What, if anything, can we learn from The IRA’s Three Monkeys’ Circus Tour to Carrickmore, County Tyrone, of late where the attendees were each charged £10 on the night?
Has it come to this? Three pension-age Provos – like Michael Stone trapped in Stormont’s porch – caught forever in the revolving tales of The Good Old Days of bombs and bullets – unable to move forward, exclusively Provo to the bitter end…
And harking back – always harking back – to the violent, bloody and fatal high jinks of their past to infect young people with the contagion of the glorification of murder and maiming and hurt – nothing learned – the pneumonia of armed struggle coughed upon the youth of tomorrow by old fogeys who can’t remember virtue, know no shame and love the Queen’s head on banknotes.
Lundy betrayed Derry for a bap – what these three Provos wouldn’t do for a tenner!
If there’s one thing these three are good at, it’s getting arrested and re-arrested and imprisoned, not escaping.
I met Brendan ‘Bik’ McFarlane back in the Crum in the summer of 1975 – he had been captured after his bombing raid on The Bayardo Bar which murdered four Protestant civilians and one UVF member. It was supposed to be an IRA retaliation for The Miami Showband Massacre of two weeks earlier – but who asked the IRA to retaliate by murder?
Brendan got captured within minutes along with ‘Skeet’ Hamilton and ‘Cleakey’ Clarke – he was not a very successful Provo then – and got five life sentences for murder.
Bik’s bomb victims included civilians Linda Boyle (17) and Joanne McDowell (29) after civilians William Gracey (63) and his brother-in-law Samuel Gunning (56) were riddled in the doorway of the bar by a gunman using an Armalite rifle.
One UVF man, Hugh Harris (21) was killed in the bombing.
Would the Belfast Brigade of the IRA have cared about 4 Prod civilians getting stiffed at the time? Nah.
After Bik escaped from the Kesh, he apparently joined an Active Service Unit on the continent but was captured yet again actually napping in a flat in Amsterdam. A cache of weapons and explosives was discovered later, which the ASU appears not to have had time or occasion to use.
After his release from prison, Bik was arrested yet again, this time by Irish police and fought a ten-year legal case denying involvement in the kidnapping of supermarket executive Don Tidey in the Republic of Ireland, during whose gunbattle rescue the IRA shot dead an Irish soldier, Private Patrick Kelly, and a trainee Garda Gary Sheehan – no ‘green book’ refusal to turn guns on Irish security forces on that occasion.
The case against Bik collapsed after a decade and his appeal to the ECHR about delays in finalizing the case won him 1,500 tenners in compensation, which he gratefully accepted. Provos are great at appealing to international Human Rights’ bodies!
Gerry ‘Boltcutter’ Kelly was captured after his first job as well.
He and nine others were sent over from Belfast (by whom – go on, let me take one wild guess…) to bomb London with a car bomb at New Scotland Yard which was defused and another at The Old Bailey which exploded injuring 200 civilians and resulting in the death of one, Frederick Milton (60), who suffered a fatal heart attack.
Two other car bombs were defused outside a BBC studio and a post office.
It was pretty dumb of all 10 of the bombers – Kelly, the Price sisters, Hugh Feeney and others – to be arrested at the airport attempting to return to Ireland.
Gerry got two life sentences and a concurrent twenty years for this failed raid.
After his escape from the Kesh, Gerry got arrested again alongside Bik in the Amsterdam flat and keys found on them later opened a storage unit containing 14 rifles, 100,000 rounds of ammunition and nitrobenzene explosives.
These were presumably to be used to enforce Irish Human Rights across the continent?
These two of the IRA’s Three Monkeys’ Circus Tour spent more time incarcerated than they did on the run.
Gerry Kelly has been minting it in Stormont taking home an MLA’s salary (and expenses) for twenty years. Why charge Carrickmore rednecks a £10 entry fee, Gerry?
If Big Bobby Storey had a fistful of Northern Bank notes for every day he spent arrested, remanded, interned and sentenced – why, he could easily buy out Shinner media mogul Mairtin O’Muilleoir and then some!
Bobby has been getting caught for years, since he was 17 years young. He’s been interned, sentenced to 18 years for a gun attack on two soldiers, arrested, charged (and later acquitted) on the attempted helicopter escape of IRA Chief of Staff Brian Keenan from Brixton prison, questioned about the Northern Bank robbery, and questioned about the murder of former IRA hitman Kevin McGuigan.
I hear my Trolls already – Bobby HAD TO BE questioned about everything because of his day job – didn’t Irish Journalist of the Year Ed Moloney write that “Bobby Storey went on to become the IRA’s Director of Intelligence and is credited (if that is the right word) with some spectacular operations, not least the bombing of Thiepval barracks in 1996 (on the eve of an IRA Convention called to overthrow Adams) and the robbery of some £26 million from the Northern Bank in central Belfast in 2004… whilst the final disposition of the stolen £26 million still remains something of a mystery and a source of speculation. Bobby Storey spent something like twenty years in jail for one reason or another but did manage once to escape, albeit only briefly.”
[If Big Bobby was Director of IRA Intelligence, he sure missed Denis Donaldson spying at the heart of the IRA, never mind Nutter/Torturer Alfredo Scappaticci spying at the heart of the IRA and in the innards of the Provos’ Internal Security Network.]
John Adams, the prison officer who was shot in the head during the escape, claimed that Gerry Kelly shot him.
Another prisoner officer, James Ferris, was stabbed and suffered a fatal heart attack. Others were tied up and terrorised. Are their stories told by the three?
One ex-prisoner missing from the Circus tour is former IRA volunteer Brendan Mead who has described himself as a born again Christian.
He was chosen to begin the escape attacks on prison officers because he was reputedly ‘the fittest man in the Kesh’.
Asked if he would watch the new movie on the subject, Mead replied, “I don’t even know if I would watch it, it’s not something that drives me. That’s not my life anymore. It’s part of my past. It’s something that I participated in. I don’t try to glorify that past; it’s a reality and I have to acknowledge that I was a full, consenting, participant in it all… I believed in my mindset at that time that it was a necessary thing to do. There was only one negative thing about it and that’s that some people were badly injured and their lives were destroyed by it.”
Described nowadays as ‘leading Sinn Féin’ members, which of the following options do these three IRA men intend should be the outcome of their traveling circus?
- Better and more inclusive relations between nationalists and unionists
- Instilling a wholly peaceful and democratic ideology into young nationalists
- Ensuring the disbanded and decommissioned IRA is a thing of the past
- Convincing victims of IRA violence that Sinn Féin/IRA respect them and their feelings from a standpoint of integrity
- Keeping alive the notion that the IRA hasn’t really gone away
- Glorifying the practice of violence over democratic politics
- Teaching a ‘cúpla focal’ [‘a few words of Irish’] to the illiterate Carrickmore Gael in support of an Irish Language Act
- Cynically whipping up tribal feelings prior to a by-election
- Preparing the United Ireland welcome for Protestant Unionists
- Acting like dickheads who should know better
Or is a more fundamental message being communicated in parallel to the Gael north and south that while there may be two female appointees heading the Sinn Féin party, the REAL power in the background still lies with the unrepentant testosterone of the IRA?
This would match The Great Cult Father Gerry Kim Wrong-Un Adams’ SPIEGEL online interview where he opined that “It’s still my view that the use of armed actions is legitimate.”
That’s really setting Mary Lou and Michelle in true puppet perspective…
Basically, the IRA and the IRA mindset aren’t leaving Sinn Féin any time soon.
Clonard Monastery will probably complete this IRA circus with a Mass of Remembrance for the Deceased Volunteers of D Company, cementing newly-warmed church and SF/IRA relations for the foreseeable future.