Adams article fuels Republican dispute
by Ed Moloney, Sunday Tribune
The Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams has intensified the dispute with Republican dissidents in his own west Belfast constituency by calling the two authors of a newspaper article blaming the Provisional IRA for the recent killing of Joe O’Connor, “fellow travellers” of the Real IRA.
Writing in the current edition of the New York-based Irish Voice newspaper Adams also said that the writers – Anthony McIntyre and Tommy Gorman of the Irish Republican Writers Group – were being “totally cynical and manipulative” and were motivated by a desire “to get at the peace process and at Republican strategy”.
Adams’ article comes as one of the pair, McIntyre is considering quitting his Ballymurphy home because of Sinn Féin-orchestrated intimidation. Ten days ago pickets were placed on his home while two gangs of men equipped with walkie-talkie radios waited in nearby houses for McIntyre to turn up. Tipped off by friends he decided not to return to the house and his pregnant girlfriend Carrie Twomey said last week that she didn’t feel safe staying there.
The pickets claimed McIntyre and Gorman had endangered the lives of IRA members in Ballymurphy who have been identified locally as the gunmen who shot O’Connor, the Belfast Commander of the Real IRA, as he sat in a car outside his home in the Ballymurphy estate. The pair deny this and say the only purpose of their article published in the Belfast Irish News shortly after O’Connor’s death was to establish collective Provisional IRA responsibility. The IRA itself and a number of Sinn Féin councillors have denied this although now it is widely accepted they are not telling the truth.
In another example of heavy-handedness two senior members of the Provisional IRA visited McIntyre’s home the day after the Irish News article appeared and allegedly told him the pair “would be held to account” if any IRA members were harmed as a result of what had been written. The pickets followed soon after.
Although Adams attacked the pair in his Irish Voice article, unlike the Sinn Féin picketers he did not accuse them of endangering IRA members. In two other omissions which may be significant the SF leader did not condemn the killing nor did he say who he thought had been responsible for the death which took place in the heart of his constituency and in the strongest Republican area in Belfast.
In a statement issued yesterday McIntyre and Gorman denied that they had any sympathy for the Real IRA. Calling Adams’ charge a “dangerous McCarthyite claim” they said they had made clear in their article their “stringent opposition to the Real IRA” and their opposition to retaliations for the killing.
With speculation rife about the motives for the Provisional IRA action, Adams’ decision to maintain pressure on dissidents, even those opposed to armed struggle, suggests that a strategic decision may have been taken to eliminate opposition to the Army Council’s strategy in areas where currently the Provisionals hold sway.
October 28, 2000