My memory of events in 1982 gives a very different picture
OPINION: THE GUBU DIARY, A RESPONSE:ON SATURDAY, September 29th, The Irish Times published an article (“The Gubu Diary – Inside the grotesque, unbelievable, bizarre, unprecedented events of 1982”) about my alleged role in a number of events which took place in that year.
It relied in large part on an interview with James Kirby, who once worked in the Department of Justice. It contained a number of serious factual errors. Space will permit me to deal only with some of the more serious assertions in this response. I was not consulted before it appeared, something which was particularly surprising as I had granted an extensive interview to Conor Brady, the former editor of The Irish Times, on March 23rd, 1984.
The meeting of July 1982
Mr Kirby described a meeting in the taoiseach’s office in July 1982 at which he claims I “indicated that the law of the land was not going to be operated in relation to terrorists. Mr Haughey ordered that no notes were to be taken”. The notion that I would assist subversives by inaction is grotesque, shocking and an insult to my character. There were others at the meeting. Clearly, they were not interviewed prior to publication. The recollections of those present who are still alive should now be sought and reported by your paper. Some of them are named in The Boss.
The meeting was called by Mr Haughey to obtain an overview of subversive activities. At the outset, he praised the gardaí for their dealings with subversion and stated that his government continued to give the force its full support.
I then spoke about subversion in Irish and international terms, addressing the procurement of firearms, ammunition and explosives. I also focused on the funding of subversion, the use of European banks and the laundering of funds and other deposits. It is self-evident that these were highly confidential matters, and hence it would have been wholly inappropriate for anybody to have left the meeting with notes which could have fallen into the wrong hands.
The meeting was attended by a number of diplomats from Foreign Affairs. One of my aims was to highlight the fact that the State was under stress because of subversive activities emanating from abroad. I requested of them that if useful intelligence became available abroad, it should be forwarded here as quickly as possible. This request was made against a background where Ireland does not have an overseas intelligence service.
Thus, the meeting was designed to further curtail subversion, not assist it through inaction.
At no time did I say that the law would not be enforced against subversives and nobody at the meeting uttered such words, including the taoiseach. Neither was this implied in any way. The commissioner of the Garda Síochána, along with the senior diplomats, the attorney general and the minister for justice were also present. Does Mr Kirby mean to convey that they sat there mute as I made such an astounding and treacherous statement?
The Criminal Law Jurisdiction Act
Mr Kirby states that I spoke about not operating the Criminal Law Jurisdiction Act. This is also inaccurate. When it was first passed into law, it was discovered that there were difficulties with it, especially in relation to the attendance of witnesses from other jurisdictions. For a long time nothing came up which made it necessary to use the Act.
Eventually, a case did emerge. A person was arrested here, who, at that time was wanted in the UK and in Northern Ireland. Despite the difficulties with the legislation, it was decided by the Haughey administration to use the Act. No suggestion was ever made to me or anybody I am aware of, by Mr Haughey, or any of his aides or associates, about the non-operation of the Act at any time thereafter. I would have been aghast if they had.