Anthony McIntyre
shares his thoughts on Bobby Storey who died last week. The piece first featured in the Belfast Telegraph.
 

RIP Bobby. It was one of the first things I posted online shortly after former blanketmen from Derry and Belfast contacted me within minutes of each other on Sunday with the news that the senior IRA volunteer, Bobby Storey, had died. Rest In Peace, in spite of my many differences with him, was a simple but direct disavowal of the gloating that would surely emerge from some republican quarters following his death.

People are free to remember him in whatever way they wish. Already there are enough bidding him devil-speed to the fires of some non-existent Hell. That reveals more about their corporeal selves than his figurative eternal soul. I do not intend to add my voice to the caustic cacophony.

His final breath was the catalyst for the hybrid outpouring of invective and veneration from those who at some point in their political lives accompanied him on his military odyssey. He was a polarising figure who was considered either awesome or awful. Those who knew him least will in all likelihood seek to describe him most.

Prior to his death earlier this week in a UK hospital, he had been ill for a number of years. It is said that initially he suspected he had been poisoned. While there would be no shortage of treacherous colleagues willing to assume the role of Livia Drusilla and offer the poisoned figs for their own ends, it seems more likely that a family history of COPD brought him down.

Those of us who knew him from his teenage years and spent time under his leadership both in and out of prison share both bad and good memories of him. He could be a great cell mate but a harsh jailer.

Bobby Storey was an immensely courageous and determined IRA volunteer who invariably led from the front. But he did that in all circumstances: first, when the IRA was at war with the British and subsequently when the IRA was at war with the republicanism it had abandoned. Just as he sought to make life difficult for the members of the British state security services, he also sought to make it difficult for many republicans who had served alongside him because they refused to sign up to a project that only ever made sense in terms of expanding and extending the political career of Gerry Adams.

Bobby Storey was an IRA volunteer before all else. But this meant that being in the IRA was always of more importance to him than where the IRA might be going. Whether it went to the right or the left, London or Dublin, revolution or reform, these were things that played no part in his thinking. The many dimensions that make up political and strategic nous failed to compute in the one-dimensional mind of Bobby Storey who had an unshakable belief in the indefectibility of the IRA and the infallibility of its leadership.

A man of immense practical intelligence coupled with a tactical verve and administrative ability, he was remarkably bereft of all political and strategic acumen. No matter what volte face was required, he would make it to preserve the IRA and his place within it. Not that he was a careerist like so many others, just that the IRA was the Alpha and Omega of his existence.

It is not that Bobby Storey abandoned everything he ever believed in. Politically, there was extraordinarily little that he did believe in other than the IRA. Mary Lou McDonald might well claim that at the time of his death he believed in a united Ireland. If he did it was a belief in a united Ireland on nothing but British terms – only by consent; terms which he had spent his entire warrior days trying to coerce into oblivion. His politics were those of armed resistance to the British state. When that ceased, he was left with no politics. No longer a military migraine for the British security establishment, he became an IRA enforcer for the Adams political career project.

Because of his role as director of IRA intelligence some have drawn comparisons with Michael Collins. A more accurate antecedent rests in the figure of Richard Mulcahy, an IRB and subsequent IRA leader who became a key player in the violent enforcement of the Treaty against those who maintained fidelity to a republican project.

We who knew him, revering him for many things and reviling him for many others, understand that he both led and misled us in equal measure. For that I neither gloat nor grieve.

⏩Follow on Twitter @AnthonyMcIntyre

Bobby Storey

Anthony McIntyre
shares his thoughts on Bobby Storey who died last week. The piece first featured in the Belfast Telegraph.
 

RIP Bobby. It was one of the first things I posted online shortly after former blanketmen from Derry and Belfast contacted me within minutes of each other on Sunday with the news that the senior IRA volunteer, Bobby Storey, had died. Rest In Peace, in spite of my many differences with him, was a simple but direct disavowal of the gloating that would surely emerge from some republican quarters following his death.

People are free to remember him in whatever way they wish. Already there are enough bidding him devil-speed to the fires of some non-existent Hell. That reveals more about their corporeal selves than his figurative eternal soul. I do not intend to add my voice to the caustic cacophony.

His final breath was the catalyst for the hybrid outpouring of invective and veneration from those who at some point in their political lives accompanied him on his military odyssey. He was a polarising figure who was considered either awesome or awful. Those who knew him least will in all likelihood seek to describe him most.

Prior to his death earlier this week in a UK hospital, he had been ill for a number of years. It is said that initially he suspected he had been poisoned. While there would be no shortage of treacherous colleagues willing to assume the role of Livia Drusilla and offer the poisoned figs for their own ends, it seems more likely that a family history of COPD brought him down.

Those of us who knew him from his teenage years and spent time under his leadership both in and out of prison share both bad and good memories of him. He could be a great cell mate but a harsh jailer.

Bobby Storey was an immensely courageous and determined IRA volunteer who invariably led from the front. But he did that in all circumstances: first, when the IRA was at war with the British and subsequently when the IRA was at war with the republicanism it had abandoned. Just as he sought to make life difficult for the members of the British state security services, he also sought to make it difficult for many republicans who had served alongside him because they refused to sign up to a project that only ever made sense in terms of expanding and extending the political career of Gerry Adams.

Bobby Storey was an IRA volunteer before all else. But this meant that being in the IRA was always of more importance to him than where the IRA might be going. Whether it went to the right or the left, London or Dublin, revolution or reform, these were things that played no part in his thinking. The many dimensions that make up political and strategic nous failed to compute in the one-dimensional mind of Bobby Storey who had an unshakable belief in the indefectibility of the IRA and the infallibility of its leadership.

A man of immense practical intelligence coupled with a tactical verve and administrative ability, he was remarkably bereft of all political and strategic acumen. No matter what volte face was required, he would make it to preserve the IRA and his place within it. Not that he was a careerist like so many others, just that the IRA was the Alpha and Omega of his existence.

It is not that Bobby Storey abandoned everything he ever believed in. Politically, there was extraordinarily little that he did believe in other than the IRA. Mary Lou McDonald might well claim that at the time of his death he believed in a united Ireland. If he did it was a belief in a united Ireland on nothing but British terms – only by consent; terms which he had spent his entire warrior days trying to coerce into oblivion. His politics were those of armed resistance to the British state. When that ceased, he was left with no politics. No longer a military migraine for the British security establishment, he became an IRA enforcer for the Adams political career project.

Because of his role as director of IRA intelligence some have drawn comparisons with Michael Collins. A more accurate antecedent rests in the figure of Richard Mulcahy, an IRB and subsequent IRA leader who became a key player in the violent enforcement of the Treaty against those who maintained fidelity to a republican project.

We who knew him, revering him for many things and reviling him for many others, understand that he both led and misled us in equal measure. For that I neither gloat nor grieve.

⏩Follow on Twitter @AnthonyMcIntyre

2 comments:

  1. Like Mulcahy ... an enthusiastic and extrajudicial enforcer of a pacification process?

    ReplyDelete
  2. By this point TPQ policy is pretty clear.

    Comments from "Unknown" are not published on the blog unless signed off with a distinguishing tag or pen name. It need not be your own name.

    That is not because there is something wrong with the comment per se. But with too many commenters seeking to post as “Unknown”, it leads to confusion and can feed the growth of sock puppets.

    You can retain your anonymity but use a distinguishing name to avoid being confused with others who also seek to post as “Unknown.”

    Simply sign off as "X" or whatever handle you choose.

    Your “X” will mark your spot and remain your handle exclusively.

    ReplyDelete