WE are to believe Gerry Adams, he has been a leading
republican for 30 years but never a member of the
IRA and has never had hand, act or part in any act
of IRA terrorism. His most recent version of himself,
in a clay-brained profile in VIP magazine, reveals
a craving to be seen as a happy-go-lucky kinda modern
guy who enjoys simple pleasures, a glass of red wine
and listening to lite jazz.
it may come as a shock to VIP readers and others who
have been buying into the Mr Nice Guy thing, that
Gerry was, er, a "terrorist". Oops, there
go the B List party invitations. Sorry Gerry.
book raises a scenario that has largely been covered
up in the media coverage of the "peace process"
years in Northern Ireland: that Adams has been at
the centre of the IRA's campaign of terrorism since
the outset; that he was present in key positions when
some of the worst atrocities of the Troubles took
place, and that he is cunning, manipulative and power-hungry.
book, it must be said, is more about Gerry Adams than
the IRA. It is an important book in that it seriously
addresses and exposes the issues of Adams's early
involvement in terrorism. This is then balanced with
Moloney crediting Adams's tremendous commitment in
turning the IRA away from that path.
may gripe about being associated in the book with
Bloody Friday and the kidnapping and murder of Jean
McConville. But he surely cannot carp about the gripping
account in the last chapters about his struggles with
the IRA hard cases, in which he is cast as the hero
in pursuit of a peace deal. Moloney is brilliant at
capturing the edgy world of IRA and Sinn Fein internal
politics, something he observed at close quarters
for 20 years.
unsurprisingly, however, the main controversy over
the book is its contention that Gerry Adams was the
man in charge of the IRA in west Belfast when it kidnapped,
murdered and secretly buried Jean McConville, and
that he was also in charge of the IRA in Belfast on
are not really contentious issues in the North, where
much of this is known or has been suspected for decades.
The issues have only become contentious because Adams
and his party have been engaged in a comprehensive
campaign of historical revisionism, casting themselves
as guilty only of a love of Ireland and a passionate
pursuit of peace and justice. Just as Johnny Adair
of the UDA proclaims his only crime is loyalty to
sycophantic treatment of the Sinn Fein leader by much
of the domestic and foreign media during the past
decade hasn't helped him and his party reach a sense
of perspective yet, either. Journalists, like Moloney,
who dared cast aspersions during the "peace process"
found themselves marginalised and castigated. One
particularly slimy figure came up with the term JAPPs
(journalists against the peace process) to brand those
few journalists in Ireland who tried to maintain objective
remain over Adams's role as commander of the west
Belfast IRA in events such as Bloody Friday and the
murder of Jean McConville. A Secret History of
the IRA, unfortunately, does not offer conclusive
proof on either issue.
Friday was one of the most exceptionally vicious acts
of terrorism perpetrated in a period when the IRA
really surpassed itself for evil deeds.
it came the Abercorn restaurant attack, in which an
IRA bomb exploded among women shoppers, and a series
of no-warning car bombs in Belfast and other towns.
The intention was to subject an entire population
to pure terror.
Friday, when 20 bombs were detonated almost imultaneously
in the city centre causing mayhem and terror on a
huge scale, ranks alongside some of the vilest acts
of 20th-century terrorism. Children, women and the
elderly were the main victims in a day of truly awful
Provos were clearly pre-empting the publication of
Moloney's book when they issued a retrospective apology
last July for Bloody Friday and the deaths of "non-combatants".
family of Jean McConville have already disputed Moloney's
claim that their mother, a widow trying to bring up
a family of 10 young children, was, as he claims,
an active informant for the British army. Other people
from west Belfast also dispute Moloney's assertion
of Mrs McConville's position in this respect. She
would seem a most unlikely army agent, struggling
as she was in extreme poverty to raise her large family.
is more likely that she was one of several victims
of an IRA campaign in Belfast at the time to stop
fraternisation with the army. Remember, the women
of the Falls Road and Ardoyne brought cups of tea
to soldiers manning the barricades to thank them for
holding back the loyalist mobs. This was during the
period when the IRA was being accused of abandoning
Catholic areas in the face of loyalist assault. Graffiti
such as "IRA I Ran Away" appeared on walls
at the time.
response the IRA set up people's committees, of women
and men, who targeted any poor woman who continued
to show any kind of friendship to the soldiers. More
than a dozen were beaten up, tarred and feathered
or kidnapped and threatened with murder. Jean McConville,
a Protestant who married a Catholic, was in a particularly
vulnerable category. Republican sources on the Falls
say she was killed as a lesson, pour encourager les
former republicans also don't believe the IRA's claim
that she was taken to a beach in the Cooley Peninsula
and shot dead. They believe she was shot dead in west
Belfast and buried in a hole dug for foundations in
a local housing estate. A real cloak of secrecy has
been pulled around Mrs McConville's disappearance
and death. It is evidence that the IRA really has
something to hide on this one.
there are really excellent accounts of the IRA and
the internal forces directing it. Moloney has very,
very good sources who were able to supply him with
minutes of army convention meetings, particularly
the 1997 one in Donegal where the people who formed
the "Real" IRA broke away.
exposes many of the backroom boys who have played
crucial roles in the peace process. There are a couple
of curious omissions. There is little or no account
of the effect of the loyalist assassination attempt
on Adams in 1984. It was about this time that Adams
began to become more interested in some kind of peace
process did he hear the fluttering of angels' wings
as he lay in hospital recovering?
Warrington bomb in March 1993, in which three-year-old
Jonathan Ball and 12-year-old Timothy Parry were killed,
had a massive impact in the Republic and thousands
attended rallies. The book is too tightly focused
on the secret diplomacy between the Provos and both
governments, which is all very interesting but very
insider. Warrington was an important turning point.
this is a superb piece of work and ranks alongside
Toby Harnden's Bandit Country as the best insider
account of the IRA. Throw the rest out.
article was first published in The Sunday Independent
and is carried with permission from the author.
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