Friday 23 March 2018

Aide 'active in IRA while he worked in Dail for Sinn Fein'

Ferris's adviser Treacy 'ran classes for new Provo recruits'

Claims: Sinn Fein TD Martin Ferris worked with Treacy
Claims: Sinn Fein TD Martin Ferris worked with Treacy
Maeve Sheehan

Maeve Sheehan

A former republican prisoner has claimed he was working in Leinster House as a Sinn Fein parliamentary assistant while he was an active member of the IRA.

Matt Treacy claims he was recruitment officer for the IRA's Dublin Brigade at the same time as serving as an adviser to the Sinn Fein TD Martin Ferris, according to his memoir detailing the last days of the republican organisation.

He further claims IRA intelligence officers were brought into Leinster House after the 2002 general election to sweep Sinn Fein TDs' offices for bugs, and discovered "evidence" of electronic surveillance.

Treacy, a one-time IRA fugitive who spent four years in Portlaoise Prison, took a redundancy package after the general election last year to leave his job after falling out with Sinn Fein over what he says were its attempts to force him to hand over part of his salary to the party.

His memoir, A Tunnel to the Moon: The End of the Irish Republican Army, is styled as "his personal experience as an IRA member" at a time when the IRA was being disbanded.

Sinn Fein said this weekend Treacy's claims were "very malicious" and untrue and that he was disgruntled with the party.

Two years ago, Sinn Fein dismissed a British report that found the army council oversees both the Provisional IRA and Sinn Fein with "an overarching strategy".

Although Treacy was not a member of the IRA army council, he claims he was in the organisation's Dublin Brigade for 30 years until it was disbanded in 2005.

Treacy, from Dublin, joined the IRA in the 1980s and was part of an IRA "intelligence unit" that took over a flat opposite Garda headquarters on Harcourt Street to photograph members of the Garda's special branch. He was charged after the flat was raided and went on the run for two years after being released on bail. He was re-arrested in 1990 and served his time in jail.

He says he returned to IRA activities in 1997, first doing "low-level intelligence" then as recruitment officer for the Dublin Brigade. At the time he was studying at Trinity College and claims he worked shifts in the Irish Independent's advertising department. He concealed his republican activities from students and colleagues.

In 2002, a senior Sinn Fein figure him asked if he was interested in a job in Leinster House and he accepted.

He started working for Ferris in 2002 and had an office in the LH2000 building. "We had the offices checked for bugs and found evidence of electronic surveillance which was not surprising given Martin's prominence in the ongoing negotiations," he wrote.

He says he continued as a recruitment officer for the IRA while he was on the Leinster House payroll for at least a year. Once, he claims, an IRA volunteer rang him in his Leinster House office to see if "the class that is supposed to be on northside tonight" was still on. Treacy hung up.

Treacy also outs himself as the person he believes Gay Mitchell was referring to when the ex-Fine Gael TD asked in the Dail if the IRA was spying on people in Leinster House.

Treacy claims he "disengaged" with the "shambles" that was the Dublin Brigade within a year of taking up the post of parliamentary adviser.

One of Treacy's main grievances with Sinn Fein was what he claims were the party's attempts to force him to forgo part of his public-sector salary to take the average industrial wage and give what was left to the party. Treacy refused.

Until earlier this year, the party that champions workers' rights had a policy that its public representatives should earn no more than the average industrial wage of €37,000. The party's TDs and ­Senators on salaries of €65,000 to €87,000 and staff on public sector grades diverted the surplus to constituencies and the party. The party raised the threshold this year.

Treacy says he learned of Sinn Fein's "one set wage" policy for employees only two years into the job. "Discreet inquiries indicated to me that not everyone was receiving the same money," he writes. "Some were having their mortgages and cars paid and childcare paid for... they were being looked after under the table."

According to Treacy, Sinn Fein chased him for his contribution to the party for the next 10 years. His job was secure only for the lifetime of a government. As general elections approached, he would set up direct debits to transfer funds to the party and would cancel them again once the new Dail had formed. Treacy claims his contract was with the Oireachtas and not Sinn Fein.

He claims Sinn Fein introduced contracts for staff in 2011. Treacy says he refused to sign it.

He claims he eventually called the Siptu union after Sinn Fein's head of human resources said Treacy owed the party €50,000 "in arrears" and would sack him if he did not pay.

He met Siptu officials in the Leinster House coffee dock where he knew he would be seen. "I never heard another word, nor gave them another cent," he writes.

In a statement, Sinn Fein said: "Many Sinn Féin activists make entirely voluntary donations to support the development of the party. This is their choice. Mr Treacy did not make any significant donation to the party over the 14 years he was employed at Leinster House. That was his choice."

Treacy told the Sunday Independent he is still a republican but does not support Sinn Fein or dissident groups.

He added of the IRA: "I don't regret having been involved and think that Adams and others did right thing by calling an end to it. But I don't delude myself that we won."

Sunday Independent

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