Tuesday, 20 May 2014


John McDonagh (JM) and Sandy Boyer (SB) interview via telephone from Belfast free-lance reporter Suzanne Breen about the arrest of Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams.

Radio Free Éireann 

WBAI 99.5FM Pacifica Radio 

New York City 

17 May 2014 

(begins time stamp 30:45) 

JM: Last week Suzanne Breen wrote a story that most of the newspapers really didn't pick up on and here's just part of it:

(John reads from Breen's article ) 

But then comes a startling sentence: 'They claimed I was turned by special branch during interrogation in Belfast’s Palace Barracks in 1972 and that I became an MI5 agent.' 

Rumours that Mr Adams was recruited by the British intelligence services have been around in militant republican circles for decades and certainly strengthened after the 1994 ceasefire. 

Some unionists have also long suspected that he was a protected species during the conflict. 

‘Tout’ was recently scrawled on the new wall mural to him on the Falls Road but beyond the graffiti artists, many of his own former IRA comrades have raised questions about him. However, if police officers made the very same accusation, as he himself says they did, it’s a first.

(John ends) 

With us on the line from Belfast is Suzanne. Now, Suzanne, you got this one sentence from an article that Gerry Adams wrote but there was no denying it or saying it was outrageous before the comment or after the comment which I thought was very strange that he didn't deny anything.

Breen: I believe he put it out there, John, to take control of the situation. Because this information that police officers interrogating him, accused him, said as a statement of fact, that he had been an agent for MI5, this could be potentially very damaging for him further along the line. And I think that he was deliberately putting it out there to take control of the situation and hoping that if he did that it would go away. And that strategy appears to have worked because I was quite amazed that the rest of the media didn't pick up on this allegation. Now maybe I'm wrong but I would have thought that it is not something that police officers, experienced detectives, would just throw about willy-nilly to someone as senior a member of the political establishment like Mr. Adams. I would have thought that if they were going to put that allegation to him it would have to be well-grounded. It would have to be based on documents, on serious intelligence, on something that they know that the rest of us don't know. 

SB: Suzanne, one of the things that always raised suspicions was that the RUC actually saved Gerry Adams' life when there was an attempt to assassinate him. He may even have been the only one who was saved in that circumstance. And I know that always raised doubts in people's minds. 

Breen: That's true, Sandy. In the early 1980's when there was an assassination attempt on him we now know that the bullets were doctored in advanced so that they wouldn't actually kill him. There are other incidents where agents within the Loyalist paramilitaries moved to prevent other attacks on Gerry Adams. 
There was a planned attack by the UDA in 1988 in which they were going to attach a limpet mine with a magnetic clamp to a car in which he was traveling and that was actually foiled by the British agent in that terror organization, Brian Nelson. And why I think Mr. Adams may be putting out this allegation now that he's a agent is because there is a danger that it's going to be leaked in future. Leaked either by perhaps disgruntled police officers who were involved in this investigation into Jean McConville but much more likely the McConville family we believe are going to take a civil case against Mr. Adams. And as part of that civil case they would be likely to get a transcript of his interview notes from police and those interview notes obviously would contain this allegation. So I think Gerry Adams knows that the McConvilles are likely to get this information at some point in the future and of course they're going to go public with it. 

JM: But you also have Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness announcing to the press that anybody who has any information on attacks in the previous thirty years to please come forward - help the PSNI. And here when people do come forward, say with the Boston tapes, as say: well...here's what I know about this and that – Adams and them are calling them and McIntyre – they're calling them “touts” and how dare that they give up this type of information. Gerry Adams likes to have it both ways: he wants, publicly, to tell people: Come forward if you know anything about it. And then when the people do come forward, say like Brendan Hughes: alright, I'll come forward about the McConville thing. Here's what I know ... And then they say: Oh, how dare you come forward like this and give this information. 

                                                THE REAL MURPHY

Breen: There is a huge hypocrisy here and Sinn Féin are attempting to have it both ways. You either support the police or you don't support the police. And there really is no logic in Martin McGuinness standing shoulder to shoulder with the then PSNI Chief Constable Sir Hugh Orde after the Massereene attack in which two soldiers were killed and calling for information to be given to the police and for people to cooperate with the police. After police officer Ronan Kerr's murder Sinn Féin leaders did exactly the same but yet they will not stand shoulder to shoulder with Matt Baggott, the police Chief Constable now, and call for information on Jean McConville's murder. It really, really appears to be totally, totally, double standards. People are accused of being “touts”. Republicans are accused of being “touts” who simply talked to academics, who talked to journalists. These Republicans haven't talked to the police. They have just said what they wanted to say, they have divulged things to academics and journalists and yet they're “touts”. But yet Sinn Féin leaders are calling on other Republicans to talk about dissident Republican murders and that's being a good citizen. So there's a massive hypocrisy here. 

JM: And that brings me now to the next article you wrote, it's the cult-like status of Gerry Adams. There wouldn't be a political party here in the United States or you would think in Ireland that would be brought in to be questioned about a killing from thirty years ago, be brought in about his brother and him going to gaol about the sexual allegations made there. But it just seems that no matter what is said about Gerry Adams, either people don't believe it or they just say that's yesterday's news. And Suzanne, I don't know if it's a Belfast thing but when he got out of gaol and he had a press conference in front of the wall mural they had signs that said: “Our Gerry. Our Leader.” Like, you would never see that in the United States say: Our Barack. Our Leader. It was such to me looking at that type of sign - what does that mean – Our Gerry? That's sort of a Belfast colloquialism like, here's “our Gerry”. But they broke it down on that type of level with the protest signs that they were holding up. 

Breen: There were actually people out with dozens of gold-framed photographs. Now they did not appear overnight. This was well planned and well-calculated and these were clearly given to the crowd. The sad thing is that there is truth in it. Do we live in the North of Ireland or do we live in North Korea? Because that to me really is what it resembles. It is like people can lose their independent thought, their ability to analyse situations and just blindly fall into this devotion to a leader. There is of course nothing wrong with loyalty. There is nothing wrong with people liking their leaders, loving their leaders, caring for their leaders, supporting them but when it come to the point of view where mind are closed to all facts and all information then it really is worrying. And this cult-like devotion to Gerry Adams reached its zenith for me when he was released from Antrim police station and he came back to what was billed as a press event but was really like more a homecoming party and all that was missing was alcohol and the yellow ribbons. And there was cheering and applause from the group of Republicans gathered. The atmosphere really didn't do justice to the fact that this was a murder suspect being released. Had a leading Loyalist been arrested and questioned, for example about the McGurk's Bar, in which Catholics died and they were clapped and cheered and there was this party-carnival atmosphere people would have been saying it was in appalling bad taste. If when Colin Duffy was found not guilty or the murder soldiers at Massereene, if dissident Republicans had held a similar event they would have been cursed to high heaven and rightfully so. It would have been judged as just totally insulting to the victims and to their families. And yet, Sinn Féin engaged in this behaviour and got away with it. Nobody in the media uttered a word.

SB: Suzanne, is this kind of treatment of Republican leaders a new thing? Because I don't remember for instance the late Ruarí Ó Brádaigh, who was the Chief-of-Staff of the IRA, Presdient of Sinn Féin, I don't think people ever treated him that way. Brendan Hughes was the legendary commander of the IRA in Belfast and revered by many people. But I don't think he ever got this kind of treatment. So is this a very new thing? 

Breen: I think it is a new thing and there is some talk that there is an urge to replace Bobby Sands actually as the icon of modern Republicanism - to replace that with Gerry Adams. Gerry Adams has compared himself very cleverly to Bobby Sands - that was the main comparison he made when he was released - he said how he thought as he penned his little writings in the police cell that he thought of Bobby and he thought of Bobby's writings. So he was very cleverly comparing himself to Bobby Sands. Bobby Sands of course went sixty-seven days without food before he died. Mr. Adams had four days with food just he didn't like the food that the police gave him in an Antrim cell. So the comparisons really don't run very deep in terms of their contribution to the Provisional Republican Movement in terms of their suffering but that's the comparison that Mr. Adams still is very, very keen to make. 

JM: You're listening to Radio Free Éireann and we're speaking with Suzanne Breen, who's a free-lance journalist in The Six Counties and has been covering The Troubles for thirty years. Suzanne, before we go: elections are coming up next Friday for the European election and local councils. What have you been hearing? What are some of the polls that are coming out? And has this hurt Sinn Féin? 

Breen: I don't think that it's hurt Sinn Féin at all. I think Sinn Féin will poll very strongly. Elections here in reality are nothing more that a sectarian head count. The SDLP have in my opinion fought a very poor campaign and they have the tag of losers all over them. People like winners. And there has been a draining off of the Nationalist electorate after the IRA ceasefire of 1994. I would expect Sinn Féin to poll very strongly and to come out as the major party once again in Northern Ireland. I think they'll do very,very well in this election. 

JM: And what do you think about down South? 

Breen: Down South the Jean McConville allegations will hurt them much more than in The North. But they have the advantage there of being a party which is not tarnished with involvement in government. And at a time of recession and when people are finding it very, very hard to make ends meet Sinn Féin can play the “radical outsider” when it actually is, certainly in The North, very much a part of the establishment but it can play a radical card down South that may appeal to voters. 

JM: Thank you, Suzanne, for coming on and participating here and giving us a little insight into what's going on. 

Breen: Thank you. (ends time stamp 43:10)
Posted in: Gerry Adams arrest,Radio Free Eireann Interview
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