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By SHAWN POGATCHNIK
30 April 2014
DUBLIN — Police in Northern Ireland arrested Sinn Fein party leader Gerry Adams on Wednesday over his alleged involvement in the Irish Republican Army’s 1972 abduction, killing and secret burial of a Belfast widow.
Adams, 65, confirmed his own arrest in a prepared statement and described it as a voluntary, prearranged interview.
Police long had been expected to question Adams about the killing of Jean McConville, a 38-year-old mother of 10 whom the IRA killed with a single gunshot to the head as an alleged spy.
According to all authoritative histories of the Sinn Fein-IRA movement, Adams served as an IRA commander for decades, but he has always denied holding any position in the outlawed group.
“I believe that the killing of Jean McConville and the secret burial of her body was wrong and a grievous injustice to her and her family,” Adams said. “Well publicized, malicious allegations have been made against me. I reject these. While I have never disassociated myself from the IRA and I never will, I am innocent of any part in the abduction, killing or burial of Mrs. McConville.”
Reflecting the embarrassment associated with killing a widowed mother, the IRA did not admit the killing until 1999, when it claimed responsibility for nearly a dozen slayings of long-vanished civilians and offered to try to pinpoint their unmarked graves. McConville’s children had been told she abandoned them, and they were divided into different foster homes.
Her remains were discovered only by accident near a Republic of Ireland beach in 2003. The woman’s skull bore a single bullet mark through the back of the skull, and forensics officer determined she’d been shot once through back of the head with a rifle.
Jean McConville and children
Adams was implicated in the killing by two IRA veterans, who gave taped interviews to researchers for a Boston College history archive on the four-decade Northern Ireland conflict. Belfast police waged a two-year legal fight in the United States to acquire the interviews, parts of which already were published after the 2008 death of one IRA interviewee, Brendan Hughes.
Boston College immediately handed over the Hughes tapes. The college and researchers fought unsuccessfully to avoid handover tapes of the second IRA interviewee, Dolours Price, who died last year.
Both Hughes and Price agreed to be interviewed on condition that their contents were kept confidential until their deaths.
In his interviews Hughes, a reputed 1970s deputy to Adams within the Belfast IRA, said McConville was killed on Adams’ orders. Hughes said Adams oversaw a special IRA unit called “The Unknowns” that was committed to identifying, killing and secretly burying Belfast Catholic civilians suspected of spying on behalf of the police or British Army. An independent investigation by Northern Ireland’s police complaints watchdog in 2006 found no evidence that McConville had been a spy.
Hughes told the researchers he led the IRA team that “arrested” McConville, but her fate was sealed following a policy argument between Adams and the man he succeeded as Belfast commander, Ivor Bell.
He said Bell wanted McConville’s body to be put on public display to intimidate other people from helping the British, but Adams wanted her killing kept mysterious.
“There was only one man who gave the order for that woman to be executed,” Hughes said in the audio recording, which was broadcast on British and Irish television in 2010. “That man is now the head of Sinn Fein. I did not give the order to execute that woman. He did.”
A 2010 book written by the lead researcher, journalist Ed Moloney, “Voices From the Grave,” also quoted Hughes as describing Adams as the IRA’s “Belfast Brigade” commander who oversaw planning of the first car-bomb attacks in London in March 1973.
Adams and Hughes were arrested together in July 1973, when the British Army pounced on an IRA commanders’ meeting in West Belfast. Both were interned without trial. Adams was repeatedly interrogated for suspected involvement in IRA bombings and shootings, but was never convicted of any IRA offense besides a failed prison escape during his mid-1970s internment.
Last month Belfast detectives investigating the McConville killing arrested and charged Bell, now 77, with IRA membership and aiding McConville’s murder.
Price, who was a member of the IRA’s 1973 London car-bombing unit, died last year of a suspected drug overdose. She gave interviews to journalists admitting she had driven McConville across the Irish border, where another IRA member shot McConville once through the back of the head. It remains unclear what precisely she told the Boston College project.
Adams was the longtime British Parliament member for West Belfast, although like all Sinn Fein politicians he refused to take his seat in London, citing the required oath of allegiance to Queen Elizabeth II.
He never held a post in Northern Ireland’s power-sharing government, the central peacemaking institution established in the wake of the Good Friday accord of 1998. He stepped down as West Belfast’s MP in 2011 and won election to the Republic of Ireland parliament, where he represents the same border area, County Louth, where McConville’s body was found.
27 March 2014
Denis Donaldson was murdered in 2006
Police in Ireland have been accused of stringing along a coroner and the family of murdered IRA spy Denis Donaldson with bogus claims.
As the eighth anniversary of his killing at a remote famine cottage in Co Donegal approaches next week, lawyers for the family there is no bona fide reason for an inquest into his death not to go ahead.
In a statement issued through their legal team, the Donaldson family said their treatment is consistent with a series of scandals to hit the Garda force over the last few months and claimed some people involved in the controversies have had direct involvement with their case.
” The gardai are now stringing along the coroner’s court and the family with bogus claims and a flagrant disregard for European Court of Human Rights obligations,” they said.
“The effectiveness and independence of the investigatory process, and the completed Garda investigation, has lost any credibility,” they said.
Mr Donaldson, 55, a senior Sinn Fein official and close colleague of party president Gerry Adams, was shot dead at an isolated cottage near Glenties in April 2006.
He had been living there since his exposure as an MI5 agent the previous year.
The Real IRA claimed responsibility for the murder three years later but the circumstances surrounding Mr Donaldson’s outing and subsequent assassination have been shrouded in mystery.
The family said they have no faith in the Gardai and refused to attend the latest preliminary hearing of the inquest, the 13th since the killing.
“From the outset the Donaldson family have implored Gardai to rigorously investigate the role played by state agencies in the circumstances surrounding the exposure and killing of Denis,” they said.
“Throughout that time, Gardai have refused to probe these concerns and admitted to the family that they closed the file on Denis’s death without interviewing those members of Special Branch who were actively involved in events leading up to Denis’ killing.”
The Donaldson family said that at previous hearings they have heard explicit assurances that no further time would be required by either gardai or the Director of Public Prosecutions to examine the case.
The family claims lawyers for the Minister for Justice Alan Shatter have consistently contested their attempts to have the inquest heard.
They have instructed their legal team to take a lawsuit over what they claim are ongoing infringements of the human rights of the Donaldson family.
In November 2012 the inquest was told a file on the murder had been submitted to the DPP and a d ecision on a prosecution was expected within four months but no-one has been charged. Several arrests have been made.
By Philip Bradfield
11 November 2013
The man who allegedly shot Belfast mother-of-10 Jean McConville was yesterday named as former Sinn Fein councillor and Belfast IRA commander Pat McGeown.
It was claimed yesterday that he also shot dead ‘Good Samaritan’ Protestant workman Sammy Llewellyn when he went to help Catholics on the Falls Road board up windows after an IRA bomb in 1975.
“I was recently approached by grassroots republicans who were sympathetic to the McConville family,” Jean McConville’s son Jim said yesterday in a Sunday paper.
“I was given some details of what happened and only two weeks ago I gave Pat McGeown’s name to my solicitor.”
The paper claimed that McGeown was only 17 when he shot Mrs McConville in the back of the head, and that he later rose to become a close political confidant of Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams.
The News Letter understands McGeown’s name had been widely linked to Mrs McConville’s murder before he died in 1996.
Gerry Kelly MLA said at McGeown’s funeral that he had been a prisoner in “Cage 11” of the Maze with Gerry Adams. Adams officially launched the Pat McGeown Community Endeavour Award at Belfast’s Upper Springfield Development Trust in 1998.
He described McGeown as “a modest man with a quiet, but total dedication to equality and raising the standard of life for all the people of the city”, adding that McGeown “would have been one of the last people to expect an award to be given in his name, and yet few others could have deserved the honour more”.
Mr Kelly said McGeown started “barricade duty” at 13 and then joined the local unit of the IRA in the Beechmount area. He added that “at one point he held the most senior rank in the Belfast brigade of the IRA”.
The book Lost Lives, which lists all those who died during the Troubles, said McGeown’s health never recovered after 47 days on hunger strike.
He was jailed in the Republic for explosives offences aged 14 and at 16 was interned before being imprisoned for a bombing attack.
He served 15 years for bombing the Europa Hotel and was the Officer Commanding of the IRA in the Maze. After being released in 1986, he went on to become group leader of Sinn Fein on Belfast City Council.
Sinn Fein yesterday declined to offer any comment.
Another Sunday paper yesterday reported that the IRA member, then aged 16, who drove Mrs McConville away from her children has phoned her daughter Helen McKendry to apologise.
1 October 2013
Liam Adams, Gerry Adams’ paedophile brother and former Sinn Fein community and child worker
Liam Adams – the younger brother of Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams – has been found guilty of a string of child sex abuse charges.
Liam Dominic Adams, 58, from Bernagh Drive in west Belfast, was convicted of raping and sexually assaulting his daughter, Aine, over a six-year period between 1977 and 1983 when she was aged between four and nine.
Bespectacled Adams, who was wearing a grey suit, cream shirt and blue tie, showed no emotion as the guilty verdicts were returned.
Remanding him in custody Judge Corinne Philpott said: “Take him down.”
The jury of nine men and three women had heard more than two weeks of evidence at Belfast Crown Court.
They began deliberating at 11.05am this morning and took almost four hours to reach guilty verdicts with a majority of 11 to one.
Aine Adams has waived her right to anonymity.
There was complete silence as the jury foreman read out guilty verdicts on all of the 10 charges to the packed court.
Adams, who walks with the aid of a stick and used a court hearing aid to follow proceedings, stood between two prison officers in the dock with his hands clasped tightly.
Aine Adams, who was surrounded by family members, wept and clutched her younger sister Sinead for support.
On the other side of the public gallery, Adams’s second wife Bronagh and their daughter Claire, who gave evidence in his defence, also cried.
Adams nodded to them as he was led to the cells.
During the trial Aine Adams gave graphic details of the abuse, which started when she was aged four.
The first time she recalled being raped was while her mother was in hospital giving birth to her younger brother Conor in 1977.
In another incident she was raped by her father at a flat on Belfast’s Antrim Road while her brother was asleep in the bed beside her.
Adams, who was a heavy drinker, also forced his daughter to perform sex acts.
In a statement read out by a police officer outside the court, Ms Adams said she could finally begin to move on after a long and hard road to achieve justice.
“I do not see this verdict as a victory or a celebration as it has taken its toll and has caused hurt, heartache and anguish for all those involved.
“I can now begin my life at 40 and lay to rest the memory of the five-year-old girl who was abused,” she said.
The allegations were first made public when Ms Adams took part in a television documentary in 2009.
A short time later, Gerry Adams revealed his father Gerry Snr, a veteran IRA man, had physically and sexually abused members of his family.
Within days of the sex abuse scandal hitting the headlines, Liam Adams fled to the Republic claiming he could not receive a fair trial in Northern Ireland. He handed himself in to police in Co Sligo but could not be detained because the Garda officers did not have the correct documentation.
He was eventually handed over to the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) at the border in November 2011 after losing a lengthy and expensive extradition battle.
The trial opened in April this year but collapsed due to legal reasons and the jury was discharged.
At that time, Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams was called as a prosecution witness. He told the court he confronted his brother about the allegations during a meeting in Buncrana, Co Donegal, in 1987 and Liam Adams had denied the abuse.
He then revealed his brother later confessed while they were out walking together in the rain in Dundalk, Co Louth, in 2000.
Gerry Adams was not called as a prosecution witness for the latest trial, which re-opened before a new jury panel last month.
In her statement given outside Laganside court complex, Ms Adams thanked the media for helping her to tell her story.
She said: “I would like to give all my family a special thanks. Without their love, support and understanding I would not be here today.”
She also expressed gratitude to the PSNI’s public protection unit and the Public Prosecution Service.
“I would now ask for some privacy for my family to reflect on recent trying times,” she said.
Adams is due to be sentenced next month.
Vile paedophile behind caring mask
For almost four decades he led a double life.
Liam Adams – a younger brother of Sinn Fein president Gerry Adams – portrayed himself as a caring father, concerned community worker and ardent republican.
But the 58-year-old, who desperately tried to evade justice by going on the run, has now finally been unmasked as a vile predatory paedophile who exploited every opportunity to sneak into his four-year-old daughter’s bedroom and rape her.
Born into a staunchly republican family revered in their west Belfast community as aristocrats of the movement, Liam Adams was one of 10 children.
His father, Gerry snr, had been an IRA stalwart from the 1930s and also subjected members of his family to a torrent of physical, mental and sexual abuse over many years.
He met Sarah (also known as Sally) Corrigan when they were both 16. A short time later, she fell pregnant with their daughter Aine and the couple wed – not out of love but, because they had to.
It was an unhappy union frequently filled with rows and violence. Sometimes the domestic abuse became so bad Sarah had to flee the family home, leaving evil Adams alone to molest their vulnerable young daughter.
The couple shared three different houses across west Belfast – at Westrock Drive; Dunglow Gardens in the Lenadoon estate and New Barnsley area of Ballymurphy but, it was an on-off relationship and they were often apart.
It was the height of the Troubles and Liam Adams, who according to friends was on the fringes of the IRA, would be absent for days at a time. Indeed he was in prison around the time Aine was born.
By the end of 1981 and after four children – Aine, Liam, Conor and Sinead – Liam Adams split from his wife permanently. He was kicked out of the house and moved into a bedsit flat on the Antrim Road in north Belfast.
He took little interest in his children save for a few access visits during which he sexually abused Aine including on one occasion while her younger brother Liam slept in the bed beside them.
Adams was also a heavy drinker. Aine recalled she would always smell alcohol on her father’s breath when he forced himself on her.
He found it difficult to put down roots and his transient lifestyle led him to America, Canada, Donegal, Dublin and Dundalk.
During the early 1980s he struck up a new relationship with his second wife Bronagh – with whom he has two daughters – and who stood by him as harrowing details of child rape were revealed during his two-and-a-half week trial at Belfast Crown Court.
He spent up to four months at Lazarus House, a hostel in New York run by Fr Pat Moloney – a radical priest who is open about his support for the IRA.
Speaking from New York Fr Moloney said: “To me he wasn’t hiding anything. He didn’t conceal who he was. He had Bronagh with him and they were a lovely couple.
“But, he was not in the best of health. I don’t know whether he left Ireland because he was an embarrassment to the ambitions of anybody else in the family but, it did seem that they did want him to take a vacation for what reasons, I never knew.”
While in New York, Adams, who did not work, played on his famous family name and enjoyed minor celebrity status. He would be given free drinks in bars in Brooklyn and be invited to speak at republican fundraising events across the State.
And, when he returned to Ireland he continued to lie to friends and family.
Indeed, such was the level of his deception that he was trusted to work with children for almost 20 years after his daughter first went to police in 1987.
First, he was appointed youth worker at Clonard Monastery in the heart of his brother’s West Belfast constituency, where the former MP attended Mass and was good friends with many of the priests – including Fr Alex Reid, who was a mediator between the IRA and British government during the fledgling peace process.
One former community worker, who met Liam Adams during his time at Clonard, said: “He was pleasant enough. He had a lot of ideas about what to do with the young people. People were impressed by him, I suppose.
“When the allegations emerged it shook the community and the fact that a lot of people had known about it but did nothing was also shocking. People are asking questions that if people knew about it, why did they do nothing.”
Adams stayed at Clonard for about five years but in 2003 moved to Muirhevnamor Community Youth Project in Dundalk – the border town his brother now represents in the Irish parliament – where he worked with young people in their mid-teens.
A year later he returned north having secured a job the Beechmount Community Project, again in the heart of his brother’s former power-base. Adams moved his new family to Andersonstown.
When Aine went public with the allegations in a television documentary aired in 2009, the sex abuse scandal hit the headlines. Adams immediately fled to the Republic and ignored repeated appeals, including from his older brother, to take responsibility for his sickening crimes and hand himself in.
His cowardly attempts to avoid prosecution were only thwarted after a lengthy and expensive extradition battle in Dublin’s Four Courts. Adams was eventually handed over to the Police Service of Northern Ireland at the border in November 2011.
Securing the conviction was a long and complex journey. The protracted legal process was dogged by delays and difficulties which collapsed his first trial in April this year and loomed over the second case like a guillotine ready to drop.
Exposing Adams’ sordid secrets has also had implications far beyond his family circle.
The revelations sent shock waves throughout the republican movement and sparked widespread anger among the Sinn Fein party faithful, particularly in west Belfast and Dundalk.
Gerry Adams faced tough questions about why he did not tell police about his paedophile brother and explain how he was able to work with children for so long.
When he appeared as a prosecution witness during the first trial in April, the Sinn Fein leader shifted uncomfortably in his seat when asked if had tried to “save his own political skin” by not revealing the truth until nine years after he learned his brother was a paedophile.
Gerry Adams told the court he warned a priest, who is now dead, about his brother’s sinister past and the pair became estranged after the allegations emerged.
He also said he moved to expel Liam Adams from Sinn Fein in 1997 after becoming aware he was a potential election candidate in Co Louth.
However, Liam Adams continued to mix with the republican movement and in 2000 involved himself in local party work in Belfast.
Pictures of the Adams brothers smiling together at Liam’s second wedding in 1987 and during an election canvass in Dundalk 10 years later, which were shown during the April case, contradicted claims the pair were not in touch.
Gerry Adams said the 1997 photograph was taken around the same time he found out that his father was an abuser and should be seen in the context of attempting to deal with that revelation as well as trying to make his brother face his responsibilities.
Timeline: Events leading to Liam Adams’ conviction
1977 – Aine Adams, aged four, is indecently assaulted by her father Liam Adams at her home in Westrock Drive, west Belfast.
May 1978 – Aine Adams recalls being raped for the first time while her mother is in hospital giving birth to her younger brother, Conor.
December 1981 – Liam Adams splits from first wife Sarah.
June 1983 – Gerry Adams elected as West Belfast MP and becomes president of Sinn Fein.
December 1985 – Aine Adams discovers Liam Adams has another young daughter with whom he is living in Donegal.
December 1986 – Aine Adams, aged 13, reveals in a letter to her mother that she was repeatedly raped by her father Liam Adams from the age of four.
January 1987 – Aine Adams and her mother report catalogue of child sex abuse to detectives at Grosvenor Road RUC (Royal Ulster Constabulary) station.
February 1987 – Aine Adams and her mother retract statements about abuse over attempts to exploit them for intelligence gathering. A detective tells Aine Adams the file will be retained on record.
March 1987 – Gerry Adams confronts his brother Liam at a house in Buncrana, Co Donegal, and threatens to hit him with a hammer. Gerry Adams is driven to Donegal by his cousin, Kevin Hannaway. Aine Adams and her mother are also present.
1990 – Sarah Campbell moves her family to Scotland.
1991 – Aine Adams moves to Scotland.
1997 – Gerry Adams is pictured smiling with his brother during an election canvass in Dundalk, Co Louth.
1997 – Liam Adams is expelled from Sinn Fein after his brother Gerry learns of his intention to stand as an election candidate for Co Louth. He continues to carry out work for the party.
December 1999 – While Christmas shopping, Aine Adams tells her younger sister Sinead she was sexually abused as a child.
December 2002 – Liam Adams confesses abuse against Aine when confronted by Sinead, during a meeting in Twinbrook.
January 2006 – Aine Adams returns to Belfast and goes to PSNI to have case re-opened against her father.
November 2007 – Liam Adams is arrested by the PSNI and questioned about child sex abuse allegations. He denies all allegations.
March 2008 – Aine Adams makes complaint to the Police Ombudsman.
November 2008 – Liam Adams fails to turn up at court in Northern Ireland to face child abuse charges. He fled to the Republic over fears he would not receive a fair trial.
December 2009 – Aine Adams waives her right to anonymity and goes public about the abuse in a television documentary. Gerry Adams urges Liam to hand himself in.
December 2009 – Liam Adams presents himself to Gardai in Sligo but cannot be legally detained because the necessary European arrest warrant has not been issued by the PSNI.
December 2009 – Gerry Adams reveals in a television interview that his father had been abusive.
March 2010 – Liam Adams is arrested at a Dublin police station, under a European arrest warrant which was issued by the Serious Organised Crime Agency.
March 2010 – Liam Adams released on bail of 15,000 euros – half of which was put forward by his daughter Claire Smith after a hearing at Dublin High Court.
February 2011 – Gerry Adams wins seat as Co Louth TD.
July 2011 – Liam Adams launches a legal challenge against his extradition from the Irish Republic. His lawyers argue that he will not receive a fair trial in Northern Ireland because of publicity.
October 2011 – Liam Adams loses fight against extradition. Dublin High Court rules that he should be transferred to Northern Ireland to face child abuse charges.
October 2011 – Liam Adams instructs legal representatives to appeal against the extradition order.
October 2011 – Liam Adams loses bid to appeal against extradition at the Supreme Court in Dublin. He is taken to a jail in Dublin to await transfer to Northern Ireland.
November 2011 – Gardai hand Liam Adams over to PSNI officers at the Irish border.
November 2011 – Liam Adams is to stand trial accused of child sex abuse. A district judge grants a prosecution application for the case to progress to the next stage. Adams is remanded in custody.
December 2011 – Liam Adams is refused bail after appearing at Belfast Crown Court accused of child sex abuse. Belfast Recorder Judge Tom Burgess said he was concerned about a potential flight risk if bail was granted. He is later granted bail.
April 2013 – First trial against Liam Adams opens at Belfast Crown Court. Jury of six men and six women is sworn in.
April 22, 2013 – Gerry Adams takes the stand as a prosecution witness and denies claims he did not tell the authorities about his brother sooner because he was trying to save his political skin.
April 25, 2013 – Trial collapses because of legal issues and jury is discharged. Judge Corrine Philpott orders that a new trial be held in the autumn.
September 9, 2013 – New sex abuse trial against Liam Adams is due to open. Prosecution announced that Gerry Adams will not be called to give evidence in the new case. Proceedings are delayed because of further legal argument.
September 16, 2013 – Sex abuse trial for Liam Adams opens at Belfast Crown Court before Judge Corrine Philpott.
September 26, 2013 – Liam Adams takes the stand to defend himself and strongly denies abusing his daughter.
September 27, 2013 – Defence and prosecution legal teams complete their cases.
October 1, 2013 – Jury of nine men and three women take about four hours to return guilty verdicts in all 10 charges with a majority of 11 to one. Liam Adams is remanded in custody.
**In 2009, Ó Brádaigh made headlines…after he would not condemn the murder by the Continuity IRA of Constable Stephen Carroll in Craigavon, County Armagh. (BBC)
IRA chief of staff and president of Sinn Féin
‘The armed stuggle and sitting in parliament are mutually exclusive,’ said Ruairí Ó Brádaigh.
5 June 2013
Ruairí Ó Brádaigh, who has died aged 81, was an IRA army council member, the founding president of Provisional Sinn Féin in 1971 and an IRA army council member. He led the Provos until 1983, through the most violent years of Northern Ireland’s Troubles, until he split with Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness over the peace process. In 1955, Ó Brádaigh had led the biggest IRA arms raid ever on an army depot in Britain, but from 1979 he was involved in a power struggle with the two northerners and was finally ousted when Adams replaced him as Sinn Féin president and McGuinness became its chief negotiator.
Ó Brádaigh regarded himself as keeping alive pure Republicanism, inherited from the IRA of 1916. He remained committed to the 1921 constitutional policy of refusing to take part in democratic politics until Ireland was reunited. He believed bitterly that Adams’s and McGuinness’s policy of using “the armalite and the ballot box” would perpetuate partition and keep “the occupied six counties”, as he termed Northern Ireland, inside the UK. In 1986 Ó Brádaigh said: “The armed struggle and sitting in parliament are mutually exclusive.”
He regarded the IRA ceasefire of 1996, the Good Friday agreement of 1998, the decommissioning of IRA weapons in 2006 and McGuinness becoming deputy first minister in a power-sharing government in Belfast in 2007, with the Rev Ian Paisley as first minister, as total betrayal.
After the 1983 split with the Provos, Ó Brádaigh formed the Continuity IRA and Republican Sinn Féin, which had the odd distinction in 2004 of being the only Irish organisations on President George W Bush’s list of banned foreign terrorist organisations in the US, even though they were not active, while another splinter organisation, the Real IRA, perpetrator of the 1998 Omagh bombing, was.
Ó Brádaigh had been instrumental in founding the Provos after a disagreement in 1971 with his one-time close IRA associate Cathal Goulding over moves by Goulding to participate in Irish politics and take seats in the Dáil. Sinn Féin had previously fought elections on an abstentionist ticket and Ó Brádaigh had won a seat in 1957.
For Ó Brádaigh, born Peter Roger (hence “Rory”) Casement Brady into a middle-class Republican family in Longford, Ireland, the commiment was personal loyalty. His father, Matt Brady, who died when he was 10, was an IRA man who suffered badly from injuries inflicted in 1919 by the Royal Irish Constabulary.
Ó Brádaigh was educated at St Mel’s College, Longford, and University College Dublin, and graduated in commerce and with an Irish language-teaching certificate. He became a teacher at Roscommon vocational school, resigning during periods in prison. He joined Sinn Féin at university, and the IRA in 1951. In 1955, he led a 10-member IRA group in an arms raid on Hazebrouck Barracks, near Arborfield, Berkshire, which successfully netted ammunition and weapons, including 55 Sten guns. However, many of the weapons were recovered when the first of the two vans taking them to a hideout in London was stopped for speeding. Ó Brádaigh, in the second van, stored his haul and returned to Ireland but an address in the first van led the police to the store.
In 1956, in the IRA’s Northern Ireland border campaign, codenamed Operation Harvest, Ó Brádaigh was part of the planning group and second in command of the western attack. A police barracks at Derrylin, County Fermanagh, was hit and an RUC constable, John Scally, killed. Ó Brádaigh and others were arrested the next day across the border in Cavan and imprisoned for failing to account for their movements. Shortly after his release, Ó Brádaigh was interned at the Curragh military prison. In September 1958 he and Daithi Ó Conaill escaped by cutting through a wire fence, and Ó Brádaigh became the first Dáil member on the run.
As IRA chief of staff, he penned the ceasefire standing the organisation down and bringing a formal end to the border campaign. In 1968, when protestant gangs began firebombing Catholic streets in retaliation against civil rights concessions by the Unionist government, only six IRA guns could be found to defend the burning homes. The bitter slogan painted on walls in Catholic areas was “IRA … I Ran Away”. Ó Brádaigh, working with Sean MacStiofain and Seamus Twomey, began recruiting a new IRA and seeking money and weapons.
The Dublin leadership found willing northern recruits in young men like such as Adams, then 20 and active organising street fighting in Belfast, and McGuinness, 19, similarly active in Derry.
As president of Sinn Féin, Ó Brádaigh was responsible for the Sinn Féin policy, Éire Nua, new Ireland, which proposed a federal Ireland reunited in four provinces, one of them Ulster. He did shift Sinn Féin in 1979 to allow recognition of the Irish special court in Green Street, Dublin, because so many activists were being tried there on charges of IRA membership, himself included, and being convicted with no evidence, on the grounds that their refusal to recognise the court was deemed proof of guilt. But he would not move on parliamentary abstentionism.
A sensitive and courteous man, an Irish traditional music enthusiast, Ó Brádaigh was not immune to the horror of bloodshed. I was standing nearby at a Sinn Féin annual conference in the Mansion House in Dublin in 1978 as he took a message saying that two IRA bombers, whose wives were delegates, had blown themselves up in Belfast the previous night. He had to tell the wives. He went white and broke into a sweat. I interviewed him later and he said that he felt in middle age that he now understood that pain was real for all affected, even British soldiers. That realisation did not change his commitment to “the armed struggle”.
As president of Sinn Féin after 1971, Ó Brádaigh was involved in negotiations with the Irish and British governments, something both governments denied, and in international publicity and IRA fundraising campaigns. In 1974 he took part in the Feakle ceasefire talks with protestant church leaders and in 1976 met the Ulster Loyalist co-ordinating committee at their request, to discuss whether their policy of an independent six-county Northern Ireland could fit with the nine-county old Irish kingdom of Ulster in Éire Nua.
In 1974, he testified before the US Senate committee on foreign relations about the treatment of IRA suspects in Northern Ireland. The same year, the State Department revoked his multiple entry visa to the US. In 1975, FBI documents described him as a “national security threat” and a “dedicated revolutionary undeterred by threat or personal risk”, but recorded that the visa ban was requested by the British Foreign Office, supported by the Dublin government. Ó Brádaigh also carried a British passport in the name Peter Brady, legally obtained through British-Irish citizenship agreements, which he claimed he used to continue to enter the US.
In 2005, Ó Brádaigh, a keen historian, donated a set of papers of the National University of Ireland. They included notes that he had taken during secret meetings in 1975-76 with British agents which confirmed that Britain did consider withdrawal from Ireland.
Latterly Ó Brádaigh was seen in Ireland as almost a comic figure, as modern Republicanism followed Adams and McGuinness into constitutional politics, but he continued to have influence, particularly abroad, often being interviewed in the US by video link.
He and his wife, Patsy, had six children.
• Ruairí Ó Brádaigh (Peter Roger Casement Brady), IRA leader and politician, born 2 October 1932; died 5 June 2013
Could we launch ANOTHER investigation about WHO ELSE might be a paid British informant of many, many years?
And THEN, could we launch an investigation to make sure that the passing of Dolours Price was, you know, an actual accident?
28 Jan 2013
Up to 500 republicans from across Ireland attended the funeral of Old Bailey bomber Dolours Price today.
Her sister, Marian, who is in prison accused of dissident republican activity, was not at the service at St Agnes Church in Andersonstown, west Belfast.
Price, 62, was an unrepentant republican hard-liner who fell out with Sinn Féin after the party endorsed the peace process, encouraged the IRA to give up its guns and embraced power-sharing with unionists at Stormont.
No public representatives from the mainstream republican movement were at the ceremony.
In his address, Father Raymond Murray, who had been prison chaplain at Armagh jail, told mourners that Price and her sister were like bosom twins.
He said: “Dolours’ family can relate her nature and her talent, both of which is outside the knowledge and understanding of those who did not know her personally.
“She was clever and witty, full of fun and held people enthralled by her conversation.
“She was very devoted to her parents. Her mother, Chrissie, died on February 1, 1975.
“Their mother never saw Dolours or Marian back in Ireland. They did not get compassionate leave from prison in England to attend her funeral.
“A week afterwards they were repatriated to Ireland but that grief of not seeing her mother meant she never found closure.”
Price’s father, Albert, had also been a prominent IRA member and was interned by the Irish Government at the Curragh Camp during the 1950s.
Black flags were erected on lampposts across Andersonstown today.
There was also a visible police presence in the area.
Price, the former wife of actor Stephen Rea, was convicted and jailed along with her sister for the 1973 car bomb attack on London’s Central Criminal Court in which one man died and more than 200 people were injured.
She spent eight years in jail including several weeks on hunger strike before being released in 1980.
In recent years she clashed with Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams over her allegations that he had been her IRA Officer Commanding during the early 1970s.
Among those who took part in today’s funeral service was Hugh Feeney, who was also jailed in connection with the Old Bailey bombing.
Price consistently claimed that Mr Adams, now a Louth TD, ordered the kidnap and killing of Jean McConville in 1972.
The Catholic mother-of-10 was among dozens of people – later known as the Disappeared – who were abducted, murdered and secretly buried by republican militants during the Troubles.
Mr Adams has always denied being a member of the IRA. He said he was saddened by Price’s death.
November 02 2012
Padraic Wilson, pictured in 1999
A former IRA leader in the Maze prison in Northern Ireland has been remanded into custody on charges linked to a police investigation into a murder outside a Belfast bar.
Padraic Wilson was accused of IRA membership and addressing a meeting encouraging support for the organisation.
A detective told Belfast Magistrates’ Court that Wilson, 53, took part in a meeting with the sisters of Robert McCartney, 33, who was stabbed to death outside the pub in 2005. The court was told police were not connecting him to the murder.
Wilson was the leader of IRA prisoners in the Maze in the late 1990s. He was remanded in custody after police expressed fears the political manager would intimidate witnesses, a claim denied by his lawyer Peter Madden. A detective told the court: “The police objections to bail are based on our concerns of interference with witnesses and reoffending.”
He said it is alleged that at the time the offences took place in 2005, the accused, a married father-of-two from Hamill Park in Andersonstown, west Belfast, was reported to be a member of the IRA’s ruling army council.
“He still holds a significant position of influence within portions of the community and because of that we have concerns that there would be interference with witnesses,” the policeman said.
He said six witness statements had been received from Mr McCartney’s sisters and former partner accusing him of involvement in an IRA internal investigation following the murder of Mr McCartney.
The detective said: “It is alleged that Mr Wilson and an unidentified person met with the family in their capacity as members of the IRA and as representatives of the Army Council of the IRA. That role was carrying out an internal investigation into the murder. It is alleged that at least two meetings were held with members of the family and Mr Wilson.”
The detective said the McCartney family were able to identify Wilson recently through internet research and recognised him as he person who took the lead in addressing the meetings. He said: “This is an unusual case and it certainly would be our belief that Mr Wilson would have the ability to influence things and that is something which will be difficult to manage.”
Wilson, who wore a checked shirt, spoke only to confirm he understood the charges. Magistrate Fiona Bagnall remanded him in custody to November 30.
November 2, 2012
BELFAST, Northern Ireland (AP) — Padraic Wilson, an official in the Irish nationalist Sinn Fein party, has been charged with Irish Republican Army membership in a case that highlights a pivotal unsolved murder, the 2005 stabbing of a Catholic civilian outside a Belfast pub.
The victim’s sisters complained the IRA covered up evidence and received White House backing, embarrassing Sinn Fein and spurring the major IRA faction, the Provisionals, to renounce violence and disarm that year.
But nobody has been convicted of killing Robert McCartney. His sisters, however, have told police that Padraic Wilson was one of two IRA officials who met them about the murder.
In Friday’s Belfast court appearance Wilson was charged with membership in an outlawed organization and organizing IRA meetings. His lawyers rejected the charge, and Sinn Fein demanded his immediate release.
By Suzanne Breen
Friday, 2 November 2012
Robert McCartney and son
A senior Sinn Fein member and former Provisional IRA leader has been arrested in connection with the murder of Robert McCartney.
The 53-year-old west Belfast man, who is a well-known figure in mainstream republican circles, was taken to Antrim serious crime suite for questioning by detectives.
The arrest will be a major embarrassment for Sinn Fein. The prominent republican has held several senior positions in the Provisional movement, including in the Maze prison where he was serving a life sentence.
When he was granted early release under the Good Friday Agreement, he was greeted at the prison gates by Sinn Fein politician Gerry Kelly, who described him as “a close friend” and praised his leadership role. The republican was convicted in early 1990s of possessing explosives and conspiracy to murder.
Sources said the man’s arrest follows substantial new detailed information given to the PSNI recently.
No-one has been convicted for the murder of Mr McCartney, a father-of-two from the Short Strand, who was beaten and stabbed to death outside Magennis’s bar in Belfast city centre in January 2005.
Three men were charged in connection with the killing: Terry Davison with murder, and Jim McCormick and Joe Fitzpatrick with causing an affray. But they were all acquitted in 2008. Robert McCartney’s sister Paula last night said: “Our family welcomes the latest arrest but is treating it with caution. However, we hope that, after all these years, we secure justice for Robert who was so brutally murdered by the IRA.”
Robert McCartney (33) was killed after trying to help his friend, Brendan Devine, who had become involved in a row in Magennis’s. It was alleged that the IRA’s Belfast commander ordered the murder after the argument.
As well as a fatal stab wound to the stomach, Mr McCartney suffered a broken nose and arm and leg injuries.
The McCartneys claim that the IRA forensically cleaned the pub to hide all evidence.
Mr McCartney’s five sisters and his partner, Bridgeen Hagans, waged a campaign to bring his killers to justice.
By Michael Brennan
20 June 2012
SINN Fein TDs are breaking Oireachtas rules by paying activists out of cash claimed for travel expenses.
Prominent frontbenchers have revealed that part of their expenses claims were diverted to pay additional staff.
Unspent travel expenses are supposed to be returned to the Oireachtas under rules introduced in 2010.
Yet in one case, Sinn Fein finance spokesman Pearse Doherty put €8,000 worth of unspent travel and accommodation expenses towards hiring part-time party workers.
Another frontbencher, foreign affairs spokesman Padraig Mac Lochlainn, also confirmed that he used unspent expenses in the same way. The revelation is likely to fuel calls for an unprecedented inquiry into how the party uses taxpayer funds.
Despite the admissions, Sinn Fein headquarters last night denied that its TDs were using unspent expenses in this way.
The practice of diverting expenses is just one part of a sophisticated money-raising machine being used to fuel the party’s expansion.
An Irish Independent investigation reveals for the first time how Sinn Fein relentlessly and efficiently uses the political funding system to maximum advantage here, in the North, at Westminster and in the US.
Our probe also reveals how:
– Sinn Fein officials monitor the bank accounts of each of the party’s 14 TD to ensure that they use part of their wages to hire constituency staff.
– Each TD only takes the annual industrial wage after tax — around €29,000 — from their €92,000-a-year salary.
The balance, which works out at around €18,000 after tax and pension levies, is used to pay for additional constituency staff.
– Over €250,000 was legally diverted in this way last year alone.
– The cash is given directly to staff, rather than the party, to get around donation limits.
– Sinn Fein is claiming costs of £460,000 (€568,000) from Westminster for staffing and running constituency offices in the North — even though its five MPs refuse to take their seats.
– Its fundraising efforts in the US outstrip all of the other parties combined, with $412,000 (€325,000) raised in the past six months alone.
But the revelations about the party’s use of Dail expenses are likely to cause the most controversy. Receipts have to be provided for some of these expenses — but not for travel or accommodation.
Two frontbenchers, Mr Doherty and Mr Mac Lochlainn, used some of their unspent travel and accommodation expenses to pay for hiring party workers in the past year.
Mr Doherty only spent €24,000 of the €33,000 that he received for travel and accommodation expenses last year.
He paid back €845.05 to the Oireachtas Commission, but that still left a surplus of around €8,000, which he put towards the wages of two extra Sinn Fein workers — both part-time — in his constituency.
“I personally do not keep all of the wages and expenses paid to me,” he said on his website. “You will also see that the remainder of the funds in the account after my wage and my real expenses are deducted is spent on part-time staff wages.”
Mr Mac Lochlainn also said that he used the “balance” of his travel expenses to pay the salary of an extra full-time constituency secretary in his offices in Letterkenny and Buncrana.
“We would employ an additional person. We try to take a person off the dole,” he said.
Despite the admissions made by both TDs, Sinn Fein issued a statement to the Irish Independent, insisting that the practice of diverting travel expenses to pay for party workers was “non-existent” and not party policy.
The Oireachtas Commission confirmed that the redirecting of travel expenses to pay staff wages was not permitted under rules introduced in 2010. TDs are supposed to return any unspent expenses.
However, it remains unclear what penalties Oireachtas officials can impose for breaches of the rules. It is understood that legal advice will be sought about what action can be taken in the event of a complaint.
SINN Fein has called on a Ballymoney councillor to vacate her seat after she walked away from the party.
Veteran councillor Anita Cavlan resigned last month over concerns it is failing republican prisoners.
She said she believed Sinn Fein had “lost direction” and “should be doing more to represent the prisoners”.
“Sinn Fein in my opinion has been slowly sedated and now has been rendered unconscious by the intoxication of an illusionary power to govern,” said the 62-year-old.
Ms Cavlan said the decision had left her “heartbroken” but she felt she had been left no option but to walk away from Sinn Fein and become an Independent member of Ballymoney Borough Council.
“It is not that I support dissident activity,” she said.
“I would hate it to go back to the way it was. There were a lot of lives lost in all sections of the community.
“There are those still amongst us who will insist that continued military action is the only way to achieve a united Irish republic.
“I disagree with them but I will not torture and abuse them if they are imprisoned.”
Ms Cavlan also dismissed Sinn Fein’s calls for the urgent release of dissident republican Marian Price as “weak”.
In a statement released on Friday Sinn Fein called for Ms Cavlan to vacate her Ballymoney seat.
“We are disappointed at the decision of Ms Cavlan to resign from Sinn Fein,” it said.
“We are particularly surprised at her criticisms of our approach to resolving the ongoing situation in Maghaberry Prison.
“Sinn Fein has visited the prison and met with the protesting prisoners and prison officials on many occasions. We have made and continue to make representations for an immediate end to strip searching and controlled movement within the prison.
“Anyone who was at the Sinn Fein Ard Fheis last weekend left in no doubt what our position is and what the party is doing to resolve the situation in the prisons.
“In common with all other party representatives when elected as a Sinn Fein councillor Ms Cavlan signed a pledge to give up the seat in the event of resigning from the party. Anita Cavlan should honour this pledge and stand down from Ballymoney Council and allow a Sinn Fein co-option in line with the wishes expressed by the electorate in the Bushvale electoral ward last year.”
30 May 2012
The High Court in Dublin has ruled against Sinn Fein’s challenge to the Fiscal Treaty Referendum.
Donegal TD Pearse Doherty lodged a judicial review seeking a withdrawal of statements made by the Referendum Commission during the campaign.
The comments were made in relation to the EU’s permanent bailout fund, the European Stability Mechanism.
Mr Doherty contended that they gave the impression Ireland could not veto the ESM.
The statements were made on 3 May and 18 May.
In the High Court, Mr Justice Gerard Hogan said there was no difference between two statements by the commission, as had been alleged.
And he said the commission had acted in a sincere, genuine and measured way to the best of what he called its “very considerable ability”.
In an affidavit, Sinn Féin TD Pearse Doherty had alleged that some of the commission’s statements were inaccurate and were biased towards the Yes side.
The outcome of the case has no bearing on the holding of the 31 May referendum.
Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore, Foreign Affairs Minister and deputy prime minister, said the challenge was a last-ditch attempt to cause confusion among the public.
Mr Gilmore said: “I believe that this was a stunt by Sinn Fein in the final days of their campaign to maximise their own publicity and in order to create confusion just as the broadcast moratorium was about to come out.”
The Republic of Ireland is the only country in Europe holding a referendum on the treaty as it is obliged to put major EU reforms to the public test according to the constitution.
Only three states have ratified the treaty in full – Greece, Portugal and Slovenia – while six others have begun the process including Germany, Poland, Latvia, Romania, Austria and Denmark. The ratification must be completed by the end of the year.
28 May 2012
WOMEN’S RIGHTS: A MOTION from a Waterford cumann stating that women should have the legal right to elective abortion “whatever the circumstances” was rejected by the ardfheis on Saturday.
A second motion from a Navan cumann stating that all Sinn Féin members should be allowed to articulate, campaign and vote on the issue of abortion according to their consciences was also defeated.
The Waterford motion also stated that while there were strong views on abortion within the party a “woman should ultimately have the right to make the decision where her health, physical or mental, and welfare are concerned”.
Oisín Ó Dubhlain, supporting this motion, said that 4,500 women went abroad from Ireland every year for abortions, which was a fact that spoke for itself.
He said women’s “bodily integrity and reproductive rights” were important in the struggle for women’s liberation. “A woman has a right to choose,” he said.
Ahead of the ardfheis Donegal TD Pearse Doherty said the party’s position was that it opposed abortion but that the Government should legislate for the X Case where abortion can take place if a woman’s life was at risk because of pregnancy, including the risk of suicide.
MARIE O’HALLORAN and GERRY MORIARTY in Killarney
26 May 2012
Northern Ireland deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness has offered to hold talks with dissident republicans. He insisted, however, the process of building a new future “will continue with or without” them.
In the first keynote address this morning at the the Sinn Féin ard fheis he said he was offering dissidents an “opportunity to meet and talk, come and tell us what you hope to gain by deluding yourselves and the gullible, that your actions will succeed in what is certainly a pathetic and futile attempt to turn back the clock”.
Referring to Unionist concerns he said those who thought a united Ireland could be built without unionist participation and leadership were “deluded”.
And he pledged the party’s commitment to push for voting rights to be extended to those in the North and emigrants. “Talk during elections is one thing. Now is the time for action,” said the former Presidential election candidate.
A former senior IRA member, Mr McGuinness told about 400 delegates at the morning session: “I was part of the conflict. I was there during the difficult and tragic times we had in the past and let me tell you there is nothing romantic about the war.”
“It was hard, it was painful and it was traumatic and I never ever want the children of Ireland who live today in peace to be subjected to the conflict, pain and hurt that we lived through.”
He added that “if anyone can claim to understand the mindset of those opposed to peaceful Irish republicanism I think I can”.
The Mid-Ulster MP and MLA said there were those who claimed to be republican and to “still be fighting for Ireland, these people claim they love our country but clearly they don’t love our people as the murder of Ronan Kerr, a young GAA loving police officer in April last year showed”.
“Those involved in these violent acts don’t believe for one minute that they further the cause of Irish reunification. What’s more they also know the agreements we have negotiated are solid and secure.
He had met Mr Kerr’s mother Nuala Kerr and Kate Carroll, whose husband PSNI officer Steven Carroll was killed in Craigavon and they were genuine supporters of peace and change.
“My message to those who remain committed to violence is that it is not much of an achievement to think that the only thing you have shown the capability to break are two fine women’s hearts.”
Delegates at the ardfheis also debated the economy, health, education and the household charge. Laois-Offaly TD Brian Stanley said next month Sinn Féin will introduce the Local Government Household Charge Repeal bill seeking to force the Government to get rid of the €100 household charge.
He said half of all householders had not paid the charge and he urged unions, community groups, councillors and TDs, particularly Labour members, to rally behind the attempt to consign the charge “to the rubbish bin of history”.
The party’s health spokesman Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin criticised the U-turn by Minister for Health Dr James Reilly from Opposition to Government. “For years James Reilly was like a hawk swooping on Mary Harney and today he is but a parrot repeating her words”.
Donegal North East TD Padraig MacLochlainn told the ardfheis that “while there are no quick fixes or easy answers to our economic crisis there are choices. Unfortunately the Government is making all the wrong ones.”
He said Sinn Féin had a roadmap to get to a prosperous and equal Ireland. “We have produced a detailed, costed and credible plan.”
Sinn Féin Youth delegate Diane Nolan said unemployment was 14.7 per cent in the Republic in February. Under 25 unemployment was more than double that figure at 31.6 per cent. “And in the North youth unemployment is at a 15 year high,” she said.
MP and MLA Conor Murphy said the Northern Ireland Assembly’s lack of fiscal powers limited Sinn Féin’s ability to tackle the economic crisis. “Without the necessary tools we cannot design the policies to assist economic recovery on the island and are simply reduced to redistributing an ever decreasing block grant from London.”
Senator Kathryn Reilly surprised delegates when she took off two GAA club jerseys, one after the other, leaving on a London GAA club jersey. She said it was to highlight how clubs had been ravaged by emigration. Ms Reilly pointed out that the only thriving GAA clubs were those abroad.
Sinn Féin leader Gerry Adams will address the ardfheis at 5.25 pm.
By Liam Clarke
25 May 2012
Reality TV: Gerry Adams’ speech to Sinn Fein’s ard fheis will be carefully stage-managed
Sinn Fein’s ard fheis opens in Killarney tomorrow. Like most conferences held by successful political parties, it is a well-managed set-piece. It is a PR event and it is aimed at the voters watching on TV.
The party faithful in the hall are a backdrop – there to radiate support and unanimity, not wrangle over policy like revolutionaries.
The most important episode and the focus of the whole conference will be Gerry Adams’ leader’s address, which goes out live on both RTE and BBC Northern Ireland at 5.25pm on Saturday.
It must be honed and crafted to suit the broadcasters.
Sinn Fein plays for high stakes and can’t afford to over-run, as Alasdair McDonnell did at the SDLP gathering.
Opinion polls say Sinn Fein is the second most popular party in the Republic after Fine Gael, and the Assembly elections made it second only to the DUP in Northern Ireland. That makes the goal of being simultaneously in government north and south potentially achievable.
If that happened, Sinn Fein could claim that Irish unity, or at least a significant staging-post, had been achieved, as Sinn Fein ministers operated all-Ireland bodies from both sides of the border.
Ideally, from Sinn Fein’s point-of-view, this would happen in 2016 – the anniversary of the Easter Rising.
Adams has a lot to juggle. The north-south equation isn’t easy to balance.
In government in the north, the party swallowed hard and voted to cut expenditure by £3bn over four years.
The imperative here is to maintain stable government in partnership with the DUP.
That – and the £10bn-a-year subsidy we receive from Britain – makes it difficult to do more than issue Press statements about austerities handed down from Westminster.
In the Republic, Sinn Fein advocates defaulting on EU loans and vocally opposes coalition cuts. There its main priority is to gain ground and undermine the coalition for cutting too hard.
The Irish Labour Party generally builds support in opposition and sees it seep away when it enters coalition with a more Right-wing party.
This time is no exception – the latest poll shows Labour has lost 25% of its support to Sinn Fein and independents compared to last year’s election and Sinn Fein has edged ahead of it in overall popularity.
Sinn Fein needs to continue to focus on Labour’s inability to deliver its pre-election promises in coalition, while it distracts attention from the fact it too is implementing cuts as part of a coalition in the north. The north is having a ‘feedback’ effect on southern strategy. Sinn Fein has seen how the DUP extended its appeal into middle-class voters by stressing its business credentials alongside more traditional rallying-calls.
Last week, Pearse Doherty, a Donegal TD and someone to watch when Gerry Adams steps down, gave a hint of things to come when he said: “We need entrepreneurs and business leaders to be adventurous and to be successful.”
In the battle for new and marginal votes, Sinn Fein must measure its policies by viewer sentiment, not dogma.
That democratic discipline will change it out of all recognition.
By Sam Smyth
17 May 2012
Flying high in the opinion polls in the Republic, Sinn Fein speaks from both sides of its mouth when it talks about spending cuts in the south and government budgets in Northern Ireland.
And the coalition parties of Fine Gael and the Labour Party have now joined the SDLP and UUP in Northern Ireland to cast Sinn Fein as hypocrites.
Fianna Fail, its opposition rivals in the Dail, have lashed Sinn Fein’s ‘spend, spend, spend’ message in Dublin, while signing-off on welfare cuts in Belfast.
In the Stormont Executive, Sinn Fein ministers have implemented swingeing spending cuts, while objecting to budget cuts from the opposition benches in the Republic.
Critics dismiss Sinn Fein’s claim that the British Government imposes the cuts in various sectors, including welfare, and point out that the party makes a legislative choice by voting for cuts in Northern Ireland. Observers also point out that, in spite of taking millions in expenses, Sinn Fein has consistently refused to take its seats at Westminster to put their case against cuts.
Sinn Fein double-speak was highlighted in March 2010, when Sinn Fein voted in the Assembly to cut government spending by £3bn over four years.
But, in his reply to the Republic’s budget nine months later, Caoimhghin O Caolain, its then leader in the Dail, said: “We in Sinn Fein are quite clear: we have rejected the consensus on cuts.”
In Dublin, Sinn Fein has called for a €100,000 (£80,000) cap on public servants in the Republic. Yet, in Belfast, a recent recruiting advertisement seeking a CEO for the First Legislative Counsel in the Office of the First and deputy First Minister offers a salary of up to £205,000.
Here are some examples of Sinn Fein’s forked-tongue approach, north and south:
In the Republic, Sean Crowe, Sinn Fein’s education spokesman, criticised the potential closure of rural schools in February. But, in Northern Ireland, Sinn Fein education minister John O’Dowd said a “sustainable schools policy could lead to the closure of 70 schools”. Last November, he said: “I have decided to close the [two rural] schools in [Co Armagh], as I am confident the children’s needs can be best met at alternative schools.”
In the Republic, Sinn Fein has repeatedly attacked the introduction of a €100 (£80) household charge. But, in Northern Ireland, Sinn Fein in government implements household taxes more than 10 times higher than the proposed household charge in the Republic.
In the Republic, Sinn Fein has campaigned against water charges. But Sinn Fein MLA Mitchell McLaughlin has defended water charges here.
In the Republic, Sinn Fein has opposed all cuts in social welfare since the economic crisis began. Here, Sinn Fein has signed off on cuts that could total £600m.
6 May 2012
**Poster’s note: Ever stop and think about the big gravy train all these government people are on whilst the common citizen gets to experience austerity?
His brother Declan is the party chairman and another brother, Ciaran, is the son-in-law of IRA infomer Denis Donaldson who was murdered in 2006.
The Department of Finance is refusing to pay for a new Sinn Fein special adviser at Stormont.
NI Finance Minister Sammy Wilson said the party had failed to comply with fresh security clearance regulations.
Mary McArdle was in jail for her part in the murder of Mary Travers
The regulations were published following controversy over former SF adviser Mary McArdle and her role in the IRA murder of Mary Travers in 1984.
Sinn Fein said any change in procedures must have Executive approval and no approval had been given.
A party spokesman said he was not aware of any issue over the new adviser, Jarlath Kearney’s payment.
Ms McArdle had been convicted for her part in the shooting of the young school teacher in 1984.
Teacher Mary Travers, 22, was shot as she left Mass at Derryvolgie, Belfast, with her father, magistrate Tom Travers. Ms McArdle was sentenced to a life term and was released under the Good Friday Agreement.
Her appointment as special adviser to the culture minister, Caral Ni Chuilin, sparked controversy in 2011.
Ms McArdle recently left her post at the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure (DCAL).
Sinn Fein later said it was part of normal party policy to rotate staff.
In an interview last year, Ms McArdle told the Andersonstown News she did not believe anything she said could ease the family’s grief.
The party has replaced her with Mr Kearney, a former journalist.
But the BBC has learned that the Department of Finance is refusing to pay Mr Kearney’s salary.
“I do not know whether the individual would have got through the security vetting or not.
“It has not been applied for and if it has not been applied for then the guidance has not been adhered to and therefore payment will not be made from the public purse,” Mr Wilson said.
He said he would look again at the issue if Sinn Fein applied for security clearance for Mr Kearney.
By Conor Humphries, Dublin
May 4, 2012
Sinn Fein hopes to ride a wave of anger against austerity measures to achieve its ambition of ruling Ireland, its leader Gerry Adams said on Friday, as misgivings about its role in the Northern Ireland conflict fade.
The political wing of the now-defunct Irish Republican Army has seen its support surge since Ireland’s Celtic Tiger economy began to collapse in 2008 and is now the second most popular party in the country, according to opinion polls.
With the three largest parties in parliament all backing a programme of austerity under an IMF-EU bailout, Sinn Fein, until recently viewed as political pariahs in the Republic of Ireland, are sweeping up as the chief outlet for dissent.
“Our ambition is to be the main party on the island,” Adams told Reuters in an interview outside Ireland’s parliament where he took a seat for the first time last year after calling time on his political career north of the border.
“The party is growing, we are getting very, very good attendances at public meetings,” he said. “There is a process of politicization across the state and increasing numbers are looking to us to provide leadership.”
Europe’s economic and debt crisis has boosted populist parties in many countries, with groups from the far right and hard left tapping anger at the failure of politicians to resolve the situation.
In Ireland, Sinn Fein’s mixture of left-leaning populism and nationalism is gaining support beyond its traditional working class base. Its score of 21 percent in a recent Irish Times poll last month was its largest yet.
The government’s backing for an austerity drive dictated by Ireland’s international lenders and set to continue for at least another four years is becoming an increasingly easy target.
“What we articulate has an echo in each of the European states. …people realise that austerity isn’t working,” said Adams. “There are many many voices that are arguing that you can’t cut your way out of recession.”
Sinn Fein has in the past struggled to win support among Ireland’s dominant middle class, which has been reluctant to support a party associated with the IRA’s campaign of violence, which killed innocent civilians.
For years Adams was seen as the face of republican opposition to British rule in Northern Ireland, and he was once interned as a paramilitary suspect during Northern Ireland’s three decades of violence.
The economic crisis, however, has provided a new platform for Sinn Fein, with a party whose members were officially banned from speaking on Irish media until 1993 now featured daily on national television news.
“RADICAL, PRACTICAL VOICE”
Sinn Fein is the only large political party to oppose the European Fiscal Treaty, a German-led bid to put austerity limits into national legislation. A May 31 referendum on the treaty is expected to be the EU’s only popular vote on the treaty.
The “Yes” campaign is leading in most polls, but large numbers are undecided and some of the country’s main unions recently refused to back the treaty, saying they could not recommend additional austerity to their members.
The main battle is being fought over the wording of the treaty, where a “No” vote would cut Ireland off from additional funding from Europe’s new permanent bailout fund should it – as is likely – need additional non-market funding when its 85 billion euro bailout ends next year.
But Adams says European parties would not dare cut Ireland off. “I have no doubt about that whatsoever…They are not going to risk contagion across the European Union. I think the government are scaremongering on this,” said Adams.
Last year’s election, when Sinn Fein tripled its seats to a record 14 in the Republic of Ireland’s 166-seat lower chamber, gave notice that the party could one day match its success in the north where it shares power.
The party hopes to consolidate its position as the second most popular party at the next elections and would consider forming a coalition government as a stepping stone to its ultimate goal.
“People now have a clearer view of Sinn Fein. There is no boundary in terms of the continued development of Sinn Fein as an alternative, radical but practical, voice,” Adams said.
(Reporting by Conor Humphries; Editing by Myra MacDonald)