Skip to comments.Closely watched by two police forces, the quiet farmer who calmly looks after the IRA's millions
Posted on 10/08/2005 7:01:32 AM PDT by Irish_Thatcherite
Closely watched by two police forces, the quiet farmer who calmly looks after the IRA's millions
By David McKittrick
07 October 2005 Thomas "Slab" Murphy, the IRA leader suspected of having millions of pounds invested in property in Manchester, has for most of his republican career led a charmed life.
He has never been convicted of any offence, despite the fact that for more than two decades every Northern Ireland secretary, every chief constable and every general has spent long hours pondering how to put him behind bars.
In his home area of South Armagh and further afield, everyone knows he has been highly active in IRA activities, holding positions such as chief of staff, northern commander and director of operations. He has also been the chief money man. He was therefore at the heart of the IRA for decades, ensuring it had the money to maintain a campaign which was highly expensive. According to a former senior member of the RUC Special Branch: "Money was always a wee bit of a problem - but never too much of a problem to them. They always have been very good at concealing it. We reckoned that whenever they were going very well it took five million a year to run the war."
The IRA's finance department involves a number of people, but the authorities have always regarded Slab Murphy as its linchpin, calmly controlling a budget of millions from his farmastride the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic. He thus operates in full view of two police forces, carrying out republican business even though his premises are assumed to be under intensive intelligence surveillance.
His name has been known to the wider public since the 1980s, when he stepped from the shadows to sue The Sunday Times for labelling him a senior IRA member. The newspaper won the case, exposing Mr Murphy to the full glare of recurring publicity. The defeat was an embarrassment to him, but he nonetheless went on to become IRA chief of staff in 1997, according to A Secret History of the IRA by the respected journalist Ed Moloney.
He has been continually described as a member of the IRA's ruling army council by Unionist MPs, including the former Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble, who have used parliamentary privilege to name him in the Commons.
Dublin's Justice Minister, Michael McDowell, made a similar statement in the Irish parliament earlier this year, referring to a man who had been killed near the border. He said: "He knew he was a marked man. His crime was to testify before a Dublin jury, to tell the truth and point out that Thomas 'Slab' Murphy was chief of staff of the IRA and a member of its army council."
Murphy himself is said to be a very wealthy man, owning large amounts of border land, but the assumption is that he has not grown rich by helping himself to IRA money. The belief is that he has been proficient in both financing the organisation and by separately making money for himself.
The contrast between the two paramilitary figures who have been in the news this week could not be greater. Jim Gray, the loyalist leader who has just been shot dead, was involved in drugs, with a flamboyant lifestyle and a conspicuous wardrobe which earned him the nickname of Doris Day.
Slab Murphy, by contrast, in person presents the image of an ordinary, not particularly well off farmer who spends most of his time mucking about on his farm. Mr Murphy has been crucial to the peace process, in that he has always been regarded as a republican "soldier" who concentrated on financial and military matters and was uninterested in politics. Yet it seems that, as the process developed, his thinking evolved and he was in the end persuaded to go along with the IRA's recent voluntary disarmament.
But although the IRA's violent campaign may be over, it seems that it retains its cash and property assets. The battlefield has in effect shifted: now the tussle between the authorities and Slab Murphy is a financial rather than a military one.
(I don't expect to see the SAS shooting IRA terrorists soon, though!)
They are going to get that slab!!
I'd like to.
It would be very entertaining!
That's how fighting terrorism should be done!
Too bad about the innocent bystander; for the rest, good job. I can't WAIT for the IRA to fade into the mists of history. Sinn Fein opened an office at Dupont Circle in DC several years ago and I was outraged. I don't drink at "Irish" pubs, because I know the IRA's money comes mostly from Americans, and some of the pubs are funneling it. I don't know which, so I avoid them all. Sinn Fein's local presence carved that in stone.
I see from your home page you're actually in Ireland. What is the DEAL with that smoking ban? It's my understanding, and please correct me if I'm wrong, but wasn't it imposed by one man's fiat, not by referendum or anything? Are people actually obeying that, even out in the countryside? IRISH people, obedient to one man's directive? Hard to believe, from the Irish I've met in America. Obedience is NOT a character trait I've seen in them.
Some Irish-Americans don't realise what's really happening over here, even some here on FR have some very outdated notions about Ireland!
That is correct, while it wasn't nessecary for a referendum to introduce it, it was generally the case that a controversial proposal would be brought before the people - not this time; all the calls for compromise (polls supported compromise), and even a referendum were arrogantly ignored by Minister Michael Martin (now demoted, LOL!)!
BTW, any Irish roots yourself?
< /I >
(and a little English, but we don't talk about that!)
An interesting read. By chance I now have more information of the so-called European Human Rights Commission- or whatever. For those who did not know,including myself, they declared that "human rights" had been violated,by the British Government.
This for not calling an inquiry into the trap set by the British forces. Most times the poor defenceless victim gets short shrift by these bodies, unless they are vicious killers- who then become victims. Victims of by their own initiation to murder.
No "Danny Boy" for them.
Wasn't Richard Burton Welsh too? And way cuter.
I think so.
Tells you Arabs are treated differently!