Monthly Archives: October 2018

Marian Price: The Truth About New Book’s Allegation

Statement by Ed Moloney and Nuala Cunningham, producers of ‘I, Dolours’:

The American author Patrick Radden Keefe has made a major error in his new book on the IRA disappearance of Jean McConville. He claims that part of a transcript of an interview with Dolours Price which we allowed him to see was redacted because it named Marian Price, her sister, as one of the three people who took Jean McConville across the Border to her death. This is not true. The redaction contained no name at all, least of all that of Marian Price.

Mr Keefe failed to ask a couple of simple questions of Ed Moloney: ‘Was Marian Price named in the redaction?’ Or: ‘Was anyone named by Dolours Price as the third person?’ Instead he just seems to have assumed that she did name her sister. In fact, in her interviews with Ed Moloney, Dolours Price never named the third person.

Unlike Gerry Adams, who was named by Dolours Price in an interview, Marian Price has never been arrested or questioned by the PSNI about the disappearance of Jean McConville. Had she been named it is more than likely she would have been.

KRW Law’s Rivals Are Unveiled As Phoenix Law

Thanks to HM for this tip off.

The breakaway law firm started by former lawyers in KRW Law has now announced itself, and as predicted by, it is calling itself Phoenix Law. Here, courtesy of the NI Law Society, is the new company’s link, 

The website is not yet up and running by the way but the main movers are named as Peter Corrigan, Darragh Mackin and Claire McKeegan.

I am sure it is just a coincidence that when the Provisionals were formed in 1969/70, the new group also chose the phoenix as its symbol. The phoenix is the mythical bird that arose from the ashes of its predecessor, except in this case KRW Law has not yet been reduced to that state.

The Provos’ adoption of the phoenix was also full of symbolism, the ashes in their case referring not just to the Official IRA, which took some time to become ashes, but also to the remains of Bombay Street, burned almost to the ground by Loyalists in August 1969. That was a fairly heavy clue that they saw themselves as being more in the Defenderist tradition of Irish republicanism.

It remains to be seen how well Phoenix Law performs, especially against its larger and better known rival led by Kevin Winters. But there is a lot of loot out there arising from legacy cases, mostly involving the families of victims of alleged state violence.

So I doubt whether Peter Corrigan and his partners will starve.

MRF File – Part Eight: Looking After ‘The Freds’

By James Kinchin-White and Ed Moloney

The story of the MRF in these columns has so far concentrated on the violent incidents that the group was involved in – with civilians their major casualties – but that is only part of the story.

Like its supposed counterpart during the Mau-Mau uprising in Kenya, the MRF also recruited and ran agents (in the IRA and also supposedly in Loyalist groups, although the evidence for the latter is less than complete).

The agents were given a nickname: ‘Freds’. Two of the ‘Freds’ were IRA members Seamus Wright and Kevin McKee, both of whom were uncovered, killed and their bodies disappeared by the IRA in late 1972. But there were others.

Below is a letter from a clearly irritated head of British Army security to the Vice Chief of the General Staff (signature unfortunately indecipherable), complaining about the lack of information about a number of ‘Freds’ that had arrived in Britain from Northern Ireland, some of whom were treated in hospital.

The interesting point about this complaint is that there seems to have been quite a few ‘Freds’ beyond those we know about, such as Wright, McKee and Ranger Hammond (about whom, more in the next post).

One has his name blanked out by the military censor but is referred to elsewhere in the letter as ‘George Brown’; and there is a reference to two other unnamed ‘Freds’, one of whom intended to join the Green Howards regiment and the other who was serving with the Royal Green Jackets.

Finally he writes: ‘… is apparent that a number of “ex-Freds” have been discharged into civilian life’. So there seems to have been quite a number of ‘Freds’ in the MRF. Interesting.

Questions For Sinn Fein Arising From Presidential Poll

Sinn Fein’s performance in the South’s presidential election – third place with just 8 per cent of the vote, according to early forecasts – has to be a huge disappointment for the party and its new leader Mary Lou McDonald.

Eight per cent is well below the party’s standing in the most recent general election-style opinion polls and its most recent performances in actual polls. It is, decidely, a setback for SF and a discouraging beginning for the party’s new leadership.

A couple of difficult questions now face Mary Lou and her advisers. Was the vote a comment on Sinn Fein under Mary Lou’s stewardship, i.e. not under Gerry Adams’? Or was the choice of candidate – Liadh na Riada – a particularly unimpressive one? And what does that choice say about Mary Lou’s judgement?

Na Riada could be seen as the anti-McGuinness candidate, free of the whiff of the battlefield that the former IRA Northern Commander/Chief of Staff, exuded. Her suggestion that she would happily wear a poppy was something McGuinness might have hesitated before endorsing.

But McGuinness, admittedly a better known runner, did appreciably better than na Riada – 13.7% compared to eight (The Guardian was suggesting last night that her final result could be as low as 7.4 per cent). What does that say about the oft-touted wisdom that the IRA is a weight that drags the party down?

Given the low turnout and Michael D’s easy triumph, perhaps Mary Lou would have been wiser giving this election a miss. As it has turned out the result has raised uncomfortable questions about her stewardship of the party that Gerry made.

From The Archives: Paisley Is Confronted With Valerie Shaw’s Testimony At Unprecedented Press Conference

On Monday, January 25th, 1982, Andy Pollak and myself called at Ian Paisley’s home on the Upper Newtownards Road to see if he would answer some questions arising out of statements made to The Irish Times by Valerie Shaw, a former missionary in his Free Presbyterian Church.

According to Miss Shaw’s testimony, she had informed Paisley on several occasions that William McGrath, who was well known to him because of their joint involvement in evangelical and Loyalist matters, was homosexual and was employed as a housefather at Kincora Boys Home. She was concerned about the welfare of the boys, but Paisley had ignored her warnings.

When we made our way to Paisley’s home, McGrath had just pleaded guilty to a range of charges that he along with two other Kincora employees had abused boys in their care. They were jailed for between four and six years.

(In mitigation for using what would now be considered inappropriate language, this was 1982 and attitudes to gay matters were still in the dark ages. Nowadays we would have made it clear that McGrath was primarily a pedophile.)

Paisley refused to talk to us and because of that the Times decided to hold the story. The next day, however, Paisley announced that he would be holding a press conference at his church, The Martyrs’ Memorial on the Ravenhill Road to deal with these matters.

Flanked by James Heyburn, his Church Secretary, Paisley first read out a statement and then the press conference followed, which was dominated by a series of questions from myself and Andy Pollak and answers from Ian Paisley. Following that, on the next day, Valerie Shaw held her own press conference

What follows are the reports of all this in the Irish Times, reports that were made possible by Valerie Shaw who died at a Co. Armagh nursing home at the weekend. First Valerie Shaw’s interview, followed by Paisley’s statement and the ensuing press conference. Enjoy:



NOTE: Paisley never did sue.

Valerie Shaw, Kincora Whistleblower Is Dead

I am sorry to have to report that Valerie Shaw, the former Free Presbyterian missionary and confidante of Ian Paisley, died today at the Hockley nursing home in Armagh, which is run by the Elim Pentecostal Church.

She had suffered for many years from multiple sclerosis and only recently moved from her north Belfast home to Armagh. She was a good friend of myself and Andy Pollak, who met her while investigating the Kincora Boys Home scandal in the early 1980’s.

Valerie Shaw, pictured at a press conference discussing Paisley’s knowledge of Kincora

She was a source for much of our coverage of the Kincora scandal in The Irish Times, in particular that she had informed Ian Paisley that Kincora’s housefather, William McGrath was a paedophile who worked at the boys’ home on the Upper Newtownards Road.

“I approached Dr Paisley on at least seven occasions,” she said in TV interviews. “I asked him time and time again what he intended to do about this. My concern all along was very much for the fact that there were young boys under the threat of this man’s (McGrath’s) corruption.”

Paisley always denied that he knew where McGrath worked, even though he was a long time associate of McGrath, who had founded Tara, a small but influential ‘doomsday’ Loyalist paramilitary group which at one stage was closely associated with the Ulster Volunteer Force.

William McGrath – he founded an Orange lodge known as Ireland’s Heritage which had its Twelfth of July banner inscribed in Irish, a feature which persuaded the Department of Foreign Affairs in Dublin to believe that there were pro-Nationalist elements in the Orange Order. In fact McGrath believed that the Irish language predated Ireland’s association with Catholicism.

McGrath, who was a fundamentalist preacher, and two other Kincora workers, Raymond Semple and Joseph Mains pled guilty at their trial on charges of abusing boys, a move which prevented lurid details of the scandal being aired in public.

McGrath always claimed that the charges had been fabricated by the UVF.

The scandal threatened for a while to destabilise Unionist politics, not least because McGrath had nurtured the careers of many young, talented figures in both Paisley’s DUP and the Official Unionists.

A by-election in South Belfast at the height of the scandal saw fist fights break out between rival Unionists at the election count as each party attempted to link McGrath with the other.

Ian Paisley, pictured at around the time of the Kincora scandal

It also put an unwelcome focus on the extent of gay involvement in Unionist politics. The leader of the Official Unionist Party, Jim Molyneaux, who was in alliance with Paisley after the Anglo-Irish Agreement of 1985, was himself gay, although this did not publicly emerge until after his death.

Rumours that MI5 and/or British military intelligence had used the scandal to blackmail prominent Loyalist figures have persisted to this day.

Paisley never forgave Valerie Shaw for publicly exposing his associations with McGrath and her widely believed and credible accusations against him brought him to an unprecedented low point in his political career.

She broke with the Free Presbyterian Church when Paisley refused to act but for some time afterwards continued her work as a missionary to the Jews, in Manchester and in Belfast.

Her place in Northern Ireland’s recent history is, however, assured as a plausible and persuasive source for a story that, for a while, seared Unionist politics and left a mark that is still legible.

She was a good woman, a great source for a newspaperman and will be sadly missed by all her friends.

Statement On Belfast High Court Judgement In Anthony McIntyre Case

Statement by Ed Moloney, former director of Boston College Oral History Archive:

The judgement by the Belfast High Court today upholding the PSNI-Boston College action to confiscate the tapes of interviews given by the project’s republican co-ordinator and principal interviewer, Anthony McIntyre comes as no surprise to those of us who have witnessed this process since it began over seven long years ago.

But with this action against McIntyre, the reality of what lies behind the PSNI action against the Boston archive is now clear for all to see.

At the outset, the authorities argued that the action to confiscate the Boston tapes was justified on the basis that they might lead to some light being shed upon the abduction and disappearance of Jean McConville, a widowed mother-of-ten who was accused by the Provisional IRA of spying for the British Army.

But Anthony McIntyre had nothing whatsoever to do with the McConville disappearance as everyone on this island knows.

His real offence, in the eyes of the state and the intelligence agencies that it directs, was to embark upon an independent effort to discover the truth, or as much of it as can be excavated, about the role played by one of the major players during the Troubles. This was done without the knowledge or approval of that organisation’s leadership, and that was possibly his real offence.

In doing that, with my aid and co-operation, he challenged the state’s claim to monopolise, along with trusted participants in the Troubles, the process of how, by whom and by what means the past in Northern Ireland should be examined.

That was Anthony McIntyre’s crime. That is why he is being pursued through the courts. His prosecution cum persecution is being carried out as a warning to others, in academia and the media, that this is what they can expect if they dare follow in his path.

This process has been dragged out for an unprecedented seven years. I suspect that has been deliberate and that the ongoing, never-ending Boston College (BC) case exists as a constant reminder of what can happen to anyone who dares imitate that project.

Political considerations have also dictated who the authorities have targeted. When a senior member of the BC Trustees complained about the one-sided, i.e. Republican bias of the prosecutions, the PSNI promptly sought access to ‘Winky’ Rea’s tapes in the UVF part of the archive and then charged him.

In recent weeks we have learned how MI5 and the police and military intelligence agencies devised the so-called ‘third connection’ to enable their agents to commit crimes, possibly as serious as murder, and not face any prosecution as a consequence.

This is the sort of dirty secret that the British state and its agencies are scared will emerge out of any truth-telling process that they cannot devise, direct and control.

We have also seen two television journalists involved in the production of the documentary film ‘No Stone Unturned’ arrested and questioned by detectives for the crime of doing their jobs as investigative reporters. It is hard to avoid the conclusion that the state is unalterably opposed to any who wish to investigate aspects of the past it believes should stay hidden.

Anthony McIntyre is being dragged through the courts as a warning to others: follow in his path at your peril. As acts of vindictiveness go, it has few equals.