As many of my readers will know, west Belfast IRA and Sinn Fein activist Gerry O’Hare died last week and was buried on Monday in Co. Donegal.
O’Hare played an important but involuntary role in Gerry Adams’ successful bid to capture Sinn Fein in the 1977-1980 period (he had already consolidated his hold on the IRA), a key development in what can now be seen with the benefit of hindsight as an effort to edge both the military and political wings of the republican movement towards constitutional politics.
The following excerpt from my book ‘A Secret History of the IRA‘, describes one small but important episode in that journey, a waypoint made possible by the military revival of the IRA during the years 1977 through 1979, and symbolised by the events of one bloody day in August 1979 when under the direction of Adams, Ivor Bell and Martin McGuinness, the IRA, killed 18 members of the Parachute regiment in Warrenpoint and Earl Mountbatten and members of his holiday party off the coast of Sligo.
These military successes were to be followed by Adams’ move to capture Sinn Fein, remove or neutralize opponents like Ruairi O Bradaigh and Daithi O Connail, and to make the Provos’ propaganda machine, that is the party’s two weekly papers, subservient to him and his followers.
The Northern based weekly, Republican News was already controlled by Adams’ allies, headed by Danny Morrison. But not so the Southern weekly, An Phoblacht, which was edited by Gerry O’Hare, then a supporter of the O Bradaigh/O Connail group.
The story of how Adams achieved this goal appeared in ‘A Secret History.…’ and what follows is the relevant extract. Enjoy: