Boston College IRA project was not a hoax or a set up

The following piece appeared on Irish Central on 26 November 2012

In an October Periscope column Niall O’Dowd, can be found making the same foundational error that unfortunately has long beset his commentary on the North of Ireland. His initial mistake, relying on the most dubious of sources for his information, leads to an unthinking right-down-the-line replication of the falsehoods the revisionists feed him.

This is all the more unfortunate because the peace process, while a wet blanket as far as open discussion is concerned, being a stranger to principles such as those contained in the US First Amendment, is not an Iron Curtain. Its fallacies are not beyond the penetration of determined intellectual investigation. The Periscope, as its name suggests, should probe beyond not pander to. It just takes a bit of research. But hey, we don’t want to go there now do we? Research might just discover something that is not helpful to the peace process. And then the accusations of being out to get some prince of peace will fly Katyusha-style.

The Periscope-guided flak that has come my way is to be found in the utterly disingenuous allegation that I either currently function as or in the past have acted as a ‘dissident spokesman.’ While I will not complain that the Periscope is out to get me, it remains beyond its author to name one group on the dissident spectrum that I have been a spokesman for. I have always spoken for myself and no one else. But again pejorative labelling is a convenient device for smothering inconvenient voices.

Despite his protestations that Boston College’s Belfast Project was a hoax purpose-built to bamboozle Irish America, it is through the opaque vision panel of his Periscope that Irish American readers will glimpse less rather than more.  Niall O’Dowd frequently alleges that the project was out to ‘get’ Sinn Fein caudillo Gerry Adams. Perhaps self-induced impaired vision prevents him from ever seeing why Adams might be considered worth ‘getting’ to begin with.

‘Getting’ the role of contentious figures at the heart of political violence such as Gerry Adams, Serbia’s Mlađo Radić and El Salvador’s Roberto D’Aubisson is a meritorious research endeavour. Their histories should always be sought, and where possible ‘got’, by researchers. It ceases to be meritorious only when research is pseudo, conducted for the purpose of a stitch up. There is nothing apart from Adams own account of never having been in the IRA (even Niall O’Dowd refuses to believe that) which lends itself to the stitch up fiction.

A more egregious transgression than researchers ‘getting’ knowledge lies (pun intended) in constructing a falsified revisionist history that wilfully strives not to ‘get’ that knowledge, that for political rather than intellectual reasons airbrushes key figures out of their historical location by putting others in their place. Those inserted into the frame are, by deliberate calculation on the part of the revisionists, left to carry culpability for actions they did not wage, or if they did wage certainly did not do so alone.

Forgetting that ‘fools enter where brave men fear to tread’ O’Dowd relies on an interpretation by the implausible Danny Morrison to show that the Belfast Project was out to get former Provisional IRA army council member, Gerry Adams. Morrison, better known in Irish America for flipping the bird at the reputation of the late Ted Kennedy whom he labelled a criminal, than for the quality of his mind, discovered ‘evidence’ contained in a conversation between Ed Moloney and the journalist Walt Ellis. The damning comment would appear to be "outing liars" which according to O’Dowd ‘by his very own words, meaning Adams, was Moloney’s main intent all along.’

Ironically, Niall O’Dowd ‘outed’ the same ‘liar’ that Moloney refers to when he dismissed Gerry Adams’ claims never to have been a member of the IRA.  It hardly follows that the Periscope is always and only ever raised in search of Adams. Shake it, move it, turn it upside down and inside out, try as we all might, it is a difficult one to spin ‘outing liars’ to the point where it explains the Belfast Project. Hence O’Dowd is reduced to saying that Moloney just ‘seems’ to admit it. Even an English judge from the 1970s would find it unseemly to convict on seem.

Without having any means of knowing O’Dowd has asserted that the only people interviewed for the Belfast Project were ‘IRA figures who hated Adams for various reasons.’ Again he would appear to rely on the unreliable Danny Morrison for this. Morrison, without providing one iota of supporting substance, has claimed the identities of the interviewees are well known in West Belfast.  I would suggest only in those parts of West Belfast where it is also known that Gerry Adams was never a member of the IRA or where Morrison is known for the accuracy of his commentary, the reliability of his foresight and the length of his hair.

The problem in relying on Belfast revisionists like Danny Morrison is graphically depicted in a different context by a cartoon in the New Yorker. Up Periscope and take a long hard look.


  1. Seems Ed can sue this guy to the hilt. I would if I wrote everything which Ed wrote and knew it to be 100% fact.

  2. Because Morrison's very life is a lie, he can do nothing else but embrace lies. He's a laughing stock. Why on earth he is interviewed other than for taking the Micky out of him, is beyond me. Hopefully, one day soon, his cupboard will be opened to reveal more than his collection of large hats...

  3. Anthony you know if the periscope,s eye piece is above head height the operator will see fuck all,could this be the case here, Do you recall the infamous articles written by"Brownie" and later stuck on to the wannabe Bangers none other than trickey dickey Mc Cauley now the bearded ones bag carrier, that was the start of those wee fibs and as we all know wee fibbers become big liars John O is no fool just a paid patsy willing to spread the bearded ones shit for filthy lucre it certainly isnt for principle.

  4. AM-

    Stephen Murney was put in maghaberry yesterday for taking photos of the shy psni-you know them-they take photos of us-he used to write to the Quill under his pen-name-hope he gets out soon to be with his family and loved ones-he is one of the good ones-he is Irish-


  5. Stephen Murneys court appearence yesterday heard the judge presiding say"We have a new front now, a technological one"

    Stephens legal team explained to the court that a substantial amount of the pictures on a disc central to the charge were made up of a historical montage. The montage went back to the 70s showing pictures of seminal historical events which had police as part of them.

    The juge in Newry decided that such material constituted material useful to terriorists.

    So any of us who have books of history or Republican history are now open to be charged with something that could see us spend up to a decade in jail.

    Dr John/Robert will you speak up about this madness?

  6. The arrest and remand of éirígí spokesman and activist Stephen Murney

    Please forward to your family, friends and contacts.

    Thank you.

    éírígí spokesman and activist Stephen Murney from the Derrybeg estate in Newry was arrested and remanded.

    Newry and Mourne Councillor Davy Hyland has asked that we immediately send an email to highlight the violations of Mr. Murney's human and democratic rights as he will be raising Stephen's arrest and remand at the Newry and Mourne Council meeting Monday evening, December 3rd,

    You may write your own email of course. Or simply copy and paste the one below.

    Let's fill these in-boxes today as the timing on this is critical. Thank you!

    To whom it should concern,

    I write on behalf of Stephen Murney. Stephen is a community and political activist from the Derrybeg estate in Newry, Ireland.

    Stephen is a member of and spokesman for the Irish Republican Socialist party éirígí which has been highlighting police harassment for a number of months. Stephen himself has been subjected to an inordinate amount of police stop and search exercises over the last year or so.
    On December 1st, Stephen was remanded into custody on spurious charges relating to historical photographs of non-serving police officers, possession of BB guns (belonging to his child) and possession of flute band uniforms (described as combat type clothing with berets). No evidence, beyond circumstantial and 'word of mouth' was presented at his arraignment, yet bail was denied based on a ludicrous claim that Stephen may interfere with police witnesses. There are no other witnesses in this case.

    I believe that these charges are a deliberate escalation of harassment against Stephen and his family and would ask that you use your mandated position to demand his immediate release from custody until such times as Stephen has time to answer the charges leveled at him in an objective and open environment. Due process is a fundamental right of all citizens.

    I ask you to lodge your formal opposition to his continued detention and to exercise all powers within your remit to effect his immediate reunion with his family. Thank you.

    Please email it to Councillor Davy Hyland -

    with cc's to: MP Conor Murphy -

    John McArdle -

    Mickey Ruane -

    Newry and Mourne Council website -

  7. If Stephen was an sas man or a member of quisling $inn £ein he would be free by now.

  8. David,

    'Dr John/Robert will you speak up about this madness?'

    I would have no hesitation in speaking out against the imprisonment of any individual or group if I was of the view that the motivation for such was for any other reason than illegality. I experience no sense of that, to date, in the case of Stephen Murney. Madness much like beauty is very much in the eye of the beholder.
    Some simple logic David - the PSNI search my house tonight and find hundreds of photos of Republicans, paramilitary uniforms and imitation firearms. Is it really that unreasonable to raise a suspicion that I did not have those items for a lawful purpose? As Nietzsche put it, there is also always some reason in madness.

  9. Robert and if you were a member of a "loyalist"militia either legal or illegal and no matter how damning the evidence against you. you would now be on bail and it would be doubtful if you would ever be convicted a cara if the history of this place and so called British justice is anything to go by.

  10. This is a bloody disgrace and smacks of everything underhand and devious. Then, underhand and devious appears to be the order of the day in our little British statlet.
    The first day we took Marian's campaign to the International Wall on our own road, the PSNI arrived in force and spend almost an hour photographing us.
    They then turned their cameras on any tourist who showed any interest.
    This behaviour would have been challenged by the so called stoops and other nationalist representatives thirty years ago, how come the (stoop lower than any other party ever, Sinn Fein)are ignoring it now?

  11. Robert, there is nothing illegal nor suspicious in having photographs of Republicans. Thousand of homes and computers contain such images for totally innocent reasons. The uniform to which you refer was an old keepsake from his days as a member of a republican flute band, a fact testified to by photographs of Stephen playing in the band. As for the BB guns; these belonged to his children and were bought at an open market.

    Every item taken from this man's home can be easily explained and accounted for. To attach an illegal purpose to any of this is to stretch the imagination to breaking point. These are spurious charges and you know it.

    What Stephen is guilty of is being a high profile republican activist.

  12. Robert,

    I am in agreement with Alec and Nuala here. I am very suspicious of these type of arrests particularly when they caome against a backdrop of closing down space for the discussion of ideas and the pursuit of research. It reinforces my view that at heart the PSNI is still the RUC. Its function and nature has not changed. What has changed is the level of threat and the PSNI will behave no differently from the RUC were the threat today as it was back in the 1980s. Shoot To Kill, torture, frame ups - the whole gamut will be run through if the British state requires it.

    The threat is not justified and should be defused by the people behind it. But there is no point in people of whatever hue pulling the wool over their eyes and concluding that the PSNI is driven by a new ethic.

    What the British have achieved brilliantly here is not the transformation of the RUC but the transformation of the people once most opposed to the RUC.

  13. First it was a piece of paper,now old pis, for fuck sake ma chuck out my cowboy suit..

  14. Marty,

    I don't believe you to be oblivious to the fact that thousands of Loyalists were processed through the legal system without having been granted bail.


    '..there is nothing illegal nor suspicious in having photographs of Republicans.'

    Key to this is context Alec.

    'These are spurious charges and you know it'

    I don't know anything about this particular case with any degree of certainty either way. My opinion was solicited by David. Despite your interjection my opinion remains unaltered as to the reasonableness of the actions of the PSNI in this instance. I am always open to persuasion but you have failed to convince me to concur with a sub judice declaration of innocence based on nothing more substantial than perceived Republican bias.

  15. Anthony,

    This is all quintessentially Republican. It follows a familiar format based on the idea that the squeaky wheel always gathers grease. It appears to me to be a proportionate response to a corresponding threat.

  16. Evening Robert
    Stephen Murneys legal team pointed out to the judge that the very band uniforms in question can be seen on you tube as part of a republican commeration that was being observed by police.

    One of the grounds the judge gave for refusal of bail was a a concern about interference with witnesses. There are no other witnesses in the case, as had been pointed out in the court.

    Willie Frazer has for many years posted pictures of Republicans on line, many of which are of security force origin, making all sorts of allegations. Far from being arrested Mr Frazer has received state funding for his activities.

    It is also important to point out that the pictures in question other than the historical montage had been forwarded to the police complaints structure by Stephen as part of an ongoing recording of the harrasment he had been enduring.

    It would be strange in the extreme that Stephen would forward intelligence to a state body if he was using it in any clandestine way.

  17. Robert,

    This is all quintessentially Republican.

    This seems such an inadequate observation. By the same standard is your own comment not quintessentially unionist? No matter what the police do they are right? Rather than it being quintessentially republican it is perhaps quintessentially sceptical about police claims to be operating fairly. Because that resembles a republican perspective does not mean it is in essence one.

    I think David has sketched a case that should worry any citizen. That unionists are not worried indicates to me that they neither see, not want the police to be impartial. I saw Trevor Ringland slip into that dangerous mindset in the wake of the David Black killing. I think Alex Kane last night on UTV used the term 'scratch the surface'. There is no depth to the anti-sectarian framework. It seems very much a facade. Many say the right thing but scratch beneath and there it is bubbling away.

    That said, good to see you around and have your input.

  18. Robert a cara David,s response was imo both eloquent and precise, the arrest of this young lad is clearly part of an orchestrated campaign to disrupt and intimidate the activities of a legitimate political party,who are not in tune with the other quislings.your comment about many loyalists being remanded without bail is entirely correct ,many of those people now realise how much of a pawn in a dirty game they were .but not getting into whataboutery it is obvious to a blind man on a galloping horse that what passes here for policing is nothing more than political enforcing.those who are not in tune and question the raison d,etre of those in govt here are either subjected to attack from "loyalists"or arrest does that sound familiar.

  19. Robert,
    Are now entering the realms of Jackanory or just plain old fairystories.
    Thousands of Loyalists processed through the legal system without being granted bail?
    What does that even mean, how does that relate to this case or cases totally relying on secret evidence?
    They were usually only rounded up when the blood letting went too far or when their handlers could not longer contain them.
    They could do what they liked, still can, even you most realise that?
    You'll have us all reaching for the hankies next!

  20. Tom,

    Hopefully, one day soon, his cupboard will be opened to reveal more than his collection of large hats...

    My sentiments exactly.

  21. Anthony those hats will all be big and black his heart

  22. Marty,

    how true. The 5th of July 1981. A black black day in republican history. It ranks alongside Ballyseedy Crossroads.

  23. Robert, I think your middle class attitude to policing is showing through here. Perhaps you fail to see the self contradiction you pose. Without context you are still prepared to give the PSNI the benefit of the doubt in this case. Some of the charges relate to postings on social networking sites which can hardly be described as suspicious behaviour.

    I have a sense it would be difficult to persuade you of police wrong doing.

  24. Alec,

    can you repost your last comment? I deleted it by mistake

  25. Robert, I think your comments are revealing of a typically middle class view of the police. You refer to context yet admit to knowing little about the case. Some of the charges are based on material available on social networking sites, hardly supicious behaviour. I admit to having a strong bais based on years of personal experience of British policing, however, it is wrong to insinuate this somehow blinds me to certain facts. Stephen Murney is charged with possessing items in a manner that can be easily and innocently explained were he to be facing a jury of his peers.

    As for context; The state is attempting to establish a context that will not stand up to professional scrunity.

  26. Martin McGuinness said in a new documentary about Motorman:

    “I was in [Derry] and remained in the city for many weeks after Operation Motorman and there were actually several occasions in the weeks after… where I was physically stopped and searched by the British army who hadn’t got the foggiest notion that I was Martin McGuinness. So, I presume, that if I had been arrested at that time, in all probability I would have been either shot or interned.”

    However Martin McGuinness had appeared on BBC TV speaking on behalf of the IRA following the Official IRA Ceasefire at the end of May 1972.

    Motorman was in 31st July 1972

    So according to Marty 2 months later he was being stopped on the streets of Derry during and after a major invasion of British troops without being recognised, yet none of the Brits were shown the TV clip of him speaking on behalf of PIRA 2 months before and told that he was to be among those arrested being as he was a leading member....

    I find that hard to believe...

    Heres the link to the BBC clip of McGuinness speaking on behalf of the IRA. He actually says they will not be going on ceasefire.

  27. Dixie that fucker is now as big a liar as his immediate boss the bearded one...

  28. David,

    'Willie Frazer has for many years posted pictures of Republicans on line,'

    The implication being that this constitutes illegality?

    I find a certain degree of inconsistency in this comparison that requires a clutch and gear approach in order to make it work. If it is as you point out,'..strange in the extreme that Stephen would forward intelligence to a state body if he was using it in any clandestine way.', then it should follow that Willie's online dissemination of imagery is equally illogical if he is using it in any clandestine way?

    There is an obvious distinction to be drawn. Republicans are not currently being targeted and killed but we know that Republican elements are targeting and killing.

  29. Anthony,

    'By the same standard is your own comment not quintessentially unionist? No matter what the police do they are right?'

    The comment was never influenced by a constitutional preference nor the opinion formed from behind union jack glasses. Had Stephen Murney been a member of an Unionist party the same principle would have been applied.

    '..scratch beneath and there it is bubbling away.'

    There is no simmering sectarian substratum directing my position on this.

    Police infallibility? I don't think that should be inferred from my comments. On too many occasions the police have been proven wrong. On balance however I support them.

  30. Fionnuala,

    ' does that relate to this case or cases totally relying on secret evidence.'

    It is relevant to a comment made by Marty which you may have missed.

  31. Alec,

    'I think your comments are revealing of a typically middle class view of the police'

    My support for the police is not unconditional but it is consistent. I am very often critical of their behaviour. You would be wrong to conclude from that I am middle class.

    ' a manner that can be easily and innocently explained were he to be facing a jury of his peers.'

    While I believe he has a prima facie case to answer if I were to be on that jury I would have to find him not guilty on the current evidence.

  32. Robert,

    The comment was never influenced by a constitutional preference nor the opinion formed from behind union jack glasses.

    Yet the same latitude is not applied to those who are alleged to have expressed a ‘quintessentially repunlican’ view. The gander must surely sup its own sauce.

    Had Stephen Murney been a member of an Unionist party the same principle would have been applied.

    But he wasn’t and the likelihood of him being pursued if he was is arguably less.

    There is no simmering sectarian substratum directing my position on this.

    Because I took this as a given I didn’t bother pre-fixing my comment with a Robert is exempt clause.

    On too many occasions the police have been proven wrong.

    How many court records from the trials of wrong police officers show this?

  33. Robert,
    I had read all the comments and I still don't see where this fits?
    Many people who watched the drama of the latest super-grass trial as I am sure you did would be astounded by your comparing their treatment with any type of injustice.
    Odious ghouls and gangsters up to their necks in just about everything including murder, drugs and profiteering and they were all out on bail.
    Let off eventually because the main witnesses were not credible?
    Even you must know there are no-like for like comparrisons in this scenario.

  34. Robert, I didn't say you were middle class as I would have no way of determining that. I suggested your comments were revealing of a middle class view of the police.

    Unfortunately. Stephen will not be afforded the right of a jury of his peers as he is will face a juryless diplock tribunal.

    On what grounds do you determine he has a prima facie case to answer? There mere fact he was remanded into custody?

  35. Anthony,

    'The gander must surely sup his own sauce.'

    'What is sauce for the goose may be sauce for the gander but is not necessarily sauce for the chicken, the duck, the turkey or the guinea hen.' In this respect I consider the saucier to have dispatched the gravy boat to the wrong table.

    Allow me to afford the same latitude, that you consider me to have denied, by reframing my point into a question.

    Is this is all quintessentially Republican?

  36. Robert,

    much of the critique you will hear is quintessentially republican. But the same critique is also articulated from a position that is not quintessentially republican. State abuses are - or should be - a matter of concern to a wider band of opinion than republicanism.

  37. Michaelhenry,

    The Stephen Murney case raises even more concerns. If he wrote to the Quill under a pen name that’s a matter for himself. I had no idea he wrote not would I have had any interest in finding out who is using pen names unless they are cranks. His views like others are welcome here. He should be released immediately without these pernicious bail conditions being slapped onto him. It has often been said that the PSNI is the RUC reincarnated. For some that was discursive labelling. Now it just feels like the RUC. The so called ‘feel good’ factor has dissipated.


    I recall Richard being made to look foolish over the Brownie articles. But the fibs had started long before then.


    I too don’t buy into that suggestion by McGuinness that the British army didn’t know him in the wake of Motorman. I think everybody in the country knew what he looked like then.

  38. Michaelhenry:

    Its nice to see you are supporting the release of Stephen Murney, and running down the RUC, Its not nice when you have a camera stuck into your face and being watched by the other PSNI/RUC to see if you push it away, that would mean, CUFFS on right away and interned. I for one appreciate your post and support for Stephen.


    The RUC are well and truly back, and, with a vengeance.


    The Marty fella was well known during Motorman, but, maybe this will shed some light on this guy, Since the start of the conflict (war), he is the only IRA man who went to court and pleaded not guilty to being a member of the IRA, He was found, NOT GUILTY!, The Brtish new him well, it was Nod Nod wink wink, well That's my opinion.

    And today he has announced that he is giving up his seat as a British MP, but will still be an MLA, that will be a big dent in his expenses claims, travelling to His and Gerry's friends house in London and claiming huge amounts of BRITISH money in expenses, Put Marty boy with Gerry Liar on a quiz show "Questions are on, "THE TRUTH",and those two would win it, because they are both quick thinking LIARS, Just like MI5 and there AGENTS!.

    As for wee willy frazer, His funding was stopped because it was being used for things other than it was intended for, he has appealed that decision.

    Ex prisoners who support SF:

    I firmly believe that there are those who are afraid of having their licence revoked, but they weren't revoked when they protested over Padraig Wilson being lifted, now, what does that tell you?. to me that says, if your in, you win.

  39. itsjustmacker-

    Thanks for your kind words-


    Agree with you-the PSNI did more than drop the ball in this case- [ you would maybe say in most/every case ]Stephen would be at home now only for stupid bail conditions which he was right to oppose-