Monthly Archives: July 2018

Did The Garda Special Branch Know About Jean McConville’s Killing? One Of Her Gravediggers Allegedly Worked For Them…..

In the wake of the interview about her role in the death and disappearance of Belfast widow and mother-of-ten, Jean McConville, Dolours Price told me that in subsequent years one of those assigned by the IRA to dig the Belfast widow’s grave on the shores of Carlingford Lough was exposed as an informer working for the Garda Special Branch.

He was however spared the same fate as Jean McConville by virtue of his father’s status as a senior and respected figure in the Co. Louth IRA. He was drummed out of the organisation but escaped with his life, thanks to his father’s intervention.

Dolours Price could not say when the gravedigger was recruited by the Gardai, whether this was before Jean McConville’s ‘disappearance’ or afterwards.

Dolours Price’s allegation, if true, raises a number of troubling questions, not least how much did the Special Branch know of Jean McConville’s murder, did they know who had been involved in it, where her body had been hidden and the most pressing question of all: why was this information not passed on so that her remains could be returned to her family?

The grim and unforgiving rules of agent-running suggest that the Special Branch would likely have placed protection of their source ahead of considerations for the McConville family.

Intelligence agencies around the world are obsessed with protecting sources and methods and that means never releasing information that would confirm the identity of an agent even if his or her cover has been blown. The Garda Special Branch would not be an exception to this iron rule.

The other side of the argument is equally compelling. If what Dolours Price alleged is true, the McConville’s are entitled to ask what is the point in running agents if the information they provide is not used to do good, in this case by returning their mother’s remains? Equally they could ask was it not possible for the Special Branch to marshall its talents to devise a low risk way of using the intelligence they had?

It stands to reason that one way or another the Gardai would have learned something about the death of Jean McConville over the years. IRA activity in the Louth area was largely geared to providing support to the units across the Border and it was in the IRA’s interests to otherwise keep a relatively low profile.

The arrival of a suspected informer along with three senior figures from Belfast, on two trips, culminating in an execution and secret burial would likely have been a matter of excited gossip amongst IRA activists in the area and eventually this would have made its way to the Special Branch, not least via its network of informers.

As it was, according to Dolours Price’s telling, the Gardai may have had a more direct source telling them about the tragic and bloody events on Shelling Beach.

The affair also highlights a glaring inconsistency in the IRA’s attitude towards informers or others who have broken the organisation’s rules – once uncovered an informer’s fate was not always predetermined and could sometimes depend on who they were and if they had friends or relatives in high places.

Jean McConville And The Mystery Of The Missing Bullets

If there is one major apparent inconsistency in Dolours Price’s account of the killing of Belfast widow and mother-of-ten Jean McConville, it is that only one bullet was found in her body when it was unearthed at Shelling Hill beach on the shore of Carlingford Lough in late August 2003.

Price’s account has each of her three IRA abductors firing a shot at her ‘so that no-one would know for sure who had killed her’. According to the autopsy carried out by two Dublin-based state pathologists, Professor Marie Cassidy and Dr Richard Shepherd, one bullet was fired from behind into her head, lodged in her skull and was the only slug found in her remains.

So either Dolours Price invented that story, for what reason can only be guessed at, or there is another explanation for the missing bullets.

A clue may be found in the report prepared by the then Northern Police Ombudsman, Nuala – now Baroness – O’Loan who cited inquest evidence given by a senior engineer working for Louth County Council about how bad weather may have altered the terrain where Jean McConville’s body was discovered.

She wrote:

‘The Coroner sought expert evidence as to the geographical history of the area in which Mrs McConville was found. A Senior Executive Engineer from Louth County Council gave evidence to the inquest in relation to coastal erosion at Shelling Hill Beach He stated that “an extreme storm event occurred on 1 February 2002,” and that it “washed away part of the carpark and roadway. The high embankment west of the car park was eroded and undermined”. He also stated that at the location at which Mrs McConville’s body was found “the erosion has lowered the beach by 10” to 12” in recent times”.’
So it is possible that the other two bullets were washed away in the storms that ravaged the beach in the Winter of 2002. The autopsy recorded that some of Jean McConville’s foot, hand and wrist bones were also missing, possibly swept away by the same storms.
But the definitive evidence of what really happened on Shelling beach in 1972 remains elusive. Not all the questions about the death of Jean McConville have been answered.

Belfast Telegraph Review Of ‘I,Dolours’……

Review: I Dolours a powerful, disturbing and honest story of IRA woman Price

Scene from I, Dolours
Scene from I, Dolours

By Suzanne Breen

I Dolours opens in 1999 with Dolours Price in the kitchen of her beautiful Malahide home as news breaks on the radio of the return of one of the bodies of the Disappeared.

Those unfamiliar with the Troubles would struggle to link this middle-class woman in respectable Co Dublin with some of the most shocking killings in the IRA campaign.

But over the next 82 minutes we are taken to west Belfast where Price grew up steeped in republican orthodoxy, and to England where she travelled on a bombing mission and later went on hunger strike in jail.

Of all the films that have been made about the IRA in recent years, this is by far the most powerful, honest and disturbing.

The romantic myths of the republican movement are contrasted with the savage reality of a campaign which caused so much suffering both outside and inside its own ranks.

Director Maurice Sweeney flawlessly intersperses a video-recorded interview Price gave to journalist Ed Moloney with dramatic re-enactments of the IRA woman’s life.

I met Dolours Price several times and while actress Lorna Larkin doesn’t get the accent right, she perfectly captures her essence – it’s all in the eyes.

Price emerges as an articulate, intelligent and engaging woman who is telling the truth when she claims that Gerry Adams was the officer commanding of the IRA’s Belfast Brigade who sent her out to kill. Yet shades of self-absorption and egoism are also on display. She seems very much a man’s woman.

When discussing driving alleged informers across the border to their deaths, it is disconcerting that Price expresses scant sympathy for Jean McConville – indeed she calls her “very arrogant”.

She claims that during the journey, McConville, who didn’t know the fate awaiting her, said: “I knew those Provo b******* wouldn’t have the b**** to shoot me.” There is no empathy with a working class woman struggling to bring up 10 children. Yet Price’s heart goes out to Joe Lynskey, an IRA man who had an affair with a comrade’s wife and tried to set him up for assassination as an informer.

He was “a gentle, gentle man”, she says, wishing he’d tried to jump out of the car and escape.

The image recreated of McConville walking across a beach in red slippers to her death, and of Lynskey sitting in Price’s car with his overnight bag on his lap, are chilling and heartbreaking.

Price’s father Albert was a 1940s IRA man who went to bomb England. He later told his daughters: “I blew them up before you did. The only thing was I didn’t get caught.”

She recounts as a child hearing not “Little Red Riding Hood” and other fairy tales, but rather republican stories which she loved.

Her mother’s family were also staunchly republican. It wasn’t “For God and Ireland” Price says – Ireland came far before God.

Her Aunt Bridie lost her hands and sight in an accident handling IRA explosives when she was 25. The house went into mourning but it was “a wake with a living body”.

Price recalls as a child having to hold a cigarette to her aunt’s mouth for her to smoke: “I hated the job but I did it because it was Bridie.”One day she sees tears running down Bridie’s cheek and she asks her mother how her aunt can cry when she has no eyes.

Price joined the IRA with her sister Marian after civil rights marchers were beaten off the streets. She told its leadership, “I don’t want to be rolling bandages, I want to fight.” She recalls robbing banks with Marian, dressed as nuns.

When they went to bomb the Old Bailey in 1973, Price stresses how seriously the women took the IRA operation while some of the male volunteers were carried out of establishments drunk.

Her experience of arrest and imprisonment in England is recounted in all its raw horror. Being forced to walk naked in front of police officers and 180 days being force-fed while on hunger strike. As a child, she had seen parcels being made up for prisoners and thought jail an exotic place. That illusion is quickly shattered. The sisters become the third generation of women to be imprisoned in their family.

On her first visit to see her daughters, her mother admits that her 14 days in jail were “like 14 years” but tells Dolours “no tears, not in front of these people”.

Repatriated to Armagh jail, Price suffers from anorexia due to her hunger strike and the force-feeding regime. Her psychological condition deteriorates and her political beliefs appear to be shaken.

But republicanism is in her DNA. Price is aghast when the IRA leadership calls a ceasefire in 1994 without any sign of a British withdrawal.

She rails against the peace process, accusing the Sinn Fein leadership of selling out. “I would not have missed a good breakfast for what Sinn Fein achieved,” she declares. She accuses the party of “climbing over corpses” of the dead to get power. This film will make for very uncomfortable viewing for those in Provisional ranks who claim the war was worth it.

A Response To Anthony McIntyre – Disappearing Dolours Price’s Story

On reading Anthony McIntyre’s interview in today’s Irish News, I was tempted to write a lengthy response. Upon reflection I think it is sufficient to make just a couple of points.

The first is to refer my readers to a detailed account of the background to the interview I conducted with Dolours Price in Dublin nearly a decade ago. The backstory is published on the website associated with the documentary film, ‘I, Dolours’ and readers can access it here.

The second point is this. The interview with Dolours Price was devised and conducted in an effort to prevent her from taking her story in an indiscriminate way to the media with incalculable consequences for herself and her family. She was seemingly determined to make her story known but in an uncontrolled way, as she had already done with the Irish News.

I personally felt a degree of responsibility for her welfare. She had been a confidential source for my book, ‘A Secret History of the IRA’ and she had agreed to give interviews for the Boston College archive. I have always believed that journalists have an almost sacred duty to stand by their sources, no matter what.

The terms of the interview were simple and straightforward. Dolours would give her interview, the original film would be stored away in Ireland and when she died her story could then be told. I told her that if she predeceased me then I would do my best to tell her story in a truthful and accurate way. If I died first it would be left to others to complete the task.

The details of this arrangement were agreed not just between myself and Dolours Price but were agreed by Anthony McIntyre and his partner, Carrie Twomey. A measure of how fully involved they were in the detail of the agreement can be seen in the arrangements made for the interview.

Our production company put up Dolours Price and Carrie Twomey in an hotel in Dublin on the night before the interview. The purpose of that arrangement was to ensure that Dolours was in a fit state for the interview. There had been suggestions that this was not the case when she was interviewed by the Irish News.

The interview took place on the Sunday after her Irish News interview appeared. I picked the two women up from the hotel and brought them to the apartment where the interview took place. Carrie Twomey sat through the entire interview.

Both she and Anthony McIntyre were fully aware of the arrangements and specifically that the interview could be made public after Dolours’ death. They knew and approved the deal and never once raised any objection – until the time came to make her interview into a film.

I know Mackers to be an honest and rigorous person but he seems to be saying that I should have reneged on the deal with Dolours and let her interview rot away in whatever hiding place the original film had been placed.

Would I then not have been party to a lie, a trick designed to disappear her story every bit as completely as the unfortunate Joe Lynskey whose remains still defy the searchers? And that would have been okay with him? Really?

I was shocked and disappointed to note also that Mackers has seemingly dropped a more swingeing criticism of the Irish News that we both made at the time. This was that the PSNI had opened their investigation into the Boston archive on foot of an article in the Sunday Life carrying detail of Dolours Price’s involvement in IRA disappearances that appeared three days after her Irish News’ interview.

We both suspected that the uncensored version of her Irish News interview had been handed over to the Sunday Life by a journalist frustrated that the story had not appeared under her byline in her own paper. The Sunday Life story claimed its source as Dolours Price’s interviews with ‘Boston University’. It was nonsense but it was enough for the PSNI.

That no longer seems to matter to Mackers. Which is a pity.

Is Julian Assange About To Be Abandoned By Ecuador?

According to Glenn Greenwald, writing in today’s Intercept, Ecuador’s president Lenin Moreno is to meet this weekend with British officials to formalise his country’s withdrawal of political asylum from Julian Assange, the founder of Wikileaks and a player in the Mueller investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential election.

Julian Assange – about to be ejected from Ecuadorian embassy?

According to the Intercept, Moreno, who is confined to a wheelchair, is using an international conference on disability in London as a cover for his meeting with British officials which would see Assange ejected from the Ecuadorian embassy in London, where he has been given shelter since 2012, and handed over to the Metropolitan police.

A move like this could eventually see Assange extradited to the United States where he could face charges, and a lengthy prison term, for publishing secret US documents, including thousands of State Department cables.

Ecuador’s president, Lenin Moreno – secret meeting with British officials this weekend

According to Greenwald: ‘A source close to the Ecuadorian Foreign Ministry and the President’s office, unauthorized to speak publicly, has confirmed to the Intercept that Moreno is close to finalizing, if he has not already finalized, an agreement to hand over Assange to the UK within the next several weeks. The withdrawal of asylum and physical ejection of Assange could come as early as this week.’

You can read the full article here.

Trump’s America (cont’d)

By Matthew Hickey

July 17, 2018

During an interview at Trump Turnberry, a golf resort that has not turned a profit since Donald Trump assumed ownership, the US president stated that the European Union was a “foe” and Russia a “foe in certain respects,” and that he “hadn’t thought” about asking Russian president Vladimir Putin about extraditing to the United States 12 Russian military officers, one of whom operated under the username Guccifer 2.0, for their role in the hacking and distribution of Democratic National Committee emails during the 2016 presidential campaign, which occurred “on or about” the date that then-presidential nominee Trump publicly suggested that hackers should try to find “the 30,000 missing emails” from his opponent’s private email server. At a joint summit in Helsinki the day after the interview, Putin suggested that US and Russian investigators work together to improve US cyber security, and Trump said that he holds “both countries responsible. I think the United States has been foolish. I think we’ve all been foolish.” At press events during a NATO conference in Belgium, Trump exaggerated the portion of NATO funding that is provided by the United States by almost 500 percent, took credit for NATO military spending increases that member countries agreed to in 2014, and described a speech by French president Emmanuel Macron as “beautiful” but admitted that he had no idea what Macron was saying. Trump’s chief of staff, John Kelly, who also attended the talks, was “displeased” by an early meeting “because he was expecting a full breakfast and there were only pastries and cheese.” The US Embassy advised Americans in London to “keep a low profile” during Trump’s state visit to the UK.

A 75-year-old man currently serving life in prison for two murders announced his run for US Senate in Minnesota, a state that only forbids inmates from contesting state-level offices; and a Republican congressional candidate in California, who stated on a radio show that his campaign is dedicated to exposing the Holocaust as a fiction, distanced himself from robocalls about the “Jewish takeover of America” made on his behalf. A white woman in Memphis, Tennessee, was fired for calling the police on a black man who was wearing socks while swimming in a pool; police in Ohio pulled over an 11-year-old black boy who was delivering newspapers on his route; a police officer was filmed passively observing the abuse of a woman who was labeled “not an American” for wearing a shirt bearing the flag of Puerto Rico, which has been a territory of the United States since March 2, 1917; and protesters in Chicago clashed with police after a white officer shot and killed a black man. Video was released that showed police officers in Georgia using a smartphone coin-flip app to decide whether or not to arrest a woman who was pulled over for speeding; and a congressman in Arizona told police he was allowed to break the speed limit because of his “immunity as a government official.” A federal judge dismissed a lawsuit filed by the family of an unarmed black man fatally shot by an Ohio police officer because the victim’s civil rights had not been violated, and a federal court ruled that Transportation Security Administration agents cannot be sued by passengers for abusing them during searches because they are more akin to meat inspections than law enforcement. The US government missed its deadline to reunify all 98 immigrant children under five years old with parents from whom they were separated at the border, and a “spiritual adviser” to President Trump said that Jesus “would not have been our Messiah” if he had broken immigration laws.

A women and her mechanic died from carbon monoxide poisoning while having intercourse inside a car that was running in her garage, and a woman was found alive in her car seven days after it plunged 200 feet off a cliff in Big Sur, California. Scientists isolated a “ghost particle,” a subatomic particle that can travel through solid matter, inside a cubic kilometer of ice in Antarctica. Thirty-three people have been evacuated from a seaside village in Greenland because of an 11-million-ton iceberg got close to shore. Studies revealed that rats were depriving coral reefs of bird droppings; and, as they were being transported to a new wildlife reserve in Kenya, eight endangered black rhinos died. A jaguar escaped its enclosure at a New Orleans zoo and killed four alpacas, an emu, and a fox; a mob in Indonesia slaughtered nearly three hundred crocodiles at an animal sanctuary after a man was killed near the reptiles’ breeding pond; and a family of woodchucks ate the wiring in US House Speaker Paul Ryan’s car, rendering it useless. A new study found that penis size does not matter to mice.

‘I, Dolours’ At The Galway Film Fleadh

Some Twitter feed from Friday night’s premiere at the Galway Film Fleadh of ‘I, Dolours’: