IRA bomber says Gerry Adams sanctioned mainland bombing campaign
PUBLISHED September 23, 2012
A convicted IRA bomber claimed that Adams had sanctioned a series of attacks on London in 1972, including the bombing of the Old Bailey, which killed one man and injured 200 more.
The claims were made by a woman at the centre of a legal battle in America over testimony she gave to an academic research project into the Troubles.
The Police Service of Northern Ireland has been involved in lengthy legal action to obtain tapes made of Dolours Price, in which she discusses her activity in the IRA. The police believe her evidence will help solve a notorious series of murders involving victims known as the "disappeared", who were abducted and killed by the IRA in the belief they were "informers".
Price has given a fresh series of interviews in which she makes claims about Adams, which she says are the same as she made in the tapes being sought by the police. The bomber, who served eight years in prison for playing a leading role in the Old Bailey bomb plot, alleged that:
Adams was her "Officer Commanding" in the Belfast Brigade of the Provisional IRA;
He was involved in approving an IRA bombing campaign on mainland Britain and asked for people to volunteer for it, stating it would be a "hanging offence" if they were captured;
Adams ordered her to drive alleged informers across the border from Northern Ireland into the Republic, where they would later be executed.
Adams denies each of the allegations. A spokesman for Sinn Féin said last night: "The allegations purportedly made by Dolours Price are not new and have been vehemently denied by Mr Adams before. Mr Adams entirely rejects these unsubstantiated allegations."
The allegations have the potential to cause damage to the peace process, in which Adams has been a key player. He has always denied being a member of the IRA. Police in Northern Ireland want the tapes to help in their investigation into the fate of the "disappeared", 16 people murdered between 1972 and 1985. The most notorious case was that of Jean McConville, a widowed mother of 10 who lived in the Divis Flats, a Republican stronghold in west Belfast.
She was thought by the IRA to be providing information to the British Army about the identities of the terror group's members. She was abducted and killed in December 1972.
Her remains were found near a beach in County Louth in August 2003, but a long-running investigation by the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI) has yet to bring anyone to justice. That inquiry took a fresh twist when Price said in February 2010 that she had given important information about the "disappeared" to researchers from Boston College, an American university. She was one of a number of former members of the IRA who were interviewed on their terrorist activity, with the proviso their contribution would be secret until they died.
That, and the publication of the contents of another recording after the death of the IRA member who made it, started a legal battle by the PSNI, with the American government acting on its behalf to have the tapes released. Price's diehard Republican views - she opposes the IRA ceasefire and subsequent peace process - meant she would not co-operate with the police investigation. The college has lost its case to keep the tapes secret and are waiting for a last-ditch attempt to have the American supreme court hear their case. If they refuse, the tapes could be handed over within weeks, allowing PSNI detectives to assess what further action to take.
However, Price has agreed to be interviewed about what she told the Boston College researchers, and her claims of the contents of the tapes are published by The Sunday Telegraph today. They put her at odds with Ed Moloney, a documentary-maker who was commissioned to carry out the research for the college. Earlier this month, he issued a statement in which he claimed that there was no mention of Adams or Mrs McConville in Price's testimony.
In a series of interviews at her home in a suburb of Dublin, she outlined what she said she told the researchers and outlined allegations about Adams being a key figure in the IRA during the early 1970s.
Price is entirely unrepentant about her actions, which resulted in the death of at least one man and the injury of more than 200 people following the Old Bailey bombing, and the abduction of at least four people. She admits that she is angry at Adams for being involved in the peace process, and also his persistent claim that he was not a member of the IRA.
In the interviews she was asked if she considered this a betrayal and said: "A betrayal of the cause, a betrayal of me, a betrayal of anybody he sent out to do any kind of operation, or active service, and you know, who sent me to London? Who sent me to London to blow it up?... Gerry Adams. Yeah, fully sanctioned."
Price claims that Adams personally sanctioned her idea of taking the IRA's bombing campaign to the British mainland with attacks on establishment targets, such as the Old Bailey. She said: "I presented the plan to Gerry Adams and he then had to take it to the whole brigade staff, people such as Ivor Bell. They then had to send it up to the general headquarters staff and then to Seán MacStiofáin, then the chief of staff. They had to discuss and sanction it, which they did."
Asked if her attack on the Old Bailey and other London targets was directly ordered by Adams, she replied: "Well, because it was such a serious occurrence, it actually had to come from the chief of staff, who was down here [Dublin] at the time. So that would have been Seán MacStiofáin. But that would have filtered up to Gerry Adams, as the Belfast commander, to impart to us all." She claims Adams asked for volunteers from the three IRA "battalions" operating in Belfast at the time and said: "He asked each for 'four of the finest'." Price said the dozen met to be addressed by Adams. "When I got there I sat on the arm of Adams's chair," she said.
"Adams started talking and said it was a 'big, dangerous operation'. He said 'this could be a hanging job . . . if anyone doesn't want to go they should up and leave now through the back door at 10 minute intervals'. The ones that were left were the ones that went. I was left organising it, to be the OC of the whole shebang."
She claims she was chosen by Adams to be part of a select unit within the three battalions that made up the Belfast Brigade of the Provisional IRA.
The group of eight hand-picked members within the IRA, labelled the "Unknowns" within the organisation, were responsible for special operations, including internal investigations to weed out informers, with summary and brutal "justice". She claims she acted as a driver. The IRA acknowledged its ro
le in the deaths in 1999 and co-operated with an independent commission to find the bodies. Only seven have been found.
Price, now 61, said: "The hardest thing I ever did was drive those people away and deliver them to a group of people across the border. I never knew for sure their ultimate end. I was simply told by Gerry Adams to take the people away, a couple of lads or whatever. Some I knew their fate, some I didn't.
"It was part of my job within the 'Unknowns' to take them across the border to hand them over to others. I don't even remember some of the names, isn't that terrible?
"I drove away Jean McConville. I don't know who gave the instructions to execute her. Obviously it was decided between the General Headquarters staff and the people in Belfast. Gerry Adams would have been part of that negotiation as to what was to happen to her." Of Mrs McConville, she said: "I had a call one night and Adams was in a house down the Falls Road and she'd been arrested by Cumann women and held for a couple of days. She got into my car and as far as she was concerned she was being taken away by the Legion of Mary to a place of safety.
"It wasn't my decision to disappear her, thank God. All I had to do was drive her from Belfast to Dundalk. I even got her fish and chips and cigarettes before I left her." She added: "You don't deserve to die if you are an unpleasant person as she was but you do deserve to die if you are an informer, I do believe that. Particularly in a war, that is the Republican way."
Other victims she drove across the border included Seamus Wright and Kevin McKee, who both disappeared from Belfast in October 1972, after they admitted under interrogation working as double agents for the British.
Despite extensive searches by the Independent Commission for the Location of Victims' Remains, neither their remains, nor those of Joe Lynskey have been found. The bodies of four other of "the Disappeared" are still missing.
Price's accusations form part of her long-standing feud with Adams over his decision to persuade the IRA to abandon what it called the "armed struggle". In her interview, she acknowledged the revenge motive in talking to Boston College, and in making public her accusations.
She said: "I gave it [the interviews] for a kind of score settling reason. I wanted very much to put Gerry Adams where he belonged and where he had been. We had worked so closely with him, on many occasions and taken orders from him on many occasions and then to deny us, particularly after we had been through such a harrowing experience in prison . . . we were offended that he chose to deny us as much as he chose to deny his belonging to the IRA. He is a liar. To deny it is to offend those of us who partook in what we partook in."