Gerry Adams was never in the IRA….was he?

Wikipedia doesn’t seem to know, and has locked Gerry Adams’ entry until they figure it out. Apparently the brouhaha was started by Gaillimh, whose wiki userpage sports the Sinn Fein logo, over the use of Sean O’Callaghan and Michael McDowell, specifically, as sources for the claims of Adams’ IRA membership. Other users, notably One Night In Hackney, have pointed out that the claims have been made by more than O’Callaghan and McDowell, citing Peter Taylor, Ed Moloney, Jack Holland and others, but Gaillimh is holding firm to Adams’ denials. Wikipedia, being what it is, has decided to close the entry for the time being until the issue resolves itself. The Register is following developments. Meanwhile, to help sort the mystery of the age out, here is some source material for Wikipedians to cite. Feel free to add your own.

Whitelaw & IRA delegations

Pg 100, The Whitelaw Memoirs, William Whitelaw:

My Minister of State, Paul Channon, and I met leaders of the Provisional IRA at his house in London on 7 July.

Pg 278, Memoirs of a Revolutionary, Sean Mac Stiofáin:

The time now came to pick our team of representatives for the crucial London meeting with Whitelaw. At this stage, it was the military situation that would be the main British preoccupation, and they would scarcely be interested in talking to any Republicans just yet apart from representatives of the military wing. Therefore I rejected a suggestion that our team should include a leading member of Sinn Fein.

Pg 279, ibid.

It was decided that Dave O’Connell and I would represent the national leadership, together with Séamus Twomey. Also from Belfast there would be Gerry Adams and Ivor Bell. Martin McGuinness was to represent Derry.

Pg 491, The I.R.A., Tim Pat Coogan

The most substantial contact occurred in July, 1972, when there was a dramatic meeting in London between William Whitelaw and a top-level I.R.A. delegation comprising Sean MacStiofain, Daithi O’Connell, Seamus Twomey (then O.C. of the Belfast battalion), Martin McGuinness (then O.C. of the Derry battalion), and Ivor Bell and Gerry Adams, the senior officers in the Belfast command structure. A Dublin lawyer, Myles Shevlin, acted as secretary to the I.R.A. delegation.

Brownie & Adams

Until Richard McAuley claimed to be Brownie, in March 2004, An Phoblacht, in its ‘About Us’ history section, attributed the Brownie columns to Gerry Adams:

The mid-1970s saw significant developments for Republican News. In 1974 it changed to newspaper format, with eight large pages and at the end of the summer the paper moved to its first permanent offices at 170 Falls Road. In mid-1975 McCaughey was replaced as editor by Danny Morrison, one of the recently-released internees, who had a natural flair for publicity. Under the editorship of Morrison the paper was reorganised. Layout was made more attractive, the content was vastly improved and the paper became more professional and more relevant to the huge readership.

Later in the year, and until his release in 1977, Gerry Adams, then an internee in Long Kesh, began to contribute a regular column to the paper under the by-line ‘Brownie’. And, in 1978, following his imprisonment in the H-Blocks at Long Kesh, the late Bobby Sands, using the pen-name ‘Marcella’, became a contributor to the paper, describing in detail the appalling conditions in the H-Blocks.

see screenshots here, here and here

Now revised, with the incriminating line removed, the relevant section reads:

The mid-1970s saw significant developments for Republican News. In 1974 it changed to newspaper format, with eight large pages and at the end of the summer the paper moved to its first permanent offices at 170 Falls Road. In mid-1975 McCaughey was replaced as editor by Danny Morrison, one of the recently-released internees, who had a natural flair for publicity. Under the editorship of Morrison the paper was reorganised. Layout was made more attractive, the content was vastly improved and the paper became more professional and more relevant to the huge readership.

In 1978, following his imprisonment in the H-Blocks at Long Kesh, the late Bobby Sands, using the pen-name ‘Marcella’, became a contributor to the paper, describing in detail the appalling conditions in the H-Blocks.

Pgs 131-135, “Man of War, Man of Peace” by David Sharrock and Mark Devenport, gives some background about the Brownie column and Adams’ relation to it:

Questioned by one of the authors about these written confirmations of involvement in violence, Gerry Adams subsequently maintained that the Brownie articles were not written solely by him but were the work of a number of prisoners. Asked if he therefore wrote the articles which contained no damaging admissions, but not those which did, he replied yes. The exchange provoked a degree of wry amusement among republicans present at the time. The Brownie articles are clearly the work of an individual rather than a committee, and when Brendan McFarlane, the IRA’s officer commanding inside the Maze jail, wrote smuggled messages or ‘comms’ to Gerry Adams during the hunger strike of 1981 he consistently referred to Adams as ‘Brownie’.

In February 1977 Brownie announced to his readers that his column was shortly going to come to an end as his release was imminent. Brownie said that he was looking forward to seeing his wife and son who had been born while he was in jail. ‘Hopefully by the time you get to reading this I will be wandering in some secluded spot, hand in hand with mine spouse and our young son who arrived as soon as I left and is thus about to see me in my first patriarchal role going out into freedom…’ …One can safely assume that in this instance Brownie and Gerry Adams were one and the same person as Colette had given birth to the couple’s only song Gearoid a short time after Gerry Adams’ arrest in 1973.

On 19 February 1977 Brownie’s last column was published but it was by no means his last appearance in Republican News. A few weeks later in April 1977 another article appeared by an IRA prisoner writing under the pseudonym of ‘Solon’. The piece was a sardonic tribute to Gerry Adams….

“For those of you who don’t know,” Solon wrote, “Brownie is a lanky, thin bearded, boggin’ excuse for a person with gold rimmed glasses and is oft times to be seen, pipe in mouth, fumbling over cheese sandwiches…It was sickening too the way he used to suddenly acquire angelic qualities every time a priest came in. ‘Would you like tea, Father?’ ‘A biscuit, perhaps?’ Little did the Father know what a tyrant he was and that it was the only time during the week that he would make tea.”

“Apart from all his sarcasm, deviousness, patronising, backstabbing useless ways he had some endearing qualities,” Solon conceded.

“More quaint than endearing I suppose. I mean, who couldn’t like a guy who talks to stuffed dogs or breeds caterpillars on his window ledge…”

Solon ends: “To Brownie we conclude by saying you have lived up to our expectations and broken every promise you made before your release. It was only to be expected from someone like you.”

  • Shore Road Resident

    There’s a paradox in the outrage of SF drones at the suggestion that Gerry Adams was ever a member of their favourite paramilitary organisation.
    The only consistency in their position is that they’ll back anything Gerry says – even if it means implying that membership of the IRA is somehow ‘wrong’.
    Sad, really.

  • Tori

    Obviously yes.In 1983,when he was elected for Sinn Féin,GERRY ADAMS WAS THE LEADER OF IRA BRIGADE IN WEST BELFAST,TOGETHER WITH MARTIN McGUINNESS.
    I’m grieved for his changement:before he was a republican who had to be respected(Until Ard Fheis).Now,accepting the PSNI,whose officers were(70%)policemen linked to RUC,Gerry Adams has demonstrated to be an unionist.

  • SuperSoupy

    The wikipedia page is not locked, editing is not allowed for unregistered or newly registered users, credible contributors can edit away.

    Why don’t you add your information to the discussion page on wikipedia if you are so concerned? btw: it’s of little additional relevance just more POV as far as the standards of Wikipedia go. The argument ‘sure he won’t sue’ doesn’t stand up as substantiation of POV claims on wiki.

  • avonmore

    We also have the picture of a young Gerry A with a black beret at some IRA dude’s funeral. There is, of course, no way, anyone could climb the rank of Goodfellas without being a made man.

    The difference between Gerry A and Danny M in the Sandy Lynch case is Danny always went for plausible deniability. He is still trying to worm his way out of the trap he fell into when he went to wish Sandy Bon Voyage across the River Styx. Gerry has others to Brownie up to him.

    Did Ed Moloney hint Gerry played for the MI5 team? He certainly paints a picture of a shrewd calculator and manipulator. Of coruse, soon the PIRA will be old hat with C Ruane, Mary ou etc rising up the totem pole. So much like the De Rossa wing of the Stciks. De Rossa got a nice few quid out of the Sindo for their “smear”.

  • PP

    “The moon-landing never happened.”

    “Marilyn Monroe was murdered by the CIA because she was carrying JFK’s baby.”

    “The world really is flat.”

    “Gerry Adams was never in the IRA”

    etc, etc, etc

  • Mayoman

    PP: one to add. Paisley & Robinson were never gun runners

  • Cahal

    People are still banging on about this? I thought we’d all moved on.

    People who vote for SF (or even think about it) don’t give a toss if Gerry was in or out.

  • wild turkey

    Cahal, I agree though I would go one step further… People who vote for SF (or even think about it) don’t give a toss if he lies or even if he condemned innocent Irishmen and women to a certain death. What does it matter if the leader of the party you vote for supported people being forced to drive lorries packed full of explosives in to RUC stations? Haven’t you heard, there was a “war” on!

    The long and short of it is that even though Gerry et al, might represent the arse end of Irish Republicanism, “Irish Nationalism” in the north doesn’t give a shit – that’s why they vote SF.

  • merrie

    Totally agree with you Cahal

    And I hope Wikipedia will resist having Gerry’s biog turned into a graffiti wall on this topic.

  • lorraine

    stop looking back in anger, so what if he was or he wasn’t; the important thing is he has created a situation where for the first time ever we have a chance of consigning our hostilities to the past and moving forward constructively. that surely is more significant than whether he was or he wasn’t a member of the IRA.

  • Cahal

    Wild turkey, I agree.

    Voters in many countries turn a blind eye to the activities of party leaders as long as things are going well.

    Bush and Blair: responsible for hundreds of thousands of deaths in Iraq. Millions of people voted for them.

    Even aul’ Bertie: chef of the year, if cooking the books counts. He’ll win the next election too.

    Gerry: Leader of a ruthless insurgency. Has my vote as long as he pushes for a peaceful transition to a UI.

  • SuperSoupy

    If you think that’s a mad Wiki debate you should have a look at the Northern Ireland page, which is truly locked to all editing. There are 100s of entries, including at least one Slugger regular, from people who can’t accept there is no official flag and insist that wikipedia applies one regardless. This dispute is going to wiki-arbitration!

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:Northern_Ireland

  • Obscure Reference

    This is straight out of Milan Kundera, all we need is the picture of young Gerry airbrushed out leaving the black beret floating in the air.

  • wild turkey

    “Gerry: Leader of a ruthless insurgency. Has my vote as long as he pushes for a peaceful transition to a UI.”

    Surely that raises questions of hypocrisy and reliability? Nationalism might be happy to ignore the hypocrisy of the “do as I say and not as I do” attitude but the more difficult question of reliability needs to be resolved. Gerry’s route to a UI is built like a house of cards.

    Is a U.I. built on the backs of innocent men, murdered by self appointed executioners really worth it or is there a better way? Who in your family circle would you sacrifice for a U.I.? Do the people who carried out or condoned those activities represent the best of what it means to be “Irish”? Even if you think it does, I suspect, a majority of proud and patriotic Irishmen do not and the forth coming Election will give us the answer.

  • harry

    I suppose when Paisley,Robinson,Wilson,McCrea etc.. admit to their paramilitary past, Adams might do the same.

    Although airbrushing out the dup leaders without the paramilitary berets would look a wee bit silly.

  • avonmore

    People get the leaders they deserve. Hitler, Lowry and Ferris were all voted into office.

  • brown ones

    Or Dev, Haughey & the other criminal governments.

  • Cahal

    Wild Turkey
    “Is a U.I. built on the backs of innocent men, murdered by self appointed executioners really worth it or is there a better way?”

    Eh? I think we can all agree the IRA’s campaign didn’t deliver a UI. Haven’t we been in the ‘better way’ phase you talk of since 1998? From here on in any UI will be built on the back of persuasion (and possibly out breeding, my personal favorite).

    “Who in your family circle would you sacrifice for a U.I.?”

    No one. What a stupid question. Not all SF voters are ready to sacrifice people for a UI you know. Excuse me while I polish my horns.

    “Do the people who carried out or condoned those activities represent the best of what it means to be “Irish”?”

    You’ve lost me. I suggest you stop dwelling on the past activites of the SF leadership. Lest you be taken surprise by the new strategy.

    “Even if you think it does, I suspect, a majority of proud and patriotic Irishmen do not and the forth coming Election will give us the answer.”

    If people in the south are proud and patriotic enough to vote for parties which don’t even organize in the north…. well that says it all really.

    The main reason SF get my vote is because they are the only party who have the will to organize across the whole country. Actions speak louder than words as they say.

    Fianna Fail, The Republican Party*.

    *Does not apply in Northern Ireland.

  • wild urkey piously asks:
    [i]”Is a U.I. built on the backs of innocent men, murdered by self appointed executioners really worth it or is there a better way?”[/i]

    Alas, this poster, it appears, doesn’t know that the British security forces killed more than twice as many innocents as the Provisional IRA.

    From the Sutton database: the Provisional IRA killed 516 civilians, i.e. innocents. From the same source, the British forces killed 191 civilians and the loyalist paramilitaries killed 873. According to the same source, 715 of those killed by the loyalist thugs were killed for their real or percieved religious beliefs.

    Now, turkeys are notoriously stupid birds, but I think this poster should be smart enough to check the facts BEFORE posting such questions.

    Or does he think it’s is OK to slaughter a thousand or so innocens to preserve the union but terrible to slaughter half that number to bring about a reunited Ire;amd?

    Double standards, anyone????

  • DK

    Bob – you should by now well know that your stats are crap, relying as they do on several assumptions:

    1. That all Loyalist killings are classifiable as “British Security Forces”. Even those in the feuds.

    2. That while you add up all the non-republicans to get one figure, you only count the pIRA on the other side.

    3. The IRA had an identifiable, uniformed enemy and *still* killed a lot of civilians. While the actual aim of some loyalist was pure terrorism and killing of civilians in retaliation for anything any republican did.

    4. Sutton counts certain categoties as combatants that others wouldn’t, such as prison officers, politicians, and ex-members (including retired) of any organisation.

    5. Stats are not reliable. Sutton shows that the biggest casualties inflicted on the IRA was by the IRA. This suggests that the “war” here was purely an internal IRA civil war that the rest of us got caught up in. Pure nonsense.

    I’m sure others can add more. But you might reflect on other stats from Sutton. Such as those showing that the actual security services lost far more than they inflicted, unlike the IRA.

  • wild turkey

    Cahal,

    The point I am trying to make concerns who best represents the Irish national interest. Given that a majority of Irish Nationalists in the North support a party that in turn fully supports the IRA’s armed campaign, the rhetorical question “Who in your family circle would you sacrifice for a U.I.?” is not a stupid one. It lies at the heart of how Irish Nationalists view Ireland and what it means to be “Irish”.

    People are right to demand the highest standards from our public representatives. Good governance and leadership requires foresight and sound judgment. So it begs the question, what evidence is there to believe that this be found in people and a party who once thought that the cause of Irish unity could be progressed by the bomb and bullet.

    Personally, I think effective relationships with the southern government (whoever that may be) is more important than organizing on an all-Ireland basis. So far as the National question is concerned, I think it’s a bit of a smoke screen. It sounds good but it’s effectiveness is questionable. Having said that, I don’t think it will be long before FF starts canvassing with the SDLP in the North.

    “If people in the south are proud and patriotic enough to vote for parties which don’t even organize in the north…. well that says it all really.”

    I suspect the sentiment you express here is the same sentiment I feel when I see so called “Irish Republicans” voting for a party that supported the killing of innocent Irishmen and women. How can anyone who forces one of their fellow countrymen to drive a van full of explosives in to an RUC, call themselves “Irish Republicans”? In my view, “Irish Republicanism” is better than that. This is the reason SF could never get my vote.

    Like many on here, Bob McGowan seeks to justify the Provos armed campaign with the tired “there was a war on” type of argument. This conveniently narrow-minded way of thinking ignores the atrocities carried out against their fellow countrymen; many of whom were innocent people targeted; abducted, tortured, murdered and denied a Christian burial. He also chooses to forget that nobody gave the Provos a mandate to act on behalf of the Irish people. It was simply a case of them taking it on themselves to decide who lived and who died. The most patriotic Irish Republicans could only feel complete abhorrence for what the Provos did in the name of the Irish people.

  • Cahal

    Turkey
    “So it begs the question, what evidence is there to believe that this be found in people and a party who once thought that the cause of Irish unity could be progressed by the bomb and bullet”

    FF once held the same views. Times change. Parties move on. I was 14 when the ceasefire was called. I judge SF by their actions today and their plans for tommorrow. There aren’t too many parties with a clean history around here, in case you hadn’t noticed.

    “Personally, I think effective relationships with the southern government (whoever that may be) is more important than organizing on an all-Ireland basis.”

    Wouldn’t actually forming part of that government be more effective.

    Turkey, the SDLP lost a PR war with SF, a party linked to a violent and bloody insurgency. what does that say about the effectiveness of the SDLP?

  • wild turkey

    Cahal,

    ”..the SDLP lost a PR war with SF, a party linked to a violent and bloody insurgency. what does that say about the effectiveness of the SDLP?”

    I agree. In a world where PR, hype and spin are everything, SF really is the master. Scrape the surface however and they are shallow. You hit the nail on the head when you say “times change”… They certainly do but do people? If you think a person’s past actions count for so little, judging SF on it’s actions today and plans for tomorrow, then the same logic would suggest that we allow all the murderers and rapists in prisons who express remorse to go free. I on the other hand prefer to rely on a moral code of conduct. In short I consider some things wrong and some things right. Now you might be comfortable ignoring the fact people holding prominent positions within the SF leadership condoned the murder of their fellow countrymen and furthermore, they did so in the name of Ireland. I can not condone that type of behavior. Bury your head in the sand but the fact is that the Provos did not attack the British army and loyalist death squads alone… They ignored the majority voice of people across Ireland and killed too many innocent men, women and children. You might be able to vote for that, but I and many others can’t as it only serves to discredit the cause of Irish Republicanism.

  • Cahal

    “I on the other hand prefer to rely on a moral code of conduct.”

    Yeah, sure you do.

    You keep talking about ‘murdering our fellow Irishmen’. Are you not bothered that British soldiers and civilians also died on both sides of the Irish Sea.

    Personally I don’t believe irish unity is worth a single life, of any nationality. The day SF back an armed insurgency is that day they lose my vote.

    While they go down the peaceful route I’ll back them all the way.

  • “How can anyone who forces one of their fellow countrymen to drive a van full of explosives in to an RUC, call themselves “Irish Republicans”? In my view, “Irish Republicanism” is better than that. This is the reason SF could never get my vote.”

    On the other hand, we have the lovely Fine Gael who revel in bringing up the “glories” of the Irish State . http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Executions_during_the_Irish_Civil_War

    As Noam Chomsky said at the beginning of one of his lectures… “the first thing we all must say is that we are all hyocrites”

  • wild turkey

    Cahal, I don’t see why anyone should find it difficult to believe someone might rely on a moral code of conduct. I keep referring to those who condone the ‘murdering our fellow Irishmen’ because I think it is important. It is completely abhorrent on many levels, not least because it is murder. However it concerns me a great deal that the Provos took it themselves to treasonously murder their fellow countrymen in MY name and in the name of Ireland. I’ll say again, the Provos ignored the majority voice of people across Ireland. They ignored the will of the people. SF supports what they did so what does that say about SF?

    If I were to give them my vote I would be endorsing what they stand for and though I want to see a U.I., I know I could never choose a person to be killed, even if it meant that Ireland would be united. The atrocities carried out by the Provos against their fellow countrymen can never be justified by the atrocities carried out by the British/Loyalist forces. This does concern me a great deal but it is the actions carried out in MY name against MY fellow countrymen that concerns me the most. For this reason, I don’t see how SF could ever get my vote and I think, in this respect at least, I have more in common with the patriotic voters in the South than I do in the North.

    Rebel,

    I can only add that I see a distinct difference in the IRA of the 20’s the Provos of the 70s/80s/90s. As far as Noam Chomsky goes, may be he speaking personally when he talks of us all being hypocrites. Despite his criticism of the U.S. Foreign policy, he still chooses to live there; a kind of “better the devil you know”! Would you like to expand on what you understand him to mean when he says we are all hypocrites? I really don’t see the relevance here but may be you can enlighten us?

  • Cahal

    “Would you like to expand on what you understand him to mean when he says we are all hypocrites? ”

    Suggesting SF are treasonous because they supported killing Irish people.

    Then suggesting people who vote for FF or FG are patriotic. Both FG and FF were involved in killing Irish people during the tan war and civil war.

    Quite simple really.

  • [i]”1. That all Loyalist killings are classifiable as “British Security Forces”. Even those in the feuds.[/i]

    But the security forces allowed the loyalists to operate with virtual immunity as the increasing collection of hard evidence clearly demonstrates and also armed, trained and provided them with confidential intelligence files. Sorry, DK, but that does make thme responsible for the crimes committed by the loyalists.

    [i]”2. That while you add up all the non-republicans to get one figure, you only count the pIRA on the other side.[/i]

    Simple, really, since the dissident republicans have virtually no political links or voice. The loyalists, on the other hand, have very clear links with the unionist political establishment and far more influence on the unionist political agenda.

    [i]”3. The IRA had an identifiable, uniformed enemy and *still* killed a lot of civilians. While the actual aim of some loyalist was pure terrorism and killing of civilians in retaliation for anything any republican did.”[/i]

    Good try and with some truth, but a closer look at the facts indicates that the case is hardly as clear cut as you deem. Of the civilians killed by the loyalists, slightly less than 79% were Catholics. Of the civilians killed by the British security forces, 85% were Catholics. Your analysis is, I fear, more than a little bit distorted.

    BTW, The PIRA killed 517 civilians, just about 30% of all PIRA victims. Of these 517, 261 or slightly more than 50% of the victims were Protestants.

    Sorry, your criticism doesn’t do the job.

    [i]”4. Sutton counts certain categoties as combatants that others wouldn’t, such as prison officers, politicians, and ex-members (including retired) of any organisation.”[/i]

    Prison officers are certainly combatants and politicians who are officials of the government aare certainly fair targets, i.e. combatnnts. As far as retired are concerned, there are catregories for such and None of the PIRA’s victims fall into such

    [i]”5. Stats are not reliable. Sutton shows that the biggest casualties inflicted on the IRA was by the IRA. This suggests that the “war” here was purely an internal IRA civil war that the rest of us got caught up in. Pure nonsense.[/i]

    Since the total number of PIRA members killed by the PIRA is 135 or about 4% of all victims, your claim, I’m afraid, lacks credibility.

    [i]”I’m sure others can add more. But you might reflect on other stats from Sutton. Such as those showing that the actual security services lost far more than they inflicted, unlike the IRA.”[/i]

    Not really very pertinent but let it be duly noted that 77% of the victims of the security forces and their loyalist paramilitary allies were civilians while 30% of the victims of the PIRA were civilians. Seems to me that it’s rather hypocritical to harp on PIRA “terrorism” and ignore the terrorism of the alliance of the security forces and the loyalist paramilitaries.

  • wild turkey

    “Suggesting SF are treasonous because they supported killing Irish people.”
    Yip, got it in one!

    “Then suggesting people who vote for FF or FG are patriotic.”
    Er…, nowhere did I say that.

    I see I need to reiterate what I have said….

    I see a distinct difference in the IRA of the 20’s the Provos of the 70s/80s/90s.

    What does it matter if the leader of the party you vote for supported the plastic Irishmen who threatened to kill the families of those forced to drive lorries packed full of explosives in to RUC stations? Clearly that means shit to you.

    The long and short of it is that even though Gerry et al, might represent the arse end of Irish Republicanism, “Irish Nationalism” in the north doesn’t give a shit – that’s why they vote SF.

    “Quite simple really. ” I agree.