Magill People - Feb 1978
BBC's program 'An Irish link with Terrorist International', the Coalisland Conference and Bruce Arnold's Novel
An Irish link with Terrorist International
BBC'S EXCELLENT documentary, 'International Terrrorism', revealed that Irishmen were involved in the international terrorist nexus, but no details of their involvement was given.
We contacted BBC reporrter, Tom Mangold, who connducted the investigation, and he informed us that a number of unnamed Irishmen had taken part in fighting on the Lebanese/Isreali border on the Palestinian side over the last few years and had been trained in camps in South Lebanon. He didn't know their political allegiance but believed some of them to have been connected with the Official IRA. However, the most flamboyant of them had previously been a Provo.
The most intriguing Irish involvement in Terrorist Innternational was that of a welllknown republican/socialist, now living in Dublin, whom Mangold insists took part in training exercises in Aden,
under the command of 'the chief of Terrorist Internaational, Wadi Haddah. This person, whom Mangold named - to us, got involved through the Dutch group, Red Aid, and also had close links with the Red Army Faction (the Bader-Meinhoff group).
Mangold doesn't know why this .person went on the terrorist exercise, if not to return to Dublin as a 'sleeper', a waiting instrucctions to join a hijacking or kidnapping attempt someewhere in Western Europe.
We spoke to this person about the Mangold allegaations and he described them as a fantasy, though he did say he had been in contact for purely political reasons with Red Aid. Mangold innsisted however, that he had several sources for his allegaation, including some intelliigence services and groups connected with the Palestiinians.
WE CAN BE forgiven a little indulgence, surely, if we wallow a little in the eccstatic praise heaped on Bruce Arnold's first novel, 'A Singer at the Wedding'.
Ironically, the Magill reeview of the book by J enniifer Johnston is among the most lukewarm, but other reviewers have been almost lyrical. Gus Martin on R TE radio described it as 'an utterly distinguished novel'; Desmond Hogan in The Irish Times wrote: 'It is exciting to discover a novelist like Bruce Arnold ... One feels privileged to have been borne along by the book'; Isobel Murray in The Financial Times wrote: 'This' is a very promising first novel'; Sean McMahon in The Irish Press: ' a very rich book, beautiful in its slow and certain progress'; The Sunday Telegraph: 'a gentle and eleegantly written first novel'.
But Ben Kiely in The Evening Herald gave the book its most glowing tribute: 'This novel has made me feel as, now and again in a lifetime, a reader feels when he comes unexpectedly on a work written, perhaps, by some writer he may have vaguely heard of or not heard of at all, and knows he is reading what. he might call an isolated masterpiece; and he reads it with illuminaation and emotion and rememmbers it all his life
THE COALISLAND antipression conference last month, organised by Bernaadette McAliskey, was an unexpected success with over 800 delegates attending, reepresenting several organisaations including Relatives Acction Committees, Official and Provisional Sinn Fein (which made the conference remarkkable in itself), the IRSP, the Red Republican Party ( a break-away from PD), the Independent Socialist Party (Bernadette McAlisskey's faction which broke away from the IRSP), the Socialist Workers Movement (since dissolved to join the new Irish Socialist Party or Noel Browne), PD, MSR (see page 5) and the Irish Independence Party.
Even the SD LP, which has been chary about assoociation with groups on an anti-repression basis, was reepresented by Austin Currie and Paddy Duffy. Both, however, stayed at the back of the hall and didn't speak.
The success of the connference was in no way attriibutable to the Provos howwever. They uncharacteristiically arrived several hours before the conference was about to open and they demanded a meeting with the Coalisland organisers where they said they wanted to have a statement read from 'the army' (the Proviisional IRA army council) and then to have the connference adjourned. The orgganisers told them where to get off) and in spite of threats to withdraw the Provos attennded, filling up the front seats of the hall.
Several Provo speakers inndicated that they weren't much impressed with mass action and that the miliitary campaign could win most of the concessions being demanded, including political status for the 500 plus prisoners in Long Kesh 'on the blanket' (i.e. naked in their cells in solitary connfinement). They were euphorric about the renewal of the armed campaign since the beginning of the year and suggested that demonnstrations and rallies simply got in the way of the real struggle.
The first Sunday in March (March 5th) will see deemonstrations and rallies against rallies and torture throughout the North} and another conference is being organised to plan a further campaign of resistance to what is happening now on a daily routine in Castleereagh RUC station and in Long Kesh, but which now gets almost no publicity.