Monthly Archives: June 2020

Revisiting That UVF ‘Threat’ To Charlie Haughey

The Balaclava Street blog takes a closer look at the supposed UVF threat to Charles Haughey, sent in a letter carrying a supposed UVF letterhead, which was eventually released publicly by the Dublin authorities in 2017:

Mad Dogs And Englishmen Go Out In The Corona Sun….

Two things about the photo below: even without the virus, this seems to me to be the very least compelling way to spend a sunny day. Just imagine, for instance, how much piss and shit is floating near the shore. Talking of such things, the second thing is that Boris Johnson is in deep doo-do. His government has given the green light to behaviour that will likely cause a new spike in Coronavirus deaths with consequent economic damage. It might even mark the end of his political career, for which we will have one thing to thank the virus for. And with luck Trump will be with him.

Crowds at the beach in Bournemouth today

Bobby Storey Was Gerry Adams’ Beria

I can’t say I knew ‘Big’ Bobby Storey at all well, not least because he was in jail for a lot of the time that I worked as a journalist in Belfast. And when he came out of jail the peace process was in acceleration mode and my life was dominated by the need to keep up with that story.

But I knew that he had been an acolyte of Gerry Adams’ down to his fingertips in jail and that Adams recognised that he needed to keep Storey on his side as the process trundled towards…well, where it is now.

I also suspected then and more so later, that such was his uncritical adoration of the Big Lad that he was either naive in the extreme about Adams, what drove him and where he was going politically, or that he chose cynically to ignore the obvious.

My suspicions in this regard were rooted in  the episode I know best about Storey’s relationship with Gerry, and that was about the disappearance of Jean McConville.

In pursuit of the fiction that none of this had anything to do with him, Adams had given Storey the job of finding out what had happened to Mrs McConville, who had been involved in her disappearance and, most importantly, where her remains had been buried.

This was at a point in the peace process when clearing up the issue of the ‘disappeared’ had assumed urgency and priority, so much so that Bill Clinton had taken sides in favour of justice for the disappeared.

For Adams to ask Storey to find out what happened to Jean McConville was like Stalin asking Beria to discover who gave the order to bury an icepick in Trotsky’s skull. Gerry knew, and knows more about what happened to Jean McConville and why, and who was involved in her ‘disappearance’ and how, than anyone still living.

When Storey went to interview Dolours Price he was, according to her account to me, astonished to hear her side of the story, which was of course that Gerry had given the order to ‘the unknowns’ to send Jean McConville to her maker. Clearly Gerry had denied all knowledge and put the blame on others, especially Ivor Bell, a line the British state and their police chiefs dutifully followed in later years.

From that point on ‘Big’ Bobby knew the truth but it didn’t seem to faze him in the slightest or raise doubts in his mind about his leader, who he continued to serve unquestioningly and, in terms of his intelligence work, very effectively.

But he must have known, or at least strongly suspected that Gerry had lied to him about Jean McConville and in the process laid the blame for his actions onto comrades. In that respect he was the Big Lad’s patsy, or maybe his Beria would be nearer the mark.

Dissident Workers Party Faction Publishes Its Manifesto, ‘Enough Is Enough’

Here it is: – many thanks to a source who must remain anonymous.

The kernel of the dissidents’ argument, against the current WP leadership, written last month, comes in the fourth paragraph in a description of the leadership’s reaction to a request by the dissidents to meet the party leadership to outline a complaint about the increasingly nationalist direction being taken by the WP.

It reads: “Within 24 hours of that meeting request being made, a train of events was put in motion which is on track to set this party back a generation which seeks to align the party with a dangerous and divisive nationalist narrative and signal to the world that we are comfortable with that’.

So, you could say that the Workers Party is being riven by a split between its Sticky wing and its Provo wing…..yes?

Who’s Who Of WP Split Emerges; Gerry Adams’ Brother-In-Law On The Outs

Thanks to a source who must remain anonymous (for reasons readily understood by anyone who has had dealings with the WP) for the following background to the split emerging in the ranks of what remains of the Workers Party.
The splitters, called the NI Business Committee, are 60/70 year old veterans, part of the Workers Party’s so-called ‘PLC machine’ whose careers with the WP go back to the early 1970’s. The ‘PLC Machine’ is run by a well known activist, with something of a fearsome reputation, by the name of Seamus Harrison.
The ‘PLC Machine’ is a fancy way of referring to the Workers Party’s portfolio of bars and businesses, some as far away as San Francisco, that were built up over the years courtesy of scams like building site tax rackets, as well as drink licence permits discretely arranged by the Northern Ireland Office in the days when OIRA was regarded by HMG as an acceptable alternative to the Provos.
(Interestingly, the Provos have taken the same route into businesses, in their case at least one hotel and several bars, but unlike the WP or its armed wing OIRA, the Provos had the resources of the Northern Bank to draw upon to supplement other equally shady sources of cash).
The three main figures behind the split are: South Armagh born, Irish speaking barrister Gerry Grainger who was once top honcho in the WP international affairs dept whom the Democratic Left faction (who split over allegations of racketeering by OIRA) once claimed was a KGB agent!
Brian McDermott, a former public relations executive who once worked for the Northern Health Trust. His sister is prominent barrister EIlis McDermott.
The third figure is Bawnmore-based Austin Kelly who has been around like the other two from early 70s and is a retired civil servant.
The trio are described by those who know them as ‘hardline Marxist-Leninists’ with a bad case of nostalgia for the good old days of the USSR.
The source added: ‘They wanted some kind of reform of structures etc and from what I was told this seemed to threaten some who control the more murkier financial operations. So the allegations of neo- unionism etc are mere cover for the protection of interests.’
Meanwhile Gerry Adams’ brother in law and one time senior OIRA figure in Belfast, Mick McCurry has also been cast into the wilderness.
The source added: ‘He incurred the wrath of Mr Harrison and a brother over the management of affairs, and was given his P45. Apparently he is very bitter having given up his life for that axis. McCurry is married to Adams’ sister as you might know.’
The 50th anniversary of the Curfew/Battle of the Falls which the ORM are holding in early July could be an interesting gathering in the light of these developments. But don’t expect any gun play. These guys are just too old for that.

What If They Held A Split And No-one Came? Or Is The Workers Party About To Disappear Up Its Own Orifice?

A year’s free subscription to the Elbow to anyone who can explain what the heck this is about….! And more to the point who is leading it…..? And where are Seamus Lynch and Mary MacMahon these days? Thanks to JM for the tip.

ADDITION: This post recently appeared in the Cedar Lounge Revolution:

1. Gavin Mendel-Gleason – June 19, 2020

From the “What you want to say” thread:

Essentially, a small clique in Belfast have been angling to either seize the leadership or federalise the party. While they would have been afraid to move with Sean Garland still alive, they saw their chance with his death.

Their leadership in Belfast has been characterised by monotonic reduction in the party membership, total isolation from the working class, and almost no real activity on the ground. It’s an approach based on extreme political purity and no interest in growth or adaptation to current circumstances.

Internally they are anti-republican, ultra-left Marxist-Leninists who have tried to purge or suppress anyone who strays from a very narrow line and have been contemptuous of every recent policy proposal or campaign put forward by the party (aside from Brexit which they were the primary proponents of).

Externally, they are very vague social democratic unionists with “gas and water” proposals that could come from the Alliance party.

Internationally they have pursued a strategy of siding with the smallest most sect-like party they can find, such as the New Communist Party of Britain or the Austrian Party of Labour. Parties virtually no-one has ever heard of and no-one ever will because they are designed to be political sects.

I recently canvassed in West Belfast with a number of members who were attempting to breathe a bit of life into things. During my canvass in the heart of former WP territory, I met a woman who had been part of the party band who said she hadn’t seen us in 10 years… Subsequently, the comrades I had been canvassing with were threatened with expulsion – presumably for getting off their arse and trying to contact the historic base of the party.

I’d wager that there are some who just want to liquidate the party assets and view any sort of growth as a hindrance to that strategy. The faster things die, the better off they’ll be. If it’s not driven by material interests than it’s perhaps even worse as it’s one of the most impressively poor leadership strategies I’ve ever witnessed.

But democracy does not favour strategies of perpetual shrinking. When they saw that they were going to lose hold of the party due to the increasing youth membership, they decided to turn to sabotage. When that failed, they decided to split.

When I joined the party 5 years ago, I was unaware that such an atavistic group existed in the party. I can’t say I’m sorry to see them go and given their strategy, they can’t last longer than natural attrition dictates.

Ireland is still without a mass socialist party worthy of the working class and this is really where we have to focus our efforts.


Bullying Allegations Behind Secret BBC Scandal Concern ‘Spotlight’ Chief

Sometimes one is forced to wonder if there is any life left in the ranks of the media in Belfast, or whether self-censorship is now so pervasive, my former colleagues now shut their eyes to scandals even within their own ranks.
As regular readers of this blog will know a scandal has been simmering for months concerning allegations that a senior BBC executive in Belfast has been bullying his staff for years.
Although has been aware of this person’s name for some time, I have respected the cloak of anonymity thrown over the affair.
Now, however, thanks to a written question in the House of Commons asked by DUP MP, Gregory Campbell and an item published in Private Eye, the name is now public. The figure at the centre of the bullying allegations is Spotlight chief, Jeremy Adams.
But that, really, is not the entire point of this post. The parliamentary question and the Private Eye item are weeks old. Gregory Campbell asked his question at the beginning of June, which was also when the Private Eye item appeared. So why the silence from the Belfast media?

Jeremy Adams, BBC Spotlight Editor at centre of bullying allegations

‘Taking A Knee’ In Loyalist Moygashel, Co Tyrone

Thanks to JM for the tip:

The Shinners Really Screwed It Up…..And It’s Down To Mary Lou

While the in-depth story of the 2020 Southern general election really has yet to be told, I think we can all safely say that the Shinners really screwed up. By that I mean that they failed to detect the real mood of the electorate and when that happens to a political party it usually means that the leadership is a) either totally out of touch with the voters or b) has appointed people who are supposed to be in touch with electorate but failed to do that simple job. Or, more probably, both.

Had SF known what the real mood of the electorate was, that the voters were sick and tired of the usual FG-FF choice and were busting for something really different, then the party leadership would have gone to great pains to ensure that enough of their party’s candidates would have stood to reap the benefit of the electorate’s disdain of the status quo.

But that didn’t happen. SF did not run enough candidates to take full advantage of the flood and the consequence of that is a new government composed of the same old tired failures, not least a Green Party which really should be renamed ‘Fuck The Environment, Nothing Beats The Smell Of The Leather In The Back Seat Of The Minister’s Merc’ party.

The buck here stops at the top. Not at Gerry Adams, who has chosen quasi retirement in Donegal or wherever, but at the feet of Mary Lou McDonald. She failed to detect the voters’ mood and as a result SF have lost the best chance of seizing power in the Southern State since the 1920’s.

In any other party, they’d be showing such a leader the door.But this is Sinn Fein and that is unlikely to happen. Plus ca change!

Where Minneapolis And Jerusalem Intersect

Jonathan Cook is one of the most perceptive observers of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict writing today. He lives in Nazareth and contributes to a wide range of publications but is best known for his blog – and for his often biting criticisms of Israeli policy in the region. In this piece he draws the parallels between events in that part of the Middle East and recently in Minneapolis. You can read his article here.