“If he had read her book, he would know that he already has it.”

Malachi O’Doherty has an interesting analysis of the Maria Gartland/McGuire affair.

  • I just don’t see how anyone can take Maria Gartland/McGuire’s outing, and confessions lightly.

    She was working with the early Provo leadership in 1971-72 when the most destructive murders during The Troubles occurred – the killing of the three soldiers of the lst Battalion Royal Highland Fusiliers on March 11, 1971.

    “The three soldiers,” Peter Harclerode wrote in Secret Soldiers, “had been lured from a bar in the Cornmarket area of the city after being invited to a party by three men and two women.” (p. 317)

    The fallout from these murders – which were never solved, as far as I know – was apparently the worst of The Troubles, leading to the recruitment of ‘Steak knife’ by the MRF, the brutal reprisal murders of SDLP Senator Paddy Wilson and Irene Andrews by colluding loyalist killers, etc., ad nauseam.

    Mrs. Gartland’s problems are, it seems, only the tip of the iceberg.

  • John O

    Am not a journalist or historian but happened to have read McGuire’s book after finding it by accident in a jumble sale a earlier this year. I agree with Malachi O’Doherty’s analysis. I think the book itself is an apology for her actions (explicitly so at the end). And if becoming a Tory party councillor wasn’t some form of redemptive penitence, I don’t see what is? Although, obviously, it is embarassing to her colleagues and party (a slight understatement).
    At least (despite what some will claim) – there isn’t the remotest possibility of a threat to her life after such an interval (she hasn’t exactly been hiding from the public spotlight so she obviously doesn’t feel threatened either).
    If anyone takes the trouble to read the book they will read McGuire’s perspective (however well informed it was) on the diverse opinions on strategy and policy with the IRA leadership in the period 1970-1972. It will be uncomfortable reading for some, but it is interesting nonetheless as it doesn’t fall within the typical canon of “trouble’s histories” or the, typically self-serving, “terrorist” biographies that you find on the shelves.

  • Harry Flashman

    Oddly enough if you read the comments on this story in the Daily Mail online you will see that most readers there share Malachi’s approach, far from foaming at the mouth they are saying it was a long time ago, she was young, has repented and should be allowed to get on with her life now.

  • Jimmy Sands

    “it was a long time ago, she was young, has repented and should be allowed to get on with her life now. ”

    She only left the party last week.

  • Harry Flashman

    HI Jimmy, how are you?

    What do you think of Speaker Martin confirming the obvious key issue in the Green arrest affair which I was the first to point ot but which you so casually dismissed ie that there was no search warrant; the cops had nothing on Green and they were on a fishing expedition and abused their position and Jill Pay was incompetent?

    Is Michael Martin a Tory stooge too like me?

  • Jimmy Sands

    If they had nothing on Green then they had no right to arrest him. Presumably he will be suing them.
    Is this a real story or another “Guido” scoop?

  • Harry Flashman

    I’m not sure why you are so obsessed with the Guido thing Jimmy, I have been right all along; the police made a cardinal error when they went ahead with the arrest/trawling operation, it now seems that the Labour government and the Speaker are going to hang the police out to dry on this, the police will be the fall guys.

    You can’t sue the police just because they arrest you, the police were entitled to arrest him but that doesn’t stop them looking very stupid indeed, the cops have shot themselves in the foot and it now appears they are the ones who will suffer. The two idiot cops who thought they could get the top job by licking Jacqui Smith’s rear end are now destined for ignominy, hell rub it up ’em I say.

    You can keep throwing silly red herrings at me if you like but I’m afraid you’ll have to agree that my assessment of the Serjeant at Arms and the police’s role in this has now been accepted by Speaker Martin.

    I have been proven right and your slavish acceptance of the New Labour line has been shown to be wrong, I’m sorry for you but that’s what happens when you refuse to look at something objectively, this was a blatant stitch up job and now there’s going to be pay back.

    I’m disappointed that senior police officers let themselves fall into such obvious political policing and I hope they will learn their lesson in the future, I certainly hope when the Tories get into power again they show a bit more spine and operational independence, that is what is required after this sorry saga.

    In summary, I was right, you were wrong. Better luck next time.

  • Jimmy Sands


    You asserted that the police had “nothing on” Green. Were that assertion correct, they would have had no grounds for arresting him and the arrest would have been unlawful. It’s far from clear to me that a warrant was required for the search, but if the procedure going forward is to require one then well and good. Hopefully that deals with the smokescreen. I’m not entirely sure what you think you were right about, but good for you anyway.

  • Harry

    I think you will find if the UK police arrest someone, they do not need a warrant to search the premises and office of those they arrest. No warrant needed.

    Indeed one would guess that was why Green was arrested in the first place, normal practice, the flashing of a search warrant only happens in the movies.

  • Harry Flashman

    Indeed Mick you are correct, once they arrest you they don’t need a warrant, that is why they arrested him under an obscure piece of legislation so they could get access to his computers to fish for evidence because despite holding the civil servant for eight days and monitoring his calls they still hadn’t enough evidence on Green that would satisfy a judge to provide a search warrant.

    They should have at that point abandoned the chase that would have been the sensible thing to do, if you don’t have any evidence then you drop the case, but two rather ambitious police officers wanted to impress their bosses in the Home Office and now they have egg plastered all over their big ugly faces.

    Jimmy I was right because I was right and you were wrong, thank you for your gracious concession of such.

  • It would be nice, Harry Flashman, if you kept to the subject for a change – Maria Gartland’s outing and confessions while she was the Provos’ Maria Maguire – instead of going on endlessly about whatever suits your alleged superior abilities, especially since you are willing to forgive whatever she did because the poor young woman confessed all when she realized what she had done.

    I think that is a totally question-begging stance, given what happened during 1971-2, especially the murders of the three Scot fusiliers by five young Provos, including two vital young women for the set up – what even their leader Dave O’Connell was dealing with General John Hackett in the hope of preventing similar incidents.

    And murder, unlike the twists and turns of parliamentary privilege and custom, is a crime which is ever open to settlement no matter how long it takes.

  • For more about what Maria Maguire admitted to in her book – especially wanting to kill British soldiers during 1971-2, and the more, the better – see this link:

    http://www.mailonsunday.co.uk/article-1091364/The-truth-Tory-council-education-chief-used IRA-moll.html

    Also note that the article makes no mention of the most horrendous murders of them – the killings of the three Scottish fusiliers – what Peter Taylor has discussed in considerable detail in Brits: The War Against the IRA, pp. 5860, though without somehow making mention of the two women involved.

    If one does not look for the truth, one will never find it.

  • John O

    Trowbridge – if you read her book (page 12 of the edition published by Quartet Books in 1973), she claims she got involved with Sinn Fein and the IRA in July 1971. She had left Ireland for Spain in 1968 after taking her finals at UCD. She was in Spain until July 1971 when she returned to Dublin, she doesn’t appear to have been in Ireland at all until then in 1971, so she doesn’t appear to have been in Belfast in March of that year.

  • Thanks, John O, for your reply, as it is most relevant to what I am claiming – the book is not an accurate description of her past in 1971-2 with the Provos.

    How could she have written her support of killing British soliders, the more the better, in light of the blowback from the killing to the fuseliers on March 11, 1971?

    “The horrific killings,” Peter Taylor wrote in The Brits, “the cowardly manner in which they were carried out, and the fact that two of the victims were only 17 and 18 years old, sent shock waves through the province and the rest of the United Kingdom.” (p. 59)

    Taylor says that the environment was so terrible that if the government had chosen to introduce internment then, it would have been widely supported. The Provosionals even thought it was coming.

    Maria Maguire would chose to join them after this occurred? I doubt it.

    Then if she didn’t participate in it, who did? No one, not even Peter Taylor, seems to know.

    I would suggest the police query Ms. Gartland about it, at the very least, as she could at least know a lot about the murders.

  • John O

    Trowbridge – I imagine that the whole episode is a part of Ms Gartland’s past that she has preferred to forget. She seems to have come to the same conclusion very rapidly given how quickly she left the IRA and wrote her book. According to her own account, she attempted an overdose in 1968 while at UCD (just prior to taking her finals). She had been into dramatics and had been offered a six month spell at the Abbey but chose UCD and her finals instead.
    She doesn’t mention the soldiers who were shot on March 11 in her book at all.
    I think, given the interval, it is unlikely that she will be able to provide an account of events in 1971-72 that adds anything beyond what was in her book.
    As to identifying those involved on March 11 1971 – given the time interval (nearly 38 years) – it doesn’t really seem likely that any significant new evidence will just emerge now, short of a direction admission from a participant (providing any are still alive).

  • It’s not a question of what you or I imagine, but what Ms. Maguire did in 1971-72, and knows about – what can only be determined by a rigorous questioning of her.

    I find the absence in her book of the March 11, 1971 killings just a bit suspicious, as it would have made any explanation of her joining the Provos in July even more controversial.

    Of course, after the introduction of the ham-handed internment, it was much easier to at least understand, if not justify

    And given the blowback from the March murders, I’m sure she would remember all about it if she either participated in them, or heard anything from those who had.

    In short, British police should be more interested in her than any alleged Provo enemies despite all the years.

  • John O

    The police may well have an interest in her. After she published her book in 1973, I don’t know where she went – she may well have been questioned by the Irish or British police (or both) at the time. Anecdotally (I’m not old enough to remember but I asked people who are), the origin of her interest in Irish republicanism wasn’t clear and, retrospectively, her motivation was heavily suspected. I doubt that her becoming a conservative councillor would have done much to dispell that. Either way, it seems clear from her own account (and from anyone I asked after I read the book) that she was not accepted or highly regarded by the Belfast-based elements of the IRA. She doesn’t appear to have moved in circles where she might have had access to information about the March killings.
    Maybe you should e-mail her at whatever address she used as a councillor? Given her more recent political sympathies, presumably she would be open to providing any information she has to anyone who wants it?
    Given her personal history, I would find it difficult to believe her, whether she was talking to the police or writing a new memoir. And I’m not calling her a liar, I just think that after such a period of time, people often remember events, their role and motivation, the way they wished they had happened. Somewhere in-between the distinction between the memory and the reality of the actual events gets blurred and the remembered version becomes established as reality. I think this is human nature.

  • Thanks, John O, that’s quite helpful, especially the bit about her not being accepted or trusted by the Belfast IRA.

    The killing of the three fusiliers may well have been a Cumann na mBan operation, given what Harclerode said abou the two women killers belonging to it, and the trouble it was giving the males in the IRA.

    Remember, both the Provos and the Official IRA denied any of their units were involved, and the PIRA only said that unauthorized members had done it.

    Could it have been an independent ‘rogue’ operation all the way by Cumann na mBan? Could she have been a provocative agent to show the guys what’s-what?

    Certainly would be explain why the Brits in the know and Unionists are so eager to explain away her alleged childish pranks.

    Doubt I shall be e-amiling her anything, given what you have said about her, but I often change my mind.

    And what you generally say about one’s memory is often true, as I well know in my own long life, but things like murders really stand out in anyone’s mind.

  • Hi John O,

    I changed my mind about contacting Mrs. Maria Gartland aka Maria Maguire, but have come up with nothing, as if she was another covert operator, like Captain Simon Hayward, the apparent assassin of Sweden’s statsminister Olof Palme on February 28, 1986.

    The Croydon Town Council does not even acknowledge her existence.

    In fact, the only relevant sites I have been able to find on the internet are this one.

    Do you have any information about how I can contact her?

    I want to query her futher – what she has been apparently lying about until now.

  • John O

    I don’t have any info on her – but I just looked her up – her council address is maria.gatland@croydon.gov.uk – officially, she has resigned from various posts, but is presumably still a council member? Either way, she should still have access to her e-mail.

  • Thanks for posting her e-mail address, John O, as it explains why I couldn’t find it. I was using Mrs. Gatland’s wrong name, Mrs. Gartland, thanks to the error made in starting this link.

    I shall post a message to Mrs. Gatland soon, hoping to actually read her book in toto before doing so. Perhaps, I can find a copy of it at the King’s Library in Stockholm.

    The reason why I want to read the whole book is because writer’s often betray interesting insights about things while seemingly not doing so.

    Take, for example, what Ms. Maguire said in the book about the bombing campaign:

    “In 1971 bomb explosions averaged three a day throughout the six counties, and it was very easy to create confusion in the centre of Belfast…

    Sometime the Belfast Provisionals would give a succession of false alarms, and then just as the city was enjoying a lull, plant half a dozen bombs on the same day.

    We believed that the bombing campaign had a greater psychological effect in this way.

    By causing such terror we demonstrated that whatever steps the army took, the Provisionals could continue their military campaign; half million people in Belfast would be kept wondering when the Provisionals would strike next, and would be forced to tell the British to make peace with us.” (“Revealed: Maria Gatland’s life with in IRA in her own words,” croydon.today.co.uk)

    I cannot believe that she was not in Northern Ireland during this whole period, given what she has written.

    And the same thing goes when she talks about shooting and killing British soldiers: “I remember occasions where we heard late at night that a British soldier had been shot and severely wounded in Belfast or Derry – and we would hope that by morning he would be dead.”

    During 1970, several soldiers had been wounded, but none had been killed. On Februaru 6, 1971, Gunner Robert Curtis was killed during a riot in Ardoyne, and then the three fusiliers were killed in March after having been set up in Mooney’s Bar in the centre of Belfast.

    Ms. Maguire must have been there during this time.

    Let you know what I come up with for Mrs. Gatland, and if she responds.

  • Here is The Independent’s David McKittrick’s take on Maria Maguire/Gatland from apparently only just reading her book:


    The only distributing bit in the piece is this sentence: “While as far as is known she never actually fired a shot in anger, she moved in the organisation’s upper echelons.”

    Known by whom and how? Her minders? Was she a provocateur smuggled into the PIRA leadership to cause havoc – justifying internment and the counter war?

    And the role of the women in the horrific killing of those three Scottish fusiliers, younger than Maria Maguire, was enticing them to go along with their killers while they actually made their escape – explaining, perhaps, why Peter Taylor never made mention of women in describing the murders in The Brits.

    McKittrick’s piece sounds like another damping down of possible damaging claims about British covert operators, especially Captain Robert Nairac.

    I cannot believe that McKittrick would not try to interview Mrs. Gatland in these circumstances – what he would have mentioned if he had been refused – and given all his work during the 1970s in The Irish Times, I cannot believe he would not have thought about her possible role in the March 11, 1971 murders.

    Under these circumstances, I doubt I shall ever hear anything from Mrs. Gatland.

  • How about David Brown’s interview with Mrs. Gatland where she, the advocate of killing as many British soldiers as possible, now claims that SHE was used by the Provos, left them after Dave O’Connell was sidelined by Sean MacStiofain rather than because of Bloody Friday, was given sanctuary in Britain by Home Secretary Willima Whitelaw – the guy who had been talking with General Hackett about using O’Connell to stem the hotheads in the movement – after she fled Ireland, and the police are now protecting from her from any reprisals rather than looking into her criminal activities with the PIRA:


    This has provocateur par excellence written all over it, and I can only imagine she ended up marrying her last handler, Mervyn Gatland.

    And the killing of the Scot fusiliers was the real mother of all The Troubles, starting with the defection of ‘Steak knife’, the murders of SDLP Senator Paddy Wilson and Irene Andrews, etc., ad nauseam.

  • Im with Trow on this, a very strange case, I posted my take on this earlier in the week here.


  • Thanks, Mick Hall, and if you follow it through, it makes you apparently more in agreement with me than you thought before.

  • Now we learn that Oberver reporter, and MI5 contact Colin Smith has been the source of all the alibis for Maria Maguire aka Maria Gatland.

    According to Smith, she never had anything to do with the bombing campaign, and the murdering of British soldiers during the whole of 1971 which she discussed in her book extensively:

    “She had certainly never fired a shot in anger.”

    Of course, Smith never explained why he was so certain of the fact.

    Then, in stating the reasons for her “coming in from the cold” by the Security Service, he proclaimed:

    “The last was quite easy because she had never committed any criminal offences in the UK.”

    Again, Smith provided no basis for this claim – what seems unjustified, given the way the three Scottish fusiliers were set up for assassination by two out-of-control women members of the Cumann na mBann on March 11, 1971.

    For all Smith’s apparent disinformation for MI5’s benefit about the Maguire case – what, it seems, is only a convenient cover-up of one of its most destructive agent provocateurs – see this link: