Declassified FBI Files on Noraid, Parts 7, 8 and 9 (1983 – 1985)

*UPDATE: Thanks to Nate Lavey who points out that ‘RUC’ may in fact be FBI-speak for ‘Referred Upon Completion’ rather than the former NI police force. You can see here that the acronym/phrase is part of the government’s law and order lexicon.

Two of these FBI files in thebrokenelbow’s continuing analysis of the Nate Lavey FBI archive are skimpy affairs. Part 7, which begins in December 1983 and ends in September 1984 is a mere 19 pages long, nearly half of which have been nearly entirely redacted.

Part 8, which spans September and October 1987, is even shorter, at just twelve pages, and deals almost entirely with plans to deal with anticipated Noraid-inspired protests at concerts performed by the regimental band of the Grenadier Guards, a British Army outfit touring North America.

*Both files have, for the first time, markings which suggest that FBI intel on Noraid was now being shared with the RUC. In Part 8, for instance, a stamp announced: ‘RUC ON THIS’; in part 7 it appears that one document may have been partly based on RUC-provided intel.

These are the first such references to intel sharing with the RUC in the archive and they prompt an interesting question or two, to wit, what level of co-operation existed before this, and if this was a new development, how did it come about?:

Part 7 is the more interesting of the two documents, if only because less of it has been redacted and its contents demonstrate how closely the Irish-American community was under surveillance for signs of pro-IRA views and activity.

The FBI investigation described in the files begins when a TV viewer in Kentucky answered an advertisement ‘in support of a movement to oust the British from Northern Ireland’. The unnamed Kentucky citizen then received correspondence from, inter alia, the Irish-American Unity Conference (IAUC) and this sparks an FBI probe into the source of this contact.

The IAUC was of interest to the FBI because Noraid was one of nine Irish-American groups which came together at a conference in Chicago, Illinois in July 1983 to form the umbrella group whose aim was to agitate for Irish unity in American political life.

The sender turns out to be a man called ‘Delaney’ who was originally from Chicago but moved to San Antonio, Texas where the correspondence to Kentucky originated. We know his name because the redactor missed one instance where it appears.

‘Delaney’ turns out to be clean – ‘there is no derogatory information on him’, in FBI-speak – although he is active in the AOH. Interviewed by the FBI in Texas, ‘Delaney’ stated that his main aim was to promote ‘harmony between Protestants and Catholics’, but the FBI notes ominously: ‘….one cannot rule out, however, the possibility that (Delaney) harbors anti-British sentiments’.

The message from this document is that in its hunt for IRA sympathisers in the US, few in the Irish-American community were immune from FBI surveillance, even if they were members of respectable groups like the AOH or the IAUC, since they were linked with Noraid through the formation of the IAUC.

Given the absence of any further reference to ‘the Kentucky citizen’, it seems this person may have been a freelance fisher, and possibly a Unionist/British sympathizer, intent on discovering who had placed the TV advert and then passing on the intel to the FBI. I would not find this surprising since in my experience ‘dropping the dime’ is a major American past-time, a relic, perhaps, of hysterical anti-communism.

Part 9, a file which covers 1984 and 1985, is an altogether more substantial document at 168 pages in length; it includes evidence of two recurring features of the FBI’s dealings with Noraid: an apparent obsession with Noraid’s  annual summer trip to Ireland being one, and penetration of the organisation’s ranks in the search for intelligence being the other.

Both these activities were carried out in the belief that one way or another Noraid was the American vehicle used to provide the IRA in Ireland with money and guns to fight its war against the British.

The Noraid summer tour of Ireland, which usually happened every August, appears to have been regarded by the FBI as an opportunity for Noraid to deliver money to the Provos, and sending an informer along with the delegation, which could number over 100 people, was always an FBI priority.

Both these aspects of the FBI’s surveillance of Noraid appear very early on in Part 9 of the archive in a report of intel provided by what the FBI called ‘a confidential and reliable source of continuing value’ concerning Chicago Noraid leader, Alex Murphy.

The intel on Murphy is contained in a May 14th, 1985 ‘New York teletype’, i.e. a confidential message to the Director of the FBI from the FBI’s New York office, and this suggests that the source on Murphy was a figure in the New York branch of Noraid.

The teletype describes what appears to be a phone conversation between Murphy and an unnamed activist from Ireland. We know this because the report describes Murphy asking the activist how long he/she would be in the United States. The activist asks Murphy for an address in Chicago he could write to and there is some apparent talk of the activist appearing at Noraid fundraisers.

The fact that the ‘confidential and reliable source’ was privy to such an exchange – which common sense suggests was a conversation between Murphy and an IRA figure of some stature visiting the US – may mean that he or she was part of, or close to a high level of Noraid activity in New York.

A native of Belfast, born in 1912, Murphy had an FBI file since 1977, according to Part 9, when he was described as the head of Southside Chicago chapter of Noraid. The report adds:

Alex Murphy was also indexed in Chicago file 199F-465-44, page 4, dated August 1982, wherein he was referred to as being a suspect of having carried money from the US to the provisional IRISH REPUBLICAN ARMY (PIRA) in Ireland’.

Presumably in the hope of stumbling across another such transaction, the FBI’s informer in the ranks of the Detroit branch of Noraid had joined the delegation for the August 1985 tour of Ireland and a report dated August 22nd, 1985 details what he told his FBI handlers he had learned.

The informer, DE -T1, who has figured in earlier document in the Lavey archive, told his handlers that a branch of Noraid would be established in Norway, of all places, and that a hitherto unheard of Noraid front group had been created, known as the ‘Irish Defense Committee’. DE-Ti also reported on contacts between Noraid figures and presumed senior Provos, all of whose names are redacted in the document.

But of money changing hands between Noraid and the IRA there was no mention.

The FBI report also includes a New York Times’ report of Noraid’s participation in the internment anniversary march in west Belfast, traditionally the high point of the annual Noraid tour. Written by the paper’s London correspondent, Jo Thomas, the report carries a quote from Sinn Fein’s (and the IRA’s) director of publicity, Danny Morrison, which he might not like to be reminded of:

Mr Morrison said he saw no prospect of uniting Ireland by constitutional means. “There’s only two ways our troubles can be ended”, he said. “Either we surrender and give in, or we go on to victory.”

The FBI’s confidential sources reported on more than Noraid activity, as the following report on an April 26, 1985 meeting organised by IAUC and a body called the Justice for Ireland Committee illustrates. Noraid also sponsored the meeting and its chairman introduced the main speaker, Michael Farrell, the Northern civil rights and left-wing political leader.

MIchael Farrell, in his days as a student leader

The FBI report of the meeting is almost entirely taken up with Farrell’s remarks, which include the surprising claim that:

‘Irish opinion in both the Republic and Northern Ireland are turning in favor of the IRA.’

Anyway, here are the three FBI files, Parts 7, 8 and 9:


One response to “Declassified FBI Files on Noraid, Parts 7, 8 and 9 (1983 – 1985)

  1. Pingback: Declassified FBI Files on Noraid, Parts 7, 8 and 9 (1983 – 1985) – seftonblog

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