'Big Bobby' - Gerry Adams' can-do guy
Jim Cusack on how Bobby Storey has been calling the shots - inside and outisde of prison - for years
Published 13/09/2015 | 02:30
The September 1983 mass escape of 37 IRA men from the Maze Prison is important in understanding Bobby Storey, Gerry Adams' 'enforcer' who was released on Friday after two days questioning over the IRA murder of Kevin McGuigan.
Storey (59), then serving an 18-year sentence for possession of a rifle during a gun battle with the British Army, was central to the brilliant strategy and two years of preparation that resulted in the biggest break-out in modern IRA history from what was touted as Europe's most secure prison.
The key to the escape was the conditioning of prison staff to believe that after the 1981 hunger strike, the remaining prisoners were content to meekly serve out their time.
The plan worked perfectly. The warders were lulled into complacency until the Provos took control of the jail and sprung almost all their top operatives. Storey was unlucky to be quickly recaptured.
Apply the same strategic thinking and intricate preparation that Storey was central to in the Maze to what the rest of the world knows as the Irish 'peace process'.
To the IRA it is a series of 'projects' - the 'Six-County' one, the 'Memory' one (historical revision) and the '26-County' one, all interweaving to achieve its ultimate aim of a 'united Ireland'.
In a December 2008 interview with the Sinn Fein newspaper, An Phoblacht, Bobby Storey actually laid out the broad plan: "No matter whether I was in or out of jail, it was all the same struggle if with different styles of struggle. Republicans are about getting a united Ireland and there's no reason to stop struggling until we achieve that.
"We're building for government - we're a government in waiting."
The key part of this strategy is the conditioning of an entire generation of British and Irish civil servants, politicians and 'establishment' media to believe that the 'peace process' is an end in itself, that the IRA have become happy inmates of the peace prison.
Storey was the previously unheard of Belfast man who sent the diktat to every elected Sinn Fein representative ordering them how to handle media questioning over the Mairia Cahill rape affair.
If the Provos' government-in-waiting were to become a reality - and a series of political blunders by the other parties could bring this about - 'Big Bobby' from west Belfast will be the man calling the shots.