Monthly Archives: January 2018

Kingsmills Killings: Look What I Found In The Archives!

The DUP should be a little careful with its commentary on the Barry McElduff affair in the next few days, methinks. This little story from February 1999, which involves the two Ian Paisleys – pere et fils – has somehow escaped the media in Ireland in the last wee while.

So it is worth putting back into circulation as a reminder that no-one in Northern Ireland has a monopoly on bad taste or causing offence – or in this case endangering and destroying another person’s life.

Ian Paisley – accused the brother of three men killed by the UVF of organising Kingsmills in revenge. His allegations were based on a bogus RUC dossier but he avoided any comeback by making his claim under the cover of House of Commons’ privilege.

Barry McElduff’s video stunt has certainly upset the relatives of those killed by the IRA and angered the sole survivor, Alan Black. But Ian Paisley Snr put an innocent man in mortal danger and ruined his life over wildly inaccurate allegations about the Kingsmills perpetrators.

Remember that old saying about people who live in glasshouses…..? Arlene Foster and Co should perhaps think on that before saying anything more about Mr McElduff.

Here is the Guardian report of the affair, dated February 12, 1999, written by John Mullin:

Eugene Reavey’s life was turned upside down 16 days ago. He first learned of it when a neighbour rang. She had caught Ian Paisley, leader of the Democratic Unionist Party, using parliamentary privilege to name him in the Commons as mastermind of one of the worst atrocities in Northern Ireland’s history.

His son, also Eugene, eight, came home from school the next day. He was upset and shouted at his father: “Did you shoot them? Did you shoot them?” The talk in the playground was of nothing else.

It is the same in the farming world, where Mr Reavey, aged 51, a father of seven, makes his living from breeding French pedigree Limousin and Charolais cattle. He fears his business will collapse because he no longer travels to markets in Unionist areas. He fears a loyalist revenge attack and doubts whether anyone would do business with him. People will say there is no smoke without fire, he says.

Mr Paisley, quoting from a document he claimed was a police dossier, named Mr Reavey in connection with the Kingsmill massacre in 1976, when republican terrorists ambushed a minibus and shot dead 10 Protestant mill workers on a quiet country lane. Another Protestant survived, maimed for life, while a Catholic was allowed to flee.

But Sir Ronnie Flanagan, RUC chief constable, said Mr Paisley, who named 20 men in connection with IRA activity in south Armagh, was wrong. He denied the document Mr Paisley quoted was an RUC dossier, and it is believed it emanated from the now disbanded Ulster Defence Regiment.

After seeing Mr Reavey and Brendan Ferris, another accused, Sir Ronnie said: “We have no evidence whatsoever to connect them with the Kingsmill massacre and there are no outstanding matters that we would intend to interview these gentlemen about.” He is understood to be furious at Mr Paisley’s use of parliamentary privilege.

Mr Reavey was in mourning when the Republican Action Force, a cover name used by the south Armagh IRA when carrying out sectarian attacks, killed the workmen. Loyalists killed his three brothers, John Martin, aged 25, Brian, 22, and Anthony, 17, at the family’s house the previous night. He spent the day organising funerals.

“I have no idea why I would be named,” said Mr Reavey. “It baffles me. I have never been involved with any of the paramilitaries. None of the family has. Paisley is a despicable man. What he was fed was wrong. He should have checked his facts.

“We are terrified. My wife, Roisin, can’t sleep. She’s a teacher and it’s been difficult at work for her. This village is very close to loyalist areas, and about 30 people have been killed during the troubles on the road out there. I’ve hardly been out of the house.

“I was very impressed with Sir Ronnie Flanagan, but no matter what he says, there will be people who think Paisley’s word is sacrosanct. Mud sticks.

“What I want is for Paisley to withdraw his remarks in the Commons. I want an apology for the worry he has put my family through.”

Martin O’Brien, director of the committee for the Administration of Justice, a civil rights group, said: “MPs need to think long and hard before they play with people’s lives in this way.”

Detectives investigating the source of Mr Paisley’s accusations will interview him today. His son, Ian Paisley Junior, a DUP assembly member, said: “The report that my father quoted from was a confidential police dossier.

“There is not the slightest chance of an apology being offered.”

Barry McElduff’s Resignation: The Two Questions That Follow

Barry McElduff’s decision to resign was probably less than voluntary. It is more likely he was told to quit and had no choice.

It followed what is being widely described as a powerful interview with one of the Kingsmill survivors by Miriam O’Callaghan on her RTE Radio One programme yesterday, ‘Sunday With Miriam’.

That gives a clue about the source of pressure on McElduff to quit, i.e. from the Southern section of SF and in particular the party’s leader-in-waiting Mary Lou McDonald who must have been painfully aware of a) the damage McElduff could do to SF’s electoral prospects in the South, and b) that otherwise she would soon meet the same fate as Gerry Adams, pursued in every media interview by endless questions about the IRA’s bloody past.

If this was the case then the significance cannot be understated for it marks the beginning of a process in which Sinn Fein’s political interests in the South leads it to increasingly separate itself not just from the IRA but from Sinn Fein in the North.

The IRA’s place in the Northern Nationalist psyche is deeply embedded and always will be as long as there is a political conflict with Unionism and as long as security policy is riddled with contradictions. The South may find it easy and straightforward to leave the IRA behind; the Northerners not so much.

Here’s an example: if Judge McCloskey had been allowed last Friday to confirm his dismissal of the Police Ombudsman’s report claiming police collusion with the Loughinisland killers, Barry McElduff’s idiocy would have mattered a lot less to Nationalists, notwithstanding O’Callaghan’s interview. He may return to court to do just that this week and if he gets his way, the fallout will be interesting.

And in a comment sent to this blog last week, Eamonn McCann, as shrewd an observer of Northern matters as can be found, spoke for many Nationalists with this remark:

‘…..when it comes to giggling and gloating about the killing of people of a different religion, the Provos have never been a match for the Loyalist paramilitaries. That doesn’t excuse McElduff or SF. But it points up the fact some of the Loyalists, including members of the DUP, who have been caterwauling about McElduff’s sectarian stupidity are liars, frauds and abject hypocrites.’

So the two question that follow McElduff’s resignation are these:

  1. Did Mary Lou McDonald demand his resignation? and,
  2. Are we witnessing the start of a North-South schism in Sinn Fein?

Martin McGuinness, Barry McElduff And Kingsmills

I read recently, in a piece penned for The Belfast Telegraph by Malachi O’Doherty, that if he had lived long enough to witness Barry McElduff’s Kingsmills video, the late Martin McGuinness would have expelled the West Tyrone MP from Sinn Fein.

As Malachi put it:

(McGuinness’) project included assuaging unionist anxiety about the IRA. We can’t know how he would have dealt with Barry McElduff. I suspect he would have kicked him out of the party.

This sort of judgement derives from a natural tendency when dealing with dead enemies who changed their ways at the end, or appeared to have done so, to view them through rose-tinted glasses, to ascribe to them qualities they may never really have had in life.

The man in question, after all, had spent a large slice of his life lying, to both friend and foe. And if the late Catholic Bishop of Derry, Eddie Daly, is to be believed was capable of the most monstrous, self-serving deceit.

So is Malachi indulging in wishful thinking? Or was this an outrageous rewrite of (McGuinness’) history? How about a shallow and inadequate assessment of a much more complex character?

Let’s deal with the essence of the Kingsmills’ massacre. It was carried out – and I think most observers agree on this – in response to an outburst of Loyalist violence which had seen six Catholics – three men from each of two families – shot dead in their rural homes by the UVF in the days beforehand.

The Kingsmill massacre that followed was intended as a deterrent by the Provos, saying this to the UVF: ‘this is what happens to yours when you do that to ours; continue down this road and you’ll see more’. I have argued elsewhere that this captured the Defenderist essence that in large measure defined the Provisional movement, at that time as now.

There were other examples. I would include the ‘Siege of St Matthews’ and the mayhem and death caused by the IRA in North Belfast on the same June 1970 day in that category.

This is how Loyalists saw those incidents and my own research tends to award their view considerable merit, which is that the violence that day was designed to send a simple message to Belfast Catholics; forget August 1969, we now have your back.

Martin McGuinness was still in the Officials when all that happened and was in Portlaoise prison when Kingsmill took place. So no direct responsibility for those events can be laid at his door.

But Kingmills spawned a cousin, a more distant relative for sure but no less deadly. In January 1981 the IRA shot dead the 87-year old former Stormont Speaker, Sir Norman Stronge and his son James in the library of their home, Tynan Abbey in Co Armagh. They then burned the mansion to the ground.

The Stronge’s had been singled out because a few days beforehand, UDA gunmen had shot and seriously wounded civil rights and H Blocks campaigner Bernadette McAliskey and her husband Michael at their Coalisland, Co Tyrone cottage.

By a miracle they survived but the IRA nonetheless decided to kill the Stronge’s to send a message very similar to the one delivered by Kingsmills. At Kingsmills it was: ‘kill ordinary Catholics and we will kill ordinary Protestants’. At Tynan Abbey it was: ‘go for our leaders and we’ll go for yours’.

And who was Chief of Staff at the time of the massacre at Tynan Abbey? Well, none other than Martin McGuinness.

Given the profile of the victims and the likely political fallout it is very possible that the local IRA sought a green light from Martin McGuinness himself, since he was the bossman. In other words he may have sent the gunmen on their way that fateful and bloody night.

At the very least McGuinness would have had to justify the action within the IRA’s leadership circles afterwards although I would be astonished to hear that  criticism or reservations were voiced by anyone at the time, not least by McGuinness himself.

The truth is that within the Provo community, and outside it as well, actions like Kingsmills and Tynan Abbey were popular at the time.

So, if Martin McGuinness were alive today and was pressed to follow John O’Dowd’s example (and the key aspect of John O’Dowd’s much-praised role in the post-McElduff controversy is that he was never associated with the IRA, was never convicted of any IRA activity and never spent a day in jail for the IRA), I suspect he would make a straightforward calculation.

It might go like this: ‘If I was to condemn McElduff and kick him out of SF, how will that go down with my old comrades, especially those with long and accurate memories. Would they praise me, as the media would, or would they accuse me of disowning them and all we stood for? Would people say Sinn Fein are going soft? And what hay would the dissidents make with that?’

On the other hand if he was to endorse Malachi O’Doherty and expel McElduff, we could truly say that Sinn Fein was finally and fully free of its IRA past. But, conspicuously, that has not happened.

This, at the end of the day, may be the single most important lesson from the Barry McElduff affair.

Sinn Fein’s unwillingness to do what Malachi O’Doherty believes Martin McGuiinness would do, tells us that the IRA have still not gone away.

But you knew that anyway, didn’t you?

Boston College Hires US Attorney Who Pursued IRA Tapes

You couldn’t make this up if you tried.

When the British government and the PSNI pursued the Troubles-related oral history archive at Boston College using subpoenas and the full weight of the federal court system, the American official in charge of the operation was Massachusetts US Attorney Carmen Ortiz.

Former US Attorney for Massachusetts and now Boston College law lecturer, Carmen Ortiz

Once Donald Trump replaced Barrack Obama in the White House, Ortiz was out of a job. But not for long. Boston College has hired her to join the law faculty for a semester.

So the woman who took the oral history achive away from Boston College has now been given a job by Boston College.

You can read the full story here. As I said, you couldn’t make it up.

US Media More Upset By The Word ‘Shithole’ Than Trump’s Racism

’Shithole’, ‘Shithole’, ‘Shithole’. There you are; this is the the word that Trump used to describe Haiti and an indeterminate number of African countries during a White House meeting on Thursday evening.

But it is a word that you will find the majority of the US media reluctant to spell out or articulate in its entirety. Instead they use euphemisms like ‘s***hole’ or worse, ‘****hole’.

Following the American media’s coverage of Trump’s now infamous meeting with GOP Senators and one Democratic Senator about immigration reform it is hard to avoid the conclusion that the President’s use of a naughty word is more objectionable than the level of racism it reveals.

The verbal vulgarity, in other words, is a bigger problem than the fact that the leader of the so-called Free World has a real difficulty with anyone with a skin colour darker than Norwegian white.

How Do You Know That After All These Years Southern Pols Still Don’t Get The North?

When you see headlines like this:

The FBI Had A Spy In The Trump Team…….

This, from pages 173-175 of the testimony of Fusion GBS boss, Glenn Simpson to the Senate Judiciary Committee. There will be speculation that the spy was George Papadopolous, the Trump staffer who drunkenly told the Australian ambassador to the UK that Russia had stolen Hillary Clinton’s emails. The ambassador passed this on to the US government.

Papadopolous pleaded guilty at a recent court hearing to lying to the FBI over his dealings with the Trump campaign. There has been speculation that he was turned by the FBI and thereafter wore a wire while working in the campaign. Simpson did however go on to say that the information came from someone on the Trump team who volunteered it to the FBI.

Glenn Simpson
August 22, 2017
Washington, DC
Pages 173-175

Q. So do you know whether or not Mr. Steele was directed — you said you did not direct him or ask him to go back to the FBI — whether anyone else either directly or indirectly asked him to go to the FBI after his July 5th —

A. To my knowledge, no one else told him to report this. He may have conferred with his business associates, but I don’t know.

Q. And you said that meeting with the FBI, you said Mr. Steele said he had to go to Rome for this meeting. Do you otherwise know who he met with?

A. This gets into the chronology of what I learned when. At some point I learned that he was meeting with the lead FBI guy from Rome. I don’t remember when he told me that.

Q. And did you have a name associated with who that was?

A. Not at that time.

Q. You said that he told you of the meeting with the FBI in Rome in mid or late September, that he “gave them a full briefing”?

A. A debrief I think is what he probably
said, they had debriefed him. I don’t remember him articulating the specifics of that. You know, my understanding was that they would have gotten into who his sources were, how he knew certain things, and, you know, other details based on their own intelligence. Essentially what he told me was they had other intelligence about this matter from an internal Trump campaign source and that — that they — my understanding was that they believed Chris at this point — that they believed Chris’s information might be credible because they had other intelligence that indicated the same thing and one of those pieces of intelligence was a human source from inside the Trump organization.

Q. And did you have any understanding then or now as to who that human intelligence source from inside the Trump campaign might have been?

MR. LEVY: He’s going to decline to answer that question.

MS. SAWYER: On what basis?

MR. SIMPSON: Security.

MR. LEVY: Security.

Full Text Of Fusion Testimony On Trump-Steele Document

The following document is the full text of testimony given to the US Senate Judiciary Committee by Glenn Simpson, the head of the research company Fusion GPS which commissioned former MI6 officer Christopher Steele to investigate Donald Trump’s dealings with Russia.

The testimony was given in August but has been held back by the Republican majority on the committee. The transcript was released unilaterally today by the ranking Democrat member, Senator Dianne Feinstein.

Here is a link to the Steele document.

To read the testimony to the Senate committee just click on the link below:

Fusion Transcript

Trump’s America (cont’d)

January 9, 2018
By Joe Kloc

The White House press secretary said that US president Donald Trump “puts in long hours” and is “one of the hardest workers” she has “ever seen,” and an analysis from leaked copies of Trump’s private schedule found that he often begins his workday at 11 am and ends around 6 pm, when he reportedly retires to his private residence to watch cable news on three televisions, eat a cheeseburger, and tweet. “Much work to be done!” Trump tweeted. Trump then tweeted that he had created “jobs, jobs, jobs” since becoming president, and it was reported that Trump plans to bolster job creation by loosening regulations on the global sale of US-made artillery, warships, fighter jets, and drones. Trump also tweeted that it was “not good” that Iran has “closed down the internet,” which Iran had not done; and that he had a “bigger” and “more powerful” nuclear “button” on his desk than North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. “Dope,” Trump’s national security adviser reportedly said of the president. Trump tweeted that he was a “very stable genius” and then took credit for “seven TRILLION dollars” of value created in the stock market. “Dumb as shit,” Trump’s top economic adviser reportedly said of him. Trump misquoted a columnist as saying his presidency was “enormously consensual” and that “Hispanics” would “start ‘falling in love'” with him; and Trump, a former teen beauty-pageant owner who has been accused of sexual misconduct by at least 19 women, was reported to have once called into his office a married male friend and asked him about his sex life while his wife was on speakerphone. Trump’s former chief strategist, whom Trump said had “lost his mind,” issued a statement saying that Trump’s son did not commit treason; the US ambassador to the United Nations announced that “no one questions” Trump’s mental stability; and the director of the CIA said that Trump, who requested “killer graphics” in his intelligence briefings, is able to read. It was reported that Trump often repeats the same story to staff multiple times in the span of 10 minutes; a senior adviser to Trump was escorted from the set of a cable-news show when he refused to leave after repeatedly answering questions with a story about flying on an airplane; and Trump, who rolled back a regulation requiring airlines to disclose baggage fees up front, tweeted that because he was “very strict” on airlines there were no deaths on commercial flights in 2017, the same number as in 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, and 2010. Trump tweeted that the Justice Department, which he referred to as the “deep state,” should jail the former director of the FBI and his former political rival Hillary Clinton; a home on Clinton’s property caught fire; and Trump tweeted that he wishes his “haters” and “enemies” a happy New Year. “Happy New Year,” tweeted Clinton’s daughter, in a message to the Church of Satan.

The Real Significance Of Barry McElduff’s Kingsmill Video

Like nearly everyone else, I cannot say for sure what motivated Sinn Fein West Tyrone MP, Barry McElduff when he placed a loaf of Kingsmill bread atop his head during a trip to a supermarket, got a friend to video it and posted it on Facebook or wherever.

But given the date the video appeared, on the 42nd anniversary of the massacre, it is difficult not to believe that the IRA killing of ten uninvolved Protestants at a bogus vehicle checkpoint near Bessbrook, Co Armagh was not, as they say, uppermost in his mind when he strolled through the supermarket.

But what has been striking about the reaction and media response to McElduff’s stunt, at least to my mind, has been the complete absence of context alongside a failure to understand its deeper meaning.

And it is that context and meaning, at a time when hostility between Sinn Fein and the DUP is at its sharpest for a decade, which add significance to McElduff’s behaviour.

The bullet-ridden van carrying Protestant workers shot dead by the IRA at Kingsmills

The Kingsmill massacre did not happen in a vacuum but was a response – a classic Provo response, I would argue – to a burst of Loyalist killing which had claimed the lives of six uninvolved Catholics from two families – three in each family – killed by the UVF in south Armagh and south Down a day before Kingsmills happened.

The killings of the Catholics – members of the Reavey and O’Dowd families – was claimed by the UVF but the IRA hid its role in the Kingsmill massacre behind a bogus nom de guerre, the Republican Action Force.

That, of course, fooled no-one, least of all the Provo base who, truth be told, welcomed the IRA’s over reaction and saw it as an effective way of stopping, or at least curbing, Loyalist killings. Less an eye for an eye and more two of your eyes for every one of ours. And this, in 1975-76, during the worst years of Loyalist violence against Catholics.

The Kingsmill approach became the favoured grassroots Provo answer to escalations in Loyalist violence. So when, five years later almost to the day, UDA gunmen riddled Bernadette McAliskey and her husband Michael with bullets at their isolated cottage near Coalisland, Co Tyrone, the IRA’s response was immediate.

Bernadette McAliskey on crutches after surviving a UDA assassination bid

Three days after the McAliskey shooting, IRA gunmen drove to the Middletown, Co Armagh home of the former Unionist Speaker of the Stormont House of Commons, shot dead 86-year-old Norman Stronge and his 48-year son, James, and burned their mansion, Tynan Abbey to the ground.

A bloody and brutal message was sent: ‘try to kill our leaders and we will kill more of yours, and what’s more, we will make sure the job is done’. As my long term readers will know I have long argued that the Provisionals were more rooted in the Irish Defenderist tradition of 1798 than the republican one; the Kingsmills and Stronge incidents were classic examples of that in action.

Sir Norman Stronge, former Unionist Speaker of the old Stormont

The IRA’s national leadership’s decision to endorse and even encourage such local responses was of course full of significance; it went to the circumstances of the Provos’ birth, when Belfast republicans broke away from the mainstream in protest at the failure to protect Catholic Belfast from Loyalist mobs in August 1969.

Equally, it was therefore of even greater significance when, during the peace process, that approval was withdrawn and local units of the IRA forbidden from engaging Loyalists in such retaliation.

The ruins of Tynan Abbey, burned by the IRA

That was the story in Tyrone during the late 1980’s and early 1990’s as the peace process gathered steam. As Loyalist killings and near killings of republican activists intensified, as UVF squads seemed to roam the county at will, local IRA units demanded action from their leaders.

But their warning, that if the IRA failed to nip these killings in the bud, with a Kingsmill or Stronge-type response, then republicans risked being overwhelmed, was rejected.

Tyrone IRA activists were told they had to target the UVF killers involved and no-one else, and of course, that proved to be next to impossible. And UVF killings increased.

The deeper message to places beyond Tyrone was unmistakable. The Provos, at least at leadership level, were changing; old ways were being left behind, new ways, viz the peace process, were being embraced.

Arguably, we are seeing in Barry McElduff’s suspension by his Sinn Fein leaders a sort of re-run of that episode in Tyrone’s troubled history.

Is it stretching things too far to see McElduff’s video in the context of the current stalemate in talks between Sinn Fein and the DUP, a deadlock marked by rising sectarian acrimony?

If not, then McElduff’s loaf of bread carries a subtle deeper meaning: a political version of Kingsmills is the only way to deal with obdurate Loyalism. And his suspension from Sinn Fein then, is equivalent to the rebuff delivered by the IRA leadership to Tyrone republicans in the 1980’s.

It will be interesting to see how this all works out. I would be especially interested in knowing how McElduff’s stunt has gone down in places like east Tyrone. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the answer was ‘well’.


You will recall – and so will many who will affect to remember no such thing – that Kingsmills was quite popular with many – I’d say most but there’s no way
of verifying that estimate – supporters of the IRA, including the overwhelming majority of members of Sinn Fein. The argument you mention – that this was the only language sectarian Loyalist killers would understand – was routinely advanced. I heard it scores of times, in Derry, Belfast and Dublin. Adams, O’Neill and the rest of them are well aware of this aspect of the matter.

That said, it should also be said that when it comes to giggling and gloating about the killing of people of a different religion, the Provos have never been a match for the Loyalist paramilitaries.That doesn’t excuse McElduff or SF. But it points up the fact some of the Loyalists, including members of the DUP, who have been caterwauling about McElduff’s sectarian stupidity are liars, frauds and abject hypocrites.

It’s widely said and it’s probably true that there’s no point calling another NI election because the same two gangs of,useless galoots would be put back in again. But maybe we should find out. Deep down, and maybe not that far down, and despite the apparent contradiction, I reckon the people of the North are better than the politicians they elect.

If I am wrong about that,, what’s there left to say?

I look on your works ye midgets, and despair.