A Road to Croydon conversion

A Conservative Party councillor, Maria Gatland (nee McGuire) has resigned as the Croydon Council Education Cabinet member after her past involvement in the PIRA was revealed. She detailed her involvement in a 1973 kiss and tell book about the PIRA called “To Take Arms: My Year with the IRA Provisional”. (Hat tip Guido Fawkes).

  • Fuck me. She ended up in the Tories – fantastic. Nuts.

  • Padraig

    [b]Fuck me[/b]

    I’d rather not; but thanks for the offer, it was kind of you.

  • autocue

    Massively embarrassing for Reg Empey.

  • Jimmy Sands

    Interested she felt she had to leave to embrace capitalism. She must be kicking herself. If she’d stayed she’d be rolling in it.

  • If she’d stayed she’d be rolling in it.

    She could even have become a Minister for Education, instead of a poxy Councillor for Education.

  • Hardly ‘rolling’, Jimmy:

    “It is understood she was court martialled by the IRA in her absence and sentenced to death.”

  • Peregrine
  • “It is understood she was court martialled by the IRA in her absence and sentenced to death.”

    Has the RIRA ‘inherited’ this part of the package? If they are the ‘real’, then I guess they’d be under some obligation (cf the Real Green Book) to carry out this punishment.

    If so, well done* to Peter Latham for setting her up!


    [* that is sarcasm, in case some reader cannot pick it up!]

  • Mark McGregor

    Given the UUP/Tory link up I wonder if this means the UUP won’t be employing Sean O’Callaghan, some one with a much more active IRA past, again?

  • Rory

    I must say that I was taken aback by this news. I am not at all surprised that Maria McGuire should find a home within right-wing conservatism, it was ever her natural home. She confessed to me that she admired Franco for the order and stability that he had brought to Spain, where, she said, she had shortly been married to a minor Spanish grandee, before she came back to Dublin just before the introduction of internment and joined the Provisionals.

    She joined Provisional Adjutant-General, Dave O’Connell, on an arms purchase expedition to Amsterdam. At Schipol airport O’Connell’s instincts were alerted to a trap and the pair fled, beating a circuitous route back to Ireland where they arrived just in time to be feted at the Sinn Fein Ard Fheis. Both were then subject to an internal IRA inquiry and cleared of any collusion in the attempted sting.

    McGuire began an affair with O’Connell during the Amsterdam operation and it continued for a while after their return. McGuire then became close to Observer correspondent, Colin Smith and began an affair with him. She shortly thereafter fled to London with Smith and told her story to, surprise, surprise, one Colin Smith of the Observer and a ghost written book shortly appeared on the shelves and even more shortly thereafter disappeared.

    Not alone among the Provisionals and their supporters was it assumed that Colin Smith was a British (probably) MI6 agent. For this we must blame the well documented role of the Observer in providing cover for MI6 agents.

    I had never heard a word of Maria from then till now and had assumed that she and Smith might be happily married with sweet children and all doing good deeds together in this unkind world.

    I would have imagined that she might have kept a low profile but a Google search shows that she has
    been a very busy gal indeed, quite a high-profile, high-flier indeed it seems, busily doing her best to sell Croydon children’s education over to the miserably incompetent, “we’re only in it for the money’ academy profit mills.

    How the hell did she think she could get away with her past not being blown? We may well ask. The incentive to take such a risk surely must have been strong indeed.

  • IRIA

    Plus O’Callaghan’s imagination is even more active than his past.

  • Baz está fresco em Vermont

    Gun Moll Tells All
    By HP-TIME.COM;CURT PRENDERGAST Monday, Oct. 08, 1973

    ‘His Roman Catholic scruples would not even let him bring back from the Protestant North a box of contraceptives his men needed to make acid fuses for their bombs. ‘


  • cut the bull

    What will Willie Frazer make of this??? Will there be a protest picket at Westminister or at the Conservative party HQ.

  • Jimmy Sands

    She can teach Damian Green the words to “Men Behind the Wire”.

  • Actually Rory that’s a fair point. We shouldn’t be surprised to see someone from the bastard child of Fiann Fáil and northern sectarianism move to another right wing force.

    And why has no-one quoted Brendan Behan’s remark about shooting me in my absence?

  • Bob Wilson

    ‘She could even have become a Minister for Education, instead of a poxy Councillor for Education’
    Actually Horseman as Cabinet member for Education in a large Borough such as Croydon she can probably DO more than Caitriona.
    Moreover many Croydon Tories have gone on to be MPs so potentially much more influential than ‘Minister’ Ruane.

  • … someone from the bastard child of Fiann Fáil ..

    What on earth is that?

    If McGuire was an admirer of Franco, then she’d be ideologically closer to the Blueshirts (aka Fine Gael, now also, incidentally, forging closer ties with the Tories in Europe).

  • Dec

    Actually Horseman as Cabinet member for Education in a large Borough such as Croydon she can probably DO more than Caitriona.
    Moreover many Croydon Tories have gone on to be MPs so potentially much more influential than ‘Minister’ Ruane.

    If anyone can spot a discernable point in there, other than Bob wishes he lived in London, could they highlight it for me please?

  • It’s a misseplt Fianna Fáil, as you are undoubtedly aware. I never mentioned Franco, but the Irish Press was far from unsympathetic to him if I remember right.

  • Baz está fresco em Vermont

    “If McGuire was an admirer of Franco, then she’d be ideologically closer to the Blueshirts ”

    Not really, he’d chilled a bit by the 1970’s. At that point he was more liberal than the IRA on the death penalty front, he had almost given up executing people.

    Some of my friends were arrested for suspected terrorism in San Sebastian, they were caught talking German, and were too young to be retired Nazis.

  • Bob Wilson

    Nah lived in London Been there done that.
    Point is that just calling someone ‘Minister’ doesnt give them either power or influence.

    BTW Why has she resigned? – after all she renounced the Provos and chose the democratic path.

    I mean if its good enough for Marty, Conor et al why should this lady be allowed to continue in office?

  • Mark McGregor

    I’ve never been a fan of Franco, Falco yes, Franco no way.

    Then I heard he used to round up male Brit holiday-makers when their government pissed him off and shaved the heads of the ones with long hair or as a plane arived he’d close arrivals and keep the Benidorm bound in the airport for a fortnight break.

    What a shit.

  • Belfast Gonzo

    You’re assuming she was in the Provos and not in Her Maj’s employ. Those arms deals where she acted as translator failed, remember.

    The O Bradaigh biog notes the effects her exit had on the IRA (eg p192), so I don’t think it’s beyond the bounds of possibility that she was working for the British towards the end of her short-lived IRA career.

  • Belfast Gonzo

    (That was replying to Bob)

  • Turgon

    It is most interesting that according to the Belfast Telegraph report she was urged to resign. Who did the “urging” is unclear: it may very well have been the local Tory party.

    Whoever it was it is most interesting that some seem to feel that it is unacceptable for a councillor in charge of education to have an IRA past on the mainland UK. However, we are “urged” to accept people who did not become disillusioned with the IRA but instead are proud of it and its murderous ways to have positions of political power within our society.

    If it was Tories who “urged” this individual to resign, how exactly do they explain their enthusiasm that their new political bed fellows in the UUP remain in government with much more heavily involved IRA members?

  • IRIA

    Belfast Gonzo,

    With the little info I have, your theory is quite plausible. If she was an agent and was holding her nose throughout, I can see Bloody Friday as being her “I’ve had enough moment”. The fact that her book could serve/served as anti-PIRA propoganda compounds this.

  • The Third Way

    I’ll bet she was a member of Common Purpose, she’s just the type of flaky Irishwoman working in local government that they’d hone in on.

    (Never heard of “Common Purpose”? Google it, you’ll have get a real eye opener)

  • The_Analyst

    fair deal
    for the sake of accuracy the proper title of maria mcguire’s book was “To Take Arms…A Year in the Provisional IRA not ‘my’ as you suggested. Interestingly Conor Cruise O’Brien referred to it at the time as a publication of ‘real historical significance’.

  • fair_deal


    Took the title from the Time article

  • Rory

    The idiosyncrasies of Maria McGuire’s politics refelect only upon her own character, the fact remains that the manifesto of the Provisional Republican Movement, Eire Nua, was a socialist programme as it remains today as the programme of Republican Sinn Fein. That not all within the Provisionals were committed to it tooth and nail might be an appropriate understatement to describe the hold it had on the rank and file (and indeed, on much of the leadership).

    I don’t believe for a moment that Maria McGuire was a British spy. I believe she was simply a bored young woman, freshly divorced from a stultifying marriage, craving excitement who found herself swept up in events that were initially glamourous and then as the tittle-tattle around her affair with O’Connell became tedious she found comfort in the arms (and willing ear) of an Observer journalist.

    There was certainly much rancour between Brady and O’Connell on the one hand and MacStiofain on the other, but I never heard of an assassination attempt before. MacStiofain’s refusal to smuggle condoms back from any trip he made to the North is true but it was not his religious scruples that deterred him, it was the concern that the press would have a field day using extremes of catholicity to discredit him as a Republican leader were he caught. A wise precaution really.

    p.s. Apologies for my inability to insert the appropriate accent signs where I use Irish terminology, the facility to do that seems to be lost to me at the moment.