OUTLAWS AND IN-LAWS by Harry McAvinchey



There is much talk about yet another “On The Run”  letter .Another story of jiggery -pokery behind the scenes. We’ll have to get used to this , because like many incidents that happened during the Troubles, we will never be given a conclusion to many of  the various stories .Even very high profile killings by the army and the security forces will be held in abeyance until most of us are long dead and our surviving fellow men will have all but forgotten what all the fuss was about anyway. We’re all on our own anyway .When you close that door to your home , nobody is really interested in you except a handful of friends and family. The world will roll on very nicely outside.Of course , the radio is full of people venting their undoubted ire about the whole process but that will not change anything anyway.It’s stonewalling as an art-form.We saw another form of it a few weeks ago when Mr. Brimstone was questioned.People will stamp their feet in exasperation but that’s about it.

If there is anything at all that will cause a ripple in the political sea, it will be shuffled to the back of the drawer each time it gains prominence. This has happened with all those high profile cases , like “Bloody Sunday” or “Kingsmills”.Everyone will know exactly what those stories are all about , but nothing will ever be done about them. In the meantime , the vacuum  will fill up with unbridled gossip and legend about who did what, to whom, and why .What I find extraordinary is that there is never any real investigative reporting.  Crucially , most of the gossip,   that would only be heard in the pubs ,is never written down. The real meat and potatoes  of the lives lost , is never written. It’s muttered in the shadows , mostly.

The latest OTR “scandal” concerns the death of a man who apparently was a  abducted on his way to a Dundalk Gardai station in the Republic of Ireland. He was going there as part of his bail  programme,in connection with being charged with Real IRA membership.So it is  roughly established, for us onlookers,  that the man was very active in some real republican activity , of a particularly virulent and anti-agreement variety…or is it.? Is his death a simple political act or was there some gangsterism or “social policing” involved? Does anyone know?

I’m always interested , if out of nothing other than curiosity, about the actual reasons why these particular fellows  might be the special, chosen  target for extermination. His body was later found ,two years later , inside a car , sunken in a canal…forgotten by everyone but his family . That’s all that seems to be known about him .Why was he a “special” case for murder? Who exactly was he , in the community? Was he a moral man ? Was he a rational , thinking man? Was he a villainous, violent person? Was he some sort of outlaw? Was he some kind of “loose cannon”? Why was he specifically the target of some other man or men , with murder in mind? In everything I’ve read about this man , there seems to be very little detail as to why he was chosen. Much is debated about the rights and wrongs of the OTR system but nothing is heard about the personality of the victim.He is essentially forgotten, but surely there is some curiosity at least?

Apparently the IRA  , as a group , were unofficially  ,all but gone by this time.The main  republican movement had thrown its hat into the political arena for better or worse.If that was the case, whoever killed him could not really represent that group or its associated political party ,so was the killer an old acquaintance that had been crossed in some way? Was he targeted for behaviour other than something purely political or was this a  nasty little piece of  local  social justice or simple criminality? .After all , many were killed and maimed during the Troubles for nothing more than anti-social behaviour.Plenty of “joyriders” were maimed or banished for stealing cars.What have you to do to get yourself murdered? It is an unfortunate,  simple fact that a life can be taken for very little reason at all; when a convicted murderer can walk from prison in a matter of a few years.. Sometimes murders are nothing to do with politics at all , of course, but many deaths and a lot of  the  psychotic , thuggery , criminality and  bad behaviours were hidden under the blanket of the Troubles. Sex-crime has been much in the news , for example . It is not hard to imagine some of these characters using their  gang notoriety to frighten and abuse both men and women…sexually or otherwise. That kind of behaviour might have repercussions for them  too.

Then there’s money…..

The end of the republican armed struggle may have been replaced by a  wholly political  struggle but it does not  appear to have stymied the smuggling activities and fuel laundering in South Armagh in any way, just as drug -dealing and cigarette smuggling , apparently has a foothold throughout both communities . That appears be be still a very vibrant and industrious earner for many criminal families .Some will argue that these people are still republicans doing what republicans have always done, or loyalists doing the same,  but the truth is that these are only nominal republicans or loyalists. Looked at in another way , they are simply criminals who have operated under false pretences for a very long time. There has been talk recently that the activity of “South Armagh republicans” is now actively affecting the environment .The disposal of waste materials from fuel laundering now poses a threat to the drinking water and the contamination  of the water table .It is a simple fact that a lot of  people have become used to easy money and easy thuggery under the guise of a political struggle.

A lot of it is simply  all about the money, I’m afraid.

25 Responses to OUTLAWS AND IN-LAWS by Harry McAvinchey

  1. Jude Collins January 27, 2015 at 6:57 pm #

    A small point but one I must voice, Harry: My hands refuse to be flung heavenward in revulsion over smuggling ever since accompanying my Auntie Peg across the border with a pot of strawberry jam secreted in her knickers. If the border’s there, use it, I always say…

    • Sherdy January 27, 2015 at 7:19 pm #

      Jude, I hope the hiding place didn’t affect the taste of the jam.

      • Jude Collins January 28, 2015 at 4:42 pm #

        We sent in a canary first, Sherdy…

    • paddykool January 27, 2015 at 7:49 pm #

      Lovely one , Jude . My mum used to tell tales like that one of the butter smuggling during the rationing…hopefully that wasn’t down anyone’s knickers!!! You’ll understand , of course that I’m only reporting the news …not being too judgemental in any way!!!!

  2. Sherdy January 27, 2015 at 7:17 pm #

    Why does Gerry Kelly always seem to be the fall guy for these OTR letters?
    These letters were issued by the Northern Ireland Office after the person in question was cleared by the PSNI as not being wanted in connection with any offence.
    The PSNI have apologised for authorising this particular letter, but have blamed the different computer systems used by the different police forces.
    Everybody blames the computer and gets off the hook as a result.
    But computers are made to talk to each other, so surely these police forces have the expertise to get them to do so. Or do the operatives not know how to ask the computer systems the appropriate questions?
    So even if Gerry Kelly knows more than he admits, is it his fault that the computer systems are not compatible, or the operatives are not properly trained?
    Ian Paisley wants an investigation set up to have him investigated – again. The existing (or has it ended) investigation has managed to get no tangible results, so what’s the point of another one?
    He wants Gerry to be compelled to give evidence. Maybe he should have been compelled to give evidence about his relationship, personal and financial, with Seymour Sweeney. Possibly that investigation could have borne more fruit.
    As the Greeks told you years ago Ian, be careful what you wish for!

    • Perkin Warbeck January 29, 2015 at 7:05 am #

      The reason, Sherdy, why Gerry Kelly always seems to be the fall guy in these OTR matters, according to The Unionist Times anyway, may possibly, even, allegedly, have to do with another Gerry.

      That would be TUT’s Nor Cor, Gerry Moriarty.

      For some reason, the ears of the genetically modified RUC, i.e., PSNI never seem to be the target of GM’s shrill whistle blowing. And that the most they can expect from the lawful and ordered Nor Cor is a metaphorical cuff on the ear rather than a handcuff.

      Why, one wonders, is this?

      Could it be something to do with this Nor Cor’s DNA? Possibly even inherited from an ancestral RC RIC man? After all, there was, was there not, a well-known on the beat street song current in Dublin’s fair ciddy in days of yore, thus:

      ‘I’m a well-known bobby of the stalwart squad
      I belong to the DMP;
      And the girls all cry as I pass by
      Are you there, MOR-I-AR-I-TY ?’.

      It is fanciful to imagine if the ballad were still current that numbered among ‘the girls’ mentioned in line three would be any one of the following four, or even a stalwart squad of all four together: the Garda Commissioner, the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court , the Attorney General and even the Minister of Justice herself. Even as they pore over the Nor Cor’s daily bulletins.

      But,that’s all it is, fanciful, and which does not stand up to any kind of reputable forensic examination.

      Far more profitable to peruse the implications of that other wee ballad from up the road: ‘The Fall Guys of the Falls Road’.

  3. fiosrach January 27, 2015 at 9:00 pm #

    Jude, are you not aware that this smuggling is costing HMRC millions in lost revenue. Try to keep a straight face. The profits they should have got from selling killer cigarettes is going to somebody else. It may even be used to buy guns to shoot HM Forces. Is that the same young fellow who was caught with half a dozen mobiles in his possession?

    • Jude Collins January 28, 2015 at 4:42 pm #

      The difference of course is, fiosrach – we know for certain that it’ll go into British coffers to build such weapons of peace as Trident. Killer cigarettes? At least people have a choice about suffering from those…

  4. Argenta January 27, 2015 at 10:46 pm #

    Given the apparent dominance of Republicans in South Armagh,should they not be outraged by the fuel laundering (and reckless waste disposal ) activities of these “criminals”?One would be surprised if a network of “criminals” operated in that area without the tacit approval of the Republican movement .

    • Jude Collins January 28, 2015 at 4:40 pm #

      Oh for pity’s sake, Argenta – get your hands off my Auntie Peg’s knickers…

      • Argenta January 28, 2015 at 5:37 pm #

        Obviously Harry isn’t allowed to speak for himself!!

    • paddykool January 28, 2015 at 6:03 pm #

      Argenta ..as Jude says …lighten up ! i’ve no idea who does what in south Armagh , but i think you’ll find that since the border was established all those years ago , smuggling has become part and parcel of the local economy there over many long years. It seems to be long -established as family businesses, keeping idle hands busy.You might say, they see it as their natural birthright , being born so near a magical invisible line on the map , the crossing of which can turn water into wine and lead into gold.As Spike Milligan once wrote…the line can literally run right through the middle of your home so that you can sleep in one jurisdiction and breakfast in another at times. As far as republicanism is concerned , I understand it can be quite a different beast in the border regions , bearing scant comparison with the likes of Gerry Adams’ version . I ‘ve read of himself and Marty being referred to as “those wee altar boys”. I don’t think either of those city boys would have much sway way down in the boonies. ….

  5. michael c January 28, 2015 at 8:06 pm #

    Harry,the “threat to the drinking water is a product of the fevered imagination of one Jim Cusackof the Sindo .

    • paddykool January 29, 2015 at 9:05 am #

      There you go Michael c…the power of the press….it’s all propaganda…everything we read and see…history is bunkum….

  6. giordanobruno January 29, 2015 at 10:36 am #

    We are not talking about the Dukes of Hazzard here. Smuggling is not a victimless crime carried out by Robin Hood figures in the border regions.
    There is a cost to the Irish exchequer as well as the British. There is the harm done to the local businesses which lose out.
    There is damage done to vehicles using dodgy fuel.
    There is environmental damage form waste being dumped.
    The taxpayer, you and me pick up the bill in the long run.
    And what if it doesn’t come out of the defence budget as Jude suggests, but the health budget?
    And of course lives are lost when it all goes wrong.
    Sure it’s only a bit of a laugh though.

    • Jude Collins January 29, 2015 at 1:52 pm #

      Cool your jets, gio – if I might be allowed to borrow that term. I’m agin pollution as much as you. But my experience of the border goes back a long way and I say, anyone who doesn’t like his country being sawed into two bits but can find a way to make that financially profitable to him – good luck. Private enterprise and all that. I take your point – the tax could go to health as readily as death – what a pity they don’t allow us to nominate what part of the system our taxes go to – they might find themselves holding raffles to raise funds for Trident. And yes, local businesses might lose out – but the, um, unofficial businesses would prosper, which’d balance out, don’t you think. Anyway, everyone knows how to get rid of smuggling in the morning. Even you , Gio…

    • Argenta January 29, 2015 at 3:02 pm #

      I think we’re fighting a losing battle on this particular blog.Harry and his mentor Jude are telling us to lighten up.Sure what’s a bit of toxic waste between friends !!All the “good old boys ” in South Armagh are doing is a bit of private enterprise and we wouldn’t want to help the Brits by raiding fuel laundering plants!!In any case,Harry reckons that Gerry and Martin hold no sway in that neck of the woods !

      • Jude Collins January 30, 2015 at 8:45 am #

        So you think Gerry and Martin should patrol the border, Argenta? Good thinking…

        • Argenta January 30, 2015 at 3:19 pm #

          A bit of wilful misreading there,I think ! I was simply reflecting what Harry had said earlier.Any quibbles you have should be taken up with him.

          • Jude Collins January 30, 2015 at 6:14 pm #

            Tá bron orm, Argenta – if I accused you of speaking to me when you didn’t I promise you it was accidental. Not wilful

      • paddykool January 30, 2015 at 10:07 am #

        What “battle”, Argenta? Where do you draw the line between stating what you might think is going on…. and supporting that action.? As far as I’m aware , smuggling has gone on in the border area for generations. It’s just a by- product of having a porous border. I don’t think it is really a Big Republican Plot or anything like that. It has always been opportunistic and basically lawless,,,carried out by guys who don’t care whether they break anybody’s laws.

        It went on seventy years ago and it still goes on .You would imagine that by now the authorities on either side of the border would have all the technology and intelligence information to know exactly which family groups are involved in it and where it is happening, ..they must have been compiling this stuff for generations….but it still goes on .This is like stamping out bootleggers during prohibition … Now and again there is something in the local press about how the waste from fuel laundering is polluting the countryside, but it still goes on.
        It makes me think it is no different from crime gangs operating in any major city anywhere. Are they all republicans? I think they might be nominally “republicans” in ideology but they are more likely to be guys out to make some easy cash. Who can police that? Certainly not some politician sitting miles away in his office.Is it right or wrong? That’s hardly relevant to the piece I wrote. Jude doesn’t tell me what to write . He simply invites me to do so and I write whatever pops into my head .I didn’t make a judgement either way and nor does he….he publishes it as long as I don’t write something that gets us both put in gaol..

      • giordanobruno January 30, 2015 at 12:48 pm #

        We are voices of reason crying in the wilderness.
        But it’s only a wee drop of Poitín, after all.
        It’s not as if there is any trade in illicit cigarettes in ireland!

    • paddykool January 29, 2015 at 3:31 pm #

      Ah Gio …the Dukes of Hazzard County…. I was actually imagining something like “Deliverance” or similar hillbilly fare.You know what I mean . …the DNA is all from similar stock in the Old Country . Smuggling poitin from the hill stills and selling it in old fruit jars…much as they’ve always done down through the generations. .You might say they see it as a “tradition”. We all know how hard it is to break with tradition in Norneverland ….whether it is illegal or not . We’re confronted with that every year here….. It’s a looking -glass world after all. isn’t it ?

    • Wolfe tone January 29, 2015 at 6:30 pm #

      Don’t worry gio,
      We can always count on fraud geldof to launch some appeal to highlight the plight smuggling has on the people……..and the London regimes budget.

      • giordanobruno January 30, 2015 at 1:01 pm #

        Good idea. Clearly it needs someone of his stature to do it!