Derry-born Tommy Collins has passed away – you may have known Tom Collins as the Director of Kings, The Boys of St. Columbs, Teenage Kicks: The Undertones and more.
I and many others knew Tommy Collins as the 16 years young Provisional IRA Volunteer whom the Derry Brigade of the IRA sent out to do “a job” targetting British soldiers at the junction of the Lecky Road and the Brandywell area on Wednesday, Nov 14, 1973.
When 16 year old Tommy Collins fired his Armalite rifle at an armoured car containing British soldiers and missed, 14 year old Kathleen Feeney was in his further line of fire and took an Armalite bullet in the head.
Kathleen died despite the best efforts of British soldiers who were rendering first aid to her on the ground in spite of the risk to them of further IRA gun attacks.
Kathleen Feeney was from Quarry Street in the Brandywell – her brother Danny was an SDLP Councillor for the area – a man totally opposed to IRA violence, a man whom we all knew.
The Derry Brigade of the IRA began its habitual response to any of its many killings of a ‘Derrywan’ – it put into operation Lies and Cover Up of Another Job Gone Bad.
Under the overall leadership of Martin McGuinness – who was also on the IRA’s GHQ Staff at the time – the IRA put out a number of false statements which were lapped up by the worshipful locals:
The Brits had shot Kathleen Feeney.
The IRA had later shot dead the British soldier who had shot Kathleen Feeney.
McGuinness treated local supporters like mugs – because they acted like mugs in believing absolutely everything the IRA said without question:
These entirely fanciful tales and blatant lies were McGuinness’ stock in trade down the years – his lies and denials outnumbered those who followed his coffin to his IRA grave.
But the Derry Brigade of the IRA did not think too far ahead at these times of local crisis – a lie in time saves nine…
Two years later a number of teenagers were arrested and interrogated – Tommy Collins, Christy Tucker, Billy Page, Eamon O’Hagan and Mickey Bradley.
Tommy Collins made written and verbal statements to police and was later charged with the murder of Kathleen Feeny, the attempted murder of soldiers, possession of an Armalite rifle and ammunion and membership of the IRA.
He also later faced a charge of possession of a parcel bomb along with well-known female IRA volunteer Christine Sheerin and also a charge of armed robbery.
At court Tommy initially denied all the charges in spite of his verbal and written statements to police.
Tommy was not exactly popular with the Derry Brigade of the IRA at the time for spilling the beans on the shooting of Kathleen Feeny and undermining Martin McGuinness’ absurd tissue of lies.
Tommy was also depressed in the IRA wing of Crumlin Road Gaol about the Kathleen Feeny murder charge having been made public.
I was in “A” Wing of “the Crum” with him at the time.
At trial and after a number of legal submissions, Tommy suddenly accepted a plea deal, which was unusual behaviour for IRA volunteers – he agreed to plead guilty to possession of the Armalite rifle and ammunition for a sentence of 7 years and was cleared of the other charges.
A guilty plea was always preferable to the authorities in any trial – it cut short trial time, it did away with time spent on appeals, it showed how IRA members would recognise the authority and jurisdiction of British courts when it suited them and it validated Royal Ulster Constabulary police work that was made difficult by the IRA’s campaign of murder of police officers.
In a later trial, he received a further concurrent sentence of 7 years for the armed robbery.
Tommy was moved to Magilligan prison enjoying Special Category Status and served out his sentences in the IRA compounds with the generous British grant of 50% remission for good behaviour.
Following his release from prison, Tommy determined to put some distance between himself and the IRA and make some kind of life for himself – but all based on his intention to deny ever having been in the IRA, to deny having received convictions for IRA activities, but above all to deny any memory of Kathleen Feeney.
He harnessed his talent in film and documentary.
Tommy still wanted to enjoy the company and recognition of leading IRA members from time to time, even posing for ‘selfies’ with them – but he did not want to be ‘outed’ for his IRA past.
In 2005, after 32 years of blatant lies, the Derry Brigade of the IRA was forced into admitting that it had indeed shot Kathleen Feeney.
IRA Commander Martin McGuinness made sure the IRA’s published statement didn’t mention him or his efforts to create the initial denials and lies back in 1973.
The IRA GHQ Statement in full:
In 2008 Tommy contacted me and asked me to participate in a documentary about various boys who has been to St. Columb’s College where such luminaries as John Hume, Seamus Heaney, Phil Coulter, Paul Brady, Seamus Deane and Irish Ambassador James Sharkey had all been leathered.
He wanted me to speak about the generation that came after in St. Columb’s, many of whom – like me – were inducted into the IRA as 15 year young teenagers – he wanted me to tell his story but by keeping his past out of it.
“Now these people would not be aware of my other talents or my various hotel stays as yourself….. So as far as I’m concerned don’t mention the War.”Tommy Collins email
Tommy had failed the 11-plus and instead studied at the Christian Brothers Technical College adjoining St. Columb’s College (where my father taught in the Primary School for 40 years).
I agreed to participate but later learned that at a screening after much filming, a huge row had broken out with RTE and the BBC at the inclusion of the later St. Columb’s IRA generation – we were cut from the documentary entirely.
“I thought about going on the blanket and smearing RTE with shit then again would they notice?
On a better note, fuck them all.”Tommy Collins email
In early 2016 Tommy contacted me for a lot of help with the script for Penance because he was unsure of much about his long unpracticed Catholicism.
I usually mentioned Kathleen Feeney to Tommy – he would only reply that his mental state was good on that point.
In December 2017 Tommy messaged me that he was preparing to receive chemo in London for 6 months for the treatment of cancer.
I rang him and during our conversation, I asked him directly about Kathleen Feeney – his chilling reply summed up the IRA Movement’s attitude to innocent victims.
With the IRA people we knew in the partitionist Northern Ireland parliament of Stormont and in the partitionist Free State Irish parliament of Dáil Éireann, with IRA members in Stormont overseeing the imprisonment of “dissident” IRA volunteers in Maghaberry Prison, with British rule still evident in Northern Ireland and with many IRA members having been on Her Majesty’s payroll for many years past, the question had to be asked:
Where’s the Revolution that justified all the blood shed by the IRA in its torrent of Human Rights atrocities?
As surely as the IRA is in permanent denial of its Human Rights atrocities – as surely as Sinn Féin is in permanent denial of the IRA’s Human Rights atrocities, I’m afraid Tommy Collins could never actually face up to his shooting of Kathleen Feeney that traveled down the years inside him like a cancer.
Time for Truth?
No, it’s unfortunately always time for IRA Sinn Féin Lies and Denials.
IRA Volunteer and long-term liar and deceiver Paul O’Connor, Director of the Pat Finucane Centre, was a Bogside gunman and bomber contemporary of Tommy Collins, pictured here close to the spot where Tommy Collins later shot Kathleen Feeney in the head.
O’Connor also had no problem with decades of lies and denials of his IRA past while posing as a Human Rights activist.
All of the hundreds of innocent Kathleen Feeneys of the IRA’s failed campaign to bomb and shoot a million Protestants into a forced Unitary Ireland were immediately betrayed the moment the Irish and British governments secretly agreed to offer the IRA leadership a total amnesty for its 30 years of directing terrorism and Human Rights atrocities in return for giving up its campaign of bombing and murder.
Lies and Denials were to be the foundation of the IRA’s primary contribution to the Belfast Agreement, which continue to this day unchallenged by the governments and enthroned as the way to build a peace process – a methodology not followed by the Spanish government in its dealings with ETA.