Is Gerry Kelly Rewriting IRA History – And If So Why?

I see that Gerry Kelly, he of the 1973 IRA bombing of the Old Bailey in London, has been stirring the proverbial recently with a tweet praising the 1983 mass escape of IRA inmates from the Maze Prison, aka Long Kesh, in which he participated.

The first to protest was Boris Johnson’s man in Belfast, someone called Brandon Lewis, who denounced the tweet as ‘disgraceful’. Yesterday, News Letter columnist, Alex Kane thought he could detect a baleful motive behind the posting (see below):

And he concludes:

Maybe. But I noticed something else, a little piece of history rewriting that is often the hallmark of the neo-Stalinism that characterises militarist outfits like the Provisional IRA and its acquiescent junior partner, Sinn Fein.

Here is the line that jumped out at me: “One of Big Bob’s best ops”, Kelly wrote, inferring pretty clearly that the architect of the plan to engineer the mass escape was Bobby Storey, Gerry Adams’ loyal lieutenant, whose death and funeral earlier this year, at the outset of the Covid crisis, was a blatant two fingers at the rules designed to curb the pandemic.

‘Big Bob’s’ mass funeral, orchestrated to highlight his loyal service to the Adams’ leadership, arguably endangered the health and lives of the many former IRA activists and sympathisers who formed the cortege and lined the streets of the Falls Road during the procession to Milltown cemetery. (Ironically Storey was actually interred later that day at a cemetery miles away in Loyalist east Belfast)

The problem, of course, is that everyone knows that the real brains behind the escape was Ardoyne IRA man, Larry Marley. So well known as the architect of the breakout that Hollywood made a movie about it, called ‘Maze‘ with Marley, played by Tom Vaughan-Lewis, as the lead character. I may be wrong but I don’t remember ‘Big Bobby’ featuring at all prominently.

Here’s the trailer for the movie:

So why did Gerry Kelly choose to rewrite IRA, and his own, history and elevate ‘Big Bobby’ while erasing Larry Marley entirely? Now, one reason may be some opportune bootlicking by Kelly, since everyone knows Storey worshiped the Big Lad, then anything Storey did had to be inspired by the Big Lad. Ergo the Big Lad was the true inspiration for the escape.

The other reason? Perhaps to signal Larry Marley’s new status as a non-person.

And the reason for that?

Larry Marley was shot dead in his Ardoyne home in April 1987 by the UVF and his son, Sean O Mearthaile, recently went public with an allegation that his father was killed with the assistance of a least three IRA informers, one of whom is still a leading member in North Belfast, although these days is more often seen wearing a Sinn Fein label.

It is believed that the Marley family were told all this by detectives working for Chief Constable Jon Boutcher, the former head of Bedfordshire police who is investigating the activities of the former head of IRA security turned British Army agent, Freddie Scappaticci.

Here is Sean O Mearthaile‘s posting of that claim:

Here’s where the story begins to get murky. Allegations about the alleged SF informer have been rampant for years but they have been ignored and the individual’s status in the organisation untouched. He appears to have the leadership’s blessing. Why was that, why is that?

In this sort of situation, conspiracy theories thrive and there is no way to get straight answers. But one question persists. Why does the IRA leadership continue to support this individual?

There are other questions. Was Larry Marley killed because he was the brains behind the big breakout and the British, via the UVF, sought revenge, or was he removed for other reasons, intra-Provo reasons, perhaps connected to the journey towards constitutionalism that had started the year before Marley’s untimely death?

Or perhaps Gerry Kelly just forgot that he was the real brains behind the 1983 prison breakout.

3 responses to “Is Gerry Kelly Rewriting IRA History – And If So Why?

  1. united ireland while debasing everything protestant, thereby negating a 1 island state, half of my family are southern catholics, they will never accept anything less than a mutually inclusive society not based on 1 religion lauding over everything else, the PITA were always traitors to a true UI

  2. Ed, During my time in the H-Blocks a very popular course was organised by the prisoners each year to coincide with the annual West Belfast Festival. Each session involved current prisoners who had been played their part in various jail protests and events. The sessions I attended involved men like Bobby Storey himself, Danny Morrison, Raymond McCartney, Harry Murray Brendan Mead, Bic McFarland, Bernard Fox etc along with others who had been involved in the escape and other events. Larry Marley’s role as mastermind was without question. One thing you learn about Republicans is that they are meticulous on detail and have encyclopedic knowledge and memory for who did what. My point is that you can rule out any possibility that Kelly forgot or got mixed up… that could be a knee capping offence because the retelling of stories are taken that seriously. Maybe Kelly wants to change the narrative now to put distance between why Marley was killed and who had a hand in his murder. I have been told that collusion did not just happen in one direction but that Rupublicans/Security Forces were sometimes involved in collusion..

  3. Surely the crimes of his son, Seamus, would also be a factor as well, owing to SF’s less than satisfactory record on these matters?

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