Posted on Oct 11, 2020
In 2004 Mary Lou McDonald became one of the first two Sinn Feiners to be elected to the European Parliament, the other being Bairbre de Brún. Although she had been a member of the Sinn Fein leadership since 2001, this was to be her first electoral success.
Serving just one term, her tenure finished in 2009, her next success coming in 2011 when she was elected to Dáil Éireann, the lower house of the Irish parliament, where she currently serves as leader of the opposition.
In February 2018 she succeeded Gerry Adams, long-term leader of Sinn Fein (SF), as president of the party. According to both the British and Irish governments, Adams was also a member of the army council of the terrorist Provisional IRA.
In February of this year, Irish Taoiseach Leo Varadkar asked why McDonald had not disbanded the Provisional Army Council and the IRA or sever links with them. He tweeted: "Why doesn't McDonald disband the Army Council and the PIRA or if she cannot, repudiate them and sever all links and do so publicly and unequivocally?"
McDonald has also been linked with another major terrorist group, and a traditional ally of the IRA, the Colombian Marxist-Leninist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia—People's Army (FARC), through her relationship with convicted IRA terrorist Jim Monaghan, one of the so-called “Colombia Three”.
First arrested and imprisoned on terrorist offences in London in 1972, he acquired the the nickname 'Mortar' on account of his skill in manufacturing homemade mortars: according to security sources, he was at one point head of the IRA's engineering section.
Along with fellow IRA terrorists Martin McCauley and Niall Connolly, in 2004 Monaghan was sentenced to prison for seventeen years for training FARC rebels in the art of bomb making. His son, Donal O’Coisdealbha, has also been imprisoned for terrorist activities.
SF/IRA were reportedly paid £2 million - from proceeds of FARC’s drug smuggling activities - for the services of the three men.
The costs of running a nationwide organisation such as Sinn Fein, which boasts 1,500 election workers, is expensive and the group's criminal operations may not be enough to sustain it militarily and politically.
In November 2015 Sinn Feiners held a night a “celebration and remembrance” in honour of Monaghan. The event was chaired by Mary Lou McDonald.
The relationship between FARC and its SF/IRA allies has even manifested itself in the European Parliament itself.
Following the resignation from the European Parliament of de Brún in 2012, the MEP was replaced by Martina Anderson, who hailed from the fiercely republican Bogside district of Londonderry.
Her first arrest, for possession of a firearm and causing an explosion, came at the age of 18. In 1985 she was arrested again, along with Brighton bomber Patrick Magee. The following year she was convicted along with Magee and three others for “conspiring to cause explosions in England”.
Anderson married fellow IRA terrorist Paul Kavanagh (both pictured), who was sentenced to five life terms for blowing up Chelsea Barracks and killing two innocent civilians in 1981, while both were serving time in top security prisons in England.
Like Mary Lou McDonald, Anderson has never hidden her connections with FARC.
"EU moves to remove FARC from what it calls its 'terror' list are a welcome step in building international support for the peace process. Sinn Féin will continue to support efforts to secure a just and lasting peace in Colombia,” she said in 2016 after the group had successfully lobbied the EU institutions to have sanctions against them removed.
In a video dated August 29, 2019, announcing their “return to arms,” so-called “Ex-FARC” members revealed their upgraded military hardware, largely supplied by another of the group’s traditional allies, Venezuela.
On Monday September 21st four commanders of the “former” FARC guerrillas, including former chief peace negotiator Iván Márquez, released a statement in which they were brandishing modern assault weapons.
This re-branding of “former” terrorists is a ploy well known to the IRA.
Following the Good Friday peace agreement which brought an official end to The Troubles, numerous so-called “breakaway” or “dissident” republican groups have appeared from time to time, usually when SF/IRA is seeking concessions under threat of a return to violence.
With the issue of future border arrangements between the Irish Republic and the UK being a contentious issue at present, another such group has appeared and is openly threatening armed violence.
In a chilling October 2019 interview with Channel 4 News, a masked spokesman for the so-called New IRA said it was committed to “armed actions” against border infrastructure – and ‘the people who are manning them,” and that any border infrastructure would be a “legitimate target for attack”.
The IRA is an army. And as an army we are committed to armed struggle for political and social change in Ireland. Bearing in mind any installation or aspects of British occupation within the Six Counties – be it at the border or elsewhere – any infrastructure would be a legitimate target for attack and armed actions against those infrastructures and against the people who are manning them.
The man added: “There’s been a border since 1921. It’s been resisted. It is being resisted. It will be resisted regardless of any deal formed around it.”
In Northern Ireland, as in Colombia, the men, and women, of violence have never really gone away.
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