The above photo of James Monaghan, one-time IRA Director of Engineering and a central figure in the alleged 2001 plot by the IRA to train the Columbian FARC guerrillas, and Evelyn Glenholmes, daughter of late Short Strand IRA veteran Dickie Glenholmes, who was at the centre of a dramatic extradition row in 1986 over her alleged involvement in an IRA bombing campaign in London, was taken by undercover Spanish police who were closing in on the military commander of ETA, Javier Arizcuren-Ruiz, known by his codename ‘Kantauri’. He was eventually arrested outside a Paris hotel in March 1999.
The photos were featured in a multi-part television documentary called ‘The Challenge: ETA‘ (hat tip to HM for the pointer) currently screening on Amazon Prime, which traces the story of ETA from its birth through to its own peace process, which was strongly influenced by the Irish version, down to the involvement of Redemptorist priest, Alex Reid.
The Spanish anti-terrorist policeman interviewed for the documentary claims that the meeting was called to discuss an arms deal, which given Monaghan’s then status in the IRA and his subsequent dealings with FARC, sounds about right.
But Irish Times journalist, Paddy Woodworth, who was interviewed for this segment of the film, has a different view: “That they would actually have been trying to sell any weapons in 1999 seems to me very unlikely’, he claimed..
‘The IRA have a huge amount to lose if they are found selling weapons to an armed group in another European Union democracy. It can even be that what they were really meeting for was to transmit a message from Sinn Fein and the IRA leadership, to transmit a message to ETA to end the armed struggle’.
Indeed. And I am the King of the Congo, Paddy. How do you do?