Magill and Jim Flynn
1. The Cult of Death
We unreservedly condemn the killing of Jim Flynn. There is absolutely no justification for such killings and the INLA attempted "explanation" is entirely hyoppcritical.
The INLA and its sister organisation, the IRSP, has been consistently vocal on the issues of civil liberties and on Garda brutality. They were also prominent in opposing the death penalty when last there was controversy about that. The IRSP is currently involved in waging a campaign to have one of its members, Nicky Kelly, released from jail because his conviction has been based solely on a statement he made allegedly under duress while in Garda custody. Magill has been prominently associated with this campaign and continues to be so because of the civil liberty and humanitarian issues involved.
It is entirely hyopcritical therefore for members of the INLA to gun down a man in cold blood, allegedly on the grounds that they had "proof' that Flynn was responsible for the killing of Seamus Costello. Even if they did indeed have such proof, there would be a gross denial of civil liberty in "convicting" Flynn without giving him a chance to ) defend himself. But to actually take his life raises the affair to a new dimension of horror. Whatever one says of the Gardai and the other institutions of state, they have never actually arbitrarily taken a person's life on the basis of their private "proof' that the person has been guilty of some crime.
It must therefore be a pre-condition for anyone involved in the Nicky Kelly release campaign that they condemn the murder of Jim Flynn. Otherwise the campaign becomes disscredited and merely the cypher for those who wish to hypoocritically proclaim their concern for civil liberties.
There is another dimension to the killing of Jim Flynn which is also deserving of attention. It concerns the cult of death which stalks the republican movement of all hues, including the Provisionals, the Officials (now incorrporating The Workers Party) and the IRSP/INLA. All revoolutionary military organisations inevitably become infected with an indifference towards human life because of the exiigencies forced upon them by oppressive forces.
The main culprit for the cheapening of life within the republican movement must remain British imperialism. But there is on top of that a sordid self-inflicted and nurtured culture which regards life with indifference, which embodies a language of obscene disregard for life, where stories are told of the infliction of death in an off-hand and sometimes boastful manner.
This is a cancer which has degraded the republican tradiition and indeed degraded our society as a whole and, most of all, those people who have become directly infected by it - i.e. the republicans themselves. This assertion is not made from a pacifist position, for we recognise that there are cirrcumstances in which it is justified to take human life - e.g. we would not condemn a war of liberation in South Africa waged by the oppressed Black majority there, neither do we condemn the military campaign of the revolutionary movement in El Salvador.
The point we are making is that the gratuitous taking of life has become almost a cult within republican organisaations in this country and that this is cancerous and abominnable. Jim Flynn's murder represents another manifestation of this disease.
2. The significance of Jim Flynn
The killing of Jim Flynn has removed from the leadership of the Official IRA one of its key operatives and one of its most charismatic figures.
He was an organiser for Clan na h-Eireann in Bristol in the early 'seventies and even then was involved in the Offiicial IRA. He was deported from there in 1975 under the Prevention of Terrorism Act and immediately joined the GHQ staff of the Officials. Some time afterwards he was made Director of Operations.
He was perhaps the most effective operator the Official IRA had known since the dismissal of Seamus Costello from the organisation in 1974. Because of this he won both a great deal of respect in the movement and considerable loyalty.
Inevitably, given the role of the Official IRA since the mid-seventies, he was involved primarily in robberies and also in the "defence" of the movement and in "disciplinary" actions.
He was widely believed to have been involved in the killing of Seamus Costello in October 1977, but that involveement would not have stemmed from any animosity personnally towards Costello - it would have arisen solely because he was under the orders of a senior member of the Official IRA.
In the course of researching the articles on the Official IRA for the April and May issues of Magill, we made freequent attempts to contact Flynn to authenticate from him personally the .information that had been received in this connection. In an interview in connection with the series the President of Sinn Fein, Tomas MacGiolla, and the geneeral secretary, Sean Garland, both denied on tape knowing anything about Flynn and stated they had never heard of him. Given Flynn's position in Clan na h-Eireann in Enggland, this was surprising.
Flynn's funeral was attended by several prominent memmbers of the Official IRA, including some people recently released from jail having served sentences on robbery charrges. It was also attended by well known members of The Workers Party, including Gerry Doherty, the finance direcctor of the party, Eamon Smullen, the director of'.the ressearch section of the party, Padraigh Yeates. a member of the Ard Comhairle of the party, and Fergus Whelan, a promiinent trade unionist and member of the party.
The anxiety of members of The Workers Party to deny knowledge of Jim Flynn's existence coincided with their denial of any knowledge of the existence of the Official IRA for several years. In the May issue of Magill we cited numerous cases over the last 8 years where the existence of the Official IRA was well known to anybody who read the daily newspapers carefully and where several people who acknowledged their membership of the Official IRA were convicted for various offences. The denials on the part of Tomas MacGiolla and of Sean Garland of any knowledge of the existence of this organisation was therefore all the more perplexing.
The revelation that Jim Flynn was Operations Director of the Official IRA is therefore an embarrassment to leaders of The Workers Party. While we stated that Flynn was not a member of the party, Gerry Doherty told The Irish Times that he was a member but perhaps not a card carrying memmber and that he had done occasional work for the party.
3. The funeral at Crossmaglen
Gene Kerrigan reports from the scene of the funeral on Monday June 7, 1982.
There was approximately one hundred people, almost exclusively male, standing around the steps and the gates of St. Patrick's church in Crossmaglen. Inside the church lim Flynn s funeral service was proceeding, attendded by a fairly large congregation including females.
The males outside gathered in informal groups, waiting for the service to end. We made our way through the groups, up the wide steps of the church. The photographer went to the left to talk to another photographer, I went inside the church.
As I moved over to join the photographer a voice that I couldn't identify, from a group that included Gerry Doherty, the Workers' Party s finance director, said that "there won't be one fucldng photograph taken at this funeral, not one. "
Moments later Padraigb Yeates, editor of the Workers' Party s paper, The Irish People, and also a committee memmber of my branch of the NUl, joined us. He said that he didn't think it wise that we be there, that he didn't mind, but that there were friends of lim Flynn s here who objected to our presence and there might be trouble.
Gerry Doherty came over. Doherty, who was a close friend of Flynn's, was obviously distressed at his friend's death. He said that there would be "heads and cameras broken" if we didn't leave. -
We asked Yeates' advice and he said that there were "people down there" who wanted us out of the cemetery and things might get out of hand. If they did he would try to stop them but it was his opinion that we would not be allowed leave the scene with film and would be attacked if we stayed and reported the funeral.
Doherty returned several times, each time more agitated, and three men who had been listening came around behind us. We decided to leave.
Yeates offered to walk through the crowd with us and did so. He said that there were people present who were "not members of anything" and who were old friends of Flynn s and emotions were running high. At one point he used the phrase "freelance gangsters. "
4. The Workers' Party allegations about Magill
Proinsias de Rossa T.D. and Gerry Doherty, the Finance Director of The Workers Party, have both stated pubblicly that the editor of Magill bears responsibility for the murder of Jim Flynn because of what was written about Flynn, albeit without naming him, in the April issue of the magazine.
Everything that was written about Flynn in the course of that article was already well known to the INLA, the Official IRA, many members of the Workers Party, people on the fringe of these organisations and the Gardai. Thereefore there was/is no question of Magill supplying informaation which might have led to the killing of Flynn.
In a statement to The Sunday Tribune the INLA said that they took the unusual step of engaging in armed action in the Republic because recent publicity about the continued existence of the Official IRA made such action more pubblicly acceptable. The suggestion is that the publication of information about the conspiracies to murder, intimidate, brutalise, rob and infIltrate on the part of one organisation, makes similar activity by other organisations more publicly acceptable. The opposite is surely the truth.
Within an hour and a half after the shooting of Jim Flynn on Friday, June 4, there was an anonymous telephone call to the Magill office stating that "Vincent Browne will not get away with setting up Jim Flynn." The caller went on to say that Vincent Browne would be "got" and that he had better get out of town.
The tenor of this threat was very much along the same lines as the public statements of Proinsias de Rossa and Gerry Doherty in that in each case there was the assertion that Vincent Browne was indirectly responsible for the shooting.