I notice that in media reports of recent legal decisions re Gerry Adams’ libel case against the BBC, the Dublin High Court judge Ms Justice Emily Egan ‘ruled that the BBC was entitled to the discovery of documents relating to Mr Adams’ alleged membership of the IRA and its army council although she doubted that the illegal paramilitary organisation itself kept and retained detailed records and minutes of its meetings.’
I hate to take issue with her honour but nothing could be further from the truth. The IRA is a highly bureaucratic organisation and keeps detailed records of nearly everything. IRA Army Council meetings are always recorded in detail by the Council’s secretary as are GHQ meetings. The records are then stored away in dumps and can be recovered when necessary.
Common sense alone dictates that this is the case for the simple reason that a record of decisions taken are there for the record and in case there are any disputes about what was decided, who spoke, and who voted for or against a particular decision. After all the IRA at that level can be a very bitchy, not say dangerous organisation and the records are there to resolve disputes about who said what to whom, when, what was decided and who else was a witness.
Occasionally the records of Army Council meetings make it into the public domain. This happened in the wake of discussions between the IRA leadership and the British during the controversial ceasefire of the mid-1970’s. Army Council records were made public by the O Bradaigh side to rebut assertions and allegations made by the Adams wing.
Incidentally Mr Adams probably holds the record for attending more Army Council meetings than any other of his republican contemporaries.