Anthony McIntyre ✒ Twenty-two years ago this very day, we had just returned home from the BBC where myself and Tommy Gorman had been interviewed by David Dunseith on Talkback. 

The subject matter was the Provisional IRA killing of Joe O'Connor the previous Friday. That morning a joint piece by the two of us in the Irish News had laid the blame for the killing firmly at the door of the IRA. The evening before, in the offices of the paper, its editor had expressed concerns about our safety following publication. His fears would prove not to be groundless.

The Irish News piece led to the IRA issuing a denial. Like many later denials of other activities it had been responsible for this one had no substance and was blatantly false. By early afternoon the apprehensions of the Irish News editor began to prove well founded.

In our living room sat Brendan Hughes where he was being interviewed by a Boston journalist, Jim Dee. I looked out the window and said, here's the IRA. The journalist immediately said I know Bobby. It was a reference to one of two men about to ring the doorbell, Bobby Storey. I answered the door and invited them in. In the kitchen I offered them tea or coffee in the sure knowledge that I was going through the motion of a polite formality. They were there for neither coffee nor pleasantries. It was the calm before the storm. The night before I had drunk more than a few cups of Irish coffee in the home of Victor Notarantonio, an uncle of the slain man. Like the Irish News editor he too had concerns about safety. I suddenly wished I had remained sober and availed of the benefits of a clear and pain-free head.

Immediately the IRA figures raised the issue of the article in the Irish News. Storey, wearing a combat style jacket, tapped his shoulder to indicate rank - that it was the senior echelons of the IRA in our home and not some local who I might be tempted to tell to fuck off. They denied the IRA had any role in killing Joe O’Connor. My response was to ask them if not the IRA, then who. Storey nonchalantly but chillingly said I don't give a fuck who killed him but it wasn't us. I responded that in such circumstances he would hardly mind an investigation along the lines that Tommy Gorman and myself had called for.

That seemed to rile his colleague who assumed a menacing posture. He asked with more than a hint of menace are you looking an inquiry into the IRA? My response increased his anger: So the IRA did it. We faced up in the centre of the kitchen. He placed his forehead against mine although not violently, more like boxers do during the battle of wills before they step into the ring. My heavily pregnant partner - we would later marry – moved to intervene. Storey raised his hand in a calm down gesture, telling her not to worry about the standoff in front of her eyes, that we all knew each other from jail and understood the rules of the game. It was one of the lighter moments during what was a very tense affair. Yeah, this is how we conduct business in West Belfast, nothing to get excited over - that type of thing. 

When we both stepped back, the man who seconds earlier had his head pressed to mine said to my partner that she needn’t stand there like little Ms Innocent, a pregnant woman merely defending the father of her child, that she too had been up to her neck in maligning republicans online. She lit on him, telling him to learn how to turn on a computer before raising objections to matters that had appeared on the internet.

They left the house as quickly as they arrived, their parting shot a sarcastic dismissal  that I could inform the press that they had been by. I lifted the landline phone right beside the front door and said I’m ringing them now.

As much as I resent their calling to my home in what was an overt act of intimidation, Storey at least was courteous, almost as if this was a routine type of thing he had to do. He was assertive without being aggressive. I guess he felt he did not need to be given that he carried the authority of the IRA.

Later the Boston journalist would publicly state that he had heard a heated row from behind two closed doors but was unsure of what was said. 

I knew both men pretty well, having spent considerable time in their company over many years. I knew the calibre of the opposition on the day. I had made my bed so was prepared to lie in it. My wife just said she felt they were like the LA gangs she knew of in California. Not only did she take no nonsense from Storey’s colleague on the day, later when Sinn Fein assembled a mob outside our house when she was home alone she stepped into the garden and faced them down. We can never forget the neighbour from across the street who pushed her way through the mob, and stood alongside her in the garden, giving out spades about ganging up on a pregnant woman.

It's water under the bridge now although it irrevocably changed my relationship with the local Provisional IRA and Sinn Fein members, raising their animus towards me to a new level. There was the exception but most of them never spoke to me again. Given what has since come to pass, I can hardly say I miss most of them.

When I look back on those dark days in Springhill, I now wonder if anyone among the assembled mob reflects that all of their energy might just have been expended in protecting a British agent at the heart of Joe O’Connor’s killing. Up until recently I thought Christine was a supernatural car Stephen King wrote about. Now I think it is indicative of the spectre haunting the IRA.

⏩ Follow on Twitter @AnthonyMcIntyre

A Visit From The IRA

Anthony McIntyre ✒ Twenty-two years ago this very day, we had just returned home from the BBC where myself and Tommy Gorman had been interviewed by David Dunseith on Talkback. 

The subject matter was the Provisional IRA killing of Joe O'Connor the previous Friday. That morning a joint piece by the two of us in the Irish News had laid the blame for the killing firmly at the door of the IRA. The evening before, in the offices of the paper, its editor had expressed concerns about our safety following publication. His fears would prove not to be groundless.

The Irish News piece led to the IRA issuing a denial. Like many later denials of other activities it had been responsible for this one had no substance and was blatantly false. By early afternoon the apprehensions of the Irish News editor began to prove well founded.

In our living room sat Brendan Hughes where he was being interviewed by a Boston journalist, Jim Dee. I looked out the window and said, here's the IRA. The journalist immediately said I know Bobby. It was a reference to one of two men about to ring the doorbell, Bobby Storey. I answered the door and invited them in. In the kitchen I offered them tea or coffee in the sure knowledge that I was going through the motion of a polite formality. They were there for neither coffee nor pleasantries. It was the calm before the storm. The night before I had drunk more than a few cups of Irish coffee in the home of Victor Notarantonio, an uncle of the slain man. Like the Irish News editor he too had concerns about safety. I suddenly wished I had remained sober and availed of the benefits of a clear and pain-free head.

Immediately the IRA figures raised the issue of the article in the Irish News. Storey, wearing a combat style jacket, tapped his shoulder to indicate rank - that it was the senior echelons of the IRA in our home and not some local who I might be tempted to tell to fuck off. They denied the IRA had any role in killing Joe O’Connor. My response was to ask them if not the IRA, then who. Storey nonchalantly but chillingly said I don't give a fuck who killed him but it wasn't us. I responded that in such circumstances he would hardly mind an investigation along the lines that Tommy Gorman and myself had called for.

That seemed to rile his colleague who assumed a menacing posture. He asked with more than a hint of menace are you looking an inquiry into the IRA? My response increased his anger: So the IRA did it. We faced up in the centre of the kitchen. He placed his forehead against mine although not violently, more like boxers do during the battle of wills before they step into the ring. My heavily pregnant partner - we would later marry – moved to intervene. Storey raised his hand in a calm down gesture, telling her not to worry about the standoff in front of her eyes, that we all knew each other from jail and understood the rules of the game. It was one of the lighter moments during what was a very tense affair. Yeah, this is how we conduct business in West Belfast, nothing to get excited over - that type of thing. 

When we both stepped back, the man who seconds earlier had his head pressed to mine said to my partner that she needn’t stand there like little Ms Innocent, a pregnant woman merely defending the father of her child, that she too had been up to her neck in maligning republicans online. She lit on him, telling him to learn how to turn on a computer before raising objections to matters that had appeared on the internet.

They left the house as quickly as they arrived, their parting shot a sarcastic dismissal  that I could inform the press that they had been by. I lifted the landline phone right beside the front door and said I’m ringing them now.

As much as I resent their calling to my home in what was an overt act of intimidation, Storey at least was courteous, almost as if this was a routine type of thing he had to do. He was assertive without being aggressive. I guess he felt he did not need to be given that he carried the authority of the IRA.

Later the Boston journalist would publicly state that he had heard a heated row from behind two closed doors but was unsure of what was said. 

I knew both men pretty well, having spent considerable time in their company over many years. I knew the calibre of the opposition on the day. I had made my bed so was prepared to lie in it. My wife just said she felt they were like the LA gangs she knew of in California. Not only did she take no nonsense from Storey’s colleague on the day, later when Sinn Fein assembled a mob outside our house when she was home alone she stepped into the garden and faced them down. We can never forget the neighbour from across the street who pushed her way through the mob, and stood alongside her in the garden, giving out spades about ganging up on a pregnant woman.

It's water under the bridge now although it irrevocably changed my relationship with the local Provisional IRA and Sinn Fein members, raising their animus towards me to a new level. There was the exception but most of them never spoke to me again. Given what has since come to pass, I can hardly say I miss most of them.

When I look back on those dark days in Springhill, I now wonder if anyone among the assembled mob reflects that all of their energy might just have been expended in protecting a British agent at the heart of Joe O’Connor’s killing. Up until recently I thought Christine was a supernatural car Stephen King wrote about. Now I think it is indicative of the spectre haunting the IRA.

⏩ Follow on Twitter @AnthonyMcIntyre

6 comments:

  1. I'd have loved to have seen their faces when the read the files from Castlereagh.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Who was the alleged tout codenamed "christine"?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Not hard to work out looking at the above.

      Delete
  3. Lol have been told that the reason those files were borrowed from Castlereagh was not to (as many suspect) to discover who was a tout , but in actual fact it was the reverse they wanted to know who the fuck wasnt one ,Mo Mowlam as good as admitted that the RAmurdered Joe O Connor when she refered to it as "a bit of internal housekeeping "the stormont poodles have now become so well house trained that the DUP are jealous of them ,

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Marty,

      That was clearly a spook operation the only question is what was it's purpose? To embarrass the cops? To embarrass the PRM? Either way that was MI5 through and through.

      Delete
  4. Could be sign of things to come if and when they really have power

    ReplyDelete