Monthly Archives: July 2020

Los Angeles Cops Defend Democracy From Gravest Threat Yet

John Ware And Me

I see that the new leadership of the British Labour Party has agreed to pay hefty libel damages to BBC reporter John Ware and a group of former Labour Party workers who, in the course of a BBC-produced TV documentary, had made allegations of anti-semitism in the Corbyn-led Labour party.

As readers of this blog will be aware, John Ware and myself have crossed swords more than once, especially over the extent of official British knowledge of the activities of IRA double agent, Freddie Scappaticci.

But I was not aware how strongly he felt about me or my journalism until we found ourselves chasing the same story, to wit the Brian Nelson saga.

One day, myself, a long time journalist friend and John Ware found ourselves by chance in the company of Tommy Lyttle in the north of Belfast.

By this point Tommy had taken over leadership of the UDA from Andy Tyrie; he was the go-to source on all matters concerning Brian Nelson’s UDA history  and everyone wanted to talk to him.

People who know me well enough are aware that I contracted polio as an infant and while I have been able to overcome the disability sufficiently to lead a more or less active and normal life, there is a limit to how fast I can muddle along.

That day I found myself lagging further and further behind the other three as they accelerated along the sidewalk until eventually I gave up and made my way home. In those days I was much fitter than I am now, but even so I could not keep pace.

Some time after that I had my own meeting with Tommy Lyttle and, somewhat shamefacedly, he apologised and told me what had happened. “Ware wants you off the story”, he said.

Tommy then told me that John Ware had come to him and asked that I be excluded from the Brian Nelson story. To Tommy’s credit he refused.

‘American Protestantism’s Troubling History With Racism’

A fascinating article in the current edition of The Consortium describing how the roots of American anti-Black racism can be traced back to the Anglo-Protestantism of the so-called ‘Founding Fathers’. You can read it here.

Trump’s Niece Dishes The Dirt On Donald

You can read about it here.

Scappaticci Probe: Prosecutions Are ‘To Be Very Much The Exception’

Chief Constable Jon Boutcher, who heads the investigation into IRA spycatcher Freddie Scappaticci and his dealings with British military intelligence and MI5, recently told MP’s at Westminster that he would expect prosecutions resulting from his probe ‘to be very much the exception’.

This statement, made in writing to the Northern Ireland Grand Committee on June 23rd, will be widely interpreted as meaning that British intelligence officers who oversaw Scappaticci’s spying career and may well have been party to the murders of alleged IRA informers over many years, will escape prosecution.

IRA spycatcher and British double agent, Freddie Scappaticci

The head of the so-called Kenova inquiry, as Boutcher’s probe is officially called, leaned quite heavily in his submission to the Grand Committee on the sentiment of victims’ families, that they were more interested in learning the truth behind their family members’ deaths than bringing those responsible before the courts.

This development, which Mr Boutcher also justified on the grounds that ‘significant legal and practical obstacles (exist) to bringing cases from so many years ago to the criminal courts now’, will be greeted with expressions of relief not just in the British Ministry of Defence and at MI5 headquarters but within the ranks of Sinn Fein and the IRA, who faced embarrassing and possibly damaging courtroom revelations.

Cynics will point out that such considerations did not deter the PSNI from pursuing the Boston College tapes or charging individuals with decades old offences.

Jon Boutcher, former Chief Constable of Bedfordshire and head of the Kenova inquiry

Both Sinn Fein and the IRA are well practised in controlling civilian dissent but details emerging in open court would be beyond their power to influence.

It remains to be seen but the argument used by the Kenova chief to avoid bringing British intelligence officers and others to trial, could also be used to strengthen the case for a general amnesty followed by a full recounting of the Troubles.

The full statement given to the Grand Committee can be accessed and read here, but these are the relevant extracts:

Was Bobby Storey, Adams’ Watchdog, Really Just The Provos’ Luca Brasi With Brains

I see The Irish Times has today devoted what must be the equivalent of a whole page (in the days when people read paper newspapers) to an encomium to Bobby Storey, the fixer to Gerry Adams who was buried in Milltown cemetery in West Belfast yesterday after succumbing during an unsuccessful attempt to transplant one or both of his lungs at a hospital in, all of places, England.

In a more objective and considered time, in studies of this period and of the Provisional IRA’s journey to the Good Friday Agreement, Storey would merit a few paragraphs and several footnotes. But a whole page or thereabouts in Ireland’s paper of record? I think not. But such is the journalism of the peace process.

Storey was a character whose pre-Good Friday Agreement IRA career was marked notably by failure. He was arrested during a compromised effort to spring Brian Keenan from Brixton jail and then when he beat that rap, was arrested after an almost suicidal attempt to shoot British soldiers, and spent much of next two decades in the Maze prison.

Big Bobby’s moment came when he was released from the Maze at a point which coincided with the beginnings of the IRA’s final lap to the 1994 and 1997 ceasefires and it was his job to make sure that his boss, Gerry Adams both survived the experience and emerged triumphant.

A big, burly character with a menacing manner, as Malachy O’ Doherty can bear witness, he was largely successful in that task. But he was mostly a Belfast phenomenon, where he was most effective, and he was never, at least at a time when it really mattered to journalists and British spies trying to get a fix on such things, on the Army Council.

It was his principal job to intimidate and terrify Republicans in Belfast who had some interesting and awkward questions to ask about how happily the Adams’ ceasefire strategy sat with the Provos’ founding raison d’etre.

Bobby Storey’s real job was to ensure such people knew they were being watched so that Gerry could rest more easily in his bed. In that sense he was really Adams’ Luka Brasi, albeit with more brains, which would not be difficult (as the clip below demonstrates).

Far be it for me to try to guess who the Provo sources for The Irish Times piece were, but there is an interesting clue in this sentence: “Storey and North Belfast Assembly member Gerry Kelly were two of the masterminds in what was the biggest jailbreak in UK prison history, dubbed by republicans, The Great Escape, after the film.”

Actually no. Larry Marley was the brains behind the great escape and everyone knows that. One book has been written and a very good movie made, showing how it was the Ardoyne IRA man who conceived the plan for what became, with the escape of 38 IRA inmates, nineteen of who made a getaway, the largest escape in British penal history.

But it seems someone is intent on writing Larry Marley out of this spectacular episode And this piece is not the first time this has happened since Storey’s death. Who could be doing that, and why?

Well, here’s a possible clue.

Larry Marley, who did not take part in the escape because he was due to be released not long afterwards, was shot dead by the UVF at his home in Ardoyne in 1987 and this April one of his sons wrote that he had information that three IRA informers set up his father for assassination, presumably with the co-operation of British spooks who handled them.

One of those alleged informers, who also has a ranking position in Sinn Fein, has been outed very publicly a number of times before Marley’s son went public, but the Provo leadership has refused consistently to either take the allegation seriously or do anything about it.

That in turn has fueled suspicions that someone in the Provo hierarchy approves of this man’s double life and maybe gains an advantage from it – such as removing obstacles to, or/and opponents of the official strategy which Bobby Storey did so much to protect.

Writing Larry Marley out of the Maze prison escape by elevating Storey (and Gerry Kelly) as the real brains behind the plan, as seems to have happened in The Irish Times’ piece on Storey, can mean that in the background, at a level few journalists penetrate, Larry Marley is being badmouthed so that these sort of allegations appear more credible. Believe me this is an old Provo trick.

Big Bobby would have been very familiar with this sort of strategem. So Luca Brasi with brains might indeed be the best way to describe Gerry Adams’ late protector.