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.