Anthony McIntyre
muses on why an alleged party member asked for clearance from the Sinn Fein leadership before assisting Gardai in a murder investigation.

The conviction of Crossmaglen man Aaron Brady for the capital murder of Garda Adrian Donohoe sparked a wave of public commentary which saw Sinn Fein caught in the wash. There was no compelling reason for the party to find itself immersed in controversy about a killing for which it bore no responsibility. Yet as the product and prisoner of its own history, it is not unremarkable that it should find a media microphone planted right beneath its nose just before a question was fired about its attitude to law enforcement. 

According to the now retired senior Garda detective Pat Marry, during the murder inquiry he approached a Sinn Fein TD to establish if a party member would be free to assist the force in its pursuit of Adrian Donohoe's killers. The member allegedly had heard Aaron Brady boasting of his exploits.  

Darren O’Rourke, an East Meath TD for the party, said it was his belief that the Garda approach was made to the then Louth TD Gerry Adams. Adams would at the time have been President of Sinn Fein but Marry in making his move would have been aware that he was talking to a former Provisional IRA chief of staff and a person who sat on the body’s ruling army council for decades. The significance would not have been lost on Marry, nor the distinction between monkey and organ grinder. Marry needed to obtain assurances from the power behind the throne that there would be no sting in the tail for the potential witness. 

Darren O’Rourke waxed puzzled as to why Marry might feel the need to get the nod of approval from Sinn Fein in the first place:

The party has been very clear that in so many cases and so many instances that people should come and make statements and if they have information bring to the guards or the PSNI.

This might ring more true today than it did seven or eight years when the situation was not so clear. Just over a year after the murder of Adrian Donohoe, when Adams himself was arrested on suspicion of involvement in the disappearance and killing of Jean McConville, Sinn Fein was at its most vociferous and venomous, labelling as touts and informers people who had not even assisted policing agencies but who had merely taken part in an oral history project that was upended by the British state. Danny Morrison and others fronted a Sinn Fein campaign of vilification against those involved. Intimidation strutted on stilts in a failed bid to force acquiescence in the suppression of any discussion the party felt deleterious to political careers. 



In such a toxic atmosphere it is understandable that a witness might be reluctant to assist the Gardai without first running it past the party leadership. 

There are other factors that any witness then might have had to consider before coming forward with evidence about the murder of a Garda. Sinn Fein had a history of not robustly opposing the deaths of Gardai. Some of its senior leaders served on the army council of the Provisional IRA, a body that claimed the lives of more than a few Gardai over the course of its armed struggle. The senior party figure Martin McGuinness, still alive and well at the time of the Donohoe murder, had been very clear in his 1985 interview in Hot Press Magazine where he specified the conditions under which IRA volunteers could kill members of An Garda Siochana.

in certain circumstances, like in Ballinamore where IRA volunteers felt they were going to be shot dead and were defending themselves against armed gardaĆ­ and soldiers.

That ruthless mindset coupled with the Morrison smearwa could only ever induce a safety first mindset of why take a chance? Much easier to have the leadership give the green light before making the offer to assist.  

O’Rourke claims also not to have known of the existence of the culture of fear in the party, which had  been routinely resorted to throughout its existence. This is in spite of the well documented litany of bullying and the activities of the online risk-averse goonda gang who thought vilifying was a safe way to conduct active service.  East Meath no doubt is hardly comparable to West Belfast where the party and the IRA were as one in intimidating and threatening people who spoke out against their more nefarious activities. Shoot to kill in broad daylight was permissible on the streets of Ballymurphy so long as those gunning down unarmed victims were linked to Sinn Fein and not the Parachute Regiment.  

There are some signs that with the autocratic Adams no longer President the party is stutteringly moving in the direction of becoming normalised. An instinctive and natural bully, he had made the party an extension of his own personality whereby the default position was to smear, malign, ostracise and intimidate. Since he stepped back into the shadows there have been calls from the party hierarchy for its members to desist from the online smearing campaigns for which it had become notorious. One smear merchant, Paul Hefferman, was forced to walk the plank after he was caught in the act.

Nevertheless, old habits die hard, and in a party that made a religious-like observance out of Elbert Hubbart's maxim If you can't answer a man's arguments, all is not lost; you can still call him vile names, the temptation to revert to form is not easy abandoned.

⏩Follow on Twitter @AnthonyMcIntyre

Hesitant Witness

Anthony McIntyre
muses on why an alleged party member asked for clearance from the Sinn Fein leadership before assisting Gardai in a murder investigation.

The conviction of Crossmaglen man Aaron Brady for the capital murder of Garda Adrian Donohoe sparked a wave of public commentary which saw Sinn Fein caught in the wash. There was no compelling reason for the party to find itself immersed in controversy about a killing for which it bore no responsibility. Yet as the product and prisoner of its own history, it is not unremarkable that it should find a media microphone planted right beneath its nose just before a question was fired about its attitude to law enforcement. 

According to the now retired senior Garda detective Pat Marry, during the murder inquiry he approached a Sinn Fein TD to establish if a party member would be free to assist the force in its pursuit of Adrian Donohoe's killers. The member allegedly had heard Aaron Brady boasting of his exploits.  

Darren O’Rourke, an East Meath TD for the party, said it was his belief that the Garda approach was made to the then Louth TD Gerry Adams. Adams would at the time have been President of Sinn Fein but Marry in making his move would have been aware that he was talking to a former Provisional IRA chief of staff and a person who sat on the body’s ruling army council for decades. The significance would not have been lost on Marry, nor the distinction between monkey and organ grinder. Marry needed to obtain assurances from the power behind the throne that there would be no sting in the tail for the potential witness. 

Darren O’Rourke waxed puzzled as to why Marry might feel the need to get the nod of approval from Sinn Fein in the first place:

The party has been very clear that in so many cases and so many instances that people should come and make statements and if they have information bring to the guards or the PSNI.

This might ring more true today than it did seven or eight years when the situation was not so clear. Just over a year after the murder of Adrian Donohoe, when Adams himself was arrested on suspicion of involvement in the disappearance and killing of Jean McConville, Sinn Fein was at its most vociferous and venomous, labelling as touts and informers people who had not even assisted policing agencies but who had merely taken part in an oral history project that was upended by the British state. Danny Morrison and others fronted a Sinn Fein campaign of vilification against those involved. Intimidation strutted on stilts in a failed bid to force acquiescence in the suppression of any discussion the party felt deleterious to political careers. 



In such a toxic atmosphere it is understandable that a witness might be reluctant to assist the Gardai without first running it past the party leadership. 

There are other factors that any witness then might have had to consider before coming forward with evidence about the murder of a Garda. Sinn Fein had a history of not robustly opposing the deaths of Gardai. Some of its senior leaders served on the army council of the Provisional IRA, a body that claimed the lives of more than a few Gardai over the course of its armed struggle. The senior party figure Martin McGuinness, still alive and well at the time of the Donohoe murder, had been very clear in his 1985 interview in Hot Press Magazine where he specified the conditions under which IRA volunteers could kill members of An Garda Siochana.

in certain circumstances, like in Ballinamore where IRA volunteers felt they were going to be shot dead and were defending themselves against armed gardaĆ­ and soldiers.

That ruthless mindset coupled with the Morrison smearwa could only ever induce a safety first mindset of why take a chance? Much easier to have the leadership give the green light before making the offer to assist.  

O’Rourke claims also not to have known of the existence of the culture of fear in the party, which had  been routinely resorted to throughout its existence. This is in spite of the well documented litany of bullying and the activities of the online risk-averse goonda gang who thought vilifying was a safe way to conduct active service.  East Meath no doubt is hardly comparable to West Belfast where the party and the IRA were as one in intimidating and threatening people who spoke out against their more nefarious activities. Shoot to kill in broad daylight was permissible on the streets of Ballymurphy so long as those gunning down unarmed victims were linked to Sinn Fein and not the Parachute Regiment.  

There are some signs that with the autocratic Adams no longer President the party is stutteringly moving in the direction of becoming normalised. An instinctive and natural bully, he had made the party an extension of his own personality whereby the default position was to smear, malign, ostracise and intimidate. Since he stepped back into the shadows there have been calls from the party hierarchy for its members to desist from the online smearing campaigns for which it had become notorious. One smear merchant, Paul Hefferman, was forced to walk the plank after he was caught in the act.

Nevertheless, old habits die hard, and in a party that made a religious-like observance out of Elbert Hubbart's maxim If you can't answer a man's arguments, all is not lost; you can still call him vile names, the temptation to revert to form is not easy abandoned.

⏩Follow on Twitter @AnthonyMcIntyre

4 comments:

  1. Morrison calling anyone else a tout? Fuck sake that's rich. And the more stories I hear of people needing the Shinners OK to speak the more I think that the Shinners are the Stasi in disguise!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. that's the rich thing about it Steve - most people point to that. As I often say the double act of Stakeknife and Snakeknife.

      Delete
  2. Anthony

    How dare Morrison Stoop Down so Low to smear your charcter like that?!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Barry - I know what Morrison is and he knows I know.

      Delete