Attempting to write political blogs is a balancing act for me, in the sense that I truly believe, that the truth will set us free and that Ireland like its unrealized citizens, myself included, are as sick as our secrets, while at the same time, I have responsibilities to my larger Irish family about what I write, who may not see it that way. A good example of this, being when I left Provisional Sinn Fein, back somewhere around 1985, after being Chairperson in Newry. The matters here I have written about previously but recent events make me cover them more thoroughly. A lot of the Provo senior activists, were quite concerned about the information a harmless person like myself would carry around out of their control, control being a huge issue at that particular time, aside from the factor of other people's personal security. I was a busy activist before I left the Provos at that time, being involved more than 80 hours a week, primarily in their office, to the considerable detriment of my family's welfare and personal life.
I started using alcohol more heavily at this time, to relax away from a stressful environment of often high anxiety. The whole experience of the Hunger Strike campaign, coupled with the extreme sadness and emotional nature of it, was a foolish but understandable, imprudent excuse. This was also a factor in my decision. I remember also at this time, after returning from the funeral of local republican Raymond McCreesh, who was the fourth to die in the Hunger Strike of 10 martyrs, being extremely angry about the non use of huge stockpiles of weapons, with numerous willing local volunteers ready to use them at that time.
There was also a surreal feel within the movement, as the leadership started to creep away from revolution towards electoral politics. I can tell you now, that some really weird and wacky stuff was happening in the local area at that time. South Down was one of the more militarily active areas at that time, other areas having already compromised to the electoral and in many cases, careerist push. It felt like being among vultures, scrapping over the formerly revolutionary Provo corpse. Brit spooks were highly active at this time, adding further, to contribute to a surreal air of mistrust, that confirmed the old saying, the truth is stranger than fiction. I can confirm from this experience, that this was most definitely a fact.
I remember too around this time, I believe it was on a return from Bodenstown, being approached by highly respected senior South Armagh republicans and asked about where my loyalties and trust lay, with regard to either Ruarai O'Bradaigh and Gerry Adams. Bearing in mind, this was quite a while before the split, it was s quite a stunning question for me, in that context. After about a minute reflecting on their question, I told them my preference lay with Ruaraigh O'Bradaigh in the matter of trust. The seed however was now sown.
Leaving an organization like the Provos at that particular time was no small or simple matter, particularly working daily at their office. I also around this time became very concerned, about the general personal security of volunteers, friends and activists in the area, These concerns were taken to South Armagh and information I was receiving at that time, suggested the probability of a supergrass emerging in the area. I took these concerns to South Armagh and was really angry about the trivial response. I then took these concerns to the IRA Chief of Staff in Belfast and received the same response. I felt truly isolated and traumatized.
This for me along with the rundown of the military nature of the struggle, was to say the least disconcerting. I drank more heavily and had a really serious argument with the local OC. It was coming up to Xmas. I had 5 children who were cared for almost exclusively by their Mother, because I was totally consumed with my political activity. As a result of this and my heavy drinking I could not afford to buy my children toys for Xmas and felt really guilty. I held up the local chipper while very drunk and brought the money home, whereupon the RUC duly arrived and arrested me. In the early hours of the morning, in the course of having delirium tremens, I agreed to become an informer. While trying to be careful as best I could, not to divulge anything particularly important.
After two weeks on remand in Crumlin Road Prison, I was released on bail. In the cold light of day back in Newry, I was truly ashamed, remorseful and guilty about my actions.. I decided to take a bullet rather than become an active tout or informer. After bidding my wife farewell, I went to the local OC, confessed everything and was thoroughly debriefed. I expected to be shot because of my responsibilities and because I had brought Irish republicanism into disrepute. I crossed the border to evade the RUC as advised. This is the truth of this matter and I can honestly say, that aside from titbits of information divulged during breakdown, I have never worked as either a tout or informer. I ensured as best I could, that all people, matters and operations compromised were informed and cancelled. I sincerely from my heart regret and apologise to all those people who put their faith and trust in me. After almost 28 years without a drink with the help of a lot of good people, I remain as an Irishman committed to the realization of a Socialist Irish Republic. Because of this experience, I have not volunteered with any political party or organization. I am not active in political violence but like Republicans in the United States, I believe in the right of the Irish people to bear arms, until the realization of their liberation and to defend themselves.
Having disappeared into oblivion and years of recovery from alcoholism, I was still a target of political curiosity, particularly around the time when the British were helping their leadership, sanitize them of more radical elements, to prepare them for public consumption and neuter their more revolutionary activists. There is ample evidence of middle management being eliminated in the military sense at Loughgall. It also happened within their political wing as they entered the realm of elections, their was more crossover between the political and military elements of the Provos. For myself personally this was no big deal, in the sense that I had volunteered myself for the IRA on more than three occasions but locations such as England and the start of the second hunger strike, where all resources were being utilized politically, interfered with that to a large extent.
I currently belong to no political party but I am an unashamed supporter of the Ruarai O'Bradaigh, authentic Irish Republican tradition. I also believe there are considerable progressive things happening within Eirigi currently, and that as in 1916. when both the Republican and Marxist political strands combined successfully to achieve considerable progress, there are really important matters currently stirring for the revolutionary Irish people of no property. Only I know how committed I was to the Cause of Ireland. It is as truly shocking for me as anyone, that these events occurred and I urge anyone with similar experience to come clean, in a prudent manner, with people whom they can trust and understand. Bear in mind that those who have never done anything for Ireland or are just barroom Republicans will be your biggest critics. For our own sake and the sake of Ireland, we must develop a truthful culture, for the sake of the recovery of our country. I have forgiven myself and my enemies with the exception of Margaret Thatcher, for my most grievious mistakes. I can only hope that others can too.
Mise le meas