A NEW book on notorious Boston gangster Whitey Bulger to be released next month sheds new light on the capture of gun running boat the Marita Ann which led to the jailing of Kerry Sinn Féin TD Martin Ferris in 1984.
The book, Whitey Bulger: America's most wanted gangster and the manhunt that brought him to justice has been written by Boston Globe journalists Kevin Cullen and Shelley Murphy and features an entire chapter about Bulgers' role in supplying arms to the IRA and especially the Valhalla-Marita Ann gun-running affair. Bulger has long been linked to the capture of the Marita Ann with secret recordings that have emerged in several court cases indicating he revealed details of the US end of the plot, which he had helped orchestrate in Boston, to the FBI.
The new book contradicts aspects of this accepted version of events noting that when Bulger agreed to work for the FBI he insisted he would not give up the IRA. The FBI agent who approached him didn't care about the IRA, and was actually sympathetic to the Provos and the book alleges that Bulger exploited his FBI protection to actually step up his work with the IRA.
According to the book once the FBI agreed to his terms Bulger dramatically increased his involvement in helping the provisional IRA sending guns hidden in furniture on container ships, hidden in the bottom of a van and also in a container ship, sent to Ireland via France.
The book details how Joe Cahill, the man in charge of the IRA's arms importation programme, was smuggled into the US posing as a Boston Bruins hockey fan on a bus of drunken Bruins fans from the blue collar and mostly Irish Boston neighbourhoods of Southie and Charlestown.
They did this four times, and one of those times Cahill went to Bulger's's hideout, Triple O's bar in Boston, where Cahill commissioned Irish-American mob in Boston to procure weapons for the Provos.
This meeting, according to the book, led to the Valhalla and Marita Ann gun running plot in 1984 which fell apart when informants in Ireland, namely Seán O'Callaghan in Tralee, and in the US, most likely Bulger himself, alerted authorities who seized both ships and seven tonnes of arms. Martin Ferris, who ran the Irish end of the operation was subsequently jailed for ten years for his role in the plot.
The book contains many new details about that voyage went including how Irish-American John McIntyre ferried the guns over to the Marita Ann in high seas in a small dinghy, hand over hand holding to a rope that connected the two ships on rolling seas.
His reward when he returned to Boston was to be tortured and murdered by Whitey Bulger who, wrongly as it turned out, accused McIntyre of giving up the shipment.
McIntyre had been cooperating with DEA and Customs, following his arrest for an unrelated offence, but it's understood his evidence about the plot came after the Marita Ann's capture and did not lead to the initial discovery of the plot. When Bulger's FBI handler John Connolly found out what McIntyre had said to the FBI from the agent who interviewed him he told Bulger who abducted McIntyre and interrogated him before killing him, perhaps as a cover for his own role in revealing the Marita Ann plot.
The book is released on April 9.