Category Archives: Uncategorized

What Does A Printing Press Destroyed By The IRA Look Like?

Readers might remember a controversial speech made by the Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams a couple of years ago during a fund-raising trip to New York in which, in the context of the modern Irish Independent’s hostility towards himself, he recalled how during the Tan war, Michael Collins had dispatched IRA Volunteers to Middle Abbey Street to bash up the Indo’s printing press while holding the editor at gunpoint.

Gerry was the target of a lot of criticism, and not just from the usual suspects, since his remarks strayed into that ambiguous strip of land that separates amusing anecdote from veiled threat.

Well have you ever wondered what a printing press looks like after the IRA has had an angry word or two with it? I came across this photo of a printing press destroyed by the IRA in August 1922. It belonged to the Cork Examiner and was taken out of commission just prior to the arrival of Free State troops in Cork during the civil war, an event the Examiner was apparently looking forward to.



US Journalists Shower Hillary With Financial Donations

A very interesting and disturbing piece, at least for those who care about principled journalism, from the Center for Public Integrity about US journalists backing the two candidates in the presidential election.

Not just with their coverage but with their pocket books. And no surprise either that of the two main runners, Hillary Clinton is the overwhelming favourite of the fourth estate. Another way in which this election will leave America in a different place.


What Nussbaum didn’t disclose in her dispatches: she contributed $250 to Democrat Hillary Clinton in April.

On the nation’s left coast, Les Waldron, an Emmy Award-winning assignment editor at television station KFMB, the CBS affiliate in San Diego, swung right in July, shooting $28 to Trump.

And Carole Simpson, a former ABC “World News Tonight” anchor who in 1992 became the first African-American woman to moderate a presidential debate, is not moderate about her personal politics: the current Emerson College distinguished journalist-in-residence and regular TV news guest has given Clinton $2,800.

Conventional journalistic wisdom holds that reporters and editors are referees on politics’ playing field — bastions of neutrality who mustn’t root for Team Red or Team Blue, either in word or deed.

But during this decidedly unconventional election season, during which “the media” has itself become a prominent storyline, several hundred news professionals have aligned themselves with Clinton or Trump by personally donating money to one or the other.

In all, people identified in federal campaign finance filings as journalists, reporters, news editors or television news anchors — as well as other donors known to be working in journalism — have combined to give more than $396,000 to the presidential campaigns of Clinton and Trump, according to a Center for Public Integrity analysis.

Nearly all of that money — more than 96 percent — has benefited Clinton: About 430 people who work in journalism have, through August, combined to give about $382,000 to the Democratic nominee, the Center for Public Integrity’s analysis indicates.

About 50 identifiable journalists have combined to give about $14,000 to Trump. (Talk radio ideologues, paid TV pundits and the like — think former Trump campaign manager-turned-CNN commentator Corey Lewandowski — are not included in the tally.)

Generally, the law obligates federal candidates only to disclose the names of people making contributions of more than $200 during a single election cycle, along with their addresses and employer and occupation. That means it’s likely that many more journalists have given the Clinton or Trump campaigns cash, but in amounts too small to trigger reporting requirements.

Together, these journalist-donors work for news organizations great and small, from The New York Times to sleepy, small-town dailies. While many of them don’t primarily edit or report on political news, some do.

And each news professional offers his or her own unique take on a basic question: Why risk credibility — even one’s livelihood — to help pad a presidential candidate’s campaign account?

Simpson today describes herself as an “academic” and “former journalist.” Therefore, she says she’s “free to do many things I was prohibited from doing as a working journalist,” including giving money to Clinton.

“I have been waiting for the day our country would have a woman president,” Simpson said. “When Hillary decided to run, I was delighted because I couldn’t think of a more qualified woman to seek the high office.”

Waldron, of KFMB in San Diego, describes himself as a “lower case ‘l’ libertarian,” and believes journalists like him who both vote and make small-dollar political donations are within their rights to do so.

Why give money to Trump, a man who Forbes last month estimated is worth $3.7 billion? To fight against Clinton.

“I’m a big, big fan of the United States Constitution,” Waldron said, and Clinton “seems to care very little for the Constitution.”

Said The New Yorker’s Nussbaum: “I rarely write about politics, but it’s true that the RNC-on-TV posts verged on punditry, and I can understand the concern about disclosure.”

Donations often banned

Almost any U.S. citizen or foreign national with a U.S. green card may, by law, give money to a federal political candidate.

But major news organizations often restrict, if not prohibit, their journalists (and occasionally non-journalist employees) from making political campaign contributions.

The news organizations’ overriding concern: Such contributions will compromise journalists’ impartiality or seed the perception that journalists are biased toward certain politicians or political parties.

The New York Timesethics handbook declares that its staffers may not give money to, or raise money for, political candidates or election causes. “Any political giving by a Times staff member would carry a great risk of feeding a false impression that the paper is taking sides,” it reads.

The Associated Press is even more blunt with its journalists, stating that “under no circumstances should they donate money to political organizations or political campaigns.”

CNN spokeswoman Bridget Leininger said the cable network “does not allow editorial staff to contribute to candidates or political parties.”

A review of several dozen newsroom ethics policies indicates many other notable news outlets have similar no-political-donations mandates, including The Dallas Morning News, Houston Chronicle, Los Angeles Times, National Public Radio, ProPublica, San Antonio Express-News, The Seattle Times and Tampa Bay Times. (The Center for Public Integrity’s staff handbook states that all employees are “prohibited from engaging in political advocacy or donating to political candidates at any level of government.”)

And while some journalists do give politicians money, the vast majority do not.

“Not having that affiliation helps me feel more independent,” said Margaret Sullivan, The Washington Post’s media columnist, and a former New York Times public editor and Buffalo News editor and vice president. “I wouldn’t do it, and when I was supervising a newsroom, we had rules against it. It’s a good discipline, I think.”

Although journalists may have a right to give money to political candidates, the act of doing so “easily could be perceived as a conflict of interest,” said Paul Fletcher, editor-in-chief of Virginia Lawyers Weekly, who recently served as president of the Society of Professional Journalists.

So concerned about bias was former Washington Post Executive Editor Leonard Downie Jr. that he didn’t even vote.

No restrictions

Strict political contribution policies are not, however, universal among news organizations.

What’s patently prohibited at one news organization may be perfectly permissible at another.

Some outlets also differentiate among newsroom employees: A reporter covering a governmental agency, for example, might be punished for cutting checks to a U.S. Senate or presidential candidate. But the resident arts correspondent or star sports writer? Play ball.

Take Orange County Register restaurant critic Brad Johnson in California, who this year made dozens of smalldollar contributions to Clinton’s campaign that total more than $750.

Digital First Media’s Southern California News Group, of which The Orange County Register is a part, expressly prohibits news reporters from engaging in campaign activities “related to candidates, campaigns or issues which they may cover,” news group Executive Editor Frank Pine said. But while Johnson fits the broad definition of “journalist,” Pine doesn’t consider Johnson a news reporter — and therefore, he’s free to give the Clinton campaign money.

Johnson concurs: “I don’t cover politics. I don’t do investigative reporting. I’m just interested in finding the best pad thai and sharing what I find with our readers.”

Bernadette On The Peace Process: ‘A State Of Chassis’

Police Ombudsman Accepts Liam Adams’ Complaint Against PSNI & Barra McGrory

The North’s Police Ombudsman’s office (PONI) has agreed to investigate a complaint from Liam Adams, brother of Gerry Adams and a convicted sex offender, that the PSNI had refused to question the North’s Director of Public Prosecutions, Barra McGrory about Gerry Adams’ prior knowledge of allegations that Liam Adams had sexually assaulted his daughter, Aine Dahlstrom.

The complaint arises out of a consultation Mr McGrory had with Gerry Adams that took place in 2007, two years before the allegations against Liam Adams became public and some six years before he was found guilty of sexual assault and sentenced to sixteen years in jail.

At the time Mr McGrory was Gerry Adams’ solicitor. Four years after the consultation with Gerry Adams he was appointed the North’s Director of Public Prosecutions. He had been fast-tracked prior to this to the Northern Bar.

The significance of all this lies in a statement that Gerry Adams gave to the police in 2007 denying any knowledge of the accusations against his brother.

If the allegations had been discussed with Barra McGrory in the consultation, which had taken place prior to him giving the statement to the PSNI, this would show that his police statement was false and Gerry Adams could be accused of lying to the police and withholding information, potentially serious criminal charges.

The refusal of the PSNI to question Barra McGrory arises from the discovery by the DPP in February 2015 of a file containing notes about the consultation with Gerry Adams some eighteen months after Liam Adams’ conviction and a few days before his appeal began in the Belfast High Court. Mr McGrory said he had found the file on a home computer, not a computer from his law offices.

Mr McGrory’s discovery of the file led the senior Crown counsel in the case to ‘advise’ the PSNI to question the DPP about what he knew, arising from the consultation, of Gerry Adams’ knowledge of the sexual assault claims against his brother – in other words what did Gerry Adams know, and when did he know it?

This the PSNI did not do, nor did they act on a criminal complaint lodged by Liam Adams’ legal advisers arising from this, hence the complaint lodged with the Police Ombudsman.

A June 2015 report by the North’s Attorney-General, John Larkin recommended that Gerry Adams should not be prosecuted for withholding evidence. The report was issued some three months after Mr McGrory discovered the computer file and alerted the authorities but since the PSNI never questioned him, it is unlikely that the Attorney-General could have advanced the story.

Asked about the status of the Liam Adams’ complaint, the Ombudsman’s office responded: “This is an ongoing investigation and are (sic) enquiries are continuing.”

However the decision by the Ombudsman to take the case appears to represent a volte-face by his office. In September the Ombudsman had rejected the complaint. One source familiar with the interaction told

‘….the PONI (were) today (September 7th) saying they were not taking any action re his complaint because when they contacted the police officers involved, the PONI were informed that the officers had been advised by senior officers that Liam’s complaint was a legal matter not criminal and that it was being addressed by the Bar.’

Back in September 2015 I wrote a lengthy piece describing in some detail the background to the case and I reproduce it here, for the benefit of readers who are coming fresh to what is a complex and tangled case. Below that is a copy of recent correspondence between Liam Adams’ legal advisers and the Police Ombudsman’s office.

Here it is. Enjoy:

There is growing disquiet in the North’s legal world over the failure of the N.I. Director of Public Prosecutions, Barra McGrory QC to disclose to the PSNI a file he had kept containing details of a legal consultation held with the Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams in February, 2007 concerning allegations that his brother, Liam Adams had sexually abused his daughter, Ainé.

Mr McGrory was Gerry Adams’ solicitor at the time. He was appointed Director of Public Prosecutions in succession to Sir Alastair Fraser in November 2011.

Barra McGrory - kept a file on a consultation with Gerry Adams but did not disclose it to PSNI or his own prosecution service

Barra McGrory – before he become the North’s DPP, he kept a file on a consultation with Gerry Adams but did not disclose it to PSNI or the North’s prosecution service, which he subsequently headed. Since the file dealt with law company business, it should have been on his law firm’s computer system but somehow made its way onto a home computer two years after he was made DPP. It therefore escaped a court order. How did that happen?

The file was eventually disclosed by Mr McGrory but not until February 2015, eighteen months after Liam Adams was tried and convicted on charges that he had sexually abused his daughter and almost exactly eight years after the consultation had taken place. This was only days before Liam Adams began an appeal against his conviction.

The senior Crown counsel involved in the case then ‘advised’ the PSNI to question Mr McGrory about what he knew about Gerry Adams’ knowledge of the abuse allegations. He could have ‘instructed’ the PSNI to do this but chose to ‘advise’ instead.

The PSNI chose not to follow this ‘advice’. Had they been ‘instructed’ to question him, they would have had no choice and Northern Ireland would have witnessed, albeit second hand, the spectacle of the Director of Public Prosecutions being questioned by police about allegations that he may have withheld evidence about a crime involving the most famous IRA-linked family in Ireland.

Liam Adams, pictured around the time of his trial

Liam Adams, pictured around the time of his trial

Instead, Mr McGrory’s response came in an unsigned statement on two A4 size sheets of paper which Mr McGrory’s solicitor sent to the Public Prosecution Service – which is headed by Mr McGrory, but who had recused himself from the Liam Adams’ case.

The contents of that explanation, which were passed on to the Liam Adams’ legal team, cannot be revealed because of a condition attached to its disclosure which said that it could only be used or revealed in legal proceedings.

Others present at the consultation were another Adams’ brother, Patrick, better known as Paddy Adams – who is a former Belfast Commander of the IRA – and the Sinn Fein president’s personal aide and press officer, Richard McAuley. Paddy Adams was a member of an IRA firing party at the funeral of hunger striker Joe McDonnell in 1981; he was shot and wounded and arrested by British troops.

Richard McAuley, inseparable press aide to Gerry Adams outside Downing Street

Richard McAuley, inseparable press aide to Gerry Adams speaking to reporters during the peace process negotiations

The consultation took place just after Liam Adams had been arrested – on February 15th, 2007 – and questioned by PSNI detectives. Liam Adams’ daughter, Ainé had just revived a complaint she had first lodged in 1987, but had then withdrawn, and his arrest was leaked, apparently by the police, to The Sunday World newspaper. Liam Adams was not named in the report which instead referred to the arrest of a relative of a high-ranking republican.

Six years later, Aine Adams told The Belfast Telegraph that in 2007, Gerry Adams attempted to persuade her to seek a court injunction which would ban publicity about the scandal:

“He frantically phoned me about twenty times”, she told the newspaper, when he heard about the planned story. “He said he needed to make sure it didn’t get into the press to protect me. Looking back, he was buttering me up.”

According to sources familiar with the file, it also describes how Mr McGrory agreed to arrange a meeting between then PSNI Assistant Chief Constable, Peter Sheridon and Gerry Adams.

Former PSNI Assistant Chief Constable Peter Sheridan - has 'no recollection' of meeting Adams before he gave his PSNI statement

Former PSNI Assistant Chief Constable Peter Sheridan – has ‘no recollection’ of meeting Adams before he gave his statement to  PSNI detectives investigating allegations that Liam Adams had abused his daughter.

Allegedly, the document – or ‘minute’, as it is officially described – details that Mr Sheridan agreed to meet Mr Adams before he gave a statement in June 2007 to PSNI detectives investigating claims from Ainé Adams that she had been sexually assaulted by her father as a young child.

Contacted for comment by, Mr Sheridan, who quit the PSNI in 2008 and now heads Co-operation Ireland, said that he had “no recollection” of meeting Gerry Adams:

“I would have had no reason to, I was not part of the investigation team”, he said.

Contrary to what the ‘Gerry Adams’ file says, Mr Sheridan maintains that the leak about Liam Adams’ arrest did not come from the PSNI but from the republican community.

The question of Gerry Adams’ 2007 statement to the PSNI would later assume special significance, for in that statement he made no mention of any admission to him from Liam Adams that he had sexually abused his daughter Ainé.

However, eighteen months later, in 2009, he remembered that Liam had made an admission, allegedly during ‘a walk in the rain in Dundalk’, and included this in a fresh statement made to the PSNI.

He gave that statement a few weeks before being interviewed for a UTV documentary during which both Ainé and her mother claimed they had told Gerry Adams all about the sexual abuse. That led Liam Adams’ barrister, Eilis McDermott QC to accuse him of remembering the incident, ‘to save his political skin’.

Barra McGrory’s failure to hand over the 2007 file meant that the PSNI were not able to interview possibly important witnesses, including Paddy Adams, Richard McAuley and Peter Sheridan, about Gerry Adams’ knowledge of the sexual abuse allegations at that time. Nor was Liam Adams’ legal team able to question them in court.

The file, marked ‘Gerry Adams’, was found on Mr McGrory’s home computer. Liam Adams’ legal team had, before the first trial in April 2013, made a third party disclosure application for all relevant files kept by Mr McGrory’s then legal firm, PJ McGrory & Co dealing with Gerry Adams and the child sexual abuse allegations against Liam Adams.

His father, the late Paddy McGrory, had founded the firm and was one of the North’s ablest and best known criminal lawyers. He also was Gerry Adams’ lawyer and Barra McGrory inherited the SF leader as a client,  along with other prominent republicans – Bobby Storey was one – when his father died. (Full disclosure: he was also a friend of this writer and is dearly missed.)

Paddy McGrory - a friend of the author and father to Barra McGrory

Paddy McGrory – a friend of the author and father to Barra McGrory

The ‘Gerry Adams’ file was not amongst the documents handed over. The questions thus arise: was the file ever on the PJ McGrory computer system and if so, how and when did it make its way to Mr McGrory’s home computer?

A letter from the Public Prosecution Service to Liam Adams’ lawyers in February 15th, 2015, claimed that the minute:

“….only came to light last month when he was tidying up data stored on different computers held by him. This minute was contained in a folder relating to Gerard Adams. Mr McGrory was completely unaware of the minute when he made his police statement in connection with the trial of Liam Adams.”

The first trial of Liam Adams in April 2013 collapsed when it emerged that the trial judge, Corinne Philpott had neglected to hand over a prosecution file to the defence team. A second trial was held in September 2013 and in October, Liam Adams was found guilty on ten counts of sexual abuse.

His lawyers then launched an appeal which began on 25th March 2015. A month or so before the appeal began the Public Prosecution Service handed over to them the ‘Gerry Adams’ file discovered on Barra McGrory’s computer.

By this stage the file was of little use to Liam Adams’ lawyers. Not only had the first trial collapsed but Gerry Adams had been withdrawn from the witness list for the second trial after the defence had threatened to make a ‘bad character evidence’ application.

This meant that the defence was not able to summon Mr McGrory as a witness during the second trial and ask him about significant discrepancies between the undisclosed ‘Gerry Adams’ file and the statement he gave PSNI detectives. Nor were they able to call Paddy Adams, Richard McAuley or Peter Sheridan of the PSNI.

Because Gerry Adams did not figure in the trial, his dealings with Barra McGrory, his lawyer, also could not figure in the appeal.

According to sources familiar with both documents there is no reference at all in Mr McGrory’s 2012 PSNI statement to the consultation he had with Gerry Adams. In fact the two accounts are impossible to reconcile.

Said one source who has seen the recently rediscovered ‘Gerry Adams’ document:

In the ‘Gerry Adams’ document, Barra McGrory states that he had a consultation with Gerry Adams MP, who was accompanied by Patrick Adams and Richard McAuley in his office in February 2007. They discussed the case and the leaking of information to the press by the PSNI. Barra McGrory then contacted ACC Peter Sheridon who agreed that there had been a leak to the press by the PSNI and he said he would meet Gerry Adams voluntarily, before he made any statement to the PSNI.

In contrast, Mr McGrory’s statement to the PSNI, made on August 28th, 2012, reads in part:

Sometime in May or June 2007, I was contacted by the police and was informed they were seeking Gerry Adams’ co-operation in an investigation….I duly contacted Gerry Adams and arranged to consult. A consultation took place. I do not have a minute or record of that consultation….Following this consultation I contacted police and facilitated a meeting between them and Gerry Adams during which time he gave them a statement. I was present on June 20th, 2007 when that statement was made. The only notes I have to my involvement in this matter are those already disclosed consisting of 2 separate pages. The first note headed ‘meeting 1987’ was a consultation note I made during the interview with Constable Corrigan and Cartmill. The second note beginning ‘calls to Insp Black and Ivan Anderson…’ was made in 2009 after I was requested by Gerry Adams to ascertain who was now in charge of the investigation.

Troublesome Questions For Sinn Fein On The Separated Brethren…..

Gareth Mulvenna, whose engrossing book on the Tartan Gangs of Belfast in the early 1970’s I was pleased to review in these pages, has been engaged in a fascinating if somewhat fruitless dialogue with Sinn Fein over their claimed commitment to engage positively and sympathetically with their separated brethren in the Loyalist community.

I reproduce here without comment, his recent post on the matter on his blog, with thanks to Huw Bennett for bringing it to my attention. Free life-time subscription to TBE for those who correctly put names to the Shinners involved. Enjoy:

Too uncomfortable a conversation?

In August I e-mailed a prominent member of Sinn Féin who recently came out in praise of the Orange Order.

The e-mail was as follows:

Dear xxxxxx,

I am a friend of both xxxx xxxx xxxxxxx and xx xxxx xxxxxxx.

My first book, ‘Tartan Gangs and Paramilitaries – The Loyalist Backlash’ will be published by Liverpool University Press on 30 September 2016.

Tartan Gangs and Paramilitaries

I recently wrote about the book for The Irish Times:

…and was also interviewed for Balaclava Street blog:

As it is based on in-depth interviews conducted by myself I am hoping that the book provokes a more nuanced understanding of the loyalist experience at the start of the conflict.

I was wondering whether you would be interested in an ‘Uncomfortable Conversations’ piece for An Phoblacht?

I look forward to your thoughts.

All the best,

I received a response via e-mail from another Sinn Féin member, who I had a telephone conversation with. I repeated the premise of my proposed piece and had a good chat about the subject and other matters. He told me to make the article as uncomfortable as I wanted it to be; basically to pose questions of the readership. It was suggested to me that I should look at the party’s ‘Toward An Agreed and Reconciled Future: Sinn Féin policy on reconciliation and healing’, bearing it in mind while writing the UC piece.

In this document, the party states that,

Irish society has yet to deal with the harms, fears and mistrust from the conflict. Despite the contribution from Republicans, and many others, the legacy of conflict and division stills casts a long shadow over efforts to build a better future. At its core a reconciliation and healing process must create the common ground to deal with the fears, the unanswered questions from the past and shape thinking and deeds that will create a pathway from the past to the future.

It also states that Sinn Féin’s approach to reconciliation and healing ‘has been informed by…The need to be sensitive to all hurt, loss and pain [and] The need for an acknowledgement of all the different human experiences of conflict felt across society, on this island and beyond…’

With all of this in mind I stated that I would try and get a piece together within the next few weeks. Shortly thereafter – within days – my first child was born. The person I had been talking to was keen that I get the piece in by Sunday 14 August if at all possible – long before the original deadline, and the day after my daughter had returned from hospital. The reason being that An Phoblacht wanted the article for its September edition. I got the article written and submitted on time. I have included it in full below

Over two years ago I set out to write a book about the loyalist Tartan gangs in early 1970s Belfast. Through conversations and meetings with former Tartan gang members who became loyalist paramilitaries I was given access to former senior members the Young Citizen Volunteers and the Red Hand Commando, the latter of which little is known about. Inevitably the book became more than a study of the Tartan phenomenon of which the Bay City Rollers had no bearing on.

Republicans gave Tony Novosel’s fantastic study of early loyalist paramilitary political initiatives a fair hearing. Indeed, I dare say that some people might have been a bit taken aback by just how progressive the political formulations of the Ulster Volunteer Force and RHC were during the mid-1970s. These ideas laid the seed by which the Progressive Unionist Party would flourish from the late 1980s until the late 1990s, but in the dark days of Kingsmill and the UVF Butcher gang they found little favour on the grey and frantic streets of Northern Ireland.
My book, Tartan Gangs and Paramilitaries is one which I do hope republicans will read. It will be slightly harder to digest as it concentrates on the violent activities of loyalists. This is understandably an area which must be approached with sensitivity, but it is also one we cannot shy away from in attempting to find a peaceful resolution in Northern Ireland.

The book also importantly demonstrates that there is more nuance to the pre and early Troubles loyalist story than has previously been heard.
While loyalists will openly admit that many of their actions were driven by sectarianism, there has been little to no public acknowledgement by former republican combatants and their supporters that the PIRA carried out a number of sectarian killings. This continues to frustrate the loyalist and unionist community. The men that I interviewed for Tartan Gangs and Paramilitaries speak with an almost eidetic memory about their experiences of the Four Step Inn and Balmoral Furniture Showrooms bombings of September and December 1971 respectively.

They ask what the PIRA – long suspected of these ‘operations’ – had to gain from such devastating acts?

Did the PIRA seek to draw their Protestant working-class neighbours into a dirty sectarian war?
One thing that we know for certain is that these two events were key factors in driving many young loyalists, including Tartan gang members, into the nascent loyalist paramilitaries.

Throughout the loyalist ‘backlash’ in 1972 and beyond innocent Catholics would die at the hands of travelling gunmen, something which Plum Smith dispassionately stated some years later, ‘wasn’t personal’. Others would die horrific deaths in romper rooms.

Of course it is necessary to get past ‘whataboutery’, but the loyalists I interviewed would point to the gruesome deaths of Tom Kells, Robert McFarland and Robert Collins which were meted out by republicans. Republicans cannot seek to claim a ‘higher morality’ in legitimising their campaign.
For many loyalists, particularly those who agreed to ‘abject and true remorse’ this is an unresolved facet of post-conflict Northern Ireland.

Anthony McIntyre conceded in 2013 that ‘We [republicans] are often cynical about loyalists maintaining as a motivation a defence of their communities. Yet it features so much in their conversation and writings that it is simply impossible to think they are all lying’.

Gerry Adams stated in the Houses of the Oireachtas in 2014 that ‘The IRA that emerged in these years [between the 1950s and 1970s] was one built by ordinary people out of sheer necessity because of the conditions in which they found themselves. In nationalist areas of the north, the IRA was from the people, not some abstract idea’.

It might be impossible for many readers of An Phoblacht to acknowledge, but what I heard through the interviews that I carried out and the long conversations I had with former loyalists paramilitaries was a mirror image of Adams’s statement.

There is a long and deep feeling within the loyalist community that the PIRA set out over the final weekend of June 1970, during the St Matthews and Whiterock episodes, to kill Protestants in an attempt to provoke a backlash. It was shortly after these killings that a group of young men met in a house in Rosevale Street in the Oldpark area. There they agreed the founding principles of the grouping which would become the Red Hand Commando.

When Brendan Hughes stated that the republican objective was to ‘Get the Brits out through armed resistance, engage them in armed conflict and send them back across the water with their tanks and guns’ he may well have meant the British military presence in Northern Ireland. However, this was miscommunicated by republicans when they killed constitutional unionists and working-class Protestants. Ronnie McCullough, one of those young men who met in Rosevale Street, told me that such utterances couldn’t help but sound personal: ‘To get the British out of the north part of Ireland effectively meant to get us out of the north part of Ireland, because we subscribed to the British identity. Whilst we were Irish and recognised the fact that we do have an Irishness, we were Irish Unionists and wished to remain part of the British household’.
Republicans must ponder on the experiences and rationale which informed young loyalist men to take up arms in the early 1970s.

At the end of the month (August) I inquired about my article and was told that it was with the editor and hopefully ‘scheduled in in next month’. The article did not appear in the September AP.

In the middle of September I e-mailed to ask whether the editor had made a call on my piece. I was texted a few days later by the SF member I had been corresponding with and was told that he would phone me the next day. He didn’t for one reason or another.

At the beginning of October I sent a message to the SF member stating:

Hi xxxx – can I take it at this stage that the UC piece is not being printed? The deadline seemed pressing almost two months ago.

To which the response was:

Gareth can we schedule call. View is that pieces should engaged with UC parameters. Still up 4 piece. xxxx

I replied:

That is a shame xxxx – particularly that it has taken so long given that I rushed it together two days after the baby was born. Having read it again I feel it does fit into UC parameters but if AP doesn’t wish to publish it I think I will leave it.

The response was:

Gareth let’s schedule a call and talk through.

I very much appreciate the effort you put into article and I’d like to see a contribution from you in paper.

I wasn’t able to have the phone conversation due to work commitments and instead decided to write an e-mail outling my feelings:


Hi xxxx

Hope you are well.

Having now asked a few people with very different opinions on NI to read my article in the context of UC parameters they too are struggling to see why AP won’t publish – other than the obvious point…is the piece too uncomfortable?

Recent articles by Chris Donnelly and Ciaran MacAirt give one the impression that the UC series is now just republicans merely having very comforting conversations in-house and demanding that everyone else feel uncomfortable.

My article poses direct questions from loyalists to republicans that I encountered in my research – they are all crucial questions in legacy issues and reconciliation for Ireland. I am feeding back what I heard.

I absolutely fail to see where this article does not engage with the UC parameters and I can’t come to any conclusion other (which others agree with me on) that I have been censored so that there is no actual robust or truly uncomfortable questions asked of republicans in the UC series.

All the best


There the correspondence ends…

I hold no ill will toward the person I was corresponding with (I actually admire quite a lot of their discourses and work) but the big question here is – are SF serious about their UC series? Or do they believe in an ‘acceptable level of discomfort’ when discussing legacy issues and the past?

How Was Denis Donaldson Recruited As A Spy?

Very few journalists knew Denis Donaldson as well as Tunis-born, French writer, Sorj Chalandon, a 27-year veteran of the left-wing daily Liberation and a prize-winning author of seven books.

One book which won him a prize – the Grand Prix du roman de l’Académie française – and which was short-listed for the prestigious Prix Goncourt, was ‘Return to Killybegs’, an account of an IRA man turned British spy – called Tyrone Meehan in the book – whose life is loosely based on Denis Donaldson’s own tragic voyage to that lonely cottage in Co Donegal.

Sorj Chalandon

Sorj Chalandon

I was greatly honored to be asked to write an afterword to ‘Killybegs’ and to share in the praise for Chalandon’s work. Like anyone reading this book I was of course curious to discover how the author explained his hero’s entry to the ranks of British intelligence agents but, as I did in my afterword, I won’t reveal it here. Those eager to know will have to buy the book.

Denis Donaldson with two friends

Denis Donaldson with two friends

In the meantime I reproduce here the book cover and my afterword. Enjoy:






Is This Hillary’s Iran-Contra Scandal?

The story below first appeared in the US edition of Politico nine days ago, and its implications are potentially serious for Hillary Clinton since some of the weaponry covertly – and illegally – supplied to anti-Gaddafi rebels made their way into ISIS hands in Libya.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton walks with President Barack Obama on Sept. 12, 2012, where he spoke about the death of U.S. ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens. | AP Photo

Obama DOJ drops charges against alleged broker of Libyan weapons

Arms dealer had threatened to expose Hillary Clinton’s talks about arming anti-Qadhafi rebels.

The Obama administration is moving to dismiss charges against an arms dealer it had accused of selling weapons that were destined for Libyan rebels.

Lawyers for the Justice Department on Monday filed a motion in federal court in Phoenix to drop the case against the arms dealer, an American named Marc Turi, whose lawyers also signed the motion.

The deal averts a trial that threatened to cast additional scrutiny on Hillary Clinton’s private emails as Secretary of State, and to expose reported Central Intelligence Agency attempts to arm rebels fighting Libyan leader Moammar Qadhafi.

Government lawyers were facing a Wednesday deadline to produce documents to Turi’s legal team, and the trial was officially set to begin on Election Day, although it likely would have been delayed by protracted disputes about classified information in the case.

A Turi associate asserted that the government dropped the case because the proceedings could have embarrassed Clinton and President Barack Obama by calling attention to the reported role of their administration in supplying weapons that fell into the hands of Islamic extremist militants.

“They don’t want this stuff to come out because it will look really bad for Obama and Clinton just before the election,” said the associate.

In the dismissal motion, prosecutors say “discovery rulings” from U.S. District Court Judge David Campbell contributed to the decision to drop the case. The joint motion asks the judge to accept a confidential agreement to resolve the case through a civil settlement between the State Department and the arms broker.

“Our position from the outset has been that this case never should have been brought and we’re glad it’s over,” said Jean-Jacques Cabou, a Perkins Coie partner serving as court-appointed defense counsel in the case. “Mr Turi didn’t break the law….We’re very glad the charges are being dismissed.”

Under the deal, Turi admits no guilt in the transactions he participated in, but he agreed to refrain from U.S.-regulated arms dealing for four years. A $200,000 civil penalty will be waived if Turi abides by the agreement.

A State Department official confirmed the outlines of the agreement.

“Mr. Turi cooperated with the Department’s Directorate of Defense Trade Controls in its review and proposed administrative settlement of the alleged violations,” said the official, who asked not be named. “Based on a compliance review, DDTC alleged that Mr. Turi…engaged in brokering activities for the proposed transfer of defense articles to Libya, a proscribed destination under [arms trade regulations,] despite the Department’s denial of…requests for the required prior approval of such activities.”

Turi adviser Robert Stryk of the government relations and consulting firm SPG accused the government of trying to scapegoat Turi to cover up Clinton’s mishandling of Libya.

“The U.S. government spent millions of dollars, went all over the world to bankrupt him, and destroyed his life — all to protect Hillary Clinton’s crimes,” he said, alluding to the deadly Sept. 11, 2012 terrorist attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya.

Republicans hold Clinton responsible for mishandling the circumstances around that attack. And Stryk said that Turi was now weighing book and movie deals to tell his story, and to weigh in on the Benghazi attack.

Representatives of the Justice Department, the White House and Clinton’s presidential campaign either declined to comment or did not respond to requests for comment on the case or the settlement.

Turi was indicted in 2014 on four felony counts: two of arms dealing in violation of the Arms Export Control Act and two of lying to the State Department in official applications. The charges accused Turi of claiming that the weapons involved were destined for Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, when the arms were actually intended to reach Libya.

Turi’s lawyers argued that the shipments were part of a U.S. government-authorized effort to arm Libyan rebels.

It’s unclear if any of the weapons made it to Libya, and there’s no evidence linking weapons provided by the U.S. government to the Benghazi attacks.

“The proposal did not result in an actual transfer of defense articles to Libya,” the State Department official told POLITICO on Tuesday.

But questions about U.S. efforts to arm Libyan rebels have been mounting, since weapons have reportedly made their way from Libya to Syria, where a civil war is raging between the Syrian Government and ISIL-aligned fighters.

In an interview last year, Turi said the U.S. was aware that weapons being shipped into Libya during the unrest there were being immediately diverted to Syria.

“When this equipment landed in Libya, half went one way, and the half went the other way,” Turi said in an interview broadcast on Fox Business Channel. “The half that went the other way is the half that ended up in Syria.”

Turi also said he came up with an idea he termed “zero footprint,” where the U.S. would send weapons to Libyan rebels through Arab countries, like Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.

During 2013 Senate hearings on the 2012 Benghazi attack, Clinton, under questioning from Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky), said she had no knowledge of weapons moving from Libya into Turkey, for ultimate transfer to Syria.

Wikileaks head Julian Assange in July suggested that he had emails proving that Clinton “pushed” the “flows” of weapons “going over to Syria.”

Additionally, Turi’s case had delved into emails sent to and from the controversial private account that Clinton used as Secretary of State, which the defense planned to harness at any trial.

At a court hearing in 2015, Cabou said emails between Clinton and her top aides indicated that efforts to arm the rebels were — at a minimum — under discussion at the highest levels of the government.

“We’re entitled to tell the jury, ladies and gentlemen of the jury, the Secretary of State and her highest staff members were actively contemplating providing exactly the type of military assistance that Mr. Turi is here to answer for,” the defense attorney said, according to a transcript.

Turi’s defense was pressing for more documents about the alleged rebel-arming effort and for testimony from officials who worked on the issue for the State Department and the CIA. The defense said it planned to argue that Turi believed he had official permission to work on arms transfers to Libya

“If we armed the rebels, as publicly reported in many, many sources and as we strongly believe happened and as we believe at least one witness told the grand jury, then documents about that process relate to that effort,” Cabou told Campbell at the same hearing last year.