Death Of Seamus McGrane, Pre-Split, Provisional IRA Executive Chairperson

Seamus McGrane, who was chair of the Provisional IRA Executive when the organisation split over accepting the Mitchell Principles, has died in jail where he was serving a 12-year term for a bomb plot timed to co-incide with Prince Charles’ visit to Ireland in 2015.

By happenstance Prince Charles was in Ireland, North and South, last week where, reportedly, he was given a warm welcome by some of McGrane’s former comrades.

Here is a link to the speech McGrane gave to the 1997 IRA Convention which ended with victory for the Adams-McGuinness faction – and ultimately led to IRA decommissioning, recognition of the PSNI and places in the Stormont administration for Sinn Fein – but led to a split and the formation of the Real IRA.

Trump’s Moscow Pee Tape

Seth Hettena has an interesting article on whether or not the story about Trump arranging for prostitutes to pee on a Moscow hotel bed allegedly slept in by Barack and Michelle Obama is true. You can read it here.

Martin Dillon Weighs In On Patrick Keefe Controversy

Veteran Northern Ireland journalist and broadcaster, Martin Dillon – who first broke the story of the IRA Disappeared in his 1988 book ‘The Dirty War‘ – takes Patrick Radden Keefe to task for his claim that his recent bestselling book ‘Say Nothing‘, recently nominated for the George Orwell prize for political writing, was based ‘chiefly on his own reporting’:

Lately a new wave of investigative journalists/writers has entered the publishing world with well-written books based on “original reporting.” Readers, critics and publishers rarely challenge such claims by inquiring how much of the reporting is “original” and how much is rooted in previously published material. How many of these writers, for instance, based their books on their own investigative work, risking their lives in the process?


Martin Dillon

Nowadays, information is readily accessible by the click of a button. The Internet provides thousands of references on any topic which is a great thing if your aim it to gather tons of information on a topic. Academics often mine already published books, but they acknowledge their sources by painstakingly documenting references to original material in the accepted footnotes style.

Not so these new writers. Instead, they skillfully weave original material of other writers into narratives, grudgingly recognizing in a Notes or References section at the end of their books their use of original works. They rarely explain the exact significance of the material they incorporated, yet extensive references in a section at the back of their books may testify to how much they relied on the writings of others.

Their technique of avoiding footnotes is alarming and unacceptable.

The aim one might conclude is to produce a clean manuscript, leaving the impression that these writers did not rely on anything but their original reporting. Writers employing this technique will argue that they credited other writers in their Notes at the back of their books. Most readers are unlikely to spend time constantly referring to back Notes to find and understand links and relevance between references to other works and an author’s narrative.

A writer who used the Notes technique – fifty-five pages of them- is journalist/writer Patrick Raddon Keefe in his book – Say Nothing….A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland. It climbed steadily to the top of the best-selling list and was showered with praise by critics as “an epic account of Northern Ireland’s bloody sectarian conflict”.

One is left wondering how much American critics really know about the Troubles to deliver such overreaching praise. National Public Radio, which one might expect to know better, described the book as a “masterful history of the Troubles”. There have been many masterful histories of the Troubles, but none was written by Mr. Radden Keefe.

Instead, they were authored by the well-known writers whom Mr. Keefe described at the back of his book as “long time chroniclers “of the Northern Ireland conflict. He admits in his Notes section that he “incorporated the ground-breaking works” of such writers as Tim Pat Coogan, Martin Dillon, Mark Urban, Ed Moloney, Henry McDonald, Suzanne Breen, Malachi O’Doherty, Peter Taylor, Richard English, Allison Morris, David McKittrick and Susan McKay, but insists his book is “based chiefly on my own reporting”.


Patrick Keefe

It leaves the reader to wonder how much exactly is based on his “original reporting.” And did he really have permission to “incorporate” the works of those above mentioned writers so extensively into his book? He did not have, nor did he seek my permission. He just emailed me once, offering to buy me lunch in New York to “swap notes.” That never happened.

I believe that claims by any writer of “original reporting” have to be weighed against material already available in previously published works. I was intrigued how he omitted to credit the groundbreaking work of other writers within his narrative. For example, in my book “The Dirty War,” published back in 1988, I was the first person to expose the fact that the IRA was abducting, interrogating and secretly burying people, mainly its own members.

I even named one victim, a young man whose family was unaware that he had been abducted, secretly killed and buried in a remote part of the Irish countryside.

My revelations about secret burials became known in the media as the story of the Disappeared. There is no recognition by Keefe in his story, or in a New Yorker article he published, that I broke the story of the Disappeared three decades before he began writing specifically about it with his focus on the tragic story of Jean McConville, a central character in his narrative.

My name does not appear anywhere in the narrative, but there are extensive references to my work listed in his Notes section. This is just one example that struck me as a failure by Mr. Radden Keefe to give proper recognition to the “long time chroniclers.” It is up to the critics to be more circumspect before defining Mr. Radden Keefe’s book as a “masterful history of the Troubles” based on his original reporting.

Gerry Adams’ Goal Is To Intimidate The Media, Not Me

Giving evidence at the Ballymurphy inquest in Belfast yesterday, Gerry Adams took the opportunity to take a swipe at myself.

To quote The Irish Times:

Mr Adams also denied an allegation in writer and journalist Ed Moloney’s book, A Secret History of the IRA, that he joined the IRA in 1966 and that he took charge in Ballymurphy three years later.

He said he never read Mr Moloney’s book. ‘I don’t judge him to be an academic or indeed a journalist who is objective in his attitude to the peace process, Sinn Fein or myself’, he said.

As Mr Adams and most people who know me well can attest, such attacks are like water off a duck’s back. And most people who know my work will also know that the real reason for Mr Adams’ animosity is that many of the stories concerning him that I have written have been too close to the truth for his comfort.

Telling the truth, or doing my best to do so have, I hope, been the hallmarks of my journalism as others, such as the late Ian Paisley, can bear witness to.

But powerful figures like Gerry Adams and Ian Paisley do not like close scrutiny by the media, especially if, like both those gentlemen, they have or had many skeletons rattling about in their wardrobes.

And so, the real purpose of Gerry Adams’ attack on myself is to demonstrate to other journalists that this is what is likely to happen to them if they probe too deeply into his past.

What he did at the Ballymurphy inquest yesterday was an exercise in media intimidation, using Ed Moloney as a weapon against other journalists.

So, Whose Guns Were Used In IRA Funeral Salute?

The photograph above, which appeared in The Irish News on Tuesday morning (May 7th), purports to show ‘independent veteran former IRA members’ firing a volley of shots in honour of former Belfast IRA member, Peter Rooney who died last week of cancer.

His funeral was, The Irish News reported, one of the largest seen in Belfast in years and in attendance were former IRA Adjutant-General Gerry Kelly, former IRA Northern Commander, Sean ‘Spike’ Murray and former Intelligence chief and personal fixer for Gerry Adams, Bobby Storey.

The presence of these gentlemen suggests the funeral arrangements had the blessing, as it were, of the Provo leadership and that raises questions about the true ownership and origin of the weapons used to fire a volley in Rooney’s memory.

Where did these weapons come from? Is it really credible that ‘independent veteran former’ Provos would have access to such weaponry, or that if such a group exists, which is doubtful, they would do such a thing, or own arms dumps, without the say-so and approval of the Provos?

Isn’t it much more likely that the pistols used in the salute came from a dump whose contents somehow managed to escape the decommissioning process which, we were all told, had removed IRA weaponry in total and for good? And isn’t it much more likely that what happened was a deniable piece of chicanery on the part of the Provo leadership?

Or is it just a huge coincidence that this show of force happened just as fresh talks were being convened between Sinn Fein and the DUP in a bid to restore the Stormont Assembly?

I wonder what Mary Lou makes of all this?

Nothing To Get Excited About In NI Local Govt Election Results

I notice that sections of the media in Ireland are getting terribly excited about the outcome of last week’s council elections in North, seeing in the results a  resurgence in the so-called centre ground of politics.

It is true that the Alliance Party saw its share of the vote rise from 6.7 per cent in 2014 to 11.5 per cent last week but the performance of the other Unionist and Nationalist parties was, with the exception of the OUP, not markedly different from the 2014 result.

The DUP’s share of the vote actually rose from 23.1 per cent to 24.1 per cent; the Official Unionists fell two points to 14.1 per cent while Sinn Fein’s share fell 0.9 per cent to 23.2 (doubtless thanks to the party’s dramatic fall in support in Derry).

That result robbed SF of it top position and placed the DUP once again at the forefront of electoral politics in the North.

These were changes at the margin and hardly the sort of seismic change that some sections of the media were expecting (hoping for?) in the wake of the Brexit crisis and the slaying of Lyra McKee.

Alliance’s success came largely at the expense of the Official Unionists which is not surprising since Alliance is really just a more polite version of that party. I saw one analysis, with which I would concur, that explained that shift in terms of Brexit fears (i.e. economic losses) rather than any yearning for a post-Lyra deal.

Sinn Fein’s performance in Derry was notably poor, resulting from widespread criticism of that party’s embrace of Tory economic policies, something that also explains the growth of dissident republicanism in the city.

Although that was not repeated in West Belfast, the success of of People Before Profit there as well as in Derry does bode ill for the Shinners. Expect a shift to the left from the party of principle.

Otherwise move on, not much to see here.

My Review Of Patrick Radden Keefe’s Book, ‘Say Nothing’

An American Reporter in Belfast: How a New Yorker Writer Got So Much Wrong in His Bestselling Book On The Troubles