Monthly Archives: June 2015

The Tuzo Plan, 1972: Extirpate The IRA And ‘Turn A Blind Eye To UDA Guns’

First of all, credit where credit is due. The excellent military historian, Huw Bennett, now of Aberystwyth University, was the first person to discover this extraordinary document in the files at the Kew archives and to him should go the plaudits for bringing this important archive to light.

James Kinchin-White excavated it for during one of his many expeditions to Kew, and it was made available by myself to RTE for their recent documentary, ‘Collusion’, which was screened this week.

To call the Tuzo plan extraordinary seems somehow inadequate. In fact its brutality and cynicism makes perfect sense when viewed through the prism of Tuzo’s background and experience as a member of the British military elite during Britain’s painful, post-colonial retreat from world power to America’s junior military ally.

General Harry Tuzo, with escorts, circa 1972

General Harry Tuzo, with escorts, circa 1972

Prior to his posting as General Officer Commanding (GoC) of British troops in Northern Ireland (where he took over from someone rejoicing in the name of Vernon Erskine-Crum, an Indian Army veteran and aide to Lord Mountbatten when he was Viceroy to India), Harry Tuzo commanded a Gurkha Brigade in Borneo during an insurgency in the late 1960’s, which the British claimed had been inspired by an Indonesian regime suspected of being under Communist influence.

Born in Bangalore, India in 1917, Tuzo was a child of the British Raj, the colonial class which ruled the sub-continent from the days of the East India Company in the late 18th century onwards. His father was a British officer in the Royal Sussex Regiment and civil engineer who also saw service in East Africa. His mother, a memsahib, was the daughter of the Raj, her father an official in the Indian civil service. As a child, Harry Tuzo was sent home to England to prepare for a life of imperial service and was schooled at Wellington College and Oriel College, Oxford.

As things turned out Tuzo reached the apex of his miltary service in the twilight of empire. Like so many of his contemporaries, Northern Ireland was to be the last hurrah of a generation whose like would never be seen again: Tuzo, Kitson, Ford, Freeland, King, Wilsey and Creasey. Such names to conjure with!

Sliding effortlessly after Oxford into a military career that was guaranteed to bring rank and honours, and, in the aftermath of World  War II, moving from one post-colonial skirmish to another, Tuzo was, in the summer of 1972, charged with devising a plan to combat and annihilate the Provisional IRA, in much the same way as his Gurkhas disposed of Indonesian rebels in Borneo, with maximum force and minimum fuss.

There are so many striking features of this episode that it is hard to know where to start, except to say that had Tuzo got his way, and had the IRA not pre-empted his scheme with its own piece of madness, Northern Ireland would almost certainly not be the place it is now; whether better or worse is a more difficult question to address.

To begin with, there is an assumption underlying the plan, which must have taken many days to prepare but which was presented to NI Secretary William Whitelaw only the day before the Lenadoon confrontation that brought the IRA’s ceasefire to a violent end; this was that the ceasefire was, in British eyes, never going to last and that the British were ready, even eager, for its end, and possibly conspiring to bring it to an end.

Whether that realisation dawned on the British after the futile meeting between the IRA’s leadership and Whitelaw at Cheyne Walk, just two days before, or that the ceasefire, dubbed ‘the Initiative’ by the British for some intriguing but unexplained reason, was never a serious proposition in their eyes, it is clear from Tuzo’s detailed and intricate proposal that the military had been anticipating a breakdown and the resumption of hostilities for some time before Lenadoon. And it is hard to read Tuzo’s plan and not think that the British military at least, were also eagerly anticipating such an outcome.

There are so many facets of the Tuzo plan worthy of discussion that it is hard to know where to begin. My inclination, however, is to let the reader absorb this document by him or herself rather than to steer them in any one direction. But a couple of features stand out.

One was that the British were prepared to kill on a massive scale. The contemplation in the Tuzo plan of using Carl Gustav recoilless rifles in built-up, heavily populated areas such as the Bogside or Creggan allows for no other conclusion, for instance – and that is before you read about the creation of free-fire zones, the suspension of Yellow Card rules and legal changes that would entirely remove criminal or civil liability for soldiers who killed during the operation.

Below, see a more modern version of the Carl Gustav in action in US army hands and imagine it in use in Derry or West Belfast:

The other striking and politically significant aspect of the Tuzo plan is his willingness to use the Ulster Defence Association (UDA), which in 1972 had started to kill Catholics just because they were Catholics, as a de facto ally in the plan to extirpate the IRA.

So we read, for instance:

The major threat from the UDA is that their militant action will lead to widespread intersectarian conflict and eventually civil war, although strenuous military action against the IRA should prevent the latter…..It will be even more necessary to acquiesce in unarmed UDA patrolling and barricading of Protestant areas. Although no interference with security forces could be tolerated, it would be as well to make the best of the situation and obtain some security benefit from UDA control of their own areas. Indeed it is arguable that Protestant areas could almost entirely be secured by a combination of UDA, Orange Volunteers and RUC. It may even be necessary to turn a blind eye to UDA arms when confined to their own areas.

Shades of 1912, sixty years on, and a hint of an ambivalence towards Loyalist violence that would characterise British security policy thereafter and which now has returned to haunt British ministers and the search for a deeper, more firmly rooted peace in Northern Ireland.

General Harry Tuzo’s extraordinary plan to defeat and extinguish the IRA was never put into operation. We don’t even know whether William Whitelaw gave it his approval – the available documents say nothing about his response.

As it happened IRA militarism rendered the Tuzo scheme unnecessary. The bombs and carnage of Bloody Friday later that July turned the Catholic middle class and the SDLP decisively against the IRA and even sapped the enthusiasm of hardline IRA supporters; Tuzo was able to launch Operation Motorman with almost no Nationalist opposition, political or military.

The no-go areas of Derry were dismantled, Republican Belfast became one huge military base and the UDA returned to what it knew best, the random killing of innocent Catholics.

But in his ambitious plan, General Harry Tuzo revealed an essential truth about British policy in Northern Ireland: the British still would not take on the Loyalists.

Tuzo 01Tuzo 02Tuzo 03Tuzo 04Tuzo 05Tuzo 06Tuzo 07Tuzo 08Tuzo 09Tuzo 10Tuzo 11

Tuzo 12Tuzo 13Tuzo 14

Tuzo 15 Tuzo 16Tuzo 17Tuzo 18Tuzo 19Tuzo 20Tuzo 21Tuzo 22Tuzo 23Tuzo 24

Tuzo 25Tuzo 26Tuzo 27

“We Can’t Take On Both At Once” – The Nield Letter On IRA and UDA

By Ed Moloney and James Kinchin-White

Over the next two or three days, will make available documents and material that featured in RTE’s recent documentary ‘Collusion’, which dealt with the lengthy and tangled story of British security force alliances with, cum toleration of Loyalist violence.

The first of these documents, discovered by James Kinchin-White at the Kew archive, is a letter written by the Permanent-Secretary at the Northern Ireland Office, William (later Sir William) Nield to the British Cabinet Secretary, Sir Burke Trend and copied to Sir Robert Armstrong, Secretary to the then British prime minister, Edward Heath.

Sir Burke Trend, Heath's Cabinet Secretary

Sir Burke Trend, Heath’s Cabinet Secretary

The letter is dated July 10th, 1972, just a day after the collapse of that year’s IRA ceasefire. The ceasefire broke down after a confrontation between the British Army and Republicans in Lenadoon, as the Republicans were attempting to re-house Catholic refugee families in vacant public housing.

(It was also written as UDA pressure on the British to dismantle the no-go areas of Derry was being ratcheted up. The IRA ceasefire had ended, the Provos were back to war and the Loyalists were threatening to escalate their violence unless the British invaded the Bogside, Creggan and other Republican areas.)

The Ulster Defence Association, which had successfully confronted British troops in the middle of the Shankill Road just a few days later, was opposed to this re-housing effort and the response of the British Army in repulsing the Republican cavalcade, was seen widely in Catholic communities as indicative of the British taking the side of Loyalists.

Secretary of State for N Ireland, William Whitelaw, visits British troops serving in Derry. Major General Robert Ford, Commander of Land Forces accompanied him. The no-go areas of Derry were the focus of his trip and pressure from the UDA would force Whitelaw to take action against them

Secretary of State for N Ireland, William Whitelaw, visits British troops serving in Derry. Major General Robert Ford, Commander of Land Forces accompanied him. The no-go areas of Derry were the focus of his trip and pressure from the UDA would force Whitelaw to take action against them. This was the source of concern that provoked the Nield letter.

The significance of the Nield letter is that it puts all this into words and the implied policy conclusion, that the British would concentrate their firepower on the IRA rather than the UDA, would characterise British policy in ensuing years.

Sir Robert Armstrong, Heath's private secretary. He would later become famous for coining the phrase 'economical with the truth'.

Sir Robert Armstrong, Heath’s private secretary. He would later become famous for coining the phrase ‘economical with the truth’.

Nield writes to express the concerns – he uses the word ‘anxiety’ – felt by his Secretary of State, William Whitelaw at the prospect of the British being faced by both the IRA and the UDA, two well armed forces, in the period following the ceasefire breakdown and concludes:

…..nor can they take on both at once with anything like their present strength, quite apart from the considerable sympathy for the UDA which 2 1/2 years of bombings has aroused in the Army’s auxilliary security forces, i.e. the Ulster Defence Force (sic) and the Royal Ulster Constabulary.

An IRA checkpoint in Derry, behind the barricades that made much of the city a no-go area fro British forces

An IRA checkpoint in Derry, behind the barricades that made much of the city a no-go area for British forces

The next document we publish, the so-called Tuzo plan, takes this thinking to its next logical step and introduces the idea of using the UDA as an ally in the war against the IRA.

The implication in the Nield letter is clear: we can’t fight on two fronts, the UDA is much bigger than the IRA while the RUC and UDR (not UDF as Nield called it) sympathise with Loyalist paramilitaries and if we don’t do something to satisfy the UDA, like taking on the no-go areas controlled by the IRA, we’ll be in serious trouble – so let’s concentrate on defeating the IRA. It was not a huge leap between that logic and the idea of using Loyalists against the IRA.

Here is the Nield letter. Click to expand and enjoy:

UDA letter page oneUDA letter page two

How The North’s DPP, Barra McGrory Nearly Gave Evidence For Liam Adams In Rape Trial!

You really couldn’t make this one up.

Regular readers of this blog will know that I have, from time to time, commented on the inevitable difficulties, both in perception and practice, of having appointed as Director of Public Prosecutions in Northern Ireland, a lawyer who, before taking up his post, was the attorney for a figure who was both the political leader of, and main strategist for the paramilitary group at the centre of the conflict in NI, and a man around whom controversy swirls on an almost daily basis.

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

Barra McGrory – Gerry Adams’ lawyer when Liam Adams was exposed, now the North’s DPP

I was, of course, referring to Barra McGrory who, prior to becoming DPP, was lawyer to Gerry Adams and to quite a few of his republican colleagues and this while the war between the IRA and the British, while not quite raging, was far from at an end. Put it this way, he was Gerry’s lawyer while Gerry was still on the Army Council and the IRA was less than united on the idea of embracing peace as the way forward; i.e. from 1994 onwards, after his father, the esteemed Paddy McGrory died.

I have lost count or track of the number of cases that Barra McGrory has had to recuse himself from, due to the fact that this or that player in the case was a former republican client, or was close to a former republican client, since his elevation to the DPP’s office in 2011.

Liam Adams - told his brother Gerry that he had abused his daughter

Liam Adams – told his brother Gerry that he had abused his daughter

One of those cases centred around Liam Adams, the brother of his client Gerry Adams (and for all I know maybe Liam had been on his books at some time as well), who was charged with raping his daughter Aine when she was an infant.

Gerry Adams ended up giving evidence for the prosecution in Liam Adams’ first trial (but strangely and inexplicably, not the second trial) and now we learn, courtesy of NI Attorney-General, John Larkin’s report on the PPS’s handling of Gerry Adams’ possible culpability in the whole affair, that Barra himself might have ended up in the witness box, giving evidence for Liam against Gerry.

Gerry Adams - didn't tell police about Liam and was not charged with withholding information, like we would be........

Gerry Adams – didn’t tell police about Liam until 2007 and was not charged with withholding information

Imagine that! The North’s Public Prosecution Service, headed by DPP Barra McGrory (although suitably recused), charges Liam Adams with raping his daughter and the DPP may have been obliged to testify on his behalf at the trial and be quizzed by a barrister briefed and paid for by Barra McGrory’s PPS!

As I said, you couldn’t make it up!

The story is told in three succinct but telling paragraphs, 4.49 to 4.51 in John Larkin’s report.

I will try and summarise what he had to say thus and then reproduce those paragraphs below.

John Larkin, NI's Attorney-General

John Larkin, NI’s Attorney-General

Essentially, it all arises from the fact that in 2007 Gerry Adams sought advice from his lawyer Barra McGrory prior to going to the PSNI, which Sinn Fein had just recognised, to tell them of what he knew about his brother Liam’s sexual misconduct with his daughter Aine.

Gerry first heard, allegedly, about the allegations of abuse by his brother at a family conference in Buncrana, Co Donegal in 1987, attended by himself, Aine and Liam’s ex-wife Sarah. Aine told him, according to her own words, that Liam had raped her, or as she put it, he had, “put his thing inside her”.

Liam Adams’ lawyers raised this matter first on the grounds they had reason to suspect, “the credibility, reliability and truthfulness” of the statement that Gerry gave to the PSNI; or to put it another way, if what Gerry had told Barra in 2007 did not accord with what Gerry told the PSNI not long afterwards, then something was really wrong and Barra should be interviewed by the PSNI and then could be called by Liam’s legal team to rebut Gerry’s evidence for the prosecution! Whew!

Alternatively, if what Gerry told Barra was the same as what Gerry told the PSNI, then Barra could be called as a rebuttal witness by the prosecution, i.e. by Barra’s own PPS, if Gerry’s truthfulness was questioned by Liam’s counsel.

Either way Barra could have been a key witness in a criminal trial which his own PPS had instigated.

It all ended up with Barra making a statement to the PSNI, as Liam’s lawyers had suggested, which is passed on to his own PPS and then made available to Liam Adams’ lawyers. Barra refuses, however, to have a face-to-face with Liam’s lawyers, saying “….there was nothing which the DPP could usefully add to the statement which he had made to the police…..”

As things turned out, none of these possibilities came to pass. Barra was never called as a witness for one side or another. But the point is that he could have been called; and some, doubtless, think he should have been called. We don’t know why Barra never appeared in a witness box but there is little doubt that if he had, his stature as the DPP would never have been the same.

I think I once wrote that appointing Barra to the DPP’s post probably fell into the category of: “It seemed like a good idea at the time.” Let me withdraw that. It was never a good idea. And he, of all people, should have known that.

Here are the relevant extracts from John Larkin’s report:

44.50a4.50b 4.51

Shocking Visualization Of World War II Deaths: Russians Suffered Most

Denis O’Brien Wallows In Scandalous Mire But Niall O’Dowd Throws Him A Rope

There are so many new reasons in this recent article in Niall O’Dowd’s Irish Central website to abhor Irish media billionaire Denis O’Brien, apart that is from the sight of O’Dowd, via his flunkie, one James O’Shea, brown-nosing another member of the 0.1 per cent.

One is the praise heaped on O’Brien’s head by one William Jefferson Clinton, former president of the United States and husband of the Democratic Party’s  likely candidate in the presidential contest of 2016, Hillary Clinton.

It is of course just by chance that Niall O’Dowd’s publications, on and off-line, are unsparing in their praise of Hillary or that Mr O’Dowd’ ambitions to be the Clintons’ ambassador to Ireland in a couple of years can only be helped by such displays of obsequiousness. (The real O’Dowd wet dream, of course, would happen if at the same time that he took tenancy of the ambassadorial lodge, one G Adams became Taoiseach, or failing that Tanaiste! Now that’s what I call a threesome!)

According to Irish Central, Clinton praised O’Brien for a plan to make cash transactions available to poor people via cell phones, calling the plan “the number one idea in changing the world”.

Leaving aside the fact that O’Brien, via his vast ownership of cell phone companies, would take a nice slice out of every call, the mind boggles at the image of starving wretches in Calcutta checking their bank balances on their mobiles before collapsing lifeless in the gutter!

But here’s the humdinger line in O’Shea’s embarrassing blow job for O’Brien:

For a man described by Clinton as changing the world more than anyone else for the betterment of the poor, recent negative press provides a dizzying contrast.

What James O’Shea neglects to tell his readers is that Clinton has another, less than altruistic reason for thinking the sun shines out of Denis O’Brien’s rear end. It was revealed by the excellent McClatchy newspaper group back in February, 2015 in a piece devoted to identifying donors to the increasing controversial Clinton Foundation:

Mohammed Al-Amoudi, a billionaire businessman who lives in Ethiopia and Saudi Arabia, retired German race car driver Michael Schumacher, and Denis O’Brien, the Irish chairman of Digicel phone company, each donated between $5 million and $10 million.

So O’Shea’s line really should have read:

For a man described by Clinton as changing the world more than anyone else for the betterment of Bill Clinton, recent negative press provides a dizzying contrast.

And, according to a recent expose of the Clinton Foundation in The New York Times, when O’Brien scratches the Clintons’ back, they scratch his:

……the Irish billionaire Denis O’Brien, is a multimillion-dollar supporter of the Clinton Foundation and whose parent telecommunications company benefited from grants from Mrs. Clinton’s State Department.

None of this, of course, appeared or will ever appear in any of Niall O’Dowd’s publications. And quite right too. How else is the man expected to end up in the Phoenix Park?!

However, the really shocking fact unveiled by Irish Central, the Aha Moment of the story of O’Brien’s clawing journey up the greasy pole, that convinced me that we had all understated the billionaire’s skills in the financial black arts, was this revelation: “……(he) studied business at Boston College.” Of course! How could I have missed that?! Everything now becomes clear.

By any chance was Jack Dunn one of his chums at BC, I wonder?

Clinton’s close friend Denis O’Brien battles massive criticism in Ireland


Former United States President Bill Clinton and Irish businessman Denis O’Brien. Photo by:

Former president Bill Clinton wrote in a September 2012 Time Magazine cover story that Irish businessman Denis O’Brien’s move to make cash transactions available for the poorest in the world via cell phones was the number one idea in changing the world.

The Time cover story featuring Clinton holding a globe is entitled “5 Ideas that are changing the World” and O’Brien’s idea was rated tops.

It must have been a heady moment for the Dublin-born O’Brien (57) who studied business at Boston College.

As a businessman O’Brien is high up the Forbes list. His net worth was estimated at $6.7 billion thanks mostly to his stock in his cell phone company Digicel. But it is as a philanthropist that he has become increasingly well known.

Also in 2012, The New York Times published a glowing front page report on O’Brien’s work in Haiti in which O’Brien was described as leading the international efforts to restore the economy there.

Forbes wrote, “O’Brien received the National Order of Honor and Merit from the Haitian president for his work helping Haiti recover from the 2010 earthquake. He funded the restoration of Haiti’s century-old Iron Market with his own money, and has built 50 primary and secondary schools in the last 18 months.”

In Irish American circles he is best known for his staunch support of the American Ireland Fund and also the Third World charity Concern, where he is a leading benefactor.

O’Brien is Ireland’s leading philanthropist – but now also one of the most reviled figures there.

It is an extraordinary paradox that surrounds his business success – how he made his fortune and now how he is handling revelations about his banking and business affairs.

For a man described by Clinton as changing the world more than anyone else for the betterment of the poor recent negative press provides a dizzying contrast.

Over the past few weeks in Ireland there has been massive criticism of O’Brien after he went to court to prevent RTE, Ireland’s national broadcaster, reporting on his banking relationship with IBRC, the successor bank to Anglo Irish Bank, which was at the center of the banking scandal that almost bankrupted Ireland.

An activist member of parliament, Catherine Murphy, claimed in the Dail (Parliament) that O’Brien had received massive loans up to $500 million at an interest rate of 1.5 percent and that that revelation was at the heart of the RTE story.

O’Brien strongly denied that Murphy’s claim was true as did Mike Aynsley the former CEO of IBRC who described that information as “grossly inaccurate.”

The government has established a commission of inquiry to discover what the true facts of the matter are. Murphy is sticking to her guns that her statements are accurate.

O’Brien’s move to muzzle RTE and later to seek to use the injunction to prevent Murphy’s speech made in the Dail under privilege from being reported created a storm of controversy and criticism.

Because Ireland lacks a first amendment it is a very litigious society. Another billionaire, Dermot Desmond, recently threatened to sue after being photographed at a funeral when he did not want to be. But seeking to silence a speaker in the national parliament was seen as a move too far by many commentators.

The IBRC loan was the latest in a perfect storm of controversy for O’Brien, who also is the major shareholder in Independent Newspapers.

One of his many companies, Siteserv, received the contract to install the hated Irish Water meters, which have been the subject of numerous mass demonstrations as the government seeks to raise tax revenues by charging for water.

O’Brien invested in several Irish companies in recent times explaining that vulture capitalists were stripping Irish assets and he wanted Irish companies to retain Irish shareholders. One of those companies was Siteserv and there have also been allegations he paid under the odds for it.

He provides over 10,000 jobs in Ireland, but the recent controversies have damaged much of the goodwill he should have enjoyed.

In a piece defending his legal and business moves and his right to privacy on his bank accounts O’Brien wrote that a close friend warned him he would get “dog’s abuse” if he purchased Irish businesses, something that has certainly come to pass.

Peter Sefton: ‘The Murderers Of My Parents’

Peter Sefton, recalls the violent death of his parents, twenty-five years ago and asks whether it wasn’t the IRA who really killed them but British intelligence which was running key agents in the team that carried out the double killing and allowed the operation to go ahead.
Will the PSNI issue any subpoenas to get to the bottom of this tragedy? I suspect you ought not to hold your breath!


On this day, twenty five years ago, my Dad drove his car out of the driveway and parked it on the road. He had been retired from the RUC for three years, having been mortared at New Barnsley, where his colleague Dessie Dobbin, was killed. It is likely , given the forensic findings, that he checked underneath it before he moved it from the drive. At about ten o’clock, he and my mother drove off. About four hundred yards down the road a bomb, placed underneath the vehicle exploded. My Dad was dead on arrival at the Mater Hospital. My Mum , having sustained severe head injuries , died the next day.

PIRA claimed responsibility and Adams said it might not have been a good operation. But then , he was never in the IRA.

The cause of Irish unity was not progressed one inch but my daughter never knew…

View original post 1,038 more words

Shame On Andrew Jennings For Aiding FBI Over FIFA Bribery

Every scandal needs a hero and the international media have found one in the unlikely shape of Andrew Jennings – “the curmudgeonly old reporter” as The Washington Post headline calls him – who helped expose the shenanigans that have rocked FIFA and brought down Sepp Blatter.

Andrew Jennings - exposed FIFA but crossed the line into police work

Andrew Jennings – exposed FIFA but crossed the line into police work

Jennings, a 71-year-old investigative reporter, has spent the last fifteen years probing the muck at the bottom of the FIFA pond and has written two books and helped produce a major BBC documentary exposing the bribery and financial skullduggery that seemingly is part of FIFA’s DNA under Blatter.

Fantastic, investigative journalism for which he deserves every plaudit available.

But then, six years ago, he crossed a line that no reporter should cross. He stopped being a journalist and became a policeman.

This is how he describes what happened:

In 2009, he got a call from an “ex-spook” who wanted to introduce Jennings to a few people.

“I go down to London to this anonymous office block, and you go in and there are three men with American accents,” Jennings remembers. “They’ve got government-style haircuts. They introduce themselves as FBI special agents and give me their business cards, which say ‘organized crime squad.’”

“Bliss,” Jennings remembered thinking. “The European police forces will do nothing [about FIFA] so it was damn good to see professional investigators get involved.”

Jennings was eager to help, and after making a few phone calls to sources in the Americas, he sent confidential Confederation of North, Central America and Caribbean Association Football (CONCACAF) financial reports to the FBI and the IRS. They showed mysterious, multimillion-dollar “commissions,” Jennings claimed.

“I said, ‘Right, let’s just level the playing field a bit,’” he said. “And I gave them the documents that really got this going.”

Jennings points to the comfortable, uncritical relationship that the bulk of the mainstream media had with FIFA and Blatter – a relationship he believes helped corruption at FIFA to flourish – to justify joining forces with the FBI. Knowing exactly what he means and the anger and frustration he felt, I can sympathise with him – but only to a point.

Once a journalist crosses the line that separates his or her profession from the police or any law enforcement or security agency, they forfeit any trust sources can have in them. Once you cross that line you can never go back.

Andrew Jennings did a great job of journalism on FIFA and the FBI were entitled to work on and expand any information that he made public through his journalistic efforts. But Jennings should have left it at that.

He didn’t and as a result has tarnished the profession of journalism, made crossing that sacred line seem acceptable, even laudable, and set an example that others may be tempted to follow. Shame on him.

Postscript: I can understand how some readers feel that cleaning out the FIFA stable outweighs concern at Jennings’ behaviour but there is a principle here. If you think it is okay to help the FBI put Blatter &  Co behind bars then equally it would have been acceptable for Glenn Greenwald or Laura Poitras to have ratted out Edward Snowden.

Ivor Bell, Franz Kafka And Wee Barra’s Public Prosecution Service

Los Angeles-based academic and writer Chris Bray – one of the few in the United States to have followed the Boston College saga from the outset – pens a few penetrating and caustic thoughts on today’s (Thursday’s) decision by Barra McGrory’s PPS to prosecute Ivor Bell for aiding and abetting in the disappearance of Jean McConville.

And he asks: aiding and abetting precisely who?

After more than a year of bumbling indecision, the Public Prosecution Service of Northern Ireland has taken a bold stand: They are beginning to prepare to think about discussing a way to begin. Franz Kafka, call your office.

Fourteen months ago, using questionable evidence obtained from the archives at Boston College with the assistance of the U.S. Department of Justice, prosecutors in Northern Ireland filed charges against Ivor Bell, who is now 77 years-old. Bell is reputed to have been chief of staff to Gerry Adams during the period when the latter was allegedly the Belfast commander of the Provisional IRA, and he was charged in the 1972 kidnapping and murder of the Belfast widow Jean McConville. But he wasn’t charged with that kidnapping and murder; rather, he was charged with having aided and abetted in that crime.

Today, forty-three years after McConville was killed, no one has been charged with killing her, or even publicly identified as a suspect; Ivor Bell is accused of aiding a crime committed by ghosts. News stories have alleged that Adams ordered her killing, but even those claims lack the most basic facts: Who took her out of her home? Who drove her to the beach where her body was found? Who killed her? In the police version of events, which must necessarily underlie an allegation of aiding and abetting, what was the name of the person who pulled the trigger? In short, if Ivor Bell aided and abetted, who did he aid and abet? Did Bell assist a self-firing gun?

After Bell was first charged last March, the PPS began a long delaying action that saw them returning to court every few weeks to ask for one continuance after another. Finally, this May, a judge in Belfast gave the prosecutors an ultimatum: Make a decision in June, or have the case thrown out of court. So they did. On Thursday morning, the PPS marched back into court to announce that they had decided to proceed with the prosecution of Ivor Bell. They return to court in six weeks.

They are not, however, returning to court in six weeks to begin to prove their case. Here’s how the Irish Times describes the next court date in its story on the most recent developments:

“Mr Bell was released on continuing bail and ordered to come back to court in six weeks when a date will be set for a preliminary inquiry to establish whether the case will proceed to trial in the Crown Court. While the PPS lawyer said six weeks was needed before prosecutors would be in a position to set a date due to extensive prepartory work required, Bell’s solicitor Peter Corrigan questioned the timeframe.”

If “extensive prepartory work” is required, what  have they been doing for the last fourteen months? Never mind that: They will now begin to prepare. In another month and a half, we’ll know if prosecutors in Belfast are able to set a date for an initial hearing that might then, at some future point, lead to an actual trial. Perhaps at the hypothetical future trial someone in Northern Ireland’s system of law enforcement will be able to whisper the name of Jean McConville’s actual supposed murderer. But perhaps not.

The murder of Jean McConville has become a can to be kicked endlessly down a road. The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Boston must be very proud to have helped with this important effort.

Sometimes A Picture Is Worth A Thousand Words

'Was It For This The Wild Geese Fled?' The Speaker Of The NI Assembly, Mitchel McLaughlin

‘Was It For This The Wild Geese Spread?’
The Speaker Of The NI Assembly, Mitchel McLaughlin

Denis O’Brien & Catherine Murphy: A Sad, Shameful Little Chapter In The History Of Irish Journalism

So, now it is official. When the Irish media decided, almost en masse, to censor Catherine Murphy’s Dail remarks about Irish media billionaire Denis O’Brien, they had no way of knowing whether the High Court injunction at the centre of the affair claimed supremacy over Dail privilege.

This means that The Irish Times, RTE and other mainstream Irish media, not knowing if the injunction was intended to over-ride Dail privilege, decided to play it safe and crumbled in the face of O’Brien’s massive wealth.

Rather than risk irritating the great man and prompting him to launch a legal action, which a first year law student could have told them he could never win, they chose to silence an elected representative and deny their readers access to words she spoke in their parliament.

Not one significant Irish media organisation opted for the principled alternative: publish Catherine Murphy’s remarks, let O’Brien challenge the action in the courts, if he dared, and mobilise public and political opinion against the arrogance and hubris of Ireland’s 0.01%.

Reports today arising out of a belated legal action taken by RTE say that the judge at the centre of the legal controversy, Mr Justice Donald Binchy, will make public tomorrow (Wednesday) the reasons he granted O’Brien an injunction preventing RTE from broadcasting a documentary dealing with the billionaire’s acquisition of SiteServ.

None of the Irish media therefore knew what the judge had said about the scope of his injunction before they blacked Catherine Murphy’s speech.

The thirty-some years of the Northern Troubles saw the Irish media hit some low points, involving both the acquiescent acceptance of State censorship and the enthusiastic practicing of self-censorship, but the O’Brien-Murphy affair is its own, unique, sad and shameful chapter in the narrative of Irish journalism.