The Rafia at bay

Submitted by Anon on 4 March, 2005 - 2:32

By John O’Mahony

The “Chief of Staff” of the Provisional IRA, Thomas Murphy, has in the course of his IRA career, amassed a personal fortune of 58 million euros. That is one of the startling facts that has come to light in the current propaganda war being waged by London and Dublin governments and the media they influence, on the Adams IRA.

From being friendly and tolerant towards Sinn Fein, the governments and media have turned sharply hostile to them and their private army, the IRA. Because of its vast “underground” network of illegal money-making activities, they are calling it the “Rafia”.

For most of a decade, the “peace process” has been kept afloat by “creative ambiguity” based on official “useful lies” and myths (on a near-Stalinist level) about the relationship of Sinn Fein to the IRA. All that has suddenly been stripped away by Dublin, London, and their media.

It can never be patched back. It is the end of an era. Things cannot go back to what they have been for seven and more years.

This dramatic turn in the fortunes of Sinn Fein and its leaders has been sudden, but it is remarkably complete. Three months ago a new power-sharing government seemed to be on the point of being set up — two years after the previous one was suspended. The IRA said it was willing to disarm and cease to be a military organisation. Ian Paisley’s Democratic Unionist Party said it was willing to share power with Sinn Fein.

That near-agreement collapsed for a ridiculously trivial reason: the IRA refused to suffer the “humiliation” of being photographed destroying its weapons; the DUP would not settle for anything less. Then everything fell apart quickly.

Dublin minister of justice Michael McDowell now says that there was another reason for the breakdown: IRA refusal to give up its money-making rackets.

Dublin and London identified the IRA as the robbers of ÂŁ26 million from a Belfast bank, and said the leaders of Sinn Fein not only shared responsibility for the robbery but also knew about it in advance, and authorised it.

Sinn Fein/ IRA also find themselves under attack from “below”. The Sinn-Fein-supporting family of Robert McCartney, a Catholic Sinn Fein supporter murdered by the IRA, raised a hue and cry against the organisation and, remarkably, won the support of the Catholic community in their own area, Short Strand. In that area, an enclave of 3,000 Catholics in Protestant East Belfast, and therefore one of the most threatened Catholic districts in the city, perhaps a thousand Catholics have demonstrated in the streets against their “protectors” and political leaders, the Provisional IRA and Sinn Fein.

The “Republicans” can most likely batten down the hatches and survive the political-propaganda onslaught from Dublin and London. They might not survive a Short Strand-type revolt in the Catholic ghettoes.

A decade of peace, and the evolution of a peacetime IRA into ghetto bullies, has changed the relationship between the IRA and the Catholic community. And probably not only in the Short Strand.

Robert McCartney was killed as a result of a petty incident in a pub. An IRA leader accused him of making a rude gesture at the great man’s wife, which he denied. The IRA leader demanded: “Do you know who I am?”

That exchange carried a death penalty for McCartney and near-death for his companion. Local IRA men went after them with knives from the pub kitchen and left them to die in the street, bleeding terribly. The IRA group then did a semi-professional forensic cleaning-up job in the pub.

Where does private gangsterism end, and the “political” IRA start, here? The Catholics of the Short Strand, whose desperate circumstances led them to back the IRA, have shown that they loathe the “goodfella” gangsterism and those who perpetuate it demonstrated in the pub murder.

The attacks on IRA/SF from “above” and “below” have produced a crescendo of denunciation, the like of which they have not known since they turned to politics two decades ago, and the very opposite of what they have had for the last decade. The popularity of the statesmanlike Guardian of the Peace Process, Gerry Adams, has dropped from 53% approval in the South in November to 31% today, according to a recent Irish Independent poll. Double-talk about being against “criminality”, from an organisation which believes itself to be the sole legitimate government in Ireland and therefore the arbiter of what is and is not criminal, does not impress people outside Sinn Fein’s hard-core supporters.

For more than 20 years, since the hunger strikes of 1981 in which ten men died, the Provisionals have pursued a twin-track strategy combining politics and “armed struggle” — with a ballot box in one hand and an Armalite rifle in the other, as they say. The entire Provo movement was united in commitment to the twin tracks at the time of the Good Friday Agreement in 1998. That is why expectations — in Solidarity, for example — of a militant IRA backlash against the Good Friday Agreement proved to be false.

After seven years the point has been reached — because of their very success on the political “track” — where the entire logic of events demands an end to the twin-track strategy. The Provos’ political rise, North and South, cannot continue unless they substitute an exclusive commitment to politics for the Armalite-and-ballot-box approach.

The Northern Protestants’ demand, as a precondition for Sinn Fein participation in government, that the IRA be abolished rules out continued London and Dublin “patience” with the IRA. So does the unignorable transformation of the IRA into a peacetime money-making machine, a sort of mafia — or “Rafia”.

The spectacular ÂŁ26 million robbery was more than just an event seized upon because Dublin and London reckoned that the time had come to get tough with Sinn Fein/ IRA. It sharply brought into focus the question of what the IRA now is, and what can be expected from it.

The IRA leaders now have to choose between abandoning one of their “tracks”, the military one, or facing exclusion from the remarkably successful political “track”. If there was not a division in the Provo leadership when they backed away from the deal with the Paisleyites, there must be a good chance that the pressure of London, Dublin, Washington, and Brussels will engender one now. Or that is the calculation in Dublin and London.

In trying to defuse the revolt against the IRA in the Short Strand, Gerry Adams has, in effect, said that witnesses should go to the police — that is, to the replacement for the RUC, the Police Service of Northern Ireland, which Sinn Fein has so far refused to recognise or endorse.

The situation with the Provos was symbolised for Southerners when three men jailed for IRA membership — illegal in the South — were taken from a van in which there were also election posters for a Dublin Sinn Fein TD, Aengus O Snodaigh.

It is seven years since the Good Friday Agreement was signed in Belfast. From then until the last few weeks, Gerry Adams, Westminster MP for West Belfast and president of Sinn Fein was treated by Irish, British, European, and American governments, and by most of the media everywhere, with the deference and respect that might be accorded to a cross between Nelson Mandela, Mother Theresa, and W E Gladstone.

His words, pronounced in grave tones and a quasi-objective, quasi-academic, cliché-ridden jargon about “conflict resolution”, “securocrats”, “the peace process”, etc, have been reported straight, with remarkably little scepticism, no awkward questions, and no discernible irony. Utter, lying absurdities — for example, Adams’s insistence that he had never been a member of the IRA, and McGuinness’s that he had been a member, but long ago in his youth — provoked, at worst, mild scepticism.

There have been exceptions, the Unionist Daily Telegraph, for example, but few of them. Adams and his lieutenant, Martin McGuinness, Sinn Fein’s Chief Negotiator and Minister of Education in the short-lived Belfast power-sharing government, were, it was believed in London and Dublin, the indispensable honest intermediaries between the rest of the world and the Provisional IRA, working for the “Peace Process” and the Good Friday Agreement. Awkward questions could collapse the whole peace process. “Creative ambiguity” would allow it to develop.

Now all is changed! A terrible, shrill cacophony of denunciation is born around them. The governments and media which cherished and pandered to them for so long have suddenly turned vicious.

Honest go-betweens? They are members of the IRA’s Army Council; they are the leaders of the IRA, insists Dublin’s Minister of Justice. They are party to everything the IRA does, including the Belfast bank robbery. They have controlled everything the IRA has done throughout the whole peace process. They may also have brought sin into the world.

Gerry Adams finds himself getting the Yasser Arafat treatment. From being the Man Who Is Delivering Peace, he has become the Untrustworthy, Dishonest, Weak leader.

There is nothing odd or remarkable in the storm of accusations now whirling around the heads of Adams, McGuinness, and Sinn Fein/ IRA. What is remarkable is the previous decade of lies, official fiction, charade, and make-belief as the basis of Government policy in Dublin, London, and Washington.

They thought they knew what they were doing. The cynical detective in “The Maltese Falcon” explains to his two-timing pathological liar of a client: “We didn’t believe your story. We believed your five hundred dollars”. With Adams and McGuinness, they believed the IRA ceasefire.

They believed that “creative ambiguity”, pretence, make-belief, and the logic of the “peace process” itself would eventually “normalise” Northern Ireland. The IRA, like an iceberg in a warming sea, would dissolve. If once peace and harmony were established, it would gradually bio-degrade back into the Catholic community.

They no longer think that. They are convinced that the IRA will never dissolve, not without compulsion. Thus the political onslaught. It may be prelude to a limited police onslaught, in the South at least. London knows that, for now, a police offensive would be counter-productive in the North.

In August 1994, the IRA declared a ceasefire, what SF/ IRA call “the cessation”. In 1996 the ceasefire broke down for a while. The IRA did a few “spectaculars”, bombing Canary Wharf and wrecking part of Manchester’s city centre.

Then the ceasefire was “renewed”. Intensive negotiations culminated in the Good Friday Agreement. The IRA did not sign that agreement, but Sinn Fein did. The working assumption was that Sinn Fein signed for the IRA, but, just as the whole “process” was built on “creative ambiguity”, there was some uncertainty about that.

Sinn Fein would build its posture, its “negotiating” position, for the next seven years on that uncertainty: the only way to keep the “peace process” on track was to continue making concessions to Sinn Fein/IRA. Such negotiations were an ongoing, the “retail”, part of the “process”. Sinn Fein’s leaders postured as the “good guys”, the “politicians” finessing the gradual re-education and ultimate disarmament of the IRA “militarists”.

Adams famously pointed out, concerning the IRA, that “they haven’t gone away, you know”. It was a variant of the hard cop, soft cop routine which cops the world over use to soften up a frightened prisoner. The IRA were the hard cops, whose lethal propensity to violence the soft cops, Adams and McGuinness and the other Sinn Fein leaders, could barely restrain.

Concessions were necessary to hold back the IRA. For example, the release of imprisoned IRA members. That had been agreed for a much later stage in the “peace process”, when progress on the setting-up of a power-sharing government had been achieved. It was conceded soon after the Good Friday Agreement.

The remarkable thing, of course, was that it was all make-belief. Adams and McGuinness, non-attending members of the Westminster Parliament and Northern Ireland Assembly members, and Pat Doherty, a member of the Northern Ireland Assembly were known to be members of the leadership of the IRA, the “Army Council”. (Now Martin Ferris too, a member of Dail Eireann, has been named by the Dublin Minister of Justice). Everybody concerned in the “peace process” knew it. The Dublin and London governments knew it. Northern Ireland unionists knew it. Most people in the 26 Counties knew it. The “expert” writers in the press knew it. But “officially” no one knew it.

The ethical keynote for this process had been sounded before the first ceasefire when Ian Paisley MP was suspended from the House of Commons for saying that government ministers “lied” when they denied that they were in secret talks with the IRA. Think such talks good or bad, “everybody” knew they were in fact taking place, but nobody in Parliament would be allowed to point a disbelieving finger and call official lies by their name.

Make-belief and “creative ambiguity” were, the governments believed, a necessary part of a delicate operation. It was the Blair touch. But the ambiguity, official make-belief, and downright misrepresentation which nourished the Good Friday Agreement simultaneously sapped and undermined it among Unionists.

While Catholic-nationalists overwhelmingly backed the Good Friday Agreement, no more than a bare majority of Protestant unionists voted for it in 1998, and even that support soon eroded.

The Good Friday Agreement stipulated that a majority in each of the Protestant and Catholic communities was necessary for a Belfast home rule government to come into being and continue. In the elections to a Belfast assembly on 25 June 1998 the Trimble Unionists, who were for the Good Friday Agreement, emerged with a small majority among Protestants. From soon after that, there was no longer even a bare majority of Protestants supporting the Agreement. But their representation in the Assembly was fixed until the next Northern Ireland election.

If not for that fact, the Belfast power-sharing government would not have had the fitful, flickering life it has had. It took years for the shift in Protestant opinion to find the political expression it did in the November 2003 Assembly election, when the Paisley Unionists (DUP) emerged as the strongest unionist party.

Ingrained prejudice may have disposed some of the Protestants to reject the Good Friday Agreement because it gave Catholics a fixed political equality. Even so, the realities of the Good Friday Agreement and its workings were the dynamic “operational” cause of the loss of Protestant majority support. The Protestants saw only the London and Dublin governments trying to “kill the IRA with kindness”, as long ago British governments had in vain tried to kill Irish nationalism throughout the island with “kindness”, that is, by reform from above.

The wrangling that delayed the setting up of a power-sharing government for 18 months after the signing of the Agreement undermined its credibility with Protestant-Unionists. They saw “concessions” like the early release of prisoners — most of whom were IRA — given for little in return. They saw that the “peace process” was allowing the paramilitaries to go on ruling their “host” populations. Protestant paramilitaries ruled in working-class areas like the Shankhill Road, but compared to the IRA, which ruled in areas, like, for example, South Armagh, they were small, almost insignificant, gangster groups.

The British government had in fact already, since the Anglo-Irish Agreement of 1985, been sharing political rule over Northern Ireland with Dublin. Under the Good Friday Agreement, as it worked out “on the ground”, the British Government agreed to share control in Catholic Northern Ireland with the IRA. De facto it accepted dual power in Catholic Northern Ireland. IRA beatings, “punishment shootings”, expulsions from Northern Ireland, extortion of “protection money”, cross-border smuggling operations and even armed robberies in the North were not held to be in breach of the ceasefire on which the Good Friday Agreement had been erected. Things like that could not but alienate Protestants.

The long term plan, expectation, or hope was that gradually the power of a reorganised Northern Ireland police force, under the new power-sharing Northern Ireland government, would be reasserted in the Catholic areas. What Protestants saw was that the IRA continued to live and to thrive.

Before the ceasefire the core demand put by the IRA to the British government was that it should act as “persuader” of the Northern Ireland unionists, to get them to accept a united Ireland. “Persuade” here meant, in the last reduction, coerce. It was a deeply anti-Republican demand — even an anti-Irish-nationalist one, if Irish nationalism is conceived of as something wider than Catholic sectarianism — that the British government, the “ancient enemy”, the “Crown forces”, should be asked to coerce one section of the people of Ireland on behalf of another section.

In signing the Good Friday Agreement, the British government tacitly undertook to play a sizeable part of the role of “persuaders”. It acted as “facilitator” for Sinn Fein/ IRA, even at the cost of alienating most Protestants, and undermining Protestant-Unionist support or acquiescence for the Good Friday Agreement.

Dublin and London had their own longer-term calculations. The propaganda onslaught on Sinn Fein/ IRA now signifies that they have abandoned them, given up on all hope that the IRA will just “dissolve”.

The collapse of the near-deal in December, because the IRA would feel “humiliated” when photographs of them destroying their weapons would allow Ian Paisley and like-minded unionists to triumph at the sight of it! — that was the turning point for London and Dublin. The insistence of the Paisleyites on photographs was, of course, equally childish — but the Paisleyites have not, and Adams and McGuinness have for nearly a decade, acted before the cameras and behind the scenes as the hard-headed, realistic partners, or at any rate helpers, of Dublin and London in “pacifying” Northern Ireland.

The ludicrous episode of letting agreement with the Paisleyites collapse rather than be photographed triggered the government’s onslaught on IRA/ Sinn Fein, but the ferocity of the campaign against them comes not from that alone, but from the breakdown of all London’s and Dublin’s hopes since the Good Friday Agreement that the IRA would eventually “go away” — and the collapse of their belief that Adams and McGuinness would deliver.

In the last ten years Sinn Fein, the IRA in politics, has prospered mightily throughout the island. It now has five members of Dail Eireann and 6.5% of the vote in the 26 Counties. It has won two seats in the European Parliament. It had been talked about as a future coalition partner with Fianna Fail, the main party in the current government coalition (with the Progressive Democrats, a 1980s Thatcherite splinter from FF).

It has campaigned in the 26 Counties as honest, idealistic, and patriotic, contrasting itself to good effect with the notorious financial corruption of 26 Counties politics.

In the North, in the 2003 Assembly election it displaced the constitutional-nationalist Social Democratic and Labour Party as the main Catholic party.

At the core of the current crisis is the fact that its prosperity is not only political. The organisation, Sinn Fein at the front and, behind and “underneath” Sinn Fein, the IRA, has accumulated vast riches. It is awash with cash.

As an illegal organisation, fighting a guerrilla war, the IRA had ways of raising money. Robbery and cross-border smuggling and “protection money” were only some of them.

There is perhaps some justice in the IRA, which exists to abolish the border between the Six and 26 Counties, taking advance of big price differences on the two sides of the border to line its coffers. It also robs banks and warehouses, as illegal guerrilla movements always have done. It has vast wealth invested in property.

Why did the IRA stop its bombing campaigning in Derry? goes the joke. Answer: because it wasn’t going to blow up its own property!

The IRA/ Sinn Fein exists as a powerful, many-faceted organisation. It builds a base in politics by “community work”, assiduously cultivating local support by looking after the day to day concerns of local people. For this it has a network of highly disciplined, highly motivated, and well-paid political activists.

London and Dublin have finally had to face up to the fact that the guerrilla army has not faded away, but transmogrified into something else, and developed a raison d'être separate from the political aims of SF/ IRA republicanism — money-making. Even the winning of all their political aims would not dissolve this IRA, transmuted into the Rafia.

At bay, Sinn Fein insists that it has a “democratic mandate” from one third of a million people, and that any attack on it is an attack on its voters. It is “spin”, of course, but it plays well with Sinn Fein’s core “constituency”, which, the polls say, remains fairly stable, for now anyway.

Militarists who turned political and brought their discipline and command structures with them into the new arena have been an important part of 20th century Irish politics. The early Fianna Fail, in the late 1920s and 30s, had such a cadre. So did Clann na Poblachta, which under the leadership of a 1930s Chief of Staff of the IRA mushroomed for a while in the 1940s. So did the “Workers’ Party” of the 1970s and 80s, the former IRA of the 1950s and 60s.

That the conventional bourgeois parties of the rich, who see Sinn Fein/IRA disposing of more wealth for political purposes than even they themselves can dream of having, should cry foul is understandable.

While the Government’s denunciation of Sinn Fein/IRA comes fundamentally from a loss of belief in Adams as the man who will “deliver” an end to the IRA, there is also an element of political alarm at the growth of Sinn Fein’s political influence, and at the fact that the IRA is a state within the two states.

Here there is something unprecedented. In the past, when Republican movements have gone “political”, they have “dumped arms”, and over time the militarists have transmogrified into conventional bourgeois politicians, not always without difficulty. What is different about the Provisional IRA today is that it can’t be given indefinite time to dissolve, assuming it would. What the Northern Ireland Protestants want and fear has to be taken into account. Otherwise the “peace process” will abort.

Unlike all previous Republican militarists turned politicians, the Provisional IRA have a powerful, geographically limited, sectarian base in the ghettoes of Northern Ireland. There as elsewhere they have continued and expanded, in peacetime, the gangster money-making activities normal to an underground army.

Dublin and London have reason to think that they now have Adams and the IRA leaders caught in a trap. The long years of peace, and the everyday prosperity of peace in the Catholic communities, work against any IRA decision to “get tough” once again. There would be much Catholic hostility, North and South, to an IRA return to war.

It should not be overstated. Armed minorities can create conditions in which to find a role as the protectors of “their own” community from “the others”. Despite all that has changed, Catholic-Protestant conflict, which has not diminished in the last seven years, probably could be stoked leaping into flame again. The justification for the IRA in the ghettoes as “protectors” could again be made to seem to be self-evident. In the mid-70s the accidental killing of children in an IRA-British Army fire-fight in the street triggered a powerful mass movement — initially Catholic — of Protestants and Catholics which demanded peace, the so-called “Peace People”. It flared up, its leaders won a Nobel Peace Prize, and then it declined into insignificance, having changed nothing.

Where the IRA really are trapped, so that they cannot resume military activities as in the past without paying a very heavy price, is in the USA’s worldwide “war on terror”. For the IRA to go back to bombings and spectacular shootings would, in the eyes of the US government, place them irredeemably in the “terrorist” camp.

They have depended in the last decade on an Irish Catholic “pan-nationalist alliance”, including the important part of it, Irish America, that exerts political pressure in the USA. An IRA military offensive now would shatter that. They would find themselves more isolated and friendless than at any time during the war that began almost exactly 34 years ago, in early 1971.

What Dublin and London pressure on Sinn Fein is designed to do is force Sinn Fein to split with those in the IRA who will not immediately agree to dissolve the organisation. Any precipitate split would result either in individuals hiving off to strengthen the Continuity IRA or the Real IRA, or in an organised faction of the IRA continuing, rejecting politics, and perhaps breaking the ceasefire.

In the past the Adamsites have always done what was necessary to avoid a split. For example, when the secret talks were going on, in October 1993, the IRA bombed a chip shop in the Shankhill Road. Adams, whose negotiations had been rendered more difficult for the explosion and its victims, nonetheless helped carry the coffin at the funeral of one of the bombers who blew himself up too.

If they have a choice, Adams and McGuinness will put the unity of Sinn Fein/ IRA before everything else, calculating that they can regain political lost ground in time. But they must fear that they won’t be able to — that Adams will be treated as Yasser Arafat was, as an unbelievable, unreliable, and treacherous “negotiator”.

Taoiseach Ahern says that there is a split in the Provos, that the IRA stopped Adams making a deal last year. Dublin justice minister McDowell says there is no split, that all the leading Republicans, IRA and Sinn Fein, agree on what they are doing.

There is some indication — though it maybe only kite-flying — that Britain (though not yet the 26 Counties) is thinking of moving away from the all-inclusive power-sharing system provided for in the Good Friday Agreement and back to the earlier Sunningdale version of power-sharing, called after the place where such an agreement was signed in November 1973. Then, Sinn Fein/IRA were excluded.

If London took this course, and brought Dublin with them, they would be building on the political realities created by seven years of the Good Friday Agreement and separating the “peace process” from the perhaps insuperable difficulties created by Sinn Fein/IRA involvement.

What will happen next? Dublin and the SDLP, both part of the pan-nationalist alliance on which SF/ IRA have depended, reject calls for the exclusion of Sinn Fein from participation in a new Belfast government. Unless there is a spectacular split in the Provos, that means no Belfast government in the foreseeable future. The Trimble Unionists demand that the de facto Sinn Fein/ IRA veto on a Northern Ireland government be ended, and a government be set up without them — or else that direct rule from London should be “democratised”.

Elections in the South are due in about a year. The Westminster election is likely in a couple of months. Nothing will move in Northern Ireland until after that election.

That the USA’s worldwide “war on terror” and the mood in the Catholic areas rule out a resumption of the IRA’s “long war" is true only for the rational and calculating nationalists. The Real IRA, the Continuity IRA, and any new breakaway from the Provisional IRA would not necessarily agree. They have a fundamentally religious conception of what they are doing.

For socialists, the most important result of these events is the flux it seems to be creating in Northern Ireland politics, and the possibility of a wide section of Sinn Fein/ IRA’s Catholic working class base becoming disaffected. Urgently needed is a new workers’ party in Northern Ireland, based on the trade unions, and equipped with a socialist and consistently democratic programme for both communities.

Sinn Fein’s riches

Sinn Fein is self-evidently one of the richest political parties in Ireland — it has a permanent office in the US, for example. Yet it told the Electoral Commission at the end of 2002 that it only employed two full-time staff in the North and only spent £421,106.

After the November 2003 Northern Ireland Assembly elections, it told the Commission that it only spent €40,529 (compared to the SDLP’s €340,019). Yet Sinn Fein is now the most popular Nationalist party in Northern Ireland. What’s going on?

According to the Irish Independent, Sinn Fein is creaming money from a number of other sources.

These include: cigarette smuggling (there have been a number of big police hauls in the south recently); oil smuggling (the Independent says oil smuggling is one of the major commodities at the centre of IRA crimes at Dublin port); illegal alcohol distilling (the IRA has apparently mimicked the formula for Smirnoff Red Label); money laundering and tax (VAT) fraud (the IRA’s Belfast unit is said to have investments in houses and commercial outlets); counterfeiting of computer games, DVDs, etc; robbery (apart from the robbery at the Northern Bank, there were three other robberies last year said to be the work of the IRA, which netted £3 million); dumping rubbish (at least five illegal dumping sites have been created along the north-south border and, according to Custom s and Excise, “nothing ever happens on the border without the Provos knowing about it”).

The astonishing career of Phil Flynn

The extent of Sinn Fein involvement in high bourgeois finance is shown in the case of Phil Flynn. A former Vice President of Sinn Fein, which he ostensibly left in 1987, Flynn was Chairman of the Bank of Scotland in Ireland and other financial interests and roles in many other financial institutions, including money-lending firms, and investment operations in Bulgaria. While denying any involvement in the financial affairs of Sinn Fein/IRA, he has resigned from all his positions in response to the exposure of IRA/Sinn Fein involvement in bank robberies, smuggling, money-laundering, money-lending, debt-collecting, investment in property, in Ireland and overseas.

This prominent banker admits that he had been called in as a pro bono consultant to advise Sinn Fein on reorganising itself. In fact, the implication is that he was involved in the financial affairs of Sinn Fein/IRA.

The Flynn case indicated how well-integrated Sinn Fein had come to be with the bourgeois world.

Flynn has had an astonishing career. As well working in the more staid realms of banking, he has been an “adviser” to Fianna Fail’s Taoiseach, Bertie Ahern, and headed a government commission on decentralisation. He was a Trotskyist in London in the first half of the 1960s. He was an anti-Stalinist member of the IRA’s Army Council in the late 60s, when there was a split between the Stalinists, who had taken control of the older organisation, and what became the Provisional IRA (December 1969–January 1970). He was the most prominent Sinn Fein supporter in the trade union movement for a long time. He is a former leader of the civil servants’ union. Along the way he grew very rich. Like the IRA…

A Worker’s Guide to Ireland

A concise pictoral history of class struggle in Ireland

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