Ciaran Mulholland

I decided several months ago after lengthy deliberations, discussions and meetings throughout the community that I would throw my hat into the ring and run in the forthcoming local government elections as an Independent Candidate, offering an alternative to the toxic and failed politics of established parties. Standing on a socialist republican ticket I felt that there was a serious need for urgent change and a political appetite was evolving that demanded an alternative.

The campaign has great momentum in West Belfast with a strong visible presence on the ground highlighting the flaws of the political parties and the social and economic deprivation of the Ward. I have been concentrating on the bread and butter issues, and displaying a credible drive to tackle the poverty and social changes our community are about to experience.

The fact that I am running as an Independent Candidate, affiliated to no political party, is a core reason why many socialists, republicans, community activists and others felt comfortable in supporting and assisting the campaign. Furthermore, given my open declaration that if successfully elected I will be solely answerable to my community, has facilitated many endorsements from the wider socialist republican family in Belfast, and beyond.

These determined and driven individuals are the backbone of the election campaign and come from all walks of life; the campaign as such, has provided a common platform for all who are genuine in seeking an alternative voice elected to bring positive change and honest representation to west Belfast.

Given the viable alternative being offered and the enthusiasm met on the doorsteps of the Black Mountain Ward, it is unfortunate, yet expected, that the scaremongers and smear campaigns have been instigated by the status quo that fear real and positive alternatives.

It is of grave concern that several members of my election team are now incarcerated, essentially, interned by remand. Others have had their homes raided recently by the PSNI and integral members of the election team have been arrested, including that of my election manager Ivor Bell.

These are serious issues and should be condemned by all, including the constitutional parties who have been elected on the back of human rights abuses. This is an attack on all our human rights and a threat to democracy. Let it be known to those who support the idea of political policing, that this will not deter the hard work or voice of the working class and the will of our people will only be strengthened by such actions. We are confident and determined to succeed.

“If you strike at, imprison, or kill us, out of our prisons or graves we will still evoke a spirit that will thwart you, and perhaps, raise a force that will destroy you! We defy you! Do your worst!”
James Connolly

Independent Candidate for Black Mountain Ward