Provos: “We Killed Jo Jo”

Tarlach MacDhónaill writes on the Andersonstown Town News admission of IIRA culpability in the 2000 murder of Joseph O'Connor.

This week’s Andersonstown News has finally accepted and printed what Belfast Republicans have known for almost two decades, that the Provisional I.R.A. murdered Volunteer Joseph O’Connor.

It is not altogether surprising that such a ground-breaking shift from Provisional policy has passed-off largely unnoticed. The O’Connor family are in mourning following the tragic, sudden death of Jo Jo’s second youngest son Eamon (18) only weeks ago. Eamon’s death was preceded by that of his Grandmother Margaret’s just last year.

It is then understandable that the wider O’Connor family and their friends are presently consumed by grief. As Jo Jo was a member of the Real I.R.A which doesn’t exist anymore; it is unlikely that any statement from the group in relation to Jo Jo’s death will ever be carried in the media again.

The British-backed murder of I.R.A volunteer Joseph O’Connor arrived at an extremely delicate time for the Provisionals, during the initial stages of a sham-peace. The murder was planned and carried out with an immediate dual-aim, to execute an anti-agreement Republican while designating blame to other Anti-agreement Republicans in the process. From the very moment they shot him multiple times in the head and face, the death-squad busied themselves with the task of concealing their movement’s involvement in his murder.

Unfortunately for Sinn Féin, Ballymurphy is a small place. A seemingly arrogance-based brazenness allowed people to identify the death-squad who shot ‘Jo Jo’. This was followed by a number of mistakes being made during their escape. Logistical blunders aside, locals talk, and literally within minutes of Joseph O’Connor’s murder, his neighbours, his family, his friends and his comrades knew who was responsible, the Provisional I.R.A.

Immediately after the murder, local Sinn Féin spokespersons attempted to deflect blame onto other Republicans, they were assisted in their attempts by the RUC who raided the offices of Republican Sinn Féin, publicly citing Joe’s murder as their motive.

Within days the party’s accepted local mouthpiece “The Andersonstown news” also helped to raise the notion of an internal Republican feud by using ambiguous language to report on what the community knew to be facts. Even a year later the “Andersonstown news” continued to ply the idea of an internal Republican dispute as being responsible for the murder of Joseph O’Connor. Upon being challenged by members of Belfast 32CSM the paper’s editorial board smugly stated that their editorial line was ‘No I.R.A. involvement in the murder of Joseph O’Connor’, and that his death was the result of a ‘dissident feud’.

Joseph’s family friends and comrades were not alone in voicing their disgust at what the Provisional movement had done. Many well-known Republicans, including former life-sentence prisoner and blanket-man Anthony McIntyre and Maidstone escapee Tommy Gorman, added their voices to a steady stream of condemnation which naturally emanated from within the Republican base.

All of those who told the basic truth, for the simple sake of basic truth, faced immediate vilification for doing so, homes were picketed, vile abuse was spat at the direction of honest commentators, and one of the weapons used to attack them was the indisputable Sinn Féin alligned “Andersonstown news.”

A decade ago an opinion piece written by ‘Squinter’ criticising Gerry Adams appeared in the Andersonstown News. This story made international headlines because the Andersonstown News was then, as it is now, considered to be an organ of the Provisional movement and such internal criticism of Sinn Féin was unprecedented. When Gerry Adams was accused of forcing the paper’s editorial board to issue a grovelling, front-page apology to him, Sinn Féin’s critics went into overdrive. It is in this story that you will find evidence of the AndersontownNews’ links to and representation of Sinn Féin.

The magnitude therefore of the paper’s admission of I.R.A responsibility for Joe O’Connor’s murder poses a particular significance at this time.

Margaret O’Connor did not want revenge for her son’s death, all she asked was an admission of responsibility, perhaps an apology from those behind it. As a grieving mother, she lobbied Sinn Féin through Relatives for Justice and promised that as a republican, she would not pursue prosecutions, she kept that promise till her dying day.

Margaret O’Connor was denied this grace, she was offered nothing in return and sadly died last year in the very same turmoil that had been imposed upon her by a Provisional death-squad on Friday 13th of October 2000 outside her own home.

Perhaps the Andersons town News did not intend to accept that Jo Jo’s death was at the hands of the I.R.A. It has done so however and this simply cannot be ignored. The paper has gone out of its way over the years in publicizing its position that there is only one I.R.A, and that they are the Provisionals. Maybe it is an editorial oversight and maybe it is in preparation for something to come, maybe it is even a huge-leap forward in the pursuit of truth for victims of conflict.

Whatever the reasons questions now exist which demand answers. Why was Margaret O’Connor sent to her grave without an admission by Sinn Féin that the Provisional I.R.A had murdered her son?

Why has a media outlet, so closely and openly associated with Sinn Féin MLA Máirtín Ó Muilleoir challenged the leadership of Sinn Féin in this fashion?

Will Sinn Féin now tell the Republican people of Belfast the truth and apologise for the lies they told them in 2000 and ever since?

Will all of those who received Provisional death threats for telling the truth about Joseph O’Connor’s murder now be pardoned by the Army Council?

Or, Will Squinter return next Wednesday and apologise for making the biggest blunder since ‘they haven’t gone away you know’?

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Anthony McIntyre

Former IRA prisoner, spent 18 years in Long Kesh. Free Speech advocate, writer, historian, humanist, and researcher.

4 comments to ''Provos: “We Killed Jo Jo”"

  1. And those that saw fit to repeatedly desecrate his fathers grave, and reinflict trauma on this young man, should reflect on their contribution to the atmosphere he developed under.

  2. Most read piece in a while. The suffering caused by the Provisional killing of Joe O'Connor was far reaching. Mary Lou and Michelle should meet his family. Party members were deeply involved in the cover up and intimidation. .

  3. but does his family want to meet them Anthony? i dont think mlmd would lose one wink of sleep over this family. she is as devious and bullying and power mad as her predecessor. as my friend donald trump once said; you can put lipstick on a pig - but its still a pig.

  4. I remember that event as if it where yesterday,to me the lack of any immediate response proved it ushered the death knell to any possible armed resistance to the bully boys in pira,a case of internal housekeeping that English bastard Mo Molam described it, it proved beyond all reasonable doubt that quisling $inn ,£anny and pira had been adopted into the ranks of Kitsons armoury in dealing with militant republicanism, to arrogantly murder Joe in broad daylight in Ballymurphy in such a fashion was to let all and sundry know who ruled the roost, when challenged by Anthony and Tommy Gorman the quisling,s turned their venom on two long standing ,respected republicans and sent in rent a mob we witnessed scenes reminiscent of Germany cira 1939 and backed by the Anytout News who denied in their usual fashion (remember Scap) that pira was anyway involved, no as a matter of FACT it was those nasty "Dissos " themselves who murdered Joe .
    Now we hear many years later that indeed it was the pira who murdered Joe (something most of West Belfast and the Cops already knew)what l would like to know now ,will we see a grovelling apology (like the one Adams got) to Joes family,will Anthony and Tommy and families be praised for standing up and telling the truth and enduring the denomising and abuse from howling scumbags, And of course lastly will the ANYTOUT NEWS in true quisling fashion as we have witnessed so many times these last few years now call on anyone with any information about this murder to come forward,I for one very much doubt any of the above will ever happen l haven't bought O,Millionaires rag in years and l never will again ,


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