Thursday 21 February 2019

How economy was crippled by Adams' Marxist terror plan

JIM CUSACK

GERRY Adams enjoys the company of millionaires on his fundraising trips to the US, but at the time of the Don Tidey kidnapping he was a leading figure in an IRA faction that was spouting Marxist ideology and kidnapping and murdering businessmen.

Brendan 'Bic' McFarlane had rejoined Adams's faction immediately after breaking out of the Maze prison in 1983, where he had been serving a life sentence for the murder of four men and a woman, all Protestants, in the Bayardo Bar on the Shankill Road, Belfast, on August 13, 1975.

Gardai believed that McFarlane and another Maze escapee, Seamus McElwaine, were present in the dug-out at Derrada Wood, Leitrim, when recruit Garda Gary Sheehan, 20, of Carrickmacross, Co Monaghan, and Private Patrick Kelly, 35, of Moate, Co Westmeath, were shot dead.

McFarlane and McElwaine were the prime suspects for these murders. It is unlikely McFarlane will face further charges and McElwaine, who is believed to have killed over a dozen Protestants and part-time members of the security forces, was killed in a shoot-out with the British army in Fermanagh in April 1986.

The kidnapping of Don Tidey, chairman and chief executive of Associated British Foods which owned the Quinnsworth chain, was part of a campaign by the IRA faction directed by Gerry Adams that was aimed not simply at raising ransom money but also undermining the economies of Northern Ireland and the Republic.

Three months before Mr Tidey was kidnapped, the IRA had attempted to kidnap the ABF owner, Canadian entrepreneur Galen Weston, at his estate at Roundwood, Co Wicklow.

Gardai intercepted and arrested that gang, which included Dubliner Nicky Kehoe, later to become a Sinn Fein councillor and candidate in the 2002 general election.

After the failed attempt to kidnap Mr Weston, the IRA turned to his chief executive, Don Tidey. While driving to work on the morning of November 24, 1983, he was waved down at what appeared to be a garda checkpoint.

Mr Tidey's 13-year-old daughter, Susan, was in the car. She and her brother, Alastair, who was following in his car, were bundled to the side of the road as the gang drove off with Mr Tidey. The subsequent manhunt was one of the largest mounted by gardai.

At one point detectives detained the Quinnsworth security manager after it was suspected that an attempt was being made to negotiate with the IRA over its stg£5m demand. Three men were eventually imprisoned for their part in the kidnapping, but McFarlane remained out of reach.

He was arrested in Holland along with Gerry Kelly, now a Sinn Fein junior minister at Stormont, while trying to smuggle arms, and remained imprisoned, firstly in Holland and then in the North, until the early 1990s.

With the advance of the peace process and the release of all terrorist prisoners no moves were made to seek McFarlane's extradition. He was arrested in Dundalk in 1998. McFarlane has had a relatively low-key career since. His name cropped up in the Robert McCartney case when one of the witnesses told the court that McFarlane was a member of the IRA leadership in Belfast which interrogated him after the murder.

What did not emerge in the coverage of his trial was that the kidnapping was part of a campaign aimed specifically at extorting money from and driving business out of Ireland. Ben Dunne had been kidnapped at the border in 1981. It was never publicly revealed whether or not a ransom was paid.

While these high-profile kidnappings remain relatively well-known, there is little attention paid to the campaign aimed at driving business and investment out of Ireland.

In February 1983 the IRA also kidnapped the world's most valuable race horse, Shergar, from the Aga Khan's Ballymany Stud on the Curragh. The horse apparently died, or was killed, within days and its remains were never found. This struck a blow against Ireland's bloodstock industry, making foreign owners nervous of coming here.

Gerry Adams was seen as a leading figure in this "anti-capitalist" campaign, if not personally involved in the crimes. In the early 1980s, when he was angling for leadership of the political wing of the republican movement, Adams was propagating hard-line Marxist views which were at odds with the far more conservation Southern-based republican leaders.

The IRA had been kidnapping people for years. Tiede Herrema, managing director of German company Ferenka, was kidnapped in October 1975 and held for 36 days in Monasterevin before being freed by gardai.

Another German businessman, Thomas Niedermayer, of Grundig, Dunmurry, was less lucky. Kidnapped in December 1973, he either died or was killed in captivity. His remains were found in a shallow grave at Colin Glen on the outskirts of Belfast in 1980.

His widow, Ingeborg, never recovered emotionally from the ordeal she and her family went through and she was found drowned at Greystones in 1990, believed to have committed suicide.

Unlike the kidnap and extortion campaign in the Republic, the IRA's anti-business campaign in the North involved a number of prominent assassinations. Jeffrey Agate, managing director of the Du Pont chemical factory, and vice-chairman of Northern Ireland branch of the Confederation of British Industry, was shot dead as he arrived home in February 1977.

James Nicholson, 45, former business journalist and director of a PR firm hired by Strathearn Audio, in west Belfast, was shot dead in March 1977. The company, one of the few to locate in Catholic west Belfast, went out of business in 1980.

Other prominent businessmen assassinated by the IRA in the North included: Robert Mitchell, 69, retired prominent Co Armagh businessman and unionist, shot dead at home in February 1977; Joseph Glover, director of Ballantine's timber yard, and former president of Londonderry Chamber of Commerce, shot dead in November 1976; Peter Hill, 45, director of Derry's biggest furniture and draper firm, shot dead at home on February 1977; and Donald Robinson, managing director of Apex Ceilings, in Belfast, shot dead in March 1977.

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