An intriguing story in yesterday’s edition of The Irish Times, and intriguing not just because stories about the North in that publication these days meriting that adjective are about as rare as snow in New York this December.
Anyway fair play to Colm Keena for digging it out.
According to Keena, Tom ‘Slab’ Murphy and some of the lads in South Armagh are ripping mad over the prosecution and conviction of their boss on tax evasion charges because they were assured by people they call the “architects of the peace process” that such a thing would and could never happen.
Citing a source who had ‘official dealings’ with ‘Slab’ and his buddies in South Armagh, Keena wrote that: ‘Murphy and a group of about a dozen close associates believe the “architects of the peace process” assured them they would not be targeted in the wake of the 1997 IRA ceasefire, according to the source.’
The ‘gang’, as Keena calls them, now feel ‘betrayed’. (And, perhaps a little foolish, since they had only the “architects'” word for this and little good did similar assurances do the recipients of the IRA ‘comfort letters’?)
So who could these “architects of the peace process” possibly be?
Or, to pose that question in another way, is it just a coincidence that, in the wake of the controversy over ‘Slab’s’ conviction, Gerry Adams’ initial pose, which was to delay making any comment about ‘Slab’s’ predicament until his sentencing, was suddenly replaced by a lengthy and ardent defence of the post-1997 IRA ceasefire Chief of Staff?
Or, quickly following that, Martin McGuinness’ subsequent praise for that ‘good republican’, Tom Murphy and the valuable role he had played in delivering the peace process?
Could it possibly be that when ‘Slab’ and his buddies complain about ‘betrayal’ by the “architects of the peace process”, they have Gerry and Martin in mind?
For the sake of Messrs Adams and McGuinness, I sincerely hope not. Tom Murphy is not a person to lightly make an enemy of. If you don’t believe me, go ask the family of Eamon Collins or the grieving parents of Paul Quinn.