“Sure you know how it is…”

Before it vanishes into the ether…  Earlier this month in the Derry Journal Eamonn McCann offered, what should be, a salutary tale from the recent past

In the Sunday World more than 25 years ago, I wrote some of the first pieces to appear in the Irish media about the spread of drug-abuse in Dublin and the human reality of addiction. I covered the emergence of Concerned Parents Against Drugs – and then the marginalisation of the CPAD as armed elements decided that, “The gun is the only answer these people understand” etc., etc.

A number of alleged pushers were shot, others told to get out or face death. After one alleged dealer was kidnapped, I met on a Friday night with the Provos’ Dublin OC, a man I knew fairly well. I asked him across his kitchen table whether the IRA was involved. He looked me in the eye, raised his hand – “I swear to you…”

On this basis, I wrote a front-page story discounting IRA involvement. Within hours of the paper hitting the streets, mid-morning on the Sunday, a gun battle broke out in Phoenix Park as armed gardai rescued the kidnap victim and arrested a number of Provisionals. It was some weeks before I next encountered my friend the OC. I didn’t have to broach the subject. He greeted me with a wry shrug: “Sorry about that Eamonn. Sure you know how it is.”

Thankfully, things have changed since then.  No, really, they have…