UPDATE: By error an FBI file from 1989 was published initially. This mistake has now been corrected and, as intended, the collection begins with the 1972 file.
It seems perversely appropriate to choose today, St Patrick’s Day in New York City to begin the publication of this collection of FBI files on Irish Northern Aid, the American support group for the Provisional Republican movement in Ireland.
That I am able to do this is due entirely to the far-sighted efforts of another journalist, the New York-based film-maker and my good friend Nate Lavey, who has kindly allowed thebrokenelbow.com access to as many of the files that are deemed appropriate to publish now.
Nate filed an FOIA request with the FBI so long ago that he had almost forgotten about it until one day recently he received the cache in the mail.
There are over 2,000 pages in total dealing with Noraid between the early 1970’s and 1995, the year after the first IRA peace process ceasefire.
There are seventeen lengthy files in total and I will be publishing them all at intervals. Nobody is claiming that this represents the entirety of the FBI’s intelligence on Noraid, nor indeed on Irish republican activity in the US during the Troubles; Clann na nGael for instance does not directly figure in this stash.
All the documents are redacted in crucial places, most intriguingly when the names of intelligence sources figure, there is a degree of repetition in places – a reminder that the FBI is, after all, a bureaucracy – and some parts are illegible. Some of the material is mundane to the point of tedium.
Nonetheless the documents are a valuable addition to our store of knowledge about this most important phase in Ireland’s troubled history. Given that we can hardly rely on the current Provisional leadership for anything remotely like a full or truthful account of the last forty years or so, we should be more than usually grateful for the work of researchers like Nate.