O'Sullivan should have heeded gardaí's reports before absolving the IRA
Published 26/08/2015 | 02:30
Garda Commissioner Nóirín O'Sullivan may have been well advised to be more reliant on police reports before sitting down to write a soothing letter of comfort to Sinn Féin last February.
It has now emerged that she had illuminating and insightful reading material at her fingertips before deciding that An Garda Síochána "has no information or intelligence" that the IRA has retained its military structure.
Sinn Féin and the Provos had reason in rushing to discredit the work of 'Sunday Independent' journalist Jim Cusack. Less so the commissioner. Cusack had painstakingly exposed the environmental nightmare being caused in Monaghan, Louth and Armagh as a result of the Provos' oil-laundering rackets along the Border.
One of the reports at Ms O'Sullivan's fingertips is the case file on the gruesome murder of Paul Quinn.
It provides a sobering insight into the retained militaristic, authoritarian control structures of the Provisional IRA - the organisation which had supposedly gone away for two years when a mob beat the young man to death.
After all, it was An Garda Síochána in Monaghan, backed up by several specialist units in Dublin including the anti-terrorist Special Branch, which investigated the murder with the help of the PSNI.
Everything about the suspects - their names, ages, pictures, connections and status in the IRA and Sinn Féin - is clearly laid out in an easy-to-read format in the large investigation file.
Also available to the Garda top brass was intelligence from the Criminal Assets Bureau, led by Chief Superintendent Eugene Corcoran.
In March 2006, his predecessor in CAB, Felix McKenna, was a central player in the first major cross-border investigation set up to tackle the Republican movement's multi-million-euro oil-laundering and smuggling rackets in the Bandit Country of south Armagh.
In the years since, then the Bureau has compiled several volumes of evidence which underlines the nexus between Sinn Féin and the Provos in controlling an illegal industry which turns over enough cash to run a small nation.
These rackets and everything else that happens in the surreal world of Bandit Country centres around Thomas 'Slab' Murphy, the former IRA chief of staff and the unchallenged godfather of racketeering.
During the carefully planned search operations, the CAB uncovered an alternative economy worth hundreds of millions of euro - they even found a purpose-built torture chamber where the evaporated IRA interrogated their victims.
A few days after the first swoops, Sinn Féin president Gerry Adams made no effort to hide his rage at the authorities' temerity in molesting his comrades.
Commissioner O'Sullivan's intelligence branch will also have noted newspaper reports in briefings.
"Sinn Féin supports the pursuit of criminal assets wherever that occurs and we don't have any problem with that," Mr Adams said. But he did have a difficulty with what he described as "military super-raids".
He betrayed his naivety of the difficult environment for the security forces in the heart of his favourite county.
"They could have sent in five guards and five peelers to sort this out," he moaned.
He said at a press conference: "I am particularly concerned at the attempt that is in all the media about an attempt to demonise a man called Tom Murphy…
"Tom Murphy is not a criminal, he is a good republican. I read his statement after the (previous) Manchester raids (denying any involvement in criminality). I believe what he says.
"He is also, very importantly, a key supporter of the Sinn Féin peace strategy and has been for a very long time."
When Mr Adams was then asked if he believed Murphy was just a farmer, he replied: "Yes, I have no reason to suspect anything else."
Of the allegations that his good friend Murphy was on the IRA army council, Mr Adams declared: "Whatever about all of that - and there is no evidence to support any of that - I want to deal with what is an effort to portray Tom Murphy as a criminal, as a bandit, as a gang boss, as someone who is exploiting the republican struggle for his own ends, as a multimillionaire. There is no evidence to support any of that.
"If he denies being a member of the IRA, then I have to accept that."
And so it seems that many others apart from Gerry Adams have now fallen for that old fallacy.
But if none of this interested the Garda hierarchy, in the force's attempt to disassociate itself from the past and create a new veneer, there was a file at Phoenix Park HQ which might have raised alarm bells.
Last year, gardaí in Co Louth sent a detailed intelligence report to Garda HQ, for the attention of their commanders, detailing the allegations being made by IRA child-abuse victim Paudie McGahon.
Paudie and another man were both raped by an IRA volunteer while he was hiding out in their home in Ardee during the early 1990s.
When the victims first brought this to the attention of their elders and wanted to go to the gardaí in 2001, they were dissuaded from doing so.
The story that Paudie has bravely told - and which there is much corroboration to back up - is that the IRA organised a kangaroo court to "investigate" the claims.
This was another example of the republican movement, despite stopping its "war", showed the self-belief that it was above the law.
The contents of Paudie's statement, which, due to its potentially politically incendiary revelations, was no doubt read by the commissioner, was clear evidence of a high-handed effort to pervert the course of justice in the Irish Republic.