In the twilight years of Provisional Sinn Fein, when liasing with the IRA, started to become a feature of local political activity in Newry, I was always impressed by the way it was conducted from my own personal experience. Primarily for security reasons, it was logical that we would always go south of the border for any important meeting, which was kept to a minimum at that time. Newry for various reasons, was not a good location for such an event.
There was always considerable reconnaissance of the adjacent territory, prior to such a meeting. The IRA eliminated telephone line bugs and wiretaps, using wiretap detection sweeps, computer data line taps and bugs. i.e., telecommunications security line sweeps and bug swept the conference room, using electronic room bug sweeping and electronic detection. Their equipment could detect electronic espionage, identifying and locating those bugging devices. Each participant, regardless of status, was body searched and batteries of all electronic equipment, such as mobile phones were removed.
Despite all of these precautions, we have since that time, become aware, of the considerable extent of British infiltration of the IRA, up to it's most senior level. Since then, there has been considerable advancements made in surveillance technology, such as drones, listening devices designed for long distance stake-outs, with built in monoculars, to allow spies, watch everything from a considerable distance.
The revival of the IRA in the early '70s, generally caught the British unawares and gave the Provisionals a head start. However since that time, the British were sufficiently established and prepared for all subsequent splits in the Republican movement, which enabled them to not alone be aware of the details, but to infiltrate all subsequent groups and place their agents in key positions. Most seasoned republicans are aware of most of these details. However it would appear, many younger idealistic ones are not.
I personally volunteered for the IRA, on three separate occasions, fully aware of the dangers, as a personal reaction, to events around me at that time. With the wisdom of hindsight, I can see, that reactionary politics does not have any future in the long term in Ireland. While the essential problems in Ireland remain the same, the sea, that fish of a successful guerrilla army swim in, is simply not there presently. The high price, that many of highly idealistic youth are currently paying, such as long years of political internment and early graves, I believe is not justified in the present context. There are other avenues for committed Irish republicans to achieve their goals, other than violence.
As Terence McSweeney taught us, morals and ethics are a very important part, of the proper motivation and justification for taking up arms. All other avenues must be exhausted. I personally believe, we will have a united Ireland, albeit not meeting the ideals of most people but a sufficient basis, to realize the dreams of martyrs like Bobby Sands. In fact, I have reluctantly come to the conclusion, that all paramilitary organizations, are currently more of a hindrance, than an asset to achieving our goals and are wide open to abuse in our present materialistic culture, which is degrading this noble tradition. Traditional republicans did not wear masks, neither Che Guevara, in fact he stated that a genuine revolutionary, gird themselves on the inside.
If I appear to be preaching, please forgive me, my analysis may be wrong. This article again will make many enemies but I do have a responsibility to younger people of the next generation, to speak from my own experience. No I do not support Sinn Fein or belong to any political organization or party but I do support Republican Sinn Fein, as founded by Ruairi O'Bradaigh and his colleagues, of which I knew a sufficient number, to be aware, that they were genuine people of considerable integrity, who inherited a noble tradition, who persevered without personal gain at considerable personal cost. Their characters obviously cultivated in adversity, which puts my own selfishness to shame.
A news article, as reported by the Belfast Telegraph, prompted this article, which raised many questions with myself personally, in the context of this preamble. There are far more qualified people than myself, who would have a far better insight on these matters. This is simply the best I can do for now from my own experience, primarily for the benefit of any young people, considering their political alternatives. I would also add, that Father Raymond Murray, was of considerable help to myself, many years ago, when I found myself in a Catch 22, situation, related to the above matters, at the end of my political activity in Newry. I found him to be a trustworthy man of integrity, whom I would recommend to anyone in a similar situation.
Secret recordings reveal 'plot'
18 NOVEMBER 2014
A dissident republican plot to target judges and police officers in Northern Ireland has been exposed by a covert MI5 operation, a court has heard.
Listening devices placed in a house in Newry, Co Down at the direction of the Security Services has provided the evidence to charge seven men who appeared in court in the city accused of a range of terrorist offences, a police officer told the judge.
The Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) detective sergeant said "somewhere close to 70 hours" of material gathered in the property in Ardcarn Park over a three month period from August included a series of meetings involving "leading key figures of a proscribed organisation".
All seven accused, aged between 30 and 75, were arrested in a raid in Ardcarn Park last week by heavily armed police investigating the activities of the Continuity IRA.
They were all remanded in custody by the district judge at the close of today's short hearing.
Four of the accused are from the Republic of Ireland and three from Northern Ireland.
All have been charged with membership of a proscribed organisation, while six face charges of conspiracy to possess explosives with intent to endanger life, conspiracy to possess firearms and ammunition with intent to endanger life and preparation for acts of terrorism.
Five of the men are also charged with directing terrorism.
As all seven watched on from the crowded dock, a prosecution lawyer asked the detective sergeant to confirm details of the operation that led to the arrests.
"MI5 arranged for a device or number of devices to be placed within an address at Ardcarn Park, Newry," he said.
"A number of meetings were recorded at which the defendants were present."
The officer said those statements were correct.
She also answered "correct" when asked by the lawyer if topics discussed during the meetings included membership of a proscribed organisation; weapons training; funding terrorist activity; plans to commit acts of terrorism; and plans to procure firearms and ammunitions.
The lawyer then asked: "Specific individual police officers were discussed with a view to targeting them?"
The detective sergeant answered: "That is correct."
Asked if "members of the judiciary" were also discussed at the meetings, she again answered in the affirmative.
The lawyer then asked had there also been talk that a dissident member be "taken out" for apparently posting material on the internet.
"That is correct," replied the officer.
The policewoman, who said she had listened to a "substantial proportion" of the 70 hours of recordings, said she could connect all seven to the charges they face.
The five men facing a count of directing terrorism along with the four other charges are Patrick Joseph Blair, 59, from Villas One, Dundalk; Liam James Hannaway, 44, from White Rise, Dunmurry on the outskirts of Belfast; Joseph Matthew Lynch, 73, from Beechgrove Avenue, Limerick; Sean O'Neill, 75, from Quinn's Cottages, Limerick; and Colin Patrick Winters, 43, from Ardcarn Park, Newry.
The man facing four charges is John Sheehy, 30, from Clounmacon, Listowel, Co Kerry.
Seamus Morgan, 58, from Barcroft Park, Newry, faces the solitary charge of membership of a proscribed organisation.
None of them spoke when asked to confirm their identity at the outset of the hearing, which took place amid a significant police presence inside and outside the court.
Some stood while others sat during the legal proceedings that followed.
Lawyers for all seven accused said they did not wish to ask any questions of the detective sergeant.
A lawyer for Morgan said a bail application would be made before the same court on Wednesday. The other six accused were remanded in custody to appear again in four weeks.
As the men were led away at the end of the hearing there was some sporadic applause from supporters in the public gallery.
Five other men detained in the swoop on the property in Ardcarn Park last Monday were subsequently released pending police files being sent to prosecutors for assessment.