How Did The Irish Times Miss The Story About The Workers Party’s ‘£1 Million Iraqi Arms & Heroin Deal’?

Ed Moloney draws attention to the dog at the Irish Times which did not bark. Ed Moloney is a prominent Irish journalist living in New York. He was the project director for Boston College’s oral history project. He blogs at The Broken Elbow.

Regular readers of this blog will have noticed that my most recent posting took a bit of a swipe at Danny Morrison, who had reached for his Twittering device a tad too quickly after reading his Irish Times and in the process made a bit of a fool of himself.
Danny had read a review in The Irish Times of a new book written by a UCC-based history professor, Jerome aan de Wiel called ‘East German Intelligence and Ireland, 1949-90′, in which the reviewer had taken a poke at myself for mistakenly alleging links between the East German spy outfit, the Stasi and the Provisional IRA. In a rather over-excited reaction Danny rushed on to the web to proclaim my downfall, somewhat prematurely as it turned out.

Knowing I had done no such thing, I complained to the publisher only to learn that the author had made no such allegation and had in fact pointed out that I had written in ‘A Secret History of the IRA’ that in the case of the Provos’ only supposed Marxist, Brian Keenan, claims that he had an association with the Stasi were unsupported by evidence. The claim otherwise had come only from the reviewer, one Derek Scally and at my insistence The Irish Times published a correction.

By way of an apology, the publisher’s most polite commissioner editor, Tony Mason sent me a copy of Prof. aan de Wiel’s book and it arrived yesterday. Last night I settled down to leaf through the index and to read passages that seemed interesting.

It didn’t take me too long to wonder what it takes these days to be a book reviewer for The Irish Times. It seems that a basic qualification appears to be a complete lack of news sense or a sharp eye for the politically acceptable slur.

Let me put it another way.

This book by Prof. aan de Wiel has some fascinating and historically valuable stories hidden between its covers and I thoroughly recommend it to readers of this blog.

But reading The Irish Times’ review, one is bound to wonder whether the reviewer ever read the whole book, whether he just did not want these stories given wider circulation for reasons I can only guess at, or whether he just wanted to engage in a bit of Ed Moloney-bashing.

Because as stories go, believe me, my alleged failings are in the ha’penny place compared what Prof. aan de Wiel has managed to uncover.

Here’s a story that I found on page 80 and I know that if I was a reviewer I would be highlighting this in my piece, along with another gem of a story that I will describe on another day.

First a bit of background. In the 1970’s and 1980’s, right up to the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Stalinist left in Ireland was represented by the Communist Party of Ireland (CPI) on the one hand, and the Workers Party (or its various other manifestations) on the other.

The two were in often vicious competition for the affections of the two biggies in the Communist world, the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) and the Communist Party in its powerful neighbour, East Germany which was known as the SED, or Socialist Unity Party of Germany.

Because the Workers Party (WP) was growing in electoral strength – it eventually mustered seven deputies in Dail Eireann – and the CPI could hardly gather more than 500 votes, the CPSU favoured the WP over the CPI. That was important because it meant the WP were invited to all the conferences in Moscow, got up there on the platform with the party luminaries and had access to all that Moscow gold (and more as we shall see another day!).

The SED however seemed to still have a soft spot for the CPI and continued giving it a hearing, much to the WP’s undoubted irritation.

So, as you might expect, the rivalry between the CPI and the WP could get hot and heavy. While I would not want to be on the receiving end of WP hostility (they were people not averse to trying to get Loyalists to kill you and in my case nearly did), I have to say that the following account shows that the CPI were no slouches either.

Now, I have no idea whether the allegations made by the CPI are true or not. But I will say two things. One is that Prof. aan de Wiel gives them house room for compelling reasons that he explains at the end of the paragraph (the East Germans also took it all very seriously and kept some distance from the WP thereafter); the second is that, right or wrong, the story is damned sight more interesting and relevant from a reviewer’s viewpoint than any alleged blunders made by someone like myself.

Anyway here is the extract from the book. These events happened in 1986, by the way. Enjoy. I know I did.

Add caption

So the question must be asked: why did The Irish Times not even mention this story? In 1986 the Workers Party was on the eve of its best every electoral performance while heroin addiction was at record levels in places like Dublin. Within a few years some of its leading members would join the Irish Labour party and are now in government. Did any of them know about this arrangement? Was it true? Shouldn’t The Irish Times at least be asking the question?


  1. How Did The Irish Times Miss The Story About The Workers Party’s ‘£1 Million Iraqi Arms & Heroin Deal’?

    Probably because it was true. Lets face it WP dealing out heroin to their support base the working class in Ireland and procuring weapons after it declared a military ceasefire in 1972 was definitely top of their agenda.

    A little like the Sean Garland allegation that he was behind some north Korea supper dollar multi million pound scam.

    Funny...we had WP, Iraq, heroin, arms deals in perfect connect four lineage story line journalistic framing there.

    In fairness these questions Ed do need to be asked of the Irish Times.

    I heard some whoppers in my time.

    The first song come into my head after reading this was

    "There's a man up the chipshop thinks he's Elvis"

    Followed by the below link sets the reality this scenario.

    I am sure someone will want to believe it out there and good luck.

    Nothing like a bate at the sticks for all our ills. I enjoyed it anyway brought a smile to my face tonight just before I start pinting. cheers.

  2. James,

    I didn't think you were a Stick but somebody that had a certain sympathy for their policies. Not that it matters here where you are free to be what you want.

    The Owen Jones book The Establishment arrived two days ago as a belated Christmas box. It was sent on time but just took a circuitous route.

    Enjoy your pint. I used to love boozing with a few Sticks a lot of years back. Some sessions.

  3. AM,

    I am not a stick to be fair. A supporter of most of their policies, perhaps with no membership or desire.

    I have no affiliation with any political party, grouping or pressure group. The only association I proscribe unashamedly too in the public library.

    I am so disillusioned with the political deception set up here and across the globe that cynicism now has penetrated my very nerve end control system.

    I pretty much am on the left, if I choose to be pigeon holed, and then again hate the black and white grading of the political classification.

    I pretty much know a number of characters along the broad republican and socialist fronts with little contact of protestants or loyalists and take them how I find them and how they treat me.

    In saying that I am disillusioned with the left in Ireland that they could not agree on which type of loaf to buy at the nearest convenience store.

    I do believe agents of influence, provocateurs to be behind it run by elements associated by the establishment both British and Irish and further afield. I am under no illusions of how the intelligence services operate on the behalf of the elite in capitalist or socialist countries.

    I myself at this moment am reading Tommy McKerneys Book The Provisional IRA: From Insurrection to Parliament.

    As you say, it really is essential reading and is opening me up to a whole new mindset of the provisional movement and to the volunteers that joined and why. I really am not a closed book on what or who I read as it can only confirm or deny your already in place perceptions or preconceived opinions and notions.

    I said it once before on the blog, as far as the history of the troubles,I simply do not believe nobody got it right.

    The only thing I do know is that it was a human Tragedy for the working class on all fronts. The working class that I am proud to call my own without any of this religion blind faith bullshit.

    I enjoy the site as it pretty much has the present day S/F agenda in particular to perfection with numerous other topics and it is important that a visible alternative history blog will be made available to future to new audiences which have the capability of rational, independent, thinking of what really is going in 2015 without the utter deception and lies that is being farmed out to the general masses through the medium of the corporate machine.

    Owen jones book superb, so was chavs, enjoy.

    I leave with this song from javis cocker Lyrical classic

  4. James,

    thanks for taking the time to fill in some of the detail. Hopefully, it did not take away from the enjoyment of your pint!

    It was you who first acquainted me with Owen Jones so I am looking forward to reading this one.

  5. James, you beat me to it on the connection between the Irish Labour Party and the super dollars. The question I raised with RTE in 2012 regarding this was, whether there might be a connection between these and the Stick's then leader?
    RTE persistently refused to raise this matter but then, like all other media in the free state, why bite the hand that feeds? After all, Pat Bunny was then Minister of Communications.
    This perhaps too explains why the same media hid significant issues relating to the same political party in respect of Eamon, very able to attack the previous government and the now main opposition party but failing in being independent with the Stick's and the Blueshirts.

  6. Can other European societies be as badly served by the their national broadcasting authorities as Ireland is by RTE?

  7. BBC are as biased, I remember the news there in 1981 when they stated there were over 1000 people attending the funeral of Bobby Sands while, at the same time RTE were giving g the figure at almost 100,000 so the answer to your question must be yes. Governments are scared stiff of media which is what all the spin is about, media, despite Levington, is protected by EU laws so is difficult to take on, same is true in the US and the truth is only available in the mass of information available on-line, if ding it is the problem.

  8. AM,

    It did not take away the enjoyment of my pint after blogging in the gaps last night on here. You could say, it was a dual approach at the time.

    Although this approach could be deemed dangerous onless in hands of a skilled operator, it was far to early into my pint to wake up with any real dread of what was written.

    You asked the question "Can other European societies be as badly served by the their national broadcasting authorities as Ireland is by RTE?".

    In my opinion the answer is a universal yes. The main purpose of the national broadcast authorities is primary a social conditioning agent to the masses to support their own national agenda. It is Propaganda of the highest order to support the given establishments views and pretty much goes unquestioned by a huge majority of the population.

    The corporate media for example in Ireland and the UK continuously bombards the viewing population with perceived social conformity, customs, modes of behavior and shapes opinion whether the information is accurate, true or even ethical.

    It is by this "confidence trick" that the establishment remain in power, supported by it arm of government, peddled out via the front line so called celebrity newscast, presenter or game show host.

    People forget that the TV celebraty they see in front of them is basically a arm of the establishment peddling the corporate message.

    What I find depressing is that most young folks aspiration is to become that celebraty they see on TV with almost zero chance of achieving that goal, as you guessed it nepotism usually ensures that this career is already spoken for as soon as they children are ready.

    and so the cycle goes on, and on and on. The game is pretty rigged, the table is slanted. All the establishment has to do these days is create a new celebraty via a reality TV show each year and the delusion of it could be YOU next ensures that the population remain supportive to the system. Lottery tickets. Celebrities,Professional footballers.Models. Singers. Bands.Fools gold.

    In sociological terms the above group listing would be termed as social deviants, along with criminals, prostitutes, confidence tricksters.

    The media always has an agenda to fill in short and it is in support of the status Quo.

  9. the answer is no anthony. they are the worst cun*s on earth because they are the most neurotically spineless breed of disinformation merchants ever. saw tubridy 'interviewing' that murphy guy on friday. what a prick, ur typical southside freestate corporate sleeveen bastard. he gets ten grand a week and hes too mean to get his eyebrows plucked. if i had the rte make up department here at the house id be looking shit hot. he has no excuse to be looking like an anemic leper. what a flute. and as if hes not bad enuf, then we have the other fatskinnycunt on saturday night. i wouldnt let the pair of them read the bingo numbers down the community centre. rte are a close last in europe with the bbc.

  10. I concur with Menace. Although I would add that even though the BBC serve their country worse than RTE serves their's I wager there are worse national broadcasters out there.

    Channel 4 news is one of the best television news programmes I have access to.

    I would also add although the BBC serves it's country badly the majority of the UK seem happy to go along with the content. Like any country the UK has a large progressive base but they would be outnumbered.

  11. By the way, am I alone in looking more kindly at the Sticks since Sinn Fein became New Sinn Fein?

    Kind of puts things in perspective.