Radio Free Eireann interview with Anthony McIntyre and Ed Moloney: The Death of Dolours Price

Radio Free Eireann
WBAI 99.5 FM Pacifica Radio
New York City
26 January 2013

John McDonagh (JM) and Sandy Boyer (SB) interview via telephone Ed Moloney (Ed) and Anthony McIntyre (AM), the director of The Belfast Project and the Lead Researcher of The Belfast Project respectively, about the recent passing of former IRA Volunteer Dolours Price.

(begins 1:35 PM EST)

SB: We are talking about Dolours Price and we’re going to Anthony McIntyre who interviewed Dolours for the Boston College oral history project of The Troubles. Anthony, thanks for being with us.

AM: Thanks very much, Sandy.

SB: And Anthony, you actually interviewed Dolours for the Boston College project and that interview has created a huge sensation. Currently, the US government is trying to get it turned over to the Police Service of Northern Ireland. And you got to know Dolours very well. She was the godmother of your son. Tell us a little bit about Dolours.

AM: She was the godmother of my son and we have put photos up on the web in relation to her attending our wedding and stuff and attending the Baptismal ceremonies for the child

She was a very intelligent woman. She was very sensitive – politically aware, politically astute. And she maintained her politics, her radical politics, throughout her life. A number of years ago I accompanied her to Doire City to canvas at an election centre for the radical Socialist Eamonn McCann in Doire. So Dolores traveled up from Malahide, Dublin which was was considerably further than I traveled, which was from Belfast. So she wanted to keep her finger on the pulse but she was also a very sad person. She suffered mentally from what she’d seen as the energy that herself and many other Republican activists put into the Republican struggle for years.

She did suffer grievously. She had a hard life.

And after prison she coped with addictions as she tried to struggle through the trauma of her experience. But overall she seemed to be a woman that felt she was badly let down and someone who felt compelled to carry culpability or responsibility for shared actions and the actions in which she engaged which were shared by others (who) simply abdicated their responsibility and denied any part in those actions.

And I would think in many ways Dolours felt hurt by that.

I would talk to her over the years about her sense of pain and she was so disturbed about the lies that were churned out day in and day out. But overall, a very sensitive, loving, warm person who, like many other people, was not inclined towards violence by nature but because the British state came in and militarised Irish society and introduced violence, state violence onto the streets of Belfast and Doire, conducted mass murder against an unsuspecting civilian population, gunning down fourteen people in the streets, these sorts of things compelled many young people, including Dolours Price, to take up arms against the British state.

SB: And Anthony, you were talking about people who’ve changed their stories over the years, chief among those would be Gerry Adams who Dolours said ordered the bombing mission to London and now he’s expressing his sympathy for the family.

AM: I just think he does what so many other politicians do: they just basically lie through their teeth. And he has been put on the spot somewhat by the cameras and he can do little else other than express sympathy.

Had he had any genuine sympathy for Dolours Price he would have met her and spoken to her as an equal and not denied his past to her or his role in the organisation to which both she and he belonged.

She felt so let down by much of this.

JM: And Anthony, do you see Gerry Kelly and Gerry Adams going to the funeral on Monday I mean…like they did with Brendan Hughes?

AM: I don’t because I think…Brendan Hughes died five years ago. I think there’s a much greater degree of resentment from the family of Dolours Price towards the Sinn F in leadership than there had been from the Hughes Family towards the Sinn F in leadership at the time of Brendan’s death.

I would be surprised if those people were to turn up at the funeral…and I would be surprised…but they certainly would have the chutzpah to do so as they did at Brendan Hughes’…but in my view they should not be welcomed at that funeral.

The Stormont government has a history of killing Republicans. It should never ever be allowed to bury them.

SB: We’re going to bring Ed Moloney into the conversation. Ed was the Director of the oral history project…

Ed: Hello.

SB: Yes, Ed. Thanks for being with us. Ed, you were the director of the oral history project to which Marian (Ed. Note: Dolours) gave her interview and there’s a huge controversy about that about whether those interviews should be turned over to the British government. And there’s alot of confusion. Some articles in the paper say that is now that Dolours is dead that the tape will be handed over. What’s the status of that?

Ed: Well, the reason for that is that there’s a very large element in the media which really doesn’t care about the principles involved in this struggle to stop the interviews being handed over.

It doesn’t care about issues of confidentiality or the police misusing journalists or academic researchers for law and order purposes. They really just want to see the gory details of what they imagine are in these interviews and I think that’s driving and influencing an awful lot of the reporting which is very inaccurate.

The reality is that the Supreme Court of the United States which, the last time I checked, is still the highest court in the land, has ordered a Stay on the hand-over of these interviews. And that Stay will remain in place I suspect for some good while yet before the Supreme Court makes a decision on whether or not to hear this case. And the fact that Dolours has unfortunately died is going to be used perhaps by some people to say: well the whole issue is moot.

Our lawyers will be arguing two things: first of all that the issues in Dolours’ case are still very much alive and have to be dealt with by the Supreme Court because they are issues of I think great constitutional importance. And secondly, there are other subpoenas, eight or nine subpoenas, affecting other interviewees. And these are people who are in exactly the same situation as Dolours was and their case has been held up by the First Circuit in Boston which presumably has been waiting for the Supreme Court to make up its mind. And so the issues are still very much alive. This fight will continue. And there is going to be I suspect also a possible political context in the US for this fight.

So all those people in Ireland, particularly in the media, who are rubbing their hands in glee and anticipation that they will soon will be able to paw through the records at Boston College’s archive, I’m sorry to disappoint them. It ain’t gonna happen – at all as far as I’m concerned – and possibly not for a very, very long period.

JM: Ed, with the thousands of people that have been involved with the Republican Movement over the last thirty or forty years and in this particular you wanted to get the history of exactly what happened with IRA Volunteers – why was Dolours picked out of all the people you could – what was the significance of having the interview with her?

Ed: Anthony McIntyre can answer this question possibly better than I can because he was actually on the ground and had to go out and find people to interview.

And funnily enough, believe it or not, and all the conspiracy theorists in the world are in for another disappointment, one of the biggest problems was actually just finding people who would be willing to be interviewed.

Some people have this idea that we set out to recruit a regiment of people opposed to Gerry Adams and interviewed only those. We actually went out to interview anyone who was prepared to be interviewed, who was willing to be interviewed but also who had an interesting and important story to tell.

And that meant that there was a very wide range of people, including people who were in very different organisations from Gerry Adams, and not at all in the Provisional IRA. So it’s very much more complex but also a much simpler picture than a lot of people are painting.

They’re distorting the picture, I think and I suspect for all sorts of political reasons but that was the situation. The number one problem was just finding people who were willing to take the risk of giving an interview like this. And she was one of those who was willing to do that and she was clearly a very important person.

The Price Sisters are legends in the Provisional IRA and in the history of The Troubles. They were the very first women to essentially become full members of the IRA as opposed to Cumann na Mban and they left their mark on The Troubles in a very, very important way. As we know full well, just from what is known about their personal history, so actually if you were to exclude someone like Dolours Price on the grounds of oh, gosh! she doesn’t like Gerry Adams you’d actually be committing an historical crime because you’d be losing a very, very rich source of information. So she was chosen: A) because she was willing to be interviewed and B) because she had a very important story to tell.

SB: And Anthony, you actually did the interview with Dolours. First of all, I know you can’t say what was in the interview but can you tell why you interviewed her and a little bit about where and when and….

AM: Ed has outlined in good terms the sort of approach that we adopted. Dolours was picked because I thought she had a very interesting story to tell.

The Finnish historian who dealt with Henry Kissinger’s foreign policy and wrote a book on Henry Kissinger called The Flawed Architect said: for any historian it’s a brilliant experience to talk to those who were there at the creation.

And in many ways Dolours Price was there at the creation because she’d seen the emergence of the Provisional IRA from the the civil rights (movement). She’d seen it come up, how it grew, how it expanded, had ties to it’s activities, what was it’s culture and she was one of those people who would be able to correct the currently deficient narrative that we sometimes have and we have been subject to in the media, journalism and, in certain cases, academia.

And I was alway, given the security of the project – I was at all times concerned with protecting it’s privacy and protecting it from any outside intrusion or coming under the eyes of the security people and the Provisional IRA who in turn would probably have passed it onto the British given their own record of affinity with the British state.

And I chose my interviewees carefully.

And I picked people who were prepared to talk but who also, in my view, were prepared to be silent about the fact that they were talking to me. And it’s remarkable that throughout this whole project we heard no mention of it from anywhere, people like Dolours Price and the interviewees that myself and Ed decided to talk to or decided to select did not breech that confidentiality and were not running around the streets telling people and that’s how it lasted so long and had survived.

But overall, Dolours Price was there at the creation, she had a story to tell and I think society will be much better for the story that Dolours Price told.

SB: Ed, you’ve written extensively about the Provisional IRA. What do you think that the place of Dolours in that history is?

Ed: Well, as Mackers just said she was there at the start.

Those of us who were students back in the late 1960’s when the civil rights movement started remember Dolours. She was involved in The People’s Democracy movement. She was on the Burntollet March. In fact there’s a famous picture of her (and I think Marian was with her) in the middle of the stream being pelted by Loyalists with bricks and stones and goodness knows what while the police stood by and watched.

So she was involved in the early civil rights movement. Her family was steeped in Republican tradition. There is the tragic tale of her Aunt Bridie which had an enormous impact on her I think. And her father of course, Albert, was one of the founding members I suppose of the Provisionals. A guy who had been involved the IRA in the 1940’s, who’d been with Barnes and McCormick on bombing runs in London and so on and so forth so there’s a very long tradition of Irish Republicanism in that family on the mother’s side as well as the father’s side. And it was almost natural that she would gravitate to the Provisionals.

But I think what was striking about her and also Marian as well is that they did so via radical left wing politics. And I think certainly Dolours always kept that side of her politics very much there even though her life had changed quite considerably.

And they were there at the very start. They were the very first women to become fully fledged members of the IRA.

They were there up at the leadership level rubbing shoulders literally with the leaders of the Provisional IRA in Belfast at a time when the leadership in Belfast was really the national leadership of the IRA. So they were privy and part of a hugely rich story.

So yeah, I mean…how important are they? Very, very important. The two women…Just the fact that we’re talking the way that we are talking about both of them is evidence of that I think.

They will go down in the history of The Troubles. There will be a chapter- not a footnote there will be a chapter on them.

JM: And Anthony, we’re winding up here in New York City speaking about what happened with Dolours Price and about Marian not being granted compassionate parole. How are you planning the next couple of days and will you be up at the funeral on Monday?

AM: I will be up at the funeral for sure on Monday. I will be taking my children up. My wife is up there in Belfast at the moment she’s representing the family there. And I will take my children up and I will take them over to see the woman they refer to as Aunty Dodo. And my son, he will be seven and he doesn’t understand, but I mean given that Dolours is his godmother I very much want to ensure that he accompanies her on her final journey.

SB: Anthony, thank you, thank you very much. And again, there is one small thing you can all do: is go to http://irishfreedom.net/ – get the email address for David Ford and send him an email demanding that Marian be released.

(ends 1:53 PM EST)