U.S. woman forced from Belfast home
By Jack Holland
Irish Echo, October 25-31, 2000
When 29-year-old Carrie Twomey arrived in Ireland from Los Angeles last April, she had no idea that within six months she would be caught up in one of the most bitter and potentially deadly republican disputes in years. It recently forced her to flee her home in Ballymurphy, West Belfast, where she was living with her partner, Anthony McIntyre, a former IRA man. Last week, a picket turned up outside her door protesting McIntyre’s criticism of the IRA for allegedly murdering Joe O’Connor, a member of the breakaway Real IRA, on Oct. 13.
“I don’t feel comfortable going back to the house,” said Twomey, who is six months pregnant. “I don’t feel safe.”
She said that it was not the picket that frightened her so much as the two gangs of men who, she alleges, were nearby, with walkie-talkies. “That was very sinister,” she said.
McIntyre and another former republican, Tommy Gorman, had published an article in The Irish News last week identifying the IRA as being responsible for O’Connor’s murder. Though the IRA has since denied involvement, McIntyre and Gorman spoke to witnesses who said they knew the gunmen were IRA operatives.
There were pickets also outside of Gorman’s house. They accused Gorman and McIntyre of endangering the lives of IRA members.
McIntyre denies this.
“We didn’t want names,” he said. “We just identified the Provisional IRA as an organization.” McIntyre claims that they published the article in order to try and stop the Provisional-RIRA dispute from escalating into an all-out feud.
“We had created space,” he said. But the IRA and Sinn Fein did not see it that way.
Shortly after the article appeared, two leading members of the Belfast Brigade came to the Twomey-McIntyre home and began a “shouting match,” according to Twomey. They allegedly told the couple that they “would be held to account” if any IRA volunteers were affected by what had been written.
An American reporter was in the house when the incident occurred. He says he was in another room and did not hear any threat. However, he said “it was a heated discussion, heard through two doors.”
One of those involved in the alleged threat has a long history of IRA activity and has been previously named by a Belfast journalist as having threatened him.
A bulletin board, to which Twomey is linked, the Alternative Republican Bulletin Board, has since closed down. Picketers outside the McIntyre and Gorman homes attacked Fourthwrite, the magazine run by the Irish Republican Writers Group, of which they and other disaffected republicans are members.
“We are challenging Sinn Fein only with our words,” said Twomey. She believes the party and the IRA is trying to suppress criticism of the leadership, which has come under fire from Fourthwrite contributors many of whom were former Provisionals. They include Brendan Hughes, ex-officer commanding of the Belfast Brigade and hunger strike leader. Hughes was one of the pall bearers at the O’Connor funeral.
When in the IRA, McIntyre served 18 years for murder. On his release, he did a PhD at Queen’s University. His thesis: “A Structural Analysis of Modern Irish Republicanism 1969-1972”.
He has become known for his trenchant critiques of the IRA leadership’s current strategy. He condemns the Real IRA and says he belongs to no republican organization, though he still regards himself as a traditional “Provisional.”
“Irish activism was always in my family,” said Twomey. She said she came to Ireland because, “I wanted to contribute something of substance.”
Sinn Fein did not return a request for comment on these allegations.