Recruiting Martin McGuinness ... My Biggest Mistake

Via The Transcripts John McDonagh (John) and Martin Galvin (Martin) speak to Doire Republican and ‘hooded man’ Mickey Donnelly (Mickey) via telephone from Doire about Martin McGuinness’ health.

Radio Free Éireann
7 January 2017
WBAI 99.5FM Pacifica Radio
New York City
listen on the internet: Saturdays Noon EST
Audio Player
(begins time stamp~14:55)

Michael Donnelly in Altnagelvin Hospital, Derry on the day after his home was attacked by IRA Provisionals

John: He’s been a frequent guest over the years on WBAI at Radio Free Éireann. Mickey Donnelly is from Doire. During the ’70’s he was interned and he became known as one of the ‘hooded men’ who was selected out for special torture or I forget what we called in this country – ‘enhancement’, and he was held for almost seven days with a hood over his head, with water boarding, with sound torture and his case has been dragging on through the court system. And there’s a little irony that’s going on right now: The case has been taken to Brussels in Europe and now with Britain pulling out of the European Union it’ll be very interesting to see if the case comes down in his favour – that he was tortured – what effect that might have on the British government who are getting out of the European Union. But Mickey, I was explaining at the beginning of the show that Gerry Adams, who not unlike Robert Mugabe or even Fidel Castro, become the head of a political party and believe that they cannot leave because they are the head of the political party. You have the same thing in your city in Doire. You have Martin McGuinness who just believes he is the only one in Doire that can administer British rule in Ireland at Stormont and even though you have heard through reliable sources that he’s very sick, they’re calling for Arlene Foster to step down, the Northern Ireland – the head of Northern Ireland, that he’s not stepping down, even though he’s sick. He’s such an egomaniacal maniac like Adams, that he has to stay in power.

Now what have you heard about your good friend, Martin McGuinness, and I’d like to let everyone know that Martin McGuiness was a member of the IRA and at one stage, when Mickey Donnelly was critical of the Irish peace process, Martin McGuinness was responsible for sending some people from the IRA to his house with studded baseball bats and almost beat him and his wife to death and if it wasn’t for Mickey and his son fighting off the invaders he definitely would have been beaten to death. Mickey…

Martin: …John, I just want to say: We’re going to Mickey Donnelly right now in Doire. He has an update on Martin McGuinness’s medical condition. And then we’re going to go to the author, journalist and historian, Ed Moloney – he’s going to talk about the political implications for Sinn Féin and then he’s going to talk about some of the other issues that have occurred in the past month since we’ve been on. Alright John, go to Mickey Donnelly in Doire who has some revelations about what Martin McGuinness’s medical conditions really are.

John: Yeah Mickey, maybe you could…

(show breaks)

Audio: Song, Back Home in Derry, plays.

(show resumes)

Alright John, we had a little of confusion – I had told our engineer we were going to play a song first and then go to Mickey Donnelly. I know you’re up in Boston, you thought we had him on the air. We now do have our first guest. John had heard, I had heard, there have been no revelations that have been revealed, that Martin McGuinness was ill. Arlene Foster has referred to it, not very sympathetically, Gerry Adams referred to it and people have asked us, Radio Free Éireann, what the conditions are and I know, John, you’ve lined up our first guest that has some information and revelations about it to talk about Martin McGuinness. John, go ahead.

Yeah well Mickey, I just wanted to ask you – we have a bizarre situation of Gerry Adams, the head of his cult over in Ireland for the past thirty or forty years, will not step down to allow anyone else in there, but you have someone who’s administering British rule in Ireland who will not tell anyone what his medical conditions are or what’s happening and he won’t step down but yet he wants other people to step down. And I spoke to you during the week and do you have the latest update on his medical condition as a public elected official but he doesn’t want anyone to know?

Mickey: Yeah, they’re keeping it a big secret and refusing to talk about it. He put out first that he had a minor heart problem and there was a wee bit of truth in that because he had to have a pacemaker about roughly a month ago, five weeks ago, installed but we do know he has a form of cancer and he’s not looking too well under it and he’s keeping out of the limelight and he’s not appearing in Stormont. He only went up there for two quite important meetings but even when he comes out afterward he doesn’t talk to the press. He hasn’t spoken to anybody since so he tries – it’s a wee bit – when he comes out with the rest of the Shinners gathered around him and they go into a huddle and escort him away. So the last meeting they had, they were interviewing another Shinner and so whadyacall it, who hadn’t even taken part in the meeting, so he became a spokesman for McGuinness and the BBC said Mr. McGuinness, because of his ongoing health problems, is about half-way to Doire now so – a bit of a j0ke.

John: Yeah, but Mickey what is it that he cannot give out his medical condition? I mean, public figures get sick all the time. Why is it, is he that important to administering British rule in Ireland that you can’t get a medical update on a publicly elected official?

Mickey: Everybody thinks Stormont’s on its last legs and is about to fold and they don’t want to do anything at all to topple it. They don’t want to remove Arlene Foster, for all her crookedness, and they don’t want – I mean McGuinness apparently is hardly fit to walk the length of himself. But no, they’re going to keep him there until he passes out, probably. And someone tells me…

John: …And then you know yourself, Mickey, in Doire – there’s plenty of people in Doire there that’ll administer British rule on his behalf. So it’s not for the lack of finding people to do it.

Yeah, I don’t think it’ll be a Doire person this time. It’ll be whadaya call – aw, I forget her name now, this one. She’s in charge of the health service and making a disaster of a job of it. I mean locally here, I think McGuinness is getting a lot better treatment than most all the people in Doire. The health thing is pretty grim. I know personally of an unfortunate lady who had cancer getting treatment – or trying to get treatment – over Christmas and she only just saw the consultant the day before yesterday and she had been in the hospital…

John: …And Mickey, I just want to give about your history with Martin McGuinness – you’ve been on this show and you have apologised to the American people that you were the one responsible for bringing Martin McGuinness into the IRA.

Mickey: Yeah. Yep. I was desperate for recruits and unfortunately I made that blunder. It wasn’t the only one – there were a couple of mistakes you know – but he was by far the biggest. Well hopefully he won’t be about much longer…

John: … It’s just his own re-writing of history because he said he left the IRA in 19…

Mickey: …Let it be known – tell President Trump don’t bother inviting him to the White House on Saint Patrick’s Day – he probably won’t be about.

Martin: Well we don’t want to wish anybody bad health or ill health or anything, Mickey. Let’s clear that up. We hope everybody – that he recovers and certainly we are going to go into the implications if he does step down. He has talked about retiring and we don’t want to see anybody ill. It’s just a matter of the fact that because he has such an important position in The North of Ireland that his medical condition becomes newsworthy for this programme. Okay. John, go ahead.

No, I…

Mickey: He was almost done there because in the last election in Doire he only got in on the seventh count. He scraped in, just made it. So I think he’d have been out one way or the other anyway.

John: Yeah.

Mickey: His day is coming.

John: And Mickey get on the record about his time in the IRA. He claimed – well Adams claims he was never been in the IRA – but Martin McGuinness has claimed that he left the IRA in 1976.

Mickey: ’74 – he claimed.

John: Oh, even earlier.

Mickey: Yeah. I got out of jail in 1975 and he was in it then. He claimed he left shortly after – he actually claimed he left shortly after Bloody Sunday, ’72.

John: Yeah. Well Mickey, any other news? And what’s your assessment of the Republican Movement now, or what’s left of it in the Six Counties, with all the fragmentation that’s going on? And is there any Republican resistance to Sinn Féin as a political party?

I think you’re going – the thing took time and there was a lot of mistakes made and a lot of different wee sort of groups come along and it was actually the natural run of things – it wasn’t so bad. Martin’s probably familiar with some of the – you know quite familiar with some of the groups. But they never were really going anywhere but they were keeping the candle lit. And it’s one of these things that – I was criticised there a lot of years ago by people that you know well, John. I suggested people stop what they were doing, sit back and think, organise for three or four years- ach, no! I got accused then – Oh, Mickey wants to call the war off, you know? Well that’s all another matter but I think that’s happening now. People are reorganising, there’s a good structure going and I do think it’s, for the first time in say ten-fifteen years, I do see a bit of light at the end of the tunnel.

And how do you think about what Eamonn McCann and the People Before Profit – do you see them, if there is a snap election coming up, will they be making any inroads whether in either Doire or Belfast?

Mickey: They haven’t got a great sort of working machine and I think the boost in Doire was from some of the Bloody Sunday people who worked very well on their behalf. They need to get out and at it. They’ve quite a good wee organisation in Belfast and they could well – I don’t see much scope in Doire but you never know, they might do better but I couldn’t see them electing two people in Doire but they certainly might add another one to Belfast.

John: Yeah. Well listen, Mickey…

Mickey: …Belfast really including the Shinner thing, you know?

John: …thanks for coming on and giving us that. And Martin, I’ll bail out now with Mickey because now Ed Moloney will give us more of the broader prospect of what it means – Arlene Foster will step down or McGuinness will be stepping down for medical reasons – or what will be the political future in 2017.

(ends time stamp ~ 26:55)


  1. This is perhaps the worst article the quill has ever hosted. A few minutes of my life ill never get back. Had it not have disclosed it was a radio show id have thought it a transcript of a few guys half tore in the local drinking den.

  2. If someone attacked me and my missus with studded bats on a persons orders, I too would wish them ill, but privately.I wouldnt publicly welcome it or joke about it, it just looks awfully crass.Anyone that saw his (MMG) interview on resigning would be sympathetic to his current plight.

  3. Emmett Grogan

    It could have been a drinking den, who knows, however, you need to provide details, details, details, like how is it the worst?. As for myself I found it enlightening and well worth having in the records. Maybe you missed

    " Via The Transcripts John McDonagh (John) and Martin Galvin (Martin) speak to Doire Republican and ‘hooded man’ Mickey Donnelly (Mickey) via telephone from Doire about Martin McGuinness’ health."

    I give you a transcript is what it is. It may not have the grammer or prose but it is accurate

  4. James, its the worst due to its rambling incoherence; mainly on the part of mickey. Its tone resembles that of Katie Hopkins at her most obnoxious. It was trite and perhaps the first article on the quill that I'm no better off, either educationally or emotionally or even pleasurably intrigued having read. To put it politely and in fitting with the tone and context of the piece, it's, as they say in the Belfast vernacular, "a loda oul pishy ballix so it is"

    onwards n upwards anyhow.
    Happy new year :)

  5. This is entirely the type of article that should be on the site (if censor offender is to mean anything) . Republicans should embody the best of the community,at the very least be better than those we want to replace. This interview was a wasted opportunity to 'go high, when they go low', and offer some sympathy (even if not truly felt), it would of played much better. Not everything true needs to be aired publically, we have cubicles around toilets for this very reason.

  6. Martin McGuinness wont be worrying about it. A couple of hundred people turned up in the Bogside last night to help him relocate to Denis Donaldson's vacant cottage.