Irish Labour Party calls for clarification on IRA claims

The implications of the comments yesterday by Minister of Justice Michael McDowell, and by Minister for Foreign Affairs Dermot Ahern, have not been lost on the Irish Labour Party spokesman, Joe Costello, as reported in the Irish Examiner Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams, Martin McGuinness and Martin Ferris should be put on trial if the Government’s claims that they are members of the IRA’s Army Council are true, the Labour Party insisted last night.

No doubt many of the commenters here on Slugger agree.. although, perhaps, for different reasons..

And it will not go unnoticed for long that five people have just been convicted for membership of an illegal organisation at the Special Criminal Court.

From the Irish Examiner report –

“If these claims[by Minister McDowell] are true, these men are guilty of membership of a subversive organisation which is punishable by a five-year jail term,” said Labour spokesman Joe Costello.

“The minister’s statement has huge repercussions and people will want to know will these people be prosecuted.

“A word of a garda superintendent who tells a court he believes someone is a member of proscribed organisation is now sufficient to convict that person.

“Here we have a minister, one of the highest office holders in the land, stating categorically that these three men are members of the IRA Army Council – one of them a member of the Dáil,” Mr Costello added.

In response to the comments by Michael McDowell, Sinn Féin’s Martin McGuinness told RTÉ, “I am not a member of the IRA – I was years ago – I am not a member of IRA Army Council.”

Taioseach Bertie Ahern has, so far, simply stated that he does not know who the members of the IRA army council are.… but it’s difficult to see how he will be able to maintain that position for long.

Especially when, as Defence Minister Willie O’Dea has stated, “We[the Irish Government] are no longer prepared to accept the farce that Sinn Féin and the IRA are separate – they are indivisible”.

  • Henry94

    He has a point but the three involved could argue that their right to a fair trial had been undermined by McDowell

    Charlie Haughey faced criminal charges arising out of his alleged obstruction of the McCracken tribunal. An indefinite stay was put on the trial by Justice Kevin Haugh in June 2000, on the basis that arising out of a variety of comments, most notably some by the Tanaiste, Mary Harney, that Haughey ‘should be convicted’ and ‘spend time in prison’, (Irish Independent, 27 May 2000), he could not get a fair trial.

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    Richard Delevan noticed the significance of the statement all of 9 hours ago on another thread.

  • Malachy

    And what a fitting conclusion to the Irish Peace Process it would be. They must be having fits of laughter in the House of Commons.

  • Richard Delevan

    Bertie has put some serious daylight between himself and McDowell’s Sunday statement naming members of the IRA Army Council. And McDowell’s being sued.

  • Pat Mc Larnon

    One gets the impression Daily Ireland owners were giving Mc Dowell enough rope to hang himself and waited for the opportune moment. Like the scorpion he just couldn’t help himself.

  • cg

    “A word of a garda superintendent who tells a court he believes someone is a member of proscribed organisation is now sufficient to convict that person”

    What he means is Internment, a disgrace

  • James

    Well DUH!!

    The present government should then be right along side them as accessories after the fact. Unless they are just liars stoking up the rubes before spring elections.

  • Jimmy Sands

    Difficult to see why DI are doing this. MM is hardly likely to back down and given the free start-up publicity he gave them, it’s hard to see what damage they’re claiming. I have a feeling that by the time they get asked to provide details of their backers on discovery they may decide discretion is the better part of valour.

  • Roger W. Christ XVII

    cg strictly speaking it’s not internment. The word of a senior police officer in the RoI is admissable as evidence against a person, but the panel of judges have the final say over whether or not a conviction results. This has been the case for quite a long time now, in fact it was the case in the RoI a long time before it was the case in NI AFAIK.

  • PaddyCanuck


    It still amounts to locking someone up without evidence or due process, as understood in most liberal democracies.

    I understand that in some countries, under emergencey situations, or in the case where the state is under extreme threat, it may be expedient to use such techniques outside the normal rule of law, but we may as well call a spade a spade, it amounts to internment.

    I can just see the so called evidence that the Garda would produce:

    “Gerry wore a beret 35 years ago, he carried a coffin, he spoke at republican commemorations, he has a Long Kesh harp in his living room”.

    Fair play if they want to set up a sham\show trial, then go ahead.

    They should reflect on the fact that while they continue to villify and attack Sinn Fein, the peace process lies in ruins, Unionism is strenghtened, and the real changes that Nationalist Ireland is entitled to are on the long finger.

    And put this in context, less than 2 months ago the IRA offered to disarm completley, and enter a new mode, to effectively stand down. Something which no Repuplican leadership has ever been able to achieve, not Fine Gael, not Fianna Fail, not Labour. And what Sinn Fein was also offering was an accommodation with Unionism (6 county and 32 county), and the UK. Again something which no Republican Leader was ever able to achieve, not Collins, not Dev, and not Bertie.

    Adams, McGuinness et al, have offered and delivered more than most could even have imagined possible, and what do they get in return? And why now?

    Roll on the elections….

  • Jacko

    They pointedly refused to give any undertakings re. criminality going so far as to remove it from the proposed text of a statement, nor did they specify the “new mode” they had in mind.

  • PaddyCanuck

    Why should they give in to another last minute precondition. The Sinn Fein Leadership have been met with precondition after precondition, throughout the negotiations. DeContamination period, Decommissioning, now Decriminalisation, at the Behest of Mr. McDowell.

    every time they deliver on the last precondition a new one is introduced, this used to be the strategy of Unionists seeking to minimalise change, now it is the strategy of Mr McDowell, and disappointingly Mr. Ahern, but again with the view to minimalising change on the Island of Ireland

    If everyone else had tried as hard to make the process work, we would have been much further on.

  • aquifer


    ‘What he means is Internment, a disgrace’

    Either our political options are constrained by a bunch of gangsters, or we constrain the gangsters.

    The law has difficulties dealing with subversive conspiracies, as many of the minor roles can be played within the rules of democratic dissent or of progressive social engagement. As Sands suggested, there are a spectrum of options for engagement, with illegality or plain sociopathy at one end. The law may prefer to patronise members as misguided individuals rather than suppress them as a wanton mob. Something about not wanting to admit that they represent an alternative source of authority, albeit enforced by exemplary brutality.

    We all have codified rights now however, even law abiding innocent taxpayers.

    And these rights must override the RM capacity to do wrong.

    No disgrace in recognising that.

  • Davros

    Why should they give in to another last minute precondition.

    it wasn’t a last minute precondition.

  • PaddyCanuck

    What subversive conspiracy are you talking about?

    What are the aims of this conspiracy?

    Who is involved in this conspiracy?

    And finally where is your evidence for you above answers?

    Sinn Fein have a well documented platform (see their many policy documents and manifestos), there is nothing conspiratorial about it.

  • PaddyCanuck

    Davros, in the context of the 10 to 15 year old peace process it certainly was. It was an attempt to push the agenda of one man and one party, and to the detriment of the people on this island.

  • New Yorker

    Dear Paddy Canuck,

    As we say in the States, do you not realize the gig is up? The evidence is mounting, the cases are being sent to the DPPs, the public is revolted by what they are now finding out. I think it would be wise for both the governments to take measures that Gerry and the Jailbirds do not fly the coop to a country without extradition treaties. Go find another cause to support, next time a good and reputable cause.

  • PaddyCanuck

    New Yorker, as we Irish say: “what are you on about!?”

    What gig are you talking about? The peace process?

    What cause are you talking about? Irish Nationalists\Republicans campaign for equality, and self determination? I will not walk away from that one, I will leave that to the SDLP.

    What evidence, I await charges that follow files going to the DPP, and then there is the little matter of proving those charges in court, and if proven they have to be shown to be linked to the Sinn Fein leadership.

  • Davros

    Davros, in the context of the 10 to 15 year old peace process it certainly was.

    Nope. Criminality may not have been mentioned in the American media P-C, but it has been an issue for a long time here. Does the murder of Garda McCabe ring any bells ? How about the Murder of Frank Kerr in Newry 1994 ?

  • PaddyCanuck

    Make up your mind Davros? Are we discussing whether it was a new precondition, or are we getting into a what aboutery session?

    And as far as american media goes,
    1) I do not live in America.

    2) Ever heard of the internet?

    3) I lived in Ireland at the time of both incidents you mentioned. And its funny how when previous power sharing administrations were setup that those murders were not seen as impediments to there creation, hence my arguement about new preconditions.

  • PaddyCanuck

    Excuse my spelling, I am much to over reliant on MS Word for my spelling these days.

  • PaddyCanuck

    Excuse my spelling, I am much to over reliant on MS Word for my spelling these days.

  • Davros

    P-C – On which continent do you live ?

  • PaddyCanuck

    Why? are we going to get into a silly British Isles type debate?

    I live in Canada, not America. I rely on Irish, and British new media for reporting on events back home.

  • Davros

    On which Continent ?

  • PaddyCanuck

    See you do want to get into a silly arguement, you are never one for the substantive issues are you?

    I live on the North American continent. You mentioned American media. However, I live in Canada. In Canada we have Canadian Media, in Mexico they have Mexican Media, in the USA, they have american media.

    Thihgs a bit clearer for you now Davros?

  • Davros

    P-C you live in America 🙂 I live in Europe.

  • PaddyCanuck

    I need ajudication? Is Davros talking through is pipe?

    I live in Nort America. Not America.

  • PaddyCanuck

    Arrrrggggggggghhhhhhhh! Spelling got me again!

  • Davros

    Americans are notoriously poor spellers 😉

  • New Yorker

    Dear Paddy Canadian,

    First of all, I find it insulting to Canadians that you use a handle with a word that is pejorative to Canadians.

    No need to be so obtuse. The gig I am referring to is the massive SF/IRA terror and criminal empire. It has nothing to do with the peace process, the peace process will be in better shape when the entire lot of SF/IRA fraudsters are locked up. And I say that say that as a NI Catholic. Are you just playing dumb or are you so obtuse? What about was recoverd in the Garda operation in Cork, the hard-drives, mobiles with memory, paper records. Then there is one of the two top money launderers squealing to the police. There are many other investigations at present. The evidence is being assembled and papers are being prepared for the DPPs. Do you actually doubt that? The whole fraud of SF engaging in the peace process, representing the Catholics of NI, pressing for a 32 county socalist republic is all rapidly crumbling; it’s been about grab as much as you illegally can for ten years. I only spend two months in NI a year and I have known that for a long time; I also know that there are a lot of suckers and fools who did not have a clue what the game was all about, or chose not to believe it. Remember the brutal murder of the author Eammon Collins? Do you see the parallels with the recent McCartney murder in the Short Strand. Does angry godfathers order goons to do the job occur to you? How long ago did you leave the North? It may be that things have so changed since you left that you do not realize what has been going on. Consider changing your handle, it’s not funny,it is downright insulting to the nation that you reside in.

  • James

    “On which Continent ?”

    You are taking the p my gargoyle friend, nicht war? Your evil genius has no doubt instinctively homed in on that one aspect that is likely to drive any Canadian, even the newly landed immigrant, to the edge. Be prepared for a blistering that would render even your ah, unique, skin condition unrecognizable when you call them Americans. It’s the pedantry gland thing, you see.

    I’m all for Vespucciland, myself.

    “Americans are notoriously poor spellers 😉

    It is all in the conservation of U’s. Quite easy when you get the hang of it.

  • Davros

    If only they were all like you James, a man of wit, wisdom and good taste… ( I approved mightily of that Ginsberg poem you linked.) North America Unfree shall never be at peace …. End Partition now!

  • Davros

    p.s. I have Canadian relatives I dislike intensely.
    Self-satisfied, smug know-it-alls. Imagine, an entire nation with an A.P.N.I. complex 😉 ( Sorry Ian LOL )

  • nemesis

    i agree with davros who speaks sense

  • cg

    Internment is Internment no matter what you choose to call it.

    As Slade said in “Street v Mount ford”

    “If you set out to create a spade but create a four pronged instrument, it is still a fork no matter what you call it”

    No room for bullshit, the right to due process is not a qualified right and people who describe it as such should not consider themselves as democrats.

    We have seen the word of the Gardai in the Colm Murphy case

  • Davros

    Lawyers and Lawyer larvae 🙂 Don’t ya love ’em ?

    Street v. Mountford

    Lord Scarman ? Brit Law ? 😉

  • cg

    What are you getting at europhile 😉

    Spit it out 😉

  • Davros

    You’ll look good in the bowler Chris 😉

  • PaddyCanuck

    Keep it up with the personal insults New Yorker, better to slur an opponent than to rely on an argument based on fact.

    I do not know what is on the the hard-drives, mobiles with memory, paper records etc that the Gardai lifted and either do you.

    If there is any evidence against Sinn Fein as a party, then let us see some evidence and charges. Their books are open and reviewed by the tax man. If they have something on Gerry why do they not charge him, or why does the criminal assets bureau not take is house in Donegal? Why because they would not have a leg to stand on.

    As for the Robert McCartney, I have made it abuntantly clear, in several posts, where I stand on that issue. There is no room for butchers in any political movement.

    And nothing much as changed since I left, it seemsd to be the same as when I left, Unionists reluctant to except change, the SDLP willing to except that , and the PD’s are still villifying Sinn Fein.

    Back to the table, and we would all be better off. Gerry, Martin et al have delivered alot up to now, and it will be them that seals the deal in the future. Thats my prediction, and much more likely scenario than your nonsense.

  • cg

    NEVER!!! 😉

    You will look good in that bala Davros 😉

  • Davros

    Still have one somewhere from my pigeon and duck days LOL I knew some lads who were really keen on the peace process so they would get a crack at the long necks in bandit country.

  • PaddyCanuck

    Davros heres my proof:

  • cg

    “I knew some lads who were really keen on the peace process so they would get a crack at the long necks in bandit country.”

    Please explain this whataboutery in plain queens english 😉

  • Davros

    Another thing about Irish people … they lose the ability to tell when they are being teased when they go to Canada 😉

  • Davros

    I thought you were a country boy ?
    long-necks = ducks. There used to be great game shooting in your neck of the woods.

  • cg

    Still is

    There are 3 gun clubs in Dromintee alone to which I am the a member of one

  • cg

    “I am the a member”

    Should read “I am a member”

    you have to love wiskey 😉

  • New Yorker

    Dear Paddy Canadian,

    Do you really expect that those investigating and preparing papers for the DPPs would make the evidence they are working on available to the public at this point? What we know is that SF personnel are tied into the Cork operation. Put two and two together. When they have air-tight cases arrests will occur; it is not if but when. And, I cannot say when as I am not part of the investigation and prosecution teams.

    Things have changed a lot since you left NI, especially since the new year. Catholics are wising up to what the SF/IRA game was all along since the ceasefires, namely, grab as much as you can illegally and keep yapping on the political level. Talk to family and friends over there to get a good read on the present situation. I do several times a week. It is a very changed place. By the way, you said you read news on the internet, do you look at the articles posted on on a daily basis?

  • Davros

    you have to love wiskey 😉

    I prefer good tobacco 😉

  • James

    “you have to love wiskey 😉

    I prefer good tobacco ;)”

    Tabakkee and Likker.

    You guys need a Mom.

  • Davros

    I’m a pipe man these days James … but it pains me when I think of the prices you pay in the USA for your tobacco. Not fair as our UUP friends would say!

  • cg

    “You guys need a Mom”

    They are the reason you turn to wiskey in the first place 😉

  • Oilbhéar Chromaill

    New Yorker,
    If the Gardai had any evidence pointing to charges being brought against these people they would have them charged and remanded in custody. After all they need only bring on a superintindent to say, in his opinion, these people are members of the IRA. That would do to remand them in custody until their trial.
    Releasing them has fuelled suspicions that they don’t have the evidence to convict them and once the initial furore dies down my expectation is the matter will be put on the long finger by the authorities before being dropped. I mean if they can’t charge someone who’s found burning money and with possession of an AK 47 (according to reports) who can they charge?

  • spirit-level

    OC agreed
    How much more constipation can we all take?

  • James

    “AK 47 (according to reports) who can they charge?”

    [gun_nut][pedant] It was 7.62X39 mm ammo (fits the SKS as well as the AK) reported, not the firearm itself [/gun_nut][/pedant]

    Cocaine was also reported as being found. The dope, not the ammo, is the hot button in my neck of the woods since many here have enough firepower in the closet to take on an ASU.

  • Amergin

    Without any hard evidence pinning the blame for the robbery on one person or group, a number of questions are outstanding. Let us set prejudices aside and ask who could have done it and who stood to gain. Watching the Lebanese Syrian drama unfold lead me to conclude that the least likely culprit was Syria, which had most to lose from a destabilisation of the region.

    Back to Ireland. Could Sinn Fein (a party known for its slickness and political astuteness) have been so dumb as to allow or give its blessings to the raid. Given the organisational demands of carrying out such a project (at first sight only within the capacity of the IRA) would Sinn Fein (if it knew about it) not have considered that some participants might goof, that the raid may be foiled or, as has happened, some fencers might get caught holding some of the cash. Would a party of the alleged sharpness of Sinn Fein (which has marketed itself successfully for over 15 years) not forsee the consequences of (very likely) exposure and reprimand.

    So (taking a cue from Syria) I would like us all to consider like Hercule Poirot, who (a) had motive, (b) had opportunity, (c) had capability.

    Allow me to set the ball rolling by listing, however unlikely all the suspects (in the room).

    The suspects:-
    1. The IRA (a) With Sinn Fein knowledge, (b) Without SF knowledge. (c) With SF knowledge but without SF assent.
    2. The Real IRA (a) alone, (b) with as yet undeclared IRA dissidents (c) with foreign help (Croatia)
    3. The Continuity IRA again with IRA dissidents.
    4. MI5 MI6
    5. Unionist Paramilitaries.
    6. Criminal gang (a) alone (b) with republican dissidents.

    Feel free to add or delete as appropriate.

    Opportunity. All of the above had opportunity. The bank was not particularily well protected. Any well diciplined gang of 20 or so could have carried out the raid. I do not buy the Government line about how complex it was. More likely, by emphasising the dramatic nature of the raid, the authorities do not seem so stupid. Disposing of the loot has proven to be the tricky bit. Would the IRA have been so sloppy? Is this the best that an organisation that has huge volumes of munitions safely bunkered throughout the country, that has imported large weaponry into and out of the country for the past 30 years or so? How far down the food chain are those found in posession of the cash? More interestingly, whose foodchain is it?

    Capability: see above. The raid was well and ruthlessly executed. However, it was the disposal of the loot that has (partially at least) nicked the culprits. The IRA is known to have well organised infrastructure both in Ireland and elsewhere. Would the IRA not have made sure that the money was deeply buried for some time and when finally circulated, would the IRA not have channeled it through several of its commercial outlets.

    This is where the Real IRA comes into view. It has the opportunity and capability to carry out the raid but may not have the infrastructure to offload sterling. The Unionist paramilitaries would certainly have the opportunity but would be unlikely to send money south of the border. MI5 ‘et al’ would have the capability and opportunity and would be able to use local operatives. You might think that they would not be messy in the disposal of the currency, except that they would not have any interest in profiting from the raid. They might have a motive in allowing the money to hit the streets in Ireland’s second capital. A criminal gang would be unlikely to have opportunity to act without approval and protection of one or another paramilitary group.

    Unable to include or exclude any suspect (though the Unionist Paramilitaries and Criminal gangs are the least likely) motive becomes an important aspect.

    1. The IRA, at the time of the raid, was in conflict with Mr. Paisley and his camera. Would it carry out the raid as a reminder of its capacity. Bombs are out of fashion these days. Or perhaps it really did not do it. If, as Irish ministers think, SF and the IRA are two sides of the same coin, then surely it was not in SF’s interest to do it. If SF has such a strong influence over the IRA, they would (forseeing the consequences) prevent the IRA from acting. Or, maybe the Irish Ministers are wrong about SF and its influence. In which case SF did not know or approve of the raid. Therefore it should not be targeted.

    Is this typical of the IRA? Previously when the IRA withdrew from negotiations, it issued a statement first and then got subversive. The timing of this raid, if carried out by the IRA, is not historically true to form.

    The Real IRA. It has motive. It needs the cash and is happy to see both SF and the IRA sweat. An action in its name would gather it more recruits both from the IRA and elsewhere. If the Real IRA is emerging as a radical alternative, then both Governments and SF and the IRA are very worried. SF and the IRA will not point a finger at the Real IRA as that would give publicity to its capability. The two Governments dread the possibility that a new (terrorist) organisation is emerging just as they are trying to cage the old one. They would also be motivivated to quickly finish off both the IRA and SF so that they can both intimidate and exclusively face the new threat. The Real IRA is in a ‘win win’ situation.

    MI5 6 etc. Motivation is obvious. Britain’s secret services have longstanding grudges against the IRA and Sinn Fein. They do not necessarily share the official Labour views on peace talks. A spanner in the works would suit their purposes (and those of Mr. Paisley) very much right now. I recommend the book “The Dirty War” should anybody doubt their methods.

    I offer this memorandum for discussion. I am happy to be challenged and will concede where proven wrong.

    Thank you