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.”