This piece of intelligence, which arrives courtesy of today’s RTE’s coverage of the release of Irish government files under the 30-year rule, will hardly come as a shock to regular readers of the elbow, but according to Gerry Adams’ solicitor in 1986, Paddy ‘PJ’ McGrory (father of our venerated Director of Public Prosecutions), Bobby Storey thought the world of Gerry Adams.
And still does, by the look of things.
Paddy told this to one of the Department of Foreign Affairs’ ‘travelers’ – diplomats who toured the North picking up juicy tidbits from various contacts – adding that two other supposed hard men in the IRA, Gerry Kelly and Brendan ‘Bik’ MacFarlane, along with ‘hardened’ Provos in the Maze prison, had considerable ‘affection and respect’ for the SF President.
Bobby Storey went on to become the IRA’s Director of Intelligence and is credited (if that is the right word) with some spectacular operations, not least the bombing of Thiepval barracks in 1996 (on the eve of an IRA Convention called to overthrow Adams) and the robbery of some £26 million from the Northern Bank in central Belfast in 2004.
The Thiepval bombing arguably tempered the hostility to Adams’ peace strategy at the Convention, which he survived, whilst the final disposition of the stolen £26 million still remains something of a mystery and a source of speculation. Bobby Storey spent something like twenty years in jail for one reason or another but did manage once to escape, albeit only briefly.
IRA believe Anglo-Irish Agreement will fall apart
New files released by the Department of Foreign Affairs give an insight into views on the Provisional IRA’s strategy in 1986. David Barry, of the department’s Anglo-Irish division gives a detailed account of a meeting he had with solicitor PJ McGrory at his Belfast home in April 1986.
The files noted that McGrory was providing legal representation for well-known republicans Gerry Kelly and Bik McFarlane who were caught on the run in Amsterdam. McGrory “has never taken seriously the idea that Adams is Chief-of-Staff of the IRA…he is satisfied Adams has a remarkably strong influence on the Republican movement.”
The account continues, “McFarlane and Kelly, who are strong individuals in their own right, ‘think the world of him’ and even hardened Provos in the Maze who might normally be expected to view with a jaundiced eye someone outside who is promoting a political approach, attest to considerable affection and respect for Adams. This applies particularly to the Provo OC in the Maze, Robert Storey.”
The Belfast solicitor believed that under Adams’ influence the IRA had decided to “lie low” until the Anglo-Irish Agreement “falls apart of its own accord.”
“They expect the Taoiseach and Mrs Thatcher to make some concession on the Agreement which will appease unionists and alienate nationalists. They will stand in the wings ready to reap the benefits when the time comes.”
The IRA believed the “agreement will become a ghost” and this would result in “a massive electoral shift to Sinn Féin and increased recruitment to the Provos.”
McGrory said that “the Provos would allow the agreement disintegrate by itself but not try to hasten its demise to any significant extent.”