Monthly Archives: January 2018

Scappaticci Arrested: The Questions That Follow…..

The Operation Kenova team has apparently arrested Freddie Scappaticci (72) at a location somewhere in England. The former head of the IRA’s Internal Security Unit was a spy in the pay of the British Army’s Force Research Unit (FRU), which handled ‘Scap’, as he is widely known, in alliance with MI5, who had an officer stationed in the FRU’s Thiepval barracks HQ, and the RUC Special Branch.

An extraordinary photo of Martin McGuinness and Freddie Scappaticci (dark moustache at bottom left) protesting the RUC presence at the funeral of IRA member Larry Marley. Marley had been assassinated by Loyalists and his family suspect he was set up by an IRA informer. Scappaticci’s role as an informer was known at this time only to British intelligence.

Scappaticci was responsible for the deaths of an unknown but decidedly large number of people some of whom may have been informers and some who were probably not.

His story covers what was probably one of the darkest and dirtiest chapters of the British state’s secret war against the IRA in which the republican movement’s top spycatcher was in an ideal place to subvert his own comrades while giving British intelligence an unprecedented opportunity to manipulate IRA policy and personnel.

During that enterprise it is more than likely that British intelligence allowed Scappaticci to kill people and may even have connived at others’ deaths in order to promote their intelligence goals. It is hard to understand how Scappaticci was employed by the British without at least a blind eye being turned to what he did.

In that capacity he was in a position to help British intelligence advance the careers of other informers, halt or divert the careers of those who were not and, arguably, help shape IRA military and political policy. He was probably the most valuable British spy of the Troubles. The British general who was GOC during some of this time, Sir John Wilsey, described Scappaticci’s recruitment as a major intelligence breakthrough.

Peter Jones, who is credited with recruiting and running Scappaticci for the British Army’s Force Research Unit, pictured after his retirement, on his graduation from college. Will he and his colleagues in FRU, MI5 and RUC Special Branch be investigated by Operation Kenova?

It is likely that the handling of Scappaticci was known about and discussed at the highest levels of the British government, by members of the Joint Intelligence Committee whose reports are read by the British prime minister. Did Margaret Thatcher or any of her successors know about Scappaticci and if so, how much were they told?

A number of other questions follow from Scappaticci’s arrest: how far will Operation Kenova take the investigation? Will it stop with the arrest and arraignment of Freddie Scappaticci – as essentially happened in the case of Brian Nelson – or will the investigation dare to delve deeper into the darker corners of British intelligence?

One question in particular screams out for an answer: how many people, not just IRA members, were allowed to die to preserve Scappaticci’s cover or to enable British intelligence to advance an agenda?

Readers of this blog will be forgiven if, like this writer, they are sceptical about the chances of Operation Kenova probing any deeper than Scappaticci himself. Hard scrabble experience can do that to you. But we shall see.

Ian Hirst (circled) pictured when he was a member of the FRU

In the meantime we should pause for a moment and recall that it was an ex-British soldier, a former member of the Force Research Unit, Ian Hirst who, using the pseudonym ‘Martin Ingram’, exposed the Scappaticci story to daylight. Without his bravery the Scappaticci story would have been buried as deeply as many of his victims.

Efforts by the British Ministry of Defence to silence Hirst led to a court injunction forbidding him to use or promulgate Scappaticci’s code name, ‘Steak Knife’. So instead he called ‘Scap’ ‘Stakeknife’ and the media followed suit. ‘Scap’s’ real code name though was ‘Steak Knife’.

Has Trump Unwittingly Doomed The Israeli State?

This is an important and timely take on Trump’s decision to effectively recognise Jerusalem as the Israeli capital. Henry Siegman is a long time critic of the Israeli state and its policies towards the Palestinians but in this piece, published in National Interest magazine, he argues that the logic of Trump’s Jerusalem decision is the creation of a single state and that the struggle thereon will not be for a separate Palestinian state but for equal rights within the new state – a struggle that the Zionists cannot win.

By Henry Siegman

Trump’s move on Jerusalem achieved what years of Israel’s settlements failed to do—shatter the illusion of a two-state outcome.

The question whether “liberal Zionism” can survive the far right trends that now dominate Israel’s political life was raised forcefully in the New York Times by its columnist Michelle Goldberg. It was prompted by Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, which Goldberg described correctly as “another nail in the coffin of ‘liberal Zionism’.”

While the reactions to Trump’s initiative have not yet fully played out, much is already evident. To begin with, they have exposed the stunning level of ignorance and misinformation that exists on this subject. Trump tried to soften the destructive impact of his declaration by insisting it would not affect any of the final-status issues that are to be the subjects of the peace talks he is trying to restart. He is obviously unaware that Jerusalem is exactly that—a final-status issue. Indeed, it is the most sensitive of the final-status issues. Unlike the others, it led Mahmoud Abbas, the most moderate of Palestinian leaders, to break off relations with the Trump administration.

Trump’s statement and much of the favorable commentary it elicited emphasized the history of Jerusalem and the attachment of the Jewish people to the city from Biblical times. Trump and his supporters also argued it is high time to recognize the “reality” that Jerusalem serves as Israel’s capital, implying that no matter how egregiously the reality created by Israel violates acceptable norms and international law, it creates its own legitimacy. Trump also stressed that every country has the right to determine the location of its own capital.

Henry Siegman

Opponents of Trump’s declaration cited the attachment of over a billion Muslims to Jerusalem, and questioned why that attachment weighs so much less than the Jewish one, especially since Muslims actually lived in Jerusalem and worshipped at the Noble Sanctuary for over a millennium. Most Jews did not make their lives in Jerusalem during these past two millenniums, even in times when they were able to do so. Instead they ascribed the yearned-for return to Jerusalem to eschatological time.

In fact, the Jewish attachment to Jerusalem related not to its status as a capital city but to the location of the Batei Hamikdash, the two ancient Temples; Jerusalem was not known as Yerushalayim Habira (Jerusalem the Capital). When the second Temple was destroyed and the sages deferred its rebuilding and the resumption of its rituals to messianic times, there was no longer a compelling reason to live in Jerusalem. The small Orthodox community that continued to exist in Jerusalem considers Zionism a heresy and to this day does not recognize the religious or political legitimacy of the State of Israel.

The founders of the Zionist movement had little regard for the Messiah, and even less for Jerusalem. The notion of a rebuilt Temple in which the cult of animal sacrifices of the ancient Israelites would be renewed, the priesthood reestablished and the royal House of David restored (goals prayed for in Orthodox synagogues all over the world and today fanatically championed by the religious nationalist Temple Faithful followers who are funded by Israel’s government) was seen by them as an embarrassing anachronism. Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, granted the small ultra-Orthodox community in Israel certain privileges, like exemption from the military, because he was convinced that religious Jewry would not survive the new secular Zionist state.

Trump at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem

But the exact reverse happened. Not only are the ultra-Orthodox groups thriving, and it is difficult for any coalition government to be formed without them, but the most reactionary political, cultural and religious forces have come to dominate the country’s life. While the overwhelming majority of the world’s Orthodox Jewry considered Zionism a heresy until World War II, after the Six Day War mainline Orthodox Jewry ascribed messianic meaning to the State of Israel, much as Evangelical Christianity does.

Ironically, the deepest hostility to Zionism is to be found today not in Arab countries, some of which now see Israel as an ally in their conflict with Iran, or even among certain anti-Semitic groups that now see Israel’s Zionism and its privileging of its Jewish citizens as a model for their white and Christian supremacism, but among some of the ultra-Orthodox groups in Israel and in the United States that recognize neither the religious nor the political legitimacy of the State of Israel, and therefore do not see Jerusalem as a capital of anything. They are still awaiting the Messiah.

Critics of Trump’s declaration warned that it will put an end to what prospect there may still have been for a resumption of the peace process. Apparently word that the peace process is dead and buried never reached them. The fiction of its existence served no purpose other than to provide Netanyahu cover for his lie that the reason Israel is not already an apartheid state is that he is waiting for the resumption of the peace process with a more accommodating Palestinian leadership.

The leaders of Western democracies have yet to end their shameful collaboration with this Israeli scam. Not that they ever believed it, but they needed to pretend that they do, for otherwise they would have had to explain why they urged the security council to impose sanctions on Russia for its land grab in the Ukraine but refused to impose sanctions on Israel for its land grabs in the West Bank and Jerusalem. This pretense was also what led President Obama to say in one of his speeches to the UN Annual Meeting of the General Assembly something that is outrageously untrue—that the UN is not the place to which Palestinians can bring their quest for self-determination and statehood because that can only be resolved in direct negotiations with Netanyahu. No one knew better than Obama that the UN was established exactly for that reason—to help populations under former colonial control achieve self-determination. And he surely also knew that the very last person Palestinians could receive a fair hearing from is Netanyahu.

It is true, as Trump’s defenders claim, that Israel has every right to determine the location of its capital without any outsider’s intervention—provided that location is within its own internationally recognized borders. No country has a right to grab territory outside its own borders, whether for its capital or a parking lot. So the issue is not the status of Jerusalem as a capital, but whether Jerusalem is within Israel’s borders. It is not. That is so because both the UN Security Council and the International Court of Justice (in its Wall Decision of 2004) ruled unanimously that territory beyond the pre-1967 Armistice line—which is where East Jerusalem is located—does not belong to Israel, and that changes in the pre-1967 Armistice line can only be made by agreement between the two contending parties.

US V-P Mike Pence with Netanyahu during a recent visit to Israel

There is an additional problem. While West Jerusalem is within Israel’s pre-1967 Armistice line, the UN’s Partition Plan of 1947 (which was cited by Israel’s Declaration of Independence as the source of Israel’s legitimacy) explicitly excludes Jerusalem from the territory assigned to these two states, declaring it to be a corpus separatum, a separate entity to be placed under international jurisdiction.

This provision was never implemented, but it served to deny both Israelis and Palestinians the right to claim sovereignty over the city. However, in the bilateral agreement known as the Roadmap for an Israel Palestine Peace Agreement of 2003, Israel and the Palestinians committed themselves to reach agreement on the future status of Jerusalem in the context of their negotiations for a two-state peace accord. The Road Map, endorsed by the Security Council and signed onto by the United States and the European Union, forbids unilateral changes in the pre-1967 line. In its Resolution 2334 of 2016, the Security Council condemned Israel’s “flagrant violations” of this agreement.

The real issue raised by Trump’s declaration—the status of Israel’s borders, and not the location of Israel’s capital—is determined by international law, not by Trump’s whims nor by Israel’s unilateral actions. Clearly, East Jerusalem is on the Palestinian side of the pre-1967 Armistice line, and therefore not within Israel’s internationally recognized borders. What Trump was therefore saying to the world is that, like Netanyahu, he gives not a fig for international law.

It is that disdain, and not anything else, that has utterly destroyed any possible basis for renewed peace talks. It would be madness for Abbas to resume negotiations that both Israel and the self-appointed mediator have publicly declared allow Israel to grab Palestinian territory. For what do the powerless Palestinians have going for them in these negotiations other than international law?

Israel’s contempt for international law is matched by its indifference to the deeply democratic ethos of its own founders. This was inevitable, perhaps, given the inherent contradiction between that democratic ethos and Israel’s dispossession of Palestinians even from that part of Palestine recognized by the UN Partition Plan as their legitimate patrimony. Yes, I know, Palestinians and Arab countries went to war to prevent the implementation of the Partition Plan. They did so not because Palestinians uniquely dislike partition plans, but because, like most people, including Jews, they dislike homelessness and disenfranchisement. Arguably, the expulsion of Palestinians from the areas assigned to the Jewish state would have happened even without the war started by Arab countries, for otherwise it would only have been a question of a short time before Israel’s Jewish population would have found itself a minority in its new state.

For all of all its embarrassingly self-serving pretensions to be “a light to the nations,” Israel has been moving ever closer to the authoritarianism of certain central European countries whose leaders have alt-right and anti-Semitic proclivities. Tom Segev, the prominent Israeli historian, described the situation in his country to Roger Cohen, the New York Times columnist, as follows: “Our government is more and more right wing, racist, anti-Arab. If they were members of a government in Austria, we’d recall our ambassador in protest.” It is to these authoritarian leaders that Netanyahu feels a special kinship, as does Trump. Both men went out of their way last year to express that kinship demonstrably by meeting with them while shunning the European leaders who speak up in defense of democracy.

Arab members of the Israeli parliament are hustled out of the chamber after they protested the decision to annex Jerusalem as the Israeli capital

And there is more—sadly, much more. Netanyahu felt no need to disown his son’s attack on a liberal Israeli NGO in a tweet in which his son included anti-Semitic and Nazi iconography. (The son is reportedly being groomed to enter Israeli politics.) Nor did Netanyahu utter a word of criticism of Trump’s scandalous moral equation of the neo-Nazis, racists and anti-Semites in Charlottesville and those who turned out to condemn their hatred and violence.

I happened to be in Israel during a launch of a new book by an author and historian, Raphael Israeli, a professor emeritus at the Hebrew University. The event, which drew a large Likud crowd, including government ministers and Knesset members, reminded me—like nothing else ever did in my over sixty years of professional engagement with the Israel-Palestine conflict—of how woefully uninformed not only the American public but our government officials and academics are about the realities on the ground in Israel and in the Palestinian occupied territories.

The central thesis of this new book, titled “The Arab Minority in Israel” (published only in Hebrew), is that Israeli Arabs are a fifth column “who suck from the state’s teats” and cannot be integrated into Israeli society. Expressing admiration for the Americans’ internment of its Japanese citizens during World War II, the author advocates the confinement of Israeli Arabs in concentration camps. The author sees Israel’s failure to have taken such measures as a sign of “an enfeebled Israel that has lost its will to exist.” For “although the Arabs openly identify with our enemy . . . [n]ot only are they not incarcerated in camps, we allow them to stand on our platforms.”

These are not Palestinian residents of the West Bank, but Palestinian citizens of the State of Israel that he is describing. And these are views that are shared not only by the Likud members in attendance at this book launch. As far back as 2006, a Pew Research Center study found that half of Israel’s Jewish population believes that Israel’s Arab citizens should be expelled from the country. If this is how many Israelis view their own fellow citizens, then imagine how they will treat the millions of Palestinians in the West Bank who they now intend to keep under permanent military occupation.

The theoretical possibility that a two-state accord has not yet been decisively eliminated by the irreversibility of Israel’s settlements will certainly be taken care of by Trump’s peace envoys, the wrecking crew headed by his son-in-law Jared Kushner and his ambassador to Israel David Friedman. Both are longtime promoters and funders of the settlements, and they will surely manage to firmly close the door to Palestinian statehood in the three or seven years left in Trump’s presidency.

Israel’s dominant political culture is today far more reflective of Trumpian and similar mid-European authoritarian values. It is the predictable by-product of a culture shaped by the unrelenting repression and total disenfranchisement of millions of people under Israel’s military rule that is now in its fiftieth year. Virtually every young Israeli Jewish citizen spends three impressionable years of his young life looking at Palestinians through his rifle’s sights as potential targets to be eliminated. What is amazing is that some of them still emerge from this dehumanizing experience with enough of a conscience to support human-rights organizations like BT’selem, Breaking the Silence and Ir Amim, organizations that Netanyahu and his government are doing their very best to discredit, demonize and destroy.

The above notwithstanding, Trump’s ill-conceived Jerusalem initiative may yet have a positive consequence, however unintended. Nothing has been as harmful to the Palestinian struggle to end Israel’s occupation and unrelenting theft of territory intended for its state as Abbas’ insistence on the preservation of the Palestinian Authority and the myth that it serves as “a state in formation,” when it so clearly allowed Israel to solidify its occupation. Trump’s move on Jerusalem achieved what years of Israel’s settlements failed to do—shatter the illusion of a two-state outcome, and allow the Palestinian national movement to turn into a struggle for rights, which is to say a struggle to end Israel’s de facto apartheid regime, a course I have advocated for over a decade, and now increasingly embraced by younger Palestinians. What is particularly significant is that this younger generation is opting for a struggle for equal rights in a single state not because they despair of achieving a state of their own, but because it is their preferred solution. It is the right choice, for their struggle for a state of their own is one Palestinians cannot win, while a struggle to maintain an apartheid regime is one Israel cannot win.

If after what undoubtedly would be a long and bitter anti-apartheid struggle Palestinians prevail, they will be in the clear majority. Having established the principle that the majority can impose on the minority the religious and cultural identity of the State, Israel will not be in a strong position to deny Palestinians that same right. That will lead in time to a significant exodus of Israel’s Jews.

If Palestinians do not prevail, then the undeniable apartheid character of the state and the cost of the ongoing struggle will lead to the same result—an exodus of Israel’s Jews over time, creating an even greater demographic imbalance between the country’s Jewish and Arab populations. Palestinians will not leave because they will have nowhere to go.

The outcome is therefore likely to be the end of Israel as a Jewish state. If so, it will be an outcome brought about not by BDS movements but by Israelis themselves, not only because of their rejection of the two-state solution, but because of their insistence on defining Israel’s national identity and territorial claims in religious terms. A state that fast-tracks citizenship through government-sponsored religious conversion to Judaism, as Israel’s government now does, cannot for long hide that it privileges its Jewish citizens—just as the United States could not have claimed to be a democracy if conversion to Christianity were a path to U.S. citizenship. New legislation endorsed by Netanyahu and the ruling Likud that explicitly allows democratic principles to be overridden by Israel’s legislature if they clash with certain Jewish religious principles demonstrates that the notion of a Jewish and democratic state may have been an oxymoron from the outset.

Henry Siegman is President Emeritus of the U.S./Middle East Project and a past senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. He formerly headed the American Jewish Congress and the Synagogue Council of America.

Heat Map Of Human Activity Around MI5 HQ, Holywood

Many thanks to JKW for alerting me to this fascinating little story.

Spooks spend a lot of their time tracking and monitoring other people so it’s nice to see the shoe on the other foot for a change, courtesy of this athletic tracking device called STRAVA which produces a heat map of human activity around a location of your choice.

STRAVA is a tracking device that people carry around in their pocket to measure how much walking, running or cycling they do every day. Often people leave it on even though they are not exercising just to see how far they have walked.

JKW asked to see activity around the map co-ordinates for MI5’s HQ near Palace  Barracks, Holywood and the results were for November last year.

Here is the link to the actual results and below are grabs of the results and maps of the area so that you can see where MI5’s building is in relation to the rest of Holywood. You can play around with the STRAVA results on the link above to change colours, map types and activity. All great fun, at the expense of the spooks!

Heat map of human activity around general area of MI5

Heat activity on conventional map of same area

Heat map around immediate MI5 area

Conventional map of area with MI5 inside red box

Photo of MI5 HQ


Gerry Adams, Vincent Browne And ‘The Disappeared’……

According to John Burns, writing in the Irish edition of The Sunday Times yesterday, Vincent Browne’s documentary on Gerry Adams – a two-parter – will be broadcast by TV3 next Saturday and Sunday evenings, the weekend that will see Adams’ near 35-year spell as SF leader wend to a close (or is it more a fork in the road?).

For those of my readers who haven’t got the wherewithal or energy to navigate the Murdoch paywall, here is the full story. My commentary on some of what VB may say about Adams in his documentary follows.

Adams’s day of TV judgment looms


By John Burns

Vincent Browne’s documentary on Gerry Adams has finally been given a transmission date by TV3.

First announced for the autumn schedule of 2015, the two-parter will air on February 6 and 7, just days before Mary Lou McDonald becomes leader of Sinn Fein.

Adams did not agree to be interviewed, but among those who will appear are republicans Danny Morrison and Tommy McKearney, the former taoiseach Bertie Ahern, former US Congressman Bruce Morrison, and Fr Des Wilson, a nonagenarian cleric from west Belfast. Cutting through any waffle will be straight-talking Seamus Mallon, the former deputy leader of the SDLP.

An intriguing contributor is Mitchell Reiss, a US special envoy in the Noughties, about whom Adams once said: “I don’t have high regard for Mitchell Reiss’s input into this process.” Might Reiss pass a similarly harsh judgment?

A young Vincent Browne

Before going any further I should make it clear that a) I was interviewed for the programme and b) I gave Vincent freely of my advice and time over the three years or so it has taken him to make and negotiate the broadcast of his film. After all, the guy did give me a start in Irish journalism.

I do not know, however, how much, if any, of my interview survived the cutting room floor; nor do I know what is in the film or how much of my advice he heeded or ignored, although we did have lengthy discussions in person and by email about the highlights of Adams’ career. But when all is said and done, Vincent Browne is his own man and he can be particularly stubborn if he wishes.

On one matter we ultimately disagreed and if I raise it here it is because Vincent made the issue public first – and because he did so, I assume he will repeat it in his documentary.

Back in February 2016, during the Southern general election campaign of that year, Vincent hosted a discussion programme for TV3 in the Louth constituency, which was and still is, at least pro tem, Adams’ Dail seat, to air the local issues and personalities likely to figure in the vote. It was one in a series of constituency profiles.

Jean McConville – Adams was not involved in her or any of the IRA disappearances, claimed Vincent Browne, who blames Sean MacStiofain

During the programme, on which Adams did not appear, Vincent said – to quote my subsequent email to him – that ‘Adams had nothing to do with the disappearance tactic’, i.e. the disappearances of alleged informers and others by the Provisional IRA which began in 1972.

I emailed him to ask if I had heard correctly and he responded that yes, he had said that, adding:

‘I spoke to a person very senior in the IRA at the time who said it was Sean MacStiofain who insisted in the disappeared bodies (sic) in 1972 and Adams was opposed.’

A dramatic claim to be sure but one, I would maintain, that really doesn’t withstand serious scrutiny.

Sean MacStiofain ceased to be IRA Chief of Staff at the end of November, 1972 when he was arrested after a controversial radio interview with RTE. Yet the disappearances continued. So either Adams had as little influence with his successor as he had with MacStiofain, or he never raised the issue.

Sean MacStiofain, IRA Chief of Staff in 1972

The possibility that it was the latter is strengthened by the fact that MacStiofain’s successor was Joe Cahill, a Belfast IRA veteran and friend of the Adams family, someone Gerry Adams knew well, not least from the days when Cahill was Belfast commander and Adams was in charge of the 2nd Battalion.

MacStiofain’s abrasive nature was a legend but why would Joe Cahill refuse a request from the head of the most important section of the IRA at that time, someone whose support could prove invaluable to his own ambitions? Not even the IRA was immune to office politics.

MacStiofain died in 2001, so his input into this dispute can only be guessed at.

Joe Cahill, as he would have looked when he took over as Chief of Staff

Three people were disappeared at the time or after the change of IRA leadership. It is possible that two of them, alleged informers, Seamus Wright and Kevin McKee, who were supposedly working for the British Army’s MRF, were killed before MacStiofain’s fall but just as likely that they were killed during Cahill’s reign.

Wright and McKee were kept alive long after their due execution date by captors who were so reluctant to pull the trigger that a gunman had to be dispatched from Belfast to kill them. So they may have outlasted MacStiofain, meaning they died either because Adams could not dissuade Cahill or had not tried to.

But in the case of the disappearance of alleged informer Jean McConville, who was abducted from her Divis Flats home in December 1972, she was dispatched to a secret grave during Cahill’s time as the top man. Sean MacStiofain had no art nor part in her death. Of that there is no doubt.

So, if Adams had stepped in and said to Joe Cahill that this practice was objectionable and should stop, then either he wasn’t listened to, or he had done no such thing, had said no such thing to Joe Cahill.

The likelihood that it was the latter is supported by the fact that the ‘disappearing’ tactic continued to be used during the reigns of subsequent IRA chiefs, even those whose rise was made possible by the Adams’ takeover of the IRA. Vincent Browne’s claim would be more credible if disappearances by the IRA had ended with the rise of Adams and his allies. But they didn’t.

Martin McGuinness and Gerry Adams, pictured in 1989. Both men have been accused of involvement in disappearing people

The practice resumed with the killing of IRA Belfast Quarter Master, Eamon Molloy, who was suspected of giving information to the British Army that led to the arrests of Gerry Adams and Brendan Hughes in 1973. He was consigned to a secret grave in 1975 after being lured to the south Armagh border. Was the manner of his death revenge for his treachery?

And so it went on, even as Adams and like-thinking allies gradually climbed the IRA’s greasy pole: Peter Wilson in 1973, Columba McVeigh in 1975, Robert Nairac in 1977, Brian McKinney, Brendan Megraw and John McClory in 1978.

Nineteen-seventy-eight was the year when Adams, released from jail the year before with ambitious plans to revive the IRA, was briefly Chief of Staff, only to be succeeded by Martin McGuinness, his ally and friend. One or the other was running the IRA when those three men were dispatched to hidden graves.

That year, as far as we know, was the last time that the IRA disappeared anyone. But even so there still was no clear prohibition on disappearing people. So much so that with the 1994 ceasefire just weeks away, the IRA Army Council met that summer to decide the fate of a Belfast woman IRA member and mother-of-three, Caroline Moreland who had been judged guilty of informing on an arms dump.

Caroline Moreland – Martin McGuinness wanted to disappear her for informing in 1994, over twenty years after the IRA first started the practice

One member of the council, Northern commander and chairman of the ruling IRA body, Martin McGuinness suggested that Moreland should be disappeared. That way no-one would know the IRA had killed a woman.

(In 1973 McGuinness himself had been involved in disappearing an alleged informer in Derry but was forced to retrieve the victim’s remains by public pressure, not least from local IRA supporters. You can read about that here.)

To his credit Adams objected and won over the meeting, although with a ceasefire pending the public relations downside of the disappearance becoming known about may have weighed more heavily than humanitarian concerns. Instead Caroline Moreland’s body was found dumped in the Fermanagh countryside.

The point of the story however, is that more than twenty years after Gerry Adams, according to VB’s IRA source, allegedly objected to Sean MacStiofain’s policy of disappearing people, the leadership of the IRA, of which Adams was by now a longstanding member, was still free to debate the pros and cons of putting people they didn’t like into secret graves.



Trump’s America (continued)

January 24, 2018
By Joe Kloc

US vice president Mike Pence, an evangelical Christian who refuses to eat dinner or consume alcohol alone with any woman other than his wife, denied allegations that president Donald Trump, who once appeared in a softcore porn film smashing a bottle of champagne over a Playboy-branded limousine and who has been accused by the porn star Jessica Drake of offering $10,000 in exchange for sex, paid the porn star Stormy Daniels $130,000 to not disclose that the two had a sexual relationship in 2006. “Baseless,” said Pence. It was reported that a third porn star said she was once invited by Trump to “have some fun” with Daniels in his hotel room, and that before the 2016 presidential election, Trump’s lawyer set up a company in Delaware that paid Daniels $130,000. “Trump is a man of his word,” said Pence. A gossip magazine published an interview conducted with Daniels in 2011 in which she said that the affair began after the two shared nonalcoholic drinks over dinner in Trump’s hotel room, recounting how Trump told her that people think she is “just this idiot” with “big boobs,” that she didn’t need to “worry” about his wife, that he was worried he would lose his “power” if he cut his hair, that he hoped “all sharks die,” and that she was “just like” his “beautiful and smart” daughter. “I know what is in the president’s heart,” said Pence. Emails from political operatives working with Daniels on a possible Senate campaign in 2009 claimed that Trump, who according to his former adviser paid off “a hundred women” over a 25-year period, once asked the porn star to spank him with an issue of Forbes magazine that featured his face on the cover; and Daniels was reported to have said in 2011 that if she were Trump’s wife she would be more upset that he ate dinner with a woman than that he “stuck his dick in a hundred girls.” “I’m just not going to comment,” said Pence.

Dessie Ellis And His Dail Salary

This is what he tweeted in December, 2012 (thanks to Hugh O’Connell for the spot):

This is what we learned last week:

Why The Democrats Will Not Defeat Trump…..

The answer, simply, is that they have not learned a single thing from Hillary Clinton’s defeat.

Here, in this item produced for National Public Radio’s ‘This American Life’ programme, Ben Calhoun has put together a searing examination – indictment might be a better word – of the current Dem leadership’s strategy to take control of Congress away from Republicans in the 2018 mid-terms.

Go to this link  and then scroll down to the item called ‘Fighting Amongst Demselves’ to hear the whole thing.

Well, Hello Mary Lou……

If there was a touch of a Soviet-era change of ruler in Mary Lou McDonald’s ascension to the leadership of Sinn Fein, this weekend – at a meeting of the SF ard-comhairle held, intriguingly, in the Balmoral Hotel in West Belfast – then it is hardly surprising.

There was ever only one candidate to succeed Gerry Adams and the process by which Mary Lou was chosen is every bit as opaque and lacking in open debate as was the transition from Brezhnev to Andropov to Chernenko, a series of successions decided by anonymous Kremlin committees behind firmly closed doors.

In the case of who would be chosen to succeed Gerry Adams, the overwhelming belief is that the decision was Adams’ alone to make and for the rest of the party to endorse. If a committee was involved, it was indubitably not a Sinn Fein one.

This raises two questions which will haunt Mary Lou, at least until she settles them to the satisfaction of everyone, not just the cynics and sceptics.

Goodbye Gerry, Hello Mary Lou?

One is whether Gerry Adams will continue to exercise influence behind the throne. As of now, we have no idea what his role is likely to be in Mary Lou’s SF. Will he retire to the hills of Donegal, take up a teaching post in a women’s college somewhere in New England or, as the smart money has it, plot his bid to succeed Michael D. in the Park?

If it is the latter, then he will run as the Sinn Fein candidate and people can hardly be blamed for viewing him as the real leader of that party, and Mary Lou as a bit of a place holder.

The other closely related question is what influence the IRA will continue to exert over Sinn Fein under a Mary Lou chieftancy?

First of all, be under no illusion. The IRA has really not gone away, you know! And it probably never will.

It exists not in the numbers and strength it once had to be sure, but in skeleton form, with an intelligence department, an armed unit to protect the leadership from dissidents and other enemies, and a leadership which decides policy.

More importantly it keeps control over the IRA’s considerable portfolio of properties and businesses, from holiday homes in Portugal to security firms in Dublin. It is this hoard of valuable assets, in Ireland and abroad, which gives the IRA its real raison d’etre. That, and its unique possession of the united Ireland dream.

The reason people are entitled to ask whether the IRA will intrude into a Mary Lou SF leadership is that there has never been any public repudiation of an IRA edict, uncovered at the time of the 1977 arrest in Dublin of then Chief of Staff, Seamus Twomey, declaring that Sinn Fein had to come under IRA control ‘at every level’.

The order was part of the re-organisation of the republican movement spearheaded by Gerry Adams, Martin McGuinness, Ivor Bell and their then allies in the movement, part of which was intended to make the IRA, via Sinn Fein activity, more politically relevant and thus help it to sustain a so-called ‘long war’. It was a Gerry Adams-inspired plan for the Sinn Fein which he led and directed for the next 35 years.

It may be that rather than publicly announcing that it no longer applies that the edict has been allowed to quietly lapse. But we don’t know because not even the original command has been publicly acknowledged, even though anyone who has had dealings with the Provos knew it was the guiding principle.

If Mary Lou wishes to convince people that her leadership will genuinely usher in a new, IRA-free/freer Sinn Fein – a Sinn Fein that Fine Gael would be able to join with in government – then she must address this issue substantively and persuasively. The banishment of Barry McElduff was a start but Mr Varadkar et al will be looking for much more.

Otherwise, like her predecessor, the IRA will haunt her.

If she does what she must, then we will also see how the North adapts to le nouveau regime. Interesting times lie ahead.

Miami Showband Survivor Calls For Apology To Eugene Reavey

Steven Travers, one of the two surviving members of the Miami showband, has called for an apology to be made to Eugene Reavey, who was falsely accused by the Rev Ian Paisley of organising the Kingsmills massacre in revenge for the UVF murder of his three brothers.

Paisley made his accusation in late January, 1999 under cover of House of Commons privilege, claiming that a security force dossier in his possession had named Eugene Reavey as one of those behind the attack.

Ian Paisley Snr’s action was defended by his son, Ian Paisley Jnr who at the time told the media that no apology would be made for the allegation.

The then RUC Chief Constable, Ronnie Flanagan strongly denied Paisley’s charge, saying the alleged dossier in Paisley’s possession did not emanate from his force and that Mr Reavey was not considered a suspect in the killings.

Ian Paisley Snr is now dead but his son, Ian Paisley Jnr who took his father’s place as MP for North Antrim is still alive. He was quoted in a 1999 Guardian reports as saying:

“The report that my father quoted from was a confidential police dossier. There is not the slightest chance of an apology being offered.”

Eugene Reavey, pictured outside his home in 2015 has emailed Ian Paisley Jnr with a copy of this post, asking if he was now prepared to apologise to Mr Reavey on behalf of his father.

Stephen Travers was badly wounded in the attacks which killed three members of the band and wounded one other in July 1975. They had played a gig in Belfast and were en route to Dublin when they were stopped at a bogus military checkpoint which was really manned by members of the UVF.

The UVF planned to leave a bomb in their car which was set to explode some time later, thus creating the suspicion that the showband was smuggling explosives for republicans. However the bomb exploded prematurely killing two UVF men.

Stephen Travers

The surviving UVF gunmen opened fire on the showband members, killing Fran O’Toole, Brian McCoy and Tony Geraghty and wounding Stephen Travers and Des Lee.

Stephen Travers made his call for an apology in a tweet responding to a post dealing with the Paisley allegation against Eugene Reavey. Two of Reavey’s brothers were shot dead and a third fatally wounded when UVF gunmen broke into their home in Whitecross in south Armagh two days before the Kingsmill massacre.

How Trump Handed His Israel Policy To American Evangelicals

Donald Trump’s decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital has infuriated much of the Arab world, dismayed Europe but delighted American evangelicals, who see the move as fulfilling a Biblical prophesy about the second coming of Christ.

Jane Eisner, editor of the progressive Jewish magazine, The Forward tells the story of how right-wing US evangelicals, led by Vice President Mike Pence in alliance with wealthy Jewish Americans, have hijacked Trump’s Middle East policy:

Trump Has Handed The Israel Lobby To Evangelicals. That’s Terrifying.

Jane Eisner, January 15, 2018

Vice President Mike Pence’s on again, off again visit to Israel is apparently on again for next week, but the actual timing was never the real thing. Pence and other deeply conservative white Christian evangelicals now driving American policy toward Israel and the Palestinians are playing a very long game that extends far beyond one news cycle.

They are turning public support for Israel — which largely had been bipartisan and religiously pluralistic — into an effort propelled by members of one political party and one religious worldview.

Their belief that Jews, and only Jews, must rule over Jerusalem to herald the return of Jesus Christ influenced President Trump’s decision in December to reverse nearly seven decades of American foreign policy and recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Their absolute fealty toward Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and their antipathy toward the Palestinians are reflected in the itinerary for next week’s trip: Pence is not scheduled to meet with any Palestinian leader, the first time in decades for a top American official.

Some may welcome the way that the Trump administration has tilted the scales toward Israel and its current hard-line government. But there is real reason to worry when foreign policy is in the grip of fundamentalist ideology, when political issues become biblical ones.

And this shift is not confined to America. The president of Guatemala, one of the few leaders to so far follow suit and recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, also relies on the support of his country’s influential Christian evangelical community.

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee remains the largest, richest and dominant Israel lobby in Washington, and its “big tent” approach still defines support for Israel in Congress and beyond. AIPAC prides itself on being bipartisan, and its annual convention attracts scores and scores of lawmakers from both sides of the aisle. While the number of yarmulke-wearing Orthodox Jews attending that convention has increased over the years, AIPAC still finds support in all Jewish religious denominations, and has actively courted other faith groups into its fold.

But after Trump’s unlikely victory, AIPAC is now directly challenged by Christians United for Israel, an evangelical lobby whose more hardline and partisan approach aligns with those setting the agenda in the White House.

As Pence watches on approvingly, Trump brandishes the document promulgating his decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital

AIPAC supports a two-state solution; CUFI does not. AIPAC was slow to endorse the Taylor Force Act to strip the Palestinian Authority of some funding; CUFI is in favor of defunding the PA entirely. AIPAC largely stayed on the sidelines in pushing for the Jerusalem decision; CUFI was out front.

CUFI has strong personal ties to the White House now that Pence is hovering over Trump’s shoulder. Pence visited Israel with CUFI in 2014, and addressed its annual conference this year. The son of its chief Washington lobbyist is a senior Pence aide.

“The vice president has been a lifelong friend to Israel,” Pastor John Hagee, CUFI’s founder and chairman, told Politico after the Jerusalem decision was announced.

In the same interview, Hagee said words that we’ve become accustomed to hearing from Orthodox Jews: “(F)or millions of evangelical voters, the president’s position on Israel was a central factor in their support for him in the 2016 election. I think over the past year, and of course in the past week, we’ve seen that our trust in President Trump was well-placed.”

And, perhaps not coincidentally, Trump and CUFI share a major benefactor: the mega-donor Sheldon Adelson, who publicly broke with AIPAC some years ago.

These political shifts, expected when new administrations assume power and new parties ascend, are made more consequential because they are rooted in a fundamentalist religious doctrine. Whereas AIPAC embraces many strains of Jewish practice (or none at all) the white evangelical Christians who have Trump’s ear are absolutely certain of their faith-derived convictions.

“This runs deep. It is a core value,” Richard Land told me in an interview. “I can’t imagine that Jewish people and Israelis can have a stronger ally than the evangelical Christians who believe as I do. Even if they attack us, we are going to turn the other cheek. There’s nothing we’re going to do that will stop us from being pro-Jewish and pro-Israeli.”

Land is the president of the Southern Evangelical Seminary in Charlotte, North Carolina, and formerly ran the public policy arm of the Southern Baptist Convention. “Evangelical Protestants, the majority of them, believe that God made certain promises to Israel and that those promises are still in force,” Land said. “That the Jews are still God’s chosen people. That he gave the land of Canaan to the Jews forever, in obedience and disobedience.”

Since Land and others like him believe that Jesus Christ will only return as the Messiah when Jews reside in Canaan and rule over Jerusalem, the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948 is considered a fulfillment of one aspect of biblical prophecy. Trump’s announcement on Jerusalem is another one.

That’s because their faith is predicated on Jews playing a major role, though one that can make many of us uncomfortable.

And while Americans of many faiths subscribe to the idea that Jews, Muslims and Christians pray essentially to the same God, evangelical Christians like Land do not. “The God of Islam is not the father of our lord savior,” he told me. “It’s a different God entirely. I see no resemblance between the God of Islam and the God of Christianity and Judaism. I don’t recognize the God of the Koran.”

So while Jews have a starring role to play in this biblical drama, Muslims decidedly do not. And this isn’t just about what’s going to happen in the Middle East today. Land believes that God will only bless America if America blesses the Jews. And America blesses the Jews by pursuing a foreign policy that ensures Jewish autonomy over all of ancient Israel, including Jerusalem. Including the Temple Mount.

“The Jews being back in the land and being in control of the land, is part of the fulfillment of biblical prophecy, “ Land insisted. “If we were, as a country, to thwart the Jewish people and their desires and their God-given right to occupy that land, then God would not bless us as a people.”

This explains how and why a segment of Americans of very deep faith can support not only Trump’s decision on Jerusalem, but also the many other ways he has singled out, demeaned and harmed Muslims. They are simply not blessed. We Jews are.

Policy that is shaped by religious belief has a place in the American public square. But when fervent religious belief is entwined with political power, when the resultant policy is perceived to be divinely ordained, it can become dangerous. It becomes impervious to compromise. It can flare into a holy war.

Politics can make some very strange bedfellows. But before American Jews — Israelis, too — embrace this new alliance for what it may deliver temporarily, we should consider the long-term consequences. Evangelical support for Israel may be heartfelt, but in the end it is transactional. And Jews may ultimately pay the price.

Contact Jane Eisner at or follow her on Twitter, @Jane_Eisner. Sign up here for her weekly newsletter, Jane Looking Forward.